William Self: Fox TV to the rescue

William Self title card on an episode of Batman, produced by 20th Century Fox’s television unit

Another in a series about unsung figures of television.

In the early 1960s, things were not looking good at 20th Century Fox.

The 1963 film Cleopatra, while popular with audiences. It sold 67.2 million tickets in the U.S. and Canada. That was more than Goldfinger’s 66.3 million.

But Cleopatra was so expensive, it had no chance of recouping its costs. The studio was going to need a bailout.

The bailout came from its television division, headed by executive William Self, a former actor.

Self’s TV unit took an inventory of the properties Fox held and began developing television versions.

As a result, in the fall of 1964, Fox came out with Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (based on the studio’s 1961 film produced by Irwin Allen); Peyton Place, based on a 1956 novel, made into a 1957 Fox film; and 12 O’Clock High, based on a 1948 novel and made into a 1949 Fox movie.

All three were part of ABC’s 1964-65 schedule. Also, Fox produced Daniel Boone for NBC for that network.

Soon after, Self’s Fox TV unit was the home of other Allen shows as well as the 1966-68 Batman series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. The latter got off to a rocky start as test audiences were confused by the campy approach.

Self’s tenure at Fox lasted into the early 1970s. He became a producer (something he had done before joining Fox), whose credits included 1976’s The Shootist, the final John Wayne film.

Self died in 2010 at the age of 89.

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Why 2018 will be an eventful 007 film year

Steady as she goes scenario: Eon boss Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig make another movie together without major changes.

No matter what happens, 2018 is shaping up an eventful year for the James Bond film franchise.

Steady as she goes scenario: Eon Productions gears up its 25th 007 film, aiming for a fall 2019 release.

Eon (and studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) on July 24 announced a November 2019 release date for the United States, with an earlier release in the U.K.

Under “steady as she goes,” a director gets announced (presumably early in 2018). Pre-production commences. Casting announcements take place. Principal photography begins before the end of 2018. In most years, that’d be plenty for fans to absorb. (Think Skyfall between January and November 2011.)

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Disruption scenario: This is not the most stable time in the movie business.

For example, Walt Disney Co. is reported to be negotiating to buy most of 21st Century Fox’s assets (including the 20th Century Fox studio). The movie industry isn’t the most stable in general.

Could this affect the Bond film franchise? Back in September, The Hollywood Reporter reported that tech companies Apple and Amazon were sniffing around the Bond film rights. That’d be a huge change. Since then? No word at all. THR hasn’t followed up. Other news outlets that follow tech companies closely haven’t followed up.

Disruption may happen for Agent 007 in 2018. Then again, you can’t bet on it.

Logo of Syncopy, Christopher Nolan’s production company

Middle ground scenario: Every so often, the notion arises that director Christopher Nolan, a Bond fan, might get involved with the 007 films.

Most recently, the Archivo 007 Spanish fan website said Dec. 2,  citing two people it didn’t identify, that Nolan “is already working” on Bond 25.

In the 21st century, Eon has employed “auteur” directors such as Marc Forster and Sam Mendes. But Nolan is a special case. He has his own production company (Snycopy). His wife, Emma Thomas, works as producer on Nolan films.

To call this unconfirmed is an understatement. “He wasn’t doing it when I spoke to him on Friday!” Baz Bamigboye, a Daily Mail writer who has had a number of Bond scoops proven correct, wrote on Twitter on Dec. 3, after interviewing Nolan.

Nevertheless, there are has been a fascination among Bond fans with Nolan. Also, in 2015’s SPECTRE, Eon employed Nolan regulars editor Lee Smith and director of photography Hoyte van Hoytema.

Whatever scenario you favor, something’s got to happen in 2018. It’s a few weeks early, but Happy New Year.

BBC Radio 2 schedules Roger Moore special

Roger Moore in a 1980s publicity still

BBC Radio 2 has scheduled a two-hour special about Roger Moore for Boxing Day, Dec. 26.

Sir Roger Moore: Nobody Did It Better will air from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. that day, according to a BBC Radio 2 schedule of holiday programs.

The special will include interviews conducted since Moore’s death in May. Among those interviewed: Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions; his daughter, Deborah Moore; and actor Michael Caine, a friend of Moore’s.

