“That’ll bring tears to your eyes”

From the game show Jeopardy. You answer in the form of a question.

Category: Novels of the 1960s. The answer is (via The Jeopardy Fan website): “The line ‘once when you are born & once when you look death in the face’ follows this title of a 1964 novel & an action-packed 1967 film.”

Close, but no, etc.

UPDATE: Two of  the contestants got it right. THIS STORY in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has details about the winner of the game.

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Joseph Gantman, early M:I producer, dies

Cover to the first season MIssion: Impossible DVD set

Joseph Gantman, the day-to-day producer for the first two seasons of Mission: Impossible, died Dec. 26 at 95, according to an obituary in the Los Angeles Times.

Gantman came aboard Mission after the pilot was produced. Series creator Bruce Geller supervised the show, but it was up to Gantman to get things going, including securing a scripts that could be filmed. He would end up winning two Emmys for his work on the show.

Those two seasons featured stories such as Operation: Rogosh. The IMF tricks an “unbreakable” Soviet Bloc operative into thinking it’s three years later so he’ll give up where he’s planted germ cultures that will poison the drinking water supply of Los Angeles.

Gantman departed after the end of Mission’s second season. His successors, William Read Woodfield and Allan Balter, had written many of the best stories of the first two seasons. The pair bolted after disagreements with Bruce Geller — an indication that Gantman’s work wouldn’t be easy to duplicate. The series would gain a reputation for chewing up producers.

Before Mission, Gantmen worked on the pilot of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. with with the title of “production assistant.”

During the 1964-65 season, Gantman was associate producer for 16 of the 32 episodes of the first season of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, when that Irwin Allen-produced shows emphasized espionage over monsters.

Later, during the 1968-69 season, he was producer for five episodes of the first season of Hawaii Five-O, including three of the first five telecast by CBS (excluding the pilot, which aired as a TV movie).

Bullitt: Movie auto history in Detroit

The original Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt, on display at Ford Motor Co.’s stand today at the North American International Auto Show.

DETROIT — A car from the past was featured today at the North American International Auto Show, which normally introduces new models.

The car was the Ford Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in 1968’s Bullitt. It was one of two Mustangs in the film. The other was a stunt car.

One of the new models Ford Motor Co. unveiled was a 50th anniversary, 2019 “Bullitt Mustang.”

However, the new car may have been upstaged a bit by the original car, which was brought out as part of the new model’s introduction.

As part of the presentation, Ford used some of Lalo Schifrin’s score from the 1968 movie in a video promoting the new car. Also present was Molly McQueen, granddaughter of McQueen and Neile Adams. Molly McQueen was born seven years after the death of her grandfather.

In fact, you can check out the promotional video below:

UPDATE (Jan. 15): Hagerty, which insures classic cars, said in an e-mailed statement today that the 1968 Mustang from Bullitt, if it comes to auction, could fetch a price similar to the $4.1 million for the James Bond Aston Martin DB5 in 2010 and the $4.6 million for original Batmobile in 2013.

50th anniversary of the end of U.N.C.L.E. (and ’60s spymania)

The symbolism of a 1965 TV Guide ad for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. came true little more than two years later. (Picture from the For Your Eyes Only Web site)

The symbolism of a 1965 TV Guide ad for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. came true little more than two years later. (Picture from the For Your Eyes Only Web site)

Originally published Dec. 28, 2012. Adjusted to note it’s now the 50th anniversary along with a few other tweaks.

Jan. 15 marks the 50th anniversary of the end of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. It was also a sign that 1960s spymania was drawing to a close.

Ratings for U.N.C.L.E. faltered badly in the fall of 1967, where it aired on Monday nights. It was up against Gunsmoke on CBS — a show that itself had been canceled briefly during the spring of ’67 but got a reprieve thanks to CBS chief William Paley. Instead of oblivion, Gunsmoke was moved from Saturday to Monday.

Earlier, Norman Felton, U.N.C.L.E.’s executive producer, decided some retooling was in order for the show’s fourth season. He brought in Anthony Spinner, who often wrote for Quinn Martin-produced shows, as producer.

Spinner had also written a first-season U.N.C.L.E. episode and summoned a couple of first-season writers, Jack Turley and Robert E. Thompson, to do some scripts.

Also in the fold was Dean Hargrove, who supplied two first-season scripts but had his biggest impact in the second, when U.N.C.L.E. had its best ratings. Hargrove was off doing other things during the third season, although he did one of the best scripts for The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. during 1966-67.

Hargrove, however, quickly learned the Spinner-produced U.N.C.L.E. was different. In a 2007 interview on the U.N.C.L.E. DVD set, Hargrove said Spinner was of “the Quinn Martin school of melodrama.”

Spinner wanted a more serious take on the show compared with the previous season, which included a dancing ape. Hargrove, adept at weaving (relatively subtle) humor into his stories, chafed under Spinner. The producer instructed his writers that U.N.C.L.E. should be closer to James Bond than Get Smart.

The more serious take also extended to the show’s music, as documented in liner notes by journalist Jon Burlingame for U.N.C.L.E. soundstracks released between 2004 and 2007 and the FOR YOUR EYES ONLY U.N.C.L.E. TIMELINE.

Matt Dillon, right, and sidekick Festus got new life at U.N.C.L.E.'s expense.

Matt Dillon (James Arness), right, and sidekick Festus (Ken Curtis) got new life at U.N.C.L.E.’s expense.

Gerald Fried, the show’s most frequent composer, had a score rejected. Also jettisoned was a new Fried arrangement of Jerry Goldsmith’s theme music. A more serious-sounding one was arranged by Robert Armbruster, the music director of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Most of the fourth season’s scores would be composed by Richard Shores. Fried did one fourth-season score, which sounded similar to the more serious style of Shores.

Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, however, weren’t a match for a resurgent Matt Dillon on CBS. NBC canceled U.N.C.L.E. A final two-part story, The Seven Wonders of the World Affair, aired Jan. 8 and 15, 1968..

U.N.C.L.E. wouldn’t be the first spy casualty.

NBC canceled I Spy, with its last new episode appearing April 15, 1968. Within 18 months of U.N.C.L.E.’s demise, The Wild, Wild West was canceled by CBS (its final new episode aired aired April 4, 1969 although CBS did show fourth-season reruns in the summer of 1970) and the last episode of The Avengers was produced, appearing in the U.S. on April 21, 1969.

NBC also canceled Get Smart after the 1968-69 season but CBS picked up the spy comedy for 1969-70. Mission: Impossible managed to stay on CBS until 1973 but shifted away from spy story lines its last two seasons as the IMF opposed “the Syndicate.”

Nor were spy movies exempt. Dean Martin’s last Matt Helm movie, The Wrecking Crew, debuted in U.S. theaters in late 1968. Despite a promise in the end titles that Helm would be back in The Ravagers, the film series was done.

Even the James Bond series, the engine of the ’60s spy craze, was having a crisis in early 1968. Star Sean Connery was gone and producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman pondered their next move. James Bond would return but things weren’t quite the same.

Eon’s new normal (cont.): Q’s comments analyzed

Publicity still of Ben Whishaw with Daniel Craig in Skyfall

So, this week, actor Ben Whishaw, Q in the two most recent James Bond movies, made a few comments to Metro which were deemed news about Bond 25.

“I haven’t had an update for a while. I would imagine, I think they have a release date for next year, so I think by the end of this year we have to have started filming something,” Whishaw was quoted by the website. “Although it has gone strangely quiet, but that’s often the way it goes.”

This was analyzed by Birth. Movies. Death (“Q Is Standing by for BOND 25“) and Screen Rant (“Ben Whishaw Expects Bond 25 To Begin Filming Later This Year“).

And, yes, it was news, at least of a sort. Neither Eon Productions (which makes Bond movies) nor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (which controls half of the 007 franchise) have said a whole lot for months. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. In the land of a news blackout, a nugget becomes news.

It’s another reminder about Eon’s new normal. The Bond franchise has franchise has transitioned from being a film series to more like occasional events not on a set schedule.

In the 1970s, even 1980s, it probably wouldn’t have been much of a story if Desmond Llewelyn, the longest-serving film Q, commented about an upcoming film.

Imagine in that time period if Llewelyn said, “I guess they’re getting ready. They have a release date. So they’d have to start filming something before too long.” That wouldn’t have been a blip.

Also, consider this line from the Screen Rant story: “Whishaw may have confirmed his involvement, but there is still no news as to whether Ralph Fiennes (M) or Naomie Harris (Moneypenny) may be joining him.”

In the 1970s, the equivalent would have been: “Llewelyn may have confirmed his involvement, but there is still no news as to whether Bernard Lee (M) or Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny) may be joining him.”

In those days, it’s not a question a lot of people would have been asking. The show was James Bond and whoever was playing him. Connery is back! (Diamonds Are Forever) Who will be the new Bond? Can Roger Moore make it as the new Bond? (Live And Let Die)

This isn’t a complaint. The world is as it is. And Eon’s new normal is what it is.

Broccoli, Wilson among Variety500

Barbara Broccoli

Sorry, something that slipped by a few months ago.

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions were part of the Variety500, which the trade publication bills as “an index of the 500 most influential business leaders shaping the global $2 trillion entertainment industry.”

People in the index were “selected by the Variety editorial board, which conducted extensive research for its selections.” According to a separate announcement on Sept. 26, the list of 500 members is not ranked.

In September, Variety revamped its website. Variety500 was added as part of the redesign. The list is to be updated annually.

Michael G. Wilson

Each member has a short bio, along with links to Variety stories about them. To see Broccoli’s entry, CLICK HERE. To see Wilson’s entry, CLICK HERE.

Also in the Variety500:

— Gary Barber, CEO of MGM Studios. MGM is 007’s home studio and controls half of the franchise. Barber which led the studio out of a 2010 bankruptcy.

Megan Ellison, principal of Annapurna Pictures. Annapurna has expanded from producing films to adding a distribution operations with last year’s Detroit, a drama about the 1967 riots in that city.

In October, MGM and Annapurna announced they were forming a joint venture to release each other’s films.

For now, that deal doesn’t include Bond 25. But the distributor for the next 007 film hasn’t been announced. So it remains to be seen whether the Annapurna-MGM venture may release the movie in the U.S., as reported by Deadline: Hollywood in November.

Horowitz provides another update of 2d 007 novel

Anthony Horowitz

Author Anthony Horowitz today provided an update of his second James Bond continuation novel.

Such as it was.

Horowitz posted a photo of shredded pages. “First draft of new Bond definitely finished,” he wrote. “Second draft in better shape.”

He also tweeted in response to questions. In one tweet he wrote, “Five or six (for Bond).” In another, he added, “Bond takes more to get right. Usually two or three is enough.”

Horowitz is the first 007 continuation author since 2008 to be invited back by Ian Fleming Publications for a second turn writing an “adult” James Bond continuation novel.

Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver and William Boyd all wrote one-offs. Horowitz then wrote 2015’s Trigger Mortis. No title for the new novel has been disclosed. Here’s the Horwitz tweet from today:

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