Happy 83rd birthday, David McCallum

Sept. 19 is David McCallum’s 83rd birthday. Judging by a picture on his Facebook page, he has already celebrated the event.

Meanwhile, below, here once again is a publicity still from The Man From U.N.C.L.E., taken during production of The Girls of Nazarone Affair late in the show’s first season. Happy birthday, Mr. Callum.

David McCallum in a Man From U.N.C.L.E. publicity still

Caveat Emptor: Tabloid says Ritchie may direct Bond 25

Armie Hammer with U.N.C.L.E. movie director Guy Ritchie in 2013

Armie Hammer with U.N.C.L.E. movie director Guy Ritchie in 2013

Guy Ritchie is in talks to direct Bond 25, the tabloid Mirror said in a story this weekend.

The director purportedly had meetings with Michael G. Wilson, co-boss of Eon Productions, according to the tabloid.

As you might expect, the only person quoted isn’t identified.

“Guy has moved up the shortlist and is now the front runner,” the Mirror quoted an unidentified source as saying. “He’s meeting Michael (Wilson) this week to try to do a deal and see if they can agree on a shared vision for the film.”

The Mirror first raised the notion of Ritchie directing Bond 25 in a December story.

Reasons for the Caveat Emptor label concerning this newest story:

–The Mirror says, “Following on from the success of last year’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E, Guy caught the attention of the Bond team.”

What success? The $75 million production had worldwide box office of less than $110 million. Does Eon check out directors of flops as future Bond directors?

This blog had a positive review of the U.N.C.L.E. movie. But it was still a flop at the box office.

–The story depicts Michael G. Wilson as being actively involved. Given his status at Eon, that should be expected. However, over the past year, Barbara Broccoli has been depicted (by Sam Mendes, among others) as the driving force at Eon. Wilson hardly gets mentioned any more.

The Mirror story is a deviation from a story line that has taken hold for some time now. Wilson is concerned with the vision of Bond 25? Again, that shouldn’t be a surprise. However, supposedly, Barbara Broccoli deals with vision and is the only one who selects Bond actors.

Ralph Fiennes speculates Bond 25 may take a lighter tone

Ralph Fiennes

Ralph Fiennes

Ralph Fiennes, the current M in the James Bond film series, speculated that Bond 25 might take a lighter tone.

“Well I think if you’re the next director of Bond, you’re going to not want to go down the tone and argument of what Sam [Mendes] has put into the films,” Fiennes said in AN INTERVIEW WITH THE TELEGRAPH.

Fiennes stressed to the newspaper he knows nothing about the next 007 project, which currently has no confirmed leading man, no director and no script.

Anyway, in the interview, Fiennes did a quick summary of the Mendes-directed Skyfall and SPECTRE, and commented about how a new director might approach Bond.

“Questions of British nationhood, and whether Bond is a dinosaur, all that,” the actor told The Telegraph, in describing the Mendes 007 films. “So I would guess if you’re coming to do the next Bond, you’d want to take it somewhere radically different, I think.”

It’s an interesting bit of conjecture. SPECTRE was intended as a hybrid of the serious Daniel Craig style while having more of the traditional escapist Bond tone. The movie supplied a new Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who turned out be Bond’s foster brother.

To read the entire interview, CLICK HERE. The story leads off with Fiennes commenting about how Russian audiences didn’t like the more serious approach of the Craig films.

M:I 6 getting back on track, Hollywood Reporter says

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise

Star-producer Tom Cruise is “on the verge” of completing a deal for a sixth Mission: Impossible movie, The Hollywood Reporter said.

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, released in 2015, was a solid box office success. So a sixth film was expected. However, in August, the Deadline: Hollywood entertainment news website reported that Paramount halted pre-production until it worked out a deal with Cruise.

Now, according to THR, “issues have been resolved and M:I6 is being restarted.” The movie will go into production in the spring of 2017, the entertainment news site said.

