Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp

When you have a vague memory about a TV show or something, you should probably check YouTube. Sure enough, go to the site and you’ll find one of the more unusual Bond-inspired spy shows: Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp, a Saturday morning program in which chimps were dressed up and “portrayed” spy characters while human actors did voiceovers.

Lance was a member of the Agency to Prevent Evil, which opposed the forces of Chump (or was it CHUMP?). We’d tell you more, but the main titles pretty much spells it out:

And here’s an installment of Lance’s adventures. It sounds as if one of the Chump baddies was voiced by Bernie Kopell, who played Siegfried on Get Smart, while the narrator may by Malchi Throne, who played Robert Wagner’s first superior on It Takes a Thief:

Adult Swim’s Casino Royale parody

The expert parodists over at Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming have come up with a smashing take-off on the pre-credits sequence from 2006’s Casino Royale. Here, Santa Claus earns his “00” status by taking out a wayward elf. To take a look, just CLICK HERE.

We think it’s pretty hilarious!

007 questions for 2010

001. Who ends up buying MGM? The studio is partners with Eon Productions in the James Bond franchise. The uncertainty in MGM’s financial future put a stop to writing efforts on Bond 23 until February, according to screenwriter Peter Morgan. So whether a 007 fan cares about business news, this is one financial story that has an impact on Bond fans.

002. Is the current delay in scripting Bond 23 just a speedbump en route to a 2011 release or could it be the start of more delays? This question obviously is related to 001. Still Bond fans have been here before: the 1989-1995 hiatus, which involved Eon suing MGM (which had been bought by an owner that Eon felt was making cheap deals to sell rights to TV showings of 007 films) and the 2002-2006 break that involved the firing of the series’ star and a rethinking about the series’ direction.

003. Will Eon actually get non-007 movies to the screen? Technically speaking, Call Me Bwana is the only non-Bond film that’s an official Eon-made film. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, while produced by Albert R. Broccoli and using many Bond crew veterans, was not an Eon-made film and Harry Saltzman’s various non-Bond films of the 1960s and later weren’t made through Eon, either.

Eon says it’s developing movie versions of A Steady Rain, the minimalist play that recently starred Daniel Craig, and Remote Control. Of course, Eon also had developed a Jinx movie based on the character Halle Berry played in Die Another Day and nothing came of that.

004. Is Eon mentoring eventual successors to Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli? Wilson is now 66 and more than once has talked about how exhausting movies are to make. Barbara Broccoli turns 50 in 2010, younger than her father was when he and Saltzman made Dr. No. Both had lengthy training to take the Eon reins. Gregg Wilson, one of Michael’s sons, was listed as assistant producer in Quantum of Solace. It’ll be interesting to see if the younger Wilson becomes more prominent at Eon or not.

005. Assuming the answers to 001 and 002 fall on the optimstic side, would Bond 23 use a Fleming title? There aren’t many left but then again a lot of fans may not have thought they’d use Quantum of Solace, either.

006. Assuming a 2011 release, who would direct Bond 23? Related question: will it be a director who uses as shaky a camera as Marc Forster did in Quantum?

007. Are there any plans for Ian Fleming Publications to do another 007 continuation novel? We haven’t heard much since IFP came out with the heavily promoted Devil May Care in 2008. Over at Commander, there have been reports there may be a new Young Bond novel in 2011.

007 screenwriter Peter Morgan: enjoying Austria, just not doing any writing on Bond 23

The Commander Bond web site ran an item about this a few days ago but we wanted to see the original source. Peter Morgan, the Frost/Nixon screenwriter hired with a flourish to be one of the screenwriters on Bond 23, is enjoying his new life in Austria. He’s doing a bit of everything except writing Bond 23.

According to an English translation of an article in a local newspaper, Morgan worked on the project from July to October. However, the article says work was suspended until at least February because of ongoing financial uncertainty at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.

To see the original version in German, CLICK HERE. To read it in English via Google Translate, JUST CLICK HERE.

