Anatomy of crappy 007 journalism

Barbara Broccoli

In mid-December, The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast had a wide-ranging interview with Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli.

After almost an hour, there was this brief exchange:

SCOTT FEINBERG (Host): Would you ever hire a person of color or even a woman to play James Bond one day? Could it be Jamie Bond?

BARBARA BROCCOLI: Anything is possible. Right now it’s Daniel Craig and I’m very happy with Daniel Craig, but who knows what the future will bring? That’s what is so exciting about Bond.

OK. Almost two weeks later (Dec. 28, to be precise), the DAILY MAIL ran a story under the headline, “Next James Bond could be black or a woman, says 007 producer: Barbara Broccoli says ‘anything is possible’ once Daniel Craig walks away.”

That story says Broccoli “was asked if we could expect to see a female Bond or a black 007.” (emphasis added). The Broccoli quote: “Right now it’s Daniel Craig, and I’m very happy with Daniel Craig, but who knows what the future will bring?”

In other words, the Mail reproduced Broccoli’s comments. She was asked, but it appears she was not asked by the Daily Mail. Of course, to know that, you would have to listen to the original podcast (it’s around the 1:36:34 mark). Also, the Daily Mail has a reputation for ripping off other outlets, as detailed in a 2015 Gawker story.

Nevertheless, the Daily Mail story (such as it was), spurred other outlets to hammer the same idea.

ESQUIRE.COM (James Bond Producer Barbara Broccoli Says The Next 007 Could Be Female): Same Broccoli quotes, but attributed to the Daily Mail, not the original podcast.

SCREEN RANT (The Next James Bond Could Be a Woman or Person of Color): Same Broccoli quotes, but attributed to the Daily Mail, not the original podcast.

CINEMA BLEND (Will James Bond Continue To Be A Handsome White Dude After Daniel Craig Leaves?): You guessed it, same quotes but attributed to the Daily Mail.

MOVIE WEB (Earlier headline: Next James Bond Probably Won’t Be a Straight White Male): Once more with feeling — same quotes from the podcast, attributed to the Daily Mail. But, hey, at least the website’s headline took it even further. (HEADLINE CHANGED JAN. 4 TO Anything’s Possible When It Comes to Casting the Next James Bond. For more details, see update below).

OBSERVER (Will We Ever See a Non-White Male James Bond? It’s ‘Possible’): You guessed it. Same quotes as the podcast, attributed to the Daily Mail.

Just to be clear, this blog has never been mistaken as an extension of Eon’s PR operation. On occasion, the blog has noted when Broccoli denied things that turned out to be true (Ben Whishaw playing Q in Skyfall, John Logan being signed, initially, to write Bond 24 and 25).

But on this one, it’s pretty clear the Eon boss deflected the question. But that hasn’t stopped various entertainment outlets from running with it.

UPDATE (Jan. 4): Movie Web said today in two posts on Twitter that it changed its headline and is now crediting THR.

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SPECTRE reviews: 2nd weekend edition

SPECTRE teaser image

SPECTRE teaser image

Some additional SPECTRE reviews were published toward the end of last week. So here are some more review excerpts.

U.S. reviews will start appearing in the next few days, ahead of the official Nov. 6 opening. For the moment, the 24th James Bond film has a 77 percent rating at the ROTTEN TOMATOES WEBSITE.

The newest excerpts follow. We’ve tried to keep plot details out but the spoiler adverse may want to avoid anyway.

GREGORY WAKEMAN, CINEMA BLEND: “At the top of Spectre’s crowning achievements is Daniel Craig, who with his fourth outing as 007 gives the most complete, beguiling yet still complex portrayal of the spy yet. Those of you looking for proof that the average-sized, blonde-haired and blue-eyed Daniel Craig is genuinely the definitive Bond will now forever be able to present Spectre as the definitive piece of evidence. Those of you who are still doubtful probably need to question all of your previous life decisions.”

