Craig says on Late Show he’ll be back as 007

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

Daniel Craig said on CBS’s Late Show said he’ll be back as James Bond in Bond 25.

“Yes,” he said answering a question from host Stephen Colbert whether he’d return as 007.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Craig said. “I have to apologize to all the people I’ve done interviews with today.” Earlier in the day, he said in radio interviews he hadn’t made a decision yet.

“It’s been a couple of months,” Craig said, responding to a question from Colbert how long he had known. “I always wanted to. I needed a break.”

Colbert reminded the actor about his 2015 comments, made shortly after the conclusion of the filming of SPECTRE, how he’d rather “slash my wrists” rather than do another Bond film.

“There’s no point in making excuses,” Craig said. “Instead of saying something with style and grace, I gave a stupid answer.”

At the end of the interview, Colbert asked Craig if this was his last Bond film.

“I think this is it,” Craig replied. “I just want to go out on a high note.”

UPDATE 5:40 a.m., Aug. 16: The official James Bond website followed up the interview with a short announcement.

The interview is now available on YouTube:

Dick Locher, editorial and Dick Tracy cartoonist, dies

Dick Locher, a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and the third primary artist on the Dick Tracy comic strip, died earlier this month at 88, according to an obituary posted by the Chicago Tribune.

Toward the end of Locher’s run, he also took over the scripting duties while continuing to do editorial cartoons for the Tribune.

Locher was an art assistant to Tracy creator Chester Gould (1900-1985) in the 1950s. He later found success as an editorial cartoonist at the Chicago Tribune, the home newspaper for the Tracy strip.

Gould retired in late 1977. His initial successors were writer Max Allan Collins and artist Rick Fletcher, another Gould art assistant.

Dick Tracy meets Pruneface after the Nazi has been thawed out, 1983. Drawn by Dick Locher.

When Fletcher died in 1983, Locher took over the art duties on Tracy. That same year, one of Locher’s first highlights was a story line where Nazi spy Pruneface (one of the most famous Gould villains for the strip) was revived from suspended animation by Dr. Freezdrei, a former Nazi scientist.

Initially, Tracy believes it’s a hoax. A few years earlier, the Collins-Fletcher team had a story where there is supposedly a Mumbles clone. But it turned out it was the original villain with a face lift.

However, in the 1980s story, it turns out Pruneface really had been in suspended animation. Tracy is not happy upon hearing the news. “Back in those days, we had an electric chair to thaw him out,” Tracy says.

Pruneface attempts to get revenge on Tracy. But a mysterious figure intervenes.

Locher drew the Tracy strip until 2009 and wrote it until 2011, according to the Tribune obituary.

Somewhere, the Spy Commander has a Tracy cartoon drawn by Locher that was the subject of a silent auction to benefit the Society of Professional Journalists.

Daniel Craig says he’s still deciding about Bond 25

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

Daniel Craig, in an interview with a Boston radio station, said he still hasn’t decided about Bond 25.

“No decision has been made at the moment,” Craig told Magic 106.7. “There’s a lot of noise out there. Nothing official has been confirmed. I’m not like holding out for more money or doing anything like that.”

The actor said there are “very personal decisions to be made at the moment… They’re desperate to get going. I would, in theory, I would love to do it. There have been no decisions just yet.”

Craig was interviewed by the station to promote Logan Lucky, the Steven Soderbergh-directed heist movie that opens on Friday. Craig also is scheduled to appear on The Late Show on CBS tonight.

The noise Craig referred to includes a story earlier this month by The Sun tabloid in the U.K. saying he has agreed to do two more 007 films. Eon Productions announced last month that Bond 25 will have a U.S. release date of November 2019, but didn’t specify cast, director or distributor.

Shout out to Marcos Konze who spotted the link to the interview and posted it on a James Bond message board. He also has a post on the James Bond Brasil website.

UPDATE (11:58 p.m.): @Bond25Film spotted another Craig interview and provided a transcript.

UPDATE II (5:15 p.m.): Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had an investor call today after reporter second-quarter financial results. The only mention of Bond 25 was CEO Gary Barber noting the movie’s November 2019 release date. He said the film would reunite the writers of some of the most successful 007 movies. He did not mention Neal Purvis and Robert Wade by name.
 

Fleming and U.N.C.L.E.: More than a footnote

Ian Fleming

This weekend marked the 53rd anniversary of the death of 007 creator Ian Fleming.

Understandably, there were the usual observations of his passing. After all, without Fleming, we wouldn’t have James Bond movies or the 1960s spy craze.

After all these years, however, there’s an oddity. That is, Fleming’s connection to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television show.

U.N.C.L.E. originated because there was interest in turning Fleming’s Thrilling Cities book into some kind of television show.

That led to television producer (who concluded the book would not be the basis of a show) into doing a pitch for something different. In turn, that led to NBC saying it Fleming could be enticed into participating, it’d buy the series without a pilot being produced.

