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.

 

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SPECTRE: newest twist on 007 product placement

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

No spoilers.

James Bond movies have never been shy about product placement. SPECTRE may just be a twist on a long-standing tradition.

For decades, the 007 film series produced by Eon Productions has cut deals with companies pitching their wares. Goldfinger did deals with Ford Motor Co. and Gillette. With Thunderball, not only did Ford provide vehicles but then-CEO Henry Ford II appeared as an extra. Moonraker had deals with Marlboro, 7 Up and British Airways.

By the time Pierce Brosnan was 007 (1995-2002), writer Bruce Feirstein, in his FIRST DRAFT for what would become Tomorrow Never Dies, didn’t even specify a car model for 007’s vehicle. It just said “(Insert name).”

What’s different about SPECTRE is it may amount to being product placement for a country — Mexico, to be specific — than a series of companies.

The Tax Analysts website, which is targeted at tax professionals, PUBLISHED A MARCH 3 ARTICLE detailing how SPECTRE’s script was altered to take advantage of as much as $20 million in Mexican incentives. (If you click on the link, there are spoilers.)

The incentives are intended to make Mexico look as good as possible in movies, according to the website. The country has reason to do so, according to AN ARTICLE IN THE WASHINGTON POST. Here’s an excerpt:

The Mexican government’s sensitivities to its violent reputation are no secret. When President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in 2012, he tried to minimize the focus on the drug war while emphasizing economic and political reforms. But ongoing high-profile violence, including battles in Michoacan and the disappearance of 43 students in Guerrero, has undercut that message.

None of this is happening in a vacuum. For blockbuster movies, access to the vast Chinese market is a must. The 2013 movie Iron Man 3 was a co-production with China. The 2012 remake of Red Dawn turned the villains into North Koreans instead of Chinese.

With SPECTRE, according to Tax Analysts, it was more of a direct subsidy. SPECTRE’s budget may exceed $300 million, making it one of the most expensive movies ever made.

Meanwhile, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio that owns half the Bond franchise, emerged from bankruptcy only a few years ago. It doesn’t even release its own movies, cutting deals with Sony Pictures (including the 007 films) or Warner Bros. (the now-completed Hobbit series). For MGM, $300 million is a huge bet, even for a 007 film and even though the most recent Bond movie (Skyfall) had a worldwide box office of $1.1 billion.

Put another way, $300 million is real money. Some Bond fans may get annoyed with product placement but they don’t have to sign the checks. As a result, it’s understandable why MGM would be willing to change SPECTRE’s story in return for millions of dollars.

007’s unheralded car

2006 Ford Mondeo prototype driven by Daniel Craig in Casino Royale

Ford Mondeo prototype from Casino Royale

The HMSS Weblog paid a visit to Momence, Illinois, over the weekend where the Ian Fleming Foundation was doing maintenance on vehicles that have appeared in James Bond movies. One of them isn’t thought of as a Bond car, even though it is.

It’s a Ford Mondeo prototype driven by Daniel Craig early in the 2006 movie Casino Royale, making it the first Bond car of the Craig era. Craig’s Bond in the movie would shortly drive flashier cars, such as an Aston Martin DB5 and a 21st century Aston. But the Mondeo is the first car Craig/Bond is seen in.

The foundation sought the Mondeo from Ford Motor Co. after the Casino Royale came out. The developmental prototype wasn’t built for everyday driving and not intended to go out on city streets. It’s just another example of the magic of the movies to make things seem what they aren’t. The only clue in the movie was the fact the Mondeo never drove in traffic, only by itself.

Five-0 `Hookman’ remake’s similarities, differences

Hawaii-five-O-new

Feb. 5: Updated with a correction about the credit fonts.

