Case study: rebooting an arch foe (non-007 spoiler)

The original Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh) gloats when he momentarily has an advantage over Steve McGarrett

The original Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh) gloats when he momentarily has an advantage over Steve McGarrett

James Bond fans are debating whether it’s a good idea or not for a rebooted Ernst Stavro Blofeld to be part of Bond 24. What spurred the discussion was A REPORT IN THE MAIL ON SUNDAY saying such a move would occur.

At this point, it’s not known whether that’s really happening or not. Even if it is, fans might know it for sure until Bond 24 comes out in the fall of 2015, similar to how Agent Eve in Skyfall turned out to be a rebooted Moneypenny.

That hasn’t stopped fan debates concerning a 21st century version of Blofeld. Some think it’d be great, especially if a new Blofeld were closer to the character depicted in Ian Fleming’s novels. Others say it’s best to leave Blofeld in the past.

A similar rebooting of an arch foe has been done, and completed, on the rebooted Hawaii Five-0. That series debuted in 2010 on CBS and its 100th episode was telecast Nov. 7. We’re talking about, of course, Wo Fat, who was Steve McGarrett’s greatest enemy in the original 1968-80 Hawaii Five-O.

This post is simply a look at the choices the new series made in rebooting Wo Fat. It’s not meant as predicting or advocating how Blofeld should be rebooted (if he is at all) in Bond 24.

The original Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh) was very much the mastermind, manipulating events and spinning schemes. He left the rough stuff up to his flunkies. At times, he even displayed a sarcastic sense of humor.

Initially, Wo Fat worked for China. At the time the original series debuted, the United States didn’t have diplomatic relations with China. In the second half of the series, Wo Fat went independent and in one seventh season episode says the current Chinese government is too soft. In a two-hour episode in the ninth season, he plans to stage a coup, seize power and launch nuclear missiles at the U.S. Wo Fat thought big.

This version of the character didn’t show up all that often and there were some seasons where he didn’t appear at all. Each encounter between Wo Fat and McGarrett seemed more special (excluding a second-season episode where Wo Fat only made a cameo appearance.) Wo Fat gets captured in the final episode. There was no personal connection between Wo Fat and McGarrett (Jack Lord), although the villain came to despise his adversary.

Mark Cacascos, Wo Fat 2.0.

Mark Cacascos, Wo Fat 2.0.

For the new series, there’s a new mean, lean Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos). This Wo Fat is an independent terrorist, though he appears to be welcome in North Korea, which he uses as his base of operations for one episode. He plots, engages in his own fighting and brutally kills people on his own. He also shows up a lot more often — 15 of the first 100 episodes. Wo Fat and the new McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) have a number of intense fights over those episodes.

And, it turns out, Wo Fat’s hatred of McGarrett turns out to be personal from the start, although this wasn’t revealed initially.

This McGarrett has a mother who is a U.S. spy. She had been assigned to kill Wo Fat’s father but killed his mother instead. Mom McGarrett initially tried to raise Wo Fat as her own but her U.S. intelligence bosses said that was a bad idea. As a result, Wo Fat has a big hatred of the McGarrett clan from the start.

For his final appearance, Wo Fat 2.0 tortured McGarrett (and not for the first time on the series). Eventually, McGarrett got free and the two had one last all-out fight. They’re laying on the floor, exhausted, each holding a gun on the other. Wo Fat sarcastically calls McGarrett brother. “You’re not my brother,” McG replies. No more Wo Fat.

Peter Lenkov, the show’s executive producer who also wrote the episode, TOLD TV GUIDE he didn’t initially plan to kill off Wo Fat but, “If he had gotten away at the end, I think it may have seemed ridiculous.”

James Bond Dossier surveys 007 sites about Bond 24

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The James Bond Dossier surveyed a number of 007-related fan sites and Bond enthusiasts about Bond 24 ahead of production.

The OPINIONS EXPRESSED vary quite a bit so there’s variety. Disclosure: this blog was among those approached. But don’t let that stop you from checking it out. The list of those surveyed includes Mark McConnell, author of Catching Bullets — Memoir of a Bond fan; Marketto of James Bond Brasil; Edward Biddulph, author of the blog, James Bond memes; and Matt Sherman of BondFanEvents.com, among others.

