Bond 26 questions: The Variety interview edition

A previous Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

So, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson gave an interview to Variety. The Eon Productions duo again said James Bond won’t return to theater screens soon and they’re looking for the next actor to make a long-time commitment.

However, there were other interesting tidbits. Naturally, the blog has questions.

How many Bond films will get made during an actor’s “10-, 12-year commitment”?

That’s the kind of commitment the Eon pair said they’re looking for from a new Bond actor. But at the current rate of production, that might only be three films. The Eon series had only two entries — Skyfall and SPECTRE — during the entire decade of the 2010s.

Yes, there were external factors, including Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s bankruptcy in 2010 and COVID-19 in 2020. But some of the gaps were self-imposed, including putting off the development of what became No Time to Die to try and get Daniel Craig back for another movie.

Will Bond 26 with a new actor really be that much different than Craig’s run?

One passage in the Variety story suggests not.

Both Wilson and Broccoli, who is a director of the U.K. chapter of women’s advocacy org Time’s Up, have left their mark on Bond, particularly in humanizing the once-womanizing spy and ensuring more fulfilling, meatier roles for the female stars of the franchise. These are qualities that will continue in the next films, says Broccoli. (emphasis added)

What are they up to in the interim?

Barbara Broccoli is one of the producers of Till, a fact-based film about the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955 and its aftermath. It’s due out next month. Wilson “has written a TV show that the duo are looking to set up,” according to Variety. And both are involved in producing an Amazon streaming show 007’s Road to a Million. That is currently in production, Variety says. Amazon also owns MGM.

Producers talk to Variety about casting next Bond

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson

The next James Bond actor has to be in it for the long haul, producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson told Variety in an interview.

“And when we cast Bond, it’s a 10-, 12-year commitment,” Broccoli said. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh yeah, it’d be fun to do one,’ Well. That ain’t gonna work.”

Wilson told Variety: “It’s a big investment for us, too, to bring out a new Bond.”

Eon’s most recent Bond actor, Daniel Craig, was cast as Bond in 2005 when he was 37. His five-film run as Bond ended with 2021’s No Time to Die. That film ended with Bond being blown to smithereens in a sacrifice play for his wife, Madeline Swann, and daughter.

Variety conducted the interview in late August. At one point, the producers said it’s early days for the search. Broccoli again said Bond 26 won’t go into production soon. “(I)t’s going to be a couple of years off.” 

There was also this exchange:

Even in this interview, when asked whether (MGM owner) Amazon might ask for a narrative Bond TV show, Wilson notes, “We’re trying to keep it theatrical,” and Broccoli swiftly retorts: “Well, we’re gonna keep it theatrical. We’re not going to try; we’ve got to do it. It’s just a theatrical franchise.”

Licence to Kill treatment: Bond meets Q

Timothy Dalton gunbarrel

Continuing the blog’s examination of a March 1988 treatment by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson for Licence to kill. The treatment was provided by Gary J. Firuta.

After Bond sees Sanchez, Bond and Pam go back to their hotel.

The two briefly discuss the layout of Sanchez’s office. “We have a problem,” Bond says. “Sanchez is up there behind two inches of armored glass. I’d need a cannon to get him.”

What follows is similar to the final film. Upon arrival, Bond is told by the concierge that his uncle is waiting for him in his suite. “Bond tells Pam to wait in the lobby while he investigates,” the treatment says.

Bond goes to the room, rings the bell, “then flattens back against the wall beside the door and poses to karate strike if necessary.”

Q opens the door. He is “all rigged out for a Caribbean vacation.” In the movie, Desmond Llewelyn wore a suit for the scene.

Initially, Q tells Bond he’s on leave and decided to spend it with the agent. “Q finally confesses it was Miss Moneypenny who kept tabs on him.”

Q then tells Bond that Moneypenny has “been mad about him for years.”

‘”Really?’ Bond exclaims, pretending surprise. Bond says he’s in no mood for a vacation and Q had better enjoy himself somewhere else.”

Q “then confesses” he’s present without M’s knowledge. Q also says Leiter was his friend too. (Obviously, this happened offscreen.)

As in the final film, the treatment has Q showing Bond the gadgets he’s brought, including the “denonite” toothpaste and the disguised signature gun.

Pam enters. The dialogue in the treatment is a bit different than the movie.

“Just who is this Uncle?” Pam asks. “For that matter who are you?”