And to read the Dec. 20 Commander Bond story, just CLICK HERE. Finally, here’s a commentary by our co-publisher Paul Baack back in September about how MGM’s financial troubles are complicating the future of the 007 franchise.

007 press kits Part III: GoldenEye

GoldenEye marked James Bond’s movie return after a six-year absence and was do-or-die whether the film series could be successfully revived. The movie’s press kit may reflect that, because it’s flashier than at least some of its predecessors.

Previous Bond press kits had consisted of various press releases, each one separately stapled. GoldenEye’s included a 52-page booklet, the cover consisting of all the major cast and crew members. The first several pages inside included all the credits, including the same corporate logos seen in the end credits as well as the “James Bond Will Return” message.

The opening article in the booklet begins:

Times have changed. The Iron Curtain has fallen giving way to a world order, and the power plays of political agendas have been replaced by ruthless plots for profit. The war has changed…but the warriors remain the same.

“The name is Bond, James Bond.”

Ian Fleming’s James Bond is back! Pierce Brosnan takes on the role of legendary Agent 007, as the most successful film franchise in history once again explodes onto the big screen.”

The next article in the booklet says:

Though the 16 previous Bond films had pretty much run the gamut of titles from Ian Fleming’s novels and short stories, the filmmakers till wanted to pay homage to the man who created the legendary secret agent….In the six years since the last Bond adventure the world has undergone quite a bit of upheaval. However, producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli reflect that Bond’s popularity had already endured through the equally tumultuous ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

“James Bond has alwasy been a contemporary character who lives for the present,” Wilson says. “He will always be dealing with the here and now.” Later, (pages 17 and 18) there’s a brief biography of star Pierce Brosnan that says the actor displayed ‘a perfectly-timed wit and raking sophistication that made him the overwhelming favorite to take over the role of James Bond. Though contractual obligations prevented him from taking the part at the time, a decade later there was nothing to stand between him and GOLDENEYE.”

Some previous 007 press kits only contained a few black-and-white prints of publicity stills. For GoldenEye, there were 14 color slides of photographs taken by Keith Hamshere during production. Brosnan is in 11 of them, either by himself or with other cast members (and in one case with director Martin Campbell). The three without the star consisted of shots of Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen and Campbell.

Finally, there was a secondary booklet, not as fancy as the main one. it was called The James Bond Dossier for GoldenEye. It consisted mostly of lists (films in the series, Bond women, Bond villains, accomplices for villains, supporting characters, etc.)

Mister 8 analyzes Matt Helm’s debut novel

Over at the Mister 8 Web site, there’s an interesting analysis of the first Matt Helm novel, Death Of a Citizen.

It’s pretty detailed and recommend it to any fans of the literary Helm and his creator, Donald Hamilton. Back in August we posted about an academic paper that compared Hamilton’s Helm to Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels.

Seasons Greetings!

007 press kits Part II: The Living Daylights

The Living Daylights had a relatively modest press kit but it had three stills compared to just one for Never Say Never Again. The stills consisted of: a photo of star Timothy Dalton, which was part of the main poster art; a closeup still of Dalton in a tuxedo, apparently from the Koskov/KGB defection sequence after the main titles; and a publicity shot of Dalton and co-star Maryam d’Abo, taken during shooting in Vienna.

In a biography of Dalton, we’re told:

One of Britain’s most distinguished stage and screen actors, Dalton was selected for the role of the world’s best known secret agent after an exhaustive worldwide search and montsh of speculation by the news media and the movie-going public.

“When I was about 25, Mr. Broccoli very kindly asked me if I’d be interested in taking over the role of James Bond from Sean Connery,” Dalton recalls. Frankly, I thought it would be a very stupid move — I considered myself too young and Connery too good. I was approached again several years later, but had already been asked to appear in ‘Flash Gordon.’ So when the schedules came back together this time, I was delighted to accept and embraced this film with a lot of joy and enthusiasm.”

