Richard Anderson, busy actor, dies at 91

Richard Anderson as a presidential candidate in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Richard Anderson, an actor who kept busy as a guest star or in supporting roles on television series, has died at 91, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

As a guest star, he appeared in series such as The Man From U.N.C.L.E,, Gunsmoke, The FBI, Hawaii Five-O and Columbo.

As a supporting player, Anderson was in such shows as The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman (both as their boss, Oscar Goldman); Dan August (as the police chief who supervised Burt Reynolds’ title character); and Perry Mason as Lt. Steve Drumm, who came aboard during that show’s final season following the death of Ray Collins, who portrayed Lt. Tragg.

Anderson’s career lasted more than 60 years. He was in such movies as Scaramouche (1952), Forbidden Planet (1956) and Paths of Glory (1957).

Anderson participated in a commentary track for an episode of Thriller, the 1960-62 anthology show hosted by Boris Karloff. He was asked about shifting to working on television and replied actors go where the work is.

While Anderson found plenty of it on television, he also received parts in movies such as Seven Days in May (1964) and Seconds (1966).

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U.N.C.L.E. fan film seeks donations

U.N.C.L.E. insignia from a second-season episode

An effort to make a fan film version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is underway, including a fund-raising campaign.

The fan film is being organized by Derrick Judge Early. Here is how he describes it on the fan film’s Indiegogo page.

Hello, this is a crowdfunding project for a new Man From Uncle fan film based on on the TV series which will also be set in the turbulent 1960’s The film will be based closer to the series than the (2015) film was so the Napoleon Solo Illya Kuryakin that we all love will be in this project mixed in with a lot of non-stop action.

The project also has a Facebook page, which has made some casting announcements.

Also on the page, Derrick Early has a video where he elaborates characters will include not only Napoleon Solo, Illya Kuryakin and Alexander Waverly but also April Dancer and Mark Slate from The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. Early said he will direct the fan film.

If you’re interested in donating, CLICK HERE.

Bond 25 questions: Lull before the news edition

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

The past few months has had significant Bond 25 news (Daniel Craig confirming his return and a U.S. release date). And some additional news may be made soon.

Until then, some questions to pass the time.

Who is the distributor going to be? This isn’t as sexy as the lead actor (there was plenty of speculation before Craig announced his return on CBS’s The Late Show) or who the title song performer will be (the current focus of U.K. tabloids).

But without a distributor, nobody can see the movie. And, with a U.S. release date of November 2019 being announced by Eon Productions, you’d think one was already in place. If the distributor still hasn’t been decided, well, announcing a release date shows lots of chutzpah.

Back in April, The New York Times reported there were five contenders: Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Universal and upstart Annapurna. Nothing has come out since.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 007’s home studio, doesn’t have a distribution operation. And MGM, despite a financial recovery since a 2010 bankruptcy, probably doesn’t have the resources to mount a Bond movie by itself. It needs a studio partner to kick in the money to film Bond 25.

Yes, this blog has raised this question before. It’s still the most important unanswered question at this point.

Which leads us to…..

How much will Bond 25’s budget be?

2012’s Skyfall had a big budget (estimated at $200 million) but less than 2008’s Quantum of Solace (estimated at $220 million to $230 million).

The only significant first-unit location shooting for Skyfall was in Turkey, while a second unit got enough Shanghai shots to make it look as if 007 & Co. actually went there.

With 2015’s SPECTRE, thanks to the Sony hacks of 2014, e-mails about spending exceeding $300 million became known. Thanks to product placement and Mexican tax incentives, the net cost supposed was lowered to $245 million (though nobody involved put their name to that figure).

Even so, SPECTRE was still the most expensive Bond film to date, fattened up by a $36 million “car chase” in Rome and the biggest explosion in motion picture history that wasn’t particularly dramatic. Before the $300 million-plus figure emerged, SPECTRE director Sam Mendes joked (maybe) that the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios is where “budgets come to die.”

So: Does Bond 25 follow the Skyfall model (some economizing) or not? The answer depends on the answer to the previous question.

Jack Kirby: Hail to the King, 100 years later

Jack Kirby self portrait

Jack Kirby self portrait (enhanced version, adding other characters from the original drawing)

Hail to the King! Aug. 28, 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of comic book artist Jack Kirby.

“Comic book artist” actually is an inadequate description. Comic book creator is more like it. His nickname was the “King.” It was deserved.

Kirby lived the stories he drew in his mind. The characters he depicted existed in that fertile imagination. At one point his beloved wife Roz banned Kirby from driving. He was so distracted devising new stories he wasn’t safe behind the wheel.

In the 21st century, much of the output of Marvel Studios wouldn’t be possible without Kirby’s contributions: Captain America (co-created with Joe Simon in 1941), the Avengers (co-created with Stan Lee in 1963), Iron Man (co-created with Lee, Larry Lieber and Don Heck, also ’63), Thor (co-created with Lee and Lieber, ’62), Ant-Man (Lee and Lieber, ’61), the Black Panther (co-created with Lee, 1966). Not to mention the X-Men (co-created with Lee, ’63) that are licensed by 20th Century Fox.

