Me TV teases its fall schedule but doesn’t mention U.N.C.L.E.

"What's happening with Me TV, Mr. Solo?"

“What’s happening with Me TV, Mr. Solo?”


So, Memorable Entertainment Television, popularly known as Me TV, has started to tease its fall schedule. But there’s no mention of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Me TV’s website has video four short promos for series to be shown in the fall, including Mission: Impossible.

As recently as Sunday, July 20, its Facebook page had a 10-second promo for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. But, as of Wednesday, July 23, that same FACEBOOK PAGE has no mention of U.N.C.L.E. Meanwhile, Me TV telecast its short M:I promo during its July 23 telecast of The Rockford Files.

Your guess is as good as this blog’s as to what’s going on. The Me TV U.N.C.L.E. promo wasn’t a mirage because various Facebook users were sharing it on their accounts. Meanwhile a two-hour “spy bloc” on Me TV of U.N.C.L.E. and M:I would makes sense. A few years ago, Me TV had a two-hour “war series bloc” of Combat! and Twelve O’Clock High in its overnight offerings.

If Me TV has changed its mind, perhaps it’s yet another example of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. curse.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. coming to Me TV

The original U.N.C.L.E.s

The original U.N.C.L.E.s

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is coming to Memorable Entertainment Television, or Me TV, according to a promo the U.S. channel ran ON ITS FACEBOOK PAGE.

The promo only runs 10 seconds, utilizing the second-season version of Jerry Goldsmith’s theme music. There were no further details in the promo, such as date or how frequently U.N.C.L.E. will be telecast. The programming schedule on ME TV’S WEBSITE only goes into early August. The channel, which specializes in televising 1960s and 1970s shows, typically begins a fall schedule during the U.S. Labor Day holiday.

If Me TV begins U.N.C.L.E. in Sepember, that’d be in time for the 50th anniversary of the series starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum. The show ran from September 1964 until January 1968.

UPDATE: U.N.C.L.E. composer? What U.N.C.L.E. composer?

"Don't rely on IMDB, son."

Robert Vaughn says, “Don’t rely on IMDB, son.” (Uncle Agents photo, used with permission)

As Maxwell Smart used to say, “Sorry about that, Chief!”

IMDB.com has altered its ENTRY FOR THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. MOVIE to remove Theodore Shapiro as composer. IMDB has gone back to not listing any composer at all.

As noted in this blog before, both IMDB and Wikipedia both listed Shapiro as composer for the film that’s due out in January 2015. (In fact, as of July 10, Wikipedia STILL DOES.) Both websites rely on users to input information and things occasionally go awry.

Anyway, it appears we’re back to Square One. Whoever gets the gig will be following in the footsteps of famed composer Jerry Goldsmith, who scored the pilot of the 1964-68 television series and wrote its distinctive theme.

Meanwhile, IMDB has, once again, added a name to the movie’s writing credit (Jeff Kleeman, one of its producers). The site for a time added another writer’s name, only to withdraw it later. So, for now, it’s best to say we’ll see what happens.

‘Mr. Warner, when does U.N.C.L.E. get some publicity?’

Henry Cavill in a new publicity image

Henry Cavill in a new publicity image

This past week, Warner Bros. unleashed some publicity images for a movie involving actor Henry Cavill — a movie that won’t be out for 22 months.

That film, of course, is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, due out in May 2016. Warners released a new publicity image of Cavill as Superman. Various outlets bit on doing stories, including Forbes.com and USA Today. The movie currently is in production.

Meanwhile, Cavill has done another Warners feature. By comparison, the studio is in radio silence concerning the film. That project is a film version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which is due in a little more than six months, in mid-January 2015.

Long-time U.N.C.L.E. fans have a mixed reaction. Some would like to see a new take on the 1964-68 television series. Others wished the studio would have left well enough alone. Either way, there’s a feeling of disrespect. Robert Vaughn, who played Napoleon Solo in the series (the role Cavill played in the film), says he wasn’t asked to do a cameo. That rubbed some fans the wrong way.

What it comes down to is business. Warners is looking to Batman v Superman as the precursor to a Justice League movie, where a group of super heroes combine their forces. The studio watched as Disney/Marvel had a huge hit with 2012′s The Avengers and the owners of the WB shield want in on that kind of action.

The U.N.C.L.E. film, meanwhile, is more of a back door operation. Warners would, of course, like it to be a hit. But it has bet a relatively modest sum, if $75 million can be called modest. That’s less money that, say, the first Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes film. That 2009 project, which, like U.N.C.L.E., was directed by Guy Ritchie, had an estimated budget of $95 million. Of course, Downey, fresh off 2008′s Iron Man, was a star. It remains to be seen whether Cavill is a star beyond 2013′s Man of Steel.

