Spy Command participates in two podcasts

Spybrary podcast logo

The Spy Command was part of two podcasts in the past week.

The Spybrary podcast on July 31 featured an interview with me. Host Shane Whaley asked for my “dead drop five.”

I named a combination of TV shows and books, including The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible (the original TV series), and From Russia With Love novel and film as a joint entry. I also listed the Matt Helm series of serious novels (as opposed to the Dean Martin movies).

Shane and I have discussed this possibility for more than a year and it was fun to get it done. Shane also wants me to host a panel about U.N.C.L.E. in the future.

The Spybrary host followed up with an Aug. 5 podcast reviewing The Removers, the third Matt Helm novel by Donald Hamilton. It was one of the titles I had discussed on the July 31 podcast.

James Bond & Friends logo

Meanwhile, James Bond & Friends, produced by the MI6 James Bond website, is back with episode 0020, which came out on Aug. 6. This edition includes a new guest, Marcos Kontze of the James Bond Brasil website. I was there as well along with David Leigh of The James Bond Dossier, Ben Williams of MI6 Confidential as well as MI6 founders Paul Atkinson and James Page. A description from the MI6 website:

Observing the passing of David Hedison – two time Felix Leiter – we note how he became the first man to return to the role some 10 years later with the long-serving ally’s pivotal role in ‘Licence to Kill’. We continue by discussing Leiter and Bond’s relationship and how the re-casting has lead to some inconsistent characterisation. Along the way, we stumble on Leiter’s drinking habits, Felix’s faux pas, his Kennedy impersonation, Jack Lord’s moisturiser, Felicia Leiter, big livers, the martini olive scam, an ill-fated fishing trip, Le Chiffre’s undead exit, rewrites whilst boozing, and the Leiterverse.

Bond 25 questions: The mid-year edition

We’re almost halfway through 2019. That’s as good a reason as any for the blog to ask some new questions about Bond 25.

What do you make of the (apparently) discarded title A Reason to Die?

The MI6 James Bond website sniffed out that A Reason to Die was the tentative title for Bond 25. But Eon Productions after conferring with its studio partners decided not to proceed with it the night before an April 25 live stream event from Jamaica.

What the blog wonders is why did it take so long to make that decision? Or, put another way, was the live stream event scheduled before said studio partners (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal among them) weighed in?

Back in 2015, Eon’s Michael G. Wilson said the production company devises the marketing while the studios executes those plans.

So, was A Reason to Die an Eon initiative? Were MGM (handling U.S. distribution for Bond 25) and Universal (handling international distribution) not in the loop until the last minute? Or was the situation more complicated?

Where did A Reason to Die come from anyway?

Edward Biddulph of the James Bond Memes website wrote on Twitter the title may stem from the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service novel.

Specifically, in Chapter 5, The Capu, Marc-Ange Draco tells Bond, referring to his daughter Tracy: “Will you help me save this girl? It is my only chance, that you will give her hope. That you will give her a reason to live. Will you?”

Is that a big deal?

It’s hardly the most significant Ian Fleming reference available. Fleming short titles (Risico, The Hildebrand Rarity, The Property of a Lady and 007 in New York) haven’t been used. However, plot elements from Risico were used for 1981’s For Your Eyes Only. Ditto for The Hildebrand Rarity in 1989’s Licence to Kill (plus a passing reference to the name Hildebrand in 2015’s SPECTRE). Also, plot elements from  The Property of a Lady showed up in 1983’s Octopussy.

What’s more, there are chapter titles from the Fleming novels that might be worth considering. Still, veteran 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are known for mining small details from Fleming. They were the first screenwriters on Bond 25. It’s possible A Reason to Die fits their original script.

So what happens next?

When Prince Charles visited the Bond 25 set at Pinewood Studios earlier this month, Daniel Craig told him that filming on the production was about one-third complete.

There’s no teaser trailer yet, although a promotional video was released this week. A teaser trailer may be out sooner than later and we may get a title — A Reason to Die or something else — at that time. As usual, we’ll see.

A Reason to Die was B25’s tentative title, MI6 site says

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

A Reason to Die was the tentative title for Bond 25, the MI6 James Bond website said.

The title “was attached to Bond 25 right up until” April 24, the night before a livestream event from Jamaica revealing cast and crew members, the website said.

Eon Productions conferred with its studio partners and A Reason to Die was “considered weak and ‘not Bond enough’ and pulled from the event,” the website reported. “A title treatment had been created.”

Bond 25, due out in April 2020, will be distributed by United Artists Releasing (a joint venture between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Annapurna Pictures) in the U.S. and Universal internationally.

