Would-be 007 director Mendes’s latest production opens

There’s still no real news on the Bond 23 front. However, Sam Mendes, mentioned prominently as the leading contender to direct the next 007 film, has seen his production of Shakespeare’s Prospero open in New York.

The New York Times has a review of the play, which opened Feb. 25. Here are some excerpts:

There is no such thing as a definitive Shakespeare interpretation, but the role of Prospero is often played by actors of a natural grandiloquence, bringing a plummy vocalism and an imposing authority — and sometimes imposing celebrity — to bear on this role, the exiled Duke of Milan with benevolent magic at his disposal.

Mr. (Stephen) Dillane’s approach, scaled to suit this starkly designed, concentrated production directed by Sam Mendes, is more astringent and less rhetorically lush. (One benefit of concentration: the play is performed in about two and a quarter hours, without an intermission.)

You can read the entire review by CLICKING HERE.

Kim Yu-Na’s Olympic performance: let the 007 cliches begin

So Korean skater Kim Yu-Na did a short program at the Vancouver Olympics utilizing music from James Bond movies. What’s sure to follow from sports scibes? Well, James Bond cliches, of course.

For example, there’s an Associated Press story carried on the FanHouse sports blog that began thusly:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Like a true Bond Girl, Kim Yu-na knocked off her rivals.

Nobody did it better.

AP also published an alternate version of the story that started like this:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -If the Olympics are just another competition, then James Bond is just another secret agent. And Kim Yu-na is just another skater.

No Bond girl ever did it better than Kim’s record-setting short program Tuesday night at the Vancouver Olympics. The 19-year-old South Korean, who carries the weight of a nation’s infinite expectations for gold, practically carved 007 into the Pacific Coliseum ice as she skated flawlessly to a Bond medley.

Wait. AP did yet another version carried on ESPN.com. It began like this:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Ursula Andress, Jane Seymour, Halle Berry — they’ve got nothing on the newest Bond Girl.

Nobody does it better than Kim Yu-na.

The New York Times, meanwhile, was a bit more subtle. Instead of hammering its readers with 007 at the start, the Gray Lady until the fourth paragraph in its story:

She glided onto the ice, letting a sly smile peek through as her music, a medley from James Bond films, began. Then, in the snap of a finger, she turned into a Bond girl — and turned on the magic.

007 music at the Olympics courtesy of Kim Yu-Na

Korean ice skater Kim Yu-Na used a medley of James Bond music for her short program at the Vancouver Olympics. NBC waited until 11 p.m. ET to show her performance.

Selections included some of John Barry’s scores, including Thunderball and From Russia With Love and a Barry-esque sounding selection that David Arnold composed for Die Another Day. There were also versions of Monty Norman’s James Bond Theme.

She scored 78 points, a record, for the short program.

UPDATE: Our friend Mark Henderson points out this wasn’t exactly her debut at using 007 music:

UPDATE II: J.A. Adande, a participant in the Feb. 24 edition of ESPN’s Around the Horn, praised the “James Bond moment” during a commentary at the end of the show after he won the game of “competitive banter.”

Saab, 007’s former ride, lives to die another day

Saab, once the ride of the literary James Bond, avoided the fate of automotive brands such as Studebaker, Plymouth and Stutz. Here’s the start of a Bloomberg.com story by Ola Kinnander and Katie Merx:

Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) — General Motors Co. sold Saab Automobile to Spyker Cars NV, the Dutch maker of supercars, for at least $400 million in cash and preferred shares, averting the extinction of the 72-year-old Swedish carmaker.

“The transaction secures the future of Saab Automobile and signals the start of an exciting new era for the iconic brand,” Spyker said in a statement after Chief Executive Officer Victor Muller and Saab CEO Jan-Aake Jonsson signed the final accord today in Stockholm.

Saab was the choice of John Gardner, when he was commissioned to do a new series of Bond continuation novels starting in the early 1980s. Click here to see a diagram of the Saab described by Gardner. It includes a remote car starter, now a fairly common gadget for drivers. You can read the rest of the Bloomberg story about Saab by CLICKING HERE.

Pierce Brosnan “devastated” losing James Bond role to Daniel Craig

I was quite surprised and disappointed when Brosnan was not signed on for a fifth James Bond film. As much as I love Daniel Craig’s interpretation as 007, I’ve always felt that Pierce Brosnan was a very good actor, an excellent James Bond, and was generally highly under-appreciated and under-estimated in the role.

CLICK HERE for the full story as is being currently reported

I am very happy that Brosnan’s career since 2002 has been quite full of quality projects. From the terrific “The Matador” to the highly anticipated Roman Polanski film “The Ghost Writer” (soon to be released), Brosnan has consistently demonstrated his estimable acting talent.

