Bond 23’s odd publicity buildup; can 007 shoot straight?

This week, there were reports that actress Naomie Harris was in talks for a part in Bond 23. One of the reports on Entertainment Weekly’s EW.com Web site said that Eon Productions confirmed such talks. However, the Eon person who made the comment wasn’t identified.

Well, that’s par for the course. The newest 007 film, to start filming late this year for release in October (in the U.K.) and November (in the U.S.) of 2012, has had an odd publicity buildup so far. Eon Productions and its studio partners, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Corp.’s Columbia Pictures, have not exactly been consistent about how they spread the word. Consider:

The Peter Morgan saga: Eon puts out a press release in 2009 that Morgan, screenwriter of Frost/Nixon, would join Neal Purvis and Robert Wade in scripting Bond 23. Fans wouldn’t find out until 2010 that Morgan never even completed a treatment (essentially a detailed outline), much less a first draft of a script. Even then, that was through an interview Morgan did after he departed the Bond project. Oh, and by the way, it turned out Morgan didn’t believe in the 007 character.

OK, Morgan is a big-name screenwriter. But why publicize it so early, until you at least had some work to look at?

The Sam Mendes tease: Way back in January 2010, the Deadline Web site said Mendes had been hired as a consultant as a prelude to becoming Bond 23’s director. He couldn’t officially be designated director until MGM was ready to make a first payment for the film (and MGM was in severe financial trouble).

Later that month, Mendes was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Did he come clean? Hardly. In that interview, Mendes said it was “just speculation” that he’d direct Bond 23. That was an interesting statement, given Mendes’s own publicist told a U.K. newspaper that Mendes had indeed had talks about Bond 23 with Eon.

Oops. We, of course, know now it was hardly specualtion. Mendes’s own ex-wife, actress Kate Winslet, spilled the beans in a December 2010 interview that Mendes was directing. She was even moving to London so Mendes could be with his kids. Maybe he’s a good father, but it would seem he needs to work on his honesty in press interviews.

Hey! Don’t forget about me!: Eon apparently has decided to leave it up to some cast and crew members to make their own Bond 23 announcements. Eon and MGM said in January of this year that the film was finally on. That press release mentioned Mendes (finally), star Daniel Craig and the new screenwriting team of Purvis, Wade and John Logan.

Left out? Dame Judi Dench, who has played M in the 007 films since 1995, wasn’t mentioned. So, in late January, Dame Judi told the BBC she was indeed going to reprise the role.

Meanwhile, a big name behind the camera, director of photography Roger Deakins, told anybody who could find his Web site in a May 1 posting that he’d photograph the film. Deakins is considered one of the best directors of photography in the industry but that news was handled as an afterthought.

Clearly, Eon bosses Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have work to do and seem to like their privacy. Also, MGM’s quick trip to bankruptcy court last year complicated matters. But in the early 21st Century, big movies are marketed long before their release dates.

Warner Bros. already is using the Internet to publicize its next Batman film due out in the summer of 2012. Daniel Craig made a trip to last year’s San Diego comic book convention — which studios use to publicize upcoming films — to promote his Cowboys and Aliens movie coming out this summer. By contrast, Bond 23’s marketing and distribution of news has been much more haphazard.

Bond 23 to be released Nov. 9, 2012, Eon and MGM say

Agent 007 is officially out of limbo. Bond 23 has a Nov. 9, 2012 release date and production of the movie will start late this year, Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. said in an e-mailed release on Jan. 11.

The production company and studio, the latter fresh out of bankruptcy court, confirmed Daniel Craig is returning and Sam Mendes is directing. One tidbit of news: the script will be by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan.

Logan hadn’t been mentioned previously. Eon’s last word on the story was when it said Purvis and Wade would collaborate with Peter Morgan, but Morgan left the project without actually writing a script (while gabbing plenty about how he never really cared for the Bond character).

Logan, a 49-year-old, Chicago-born screenwriter, has credits including 2007’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and 2000’s Gladiator.

No title was disclosed. Still, the release confirmed the obvious, especially concerning Mendes, whose ex-wife Kate Winslet had publicly confirmed the director was working on the film. Eon had suspended Bond 23 “indefinitely” last year because of MGM’s financial ills, which climaxed with with its trip to bankruptcy court where creditors exchanged debt for equity in the studio.

MGM also tipped its hand in bankruptcy court filings that it wanted Bond 23 to come out in November 2012. It remains whether the other part of the studio’s 007 plan — that Bond movies resume coming out every other year — comes to pass.