“Just civil servants,” Bond replies.

“Like Leiter, only English,” Pam says.

TO BE CONTINUED

Licence to Kill treatment: Blackjack

Timothy Dalton gunbarrel

The blog continues its examination of a 1988 treatment by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson for what would become Licence to Kill. The treatment was provided by Gary J. Firuta.

Lupe answers the summons from Sanchez as Bond is adding to his winnings at the blackjack table at Sanchez’s casino.

Sanchez “points to Bond” on a closed-circuit television screen. Lupe “recognizes Bond at the blackjack table.” Lupe “conceals her reaction.” Sanchez instructs Lupe to “chat Bond up and get to know him.”

Bond, meanwhile, “continues playing and winning.” At the same time, “Several of the orientals, including Kwang and his beautiful young Asian companion, Loti, are now watching him play.”

Lupe enters. Bond “tells dealer he’s taking a break, rises, and asks Pam to hold his seat or him.”

Pam knows “nothing about blackjack except what she picked up watching Bond.”

Bond leaves the private gambling room with Lupe following him.

Bond is seated at a bar while Lupe “joins him hesitantly.”

According to the treatment, “Her natural inclination toward him conflicts with her fear of Sanchez.”

Lupe tells Bond she is “afraid Sanchez might somehow learn about the episode on Krest’s yacht. She begs him to leave.”

That’s not Bond’s style. “He asks her where Sanchez is,” the treatment reads.

“Upstairs in his penthouse office,” Lupe replies. “He’s getting ready for some kind of a big meeting tomorrow and a party afterward.”

Bond isn’t ready to retreat. He wants Lupe to take him to Sanchez.

“Are you loco?”

The treatment says, “He reassures her, says he has important information for Sanchez who will be pleased with her for bringing Bond to him.”

Lupe takes Bond “reluctantly” to a self-service elevator.

Bond and Lupe ride the elevator up. Bond “promises her that somehow he will reunite her with her family.”

When Bond gets out of the elevator, he is relieved of his Walther PPK and his passport by Sanchez thugs (Perez and Braun).

Bond says he has come to see Sanchez. “Perez takes Lupe into Sanchez,” the treatment says.

TO BE CONTINUED

Licence to Kill treatment: Pam changes her hair color

Licence to Kill’s poster

Continuing the blog’s examination of a 1988 treatment by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson for what would become Licence to Kill. The treatment was provided by Gary J. Firuta.

Bond and Pam go to a bank in Isthmus City. They are “appropriately dressed” and meet with the bank manager.

Pam “is now a stunning blonde.”

Bond wants to open an account with an initial deposit of $5 million. He tells the bank manager there will be additional monthly deposits. “Responding to the manager’s questions, he says he is an independent entrepreneur specializing in Investment Opportunities. Presently he is on an extended holiday with his confidential secretary.”

Bond also arranges a credit line of $2 million at Sanchez’s casino.

“The manager assures him there will be no difficulty with that,” the treatment says. “The bank’s chairman also owns the casino.”

Bond and Pam arrive at the casino in “a chauffeured driven Rolls Royce.” Both are well dressed.

What follows is a description of the casino and its clientele. The building is five stories tall “surmounted by a flag pole and a large satellite dish.” The patrons are “handsome and obviously well heeled.”

Bond and Pam “are taken into a private gambling salon reserved for big betters.”

The treatment says the betters include “the oriental group Bond saw at the airport.” The gathering “has one or two members from Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, and an impressive-looking Chinese from Hong Kong. We later learn he is named Kwang.”

As in the final film, Bond informs the pit boss he wants to play blackjack at a private table. What follows is a description of what’s happening upstairs. Sanchez is watching “a telethon fundraising for the Oaxaca Bible Institute.”

The program is hosted by “an evangelist couple, Deedie and Joe Butcher, who reminds us you know who.”

Presumably, this is a reference to Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, who had a popular evangelist program, The PTL Club, in that era. Jim Bakker got into big legal problems in 1988 and 1989. In the final film, we only saw Joe Butcher, who was played by Wayne Newton.

Meanwhile, Chicago underworld types are watching the same program. “Big Boss Benjy reacts angrily” to how Sanchez is using the show to make bids for the drugs.

“The program is obviously not only an appeal for charitable contributions but to also announce prices and receive orders for cocaine,” according to the treatment.

