Caveat Emptor: 007 sale rumor surfaces

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Amid the announcement that Bond 25 has a release date, the Birth.Movies.Death website dropped the idea that the Broccoli-Wilson clan might sell out its interest in the 007 enterprise in a few years.

The post, by Philip Nobile Jr., mostly looks at why the fall 2019 release date was announced without saying whether actor Daniel Craig will be back as Bond.

After going through some possibilities, Nobile concluded with this:

On the less official front, I have read thoughts from someone I believe to be close wth the production that the Broccolis are looking to do one more Bond then sell the franchise off, a la George Lucas/Star Wars/Disney. If that comes to pass, it will be interesting times indeed for Ian Fleming’s gentleman spy.

Read thoughts? Interesting phrasing. But, on Twitter, Nobile’s post drew a response from the James Bond MI6 website, which previously disclosed that a helicopter Eon purchased wasn’t for Bond 25.

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Putting the Caveat Emptor on this one because Birth.Movies.Death isn’t explicitly reporting it as well as the unusual phrasing of the post and the exchange on Twitter.

Eon and its parent company, Danjaq, jointly control the Bond franchise with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Disclosure: This blog’s webmaster has written two articles for MI6 Confiential, which is published by the James Bond MI6 website.

Separately, the BBC said it “understands” that Craig “has not yet signed a contract” for Bond 25. The New York Times reported Monday that Craig’s return is “a done deal.”

Horowitz: Four Fleming unused story lines remain

"Sounds like a jolly good time."

Ian Fleming

007 continuation author Anthony Horowitz told the BBC today there are four remaining unused Ian Fleming story lines from an unproduced television project.

“There were five that were discovered quite recently in a bottom drawer,” Horowitz said in an interview. “One of which had to do with motor racing, which of course I used in Trigger Mortis but that left four more.”

Trigger Mortis was published last year. It was a period story, set in 1957 and picked up shortly after Fleming’s Goldfinger novel. Horowitz incorporated Fleming’s auto racing plot. Fleming also included the basic racing idea among notes (written on 11 telegram blanks) he submitted to television producer Norman Felton for The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Ian Fleming Publications has retained Horowitz’s services for a new and yet untitled Bond novel, due out in 2018.

Of the four Fleming story lines, “I’m going to use one of them, I haven’t decided which one yet, as an opening chapter or second chapter,” Horowitz told the BBC.

“There is nothing more exciting in the world than to read something that nobody else has read,” Horowitz said of the Fleming storylines.

To read more about the BBC interview, CLICK HERE. It incudes an audio clip running almost two minutes.

Why Sam Mendes directing Bond 25 isn’t a good idea

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes

A major non-007 Sam Mendes project, a movie adaptation of The Voyeur’s Hotel, has evaporated, according to the Deadline: Hollywood website. That’s because of a documentary coming out concerning the person who is the the same subject as the non-fiction book.

That has gotten some James Bond fans wondering if Mendes could be available to direct Bond 25 (whenever it gets made) after helming Skyfall and SPECTRE.

To quote a retired comic, “Oh, I hope not.” Here are some reasons why.

He’s never sounded enthusiastic about directing a third Bond film: In July 2015, he told the BBC that, “I don’t think I could go down that road again. You do have to put everything else on hold.”

In May 2016, according to a story by The Associated Press, he said: “I’m a storyteller. And at the end of the day, I want to make stories with new characters.”

Directing a Bond film is a big undertaking. If he has even the slightest doubt (and it sounds he has big doubts), he shouldn’t attempt it.

Enough with the homages: Skyfall had homages to past Bond films, including bringing back the Goldfinger version of the Aston Martin DB5.

That continued with SPECTRE. The DB5, despite being blown to smithereens in Skyfall, is miraculously put back together in SPECTRE. A fight between Bond (Daniel Craig) and Hinx (Dave Bautista) seemed modeled after a similar scene in From Russia With Love. The Independent published a story listing other homages.

Mendes can’t help himself. The next movie, when ever it may come out, needs a break from homages.

No more boasting:  In an April 2014 interview on The Charlie Rose Show, Mendes said he cast all the major supporting characters, including Tanner.

Problem: Tanner was played by Rory Kinnear, who first portrayed the character in 2008’s Quantum of Solace, a film Mendes had nothing to do with.

Mendes also claimed that in Skyfall “for the first time characters were allowed to age.” Problem: He’s wrong, it happened a number of times in Bond films.

