The dog days of Skyfall

It’s under a month before Skyfall’s world premier and about six weeks before the 23rd James Bond movie comes out in the U.S. At this point, it’s all over but the shouting. Still, perhaps because it’s the 50th anniversary of the first 007 movie, there are few more things to be endured for the dog days of Skyfall. No. 1 example: speculation about who will perform Skyfall’s title song.

Endured? That may seem an odd phrase, but in some ways appropriate. Various Web sites have had breathless stories about how they’ve confirmed that Adele will perform Skyfall’s title song.

One of the most persistent has been a Web site called Showbiz 411, which has run multiple stories saying Adele is the title song performer. The most recent was THIS ONE which not only repeated Adele would sing it but provided what is says are lyrics from the song. Meanwhile, on Twitter, a number of proprietors of 007 fan Web sites (including OUR TWITTER FEEDhave noted nothing has been “confirmed” (a word used in most of the title song stories) because no actual announcement has happened.

Then it hit us: at this point, it doesn’t really matter. Adele do the song? “That’s nice.” Jack White is back for a second time? “That’s nice.” The cast of 2012′s The Three Stooges? “That’s nice.”

Why such a tepid response? Because it’s not really going to affect the movie. After all, the title songs of 2006′s Casino Royale, 2002′s Die Another Day, 1999′s The World Is Not Enough, 1997′s Tomorrow Never Dies, 1995′s GoldenEye, 1987′s The Living Daylights, 1983′s Octopussy, etc., etc., etc. didn’t have a massive impact on those movies.

There’s a handful of “classic” Bond title songs. For argument’s sake, let’s call Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever, Live And Let Die, Nobody Does It Better and For Your Eyes Only classic title songs. And not everybody would agree on all of those. Some people, for example, will discuss why, Goldfinger, is a musically challenged song. And some Bond fans say there’s absolutely nothing redeeming about any 007 film with Roger Moore.

Meanwhile, the composer of the movie’s score (Thomas Newman in Skyfall’s case) will either enhance or detract from scenes in the movie.

In fact, TWO OF THE TOP THREE 007 movies in a vote by readers of 007 Magazine, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and From Russia With Love, didn’t have songs in their main titles (while having songs later in the film). Dr. No, the first movie, led off with The James Bond Theme, some Jamaician-sounding music courtesy of Monty Norman and a short song called “Three Blind Mice.”

But the entertainment Web sites soldier on as if the selection of a title song performer represented the second coming of Shirley Bassey or Nancy Sinatra. Still, the 50th anniversary (Oct. 5 to be precise) is more than a week away. A title song announcement would be natural for the occasion. Then again, it might be anti-climatic. Anyway, until then, the dog days of Skyfall continue.

Has a sample of Thomas Newman’s Skyfall score surfaced?

On Sept. 22, a video was uploaded to YouTube that’s supposed to be part of Thomas Newman’s score for Skyfall. It lasts 1:33 and looks like this:

Dig into the description and you can find the source: a SKYFALL-THEMED PAGE FOR COKE ON THE WEBSITE OF IFLY MAGAZINE.

Thomas Newman


If you call up the advertisement, the music plays continuously. For now, it’s impossible to determine if this is actually from the 23rd James Bond film or something worked up for the ad.

There’s certainly more interest than normal given Newman is the first new 007 composer in 15 years, has a long list of credits and comes from a dynasty of movie composers. He was brought into work on Skyfall because he has worked on other movies directed by Sam Mendes.

007 updates: Skyfall score recording; MI6-Deadline spat

If you know where to look on Twitter, you can pick up on 007 related events. Some examples:

Skyfall’s score being recorded: The music for the 23rd James Bond movie has been recorded the past few weeks according to TWEETS BY TONY LEWIS, A MUSIC EDITOR. He hasn’t disclosed much. An Aug. 15 Tweet said, “It may feel like oct 26 is miles away but we’re on the home straight now ;) it’s going to be massive. #skyfall” Oct. 26 is the U.K. release date. An Aug. 5 Tweet says, “Another great day at @AbbeyRoad – we’re so close now you can almost touch it. #SKYFALL”

In another Aug. 5 Tweet, Lewis responded to a question about what Thomas Newman’s score for the movie was like. Lewis’s response: “sadly not – NDA’s forbid me – all I can say is that it’s ace.” Presumably NDA is short for non-disclosure agreement.

MI6′s clash with Deadline: On Sept. 6, the MI6 James Bond fan Web site had a story that Daniel Craig had been signed for Bond 24 and 25. That story was cited by a number of Web sites, including THE HUFFINGTON POST.

A day later, the Deadline entertainment-news Web site said it confirmed Craig had signed for the two future 007 movies without mentioning the MI6 story. Later that evening, MI6 fired back FROM ITS TWITTER FEED. That Tweet read:

@NikkiFinke Another day, another Deadline story ripped without credit. You know where you heard it first…. Craig for Bond 24 & 25

Finke is founder and editor-in-chief of Deadline and co-author of its story of the Craig signing. Back in January 2010, Deadline was the first TO REPORT that Eon was negotiating to bring Sam Mendes aboard what would become Skyfall. Shortly after that, Mendes’ publicist confirmed the talks to a U.K. newspaper while the director denied it to The Wall Street Journal.

