1995: 007 convention, the sequel

Program for the 1995 James Bond convention in New York. Image courtesy of Steve Oxenrider.

Program for the 1995 James Bond convention in New York. Image courtesy of Steve Oxenrider.

In November 1995, James Bond was about to end a six-year hiatus from the screen in GoldenEye. So, a few days before its U.S. premiere, the second — and final — James Bond convention produced by Creation Entertainment was held in New York.

On Nov. 12, 1995, fans again traveled at attend an officially sanctioned 007 convention. The new Bond, Pierce Brosnan, put in an appearance as did other members of the cast.

What follows are by no means the only highlights. But they may be interesting to those who couldn’t make it.

Bond quiz: Like the 1994 convention in Los Angeles, the 1995 edition featured a “beat the experts” session. Audience members tried to outfox a panel of 007 experts for fun and prizes.

I was among those who gave it a try. My question: Name the three Bond movies where Bond didn’t don a tuxedo.

After conferring, the panel answered You Only Live Twice and Live And Let Die but that there was no third film.

I replied something to the effect, “To that list you have to add From Russia With Love, where it’s Bond’s double who wears the tuxedo but not Bond.”

There was a momentary dispute but the moderator said I got the prize. He quickly grabbed a pair of 007 boxer shorts. I hesitated.

“Are you man enough?” the host asked. As a result, I came up and claimed the prize.

Screenwriter question: At one point, the schedule had to be altered on the fly. So, Eon Productions co-boss Michael G. Wilson and writer Bruce Feirstein came out to take audience questions.

Earlier that year, writer Donald E. Westlake, in a column in The Indianapolis News, said he was writing the next Bond film after GoldenEye. It was the only place I had ever seen that news. So I got in line to ask about it.

My memory is that Feirstein was the first to talk, looking at Wilson and asking, “He is?” Wilson’s said something to the effect that Westlake might end up writing for Bond some day.

Many years later, more details have emerged about the late author’s Bond writing effort, which is to be issued as a novel with Bond removed from the proceedings.

The new Bond: Pierce Brosnan, naturally, was the star attraction. Anticipation for his appearance had been building throughout the afternoon. At one point in the program, the GoldenEye titles were shown.

By the time Brosnan appeared, fans came were ready with more than just good wishes. They came with presents. Lots of presents. The pile of presents grew and grew the longer Brosnan spoke.

One can only guess what Brosnan was feeling. The role had almost been his nine years earlier. Now, he had it. The convention was a reminder there’s a whole lot more that accompanies playing James Bond that just a (hefty) paycheck.

Then it was over. For whatever reason, Creation Entertainment didn’t produce future Bond conventions. Bond was back, however. The two conventions had done what they were intended to do, helping revive interest in Agent 007.

An image of the New York convention is below. Thanks to reader Steven Oxenrider who provided it.


Schedule for the 1995 007 convention, image courtesy of Steve Oxenrider.

Schedule for the 1995 007 convention, image courtesy of Steve Oxenrider.


The real question about Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

UPDATE (9:15 a.m.): Updated with another quote and a link to another video in sixth paragraph below.

Daniel Craig’s public appearance at the New Yorker Festival has come and gone without definitive answers about Bond 25 and his future as 007. But it raised a new, and probably more important, question.

How tired is the 007 film franchise? Is it a momentary slump? Or is a deeper exhaustion?

The James Bond Radio website HAD A POST that INCLUDED A SHORT VIDEO of the Craig appearance. It includes this passage:

“There’s no conversation going on because genuinely everybody’s just a bit tired,” Craig, 48, said. “The producers are just…Barbara (Broccoli) is making a movie. I’m doing Othello, Barbara’s producing that.”

The Broccoli movie is the drama Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, now in post-production. Othello is an off-Broadway production, which has a short run starting next month. When that play is over, Craig will spend much of his 2017 working on Purity, a limited, 20-episode series for Showtime.

One shouldn’t make too much about a couple of comments. Also during the evening IN A VIDEO IN ANOTHER TWEET, Craig also said of playing Bond, “Were I to stop doing it, I’d miss it terribly.”

Still, the way Craig said “just a bit tired” made it sound like he still hasn’t recovered fully from SPECTRE, which wrapped production in mid-2015.

Meanwhile the co-bosses of Eon Productions, who don’t do a lot of interviews, have reason to be tired as well.