Enough already.

If Mendes comes back, that means Thomas Newman comes back as composer: Newman is Mendes’ guy. Fans have mixed opinions about Newman’s work on Skyfall. He did get an Oscar nomination but didn’t win.

However, with SPECTRE, it was clear that Newman had run out of ideas. He recycled a number of Skyfall music bits in SPECTRE. That’s true not just of the compositions, but the sound and orchestration.

John Barry used the 007 theme in five Bond films (From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker). But it had different arrangements and orchestration each time. The repeated music in SPECTRE sounds the same as it did in Skyfall.

What’s more, based on his other work, it’s clear that smaller-scale dramas (such as Bridge of Spies) are more in Newman’s wheelhouse. He’s a talented composer with such films. Bond films just aren’t his strength.

Let someone else have a try on Bond 25. But that won’t probably won’t happen if Mendes is back as director.

Writers to debate whether Fleming, Le Carre is better

Intelligence Squared's poster for its Fleming-LeCarre debate.

Intelligence Squared’s poster for its Fleming-LeCarre debate.

Intelligence Squared, which stages debates and presentations on various topics, will hold a debate this month whether Ian Fleming or John Le Carre is the better spy novelist.

Representing Fleming (1908-64) will be Anthony Horowitz, author of the James Bond continuation novel Trigger Mortis, according to the group’s website.

Advocating for LeCarre (real name David Cornwell, b. 1931) will be David Farr, who adapted LeCarre’s The Night Manager for the BBC. The debate is scheduled for Nov. 29 at Emmanuel Centre in London.

Here’s an excerpt from the website:

To illustrate their arguments, Horowitz and Farr will be calling on a cast of actors to bring the novels to life. So far we are delighted to have confirmed Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis and Peaky Blinders star Alex Macqueen.

The tone of the debate may be interesting. Le Carre and some of his fans over the years have been critical of Bond.

Le Carre, in a 2012 interview with CBS, said, “We had the image of James Bond. He had this extraordinary life: the license to kill, all the girls he could eat and so on, and wonderful cars. He was the Superman with some kind of mysterious patriotic purpose.

“But people knew while they were watching that stuff, people knew then about this gray army of spooks that was around.”

Thanks to 007 Magazine publisher Graham Rye for the heads up via posts on Facebook.

 

Will the Daniel Craig 007 soap opera take it up a notch?

Daniel Craig in a pose worthy of Orson Welles.

Which way will you turn, Daniel? Which way will you turn?

The James Bond soap opera, As Daniel Craig Turns, may ratchet it up a notch. Or not.

In six days, the 48-year-old actor is scheduled to appear at The New Yorker Festival in a program titled “Beyond Bond.”

Craig is to talk for 90 minutes with the magazine’s Nicholas Schmidle.

After all these months of speculation whether Craig will make a fifth Bond film, Schmidle almost has to ask the actor the question. The New Yorker, afterall, is a high-brow journalistic operation and one of the most prestigious in the United States.

If the award-winning journalist didn’t ask the obvious, it might put a dent in his reputation. Also, when you tease your program by calling it “Beyond Bond,” you’re practically advertising you intend to ask.

Assuming the question arises, that doesn’t mean Craig has to answer, of course. He’s been known to give curt answers to the entertainment press. Some of his fans love that aspect about the star, saying they love watching him befuddle the scribes.

Still, Craig’s appearance at The New Yorker might mean we finally hear him address his Bond future.

The appearance comes as a high-ranking member of Eon Productions, Callum McDougall, told the BBC this week that Craig is still Eon’s top choice as 007. McDougall is one of the main deputies of Eon co-bosses Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.

That interview prompted Vanity Fair to post a snarky article titled Everybody but Daniel Craig Wants Another Daniel Craig Bond Film. Vanity Fair noted Craig’s interview (originally published by Time Out London) where he said he’d rather slash his wrists than do another 007 movie.

Of course, that interview was done shortly after SPECTRE wrapped up filming. Doing another Bond film was likely the last thing Craig wanted to think about.

Nevertheless, Vanity Fair previously reported Craig’s remarks angered the head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Eon’s partner in the Bond franchise.

In the newest Vanity Fair article, Yohana Desta opined, “But for the love of Bond fans and poor, rich, tormented Daniel Craig, please make a decision soon, Broccoli.”

Cue the background music. Maybe the As Daniel Craig Turns soap opera will reach a climax. Or maybe not.

