Early reviews for Forever and a Day start to come in

U.K. cover image for Forever and a Day, Anthony Horwitz’s second James Bond continuation novel.

Early reviews of the newest James Bond continuation novel, Forever and a Day, are coming in. The novel, by Anthony Horowitz, will be published in the U.K. on May 31. It won’t be published in the United States until November.

This is Horowitz’s second Bond novel. The first, Trigger Mortis, was set in 1957 after the events of Goldfinger. The new novel is a prequel to Casino Royale.

What follows is a mostly no-spoiler sampling of reviews. However, those who want to know absolutely nothing about the book should stop reading.

DAVID MILLS, THE SUNDAY TIMES (LONDON): “Sadly it’s very formulaic. Anyone who has read more than a couple of the post-Fleming Bond novels knows that we are going to get references to his knitted tie, love of scrambled eggs and heather honey, Scottish housekeeper, scarred cheek, moccasin shoes… There’s (much, much) more but that’s enough. Then there’s the customary sequence of scenes — meeting with M, travel to foreign location, hang out in casino, drink martini, have sex, sneak up on installation that turns out not to be an innocent industrial concern after all but the heart of the villain’s dastardly enterprise heavily guarded by goons in logoed uniforms, where, of course, Bond is spotted and causes havoc while escaping.”

STEVEN POOLE, THE GUARDIAN: “Inevitably, the prose throughout is more verbose and cliched than the brutal efficiencies of Fleming, but Forever and a Day is still an enjoyably compact thriller, with an absolutely killer last line. Scattered throughout the book, too, are some pleasingly echt Bond moments, as when he tells one of his captors: “It would be nice to know your name when I kill you.’”

BRIAN SMITH, FROM SWEDEN WITH LOVE (FAN WEBSITE): “When I wrote the review for TRIGGER MORTIS, I declared it to be the best James Bond continuation novel ever. Its position has just been usurped. FOREVER AND A DAY is a stylish and clever thriller. 16 out of 16!”

Advertisements

Fired MGM CEO explores making a bid for the studio

Gary Barber, former MGM chief

Gary Barber, ousted earlier this year as CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, is looking into a bid to acquire MGM, Reuters reported, citing five people “familiar with the matter.”

Here’s a key excerpt from the Reuters story:

MGM could be worth more than $5 billion including debt, and it is far from certain that Barber can raise the funds for a bid, the sources said. His potential bid, however, is aimed at convincing the hedge funds that own and control MGM to explore a sale, the sources added.

Barber owns about 9 percent of MGM through stock options after serving as its CEO between 2010 and 2018, according to the sources. He was let go abruptly in March from MGM after signing a five-year extension to his contract, according to the sources. MGM at the time did not give a reason for his departure.

Why 007 fans should care: MGM is the home studio of 007 films and it controls the franchise along with Eon Productions and its parent company, Danjaq.

In 2016, MGM explored a possible sale to Chinese buyers, The Wall Street Journal reported in February 2017. More recently, The Hollywood Reporter said in April that MGM was again looking into a sale, with its 007 rights a major selling point.

Potential Bond 25 impact: A change in MGM ownership may well affect the announced November 2019 release date for Bond 25. There is no announced distributor for the project.

Background: Barber became co-CEO of MGM in 2010 as it exited from bankruptcy. He eventually was the sole CEO.

MGM exited bankruptcy without a distribution operation. As a result it negotiated distribution deals with other studios. Sony Pictures distributed the last four 007 films (a relationship that began before the MGM bankruptcy).

MGM last year, while Barber was CEO, announced a joint venture with Annapurna Pictures that would release each other’s movies in the United States. But Bond 25 was not part of the deal.

What does this mean? Bond 25 remains a pawn of a chessboard controlled by various business interests.

Amusing trivia: Ian Fleming worked for Reuters in the 1930s.

About Whishaw’s ‘confirmation’ he’ll be in Bond 25

Publicity still of Ben Whishaw with Daniel Craig in Skyfall

Over the past several days, the blog has noted a number of stories saying that Ben Whishaw has confirmed he’ll be in Bond 25.

The various stories cite a May 17 story in The Hollywood Reporter.

Here are the key quotes from the original THR story:

One film franchise looking more certain is James Bond, in which Whishaw has played the character Q since 2012’s Skyfall. Danny Boyle looks set to direct the next, the 25th, 007 offering, although Whishaw admitted he hadn’t spoken to him about the as-yet-untitled project

“Nothing yet. But I think it’s not happening until the end of the year, so I have no idea. I know as much as you do!,” he said. “I believe I’m contracted to be in it. That’s as much as I know.”

But he said he was enthused that Boyle was the choice as the next director. “I was thrilled when I read that he was going to be doing it,” he said. “I can’t think of a better, more exciting director for Daniel [Craig], for the way that he’s taken the character. I think it’ll be really exciting to work with him. I’ve been such a big fan.” (emphasis added)

With that in mind, here how that’s been played up.