There also will be archived interviews where “Roger himself discusses his life and his work, his family and his friendships,” according to the program description.

Moore played James Bond in seven films produced by Eon after starring as The Saint in a successful 1960s television series. He was also a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.

007 Magazine out with issue, calendars in December


007 Magazine is bringing out an issue and two 2018 Bond-themed calendars this month.

The issue concerns exhibitor pressbooks released in the United States to promote the first decade of James Bond films. Such pressbooks were mostly “supplied to cinema managers” but at times to the press, according to the Graham Rye publication. The format eventually fell out of favor in studio promotions.

The issue is 76 pages. 007 Magazine has been taking pre-orders and will be shipping out the issue in December. The price is 19.99 British pounds, $30.99 or 26.99 euros.

The two calendars feature the You Only Live Twice 50th anniversary and Bond Girls of the 1960s.  The price for each is 9.99 British pounds, $15.99 or 11.99 euros.

Earlier this year, 007 Magazine also came out with a 126-page issue about Twice’s 50th anniversary. It’s still in stock. The price is 24.99 British pounds, $34.99 or 29.99 euros.

MI6 Confidential looks at Twice’s 50th anniversary

You Only Live Twice promotional art

MI6 Confidential’s newest issue takes a look at You Only Live Twice on its 50th anniversary.

Issue 43 of the publication includes an interview with Karin Dor. The actress died in November and played SPECTRE killer Helga Brandt in the 1967 movie.

There is also a feature about sound man Norman Wanstall and his final 007 film work.

The price is 7 British pounds, $9.50 or 8.50 euros. For more information about ordering and a list of features, CLICK HERE.

Bond 25 talk heats up

Bond 25 may not have an announced director or distributor, but talk about the next 007 film has geared up early this month.

Dec. 2: The Archivo 007 fan website says in a post that Christopher Nolan is “more than likely” to direct Bond 25.

The website said it got the information from two different sources, one from the Untied States and one from the U.K. “They tell us that Nolan will be the director and that he is already working on the film,” according to an English translation of the Spanish website.

–On the message board of the MI6 James Bond website, Archivo 007 was asked about the sources. “One is a film critic with ‘contacts’. The other works in the industry,” Archivo 007 responded. “Sorry, I can’t say much more.”

Dec. 3: Baz Bamigboye, a Daily Mail reporter who has had a number of 007 scoops proven correct since 2011, is asked on Twitter if there’s anything to Nolan and Bond 25.

“He wasn’t doing it when I spoke to him on Friday!” Bamigboye said on Twitter.

Dec. 5: The Express newspaper in the U.K. does a story based on the original Archivo 007 post. Archivo 007 isn’t referenced by name.

–A separate tweet said the word around Pinewood Studios is the Bond 25 operation will get to work in a few months.

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–The MI6 James Bond website ran two stories, one about the Express and Nolan, the other about the Pinewood tidbit.

“MI6 understands that shooting on Bond 25 is still expected to start around December 2018,” the website said in the latter story.

–Bamigboye, on Twitter again, is asked about his earlier tweet and why he spoke to Nolan. “I was interviewing him,” Bamigboye said in a Tweet.

CNBC says Disney ‘closing in’ on deal to buy most of Fox

Walt Disney Co. logo

CNBC reported today that Walt Disney Co. is “closing in” on a deal to buy most of 21st Century Fox, including the 20th Century Fox movie studio.

The financial news network said a deal may be announced as early next week. CNBC cited people it didn’t identiy

CNBC originally reported Nov. 6 that the two sides had conducted negotiations. At that time, CNBC described the talks as on again, off again and that negotiations weren’t currently underway.

Now, CNBC said, “The deal contemplates the sale of Fox’s Nat Geo, Star, regional sports networks, movie studios and stakes in Sky and Hulu, among other properties. What would remain at Fox includes its news and business news divisions, broadcast network and Fox sports.”

Such a transaction has the potential to shake up entertainment properties. Disney owns Marvel. But Fox controls key Marvel properties such as the X-Men and Fantastic Four. Also, Fox performs home video distribution for James Bond films.

Comcast, parent company of Universal, NBC and CNBC, has also been in talks with 21st Century Fox. However, “the talks with Disney have progressed more significantly,” according to today’s CNBC report.