In turn, that led to meetings between Felton and Fleming in New York in October 1962. In turn, that led to Felton writing up ideas and Fleming (after days without much being accomplished) writing on 11 pages of Western Union telegram blanks. In turn, that led to Felton employing Sam Rolfe to concoct something that went beyond far beyond the initial Felton-Fleming ideas.

Eventually, Fleming exited the project (under pressure from 007 film producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman), selling off his interest for 1 British pound.

Regardless, without Fleming, U.N.C.L.E. wouldn’t exist given the history with Thrilling Cities. But some long-time (i.e. original) U.N.C.L.E. fans hesitate to acknowledge that. Felton and Rolfe did the heavy lifting — there’s no denying that at all. But Thrilling Cities was the catalyst.

Also, Fleming’s idea of naming the hero Napoleon Solo (Felton’s initial idea was Edgar Solo) was huge. The original idea was Solo would be an ordinary looking fellow. But a character named Napoleon Solo was not going to be your next door neighbor or the guy in the apartment down the hall.

At the same time, Bond movie fans don’t even consider it. And Ian Fleming Publications, run by Fleming’s heirs, don’t even mention U.N.C.L.E. in the IFP timeline of Fleming’s life. 

Fleming was connected to U.N.C.L.E. for less than eight months (late October 1962 to June 1963). Not an enormous amount of time but more than just a footnote.

It is what it is, as the saying going. The 2015 movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. didn’t give a credit to either Sam Rolfe or Ian Fleming, while Felton (who died in 2012) got an “executive consultant” credit. Ironically, one of Fleming’s 1962 ideas — of Solo being a good cook — was included in the film.

It would appear that U.N.C.L.E. will remain Fleming’s bastard child (figuratively, of course) now and forever.

Without whom, etc.

Our annual tradition. Ian Fleming died on Aug. 12, 1964 at age 56. So here’s a quick reminder of an extraordinary life. Ian Fleming crammed 90 years of living into a little more than 56.

Blanche Blackwell, Fleming companion, dies

Blanche Blackwell and Ian Fleming in Jamaica

Blanche Blackwell, who had a relationship with Ian Fleming, has died at 104, according to an obituary posted by The Telegraph.

Blackwell was part of two 007-related documentaries, 2000’s Ian Fleming: 007’s Creator ( an extra in the home video release of The Living Daylights) and 2012’s Everything or Nothing.

Her interviews for the documentaries provided perspective for fans about Fleming’s complicated life, touching on her affair with the married author. She lived in Jamaica, where Fleming wrote his James Bond novels.

“He was somebody who could be anybody he wanted to be,” Blackwell says of Fleming at the start of the 2000 documentary.

Ian Fleming: 007’s Creator included a section on Blackwell. “I decided how I wanted to live long ago,” she says. “And I’ve managed to succeed at doing it without getting into too much trouble.”

In 2012, The Express. published a feature story about her.

“A neighbour of both (Noel) Coward and Fleming, she was a society beauty who beguiled the guests who came to her home, Bolt House, in St Mary, Jamaica,” according to the story.

UPDATE (Aug. 12): The Washington Post has published a very detailed obituary of Blanche Blackwell that’s worth a read.

 

Anthony Spinner: In-demand writer-producer

Anthony Spinner’s title card for Survival, the final episode of The FBI

One in a series about unsung figures of television.

Anthony Spinner, if anything else, didn’t lack for work as a writer and producer of television series.

His IMDB.COM ENTRY lists more than 20 producer credits and writer credits for more than 30 shows over decades.

Quinn Martin, the head of QM Productions, had an up-and-down relationship with Spinner. But Martin often turned to Spinner. As The FBI ended a nine-year run (with Spinner its producer for the final season), Martin immediately switched Spinner to produce Cannon.

At one point in the 1970s, Martin had Spinner produce two series at the same time — Cannon and Caribe, a kind of mix of Hawaii Five-O and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Caribe was a Miami-based police unit (Five-O) with jurisdiction throughout the Caribbean (multi-nation, similar to U.N.C.L.E.).

Still, Spinner had jobs beyond QM. Most notably, he took over as producer of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in what would be its final season (1967-68). The episodes he produced took on a much more serious tone compared with the show’s campy third season.

Among U.N.C.L.E. fans, Spinner draws a mixed reaction. For some, his episodes represent a revival. For others, those episodes are too humorless compared with the show’s first season.

Spinner was also story consultant and later producer of Search, a one-season series on NBC (1972-73).

Search concerned a private organization, but the show had elements of spy shows of the 1960s. Operatives played by Hugh O’Brian, Doug McClure and Tony Franciosa took on cases while being monitored by monitored by crabby Cameron (Burgess Meredith).

Spinner also was the subject of an in-joke on Mannix. Writer Stephen Kandel, who had worked for Spinner on the QM series Dan August, named a hit man after Spinner.

The two would work together again on Cannon. One of their highlights: Spinner and Kandel worked together to rescue Cannon scripts during a fire at the Samuel Goldwyn Studios, according to the book Quinn Martin, Producer by Jonathan Etter.