Michael G. Wilson’s unheralded 007 milestone

Michael G. Wilson, the co-boss person of Eon Productions, either has, or is about to, hit a noteable milestone in the history of the James Bond film series. It hasn’t gotten much publicity. And, it’s kind of hard to precisely measure it.

In any case, Wilson’s tenure on the 007 series has now exceeded, or will shortly exceed, that of his stepfather, Albert R. Broccoli.

Broccoli was involved in the Bond series for 35 years, starting in 1961 (when Eon and its holding company, Danjaq, was formed when Broccoli and his then-partner Harry Saltzman struck a deal with United Artists) until his death in 1996.

Wilson, meanwhile, has been involved with the series for at least 36 years, from 1975 (when the Broccoli-Saltzman partnership was dissolved) to the present. Arguably, you date it further back. Broccoli’s posthumously published autobiography, When The Snow Melts, ghostwriter Donald Zec says Wilson took a leave of absence from a law firm in 1973 “to help Cubby with tax matters and the burgeoning problems with Harry Saltzman.” He was also an extra on 1964’s Goldfinger, but he didn’t hold any kind of adminstrative position. So, for our purposes, we’ll exclude that.

Once the legal fight with Saltzman concuded, the Broccoli autobiograhy says, “Michael Wilson becoming more and more becoming involved in the creative side of filming, was a great help to me as associate producer.”

Cubby’s memory is a bit faulty here. Wilson’s credit on The Spy Who Love Me, the first entry in the 007 series without Saltzman, was as “special assistant to producer,” and that credit was in small type along with others in the main titles. The film’s associate producer was William P. Cartlidge (who got his credit in big type and had the screen all to himself when his name was shown). Still, Wilson was having an impact on the Bond series starting with that 1977-released film.

A picture of Wilson and his co-boss person (and half-sister) Barbara Broccoli showed up IN A TURKISH NEWSPAPER this week with officials in Turkey after having secured permission to film in Istanbul for Bond 23.

Wilson, 68 or 69 (Wikipedia lists his date of birth as Jan. 21, 1942, while IMDB.com lists it as A YEAR LATER) wasn’t an innovator the way his stepfather was. But he has had a major impact on the series, having held the titles of executive producer (Moonraker through Octopussy), sharing the producer’s chair with Cubby Broccoli (A View To a Kill through Licence to Kill), co-screenwriter (For Your Eyes Only through Licence to Kill) and sharing the producer’s title with Barbara Broccoli (GoldenEye to present).

So this is a milestone that should be noted, even if terms and dates may vary. Here’s Wilson and Barbara Broccoli at the 2008 premier of Quantum of Solace: