A question for ‘Mr. Warner’ about the U.N.C.L.E. movie

Jerry Goldsmith, circa mid-1960s

Jerry Goldsmith, circa mid-1960s

“Mr. Warner”
Warner Bros.
Burbank, CA

Dear “Mr. Warner”:

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie you’ve been promoting lately certainly looks interesting. The publicity department certainly seems to be busy. Just one question.

Is it possible that a certain tune by the gentleman pictured in this post in the movie? Maybe in the end titles?

A number of fans of the original 1964-68 television series are curious.

The blog here has occasionally asked people who’ve attended advanced screenings whether it is. They tend to be younger and aren’t familiar with the music we’re asking about.

If you could let everyone know, that’d be great.

Regards,

The Spy Commander

UPDATE (10 p.m. ET): On a more serious note, “Mr. Warner” opened up his promotional budget once more for U.N.C.L.E.

A long commercial for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was shown on ABC’s telecast of the ESPY awards. It was introduced by Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer. The spot included a scene with Solo and Kuryakin not seen in any of the trailers. The Cavill-Hammer introduction was recorded a while ago because the actors were still sporting the beards they’ve recently shaved off.

Anyway, the ESPYs, which mix sports and show business, was moved this year to ABC from ESPN. Chances are, “Mr. Warner” made a substantial purchase.

UPDATE II (11:10 p.m. ET): Here’s some footage of the ESPY spot via Henry Cavill Online.

A thought or two about the James Bond musical

Luciana Paluzzi and Sean Connery during the filming of Thunderball

“I have to sing now?” “Be quiet, darling!”

We’ve had the first volley about a possible (unlikely?) James Bond stage musical. Here are a few reactions from this modest corner of the Internet.

“You don’t tug on Superman’s cape…and you don’t mess around with Jim (Bond)”

In this corner, we have Danjaq LLC (the holding company for Broccoli-Wilson family’s 007 interests, including Eon Productions). In the other, we have a daughter of Danjaq-Eon co-founder Harry Saltzman who says her stage production is a parody that’s protected by fair use provisions of copyright law.

Merry Saltzman announced last week she had secured the rights for a 007 musical. This week, Danjaq/MGM, which control the 007 film rights, said they also control the stage rights. Danjaq/MGM said they haven’t licensed those rights to anybody.

Merry Saltzman, the daughter of Danjaq/Eon co-founder Harry Saltzman, replied her planned stage production is a parody, which falls under fair use provisions of copyright law. In short, she doesn’t need to license any rights from Danjaq/MGM.

A little bit of history: Danjaq had been known to employ lawyers to try to shut down anything it viewed as a threat.

The original Danjaq founders, Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, bullied 007 creator Ian Fleming to abandoning his activities related to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series. So much so, Fleming sold off his U.N.C.L.E. interest for one British pound in June 1963, at a time the success of the 007 film series was far from assured. Danjaq/Eon, famously, also went after Kevin McClory when he tried to mount movies based on the 007 rights he held.

Regardless of how sound Merry Saltzman’s case is, she probably has fewer resources for a legal fight than Danjaq/Eon. Lawyers may end up making money than this stage production will generate.

Is this really a good idea?

This is the broader issue. A half-century ago, Mad magazine did a parody of a 007 magazine.

It was pretty funny. Written by Frank Jacobs and drawn by Mort Drucker, it had a lot of good jokes and featured “songs” written to the tune of songs from Oklahoma!

Still, for all of the hard word by Jacobs and Drucker, that’s not anywhere near the effort to put on a Broadway stage production. Has Merry Saltzman really lined up enough entertainment to do a Broadway/Las Vegas show? Intentionally entertaining, that is.

Merry Saltzman says planned 007 musical is a parody

Skyfall's poster image

Will 007 sing yet?

The woman behind a planned James Bond musical says she’s pushing on with the project.

Merry Saltzman TOLD PLAYBILL, that her production doesn’t need to be licensed from Danjaq LLC and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which control the film rights and say they also control the stage rights.

The reason? Saltzman says the play is a parody and that it “does not require permission from the owners of the intellectual property being parodied,” according to Playbill.