In the main press release, the production team commented on Dalton:

“He’s different,” says Albert R. Broccoli, producer of all fifteen of the United Artists Bond films, “Timothy is a very physical Bond and tried to do most of his own stunts.” “Timothy Dalton is one of a kind — as were his predecessors,” agrees director John Glen. “He’s a fine actor and he shows great aptitude for the role. He’s athletic, enthusiastic, and a good sense of humor, all of which are essential for us.”

The latter comment is interesting, given that Dalton didn’t like delivering the trademark Bond quips, and his two films are criticized by some fans for being humorless at times. Then again, in press releases, the principals didn’t necessarily say what they’re quoted as saying. Often, the writer of the release drafts a statement and it’s sent to the executive or person involved for approval. So it’s possible, Glen was simply shown the quote and approved it, rather than actually saying it.

Because it was the 25th anniversary film, there is also a two-and-a-half page biography of Ian Fleming.

Creator of James Bond, the suave secret agent who changed the direction of both spy literature and motion picture history, Ian Fleming was renowned as a man of laughter, warmth and compassion — all the things the hero of his novels is not!

007 press kits part I: Never Say Never Again

In this digital age, press kits seem almost quaint. They were intended to spur movie critics of local newspapers to write and/or review upcoming movies. We have a few press kits for James Bond movies, so here’s a look at a few.

First up: the “unofficial” 007 movie Never Say Never Again, which hit U.S. theaters in the fall of 1983. It was unofficial only in that Eon Productions didn’t produce it. But it had Sean Connery as James Bond, 12 years after his final “official” Bond film, and had a budget comparable to the 13th “official” Bond film Octopussy, which came out in the summer of 1983.

The Never Say Never Again press kit was modest. The folder had a color photograph of Connery/Bond but it had a single publicity still inside, again of Connery/Bond.

Part of the press kit included a 12-page biograph of Connery that began thusly:

Sean Connery checked his diving equipment for the last time, adjusted his mask and slipped under the cool inviting water of the Bahamas. Fifty feet below him, on the sea bed, waited an army of highly skilled underwater film technicians. Blazing lights lit up the murky depths and were reflected back in tiny sparkles off the iridescent shoals of fish that swam with regularity past the cameras. The fish swam in safety. The day before, they would have been more uneasy, as the filmmakers had been wrorking with an all-too-real 12-fot shark — a real killer.

Sounds like somebody wanted to emulate Ian Fleming’s writing.

From another article in the press kit, running a modest 26 pages and itended to give the press critic a feel for the film, began like this:

James Bond, British Secret Servie Agent 007, is dangerous.

In a world dominated by computers and bureaucracy, he is a man whose greatest strength lies in his own intuitions, a man who allows his hunches to take him straight to the heart of the danger and who has the courage and the skill to face the greavest perils — and survive.

So when SPECTRE (Special Executor for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) holds the world to ramsom with a devastating act of nuclear terrorism, only Bond is able to cut straigh through to the rotten core of the operation.

Of course, the real name for SPECTRE is the Special EXECUTIVE for Counterintelligence, Revenge and Extortion, but hey, it’s an engrossing tale and who are we to quibble?

Other contents included biographes of Klaus Maria Brandauer, Kim Basinger, Max Von Sydnow, Barbara Carrera, Bernie Casey, Alex McCowen and director Irvin Kershner, who was fresh off directing The Empire Strikes Back.

Kershner prepared for the film by re-reading much of Ian Fleming’s work. There he found the key to the tone and texture of Ian Fleming’s work….In the James Bond books, Fleming was very interested in the characters and wrote wonderful dialogue. Those discoveries influenced Kershner’s work on the script.

Also, in the Kersner bio, we were told this:

“Never Say Never Again” will be a Bond picture with its own unique style based not in reality nor in a cartoon world, but in a world where characters operate from a psychological base that is real,” he explains.

Reading it after 26 years, it didn’t seem the quote marks were all in the right place so we present them as they appear in the press kit.

I Spy on Hulu

All three seasons of I Spy are now available on Hulu. To check it out, just CLICK RIGHT HERE. The 1965-68 series starred Robert Culp and Bill Cosby as two American agents and it made Cosby a star.

A tip of the hat goes to the Bish’s Beat blog where we saw this.