The Man From U.N.C.L.E. curse

Warner Bros, which wants to make a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has seen two possible leading men, George Cooney and Bradley Cooper drop out of the project, is finding it hard to pull off a remake of the 1964-68 televison series.

Welcome to the club.

What follows is a guide to *some* of the previous attempts. Maybe this possible movie really is cursed.

1976-77: Writer-producers Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts hire Sam Rolfe, the original developer of the show, to do a script for a made-for-televison movie that could be the springboard for a new show. “The Malthusian Affair” has some interesting concepts (including having a dwarf occupy an armored exo-skeleton) but it doesn’t get past the script stage. Had it become reality, Robert Vaughn and David McCallum would have reprised their roles as Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin.

Early 1980s: Would-be producers Danny Biederman and Robert Short cobble together a theatrical movie project. Their script had Thrush, the villainous orgnaization of the original series, take over the world without anyone realizing it. Vaughn and McCallum had expressed interest, as had former 007 production designer Ken Adam. Alas, nothing happened.

1983:: The only post-series U.N.C.L.E. project, the made-for-television series movie The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. airs on CBS. No series, or even a sequel made-for-TV movie, develops.

Early 1990s: Sam Rolfe attempts to do a made-for-cable-television movie that would have been an U.N.C.L.E. “next generation” story. Rolfe drops dead of a heart attack in 1993, ending any such prospect.

Circa 2004-2005: Norman Felton, executive producer of the orignal show, cuts a deal with a small production company for some sort of cable-televison project. Nothing concrete occurs.

2010-2011:: Warner Bros. entices director Steven Soderbergh to direct an U.N.C.L.E. movie after a number of false starts. As of now, nothing concrete has occurred. Whether that remains the case remains to be seen. Still, the odds seem long that Ian Fleming’s other spy (created with Norman Felton) will make a comeback.

UPDATE: For crying out loud, according to THIS STORY ON THE PLAYLIST WEB SITE, Johnny Depp wanted to play the Illya Kuryakin role played by David McCallum in the original show. But when Depp backed out, that complicated matters.

U.N.C.L.E. movie still a go, Soderbergh says

The film version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is still proceeding even after potential star George Clooney exited the project, director Steven Soderbergh said in an interview with the Moviefone Web site.

An excerpt of a Soderbergh answer (the interview was presented in a Q&A format:

Scott Burns wrote a great script and everybody wants to continue. I’m sure that’s a classic example of, “Well, if Clooney’s not doing it, then it must mean blah, blah, blah. I mean, he and Steven are friends, so the script must be really bad! Has Steven done one of these things where he’s gone off on a tangent and it’s too crazy?” All that sh*t. As often the case in these situations, the truth is a little more prosaic. It’s just a movie and it wasn’t a risk worth taking.

Regarding Clooney’s possible participation, Soderbergh also said the following:

To be honest, this was all predicated on him looking at the script and determining whether, physically, it was going to be a problem for him. He was very seriously injured on ‘Syriana.’ The guy had fluid leaking out of his spinal column. And from the beginning when we started talking about it, that was part of the discussion. Having been one of the producers on that movie and him being a friend, in addition to a colleague, I don’t want to be the guy responsible for him reinjuring himself.

And we got the script to him and he said, “Look, I’ve got real concerns about this.” From scene one, it’s the kind of stuff that he really needs to be careful about. And, believe me, it’s not… We want to make another movie together and that was frustrating – for both of us. But it just became clear that it’s just too risky.

To read, the entire interview, much of wish deals with his new movie, Contagion, CLICK HERE. Meanwhile, the Digital Spy Web site has a post where U.N.C.L.E. screenwriter Burns says Clooney apologized for having to pull out of the movie.

Finally, one other note. We did a little snooping on our own. via the Register.com Web site. Warner Bros. registered themanfromuncle.com as a domain name back on Dec. 9, 2004 and it expires on Dec. 9, 2012. The record was last updated on July 26, 2011. Is that significant? Hard to tell.