The development isn’t startling. Paramount is struggling. Its parent company, Viacom, this year was embroiled in a soap opera that led to the ouster of its CEO. It makes sense that the studio would move to get a deal done with Cruise.

Meanwhile, despite being in great physical shape, Cruise is 54. Presumably, the horizon for him being the lead in action movies is winding down. He has another Jack Reacher movie coming out this fall.

The actor has both starred and produced the film series since its debut in 1996.

Craig fans start petition for actor to remain 007

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

Some Daniel Craig fans have started an ONLINE PETITION AT CHANGE.ORG urging the actor to remain in the role of James Bond.

Here’s part of the text:

Daniel Craig’s portrayal of 007 is one of the best in all times and deserves the to be in top 3.If you are a fan of Daniel Craig and want to see him again as 007 this might be your last chance. Support this petition and share this with as many people you can. Tell Craig how much we love him and we want him back. This petition is certainly not to force him but to tell him how much we love him as 007. Even after all this he chooses not to come back then we honor his decision but we have to give a last shot right?

Craig, 48,hasn’t actually said he’s out as Bond. But Michael G. Wilson, co-boss of Eon Productions, said late last year the actor isn’t under contract for future 007 appearances. Craig has played Bond in four movies, most recently in 2015’s SPECTRE.

Neither Eon nor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is under any particularly urgency about Bond 25 right now. Also, MGM has yet to find another studio partner to actually release the movie.

Anyway, if you want to check out the petition, CLICK HERE.

…and the (007) world goes round and round…

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

There’s a scene in The Dark Knight where the Joker performs his “magic pencil trick” and kills a thug by ramming a pencil into his eye. For many James Bond fans, it feels that way over the past week.

Radar Online, an entertainment and gossip site, kicked off the festivities on Sept. 3 with a story saying 1) Daniel Craig had been offered $150 million to do two more James Bond movies by Sony Pictures and 2) that Sony “should be announcing any day that the studio is re-upping the distribution rights for the Bond series.”

The immediate response among some Bond fans on social media was this was GREAT NEWS and Sony would be foolish not to offer the actor such a princely sum. Such fans didn’t want to hear why such an offer wouldn’t make economic sense.

It took a few days, but a number of sites moved to debunk the $150 million offer part of the Radar story, including FORBES.COM, HITFIX.COM and VANITY FAIRWhile those sites went over the $150 million portion, they didn’t reference the second part. Each cited how Sony’s contract to distribute 007 movies ended with SPECTRE, without directly saying how Radar reported Sony (supposedly) had a new deal.

From HitFix: “Will they re-sign with Sony? Unlikely, but possible.” From Forbes.com: “The short (Radar) post makes four references to Sony, a studio that no longer has distribution rights to the 007 films.” From Vanity Fair: “(T)he decision to pay Craig such an astronomical fee would not unilaterally fall to Sony—which spearheaded the wide-release roll-out of the last four Double-0 films—even if the studio re-ups its distribution rights for the franchise, which expired with the release of Spectre.”

Admittedly, Radar waited until the seventh of eight paragraphs to reference how Sony (supposedly) has a new deal. Still, it was part of the story.

Is this post an endorsement of Radar’s story? No way. In our very first post, on the subject, also on Sept. 3, we slapped on the Caveat Emptor tag. That’s even more true now. Radar said Sony “should be announcing any day” it has a new 007 movie distribution deal.

The clock is ticking. If an announcement doesn’t materialize, say, in another week, Radar’s story may officially be dead.

Anyway, on Sept. 10, Radar Online was at it again. Its newest story proclaims actor Tom Hiddleston “could be canned from the James Bond movie he has been gunning for” because of his “split” from Taylor Swift.

Of course, a lot of people were skeptical the two were a legitimate couple in the first place. Regardless, despite being criticized by other news sites, Radar is still at it. The gossip site acts as if it was totally unaware prominent outlets were saying its original 007 story was crap.

Magic pencil trick, indeed.

 

Ranking all 24 (26) James Bond Films.

mosaic-all-bond-films

By Gert Waterink, Guest Writer

The premiere of SPECTRE took place almost one year ago. Shortly before the premiere, many movie critics and entertainment websites started to prepare for the festivities of another Bond film by writing the obligatory rankings of its predecessors.

Some posted a TOP 10 of “The Best,” and others were daring enough to flashback all the entries by ranking all 23. For a passionate Bond fan like me, that’s not an easy task.

But we are one year further out, and as of late some new rankings included SPECTRE. I did a bit of research into the matter, and I added up all rankings from the major film critics and movie entertainment websites. One placing equals one point in below average “Ranking of Rankings.” The more points a Bond film received, the lower it ended in the outcome.

You will find the results here (click on the table to see a larger image):

average-ranking-bond-films-movie-critics-entertainment-sites

It’s interesting to see how SPECTRE performs. You can draw your own conclusions, of course. This ranking got me interested in conducting my own poll. But before I do that, I have to stress that as of today all 24 Bond films (26 films actually, because I like analyzing all portrayals of Fleming’s character, including those in the two non-EON films) have a special place in my heart. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I speak for many fellow Bond “nerds.”

Yet by ranking all the Bond films, by actually critically dissecting each and every aspect of a Bond film, or perhaps judging a Bond film solely as a “good or bad film without the Bond formula tag,” one can perhaps facilitate some more respect or discover some surprising nuances for a franchise that’s almost 54 years old.

To be very honest, asking someone to rank all Bond films can be a pretty subjective pastime. But saying that all Bond films are “great” or “fantastic,” or saying that all of them are complete ridiculous isn’t very objective either.

Hence why trying to make a TOP 24 (26) of Best James Bond films is actually a very exciting, interesting and daring task to do.

And, in case you are already a senior Bond fan and your little nephew or niece hasn’t actually seen a Bond film, your ranking could become quite a helpful piece of paper (or not, depending how you look at it). So opinions do matter. But especially an average of opinions is interesting, because that creates an average understanding of the quality of each and individual Bond film.

Hence why recently I initiated a poll by myself. But, unlike many other polls where people simply press a button once for their favourite film, I actually made sure that each and every “forum member” posted his or her TOP 10 of Best Bond Films. And while they were doing that, they were attaching a system of points to the ranking that I wrote down in the “rules.”

A person’s 1st placed ‘Best Bond Film’ received 12 points, his or her runner-up received 10 points, then the ‘bronze’ placed film got 8 points, downwards from 7 points (4th placed), to 6 points (5th placed), 5 points, 4, 3, 2 and finally 1 point (for the 10th placed ‘Best Film’). Adding up all the points results in a TOP 26 ranking.

If you like to vote in the Ranking poll, which is titled “The Big James Bond 007 Film Contest,” then by all means do not hesitate to post your own TOP 10 of Best Bond films by registering yourself in the forum section of our partner website www.MI6-HQ.com (To keep track of the validity of the votes, registering is necessary. But you can do it easily via Facebook or Twitter). You can leave your TOP 10 in this topic:

http://www.mi6community.com/index.php?p=/discussion/16631/bond-polls-2016-the-big-james-bond-007-film-contest-your-top-10-of-best-bond-films/p1 .

Here’s a short overview of all 26 films featuring the famous secret agent:

