Jeff Sneider follows up on 007 universe rumor

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Jeff Sneider, editor in chief of The Tracking Board website, has weighed in with his opinions about the 007 film franchise.

Sneider last week wrote a post on Twitter saying there were rumors that Eon Productions wanted a 007 film universe. It was widely picked up by entertainment news websites.

Sneider is part of an online show, Meet the Movie Press. In the newest edition, posted June 30, the website editor expanded upon his tweet.

“Let’s start with that pesky, little tweet of mine. Was this even a big thing?” Sneider said. “I tweeted something to the effect I heard the Broccolis were planning a Bond unvierse and potentially juggling multiple movies simultaneously.

“To me, to have a Bond movie once, I don’t know, once every three or four years in this kind of competitive landscape, you can’t really do that anymore. You have to keep the well going. I don’t know if Bond thinks it’s special.”

However, Sneider didn’t demonstrate a detailed knowledge of Bond.

“I heard Daniel Craig is coming back but I heard he could be passing the reins to another 007. James Bond is a code name, right? His name actually isn’t James Bond, right?”

007 film scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have said in the past (including a 2007 interview at the former Her Majesty’s Secret Servant website that’s no longer online) that James Bond is not a code name.

“We don’t believe Bond is just a transferable codename – and don’t like the idea at all,” Purvis and Wade said in that interview. “Bond is a character, a special individual, who happens to have been played by different actors.”

You can read that quote in the comments section of this 2015 post on the Cinelinx website. The comment was posted by Tom Zielinski, who did the 2007 HMSS interview.

Meanwhile, on The Meet the Movie Press, Sneider also suggested the Bond franchise could also make a Jane Bond film and then have a “James and Jane pair-up.”

“I just think there’s a lot more that you can do with that franchise,” Snider said. “I just think this franchise is at a crossroads. If it’s not at a crossroads now, it will be at a crossroads in a few years.”

Finally, he said: “As a reporter, one of the most fun things to speculate about I feel like Bond news breaks overseas anyway, it’s always Baz Bamigboye (of the Daily Mail). You can say anything you want. It’s open season.”

You can view the whole thing here. The Bond discussion begins around the 2:12 mark.

Hawaii Five-0 loses two stars

Cast of the 2010 Hawaii Five-0

Hawaii Five-0, the remake of the original Five-O series, is losing two of its stars in a pay dispute, Variety reported.

Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park are departing the series ahead of its eighth season, according to the entertainment website.

The two “had been seeking pay equality with stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan, but were unable to reach satisfactory deals with CBS Television Studios, which produces the series,” Variety said. “Kim and Park were believed to be making 10-15% less than O’Loughlin and Caan.”

The remake debuted in 2010. Park played Kono Kalkaua, who had been a man in the 1968-80 original show. Kim was a fitter, trimmer version of Chin Ho Kelly.

O’Loughlin and Caan are revamped versions of Steve McGarrett and Dan Williams from the original series. The characters were played by Jack Lord and James MacArthur in the 1968-80 show, although Tim O’Kelly played Williams in the 1968 pilot TV movie.

The remake series also has done new takes on other characters from the original, including turning villain Wo Fat, Gov. Paul Jameson and U.S. spymaster Jonathan Kaye. For the new series, Jameson and Kaye were made into women characters.

The new versions of Jameson and Kaye were revealed to be in cahoots with Wo Fat and were killed off. The new Wo Fat was killed off in the new show’s 100th episode.

(And yes, the official spelling of the original is Hawaii Five-O while the 2010 series is spelled Five-0.)

 

007 film universe rumor and entertainment websites

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

It has been almost a week, but entertainment news websites are still following up on the rumor that Eon Productions wants a 007 film universe.

There hasn’t been anything new, but the rumor is making the rounds.

Here’s how it breaks down. The followups are not a comprehensive list. But this post does contain a shoutout to the original source and a 007 fan account on Twitter that picked up on it.

June 23: Jeff Sneider, editor-in-chief of The Tracking Board website, says in a tweet that, “I’ve heard the Broccolis have caught Universe Fever and would love to explore other corners of the Bond franchise…simultaneously.”

June 24: @Bond25Film on Twitter does a “quote tweet,” where you can see Sneider’s original tweet. @Bond25Film says (understandably) to take “this with a huge pinch of salt.”