Clooney confirms his U.N.C.L.E. exit, Deadline says

George Clooney confirmed his exit from the planned movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in an interview with the Deadline Hollywood Web site. In the report, the actor says his age playeed a factor. Here’s an excerpt from a post by Pete Hammond:

I asked him about Deadline’s Mike Fleming’s exclusive report that he was dropping out of the planned Warner Bros. “Man From U.N.C.L.E. ” film directed by his frequent helmer and former partner Steven Soderbergh. Clooney indicated he would love to do it but physically just isn’t up to it. “I realize I’m 50 now and am going for neck and shoulder surgery soon and just can’t do it physically, ” he told me with a sigh.

To read the entire post, which is mostly about the 38th Annual Telluride Film Festival, just CLICK HERE. In the post, Clooney also says he’s skeptical that Steven Soderbergh, scheduled to direct the U.N.C.L.E. movie and an old friend of the actor, is really going to retire within a few years.

The Deadline also appears to partially confirm AN E ONLINE POST about why Clooney pulled out of the U.N.C.L.E. project. E Online, however, said Clooney’s decision was forced by back trouble.

Clooney’s back forced U.N.C.L.E. exit, E Online says

George Clooney was forced to exit a planned Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie because of an old back injury, E Online reported, citing a source it didn’t identify. Here’s an excerpt:

“He said he just can’t do the action and stunt scenes,” revealed an U.N.C.L.E. source who’s familiar with handsome actor’s health situation. “In fact, I think he’s planning on having another operation during the time he would have been filming.”

Clooney’s reps have not returned comment, as yet.

“But George knows this movie is all about action,” continued the U.N.C.L.E. insider, “and he knows he’s just not up to it.”

The back injury goes back to the movie Syriana, the Web site said.

A caveat: the person quoted thinks, which implies he or she isn’t 100 percent certain, that Clooney is planning to have an operation. It’s difficult to determine how much the source actually knows and there’s no description whether the source has direct knowledge of Clooney’s move. The story refers to “the death-defying stunts that have apparently been written into the U.N.C.L.E. script.” That’s an indication that E Online doesn’t actually *know* there are “death-defying stunts” just that they’ve “apparently” been written.

To read the entire post, just CLICK HERE. Clooney’s name had surfaced as playing Napoleon Solo because he’s an old friend of the planned film’s director, Steven Soderbergh.

UPDATE: As you can tell by THIS PHOTO ON PEOPLE.COM, Clooney is clearly in constant physical agony.

Clooney exiting U.N.C.L.E. movie, Deadline reports

George Clooney is pulling out of director Steven Soderbergh’s planned movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., the Deadline entertaintment Web site reports.

Here’s part of a short post by Deadline’s Mike Fleming:

Still trying to get a clear sense of the reason for the exit of Clooney, who is Soderbergh’s former partner and did the Ocean’s Eleven films and Out of Sight with the director. I’m told that Warner Bros intends to stay on track for a February 2012 start for the movie.

To read the enire post, JUST CLICK HERE.

Clooney, 50, is the same age Robert Vaughn was when he reprised the role of Napoleon Solo in the 1983 television movie The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., where Solo comes back from retirement to take on a revitalized Thrush, the criminal organization that was U.N.C.L.E.’s primary adversary in the original 1964-1968 series.

Some U.N.C.L.E. fans, expressing themselves on the Internet absolutely hated the idea of casting Clooney, saying he was too old. There is also an element of U.N.C.L.E. fans who say no actors are worthy of the roles of Solo and Illya Kuryakin other than Vaughn and David McCallum. (We once provided our own whimsical proposal for an U.N.C.L.E. film aimed at that fan segment.)

At this point, it’s hard to determine if this is a body blow to Soderbergh (who, among, other things, has watched almost all first-season episodes of the show to prep for directing it). Soderbergh is viewed as a talented director, though he is planning to retire by around the time he turns 50. Thus, the project may indeed still be proceeding. Clooney had been the only casting even mentioned for the movie but there had never been a formal announcement by Warner Bros.

Then again, will Soderbergh still be interested in U.N.C.L.E. if his old pal Clooney is not?

So it remains to see if Ian Fleming’s other spy (co-created with Norman Felton), with the series developed by Sam Rolfe, will make a comeback or not.