Bond 25: The Lt. Columbo edition

We’ve mentioned before how, like Lt. Columbo, “little things” bother the blog.

Like the good lieutenant those little things can prevent you from sleeping soundly at night.

Well, whatever. These aren’t necessarily new, but these little things aren’t getting resolved.

Why hasn’t a distributor been selected yet? We’re approaching the two-year anniversary of SPECTRE’s world premiere. With SPECTRE, Sony Pictures’ most recent two-movie contract to release 007 films would expire.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer knew it. Sony knew it. Other studios knew it. Supposedly, there were talks started not long after SPECTRE came out.

Yet no decision was made in 2016. The Wall Street Journal reported in early 2017 that MGM spent much of the year negotiating to sell itself to a Chinese buyer but no deal resulted.

By September 2017, The Hollywood Reporter said tech giants Apple and Amazon were looking to get the Bond 25 distribution rights — and possibly snatch all the 007 film rights.

Yet, more than a month later, NOTHING has been announced. Major news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, which normally cover Apple and Amazon closely, didn’t even mention the story. You’d think the Journal and Times would find this a juicy story worthy of their time. But no, evidently.

How secure is that announced November 2019 release date? In July, Eon Productions and MGM made separate announcements that Bond 25 would have a November 2019 U.S. release date, with a U.K. release before that.

But neither Eon nor MGM can release a movie. MGM cuts deals with other studios (on a film-by-film basis) to distribute its movies.

Many entertainment news websites take that November 2019 date as a given. But at this point, there isn’t an entity that can actually get the movie into theaters.

Most of the Bond 25 media buzz consists of whether Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve will helm Bond 25. But until a distributor is in place, the movie’s financing (i.e. who will cut the checks) isn’t settled.

With the last two Bond films, distributor Sony financed half of the production. That’s an important detail nobody seems interested in talking about.

What about that Eon might want to sell (after Bond 25) buzz? That idea was raised (sort of) in July by a Birth.Movies.Death writer and (sort of) seconded by the MI6 James Bond website, albeit with caveats. Yet, other major entertainment websites apparently have not pursued that question.

As the blog noted earlier this month, it’s all somewhat peculiar.

Historic CBS complex (with a 007 connection) may be sold

Barry Nelson in 1954’s Casino Royale, produced at CBS’s Television City

CBS’s historic Television City complex, where thousands of hours of television shows were made, may be sold off, the Los Angeles Times reported late last month.

“CBS has not decided whether to part with the property it has owned since the early 1950s, but real estate brokers put a tempting value on it for the owners: $500 million to $750 million,” the Times reported on Sept. 28.

The company bought the site in 1950 and Television City began operations in 1952. The phrase, “From Television City in Hollywood” would become familiar to US television viewers.

One of the early shows produced at Television City was Climax!, a series of live dramas beginning in 1954.

The first Climax! broadcast was an adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, with Dick Powell as Philip Marlowe. The third was Casino Royale, adapting Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel. That, of course, is the broadcast that many 007 fans consider the red-haired stepchild because it features an American Bond (Barry Nelson). Others view it differently, particularly when compared with other live television broadcasts.

In the following years, “such legendary entertainers as Jack Benny, Judy Garland and the cast of ‘All in the Family’ performed for millions of viewers,” the Times noted.

However, according to the newspaper, CBS has moved most of its West Coast entertainment operations to CBS Studio Center, with the network renting out Television City to programs not owned by CBS.