June 24: In full disclosure, @Bond25Film’s “quote tweet” was the first time this blog heard of Sneider’s original tweet. After tracking the original tweet down, the blog did a post the same day plus a June 25 follow-up about questions raised by the rumor.

June 26: Phil Nobile Jr., a writer for Birth. Movies. Death. and a Bond fan, comes out with a post noting the Sneider rumor.

“I’m highly skeptical that this will come to pass, but as a fan of the franchise with no real Bond 25 news to report, I humbly offer these suggestions for opening up the Bondverse,” Nobile writes. His ideas include a prequel for M (the Judi Dench version).

June 28: The Express, in a story with the headline “James Bond SHOCK,” weighs in.

June 28: Esquire also comments on the rumor. “Do We…do we want this?” reads a secondary headline.

June 28: The Playlist, while citing Jeff Sneider, also says, Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson “might have a contemporary way to keep that money tap open.”

June 29: The Independent, again citing Jeff Sneider, says, “It seems like there’s no franchise on the planet that’s immune from the cinematic universe fever.”

June 29: Add /Film to the list. The site adds this observation: “Also the truth: a James Bond cinematic universe would completely fit in with the series’ modus operandi of borrowing whatever is cool, hip, or popular and making it its own.”

UK film industry not diverse, says report backed by 007 boss

Barbara Broccoli

The British film industry faces a “pandemic lack of inclusion,” says a report backed by the bosses of the James Bond and Star Wars film franchises, according to The Guardian.

Barbara Broccoli, boss of Eon Productions, and Kathleen Kennedy, head of Star Wars maker Lucasfilm Ltd., “are throwing their weight behind a plan, backed by ÂŁ20m of national lottery money, to improve diversity in the sector,” wrote Mark Brown of The Guardian.

Both film franchises have their home bases in the United Kingdom. Lucasfilm is owned by Walt Disney Co.

Here’s an excerpt from The Guardian’s story:

The report on film employment, whether of camera operators, riggers, props or hairdressers, shows a striking lack of diversity and “significant obstacles” to people getting jobs in the first place.

Heather Carey, an associate consultant at the Work Foundation thinktank, led the data research for the report and found major barriers. “There is a culture of nepotism and a lot of the employers we spoke to just recruit via word of mouth,” she said.

“You tend to get that a bit in certain industries but in this industry it is kind of … that’s how it’s done. If you don’t have the network it is incredibly difficult to get in and progress.”

Kennedy, 64, became president of Lucasfilm when it was acquired by Disney in 2012. Previously, she was a co-founder, with Steven Spielberg, of Amblin Entertainment. Her IMDB.COM ENTRY lists 92 producer credits.

Broccoli, 57, has been producer of the last eight Bond movies, sharing the producer’s credit with her half-brother Michael G. Wilson, 75. She held other posts at Eon before that and has produced non-Bond films and plays. She is the daughter of Eon co-founder Albert R. Broccoli.

Wonder Woman about to be No. 1 DC film in U.S. box office

Wonder Woman poster

Wonder Woman is on the verge of being the No. 1 DC Extended Universe movie at the U.S. box office.

The film’s U.S. box office totaled $325,083,830 as of June 27, according to the Box Office Mojo website.

That means Wonder Woman likely will pass 2016’s Suicide Squad ($325,100,054) today. Next up, also from 2016, is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which had U.S. box office of $330,360,194.

The DCEU began with 2013’s Man of Steel, which had U.S. box office of $291,045,518.

Wonder Woman’s global office still lags the other three DCEU films.

The movie’s worldwide total was $660,883,830 as of June 27.

It’s getting close to Man of Steel’s global box office ($668,045,518). Meanwhile the worldwide numbers were $873,260,194 for Batman v Superman and $745,600,054 for Suicide Squad.

Wonder Woman has been a lift for Warner Bros. Both Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad received many bad reviews. That wasn’t the case for Wonder Woman, which has a 92 percent “fresh” rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

In the U.S., Wonder Woman hasn’t had the quick box office dropoff experienced by the two 2016 DC movies.

UPDATE (June 30): Wonder Woman surpassed Batman v Superman in U.S. box office on June 29, according to a post by Scott Mendelson on Forbes.com. Its U.S. box office total was $330,529,475 as of June 29, according to Box Office Mojo.

1967: Spy TV star debates a conservative icon

Robert Vaughn, right, with Richardo Montalban in the first-season Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode, The Dove Affair

July 8 is the 50th anniversary of when Robert Vaughn, the star of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., debated William F. Buckley Jr. about the Vietnam war on the program Firing Line.