CBS’s new Hawaii Five-0 followed the 1973 version of “Hookman” pretty closely in the remake that aired Feb. 4. But there were some significant differences, as well. Here’s a sampling of the similarities and differences:

Episode title: The new Five-0 repeated “Hookman” as the episode titles. The new show, that debuted in 2010, usually uses Hawaiian words as titles while not actually showing those episode titles on screen. (CLICK HERE for an example.) Apparently, “Hookman” doesn’t have a good Hawaiian equivalent. Also, the title “Hookman” was shown on screen just before the main titles. The villain had prosthetic hands rather than hooks, but “Prosthetic Hand Man” wasn’t nearly as good a title as “Hookman.”

Credit fonts: It appeared that Five-0 used the same, or at least a very similar font for the credits as the one used in the original show. Presumably this was intended for a “retro” look that CBS had hyped in promoting the episode. (Shoutout to Mike Quigley, webmaster of The Hawaii Five-O Home Page for pointing out differences in the fonts.)

Car chase: In both the 1973 and 2013 versions, the villain takes off in a Ford Mustang. In the original show, Ford Motor Co. was the supplier of vehicles. In the new show, General Motors Co. has that role (McGarrett 2.0 tools around in a Chevrolet Camaro). It looked like the crew attempted to obscure the Mustang logo in the front grille of the Feb. 4 show.

Meanwhile, in the original, McGarrett chased after the villain by himself. In the Feb. 4 show, both McGarrett 2.0 and Danno 2.0 are in McGarrett’s Camaro. Naturally a “cargument” (a schtick of the new show) ensues between the two men.

Things not shown in the original: In the 1973 “Hookman,” we don’t see the villain send his car into the bay; we’re just told about it later. Such a scene was staged in the remake. What’s more, the Feb. 4 show had a flashback sequence showing how the villain lost his hands. In the 1973 version, McGarrett provides a quick recap. Also, in the new version, it was McGarrett’s father who was involved in that case, rather than McGarrett himself.

Score: Morton Stevens won an Emmy for his “Hookman” score. The score on the Feb. 4 story keeps with the general Five-0 background music by Brian Tyler and Keith Power that seems like it’s the poor man’s Hans Zimmer from Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies.

New ending: McGarrett 2.0 “meets” the ghosts of the villain’s victims, something that didn’t happen at all in the original.

UPDATE (Feb. 5): You can CLICK HERE to watch the Feb. 4 episode on CBS’s Web site.

How British are Jaguar and Land Rover?

A publication called Car magazine has a story about how the Land Rover Defender will appear in Skyfall. Here’s a passage:

Land Rover Defender

(Skyfall co-producer Andrew) Noakes says the production company, EON, is delighted with the support of Jaguar-Land Rover. ‘The films may be made with American money and producers, but James Bond is British and we try to make associations with British companies. Land Rover is one of the oldest and most well-known. We’ve had offers from other companies but we’d prefer not to take James Bond out of a British environment.’

It’d probably be more accurate to call Jaguar-Land Rover a British subsidiary of an Indian company. The brands are owned by Mumbai, India-based Tata Motors Ltd., which acquired them in 2008. Jaguar hasn’t been British *owned* since 1989, when it was acquired by Ford Motor Co. Land Rover hasn’t been British owned since it was bought by Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, better known as BMW, in 1994. BMW sold Land Rover to Ford in 2000. Ford sold both brands to Tata four years ago.

While they still emphasize their British heritage, Jaguar and Land Rover aren’t really part of a British company. Models are still made in the U.K. (though Motor Trend wrote last month the Defender may be built in India.)

Then again, the literary Bond preferred Bentley, a brand that has been owned by Volkswagen AG since 1998.

A decade ago, Ford had a product placement deal with Eon Productions where Die Another Day would feature the European luxury brands the U.S. company then owned, including Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin. Die Another Day also included a Ford Thunderbird (since discontinued) which was driven briefly by Jinx (Halle Berry). Prior to that, BMW had provided cars for Bond in Pierce Brosnan’s first three 007 films.