Walt Disney Co. reached an out-of-court settlement with the Kirby family that ensured the company would maintain control. Terms weren’t disclosed but ever since Kirby’s on-screen credit in Marvel-made movies is more prominent.

Still, Kirby (born Jacob Kurtzberg) isn’t as well known among the public as Stan Lee is. Stan was the showman and promoter. Kirby was the workhorse at the drawing board who dreamed up much of the story content. Stan gets cameos in every Marvel movie. Kirby got a cameo in one episode of the 1970s Incredible Hulk TV show.

This isn’t intended as a criticism of Stan. For several years in the 1960s, there was a magic every time there was a Stan Lee-Jack Kirby story published by Marvel. It’s just that Kirby deserves more notoriety than he has received.

Kirby has some detractors who note his drawing style wasn’t realistic. In a 2005 documentary, artist Neal Adams said that missed the point.

Paul McCartney and Jack Kirby in 1976

“I don’t think Jack could really draw anatomy,” Adams said. “I don’t think Jack could draw a real car. That wasn’t Jack. He was a visceral animal. (He) drew impressions of things.

“If you sit around with artists and talk about Jack’s anatomy… you would get the artist who was critical. ‘Oh, he doesn’t know how to do anatomy and everything,'” Adams added. “Then you say, ‘But can you do the power that he can do? Can you do it?’ Let’s just say I ask you to do it. Would you know what to do? Wouldn’t you essentially be held back by what you knew?”

Finally, Adams had this thought: “Me as an artist, it overwhelms me to see this gutsy, ballsy thing and in a way say to myself, ‘I can’t do it.'”

No one else could. That’s why Kirby was the King.

To read about the 1976 meeting between Jack Kirby and Paul McCartney, CLICK HERE to read a post from the Jack Kirby Museum website.

To view frequently asked questions about Kirby, prepared by his biographer Mark Evanier, CLICK HERE.

UPDATE (2:45 p.m., Eastern time): Evanier, who once worked as an assistant to Kirby, has his own tribute you can view by CLICKING HERE.

Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, sent out a post on Twitter on Monday afternoon.

 

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Bond 25 title song artist? Get back to us summer 2019

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Over almost two months, we’ve had dueling tabloid stories about which popular singer will perform Bond 25’s title song.

In July, the Mirror tabloid said A POPULAR SINGER WHO PREVIOUSLY PERFORMED A 007 TITLE SONG was all but certain to do the same in Bond 25.

Over the weekend, Rupert Murdoch’s Sun tabloid said A DIFFERENT POPULAR SINGER IS ALL BUT CERTAIN to perform Bond 25’s title song.

Obviously, both can’t be right.

This post carefully didn’t mention either performer (while providing the links for those who feel the need to read it). Why?

Truth be told, this blog really finds it hard to care about a title song for a movie **THAT WON’T BE OUT FOR MORE THAN TWO YEARS FROM NOW**.

Right now, nobody knows who the distributor of Bond 25 is. That distributor will co-finance the movie and get the film to theaters. That may not be as sexy as a 007 title song singer but considerably more important. Without a distributor, nobody will actually see the film.

Also, are you willing to wish more than two years of your away to find out the Bond 25 title song perfomer? We aren’t.

Put another way, get back to us during, say, in summer 2019, when we might care more about a movie coming out in November 2019.

What’s more, on social media, you’ll find some posters, who describe themselves as 007 insiders, chiding fans for being impatient. Some of them will say that artistes will take their time and shouldn’t be hurried.

OK, fine. By that standard, there’s no reason to get excited about a film that nobody can see for more than two years.

The artistes shouldn’t be pressured. Fans should not do so. However, please let us know when it’s time to care.

Happy 87th birthday, Sean Connery

Luciana Paluzzi and Sean Connery during the filming of Thunderball

Today, Aug. 25, is the 87th birthday of Sean Connery, the first film James Bond.

Things haven’t been quite the same since he first donned his tailored suit and shoulder holster in 1962.

Big Tam has kept a low public profile since his last movie, 2003’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He did voice over work for a From Russia With Love Video Game in 2005 and an animated film, 2012’s Sir Billi. And that’s about it.

With the passing earlier this year of Roger Moore at age 89, Connery now is the oldest surviving film 007 actor.

In any case, raise your cocktail of choice (the literary Bond drank more than vodka martinis) and make your own toast to Sir Sean.

MI6 Confidential Comes Out With 2 Roger Moore Issues

Cover to MI6 Confidential No. 40, one of two Roger Moore tribute issues.

MI6 Confidential is out with not one, but two Roger Moore tribute issues.

In issue 40, there are features about how the actor was introduced as the new James Bond in the early 1970s and examinations of his first four 007 films, Live And Let Die, The Man With The Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.

In issue 41, there are features about For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill. The issue also includes an interview with director John Glen, who helmed Moore’s Bond adventures of the 1980s.

According to the MI6 Confidential website, customers will be charged for two issues, or 14 British pounds plus postage and handling and such.

Full disclosure: The Spy Commander occasionally contributes to MI6 Confidential but wasn’t involved with either of these issues. Sir Roger died in May at the age of 89.