Which way will you turn, Daniel? Which way will you turn?

Craig remains first choice as 007, Eon crew member says

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

Daniel Craig is still the first choice of Eon Productions to play James Bond, a long-time crew member on the 007 films TOLD THE BBC.

“We would love Daniel to return as James Bond,” Callum McDougall said today on the BBC’s Today program.

Craig, 48, “absolutely, without question” is the top choice of Eon co-bosses Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, McDougall said.

“I know they’re hoping for him to come back.”

The main significance wasn’t so much what was said as who said it. McDougall is one of the main deputies for Broccoli and Wilson.

McDougall, has been a production manager on the film series since 1995’s GoldenEye. He added the title of co-producer for 2002’s Die Another Day and executive producer starting with 2006’s Casino Royale. (In films, executive producer is a secondary producer title, while on television it’s the title for the top producer or producers.)

McDougall’s association with the series goes back to The Living Daylights where he had the title of additional assistant director. He was upgraded to second assistant director for Licence to Kill.

Craig has had the Bond role for the last four 007 films.

 

007 Magazine says Craig out, Hiddleston has offer

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE's main titles

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE’s main titles

Graham Rye’s 007 Magazine in a POST ON FACEBOOK said Daniel Craig “has walked away from the Bond role” and that Tom Hiddleston has received an offer from Eon Productions co-boss Barbara Broccoli.

007 Magazine initially didn’t specify in the June 17 post how it obtained the information. In a June 18 response in another thread on its Facebook page, it said it had a source that provided the information.

We tried to imbed the post but our software wouldn’t cooperate. So here’s an image via the message board of the MI6 James Bond website.

Graham Rye Craig

In a separate thread on the Facebook page, in response to skeptics, 007 Magazine said, “As it stands at present, what 007 MAGAZINE has reported is FACT!” Also, “Like any good journalist, we never reveal our sources.” Finally there was this comment:

“If 007 MAGAZINE didn’t have total confidence in our source we wouldn’t have published our comment…(snip) Eon Productions denied claims? Is that the same Eon Productions that denied that Pierce Brosnan had been signed to play James Bond in 1986? ;O)

 

Last month, 007 Magazine went to Twitter to criticize media reports that Craig had left the role. Here’s that tweet:

Craig’s future (or lackthereof) as Bond flared up on May 18 when the U.K. Daily Mail tabloid reported the actor turned down a 68 million pound ($99 million) offer to return for two more 007 films. The BBC, in a small post on May 19, said it had been told by “authoritative Bond sources” that Craig hadn’t made a decision.

Hiddleston earlier this month talked down the chances he’d get the Bond role in stories IN THE DAILY MAIL and THE GUARDIAN.

Eon hasn’t put out a press release yet about any of this.

 

Before you get too excited about bookies and 007…

Colin Salmon: at one point in 2005 he was a 13-4 favorite

Colin Salmon: at one point in 2005 he was a 13-4 favorite

For the past few months, many stories have been generated by the changing odds from bookies about who the next James Bond will be.

The problem: Their track record wasn’t so great last time, after Pierce Brosnan’s license to thrill wasn’t renewed by Eon Productions co-bosses Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.

The BBC, on Jan. 18, 2005, posted a story saying that U.K. bookmakers Ladbrokes and William Hill had installed Hugh Jackman as a 2-1 favorite.

Other contenders at that time, according to the BBC: Ewan McGregor (7-2 at William Hill), Colin Ferrell (7-2 at Ladbrokes), Clive Owen (4-1 at William Hill) and Chris Feeney (4-1 at Ladbrokes).

Two months later, The Atlantic’s website delved into the subject, using SportsInterAction.com as its main source. The favorite was actually a familiar face, Colin Salmon, who appeared as aide to M in three 007 films with Pierce Brosnan.

Ewan McGregor was the favorite until an Internet rumor sparked fervent betting that Colin Salmon, Brosnan’s costar in Die Another Day, would be cast as the first black Bond.

As a result, Salmon’s odds were put at 13-4. Other high ranking favorites included Ewan McGregor at 4-1, Christian Bale at 9-2, Colin Ferrell at 9-1, Orlando Bloom at 11-1 and Jude Law at 11-1.

Of course, the part went to Daniel Craig, whose casting for Casino Royale was announced in October of that year.

We’ll say this again: Bookies don’t know what’s going to happen. Their odds are based on the activity of bettors, who don’t know know what’s going to happen.