Warners has a lot invested in its superhero properties (its parent company owns DC Comics). It’s also trying to play catch up with Disney/Marvel’s machine-like output of films.

Also, Superman has more name recognition among the general public than U.N.C.L.E. does. Christopher Reeve did four Superman films from 1978 to 1987, Warners has produced various Superman TV projects, a 2006 movie and Man of Steel. There hasn’t been an U.N.C.L.E. production since a 1983 television movie. The first-generation U.N.C.L.E. fan base isn’t getting any younger.

Put another way, leveraging DC characters is a top priority for the studio. U.N.C.L.E.? Not so much.

For better or worse, U.N.C.L.E. fans are going to have to wait to see what Cavill and Ritchie have done with U.N.C.L.E.

If U.N.C.L.E. is a success, can Cavill do sequels?

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

File this under “getting ahead of yourself.” Still, at major companies, people are paid to think about various future scenarios. So…

If The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie, scheduled to debut in January 2015, is a success, will the lead even be able to do any sequels?

Warner Bros. evidently plans on keeping Henry Cavill busy playing Superman. The studio also controls U.N.C.L.E., but you still have to wonder if the actor will have enough time to do future U.N.C.L.E. films. He played Napoleon Solo in the U.N.C.L.E. movie that’s now in post-production.

Here’s what prompts the question:

Nikki Finke, the founder of the Deadline: Hollywood website, is now on her own and has started A NEW WEBSITE. She has a history of scoops that have been proven to be true, such as Sam Mendes being in talks to direct Skyfall and John Logan being hired to write Bond 24 and Bond 25.

In one of her posts on the new site, Finke reported that Warner Bros. plans in the way of superhero movies. It’s already known that Warners is planning a Batman-Superman movie for May 2016 (it’s currently in production) and a Justice League film for 2017.

According to Finke, the studio also wants another solo Superman movie for May 2018. (She also says Warners plans several other superhero projects as it tries to catch up with Disney’s Marvel Studios.) Cavill first played the character in 2013′s Man of Steel.

If Finke is right, you’ve got to wonder if Cavill would have the time to do an U.N.C.L.E. sequel. Superhero movies involve a lot of special effects and long shooting schedules.

The U.N.C.L.E. movie had a tight, three-month shooting schedule — probably in part to make sure Cavill could beef up in time to do the Batman-Superman film. Compare that to Skyfall, the most recent James Bond movie, that had a seven-month shooting schedule.

Again, this is looking way ahead. The U.N.C.L.E. movie hardly is assured of being a hit. It doesn’t have the name recognition of the comic book characters from Marvel and DC that are populating movies.

Considering the seeming curse whether there’d even be an U.N.C.L.E. movie, it’s remarkable there’s even a film to watch. Even then, some fans don’t like the idea of a movie, preferring there never, ever be any more versions of the original 1964-68 series.

Still, it is something to keep in mind as events unfold in the months ahead.

Fans say they’ve seen U.N.C.L.E. test showing

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer

A few fans took to Twitter saying they had seen a June 9 test screening of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie in the Los Angeles area.

At this point, three fans seem to have Tweeted. You can CLICK HERE or CLICK HERE or CLICK HERE to view the postings. (UPDATE: There’s a fourth from somebody who didn’t like it. You can CLICK HERE to read the negative mini-review.)

The fans involved didn’t provide a lot of details. Some said they liked the stars, Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, who play the roles of Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin that Robert Vaughn and David McCallum portrayed in the original 1964-68 television series. One fan said the test showing was at a theater in Pasdena, California. The postings were spotted by @laneyboggs2001 on Twitter.

If there actually was a test screening, some questions arise. No composer for the U.N.C.L.E. movie, which won’t be released until January 2015, has been announced. Did the test version use music from another movie, or movies, to take up the slack? Also, some test versions of films can be rough, missing special effects that are still in production.

Still, this may be a sign that Warner Bros. is taking some care with U.N.C.L.E. Some reshoots were done earlier this year that didn’t involve the main actors. A test screening seven months before the premier date would provide time if other fixes are needed. Presumably, it’d be hard to do anything too elaborate. Cavill currently is filming a Batman-Superman movie.

U.N.C.L.E. 50th anniversary event planned for LA

The original U.N.C.L.E.s

The original U.N.C.L.E.s

The 50th anniversary of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is scheduled to be celebrated in September in the Los Angeles area. All the details aren’t set yet, but here’s information FROM A FACEBOOK PAGE for the gathering.

“The Golden Anniversary Affair” – a two day event “Somewhere in Los Angeles”, Sept. 26th-27th, 2014, will be celebrating a half century of U.N.C.L.E.. This once in a lifetime event will feature a cast and crew reunion, a display of original props, presentations by U.N.C.L.E. aficionados as well as other surprises. A special feature will be an exclusive “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” MGM /SONY Studios tour that features a visit inside STAGE 10 where U.N.C.L.E HQ once stood. Keep Channel “D” open for more information as it becomes available.