007 questions about the future of the film James Bond

“What? More questions?”


Some pretty big news week. The MI6 James Bond fan Web site said it had confirmed Daniel Craig would do two more 007 films after this year’s Skyfall. The Web site didn’t specify how it obtained the information, but it got picked up on other Web sites, including THIS ONE, THIS ONE and THIS ONE. Oh, and don’t forget THIS ONE. Even THE HUFFINGTON POST cited the MI6 story. (UPDATE: Nikki Finke’s Deadline entertainment news Web site said it CONFIRMED THE NEWS AND REPORTED THAT SONY WOULD CO-FINANCE BOND 25.)

Well, that got us to thinking and that, naturally, spurs us to ask these questions:

001. Which movie will be seen first: Bond 24 or Marvel’s The Avengers 2?: The Avengers has been the biggest hit of 2012 with $1.5 billion in worldwide ticket sales and Walt Disney Co. has already set a May 1, 2015, release date for a sequel. When will Bond 24 come out? Sony Corp. has said 2014 but Eon Productions co-boss Barbara Broccoli and star Daniel Craig have said NOT SO FAST.

002. If Bond 24 doesn’t come out in 2014, when will it come out? You’re guess is as good as ours. One of the main talking points of the Skyfall publicity campaign is the movie benefited from production delays (due to studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s bankruptcy) to fine tune the script. For an example, CLICK HERE. If so, would that be at odds with trying to restore the tradition every-other-year schedule that MGM and Sony Corp. (which is releasing Skyfall) want?

003. What are you trying to say? It’s one thing to say Daniel Craig will do two more films if the second is out in 2016. It’s another if the second is out in (for argument’s sake) 2020.

004. They won’t wait another four years to do Bond 24, will they? Let’s see if Eon co-boss Michael G. Wilson complains yet again about how exhausting it is to make James Bond movies. If a new set of Wilson quotes along this line surfaces late this year or in early 2013, it might be a sign that Bond 24 might not come out as soon as many fans would like. If that’s the case, when would Bond 25 come out?

005. Any possibility any more spoilers will come out before Skyfall’s premier? It depends whether the sountrack comes out before the film’s premier.

006. What does that mean? Well, Thunderball’s soundtrack came out in November 1965, a month before the “Biggest Bond of All” came out. One of the tracks was titled “Death of Fiona,” so that was a giveaway. Other titles on various 007 soundtracks included “Death of Grant,” “Death of Goldfinger” and “Death of Aki.” So a fan could get some clues if they purchase the soundtrack before the movie premiers.

007. Are you looking forward to Skyfall or not? Yes to the movie. Not so much to various talking points. It’s under 50 days before the U.K. premier and just over two months before the U.S. premier. Other than, say, seeing the final Skyfall trailer, we’d rather get on with it. In the end, it’s whether the movie is good or not.

Hal David, an appreciation

Hal David

Hal David, who contributed lyrics to songs in three James Bond movies, died on Sept. 1 at age 91. He’s not really remembered for his 007 contributions because he wrote lyrics to many popular songs, especially in collaboration with Burt Bacharach. But he merits mention for his Bond film work also.

The 1967 Casino Royale spoof produced by Charles K. Feldman is an uneven movie. Still, Bacharach’s score and the songs he did with David were a highlight, especially “The Look of Love” performed by Dusty Springfield. David went on to work two times on the Eon Productions series, collaborating with John Barry on songs for 1969′s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The main Barry-David offering was “We Have All the Time in the World” performed by Louis Armstrong.

A decade later, David worked with Barry one more time on the title song of 1979′s Moonraker, whose title song would be the third, and final, performance by Shirley Bassey in a James Bond movie.

Both “The Look of Love” and “We Have All the Time in the World” are memorable (the latter revived many years later for a beer commercial). “Moonraker” doesn’t get the kudos of other Bond title songs but it’s still a collaboration of three highly professional individuals in composer Barry, lyricist David and singer Bassey.

It should also be noted that David’s older brother Mack (1912-1993) also dabbled in the spy genre, writing lyrics for songs in two Matt Helm movies, The Silencers and The Wrecking Crew. Mack David also co-wrote the title song to 77 Sunset Strip and other Warner Bros. television shows.

Bond music program on Oct. 5 to feature Black, Flick

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences formally announced an Oct. 5 program in Beverly Hills, The Music of Bond: The First 50 Years. Featured guests are Don Black, who collaborated with John Barry and David Arnold on 007 film title songs, and guitarist Vic Flick, who helped bring Monty Norman’s James Bond Theme to life in Dr. No.