Buckley, the founder and publisher of National Review, took on debate partners over more than 30 years on Firing Line.

Firing Line’s format was polite but intense. In 1967, the Vietnam War was raging and it was an intense time.

Vaughn was one of the most prominent actors who opposed the war.

Vaughn, decades later, in an interview for the Archive of American Television, described his preparation for the debate.

The actor said he “spent a month in a monastery reading everything Buckley had ever written in his life, including term papers at Yale. So I walked in as the young challenger against the old champ.”

The Firing Line taping occurred during a day off during filming of the fourth-season U.N.C.L.E. episode The Thrush Roulette Affair (July 5-7 and 10-12, according to Jon Heitland’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. book).

The Hoover Institution, a conservative think thank has posted the Buckley Vaughn encounter. It lasts more than 48 minutes. It’s considerably more polite than a debate, a year later, between Buckley and author Gore Vidal on ABC.

You can view the Buckley-Vaughn video below. There’s a judge, C. Dickerman Williams.

At the end, Williams says, “We’ve had a conflict between a hawk and a dove…Whose feathers were the more ruffled? The hawk’s or the dove’s? I must leave that to you to decide, As chairman, I can’t make a decision myself, I regret to say.”

(Corrected to remove reference to PBS. Firing Line wasn’t shown on PBS until the early 1970s.)

 

The real-life Operation Goldfinger

A natural inspiration for the name of a U.S. secret operation.

There’s a new book out about the relationship between the United States and gold. It includes a passage out a real-life secret operation dubbed, naturally, Operation Goldfinger.

The book is One Nation Under Gold: How One Precious Metal Has Dominated the American Imagination for Four Centuries by James Ledbetter.

An excerpt from the book appeared in this month in The New Yorker magazine. That excerpt specially explores Operation Goldfinger, a 1960s U.S. effort to increase the gold supply.

Background: By the mid-1960s, the gold standard for the global economy was under severe strain. The U.S. government decided it needed more of the precious metal and needed to look in unlikely places.

Naturally, the name of the third James Bond film, released in 1964, was an inspiration for a project name.

Here’s an excerpt.

 

The government would end up looking for gold in the oddest places: seawater, meteorites, plants, even deer antlers. In an era during which people wanted badly to believe in the peaceful use of subatomic energy, plans were drawn up to use nuclear explosives to extract gold from deep inside the Earth, and even to use particle accelerators to try to change base metals into gold.

(snip)
Operation Goldfinger took the form of hundreds of research projects designed to find gold in places likely and very unlikely. The Roberts Mountains in north central Nevada had long seemed like a promising source of gold, and samples from dozens of areas were taken to search for surface minerals (such as limestone) known to be associated with gold deposits. Other studies were long shots. For decades, various scientists had found traces of gold in coal, and so the U.S. Geological Survey sifted through coal in dozens of locations in Appalachia and the Midwest. The government even took samples from coal ash and “coal-washing waste products received from various industrial plants.” These did not yield gold bonanzas.

There’s quite a bit more to the story. To read the full New Yorker excerpt, CLICK HERE. Also, Ledbetter was interviewed on the June 26 edition of Fresh Air, an NPR radio show. The interview runs about 37:19. Ledbetter begins discussing Operation Goldfinger around the 23:40 mark.

The U.S. went off the gold standard in 1971.

Questions about that 007 film universe rumor…

Barbara Broccoli

The rumor that Eon Productions has caught “Universe Fever” referenced by Jeff Sneider, editor in chief of Tracking Board,  generates a few questions.

To be clear, this post isn’t an endorsement of the idea. The source of the rumor is vague and unclear. These are questions raised by the rumor itself.

Bond movies are coming out at irregular intervals. How do you add output of additional 007 characters?

Since 1999, Bond movies have come out at intervals of three years, four years, two years, four years and three years. Right now, it’s up in the air whether the interval between 2015’s SPECTRE and Bond 25 will be three years or four years.

Part of this has involved financial instability at 007’s home studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. MGM went through a bankruptcy in 2010. It emerged as a smaller company, without its own film distribution operation.

However, Eon boss Barbara Broccoli has also stepped up production of non-Bond movies such as The Silent Storm and Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.

How would Eon add film production of, say, other 00-agents, or Felix Leiter or Moneypenny? From the outside, it appears production of Bond movies themselves are a handful.

Does MGM have the resources to produce a film universe?