Good for you Mr. Brosnan. You deserve it. And thank you for your great contribution to the James Bond series.

— Tom Zielinski

1974: American Motors gets its one chance to be 007’s ride

In 1974, American Motors got its one and only chance to be James Bond’s primary ride.

The film was The Man With The Golden Gun, Roger Moore’s second 007 film. In earlier installments of the Bond film series, Ford Motor Co. (Goldfinger, Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever), then-General Motors Corp., now General Motors Co. (Live And Let Die) and Toyota Motor Corp. (You Only Live Twice) provided the bulk of iconic vehicles. (Aston Martin was a small independent company in the 1960s that really didn’t do product placement deals.)

As The Man With The Golden Gun was in pre-production, Eon Productions went with American Motors, then a distant No. 4 U.S. automaker. Part of the reason: Eon was going to use a signature car stunt that had been performed with an AMC model. In any case, AMC had its one chance to show off its models via a 007 movie. The company would be acquired by Chrysler in the mid-1980s, mostly because Chysler coveted AMC’s line of Jeep sport-utility vehicles.

Here’s a look at a key sequence of Golden Gun where AMC got to show off part of its product line.

Woody Allen, fresh from filming Casino Royale, goes on What’s My Line?

For those unfamiliar with it, What’s My Line? aired from 1950 until 1967 on CBS and from 1968 until 1975 in syndication. Toward the end of its CBS run, Woody Allen, having completed filming in the 1967 Casino Royale did a turn as the mystery guest. Did he stump the panel? Take a look:

Now if somebody could find that Sean Connery appearance on WML?….

ESPN quotes (sort of) from Never Say Never Again

Woody Paige, a participant on ESPN’s Around the Horn on Feb. 18 cited Never Say Never Again in analyzing the Winter Olympics.

A segment of the show devoted to “competitive banter” dealt with U.S. success this week at the Winter Olympics. “It’s like what Largo said to Bond in Never Say Never Again,” the sometimes goofy Denver Post sports columnist said, “it’s all about total world domination!”

Paige was referring to the scene in NSNA where Bond and Maximillian Largo play an elaborate video game where players try to take over territory (and the loser receives electric shocks). Largo, after winning the early rounds, is bested by 007 when the agent ups the stakes to the rest of the world.

It wasn’t the first time the ESPN show has made 007 references. Last August, host Tony Reali quoted from Goldfinger during banter with Dallas Morning News sports staffer Tim Cowlishaw.

Paige’s 007 quip didn’t help him much. He was the first sportswriter eliminated from competition. ESPN’s Michael Smith ended up the winner, besting Cowlishaw in the final “showdown” segment.

1993: Sean Connery evokes Thunderball on Late Show With David Letterman

Whatever one thinks of Thunderball, its pre-credits sequence where James Bond escapes using a jet pack is an iconic 007 image. So, nearly 28 years after the film’s premier, Connery evoked that image during an appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman.

Here’s a look. (Also we have to credit “Hotwinds” on the Commander Bond.net message boards, who posted an item about it being on You Tube).

James Bond characters on Facebook

The old tagline was “JAMES BOND DOES IT EVERYWHERE!” and that’s certainly true of Facebook, the social-networking site. It appears that even 007 characters feel compelled to set up Facebook profiles.

One of the most amusing is Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Under relationship status, we’re told, “It’s complicated.” And, of course, his birthdate is listed as May 28, 1908. Ernst provides frequent status updates such as, “SPECTRE always delivers what it promises. Our entire organization survives upon the keeping of those promises. We’re kinda like an evil UPS.” Or, “Catch me soon as the new band leader on ‘The Tonight Show with Ernst Stavro Blofeld’.” Ernst also regularly trades quips with his Facebook friends.

One of those friends is none other than Jane Moneypenny, listing her birthdate as Feb. 14, 1927 and being single. However for those who believe Moneypenny is “Britain’s last line of defense,” may be in for a shock. She inquired with Ernst about a job in SPECTRE. This Facebook saga has yet to play out.

Auric Goldfinger has also surfaced on Facebook (reports of his death, like Mark Twain’s, were apparently exaggerated. He lists his birthdate as June 5, 1917 and his relationship status is also listed as “It’s complicated.” Gold bullion is listed as both his reglious views and interests.

Felix Leiter is also around and, not surprisingly, is listed as a fan of the Felix Leiter fan page.

Others include Franz Sanchez, Emilo Largo, Carl Stromberg and John Kaufman. (There are others, but hey, we don’t have room for everyone.)

Finally there is Bond James, taking on the guise of the mid-1960s Sean Connery, who seems to enjoy trading quips with Ernst and playing Mafia Wars.