U.N.C.L.E. ‘teaser’ shown in Australia

Henry Cavill

Henry Cavill

A Twitter user in Australia, @aaronkaj, posted that he’s seen a trailer for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie.

The original post went out on Oct. 14. @aaronkaj was then peppered with questions seeking details. “It was more of a teaser,” @aaronkaj responded. “Showing Henry & Arnie trying to work together as a team.”

That was a reference to actors Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, who have the roles of Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, portrayed by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum in the original 1964-68 television series.

The rest of the exchange (which contains minor spoilers): can be viewed BY CLICKING HERE.

Another spoiler, based on the description from @aaronkaj, it sounds a bit like a scene in the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, where Bond (Roger Moore) works with a Russian agent (Barbara Bach). Specifically, it sounds like an exchange during the underwater car sequence of the 10th 007 movie.

In any case, the original Oct. 14 posting (re-Tweeted by Laney Boggs on Twitter, who has followed developments concerning the movie closely) looks like this:

U.N.C.L.E.: the week that was

"I can't believe everything that's going on, Illya."

“I can’t believe everything that’s going on, Illya.”

The week of Sept. 21-27 may be the busiest U.N.C.L.E.-related week since the 1964-68 series ended its first television run in January 1968. At least social media amplifies activity to make it seem that way.

It was also the week where news about U.N.C.L.E. 1.0 (the original series) and U.N.C.L.E. 2.0 (a movie version scheduled for release in August 2015 and starring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer) collided.

Here’s a look:

Sept. 21: In the U.S., the MeTV channel runs the third episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Quadripartite Affair. It’s one of the best of the entire series and was the first to include significant screen time for David McCallum’s Illya Kuryakin character. The director was future movie director Richard Donner and scripter Alan Caillou would do much to develop Kuryakin in several first-season stories.

Sept. 22: Fans celebrate the show’s 50th anniversary across a variety of social media.

Sept. 23: Composer Daniel Pemberton confirms via Twitter that he’s written the score for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie directed by Guy Ritchie and that recording of the music begins on Sept. 24.

Sept. 24: Recording sessions of the U.N.C.L.E. score begin at Abbey Road Studios. Separately, the movie gets a rating of PG-13 from the Motion Picture Association of America, according a list of MPAA ratings compiled by Box Office Mojo.

Sept. 25: Warner Home Video announces plans to re-release The Man From U.N.C.L.E. series, according to TVSHOWSONDVD.COM. The re-release, scheduled for Nov. 4, will have all the extras a 2007 release had but the packaging will be different.

Sept. 26: The Golden Anniversary Affair, a two-day gathering of 100 fans, begins in Culver City, California, at the site of the former MGM studio where the show was produced.

Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, stars of the original series, aren’t able to attend but post greetings on the event’s website. Fans post pictures on social media of crew members, including associate producer George Lehr and composer Gerald Fried, who scored the most episodes of the show.

Also posted are photos of original props, including the U.N.C.L.E. special, such as THIS ONE by author Paul Bishop.

Half a world away, composer Pemberton makes a posting on Twitter that appears to reveal one track of his movie score will be titled His Name Is Napoleon Solo.

Sept. 27: The Golden Anniversary Affair and the U.N.C.L.E. movie recording sessions continue. Andrew Skeet, a musician working on the recording, Tweets a picture of Pemberton working on his keyboard at Abbey Road.

U.N.C.L.E. movie gets PG-13 rating

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer (Art by Paul Baack)

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer
(Art by Paul Baack)

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie, 11 months ahead of its U.S. release has gotten a rating of PG-13 from the Motion Picture Association of America, according to the BOX OFFICE MOJO WEBSITE.

The MPAA cited “action violence, some suggestive content, and partial nudity,” according to a Box Office Mojo compilation of recent movie ratings.

That’s not unexpected. PG-13 is the sweet spot for most action movies. James Bond films, for example, have carried a PG-13 rating since 1989’s Licence to Kill. A rating of R, for restricted, where children under 17 aren’t supposed to be admitted without a parent, cuts down the potential audience for a film at theaters.

Separately, recording of the movie’s score began today. Composer Daniel Pemberton, for the second time in two days, took to Twitter to provide an update.

This week has been where U.N.C.L.E. 1.0 and 2.0 have collided.

On Sept. 21, MeTV telecast The Quadripartite Affair, the third episode of the original 1964-68 series and the first to have significant screen time for the Illya Kuryakin character. The next day was the 50th anniversary of the show.

The past two days have had news about the new U.N.C.L.E. film, with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, in the roles originally played by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum.

U.N.C.L.E. at 50: an unusual anniversary

Robert Vaughn in a first-season main title.

Robert Vaughn in a first-season main title.

This month marks The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s 50th anniversary. But the milestone comes at an unusual time and is full of ups and downs.

The original 1964-68 series starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum is getting a bit more visibility in the U.S. because THE METV CHANNEL HAS STARTED TELECASTING the show. Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles area, there’s a SOLD OUT EVENT LATER THIS MONTH featuring actors and crew members of the series.