Old timeline Bond-films (1962 – 2002):
01. 1962: “DR. NO,” directed by Terence Young
02. 1963: “FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE,” directed by Terence Young
03. 1964: “GOLDFINGER,” directed by Guy Hamilton
04. 1965: “THUNDERBALL,” directed by Terence Young
05. 1967: “YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE,” directed by Lewis Gilbert
06. 1967: “CASINO ROYALE,” directed by: Ken Hughes, John Huston, Joseph McGrath, e.o.
07. 1969: “ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE,” directed by Peter Hunt
08. 1971: “DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER,” directed by Guy Hamilton
09. 1973: “LIVE AND LET DIE,” directed by Guy Hamilton
10. 1974: “THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN,” directed by Guy Hamilton
11. 1977: “THE SPY WHO LOVED ME,” directed by Lewis Gilbert
12. 1979: “MOONRAKER,” directed by Lewis Gilbert
13. 1981: “FOR YOUR EYES ONLY,, directed by John Glen
14. 1983: “OCTOPUSSY,” directed by John Glen
15. 1983: “NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN,” directed by Irvin Kershner
16. 1985: “A VIEW TO A KILL,” directed by John Glen
17. 1987: “THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS,” directed by John Glen
18. 1989: “LICENCE TO KILL,” directed by John Glen
19. 1995: “GOLDENEYE,” directed by Martin Campbell
20. 1997: “TOMORROW NEVER DIES,” directed by Roger Spottiswoode
21. 1999: “THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH,” directed by Michael Apted
22. 2002: “DIE ANOTHER DAY,” directed by Lee Tamahori

New timeline Bond-films (2006 – present):
23. 2006: “CASINO ROYALE,”, directed by Martin Campbell
24. 2008: “QUANTUM OF SOLACE,” directed by Marc Forster
25. 2012: “SKYFALL,” directed by Sam Mendes
26. 2015: “SPECTRE,” directed by Sam Mendes

Again, it is important to note that also here subjectivity sneaks in. For those forum members who already voted and had problems in ranking all the Bond films, I asked them to judge all aspects of the film.

One could think of aspects like coherent story, acting performances, cinematography, originality, is it a film with the right amount of “Bond formula,” film score, interesting dialogue, unique action sequences and main titles sequence. Then it’s merely a matter of translating it back to the overall effectiveness of the total package of a particular Bond film. Perhaps then it’s a bit easier to create your TOP 10 of “Best Bond Films.”

On top of that, most voters so far are Bond fans and not generic movie aficionados or people who don’t consider themselves Bond fans. So the rankings mostly represent the ideas of fans and is not supposed to be a definite scorecard of some sort.

Regarding the system of points attribution, I did not devise it entirely by myself. It’s a common ranking system used in the Eurovision Song Contest ( http://www.eurovision.tv/page/voting ). There’s a deadline to the above ranking poll: October 26th, 6:00 PM GMT+1. Shortly after that, we will get into the details of the final average ranking with conclusions in a follow-up article. So far 81 people have voted, so don’t hesitate to become part of a larger poll sample.

Craig angered MGM chief, Vanity Fair says

Poster for SPECTRE

Poster for SPECTRE

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s top executive was angered last year when SPECTRE star Daniel Craig said he’s rather “slash my wrists” than play James Bond again, Vanity Fair reported.

The disclosure was part of a broader story mostly intended to knock down last weekend’s Radar Online story that the actor is being offered $150 million to do two more 007 films. (The publication says the offer is “is as fictional as Francisco Scaramanga’s third nipple”).

Here’s an excerpt that concerns MGM’s CEO, Gary Barber:

Craig’s “slash my wrists” comment didn’t exactly endear him to MGM’s chief executive and chairman Gary Barber who, Vanity Fair has learned, personally contacted the actor last year to express his frustration in no uncertain terms. (An email to Craig’s publicist was not immediately returned.)

“Gary hit the ceiling when he read the story,” says a source with knowledge of the situation, who declined to be identified because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. “He called up Daniel to yell at him. He was furious.”

Quick recap: Craig made the mark in an interview with Time Out London. The interview was conducted a few days after the seven-month shoot of SPECTRE was completed but not published until October.

The article was in Q&A format and the “slash my wrists” comment was in response to the 17th of 22 questions. Neverthless, other outlets jumped on the quote, leading with it in their summaries of the interview. Craig fans have been crying foul ever since on social media.

This isn’t the first time something like this has been reported. The New York Post’s Page Six gossip page  said 11 months ago that executives at Sony Pictures, which co-financed SPECTRE with MGM, had told Craig to shut up.