MI6 James Bond sent out this tweet on Wednesday night. It includes a red “X” and the April 24 date written in pencil.

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Reports based on the tweet alone then surfaced earlier today, including The Express and Esquire UK. The latter said it was skeptical MI6 James Bond was correct.

At the April event in Jamaica, Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson only referenced Bond 25. Wilson said he couldn’t remember the last time a Bond film had a title when filming began. A May 5 Haphazard Stuff video contrasted that statement with Eon media events held when filming began on earlier Bond films.

James Bond & Friends looks at the drinks of 007

James Bond & Friends logo

The 007th episode of James Bond & Friends takes on an appropriately epic topic, the drinks of 007. Included is how the literary Bond differs from the film Bond.

Taking the lead in the discussion is David Leigh of The James Bond Dossier. He is also author of The Complete Guide to the Drinks of James Bond. Here’s a description of the episode:

What were Bond’s drinking habits across the books and how do they differ in the films?

We discuss aspects of James Bond’s drinks and along the way we mull over the loss of local flavour, drinks missing from the films, Bond’s salad dressing recipe, chaining carte blanche’s, following 007’s trail in NYC, substitutions for illusive Kina Lillet (and how they blew a big marketing opportunity), how to mix a perfect Vesper, shaking versus stirring, brandless bourbon, Ian Fleming’s gin, and when eleven is too many. We round out by discussing our favourite real-world Bond locations we’ve visited.

James Page of the MI6 James Bond website hosted. The blog also participated, referencing this 007 mini-tour of New York.

James Bond & Friends discusses 007 actors

James Bond & Friends logo

The blog got to participate in episode 006 of the James Bond & Friends podcast produced by the MI6 James Bond website.

Various topics were discussed, including which films are most indicative for each Bond actor.

Here’s a description of the show. Some of the topics, as you might guess, were a little tongue in cheek:

With all quiet on the Bond 25 front, we assemble a panel to discuss a few timeless topics. Along the way we stumble on baby powder blue romper suits, film franchise formulas, MGM’s 40-year financial slump, more licenced clothing suggestions, ageing 80s tech, clown suits, dated visual effects, drinking on the job, CGI meddling, the Moonrakerization of John Gardner, and a plan to bankrupt the New Zealand government.

The other participants of this edition were: James Page and Paul Atkinson of the MI6 site (which also publishes MI6 Confidential) and David Leigh of The James Bond Dossier.

New James Bond & Friends podcast out

James Bond & Friends logo

The blog participated in episode 005 of the James Bond & Friends podcast, which was posted this week by the MI6 James Bond website.

Here’s a description of the episode:

We discuss the kind of Bond film we are hoping for from (Daniel) Craig and (Cary) Fukunaga, and expectations of a kick-off press conference any day now. Along the way we spoil the plot to several classics, uncover ‘stealth writers’ in our midst, curse local papers’ photo editors, highlight the dangers of impersonating the PM, run into a drag-queen doorman, muse on the leaky nature of past productions, banish Tarantino from the Bondverse, and stumble on a machine learning Bond film.

The other participants on the podcast were James Page and Paul Atkinson of the MI6 website; David Leigh of The James Bond dossier; and author Mark O’Connell.

Bond 25 questions: The Instagram edition

Cary Fukunaga, director for Bond 25

A picture is worth a thousand words, the old saying goes. So it was when Bond 25 Cary Fukunaga was photographed in Matera, Italy, on April 9.

The photo appeared on Instagram the same day. It was posted by Matera Guided Tours, aka “theprofessormiza.”

Naturally with a fan base starved for news about the next 007 film, the photo made the rounds on social media. So naturally, the blog has questions.

Wasn’t principal photography supposed to have been underway by now?

The MI6 James Bond website said Feb. 29 on Twitter that Bond 25 was scheduled to begin filming on April 5 at Pinewood Studios unless another delay occurred. This would have been after several days of filming in Norway in late March.

In the Instagram photo, Fukunaga has no crew with him. It certainly doesn’t look like any filming was underway. Also, according to local Italian press, Bond 25 won’t be filming in Matera until late summer.

So what was Fukunaga doing?

MI6 James Bond said today on Twitter that the director was “in Matera finalizing location details ahead of the planned late summer shoot.” (The tweet also had a detail some might consider a spoiler. I left it out of this post.)

Does the photo really confirm Italy is a location?

It’s reasonable to conclude that’s the case. But it should be noted that no one associated with the film has explicitly said this.

UPDATE (April 10): Matera Guided Tours posted another Instagram photograph — a copy of a local newspaper article (in Italian, of course) about Fukunaga’s visit to the area. It apparently is some kind of scouting/preparation trip.