Bond 23: everybody’s talking except for Eon and Sam Mendes

All of a sudden, lots of people are talking about Bond 23, except for the people who’d actually supervise the making of the film: the co-boss folks of Eon Productions, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.

Exhibit A: David Arnold, composer of five 007 films, says in an interview on Comingsoon.net that Bond 23 is starting to gear up. Arnold told the Web site that, “We only just got the news that we’re back on. But ‘there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip’ So I will keep quiet until I get a script and then start writing ideas.’

Exhibit B: Actress Kate Winslet, in an interview with the U.K.’s Daily Mail newspaper, said she’s moving to London for a period so she and her children can be close to her estranged husband, director Sam Mendes, the presumed director of Bond 23.

Sam is doing the next Bond film, all being well, and we’ll all be in England if that happens. It’s such a massive commitment for him and it’s not fair for him to commute backwards and ­forwards to New York from ­London. It would be impossible. The children will be there with me,’ Kate told me (the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye) exclusively.

Exhibit C: Peter Morgan, who earlier disclosed this year he never got around to actually writing a Bond 23 script after a few months on the project.

Let’s recap: MGM said in bankrutpcy court filings it wants Bond 23 to come out in November 2012 and future 007 films to come out on an every-other-year schedule. One Eon contract employee (Arnold) says Bond 23 is back on, though he hasn’t gotten a script yet. And the soon-to-be-ex-wife of the man reported to be Bond 23’s director says she’s moving herself and the kids so the would-be director can visit his children on a regular basis while Bond 23 is being filmed.

Still silent: Wilson and Broccoli (but that’s no surprise because they rarely talk to the press except when it’s time to promote a Bond movie) and Mendes, who’s never said himself that he’s going to be the director. Stay tuned, there’s probably more Bond 23 nonsense ahead. Once MGM actually gets out of bankrutpcy court (its reorganization plan having already been approved by the court), things will probably start popping.

UPDATE: The Deadline Web site run by Nikki Finke has gotten into the act WITH A BREATHLESSLY WORDED POST BY TIM ADLER. It starts thusly:

There’s still no official word. But I’m hearing from 007 insiders that production should start on the next James Bond movie — “Bond 23” — towards the end of next year for release November 2012.

Deadline’s report might seem more substantial if a) MGM hadn’t already laid out the November 2012 in bankruptcy court; b) David Arnold hadn’t already said the same thing *publicly in an on-the-record interview*; and c) Kate Winslet hadn’t already spilled the beans, also in an on-the-record interview.

By the way, insiders tell us the sun will rise in the East tomorrow.

Bond 23: Trying to read a crystal ball

With so little hard data on Bond 23, what’s a 007 fan to do? Check the news for a sign — any sign — what may happen.

Sam Mendes, the would-be director of Bond 23 is splitting up with wife Kate Winslet. One obvious conclusion: that must mean there’s no chance that Winslet will be cast as the lead female character in Bond 23. Of course, neither Mendes nor Eon Productions has actually said that Mendes will be Bond 23’s director. So this talk may be way premature. But it’s natural.

What’s going on with the bidding for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.? Oh yeah, the second round of bids are due on Friday, March 19. Given that MGM controls half of the Bond franchise, it would seem that not much can happen until MGM’s fate is settled. But who really knows? It’s not like either MGM or Eon has actually said very much. Given the serious situation with MGM, that’s understandable but doesn’t make it easy for outsiders to figure out what’s happening.

On a related note, will the MGM auction process really settle anything? Maybe, maybe not.

Christine Granville movie in the works (UPDATE)

christine-granvilleAccording to the Daily Mail Online, a film project about the life and career of famed war-era British spy Christine Granville is in the works. Granville, in actuality a Polish countess named Krystyna Skarbek, was awarded The George Medal for her work with Britain’s Special Operations Executive, and was known as “Churchill’s favorite spy.”

Here’s the James Bond connection — she was a lover of Ian Fleming’s, and thought to be the inspiration for Casino Royale‘s Vesper Lynd. The movie Vesper, Eva Green, is said to be in the running for the part, as is Kate Winslet.

Read the whole story RIGHT HERE at the Daily Mail’s website.

POSTSCRIPT June 6:
Now going under the (working) title of Christine: War My Love, the project is listed at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com). Slated for release in 2010, you can follow its progress RIGHT HERE.