RYAN GILBEY, NEW STATESMAN: “Should Craig play Bond again, he could scarcely push his minimalism any further. He is pared down to samurai essentials: striding and scowling, he is frugal even in violence, never throwing two punches where one will do. …But then the emphasis in Craig’s four outings has been on the psychological. Sam Mendes is not the only director to have been called back for multiple assignments in the (Craig era of the) series but he may be the first to have nurtured a theme over consecutive films. Skyfall was essentially a dysfunctional family drama where M betrayed one of her former spies (or sons). In Spectre there is more domestic scar tissue…. It’s a support group waiting to happen.”

DAVID LEIGH, THE JAMES BOND DOSSIER: “To cut a long story short, I enjoyed it a lot…Visually it is a joy to behold.

“However, while SPECTRE works well on a number of levels, it also fails on others. Although it contains some classic Bond elements, it is not a classic Bond movie. The screenplay appears to have been written around the action scenes and there is a sense of frantic racing from one set piece action scene to another.

“I did truly enjoy SPECTRE and can’t wait to see it again…However, it isn’t the kind of Bond film I want from EON Productions.

“And I still feel they have never made a classic James Bond film that wasn’t based closely on an Ian Fleming novel.”

ROB CARNEVALE, INDIE LONDON: “Daniel Craig’s fourth outing as 007 may just be the most complete Bond movie yet. Spectacular, stylish, dark but still amusing, Spectre is a thrilling entry that combines the best of Bond movies old and new.

“Returning director Sam Mendes has taken the best elements of the flawed but entertaining Skyfall and created a follow-up that delivers almost two and a half hours of show-stopping action and genuinely satisfying intrigue.”

DEBORAH ROSS, THE SPECTATOR: Spectre is the 24th film in the Bond franchise, the fourth starring Daniel Craig, the second directed by Sam Mendes, and the first at not much of anything. Nothing new to report, in other words. It probably delivers what the die-hard fans want, but it is not like Casino Royale or Skyfall (no one talks about Quantum of Solace, by the way, because it’s assumed everyone involved was drunk) as it doesn’t deliver to those of us who never liked Bond, but then discovered that we did. Where has Bond’s interior landscape gone? Where is his woundedness? Where is the emotional heft? Who might we actually care about here?”

LIAM DUNN, POPOPTIQ: “Enjoyment of Spectre really is a matter of perspective. A love of classic Bond and of Craig’s portrayal of the character will service audiences well here, but any hopes of a more fulfilling thematic experience will be dashed. Bond has come through the crucible of the 21st Century and has emerged as a more streamlined version of his older self. It’s great to see Craig finally having a bit of fun and the series playing to its strengths (gone are the woeful double entendres). Of course, like all Bond films it is overlong and perhaps suffers from one set piece too many, but if this is Craig’s swan song he should be happy to go out on this one. Mendes too has set the bar for whoever follows him, crafting what could possibly be the modern Bond film’s Goldfinger by installing the template that will be followed going forward. Not to say that Spectre is on par with that film, but it does finally put a lot of the elements in place that are quintessentially Bond; it’s brash, bombastic, silly and thoroughly entertaining.”

11 new questions about a Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie

In honor of the number 11 on Napoleon Solo’s U.N.C.L.E. badge, we present these 11 new questions about a planned movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

1. Is George Clooney’s reported exit from the project potentially fatal for the film’s prospects? Not necessarily. Clooney has flirted with spy movie projects without ultimately committing. He was supposedly going to play Artemus Gordon in 1999’s Wild, Wild West film but backed out. One story was he really wanted to play Jim West while agreeing to play Artemus, hoping the producers would change their mind about having Will Smith play Jim West. When Clooney didn’t get his way, this version of the story goes, he bolted and the film got made anyway (though fans of the original TV show perhaps wished otherwise).

