Bond 24 questions: the writers edition

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis.

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis.

Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are back? There’s been no official announcement but it was reported last month by The Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye that the writers were retained to rewrite John Logan’s efforts.

Bamigboye had a number of Skyfall and Bond 24 scoops proven correct. Example: he wrote that Purvis and Wade were initially not going to be back for Bond 24, while their Skyfall co-scribe John Logan would be the new 007 film’s writer. Purvis and Wade subsequently confirmed they were leaving the series. Until, it now seems, things changed.

How extensive will Purvis and Wade’s Bond 24 script work going to be? If the duo end up getting a credit, you’ll know it will have been substantial.

The Writer’s Guild has extensive guidelines on how much work a scribe (with a team of writers such as Purvis and Wade counted as a single entity) should do to get a screen credit. A writer or writing team must contribute more than 33 percent of the finished product for an adapted script, 50 percent for an original one. Bond 24 falls under the adapted category since it uses a character who originally appeared in a novel.

Getting a credit isn’t as simple as counting lines of dialogue. A credit is supposed to reflect “contributions to the screenplay as a whole,” according to the guild. It’s possible, for example, for a writer to change every line of dialogue but for the guild to determine there’s been no significant change to the screenplay.

In any case, if Bond 24’s credit reads something like, “Written by John Logan and Neal Purvis & Robert Wade,” Purvis and Wade will have done more than revamp some dialogue or tweak a scene or two.

Is this unusual?It’s the normal method of operation for both movies in general and James Bond movies in particular. Even 007 films that had only one writing credit had contributions from other writers. For example:

–From Russia With Love had a solo screenplay credit for Richard Maibaum, but also an “adapted by” credit for Johanna Harwood, while Len Deighton did work that didn’t earn a credit.
–You Only Live Twice had a “screenplay by” credit for Roald Dahl but an “additional story material” credit for Harold Jack Bloom, the film’s first writer.
–On Her Majesty’s Secret Service had a Maibaum solo credit for the screenplay but an “additional dialogue” credit for Simon Raven, who rewrote dialogue in some scenes.
–Tomorrow Never Dies had a “written by” credit for Bruce Feirstein. Other writers took a whirl without credit between Feirstein’s first draft and his final draft.

As far as anyone knows, Live And Let Die really represented the work of only one writer (Tom Mankiewicz), and he did plenty of rewrites himself.

Is this any reason to be concerned? The Daily Mail also reported the start of Bond 24 filming was pushed back to December from October. If true, that should still be enough time for Bond 24 to meet its release date of late October 2015 in the U.K. and early November 2015 in the U.S.

What should fans look for next? The date of the press conference announcing the start of Bond 24 filming. There should also be a press release. If Purvis and Wade get a mention in that press release along with John Logan, that’ll be a sign they did a fair amount of work on the script.

MI6 Confidential features Armstrong, Picker in new issue

David Picker

David Picker

MI Confidential is out with A NEW ISSUE that, among things, includes features on stuntman/second unit director Vic Armstrong and former United Artists executive David V. Picker.

Armstrong worked on the 007 film series in such films as You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He was interviewed for John Cork-directed documentaries about those movies, providing some behind-the-scenes perspective about how stunts were performed. From 1997-2002, Armstrong assumed the helm as stunt coordinator and second unit director for three Bond films starring Pierce Brosnan.

Picker was among the UA executives who reached a deal in 1961 with producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to get the 007 film series started. His memoirs were published last year, including A CHAPTER ON THE BOND FILM SERIES.

Also included in the issue are stories about Lana Wood and her experiences filming Diamonds Are Forever and Ian Fleming’s taste in cars.

The price for MI Confidential No. 25 is 7 British pounds, $11 or 8.50 euros. For more information about the contents or to order, CLICK HERE.

2014: numerous big 007 anniversaries

"Order plenty of Bollinger -- '55, of course."

“Order plenty of Bollinger — ’55, of course.”

We were reminded that 2014 will mark a number of significant James Bond film anniversaries. Thus, there’s more reason than normal for 007 fans to dip into their home video copies.

50th anniversary of Goldfinger. The first mega-hit for Agent 007.

45th anniversary of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. An early attempt to bring 007 back down to earth, but one that wasn’t judged a success by United Artists.

40th anniversary of The Man With The Golden Gun. A box office misstep after Live And Let Die set a worldwide 007 box office record (though not in the U.S. market).

35th annivesary of Moonraker. Producer Albert R. Broccoli’s extragant follow-up to The Spy Wh Loved Me.

25th anniversary of Licence to Kill. A controversial Bond entry that preceded a six-year hiatus for the series.

15th anniversary of The World Is Not Enough. Pierce Brosnan’s third 007 entry and a preview of attempts to bring a more dramatic take to the world of 007.

UPDATE: As reader Stuart Basinger reminds us:

60th anniversary of the CBS television broadcast of Casino Royale. The first, and so far only, adaptation to feature an American (Barry Nelson in this case) playing Bond.

50th anniversary of Ian Fleming’s death on Aug. 12. 007’s creator passed away the month before the film version of Goldfinger’s U.K. debut.

And one more that’s related:
50th anniversary of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: Debut of the series featuring Ian Fleming’s other spy, Napoleon Solo, co-created with television producer Norman Felton.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from HMSS!