Of course, there’s a reborn U.N.C.L.E. in the form of a Guy Ritchie-directed film starring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer in the Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin roles. But the only people outside of Warner Bros. who’ve seen it are those who’ve attended test screenings. The movie, which originally had a mid-January release date, now won’t debut for 11 months.

Fans generally welcome the MeTV development, except for those annoyed at their local MeTV outlet for pre-empting the show for other programming.

On the other hand, divides U.N.C.L.E. fans. Some would like to see a movie, if it’s true to the spirit of the show. We already know it’s not true to the last letter of the show. The movie, set in the early 1960s, is an U.N.C.L.E. origin story. In the series, U.N.C.L.E. had been established for years.

Other fans are actively rooting against the movie for a variety of reasons. Examples: the original doesn’t need remaking, the changes already known between film and series are too much and objections to the casting (for a variety of reasons) of Cavill and Hammer. How deep is such feeling? In the absence of scientific polling, hard to say.

The show did help launch spymania on U.S. television. There had been other espionage series, such as Five Fingers, starring David Hedison and Luciana Paluzzi, that ran just one season. Even the notion of a multi-national organization, one of the ways U.N.C.L.E. differentiated itself, had been tried in AN UNSOLD PILOT that aired as the last episode of the Boris Karloff Thriller series in 1962.

The series got off to a slow start, but was helped by a mid-season change in time slot and the surge of movie spymania stemming from 1964’s Goldfinger. By the fall of 1965, other spy series were on the air.

U.N.C.L.E. hasn’t had the visibility of other old television shows, one reason why the show joining MeTV’s Sunday night schedule was welcomed by fans.

The movie is something else. Go to various places on social media and you can see the debates for yourself.

As a result, U.N.C.L.E. on its golden anniversary doesn’t seem to have the sense of celebration as, say, Dr. No’s golden anniversary two years ago.

It’s still an anniversary worth noting. Those attending the Los Angeles area program will have the chance to meet with crew members in their 80s and 90s and will get the opportunity to hear their insight. Still, it’s a different kind of anniversary, for good or ill, depending on your view.

Guy Ritchie’s U.N.C.L.E. philosophy

Photo of Armie Hammer and Guy Ritchie that appeared in the Daily Mail

Photo of Armie Hammer and Guy Ritchie that appeared in the Daily Mail last year.

The Empire magazine story about The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie still isn’t online, but fans have posted images of the print version. It contains a few quotes from director Guy Ritchie.

Ritchie said he only dipped so far into the original 1964-68 series that starred Robert Vaughn and David McCallum.

“We’re tipping our hat to the original series, but we’re really taking the positives of the existing brand and reworking them for a contemporary audience,” Ritchie told Empire.

“There were only a few things I needed to keep from the TV series. It needed global stakes, a Russian and an American. The Russian had to be blond and the American dark. Other than that, it brings no baggage for being an ‘inherited project.'”

The last comment is an apparent reference to how an U.N.C.L.E. movie project has been bouncing around for years. Ritchie took it over after director Steven Soderbergh exited in late 2011.

Ritchie’s movie is an “origin of U.N.C.L.E.” story, with Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) a CIA agent and Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) a KGB operative who join forces in the early 1960s. In the television series, U.N.C.L.E. had been around for some time, with Solo and Kuryakin trained as U.N.C.L.E. agents in the 1950s.

The movie is schedule for release in August 2015.

UPDATE: Henry Cavill News has a post with an image of the article. You can CLICK HERE to view it. You can CLICK HERE for a larger image of the article on that website that’s easier to read.

 

U.N.C.L.E. movie: 1 star has seen TV show, 1 hasn’t

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer (Art by Paul Baack)

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer
(Art by Paul Baack)

Henry Cavill, who plays Napoleon Solo in the movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. hasn’t seen the original 1964-68 series while Armie Hammer, the film’s Illya Kuryakin, has.

The source of this is Empire magazine, which has published a feature about the movie, scheduled to be released in August 2015. The Empire story isn’t at the publication’s website but THE COMIC BOOK MOVIE WEBSITE has a summary.

According to that summary, Cavill told Empire, “I don’t see that it was necessarily important. I just wanted to meet with Guy (Ritchie, the director) to know how he saw it.”

Hammer told the magazine, “It is completely different. If you watch the pilot episode, it just starts. It doesn’t say what U.N.C.L.E. is, who these characters are. It just goes and you have to catch up. So, this is a genesis story of U.N.C.L.E.”

The Comic Book Movie post by Josh Wilding also has what are described as the first official images from the movie. You can CLICK HERE to see it.

The series, with Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, marks its 50th anniversary next month. In the U.S., the MeTV channel will begin showing the series at 10 p.m. eastern time on Sunday, Sept. 7, as part of a weekly bloc of spy shows.

U.N.C.L.E.’s odd post-series history

"It's hard to find our show some times, Illya."

“It’s hard to find our show sometimes, Illya.”