2. Was Clooney ever mentioned in any other spy projects? Around 2000, Clooney and director Steven Soderbergh (who would direct this new U.N.C.L.E. film) were interested in doing a Matt Helm movie that would mimic the four 1966-1969 Dean Martin movies (i.e. it wouldn’t have faithfully adapted Donald Hamilton’s novels, either). That movie never happened.

3. What needs to happen to make an U.N.C.L.E. movie a reality without Clooney? Soderbergh needs to remain committed. He’s viewed in Hollywood as a talented director (his resume includes the Clooney-Brad Pitt Ocean’s 11, Ocean’s 12 and Ocean’s 13). Also, he works quickly and has a reputation for bringing in films on (or under budget). With a shaky economy, that’s a talent movie executives value more than ever. If Soderbergh wants out, all bets are off.

4. Has progress been made? Screenwriter Scott Z. Burns has told the Cinema Blend Web site that the U.N.C.L.E. script is finished. the Deadline entertainment news Web site, which first reported Clooney’s U.N.C.L.E. exit, says Warner Bros. still wants to start filming by February. That’s about all we *really* know.

5. Is the movie script based on any television episodes? Burns told Cinema Blend it is not.

6. Who might play Napoleon Solo now that Clooney is out of the picture? Well, Jon Hamm, star of Mad Men, would be seen by some fans as a good choice. The popularity of Mad Men, a show set in the 1960s about an advertising agency, is probably one reason why the Soderbergh U.N.C.L.E. project is being done as a period piece, rather than set in the present day.

7. Any problems with a Hamm casting? Depends on who you ask. Some fans complained that Clooney, at 50, was too old to play Solo. Hamm is 40, almost a decade older than Robert Vaughn was when he originated the Solo role. But it’s doubtful that would prevent him from playing Solo. A bigger problem is whether his Mad Men schedule would permit it.

8. Any talk of who would play Illya Kuryakin? In all the various reports about the movie, there has been no talk of a specific actor to take on the role first played by David McCallum. It might depend on who’s playing Solo.

9. Even if the project stays on track, when might it actually be seen in theaters? Optimistically — and this assumes filming actually starts in February — the end of 2012 would be the earliest. Some time in the first half of 2013 might be more realistic.

10. Is this really a movie worth making? A qualified yes. Soderbergh has talent and has actually watched most first-season episodes of the original series. The makers of the 1983 television film The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. didn’t view *any* first-season shows (generally viewed by fans as the best of the show’s run).

11. What are the odds it gets made? We’ll put it at 50-50 for now. That’s a lot more optimistic than we’ve been in the past. An U.N.C.L.E. movie is as close to reality as it has ever been over the past two decades. It’s safe to say the project is in a crucial phase now. It remains to be seen whether Napoleon Solo — Ian Fleming’s other spy (co-created with Norman Felton, the original show’s executive producer; the show was developed by Sam Rolfe) makes a 21st Century comeback.

U.N.C.L.E. movie to include 1960s real world events

The upcoming movie based on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. will be based on real-life events in the 1960s, screenwriter Scott Z. Burns told the Cinema Blend Web site.

Here’s an excerpt from the post by writer Eric Eisenberg:

then asked if the story will be based on any of the episodes from the show’s four season run or the movies that were previously made, to which Burns said that some elements will be familiar, but it will be set more in a real world context. “I think if people know the show they’ll recognize tiny little things,” Burns said. “All those shows are called, like, “The Terbuf Affair” or whatever. Our affair comes from something that was actually going on in the world at the time.”

The post doesn’t provide which real-life event will be referenced. The pilot for the original show was being filmed when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated (that was the same day as star Robert Vaughn’s 31st birthday) and it premiered 23 months after the Cuban Missile Crisis. The post also says the script is finished. To read the Cinema Blend post, JUST CLICK HERE.

The television series ran from Sept. 22, 1964 through Jan. 15, 1968, and was developed by Sam Rolfe. The lead character of Napoleon Solo was created by executive producer Norman Felton and James Bond author Ian Fleming.