Having said that, there is an amusing passage in the BBC story near the end.

The betting for the next Bond comes amidst a reported power struggle between the Broccoli family – who produce the films – and studio MGM.

“Who takes on the role could well depend on who comes out top in the power struggle behind the scenes,” said the Ladbrokes spokesman.

“If the Broccoli family win we could well see an unknown actor, while if the money men have their way we could see a top star in the role.”

Still, when it comes to the wisdom of bookies, caveat emptor.

Limbo for the serious James Bond fan Part II

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Last week’s fuss/buzz/kerfuffle (take your choice) about whether Daniel Craig has quit or not as James Bond unleashed a heat, if not much light about what’s next for the film 007.

What follows are some observations until there’s some real news to chew on.

Both the Daily Mail and BBC were opaque: There were dueling media accounts last week by the Daily Mail (which said Craig quit and turned down 68 million British pounds to do two more movies) and the BBC (which said Craig hadn’t quit and a decision wouldn’t be made for “a while.”).

For many, the decision which to believe was easy. The BBC is a prestigious media outlet while the Daily Mail (or Daily Fail, according to its critics) is a sloppy U.K. tabloid.

Still, both relied on unidentified sources of information. The Daily Mail cited “insiders,” including “one LA film source.” The BBC cited “authoritative Bond sources” (Barbara Broccoli? Michael G. Wilson? An Eon publicist?).

In a lot of instances, you have to not identify sources to break a story. But there’s the drawback that, in the end, the reader has to trust the outlet. In this case, the two outlets — one prestigious, the other not — are equally opaque in how they obtained their information.

Tabloids have been right in the past: Tabloids have been correct about Bond news in the past. That doesn’t mean each new story — such as last week’s Daily Mail story about Craig — should get an automatic pass. But people do tend to forget when their information has turned out to be right.

One such story occurred four years ago when the Daily Mail insisted that Naomie Harris was playing Moneypenny in Skyfall. The initial publicity said she was playing an MI6 agent named Eve.

Harris denied she was playing Moneypenny. The MI6 James Bond website ran a story in January 2012 that amplified that point.

Although little has been revealed about her Bond Girl role in the upcoming “Skyfall”, a lot of talk has been generated by the casting of Naomie Harris. Tabloids ran wild with speculation that the actress would be playing Miss Moneypenny, but Harris has finally put that story to bed.

(snip)

Despite Harris categorically stating in the interview that she will not be playing Moneypenny in the film, one tuned-out sub editor at the Mail still managed to slip the falsehood into her unrelated travel report from the Maldives, printed in the same issue of the newspaper. (emphasis added)

Months later, the Daily Mail was proven to be correct.

Again, the Daily Mail has a bad journalistic reputation. But, for some reason, it has had 007 scoops proven correct. Many of them were reported by Baz Bamigboye, but he hasn’t been on the Bond beat since late 2014. Skepticism is understandable. Still, all sorts of stories about both Skyfall and SPECTRE were proven correct.

People, incorrectly, believe something isn’t official until there’s a press release: Contracts can be signed and commitments made — all very official, and legally binding — before there’s a public announcement.

Example: Ford Motor Co. hired Boeing Co. executive Alan Mulally as its new chief executive officer on Friday, Sept. 1, 2006. Mulally signed his contract on that date. His hiring, however wasn’t announced until four days later, Tuesday, Sept. 5, the day after the U.S. Labor Day holiday. The Sept. 1 date didn’t become public until a subsequent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission about terms of the new CEO’s contract.

In other words, Mulally was legally Ford’s CEO for four days before the company informed the public. That’s as official as it gets. A press release is the end of the process and not the beginning.

 

Moore speaks up on behalf of Craig

Seven-time 007 Roger Moore, as he has done in the past, spoke up on behalf of actor Daniel Craig.

Moore put out a post on his twitter account on Friday, apparently referring to a Daily Mail story late Wednesday saying that Craig had quit the role after four Bond movies. That story cited “insiders” and quoted a “LA film source.”

The BBC came out with a short item on Thursday quoting “authoritative Bond sources” that Craig had not and a decision won’t happen “for a while.” There has been no official statement on the topic. Before these dueling stories, there have been many articles discussing possible future Bonds.

Moore has often complimented Craig, including a 2012 interview with Time magazine. So it wasn’t surprising that Moore’s tweet on Friday followed that pattern.