Both Broccoli, 56, and her half-brother Michael G. Wilson, 74, have been involved with the series for decades. Both have been at it longer than Eon co-founder Albert R. Broccoli, who spent the last 35 years of his life in Bondage.

If this is a short-term thing, it’s not much of an issue. But if it’s a deeper exhaustion, there are larger concerns than whether Daniel Craig does another James Bond film or not. If Craig comes back all excited to go, it doesn’t mean much unless the rest of the creative team is equally enthusiastic.

Only Broccoli and Wilson can answer the question. All we know is everybody’s a bit tired almost a year after the most recent 007 film was released.


Will the Daniel Craig 007 soap opera take it up a notch?

Daniel Craig in a pose worthy of Orson Welles.

Which way will you turn, Daniel? Which way will you turn?

The James Bond soap opera, As Daniel Craig Turns, may ratchet it up a notch. Or not.

In six days, the 48-year-old actor is scheduled to appear at The New Yorker Festival in a program titled “Beyond Bond.”

Craig is to talk for 90 minutes with the magazine’s Nicholas Schmidle.

After all these months of speculation whether Craig will make a fifth Bond film, Schmidle almost has to ask the actor the question. The New Yorker, afterall, is a high-brow journalistic operation and one of the most prestigious in the United States.

If the award-winning journalist didn’t ask the obvious, it might put a dent in his reputation. Also, when you tease your program by calling it “Beyond Bond,” you’re practically advertising you intend to ask.

Assuming the question arises, that doesn’t mean Craig has to answer, of course. He’s been known to give curt answers to the entertainment press. Some of his fans love that aspect about the star, saying they love watching him befuddle the scribes.

Still, Craig’s appearance at The New Yorker might mean we finally hear him address his Bond future.

The appearance comes as a high-ranking member of Eon Productions, Callum McDougall, told the BBC this week that Craig is still Eon’s top choice as 007. McDougall is one of the main deputies of Eon co-bosses Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.

That interview prompted Vanity Fair to post a snarky article titled Everybody but Daniel Craig Wants Another Daniel Craig Bond Film. Vanity Fair noted Craig’s interview (originally published by Time Out London) where he said he’d rather slash his wrists than do another 007 movie.

Of course, that interview was done shortly after SPECTRE wrapped up filming. Doing another Bond film was likely the last thing Craig wanted to think about.

Nevertheless, Vanity Fair previously reported Craig’s remarks angered the head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Eon’s partner in the Bond franchise.

In the newest Vanity Fair article, Yohana Desta opined, “But for the love of Bond fans and poor, rich, tormented Daniel Craig, please make a decision soon, Broccoli.”

Cue the background music. Maybe the As Daniel Craig Turns soap opera will reach a climax. Or maybe not.

Which way will you turn, Daniel? Which way will you turn?

Craig remains first choice as 007, Eon crew member says

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

Daniel Craig is still the first choice of Eon Productions to play James Bond, a long-time crew member on the 007 films TOLD THE BBC.

“We would love Daniel to return as James Bond,” Callum McDougall said today on the BBC’s Today program.

Craig, 48, “absolutely, without question” is the top choice of Eon co-bosses Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, McDougall said.

“I know they’re hoping for him to come back.”

The main significance wasn’t so much what was said as who said it. McDougall is one of the main deputies for Broccoli and Wilson.

McDougall, has been a production manager on the film series since 1995’s GoldenEye. He added the title of co-producer for 2002’s Die Another Day and executive producer starting with 2006’s Casino Royale. (In films, executive producer is a secondary producer title, while on television it’s the title for the top producer or producers.)

McDougall’s association with the series goes back to The Living Daylights where he had the title of additional assistant director. He was upgraded to second assistant director for Licence to Kill.

Craig has had the Bond role for the last four 007 films.


What is Wilson’s role in the 007 franchise?

Michael G. Wilson

Michael G. Wilson

Over the past year, a narrative has taken hold that it’s Barbara Broccoli who calls the shots for the James Bond franchise. Period. Full stop.

Perhaps the person most responsible for shaping that narrative is Sam Mendes, director of the past two 007 films, Skyfall and SPECTRE.

“It’s not the X Factor, it’s not the EU referendum, it’s not a public vote,” Mendes said in May at an event sponsored by The Telegraph, which ran a story about the director’s remarks. “Barbara Broccoli chooses who’s going to be the next Bond: end of story.”

The comments were picked up by the likes of Vanity Fair and the BBC, among others.