Copyright law includes “fair use” provisions where parts of copyrighted works can be used. Parody is an example of fair use. Mad magazine, for example, deals in parody. Mad has parodied 007 on a number of occasions, although he’s usually called “James Bomb” or another name to make clear it is a parody.

On July 8, Danjaq (holding company for the Broccoli-Wilson family 007 interests, including Eon Productions) and MGM issued A STATEMENT in response to Saltzman’s announcement about her stage production, to be called James Bond: The Musical. Danjaq and MGM said “no James Bond stage show may be produced without their permission.”

Saltzman issued her own statement to Playbill that said, “We are producing a parody, no permissive rights are required from Eon, Danjaq, MGM et al to produce our show; it will not infringe on their intellectual property. James Bond: The Musical will go on as planned.” Saltzman told Playbill that a reference in her original announcement to having secured rights, referred to acquiring “rights to a James Bond musical parody written by Dave Clarke with music and lyrics by Jay Henry Weisz.”

From a distance, this would appear to be an aggressive utilization of parody/fair use. It’s one thing for a half-dozen pages in Mad or a short 007 skit on Saturday Night Live. It’s another to do a complete stage musical. We’ll see.

Merry Saltzman is the daughter of Harry Saltzman, co-founder of Danjaq and Eon. Harry Saltzman sold his 007 rights to United Artists in 1975 because of personal financial troubles. MGM acquired UA in the early ’80s. To read the entire Playbill story, CLICK HERE.

A James Bond musical and flying cars

Skyfall's poster image

“Oh Vesper, I adore you…Oh Vesper I cannot have you!”

Riddle me this: What do a James Bond musical and flying cars have in common?

Answer: They have the same likelihood of taking place without a disaster happening.

Stop and think about it. A James Bond film (SPECTRE) just finished principal photography. What are people talking about?

They’re talking about what a James Bond musical would be like. That’s because Merry Saltzman, daughter of founding 007 film producer Harry Saltzman, announced plans for one.

The initial stories didn’t even pose BASIC QUESTIONS about the project, much less get answers.

In this Internet age, people have run with the idea. For example, there have been stories about POSSIBLE CASTING, even if we don’t really know how realistic the production is.

Dealing with issues such as how Ms. Saltzman got the rights are messy and complicated. It’s more fun to speculate. Such as how the opening song might go….

“Oh Vesper, I adore you…
Oh Vesper I cannot have you…
One day you were here by my side…
Now you’re buried and that I cannot abide!

This reminds us of a video the satire site The Onion did in 2007. The site showed a television interviewer who persisted in asking executives of automakers about their plans to make flying cars. For now, talk of a James Bond musical is about as relevant as flying cars.

Or, to channel The Onion, “It seems the jury is still out about a James Bond musical.”

UPDATE: Nicolas Suszczyk, a Bond blogger who occasionally writes guest posts here, put this out on Twitter:

Some questions about a James Bond musical

Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman

Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman

It’s been a few days since stories came out that there are plans for a James Bond stage musical to be produced by Merry Saltzman, daughter of Harry Saltzman, co-founder of Eon Productions.

Since then, there haven’t been any more details about James Bond: The Musical. We can’t offer many answers, but we’re more than willing to pose the questions.

Where did Merry Saltzman get the rights for this project? Stories in BROADWAY WORLD.COM and PLAYBILL said Saltzman had “secured the rights” for a stage production. But where from?

Ian Fleming Publications, run by 007 creator Ian Fleming’s heirs, controls the literary rights. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Danjaq (holding company for the Broccoli-Wilson family) control the film rights.

Once upon a time, Harry Saltzman had half of Danjaq. But he sold his share in 1975 to United Artists because of financial troubles. MGM acquired UA in the early ’80s.

Neither Ian Fleming Publications or MGM/Danjaq has publicly commented about Ms. Saltzman’s plans.

Is there any kind of precedent for this? In the 1980s, there was an attempt to mount a non-musical Casino Royale play but nothing happened.

Raymond Benson, who’d go on to write 007 continuation novels published from 1997-2002, was involved in the ill-fated project. He gave an interview in 2007 to the journal Paradigm. Excerpts were published by the MI6 JAMES BOND WEBSITE as well as the COMMANDER BOND FAN WEBSITE.

According to the interview excerpts, the Fleming literary estate commissioned the play. Benson adapted Ian Fleming’s first novel into a play but the literary estate opted not to continue. By the late 1990s, Danjaq/Eon secured the film rights to Casino.

Benson is quoted in the interview as saying the “stage play cannot be produced without the movie people’s permission…I own the copyright of the play, but the Fleming Estate owns the publication rights and the movie people own the production rights.”

It should be noted that Merry Saltzman’s project is supposed to have an all-new story, rather than adapt any Fleming novel, According to the Playbill story it will have “several Bond villains, plus some new ones.”

Is this a good idea? Decades ago, there were probably some who scoffed that Pygmalion could be made into a musical. Yet, My Fair Lady was made. Then again, some people thought a musical play featuring Spider-Man was a sure winner and things didn’t turn out that way.

For now, color us skeptical. Until we know more, however, here’s a 2012 video that our friends at The James Bond Dossier found a few days ago.

A James Bond musical?

Skyfall's poster image

Coming soon to a stage near you?

The website BROADWAY WORLD.COM said June 29 there’s a planned James Bond stage musical in the works and that a daughter of Eon Productions co-founder Harry Saltzman is involved.

The title is simply James Bond: The Musical and, according to the website the curtain may rise in 2017 on the production.

Here’s an excerpt with more details:

(Merry) Saltzman, daughter of legendary Bond film producer and impresario Harry Saltzman, said the world’s favorite spy will soon be singing, dancing, and laughing his way into audiences’ hearts in an original production with songs and lyrics by Jay Henry Weisz and a book by Dave Clarke.

The spelling of Merry Saltzman is correct. Documentaries about the making of James Bond movies included interviews of Saltzman children Steven and Hilary but Merry Saltzman didn’t participate. You can see Merry Saltzman referenced in THIS 1994 OBITUARY BY THE NEW YORK TIMES.

To read the entire Broadway World.com story, CLICK HERE.

In 1965, Mad magazine presented a parody of a 007 stage musical. Mad’s version, written by Frank Jacobs and drawn by Mort Drucker, had songs all sung to the tune of classic Rodgers and Hammerstein songs from Oklahoma! (“Ohhhhhhhhhhhh-07! Is the greatest spy there is today! Though the Empires’s gone, He keeps right on…So you’d better not get in his way!”)

To view that parody, CLICK HERE for a 2012 post by the James Bond 007 Dossier website. It has PDF images of the Jacobs-Drucker work.

UPDATE (July 4): A June 30 story in PLAYBILL has some additional details.

Ms. Saltzman is quoted as saying the stage production will use “several Bond villains, plus some new ones.” She also told Playbill the show will feature ” our own Bond girl.” She also told Playbill the stage production might not start until early 2018.

FWIW: Daily Mail claims Daniel Craig rewriting SPECTRE

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

Presented strictly for entertainment value: The U.K. Daily Mail IN A GOSSIP COLUMN BY SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE posted June 19, claims that SPECTRE star Daniel Craig has been doing some personal rewriting of SPECTRE’s script.

Here’s an excerpt:

I hear that the 47-year-old actor has been rewriting the script of 007’s latest outing, Spectre, even though filming has been going on since December.
‘The script is still all over the place, to the extent that Daniel himself has had a bash at rewriting it,’ says my man with the vodka martinis. ‘It’s total creative turmoil.’

To be clear, the Daily Mail has a journalistic reputation that would be tactfully described as uneven. However, the U.K. publication has published a number of 007 scoops proven to be correct. On the other hand, most of those were written by Baz Bamigboye, who has been MIA (as far as 007 stories are concerned) since SPECTRE went into production Dec. 8.

The only reason we mention this is because SPECTRE has had a dicey scripting process. The first writer was John Logan. Because of the Sony hacking, it’s now known Logan’s initial efforts contained some questionable ideas.

Logan was replaced by 007 veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (something that Bamigboye originally reported last year), with some polishes by playwright by Jez Butterworth.

Also, it should be noted that Craig said in 2011 he and director Marc Forster did uncredited rewrites for 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

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