Vanity Fair, though, is considerably higher brow than the tabloid New York Post. The Vanity Fair story also says Craig still is contractually obligated to do another Bond movie. Michael G. Wilson, co-boss of Eon Productions, said last year that Craig is not.

To read the entire Vanity Fair story, CLICK HERE.

Robert H. Justman: In the nexus of Star Trek, M:I, Superman

robert-h-justman-title-card

Another in a series about unsung figures of television.

This month is the 50th anniversary of both Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. One man links both. Not to mention The Adventures of Superman.

That man would be Robert H. Justman (1926-2008).

Justman was associate producer for the pilots of Star Trek (specifically, the second pilot, Where No Man Has Gone Before) and Mission: Impossible.

At the time, Desilu was a sleepy studio. Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball were divorced in 1960. Desi was handled creative efforts. Lucy was the no-nonsense head of business affairs. After the divorce, Lucy bought out Desi.

Over time, Desi’s absence had an effect. As older Desilu shows ran their course, the studio wasn’t able to replace them. By the mid-1960s, Desilu mostly rented out its studios to other production companies.

In early 1966, however, Desilu was getting its mojo back. It pitched two expensive series (for their time), Star Trek and Mission: Impossible, to television networks. Both sold.

Robert Justman suddenly was in demand. Both Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and Mission: Impossible creator Bruce Geller wanted Justman to work on their series. Roddenberry won out.

Earlier in his career, Justman worked on a show featuring another major character. He had been an assistant director on The Adventures of Superman, the 1950s series with George Reeves as Superman. He held the same post with The Outer Limits in the early 1960s.

Today, Justman is known mostly for Star Trek. Roddenberry made him part of his team when Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted in 1987.

Still, over a long career, Justman worked in a variety of genres, including a Philip Marlowe series and a TV version of The Thin Man. He was producer of Search, a spy-like series on NBC during the 1972-73 season.

How Warner Bros. plans to lighten up its superhero films

Henry Cavill after reading the latest Batman v Superman reviews

Could Supeman (at present deceased) lighten up in future movie appearances?

Studios and production companies rarely admit to misfires (see the James Bond film series for examples). But Warner Bros. and its DC Entertainment unit appear to be doing just that.

The Wall Street Journal, in a STORY POSTED THURSDAY, quoted Jeff Johns, a comic book writer who will have a lot of say over future DC Comics-based superhero movies.

“Mistakenly in the past I think the studio has said, ‘Oh, DC films are gritty and dark and that’s what makes them different.’ That couldn’t be more wrong,” said Mr. Johns, who has written comic books featuring most of the company’s top superheroes. “It’s a hopeful and optimistic view of life. Even Batman has a glimmer of that in him. If he didn’t think he’d make tomorrow better, he’d stop.”

All of this is happening after a very mixed year for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment.

The good news: Two of the studios movies, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, had big box office in 2016. Bad news: Both movies fell off quickly after their opening weekends.

What’s more, Warner Bros. still trails rival Marvel Studios, part of Walt Disney Co. Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War generated worldwide box office of $1.15 billion, better than either Warner Bros./DC Entertainment entry.

Other studios would kill for the box office of the two DC-based movies. But those movies were also very expensive. Batman v Superman, going into 2016, seemed a lock to be a billion-dollar movie but fell well short — despite featuring the two Big Dogs of the DC Comics universe.

According to The Journal, Warner Bros. is making some mid-course corrections. This except references the studio’s Wonder Woman solo movie and November 2017 release of Justice League:

“Justice League” will also directly address Batman’s extreme actions in the last movie (Batman v Superman), such as torturing criminals and nearly killing the man of steel, rather than accept them as par for the course. And it’s expected to have fewer of Mr. (director Zack) Snyder’s controversial flourishes, like the dream sequences in “Batman v Superman,” in favor of focusing more tightly on the plot, people close to the picture said.

Needless to say, it remains to be seen how this turns out. However, it’s clear that Marvel v DC: Battle for Supremacy, fought for decades in comic books, has moved to films.