Our annual holiday greeting:

Website ranks the net worth of the screen 007s

With a $300 net worth, Sean Connery could probably afford a better tie today.

Sean Connery could probably afford a better tie today.

The Celebrity Networth website poses the question, “What’s your favorite star got in the bank?” Among other things, the site ranks the net worth of the six actors who’ve played James Bond over the past half-century.

A few caveats are in order. For the six Bonds, the site doesn’t have a lot of detail on the math involved in the estimates. At least one entry (current 007 Daniel Craig) isn’t up to date.

By far the highest ranked is the original screen 007, Sean Connery, at $300 million. Celebrity Networth doesn’t explain how it arrived at that figure.

However, the site says Connery could be even richer. A separate article estimates Connery lost out on $450 million by turning down the role of Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In order to convince Connery to sign on to the film, the producers pulled out all the stops. In addition to a $10 million per film salary, they offered Connery 15% of the box office for all three movies. In what would turn out to be a monumentally poor decision, Connery declined the part because he “did not understand the script”.

Meanwhile, perhaps a surprising No. 2 among film Bonds is George Lazenby, who appeared only in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, at $100 million. Lazenby, the site says, “turned to business and real estate investments that earned him spacious mansions in Hawaii, Brentwood, California, Australia, a ranch estate in Valyermo, California, as well as a port-side penthouse apartment in Hong Kong and an estate home in Maryland.”

No. 3 is Roger Moore, who appeared in seven 007 films from 1973 to 1985, at $90 million.

No. 4 is Pierce Brosnan, star of four Bond movies from 1995 to 2002, at $80 million. As with Moore, no details are provided about how the estimate was made.

No. 5 is the current Bond, Daniel Craig, at $45 million, but that figure was calculated in 2008 based on the text of Craig’s entry on the site.

At No. 6, is two-time 007 Timothy Dalton at $10 million.

Thanks to Gary Firuta for the heads up.

The diminished 007?

Not as big as he used to be?

Not as big as he used to be?

Once upon a time, the makers of James Bond movies wanted to make 007 even bigger.

In the novel Goldfinger, it was Bond’s caddie who figured out how Goldfinger was cheating at golf. When it came time to make the movie version, Bond figured it out while the caddie became an approving Greek chorus.

Oh Her Majesty’s Secret Service, as originally scripted called for Tracy to propose to Bond.

“I didn’t like that idea,” director Peter Hunt said in an interview for the documentary Inside On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. “I always thought Bond should be the stronger character and should be the doer.”

In the 21st century, that doesn’t seem true any more.

This week, BAZ BAMIGBOYE OF THE DAILY MAIL had a story that said Naomie Harris’s Eve Moneypenney may emerge as a “sidekick” type character to 007 in Bond 24.

In 2012’s Skyfall, a Moneypenny backstory was invented where she was an MI6 field agent who decides she’s no longer up to the rigors of being such an agent. Bond (Daniel Craig), undergoing similar strain, opts to remain out in the field.

Since at least 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond has encountered women secret agents who were his equal. But those characters were one-offs. If Bamigboye is correct (and he had a number of scoops about SKYFALL and BOND 24 that were proven to be true), Harris’s Moneypenny will be a member of the continuing cast to take up more screen time.

This comes after Judi Dench’s M grabbed more screen time over her seven 007 movies. The Eon Productions team cited how she was an Oscar-winning actress. Dench’s M was killed off in Skyfall, replaced by a new M played by Oscar-nominated Ralph Fiennes. If Fiennes returns (which seemed assured with the ending of Skyfall), will he, also, get the Dench treatment by Eon?

James Bond used to be a lone wolf. Going forward, will Bond 24 be the first installment of Team Bond (TM)? Moneypenny comes out from behind her desk, guns blazing? Ditto for Fiennes’s new M?

The latest Bamigboye report obviously hasn’t been confirmed yet. But given the writer’s ability to sniff out Bond news before it’s announced, “Moneypenny as sidekick” angle can’t be dismissed just yet. Neither can the evolution of Bond that occurred before this latest report.

Aaron Sorkin and James Bond

Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin

We’re not 100 percent sure, but we’d be willing to bet that Oscar and Emmy-winning writer and producer Aaron Sorkin is a James Bond fan.

This previous Sunday’s episode of The Newsroom concluded with the Atlantis World Media CEO Leona Lansing (Jane Fonda) waxing quite rhapsodic over a certain Mr. Daniel Craig. She had just spent $1,000 to see Skyfall and meet the current 007 actor (the reference is based ON A REAL-LIFE EVENT), when she was called away for a crisis at the titular news organization. She’s not entirely happy about it, as you can see in this pretty funny clip:

This isn’t the first time Sorkin has referenced Her Majesty’s Blunt Instrument on one of his shows. Back when The West Wing was on, and DVD players were still a high-end luxury item, presidential aide Charlie Young (Dulé Hill) has to save up to get the machine he’s been lusting after. And for good reason: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is available for purchase! President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen), however, is unimpressed with James Bond’s drinking habits, as ye shall see:

While we may disagree with Mr. Bartlett’s opinion in this matter, we’re always happy to see James Bond references in popular culture. And we’re especially pleased to find them in the works of this brilliant showrunner. Thanks, Mr. Sorkin!

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