In 2006’s Casino Royale, a Ford Mondeo, a model sold in Europe and not the U.S., appeared as did an Aston Martin model, both driven by Daniel Craig. Ford sold off Aston the following year. Ford models appeared in 2008’s Quantum of Solace. Skyfall is emphasizing Tata’s U.K. models and the nearly half-century-old Aston Martin DB5, which originally appeared in Goldfinger. The DB5 has been making appearances periodically in the series since 1995’s GoldenEye (including Casino Royale, as a car Bond wins in a poker game).

QM’s The FBI vs. J. Edgar’s FBI

One of the more talked about (if not financially successful) movies this fall was the Clint Eastwood-directed J. Edgar, a “biopic” about J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio), who was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 48 years until his death in 1972. We were particularly interested because we enjoy the Hoover-sanctioned 1965-74 television series produced by Quinn Martin.

The QM FBI is an idealized version of the real life agency, which by various reports spied on civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and performed other less-than-heroic acts. interestingly, producer Martin was initially hesitant to do a series based on the FBI because he and Hoover were different politically.

But the show, produced in association with Warner Bros. (which released Eastwood’s J. Edgar plus the heavily pro-Hoover movie The FBI Story in 1959) proceeded anyway. It would end up being Martin’s longest-running television series, running nine years. In real life, the FBI might be accused of going easy on the Mafia, at least prior to John F. Kennedy becoming president. But on QM’s The FBI, the bureau was vigilant against organized crime, even in episodes LIKE THIS ONE or LIKE THIS ONE, where the mob bosses had names like Mark Vincent or Arnold Toby and avoided the word “Mafia.” And, of course, the QM FBI never failed to catch spies working against U.S. interests.

However, if you catch certain episodes of QM’s FBI, the Hoover influence is unmistakeable. In many episodes, you can spot a photo of Hoover in an FBI office. In EPISODES LIKE THIS ONE, a character comes out of Hoover’s office (we never see the Director, of course) obviously moved to put their scruples aside to aid the cause of law and order. The real-life Hoover’s influence extended to having approval of the casting of Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Inspector Lewis Erskine, the lead character of the television series.

Enough of this heavy thinking. Here’s a complete second-season episode of The FBI, along with its original commercials (the Ford Motor Co. logo appears in the main titles). Towards the end, you’ll see a promo for the next episode, the first of a two-part episode called “The Executioners,” in which future James Bond villain Telly Savalas appears as, what else, an organized crime figure. That two-part episode would be released outside of the U.S. AS A MOVIE.

UPDATE: Oops moment in the epilogue. The suspect shoves a guy into the water. But agents Erskine and Rhodes (Stephen Brooks) are so intent on arresting the suspect (J.D. Cannon), they never check back on the innocent guy who got shoved into the water. What if he drowned?

UPDATE II: One connection between this episode of The FBI and Clint Eastwood. The assistant director of the television episode was Robert Daley, who’d serve as producer on a number of films for Eastwood’s Malpaso Productions, including being executive producer of Dirty Harry and producer of Magnum Force.

Bond 23 to begin filming Nov. 7, The Sun says

Bond 23 is start production on Nov. 7, according to a report in U.K. newspaper, The Sun. The story is brief but contains this passage:

When shooting starts on November 7, the actor will have to switch from a Range Rover to a Jaguar – with both motors on the move.

Jaguar and Land Rover were part of product placement in 2002’s Die Another Day in a deal meant to show off Ford Motor Co.’s European luxury offerings. Gustav Graves was driven to receive his knighthood (after making a showy parachute jump) in a Land Rover while Graves henchman Zao drove a tricked-out Jaguar in a car chase with an Aston Martin driven by Bond (Pierce Brosnan).

Ford sold off Aston Martin in 2007 and Jaguar and Land Rover in 2008. Jaguar and Land Rover are now owned by India’s Tata Motors Ltd.

To read the entire story in The Sun, JUST CLICK HERE.