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (which began “Universe Fever”) is part of Walt Disney Co. The DC Extended Universe is part of Warner Bros. MGM, meanwhile, is a relative small fry.

Remember, while Eon makes Bond movies, MGM and its partners actually pay the bills.

The last four Bond movies have been released by Sony Pictures. Currently MGM has no studio partner to release Bond 25.

If a 007 film universe becomes a reality, would Eon change the way it does business?

Eon is like a big family company. To get a 007 film universe going, would it have to bring in new creative blood?

For example, would you bring in additional creative talent to help get these other movies going? Or is giving additional duties to, say, Gregg Wilson (son of Eon’s Michael G. Wilson) sufficient? Gregg Wilson was credited as assistant producer on Quantum of Solace and associate producer on Skyfall and SPECTRE.

If you were to launch a 007 film universe, do you do it before or after Daniel Craig leaves the role?

Craig, 49, was announced as the film Bond in 2005. Do you do this now or wait until he moves on?

 

Caveat Emptor: New rumor Eon wants a 007 ‘universe’

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Jeff Sneider, editor-in-chief of The Tracking Board entertainment news website, publicized a rumor that Eon Productions wants a James Bond film “universe.”

“I’ve heard the Broccolis have caught Universe Fever and would love to explore other corners of the Bond franchise… simultaneously,” Sneider wrote in a June 23 post on Twitter.

It was part of an exchange with another Twitter user.

No other details were provided in the exchange.

Previously, Eon developed a script featuring Jinx, the U.S. spy character played by Halle Berry in 2002’s Die Another Day. But nothing came of that would-be project.

Also, during the 1989-1995 James Bond film hiatus, there was a James Bond Jr. cartoon show (where James Bond Jr. was Bond’s nephew).

However, “Universe Fever” has become a thing since Marvel Studios began establishing its shared universe of characters beginning with 2008’s Iron Man.

Today, that’s formally known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Warner Bros. has counted with the DC Extended Universe. Universal is using The Mummy, released earlier this month, to launch its Dark Universe of monsters.

There have been 007-related continuation novels and comic books exploring young James Bond, Moneypenny and Felix Leiter.

However, is Eon prepared to crank out a film 007 universe?

The Bond pictures, in part because of financial issues at home studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, have come out at irregular intervals. MGM needs other studios to release Bond movies and currently doesn’t have a partner for Bond 25.

Eon has branched out into other films, but they tend to be small dramas such as The Silent Storm and Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.

Something to ponder for the future. Meanwhile, you can view Sneider’s tweet for yourself.

 

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1966: Bob Hope’s spy parody

Cover to a home video release of Bob Hope television specials

In 1962, the final Bob Hope-Bing Crosby Road film, The Road to Hong Kong, provided a kind of preview to what would soon be seen in James Bond movies.

Four years later, in October 1966, Hope devoted most of one of his NBC specials to a parody of James Bond films and other spy entertainment titled, “Murder at NBC.”

In it, Hope plays a mad scientist who has developed a “chemical spray” that can shrink objects or people. He’s demanding $1 billion from the United States or else he’ll sell it to a foreign power.

To be honest, the special is more noteworthy for the comedians assembled than it is for the extended skit itself.

Among the performers: Jonathan Winters, Rowan & Martin, Dan Adams (as Maxwell Smart), Bill Dana (as Jose Jimenez), Johnny Carson (as himself), Don Rickles, Red Buttons, Soupy Sales, Bill Cosby (not playing Alexander Scott fro I Spy), Dick Shawn, Jimmy Durante and Milton Berle (in drag, an old Berle bit).

Some of the misfires: Jack Carter as detective “Charley Chin” (using just about all Asian stereotypes) and Wally Cox as the diminutive Mr. Big, a gag previously used in the pilot for Get Smart when a character by that name was played by Michael Dunn). Finally, there are plenty of Mexican stereotypes in the final sequence.

Put another way, it’s roughly on par with the Eon Productions comedy Call Me Bwana, which also starred Hope.

Toward the end of the story, the mad scientist confronts Mr. Big.

“Who are you with?” Hope’s character asks. “Smersh? KAOS? SPECTRE? What’s your network?”

“NBC,” Mr. Big replies.

If you really want to see it (and how it turns out), a video is embedded below. “Murder at NBC”  begins just after the 8:00 mark following an opening monologue by Hope.

Thanks to Craig Henderson for the tip about this.