The show debuted on Sept. 22, 1964, and ran until Sept. 15, 1968. A movie based on the series will be released in January 2015.

UPDATE (May 28): The event now HAS A WEBSITE, which says that participating U.N.C.L.E. crew members include Joseph Sargent, a leading director on the series; Fred Koenekamp, who photographed 90 of the 105 Man From U.N.C.L.E. episodes; and George Lehr, who was assistant to the producer and associate producer.

Matthew Vaughn’s latest looks more U.N.C.L.E. than 007

The Movies.com website has a post about Kingsman: The Secret Service.

The website describes the movie, directed by Matthew Vaughn and due out this fall, as “like James Bond but way more ridiculous.” But it actually looks more U.N.C.L.E. than 007.

Based on the trailer, it’s about the exploits of an international spy organization, like U.N.C.L.E. was. Also, characters enter a hidden entrance via a hook in a trailor shop, like Del Floria’s in U.N.C.L.E.

Judge for yourself:

How U.N.C.L.E. was ahead of its time on drones

Robert Vaughn in a first-season main title.

Robert Vaughn in a first-season main title.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. showed up in an unusual place: JIMROMENESKO.COM, a website about trends in journalism.

Romenesko, run by its namesake, Jim Romenesko, had a post concerning a journalism professor trying to track down early media mentions of drones.

The professor, Barney McCoy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, wrote the following to Romemesko:

The FAA’s restrictions over the commercial use of drones in this country left me and Matt Waite, Drone Lab founder in UNL’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications, discussing the earliest media mentions of drones.

Then I recalled a drone memory I had from a popular fictional TV show from the 1960′s.

The show was The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and the specific episode was “The Mad, MAD Tea Party Affair from the first season. McCoy asked Romenesko readers if they knew of any earlier media depiction of drones.

The professor also uploaded a YouTube video of a scene from the episode. He included an audio recording of the Hugo Montenegro-arranged version of Jerry Goldsmith’s theme music that most definitely wasn’t part of the episode.

In any case, in the clip, a drone sort of attacks U.N.C.L.E. headquarters in New York. which Robert Vaughn’s Napoleon Solo and David McCallum’s Illya Kuryakin have to deal with. Those who have seen the episode are aware of the twists that follow.

Spring 1964: U.N.C.L.E. gets a new chief

Leo G. Carroll's title card for first-season U.N.C.L.E. episodes

Leo G. Carroll’s title card for first-season U.N.C.L.E. episodes

With less than a month before regular series production began, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. had some tweaks, both major and minor.

Superficially, star Robert Vaughn changed his hairstyle, switching his part and going for more of a “dry look” compared to the pilot that would air as the first episode.

More substantively, U.N.C.L.E. would have a new chief: Leo G. Carroll, a mainstay of several Alfred Hitchcock films, was cast as Alexander Waverly, replacing Will Kuluva’s Mr. Allison.

Carroll was three decades older than Kuluva. He had two basic on-screen personas: kind and bumbling (the 1955 comedy We’re No Angels or the Topper television series) or cold and calculating (“The Professor” in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest).

Occasionally, he got to a character where he displayed *both* personas (such as THIS EPISODE of the Boris Karloff Thriller anthology series where his character’s seeming bumbling masked his true persona).

Here’s an entry from Craig Henderson’s U.N.C.L.E. TIMELINE:

Monday, May 18, 1964

(Executive Producer Norman) Felton officially informs NBC that (Rober) Vaughn and (David) McCallum will remain to play running characters but Will Kuluva has been dropped. The new chief at U.N.C.L.E. will be played by Leo G. Carroll, and the character’s name has changed from Allison to Alexander Waverly.

Arguably, Carroll’s Waverly is an extension of his “Professor” character. Waverly is calculating and, as the series went on, showed he was more than willing to sacrifice his operatives if necessary. In one second-season episode (The Foxes and Hounds Affair), Waverly drops Solo (just returning from a vacation) into the middle of a complicated assignment where the ace agent’s life is in danger.

The official casting of the new U.N.C.L.E. chief came less than two weeks before series production began on June 1. The first draft for The Double Affair, which would be the eighth episode broadcast, still refers to Allison as the U.N.C.L.E. chief.

As the first season unfolded, the production team would seek to expand Carroll’s role. Waverly would be given a cousin who bore an uncanny resemblance (The Bow-Wow Affair) and would occasionally demonstrate he had once been a pretty mean operative himself (knocking out a lackey in The Deadly Decoy Affair).

The on-camera team was now complete. The question now was whether the show would work — or even survive.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 132 other followers