Happy No. 97th birthday Norman Felton

Today, April 29, is the 97th birthday of Norman Felton, the executive producer of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Last year, we had a post that included links to a Felton interview on the origins of U.N.C.L.E. He worked, for a short while, with Ian Fleming, to bring U.N.C.L.E. to television before Fleming bolted from the project, not wanting to alienate James Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.

It’s also worth nothing how Mr. Felton has outlived so many of his U.N.C.L.E. contemporaries, including Sam Rolfe (developer and first-season producer, 1924-1993); Irv Pearberg (associate producer, late second season through conclusion of the series, 1925-2008); Alan Caillou (writer first and second seasons, 1914-2006); David Victor (producer and supervising producer, second and third seasons, 1910-1989); and Mort Abrhams (production executive, producer, second season, 1916-2009); and Jerry Goldsmith (composer, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Theme, 1929-2004).

Dorothy Provine, RIP

Sad news: Dorothy Provine, whose acting credits included some 1960s spy entertainment, has passed away at the age of 75.

Ms. Provine appeared in various things, including It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. But for our purposes, we feel it’s worth noting two credits.

One, she appeared in the second-season opener of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. which was titled “Alexander the Greater Affair” (with the “The” that was used in most MFU episode titles). It was re-edited into the U.N.C.L.E. movie One Spy Too Many.

She was also starred as a British agent working along side American agent Mike Connors trying to foil a madman trying to take over the world in 1966’s Kiss The Girls And Make Them Die (with a plot and locations that seem awfully famiar to those who’ve viewed Moonraker, the 1979 007 film).

Here’s that trailer:

Another Telegraph writer pleads to keep Craig as 007

You have to give the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph credit for one thing: it presents a variety of views related to James Bond.

We previous noted how one writer for The Telegraph said the film series needs to lighten up from Daniel Craig’s two 007 movies. But another Telegraph scribe, JoJo Moyes, thinks Craig is doing just fine, thank you very much.

I admit that when he (Craig) was first mooted for the part, I was less than enthusiastic. How could festering Geordie Peacock from Our Friends In The North inhabit that iconic tuxedo with grace and élan? How could that thuggish visage expertly seduce women with ridiculously suggestive names? For this was a man apparently known even to his friends as “Mr Potato Head”.

Fool that I was! For even as he emerged from the shadows in the opening scenes of Casino Royale I was a lost thing. By the time he broke the waves in those little blue trunks I may have inadvertently – and for the first time in my life – uttered the phrase “Hubba hubba”. When he held Vesper Lynd brokenly in his arms, it was frankly a bit embarrassing being in the same room as my actual husband. And I know there are women nodding as they read this, because they have told me.

It takes a serious dose of raw machismo to remain the object of female desire even while having one’s testicles flayed from under a chair, but Craig managed it. Men liked his rough quality, the slight coarsening of the Bond franchise. Women just… yes, well. I think we’ve covered that.

To read the entire column JUST CLICK HERE.

1973: Paul McCartney special promotes 007

In April 1973, Paul McCartney had a television special, simpled titled James Paul McCartney, where the musician performed a vareity of songs.

Given it was only a few months before the debut of Live And Let Die, it was a natural that the special include the title song of the new James Bond movie that he and Linda McCartney had written. (A song that producer Harry Saltzman had liked but had wanted to have a woman singer perform.)

You take a look for yourself. It starts at the 3:58 mark of this clip and immediately follows a number where McCartney performs with a group of dancers made up to like half-men and half-women. The Live And Let Die is more straight forward, including clips of Roger Moore’s debut as 007. But Paul & Co. better watch out for the spy at the end.



There’s an extremely clever series of “minimalistic James Bond movie posters” on Flickr. Created and posted by Will Binder, each one relies on a single image, rendered as an ingeniously simple graphic, to convey the film’s theme. “011,” shown here, is for the 11th Bond film, Moonraker. He’s got one for each of the series, so go check ’em out!

Quantum of Solace meets West Side Story

Quantum of Solace debuted on the Showtime pay-cable channel earlier this month. Showtime decided to channel West Side Story in promoting the film.

Telegraph prediction: 007 will defeat MGM

In a commentary on the Web site of The Telegraph, writer Simon Heffer says James Bond will eventually triumph over Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. The author was prompted by last week’s news that Bond 23 is being delayed until MGM sorts out its financial future.

However, while Heffer describes himself as a fan, he also raises questions about the film series, including Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

Still, it is hard to imagine even the bankruptcy of MGM killing off James Bond on celluloid, something the world’s leading villains have completely failed to do in nearly 50 years: he and his adventures are always going to be a most marketable asset for anyone strapped for cash. But perhaps the pause in normal service is an ideal moment for those who might shape the next Bond film to ponder on what it ought to be.

What I felt was missing from the last two Bond films – Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace – were jokes. Craig, as I have said, was believable as an MI6 agent; but that raised the question of how believable James Bond is supposed to be. He is a complete fantasy figure, and that is his appeal. In the real world, people do not jump out of aircraft at 30,000 feet, have a fight on the way down, and survive. They do not consume strong drink (and, in the old days, cigarettes) with the abandon that Bond does without ending up on a mortuary slab fairly early on. They do not drive performance cars round multi-storey car parks, while being shot at, using their mobile telephones to keep the thing on course. They don’t jump from one building to another and inevitably land safely. Also, when most villains tell someone that they are going to be killed, they normally get killed pretty sharpish, and not after a theatrical delay that allows them to overpower their captors and make an escape.

That’s just a taste. To read the entire commentary YOU CAN CLICK HERE.

Sam Mendes watch: from Bond 23 to Oz prequel?

With Bond 23 being put on the shelf for who knows how long, there are now reports of Sam Mendes, the reportedly Bond 23 director-in-waiting, looking at other projects.

IF YOU CLICK HERE, you can read a story about Mendes may be directing a Wizard of Oz prequel.

UPDATE: THIS ENTRY IN A LOS ANGELES TIMES BLOG may have been where the Sam Mendes/Robert Downey Jr./Wizard of Oz prequel story may have started. An excerpt:

Several weeks ago we wrote that Joe Roth was meeting with newly anointed Disney production president Sean Bailey on a “Wizard of Oz” prequel about the wizard before he came to Oz.

Now we’re hearing that those meetings went well, so well that the project is on a fast track of sorts. According to word in the development community, Robert Downey Jr. is talking to producers about starring as the wizard (hard not to lick your lips at that one).

Meanwhile, two directors are said to be considered top candidates to get behind the camera: “American Beauty” director Sam Mendes (who may have some time on his hands now that “Bond 23” is in trouble) and “Hairspray” and “Bedtime Stories” director Adam Shankman, who most recently pulled the strings from behind the curtain at the Oscars.

(Downey’s and Mendes’ potential involvement, incidentally, were also mentioned earlier today in a tweet from Production Weekly.)

Meanwhile, The Guardian paper in the U.K. HAS A STORY saying that Mendes will direct a stage production of King Lear in 2012. An excerpt:

One of the most admired and bankable pairings in British theatre, actor Simon Russell Beale and director Sam Mendes, will return to the National Theatre in two years’ time for a production of King Lear. It’s their first work at the National since 1998, and Mendes’s first entirely British production since he left the Donmar Warehouse, the tiny London theatre where he forged an international reputation, in 2002.

Appropriate caveats: Mendes was never officially announced as Bond 23’s director, despite the number of reports LIKE THIS ONE or SUCH AS THIS ONE that he was close to be signed or was working on the film as a consultant in preparation for directing.
But the prospect had some Bond fans excited prior to this week’s annoucement that Bond 23 was being indefinitely delayed because of uncertainty surrounding ownership of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controls half the Bond franchise.

The new issue of HMSS has arrived!

Volume VI, Issue 2

The publishers and editors of Her Majesty’s Secret Servant take enormous pleasure, and a little bit of pride, in announcing that a brand-new issue is up, awaiting your perusal and enjoyment. There’s lots of good stuff to explore in this one: an exhaustive cataloguing of the collectible goodies spun off from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service; an examination of the Cold War career of Mr. Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man); an investigation into what the heck happened with the cinematic “Blofeld trilogy;” an appreciation of Roger Moore’s contribution to the 007 screen saga; and an eye-pleasing look at our top 10 favorite (and hottest!) Bond girls.

So, swing on over to HMSS.com and get knee-deep in the 007 weeds!

New York Times blog has advice for furloughed 007

The New York Times has an image of “the Gray Lady,”
the last refuge of serious journalism in an era when the business model of the news business (relying on advertising) is being turned topsy turvy by the Internet.

Then, there are some of the blogs on the Times’s Web site where (at least some times) the Gray Lady hikes of her skirt a bit. So it is with the site’s Arts Beat blog. And the blog, of course, had to weigh in when news came in this week that Eon Productions was delaying development of Bond 23 indefinitely. So NYT blogger Dave Itzkoff had some advice for a furloughed fictional secret agent.

Work on his Austin Powers accent and practice reciting catchphrases like “Shagadelic!” and “Yeah, baby, yeah!”
Grow a mustache and star in a two-person Broadway show with another out-of-work action star, like, say, Dame Edna.
See if any California technology companies could use help guarding the top-secret prototypes their employees lose in bars.
Develop an unhealthy fixation on the shape of eggs.
Start a Twitter account and try to amass more followers than SPECTRE.
Make crank calls to George Lazenby’s house.

There’s more, of course, and you can read it all by CLICKING HERE.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, the BBC’s Web site raises all sorts of possibilities (Sam Worthington for Bond based on the bookies taking bets on the next 007) while saying very little definite. Just CLICK HERE to see for yourself.

UPDATE 2: The NYT’s nickname is just the “Gray Lady.” We corrected that after earlier referring to the paper as the “Great Gray Lady.”