John Barry


An excerpt OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT:

Fifty years to the day after the U.K. opening of the first Bond film, “Dr. No,” on October 5, 1962, the Academy pays homage to the memorable title songs and indelible scores that have become as celebrated as the character’s many exploits.

Over the 22 films released to date as part of the official James Bond series, there have been several constants: suave but deadly leading men, gorgeous and barely clad Bond girls, over-the-top villains and incredible music. Bond theme songs, sung by such leading performers of their era as Shirley Bassey (“Goldfinger”), Nancy Sinatra (“You Only Live Twice”), Paul McCartney and Wings (“Live and Let Die”), Carly Simon (“Nobody Does It Better”) and Sheena Easton (“For Your Eyes Only”), consistently landed on the pop music charts. Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” became the first Bond song to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The host of the program is Jon Burlingame, who has written extensively about film and television music, including the upcoming The Music of James Bond.

The Oct. 5 program starts at 7:30 p.m. PT at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90211. General admission tickets are $5 and can be ordered ONLINE or by mail starting Sept. 4. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 5 and seats are not reserved.

John Barry gets a posthumous credit in Ted

John Barry


John Barry, who defined music for James Bond movies, gets a posthumous credit in Ted, which was the No. 1 movie in the U.S. and Canada this weekend.

The R-rated comedy, directed by Seth MacFarlane, includes a rendition by star Mark Wahlberg of “All Time High,” the title song from Octopussy, the 13th 007 film produced by Eon Productions. As a result, Barry and lyricist Tim Rice get a credit in the long scroll of end titles. John Williams also gets a few credits for compositions he did for the Star Wars series and for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

If Barry, who passed away last year, been around to see Ted, he might have gritted his teeth a bit during Wahlberg’s performance.

Thomas Newman says he’s `brainstorming’ Skyfall score

Thomas Newman, the composer for Skyfall, told journalist Jon Burlingame that he’s “just brainstorming right now” what the score will be like. That implies (but doesn’t actually state) that music in the teaser trailer that came out this week won’t be part of Skyfall.

Burlingame, who writes for Variety and has done a book about James Bond music coming out, got Newman for a quick interview at the recent 2012 BMI Film & TV Awards. Here’s the interview:

Newman was selected by director Sam Mendes to score Skyfall because the two had worked together on previous films. That bumped David Arnold, who had scored five consecutive 007 films. John Barry and Arnold are the only composers to work on more than one film in the series produced by Eon Productions.

Variety looks at 50 years of James Bond

Variety has a package of stories about the 50th anniversary of James Bond films. You can CLICK HERE to see all the stories. Among them:

Variety examines 50 years of James Bond


–A profile of Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the co-bosses of Eon Productions. (It mistakenly says they are step-siblings; they’re actually half-siblings, each having the same mother).

–A look at the impact different directors had on the franchise.

–A piece by Jon Burlingame that examines John Barry’s music and how it affected the 007 films.

–A story about how 007 was important to getting Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer through bankruptcy and how MGM bosses want to get Bond films back on a regular production schedule.

–How automakers have been involved with the series as part of product-placement deals.

Run James, Run – Brian Wilson’s James Bond theme

Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson

It is early 1966. The fourth 007 screen adventure, Thunderball, recently released, is a monstrous hit. “James Bond mania” is at its peak. You happen to be Brian Wilson, leader of the Beach Boys — “America’s Band” — and in a personal neck-and-neck competition with the Beatles to conquer new sonic frontiers in pop music. So what do you do? You decide to compose a theme song for the next James Bond movie.

It’s a little-known fact that Brian Wilson harbored such an intent, much less actually went and did it. Working in the studio with the cream of Los Angeles-based studio musicians (while his bandmates were on tour in Japan), Wilson composed and recorded an instrumental track titled Run James, Run. Stacked with swinging brass, bongos, and (the de rigueur) twangy guitars, it’s a quintessential piece of 60s-style spy music. Unfortunately, Wilson wasn’t the most self-confident person in the world to begin with, and his fragile psyche was further compromised by nervous breakdowns, heavy drug use, and (later diagnosed) bipolar syndrome. End result: he lost his nerve and never submitted the music to Eon Productions, producers of the Bond films. Happy ending: he renamed the piece Pet Sounds and made it the title track to one of the greatest albums of the rock era.

It’s an interesting thought that the natural, intuitive, pairing of James Bond and pop music would have been his countrymen — and fellow British invaders — the Beatles1. But it was their American counterpart who actually made the first move, abortive as it was. At any rate, here is an imagining of the title sequence for You Only Live Twice, marrying Maurice Binder’s visuals with Brian Wilson’s music:

(Courtesy LuiECuomo’s channel on YouTube.)

1 Who knows? Maybe they were still smarting over the “earmuffs” crack in Goldfinger. Maybe John Lennon would’ve had political issues with the amorality of the screen 007. Maybe Paul was setting things up for Live and Let Die. Maybe Ringo was setting things up for Barbara Bach…

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