UPDATE: The 1980s section, corrects name of network to Christian Broadcasting Network. CBN changed its name to Family Channel name after it showed U.N.C.L.E.

Also, readers (one is a comment below, the other was on Facebook) have mentioned the following: The Say U.N.C.L.E. Affair, a 1986 A-Team episode with U.N.C.L.E. memes (Robert Vaughn was a regular in that show’s final season and David McCallum was the episode’s guest star) as well as a Dec. 31, 1989-Jan. 1, 1990 U.N.C.L.E. marathon on TNT.

While we’re at it, Turner Classic Movies a few years ago had a daylong marathon of the eight U.N.C.L.E. movies, with the first beginning at 6 a.m. eastern time. TCM still occasionally shows them.

With the news that The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is going to be shown by MeTV in the U.S. starting next month, here’s a review of the show’s odd history after it ended its 1964-68 run on NBC.

This is by no means a definitive history. But it gives you an idea how a series that once was very popular had trouble finding an audience after its first run. The show made stars of Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, even to the point where the Beatles wanted to meet Vaughn in 1966. But later, it was as if the show disappeared.

Meanwhile, other series that were on at the time, such as Mission: Impossible and The Wild Wild West, were much easier to find on local television stations. And, of course, the original Star Trek (which shared many of the same guest stars as U.N.C.L.E.) became a broad pop culture event while in syndication.

Circa 1968-1969: For a period, U.N.C.L.E. could be seen in syndication. An Indianapolis independent station showed U.N.C.L.E. (Both Man and The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.) Monday through Friday in an afternoon time slot.

However, this did not last that long. In general, there was a concern about violence on television and this perhaps affected U.N.C.L.E. For whatever reason, U.N.C.L.E. soon became virtually invisible.

1970s: The best chance to see U.N.C.L.E. was when one of the eight “movies” — re-edited from series episodes — popped up on local television. In the `1970s, I caught To Trap a Spy (an expanded version of the series pilot) on a local television station. CBS even showed The Spy With My Face, an expanded version of the first-season episode The Double Affair, on the CBS Late Movie. At the time, CBS didn’t have its own viable late-night show and was content to show movies starting at 11:30 p.m. eastern time.

1980s: In the early 1980s, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which made the series in association with producer Norman Felton’s Arena Productions, dusted off U.N.C.L.E. The studio made a renewed syndication push. The original MGM logs at the end of episodes were removed and new ones added.

In 1985, the Christian Broadcasting Network — controlled by tele-evangelist Pat Robertson — showed The Man From U.N.C.L.E. at 11 p.m. eastern time in the U.S. But for the CBN debut,the channel skipped over the entire black-and-white first season. Its first telecast was The Arabian Affair from the second season.

By the spring or summer of 1986, CBN showed all but four episodes: the two-part Alexander the Greater Affair and The Very Important Zombie Affair from the second season and The Abominable Snowman Affair from the third. The latter two weren’t shown, reportedly because of their un-Christian content (voodoo with Very Important Zombie, depictions of Eastern religions in Snowman). As for Alexander the Greater, it turned out nobody could find it. More about that shortly.

Meanwhile, there were changes behind the scenes. Television mogul Ted Turner bought MGM, primarily to gain control of its film library, including classic films such as Gone With the Wind and Ben-Hur. But Turner borrowed heavily for the purchase. So he sold the studio, while keeping the film library — which also included U.N.C.L.E.

Thus, in 1988, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was part of TNT’s Saturday morning (and later Saturday afternoon) programming. TNT telecast Very Important Zombie and Abominable Snowman shortly thereafter.

1990s: By the mid-1990s, U.N.C.L.E. shows up in the early-morning hours of Tuesday (technically part of its Monday schedule). In 1999, a Turner employee finds Alexander the Greater. The two-part story was telecast July 4, 2000, the last U.N.C.L.E. telecast on the cable network. In the interim, Turner has sold out to Time Warner, whose Warner Bros. now controls the show.

NBC had never rerun Alexander the Greater. So the TNT telecast was the first time the television version had been seen since September 1965. Until then, only the movie version, One Spy Too Many, had been available.

In 1999, TV Land had a “spy week” promotion in connection with the second Austin Powers movie. Four episodes each of The Man and The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. are shown on separate nights, along with series such as It Takes a Thief and The Avengers. For Man, four first-season episodes are telecast. (Girl only ran one season, making selection easier.) TNT, around the same time, showed some episodes of The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. in connection with the birthday of star Stefanie Powers.

21st century: Both The Man and Girl From U.N.C.L.E. have shown up on other cable channels but don’t enjoy a lot of visibility.

In 2007, the series is released on DVD, initially by Time-Life. The original MGM logo at the end of episodes was restored. Within a few years, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. and the eight U.N.C.L.E. movies are released by Warner Archive, the manufactured-on-demand arm of Warner Bros.

MeTV picking up The Man From U.N.C.L.E. comes just ahead of the show’s 50th anniversary as well as a movie version of the show coming in January.

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