A thought or two about the James Bond musical

Luciana Paluzzi and Sean Connery during the filming of Thunderball

“I have to sing now?” “Be quiet, darling!”

We’ve had the first volley about a possible (unlikely?) James Bond stage musical. Here are a few reactions from this modest corner of the Internet.

“You don’t tug on Superman’s cape…and you don’t mess around with Jim (Bond)”

In this corner, we have Danjaq LLC (the holding company for Broccoli-Wilson family’s 007 interests, including Eon Productions). In the other, we have a daughter of Danjaq-Eon co-founder Harry Saltzman who says her stage production is a parody that’s protected by fair use provisions of copyright law.

Merry Saltzman announced last week she had secured the rights for a 007 musical. This week, Danjaq/MGM, which control the 007 film rights, said they also control the stage rights. Danjaq/MGM said they haven’t licensed those rights to anybody.

Merry Saltzman, the daughter of Danjaq/Eon co-founder Harry Saltzman, replied her planned stage production is a parody, which falls under fair use provisions of copyright law. In short, she doesn’t need to license any rights from Danjaq/MGM.

A little bit of history: Danjaq had been known to employ lawyers to try to shut down anything it viewed as a threat.

The original Danjaq founders, Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, bullied 007 creator Ian Fleming to abandoning his activities related to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series. So much so, Fleming sold off his U.N.C.L.E. interest for one British pound in June 1963, at a time the success of the 007 film series was far from assured. Danjaq/Eon, famously, also went after Kevin McClory when he tried to mount movies based on the 007 rights he held.

Regardless of how sound Merry Saltzman’s case is, she probably has fewer resources for a legal fight than Danjaq/Eon. Lawyers may end up making money than this stage production will generate.

Is this really a good idea?

This is the broader issue. A half-century ago, Mad magazine did a parody of a 007 magazine.

It was pretty funny. Written by Frank Jacobs and drawn by Mort Drucker, it had a lot of good jokes and featured “songs” written to the tune of songs from Oklahoma!

Still, for all of the hard word by Jacobs and Drucker, that’s not anywhere near the effort to put on a Broadway stage production. Has Merry Saltzman really lined up enough entertainment to do a Broadway/Las Vegas show? Intentionally entertaining, that is.

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