A Very English Scandal star Ben Whishaw confirms return to James Bond franchise (The Independent)

Ben Whishaw Confirms He Will Return as Q in Bond 25 (Esquire.com)

Another James Bond Actor Who Is Probably Returning for Bond 25 (Cinema Blend)

Of the three, only the headline writer for Cinema Blend showed any kind of restraint to reflect Whishaw’s less-than-definitive comments. Truth be told, the blog would be greatly surprised if Whishaw wasn’t in a fifth Daniel Craig 007 film. But Whshaw wasn’t exactly confirming his participation in the project.

Elon Musk cracks a James Bond joke

Elon Musk’s one-time Twitter photo

There’s no question Elon Musk, CEO of electric-car maker Tesla, likes James Bond.  In 2013, he bought the submarine car from The Spy Who Loved Me. At one point, his Twitter photo evoked Blofeld and Dr. Evil. And in 2016, it was revealed he had a “Project Goldfinger.”

So, it shouldn’t have been a surprise he cracked a James Bond joke in an exchange on Twitter.

Musk started with a message to Twitter followers.

“We’re going to include some fun games as hidden Easter eggs in Tesla S, X & 3,” Musk wrote in one tweet. “What do you think would be most fun in a car using the center touch screen?”

This post came back in response: “A radar tracker, oil slick sprayer, nail spreader, smoke screen, tire slasher, and ejector seat.”

Musk, however, wasn’t going to let that be the last word. His response: “Just order your car with the James Bond option package. It’s an off-menu item for those in the know.”

That response can be viewed below.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

007 gets drawn into U.S. politics

One-time GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s Twitter picture.

James Bond got drawn into U.S. politics this week as CIA got a new director.

The U.S. Senate voted to ratify Gina Haspel in a 54-45 vote. But not all Republican members of the Senate voted for the veteran CIA employee because at one point she ran an agency facility in Thailand performing “enhanced interrogation,” including waterboarding. Haspel wrote a letter dated May 14 (which became public the next day) saying the agency shouldn’t have utilized such techniques.

Mike Huckabee, a one-time GOP presidential candidate, criticized one GOP Senator who voted no, Jeff Flake of Arizona.

“Of course Jeff ‘Flaky Flake’ didn’t vote for Gina Haspel,” Huckabee wrote May 17. “If @realDonaldTrump nominated James Bond, he would have voted ‘no.’ That’s why Flake is ‘Dr. No.’ And I’ll be HE colluded with the Russians! ‘From Russia With Love.'”

Huckabee also is the father of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s press secretary.

Here’s what the tweet looked like:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Meanwhile, TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, whose politics are the opposite of Sanders, had this reaction:

 

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

MGM paid ex-CEO $15 million in severance

Gary Barber, former MGM chief

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, in reporting first-quarter financial results on May 16, disclosed it paid former CEO Gary Barber about $15 million in severance.

The home studio of the James Bond film series referenced the payment in a table labeled Adjusted EBITDA (EBITDA stands for earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization).

The table listed $15.362 million as “non-recurring costs and expenses.” A footnote explained: “Non-recurring costs and expenses primarily consist of severance expenses related to the exit of our former CEO.”

MGM gave Barber the heave-ho in March, despite last year extending his contract to run through 2022. In December, in a Hollywood Reporter podcast, Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli said Barber was taking the lead on finding a distributor for Bond 25.

MGM also conducted an investor call about the first-quarter results. There was no mention about Bond 25. The only question during the call concerned how MGM is operating with a committee of executives.

The next 007 film adventure has claimed a November 2019 release date in the Unites States. However, there’s no announced distributor. Sony Pictures has released the past four Bond films.

 

Joseph Campanella dies at 93

Joseph Campanella in a first-season episode of Mannix

Joseph Campanella, whose acting career lasted more than a half-century, died today at 93, according to Variety.

Campanella was a familiar face on U.S. television television, splitting his time between playing villains and sympathetic characters.

His credits included co-starring in the first season of Mannix as Lew Wickersham, the head of Intertect, the large agency where hero Joe Mannix (Mike Connors) worked.

Wickersham prided himself on devising a set of rules he said were designed to get the most of his employees. “Not me,” Mannix replied in a scene in the show’s pilot.

Throughout the first season, there was a tension between Mannix and his boss. That angle was dropped starting with the second season when Mannix went off on his own.

Campanella was nominated for an Emmy for playing Wickersham. He also returned in a sixth-season episode playing a different role.

Wickersham was based on entertainment mogul Lew Wasserman, the head of MCA, the parent company at the time of Universal.

According to commentary tracks on the first-season Mannix DVD set, Wasserman approved of Campanella’s performance. After Campanella departed Mannix, he was hired by Universal to play an attorney in The Lawyers segment of The Bold Ones.

Later in his career, Campanella was a voice in a 1990s Spider-Man cartoon. The actor was also the younger brother of character actor Frank Campanella (1919-2006).