One of highlights was from Edward Biddulph who posted one answer before recent media reports that a certain character may resurface in Bond 24. (Skip below the quote below if you’ve managed to avoid reading about it.) He responds to a question about what he’s looking forward to in Bond 24.

I’m looking forward to the Austrian scenes and the promise of some top skiing action, perhaps of the like we haven’t seen since For Your Eyes Only. Bond belongs on the slopes, and it was only a matter of time until Daniel Craig’s Bond got the opportunity.

I hope that the Austrian elements of Fleming’s Octopussy short story will be in the script. While the story itself isn’t snow-bound, there’s potential in the story, which I think is among Fleming’s finest writing, for snow-set action.

Other topics (and this isn’t a complete list) include what the respondents aren’t looking forward to so much; should the gunbarrel logo return to the start of the movie; was it a positive move expanding the characters of M, Moneypenny and Q in Skyfall and do you expect to see more of it in Bond 24; and how long the respondents expect Daniel Craig will stay around as Bond.

To read the survey and all the responses, you can CLICK HERE. Thanks to David Leigh of The James Bond Dossier for organizing it.

Waltz to play Blofeld in Bond 24, Mail on Sunday says

Bond 24 logo

Fans have speculated about this since Waltz’s participation was originally reported, so we didn’t put spoiler in the headline. Stop reading beyond this point if you don’t want the details.

Actor Christoph Waltz will play Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Bond 24, THE U.K. MAIL ON SUNDAY REPORTED.

Here’s an excerpt from the story by Chris Hastings and Caroline Graham:

It’s been more than 30 years since James Bond faced evil Ernst Stavro Blofeld, his most feared adversary.

But now the intimidating baddie – famous for his trademark white cat and for gruesomely disposing of his failing underlings – is back. Django Unchained star Christoph Waltz is tipped to play the evil genius in a new 007 movie which is due to begin shooting next month.

The 58-year-old double Oscar-winner will join an elite band of stars who have previously played the role.

The Mail on Sunday is a sister paper to the Daily Mail, whose Baz Bamigboye REPORTED EARLIER THIS MONTH that Waltz was in Bond 24’s cast. Bamigboye, who had a number of Skyfall and Bond 24 scoops proven correct, didn’t specify the role Waltz would have in Bond 24.

The Mail on Sunday story says Waltz’s involvement in Bond 24 “will be confirmed” at an early December press conference. That story also says Waltz will be announced as “playing an unknown character called Franz Oberhauser, son of the late Hans Oberhauser, a ski instructor who acted as a father figure to Bond.”

But, the story cites “senior sources” who “believe the casting is a double bluff worthy of 007 himself and that Waltz is actually playing Blofeld.” The story quotes “one Hollywood source” as saying “the producers have changed the character to fit in with the new-look 007.”

Presumably, that comment is a reference to how the 007 film series started over with 2006’s Casino Royale. Daniel Craig has played Bond the past three movies and is returning with the as-yet untitled Bond 24.

The Blofeld character appeared in From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever and Never Say Never Again. A character strongly resembling Blofeld was in the pre-credits sequence of For Your Eyes Only but his name wasn’t revealed.

Some questions for the Bond 24 press conference

Bond 24 logo

While no date has been set, it’s still expected there’ll be a news conference held for the start of production of Bond 24.

We still stand by our idea that it may be best to even take questions. But that’s not likely to happen. So, here’s our suggestions for questions to ask the producers, cast and crew.

For Sam Mendes: You said in April that you came back to direct Bond 24 because “I felt there was a way to create the second part of a two-part story.” Given that both Skyfall’s villain and M were killed, what does that mean?

A question that depends on what the press release says: Is it really true that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade worked on the script? The involvement of Purvis and Wade was reported by Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail over the summer. Given Bamigboye’s record of 007 scoops being proven correct, it’s pretty assumed that is what happened.

But nothing has been said officially since MGM announced in November 2012 that John Logan would write Bond 24 and Bond 25.

It’s possible the press release that probably goes out at the same time will reference Purvis and Wade. If it does, this rephrased question could be used:

In November 2012, MGM announced John Logan was writing Bond 24 and Bond 25. What happened to change this? Why bring Messrs. Purvis and Wade back?

For Michael G. Wilson: Mr. Wilson, you’re in your early 70s now. Do you plan to continue on in your present capacity? Or might you retire?

For Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli: Skyfall did $1.11 billion in worldwide box office. Are you confident Bond 24 (or actual title if that has been released) can perform the same or better?

For Sam Mendes: Skyfall was shot digitally. Bond 24 is to be shot on film, according to your director of photography. What’s the reason for the change?

For Wilson and Broccoli: What’s the progress on your planned movie about Edward Snowden?

For Sam Mendes: Will the gunbarrel be at the start of the movie this time?

Purvis & Wade to adapt Len Deighton novel, Variety says

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis.

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis.

Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who’ve worked as writers on the last six James Bond movies, will adapt the Len Deighton novel SS-GB for the BBC, VARIETY REPORTED.

The BBC production will consist of five one-hour episodes, Variety said. Here’s an excerpt:

It is set in an imaginary Britain controlled by the Nazis, if Germany had occupied the country. It centers on a police detective caught between the Nazis and the British resistance.

Purvis and Wade were summoned earlier this year to rewrite John Logan’s script for Bond 24, Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail reported in June. The duo delivered a draft that was “substantially different” that Logan’s original, Bamigboye reported July 31.

Purvis and Wade originally weren’t to have been involved with Bond 24 after working on 007 films starting with The World Is Not Enough in 1999 and through 2012’s Skyfall. The Bond 24 script was additional tweaked by playwright Jez Butterworth, ACCORDING TO A NEW YORKER PROFILE OF BUTTERWORTH. Butterworth also did uncredited work on Skyfall, the magazine said.

Waltz to have ‘signficant’ Bond 24 role, Daily Mail says

Bond 24 logo

Actor Christoph Waltz will have a “significant” role in Bond 24, BAZ BAMIGBOYE OF THE DAILY MAIL REPORTED.

However, Bamigboye, who had a number of Skyfall scoops proven correct, was less than definitive on what the role would be.

“It’s not immediately evident whether the part’s friend, or foe or a bit of both,” Bamigboye quoted someone he described as “a person who has knowledge of the screenplay.”

The scribe quotes another source (also not identified by name) as saying Waltz’s character is “extremely cunning” and a “nemesis of sorts.” He also quotes another “Bond 24 spook” as saying Waltz is not necessarily playing movie’s villain. Bamigboye describes this comment as “a clear bit of misdirection.”

Waltz, 58, has supporting actor Oscars for Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds.

VARIETY said Eon Productions, which produces the 007 films, and studios Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony “had no comment.”

UPDATE (Nov. 14): The Wrap entertainment website, while citing Bamigboye about the Waltz casting newsm added this tidbit IN ITS STORY:

Chiwetel Ejiofor had been in talks for a villainous role in the film, but TheWrap confirmed several weeks ago that the deal never came together. It’s believed that Waltz is taking over that role.

A look back at Quantum of Solace’s publicity

quantum-of-solace-international-poster

Bond 24 is expected to begin filming next month. If tradition holds, that also means they’ll be a press conference for the start of production.

These press conferences primarily are intended to promote the movie. That’s one reason why it’s a good idea to take some of what’s said with a few grains of salt.

We came across the video below at HAPHAZARDSTUFF.COM. It’s the first of three (and counting) videos that examine the 2008 James Bond film Quantum of Solace in detail.

We bring it up because in this first installment, we see a lot of footage from the Quantum press conference as well as other press interviews. Some of what the cast and crew said doesn’t, well, quite hold up to scrutiny. For example:

10:42 mark: Daniel Craig says, “We don’t have shaky cameras.”

10:48: Barbara Broccoli says, “It’s not a revenge movie.” (Full quote played around the 1:18 mark, “It’ not a revenge movie, it’s much more complicated than that.”)

10:50: Olga Kurylenko describes her character. “She’s driven by revenge.”

11:10: Director Marc Forester says, “I’ve never seen a Bond film set in a desert.” (Haphazard Stuff uses this opportunity to show desert clips from The Living Daylights and The Spy Who Loved Me.)

11:20: Forester in separate comments from what appears to be the same interview. Comment one: “I can’t think about an audience, making the movie to please them.” Comment two: “It has to be commercially successful.”

Well, you get the point. In any case, fans view these press conferences more as a chance to celebrate a new 007 film starting production.

To access all three Haphazard Stuff videos, CLICK HERE.

Quantum of Solace Review Part One from HaphazardStuff on Vimeo.