Morley Safer’s 007 moment

Morley Safer, the long-time 60 Minutes correspondent, died on Thursday only days after CBS announced his retirement.

Safer covered the Vietnam War for CBS and came aboard 60 Minutes in 1970, two years after the broadcast began. During that stretch, he managed a James Bond moment.

In the 1970s, he did a story about the Orient Express, including how it had seen better days. You can catch a few shots of it in The Associated Press video obituary below, starting around the 20-second mark.

At one point, the story showed the train changing engines, with the new engine having the number 007 on its front.

That led to a brief sequence edited to make it appear as if Safer was listening in on the From Russia With Love fight between James Bond (Sean Connery) and Red Grant (Robert Shaw).

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find that clip, but the AP obit below is worth a watch. It runs 1:17. Meanwhile, while living as a bachelor in London in the 1960s while working for CBS, he bought a Bentley with his poker winnings, according to Sunday’s 60 Minutes telecast about Safer’s career.

UPDATE (10:25 p.m.): If you CLICK HERE, you may be able to view the 1977 story about the Orient Express. The video seems to be freezing up after a commercial is shown. The story was titled “Last Train to Istanbul.”

 

REVIEW: 60 Minutes’s James Bond story

On Oct. 14, CBS’s 60 Minutes devoted one of its three segments to the 50th anniversary of 007 films and the upcoming Skyfall. There wasn’t a lot that hard-core fans didn’t know, but Anderson Cooper’s story was probably illuminating for casual fans.

Eon co-boss Barbara Broccoli and 007 star Daniel Craig


Among the better bits: Cooper (who works primarily for CNN but does occasional stories for 60 Minutes) visits the warehouse that stores artifacts from the series produced by Eon Productions. He also goes to a firing range to learn how to fire a Walther PPK (harder than it looks).

At the warehouse, Cooper had to don gloves to handle the older props, including a champagne bottle from Dr. No (Sean Connery’s Bond is prepared to break it when Dr. No’s lackeys take Honey Rider away), From Russia With Love’s gimmicked briefcase and one of Oddjob’s hats from Goldfinger (used in the villain’s finale scene when he gets electrocuted by Connery-Bond).

Cooper’s main interviews are with Eon’s co-bosses, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, as well as Skyfall star Daniel Craig. The newsman tries to probe but mostly gets some of the standard talking points. Broccoli talks about “electrifying” Craig was. Wilson teases she must be referring to the Casino Royale scene where Craig-Bond comes out of the water in a short pair of trunks. “How did you know that was what I was thinking of?” she teases back. Broccoli ends up doing most of the talking for the Eon pair.

The biggest problem with the story: Cooper refers to how the 007 series is “one of the most profitable” in film history than says it “earned” $5 billion. The $5 billion figure is total worldwide ticket sales, not profit.

Profit is revenue minus costs. The $5 billion figure is just revenue. Fan Web sites often make this mistake but CBS News and 60 Minutes should know better. An alternative way to say it: “It’s one of the profitable film series in history. The first film, Dr. No, just cost $1 million to make and had ticket sales of almost $60 million.” That doesn’t take much longer to say but gets across the point (even if one doesn’t know the exact profit figure) in a more accurate way.

Another factual error: Cooper says Harry Saltzman *bought* the Bond film rights for $50,000. He bought an *option* to purchase the rights and that was only good for six months. As the hard-core fans know, time was running out on Saltzman when he met Albert R. Broccoli, who had the studio connections needed to make a deal.

In any case, it was, an entertaining story. 60 Minutes usually likes to slip one entertainment story in each broadcast. The Bond story was the typical slickly edited segment. But there are a few gaps here and there. GRADE: B (mostly for the visuals of Cooper visiting the prop archive).

Meanwhile the 60 Minutes Overtime Web site has a story about BECOMING BOND FOR A DAY.

UPDATE: Stuart Basinger, who sometimes replies to posts here and has written about Bond elsewhere, mentioned this on Twitter: “Six degrees of separation. Anderson Cooper’s mother was once married to Cubby Broccoli’s cousin.” We looked it up and indeed, Gloria Vanderbilt (b. 1924) was married to Pat DiCicco from 1941 to 1945.

UPDATE II: If you CLICK HERE you should be able to access the 60 Minutes story.