Literary 007 reference in CNN anchor’s new novel

Jake Tapper’s avatar on Twitter

A new novel by CNN anchor Jake Tapper makes a reference to Ian Fleming and Casino Royale, the first James Bond novel.

Tapper’s novel, The Hellfire Club, is set in 1954.

On Monday night, there was an exchange between Tapper and a reader on Twitter.

“Really enjoying The Hellfire Club by @jaketapper,” reader Harry Frishberg posted on Twitter. “A political thriller that feels cleverly plotted and meticulously researched. There’s even a reference to Casino Royale at the beginning of chapter 8! Highly recommended.”

Tapper answered: “You’re smart to have picked up on the Fleming reference!!”

Here’s a description of The Hellfire Club via Amazon:

Charlie Marder is an unlikely Congressman. Thrust into office by his family ties after his predecessor died mysteriously, Charlie is struggling to navigate the dangerous waters of 1950s Washington, DC, alongside his young wife Margaret, a zoologist with ambitions of her own. Amid the swirl of glamorous and powerful political leaders and deal makers, a mysterious fatal car accident thrusts Charlie and Margaret into an underworld of backroom deals, secret societies, and a plot that could change the course of history. When Charlie discovers a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of governance, he has to fight not only for his principles and his newfound political political career…but for his life.

Tapper hosts The Lead on CNN, 4 p.m. Monday-Friday New York time and State of the Union, CNN’s Sunday morning political news show.

The most recent 007 continuation novels by Anthony Horowitz have also been period pieces. 2015’s Trigger Mortis was set in 1957, after the events of Fleming’s Goldfinger novel. Horowitz’s next Bond continuation novel, Forever and a Day, tells the story of what happened before the Casino Royale novel.

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Avengers: Infinity War sets U.S. box office record

Avengers: Infinity War poster

UPDATE (April 30): Avengers: Infinity War did better than-expected business on Sunday. Its final weekend figure was $258.2 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

ORIGINAL POST (April 29): Superhero fatigue? Not yet.

Avengers: Infinity War is generating an estimated opening domestic weekend of $250 million, Exhibitor Relations, which tracks box office data, said on Twitter.

That broke the record of almost $248 million for Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015.

Meanwhile, Avengers: Infinity War’s estimated global weekend is $630 million, according to the Box Office Mojo website.

The previous highest domestic opening weekend for a Marvel Studios film was $207.4 million for Marvel’s The Avengers in 2012.

Infinity War is the first of two movies intended as concluding story lines that began with 2008’s Iron Man. The next film, currently known as Avengers 4, is scheduled for May 2019.

Avengers: Infinity War features not only Avengers-related characters but also Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Black Panther and the Guardians of the Galaxy. The movie’s villain, Thanos, has been teased for years in Marvel films but this is his first time as the primary antagonist.

Marvel already had a huge 2018. The Walt Disney Co.-owned studio in February came out with Black Panther, which generated global box office of $1.3 billion. Marvel has another film, Ant-Man and the Wasp, coming out this year.

Footnote: Kings, a drama with Daniel Craig and Halle Berry, had an opening U.S. weekend of $173,000, Exhibitor Relations said in a separate tweet.

Here are Avengers tweets from Exhibitor Relations.

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About that Bond 25 release date

“This is an old friend of mine. And it tells me…something smells!”

During the past week, there’s been a buzz that the pregnancy of Rachel Weisz, the wife of Daniel Craig, may push back the November 2019 release date of Bond 25.

As Keim Bey would say: “This is an old friend of mine. And he tells me something smells!”

This latest notion began when Weisz, 48, gave an interview to Marueen Dowd of The New York Times that went online April 20.  The actress revealed she was pregnant. From the Times story;

“I’ll be showing soon,” she says, with a radiant smile.

On April 26, The Sun weighed in with a story that Bond 25’s U.S. release date of November 2019 might be pushed back because of the pregnancy.

A film source said: “Pushing back the schedules suits all parties.

“Daniel (Craig) can concentrate on matters at home with Rachel, which are pretty life-changing, to say the least.”

Let us count the ways this smells:

–The Bond 25 release date was announced in July 2017 before a distributor was in place.

–It’s not unheard for women in their late 40s to utilize the services of fertility specialists to become pregnant. We don’t know that happened in this case. But it’s rare for women in their late 40s to suddenly become pregnant.

–Daniel Craig announced in August 2017 he would return for another James Bond film. At the very least, he and Weisz may have already been trying to have a child.

That said, there are other reasons why Bond 25’s release date could be pushed back.

–Danny Boyle became a late contender to direct Bond 25. Whether that happens depends on whether a story idea Boyle and writer John Hodge gets approved for the film.

–A non-007 spy project being made by Eon Productions, The Rhythm Section, has been delayed because of an injury to star Blake Lively.

–Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 007’s home studio, reportedly is trying to sell itself, according to an April 4 story by The Hollywood Reporter. One of MGM’s selling points, according to the report, is the studio’s film rights to 007.

Put another way, there are multiple reasons to suspect Bond 25’s release date could be pushed back.

The pregnancy angle is not the most convincing. Weisz’s due date would be before Bond 25 begins filming (end of the year is the earliest estimate).  Meanwhile, MGM hasn’t been a stable studio for decades.

It’s more likely that a Bond 25 delay would be related to MGM than Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz welcoming an addition to the family.

Avengers: Nothing exceeds like excess

Avengers: Infinity War poster

Avengers: Infinity War is too much of a good thing, even if you’re a fan of Marvel Studios films.

There are more fights, more action…more everything. (To quote a James Bond trailer from the 1960s.)

Well, not quite more everything. Not enough drama. What humor is present mostly works. But it gets overwhelmed by the action set pieces.

Avengers: Infinity War is the beginning of the end (or so we’ve been led to believe) for the first decade of the studio’s inter-connected movies.

The movie brings together not only the Avengers-related characters but also the Guardians of the Galaxy and Dr. Strange. They’re up against Thanos, a villain who wants to commit genocide on a cosmic scale.

The character has been teased for years but here he’s the main attraction. As a result, the movie changes scenes not only between Earth locales but ones in deep space.

Spoiler follows. 

Initially, this movie was announced the title was going to be Avengers: Infinity War Part I, with a 2019 film titled Avengers: Infinity War Part II. They would be filmed back to back.

Somewhere along the way we were told the  movies really would be different. So next year’s installment is simply known as Avengers 4 for the moment.

However, it would have been absolutely appropriate if Avengers: Infinity War ended with, “TO BE CONTINUED,” not unlike the original serialized Marvel Comics stories. But in the 1960s, you only had to wait a month to see how things turned out. Here, the audience will have to bide its time for a year.

That said, Avengers: Infinity War isn’t a lost cause. The likes of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man and Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America and many other cast members are pros. But the movie is more exhausting than thrilling. GRADE: C.

Ford cars, RIP

“Have you not heard? Ford is getting out of the car business!”

This week, Ford Motor Co. said it was virtually exiting the car business in North America, its home (and most profitable) market. By 2020, Ford announced, it will just have two cars in its lineup: the Mustang sports car and the Ford Active crossover due out next year. Ford will concentrate on trucks, SUVs and “crossovers.”

For people of a certain age this seems almost unthinkable. Ford always was aggressive with product placement. Ford cars have been in generations of films and U.S. television shows.

Here’s a look at some prominent examples.

James Bond films: The Bond Cars website provides a list, which says Ford shows up early in the 007 film series produced by Eon Productions. For example, it’s a Ford that serves as the hearse used by Dr. No’s assassins when they kill MI6 operative Strangways.

Ford’s relationship geared up in Goldfinger. A Lincoln Continental is crushed. Felix Leiter rides around in a Ford Thunderbird. Auric Goldfinger uses Ford trucks to transport his larger laser gun to Fort Knox.

And, of course, the movie marked the film debut of Mustang. The sports car was introduced in the spring of 1964 while filming was underway on Goldfinger. Mustangs would also show up in Thunderball and Diamonds Are Forever.

Thunderball also featured a lot of Ford cars, including the Continental, Count Lippe’s Ford Fairlane and a station wagon among other vehicles. Emilo Largo drives a Ford Thunderbird on his way to SPECTRE headquarters immediately after the film’s main titles.

The automaker had an on-and-off relationship with the series. Teresa Bond (Diana Rigg) favored a red Mercury Cougar in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. A number of Ford cars are crashed in the moon buggy chase in Diamonds Are Forever.

Ford also owned Aston Martin from 1987 until 2007. For Die Another Day, Ford had a huge product placement deal, mostly to promote European brands it owned at that time, including Aston, Land Rover and Jaguar. However, a Ford Thunderbird (driven by Halle Berry’s Jinx) also showed up.

The company’s ties to the film series ended with 2008’s Quantum of Solace. Land Rover would return in the 2010s, but after Ford had sold it off.

Matt Helm and Gail Hendricks (Dean Martin and Stella Stevens) in Matt’s Mercury station wagon equipped with a bar.

Matt Helm film series: For four 1960s Matt Helm movies with Dean Martin, Ford provided the vehicles.

Perhaps the most offbeat car was a Mercury station wagon, which was Matt Helm’s personal car in The Silencers (1966). It was equipped with a bar (!) in the back seat. Matt encourages Gail Hendricks (Stella Stevens) to have a drink or two to loosen up. She ends up consuming too much and passing out.

Other Ford-made cars in the series included a Thunderbird Matt drove around Monte Carlo in Murderers’ Row. It had some extras, including a device where words dictated into a microphone are spelled out on the car’s tail lights. (“If you can read this, you’re too close…”)

Hawaii Five-O (original series): Steve McGarrett’s signature car was a Mercury (a two-door model in the pilot, a four-door version thereafter). Lots of other Ford-made cars showed up during the 1968-1980 series.

Ford even supplied cars for an 11th season episode filmed in Singapore. The cast of that two-hour installment, The Year of the Horse, included George Lazenby, who received “special guest star” billing.

Erskine in a Mercury made by Ford Motor Co. in a sixth-season end titles of The FBI.

The FBI: Ford supplied cars for a number of Quinn Martin-produced shows. But the tightest relationship between the company and QM Productions was this 1965-1974 series.

Ford cut a deal to sponsor the show, which was broadcast on ABC. The automaker agreed to kick in extra money to ensure the series would be filmed in color. Executives felt a color series would show off Ford cars better. When The FBI debuted in fall 1965, most of ABC’s lineup was still produced in black and white.

Ford also vetoed the broadcast of one first-season episode, The Hiding Place, because there had been talk of a boycott being organized. The episode finally saw the light of day in 2011 when Warner Archive began releasing the show.

Symbolic of the ties between Ford and show came in the end titles. Inspector Lewis Erkine (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) came out of the FBI Building (now the Department of Justice Building) and drove a Ford product home. It was a Mustang for the first four seasons. Subsequent seasons had different Ford-made cars.

The end titles were productions in and of themselves. Zimbalist traveled to Washington for annual meetings with then-Bureau Director J. Edgar Hoover. Ford would transport a car for him to drive in Washington for the following season’s end titles. Some of the cars were prototypes and weren’t the most sturdy.

This post merely scratches the surface. There have been many series over the years featuring Ford cars. It won’t be quite the same with Ford cars going away.

Critics weigh in on Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War poster

Marvel Studios, with one $1 billion-plus hit this year already (Black Panther), is looking for another one with Avengers: Infinity War.

The third Avengers film is intended as the beginning of the end of what we’ve come to know in the film franchise that began in May 2008. Following the movie’s premiere this week, reviews are coming off embargo. So here’s a non-spoiler sampling.

ALONSO DURALDE, THE WRAP: “If you’re a viewer who binges TV dramas because you can’t wait a week to find out what happens, the implied ‘to be continued’ at the end of ‘Infinity War’ may drive you batty. But if you’ve been solidly along for the Marvel ride up to this point, you’ll enjoy this leg of the journey even if it hasn’t yet reached the terminal.”

OWEN GLEIBERMAN, VARIETY: “So is the movie a jumbled, top-heavy mess of cynical franchise overkill? Sort of like the bloated and chaotic ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ taken to the second power? Far from it. It’s a sleekly witty action opera that’s at once overstuffed and bedazzling. The directors, Anthony and Joe Russo, as they proved in the two ‘Captain America’ sequels, are far more stylish and exacting filmmakers than Joss Whedon, who made the first two ‘Avengers’ films.”

ADAM GRAHAM, THE DETROIT NEWS: “‘Infinity War’ quickly turns unruly. It’s like if ‘We Are the World’ had to squeeze in three more verses to give Prince, Van Halen, Duran Duran, Phil Collins, Elton John and Madonna time to shine.”

A.O. SCOTT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: “‘Infinity War’ is a chunk of matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a vast entity that long ago expanded beyond the usual boundaries of sequelization and brand extension.”

MARK HUGHES, FORBES.COM: “Avengers: Infinity War is the most ambitious, most audacious, most mindblowing superhero film ever produced. It is visually sumptuous, spectacularly entertaining, emotionally shocking and resonant. It is the perfect fulfillment of a promise Marvel made 10 years ago, and everything fans are hoping it could be.”

 

007 Magazine has special Brosnan issue

John Cleese and Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day

Graham Rye’s 007 Magazine is coming out with a special Pierce Brosnan issue.

Dubbed, Pierce Brosnan: Billion Dollar Bond, the publication looks at Brosnan’s four 007 films from 1995 to 2002. Brosnan’s debut in GoldenEye ended a six-year hiatus for the series produced by Eon Productions. Brosnan was also the last Bond actor selected by Eon co-founder Albert R. Broccoli.

The publication has 76 pages. The price is 19.99 British pounds, $30.99 in the U.S. and 26.99 euros. It is scheduled to ship during May. For more information, CLICK HERE.