As a result, there’s the perception that Broccoli, 56, is the driving force of 007 land. Meanwhile, her half-brother, Michael G. Wilson, 74, doesn’t get mentioned much, even though the half-siblings are supposed to be the co-bosses of Eon.

In December 2014, when it was announced SPECTRE would be the title of Bond 24, Broccoli was present with Mendes but Wilson wasn’t. However, when the production shifted to Mexico in early 2015, Wilson was involved in publicity.

This weekend, the tabloid Mirror ran a story saying Guy Ritchie was in talks with Eon to direct Bond 24. One element that caught the blog’s eye was how the Mirror said Ritchie supposedly was meeting with Wilson, rather than Broccoli. (Note: we slapped the Caveat Emptor label on it.)

It’s hard to tell how accurate, or significant, the Mirror story is. It’s simply interesting that Wilson is being depicted as a major decision maker after the way Mendes made it sound as if nobody’s opinion except Broccoli’s matters.

Of late, stories about the 007 franchise discuss Broccoli but don’t get around to Wilson.

Wilson, since the 1990s, have periodically complained about the grind of making James Bond movies. That’s something his step father, Albert R. Broccoli, never said publicly.

Wilson has spent longer than anybody else working on the 007 franchise, even co-founder Cubby Broccoli. If Wilson were to retire tomorrow, nobody could argue that he wasn’t a major figure in 007 movies.

Neither Wilson nor Barbara Broccoli revel in publicizing Bond movies the way Cubby Broccoli did. Eon is a very private outfit, not wanting to open the curtain very much on its operations.

Still, the Mirror story (whether it was accurate or not) was a reminder that Wilson is a big wheel in the 007 franchise. It would be interesting to know whether Mendes is indeed correct about Barbara Broccoli’s 007 status or if reality is more complicated.

Caveat Emptor: Tabloid says Ritchie may direct Bond 25

Armie Hammer with U.N.C.L.E. movie director Guy Ritchie in 2013

Armie Hammer with U.N.C.L.E. movie director Guy Ritchie in 2013

Guy Ritchie is in talks to direct Bond 25, the tabloid Mirror said in a story this weekend.

The director purportedly had meetings with Michael G. Wilson, co-boss of Eon Productions, according to the tabloid.

As you might expect, the only person quoted isn’t identified.

“Guy has moved up the shortlist and is now the front runner,” the Mirror quoted an unidentified source as saying. “He’s meeting Michael (Wilson) this week to try to do a deal and see if they can agree on a shared vision for the film.”

The Mirror first raised the notion of Ritchie directing Bond 25 in a December story.

Reasons for the Caveat Emptor label concerning this newest story:

–The Mirror says, “Following on from the success of last year’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E, Guy caught the attention of the Bond team.”

What success? The $75 million production had worldwide box office of less than $110 million. Does Eon check out directors of flops as future Bond directors?

This blog had a positive review of the U.N.C.L.E. movie. But it was still a flop at the box office.

–The story depicts Michael G. Wilson as being actively involved. Given his status at Eon, that should be expected. However, over the past year, Barbara Broccoli has been depicted (by Sam Mendes, among others) as the driving force at Eon. Wilson hardly gets mentioned any more.

The Mirror story is a deviation from a story line that has taken hold for some time now. Wilson is concerned with the vision of Bond 25? Again, that shouldn’t be a surprise. However, supposedly, Barbara Broccoli deals with vision and is the only one who selects Bond actors.

Craig fans start petition for actor to remain 007

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

Some Daniel Craig fans have started an ONLINE PETITION AT CHANGE.ORG urging the actor to remain in the role of James Bond.

Here’s part of the text:

Daniel Craig’s portrayal of 007 is one of the best in all times and deserves the to be in top 3.If you are a fan of Daniel Craig and want to see him again as 007 this might be your last chance. Support this petition and share this with as many people you can. Tell Craig how much we love him and we want him back. This petition is certainly not to force him but to tell him how much we love him as 007. Even after all this he chooses not to come back then we honor his decision but we have to give a last shot right?

Craig, 48,hasn’t actually said he’s out as Bond. But Michael G. Wilson, co-boss of Eon Productions, said late last year the actor isn’t under contract for future 007 appearances. Craig has played Bond in four movies, most recently in 2015’s SPECTRE.

Neither Eon nor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is under any particularly urgency about Bond 25 right now. Also, MGM has yet to find another studio partner to actually release the movie.

Anyway, if you want to check out the petition, CLICK HERE.