Back at the casino, Bond now wants to play with no limit. The treatment provides more details of how the supposedly religious telecast is part of Sanchez’ empire.

The treatment describes Bond playing blackjack at the private table.

“Bond is obviously not the pigeon the pit boss thought he was,” the treatment reads. “The ten thousand dollar plaques are piling up in front of Bond. Pit boss tells Sanchez the Englishman has recouped and is 200 thousand up.” Presumably, that is $200,000.

Sanchez calls up Lupe who is “bored, leafing through a magazine in the sitting room of a penthouse suite….Sanchez tells her she wants him.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Licence to Kill treatment: Pam’s backstory

Timothy Dalton gunbarrel

The blog continues its examination of a 1988 treatment by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson for what would become Licence to Kill. The treatment was provided by Gary J. Firuta.

After a night of bliss, Pam and Bond are still on the cigarette boat. At dawn, Bond is awakened as the engines come to life. Pam is “in her leather vest and jeans again.”

“You found the reserve tank,” Bond says.

“Driving Cigarette boats is my profession,” Pam replies. “It’s the vessel of choice for short haul smuggling.”

And what of long-haul? Bond asks.

“Planes. I used to fly Air America for the CIA. Guns, people, money, whatever was needed. That’s how I met Leiter.”

Pam later went free lance. She was hired by Dario for a job. Pam thought it meant smuggling “Mexican illegals into Texas. They turned out to be Colombian hit men. I got indicted. I helped Leiter while he was trying to nail Sanchez. He said he’d get me off if I did.”

In any case, Pam is going to help get Bond to Sanchez.

Back in London, similar to the final film, M criticizes Moneypenny for frequent typos on a memo. She’s worried about Bond.

M spots a telex on Moneypenny’s desk. It says that Bond cleared immigration at Bimini on his way to Isthmus City.

M asks who ordered the surveillance. Moneypenny admits she did. “I thought you’d want to keep track of his movements, sir.”

“Whatever he’s doing has nothing to do with this office,” M says. “I’ve told you that before.” M goes back into his office.

Moneypenny rings up Q but in the treatment, the line is slightly different. “Q, Moneypenny here, are you free for lunch?”

The treatment shifts to Isthmus City. There’s a detailed description of Bond’s arrival. At one point, Bond sees various people who’ve come in on a private jet including “six men from the Far East.” The group exits through a side gate by customs officials are are “whisked away in limos.”

“Pigeons Sanchez is bringing to his casino,” Pam says.

Bond later arrives at a suite in a posh hotel. A bell boy sets down heavy suitcases and asks what is in them.

“Money”, Bond says “jocularly.” “I don’t believe in banks.”

Bond tips the bell boy “lavishly.”

Bond checks out the beds of the suite.

“Don’t get any ideas,” Pam says. “Last night was pure lust.” She adds that getting Sanchez will be difficult without mixing up sex into the proceedings.

Bond opens one of the suitcases loaded with cash.

“Whose is it?” Pam asks.

“Sanchez’,” Bond replies. He hands her some cash.

Similar to the final film, Bond issues some instructions.

“Buy some clothes. You’re now my executive secretary…Start acting the part. Say, ‘Yes, Mr. Bond.'”

Pam “gives him a dirty look,” the treatment says. Pam says, “I should always trust my first impressions.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Licence to Kill treatment: Bond buys a boat

Licence to Kill’s poster

The blog continues its examination of a 1988 treatment by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson for what would become Licence to Kill. Thanks to Gary J. Firuta who provided the treatment.

Bond has gotten a lead in his quest to seek revenge against Franz Sanchez. But how will he make a key meeting?

At the marina in Key West, Bond encounters “a sportsman” who “works on a cigarette boat.”

Bond asks if he can rent the boat.

“No way,” the man responds.

Bond asks if he can buy the boat.

“More than you got, wise ass.”

Bond tells him to name his price. “Sportsman thinks Bond is a nut,” the treatment says.

“Okay. A hundred grand.”

“Does that include a full tank of petrol?” Bond asks. Bond “pulls cash out of his pockets and hands it to the astounded sportsman.”

What follows is similar to the final movie with some differences.

“Bond’s cigarette boat is tied up with small craft around the Barrelhead, a disreputable cafe. Bond enters and looks around. The place is a hangout for smugglers and other waterfront low-life. Three bored strippers go through the motions without attracting much attention.”

Bond asks to see “Bouvier,” and a bouncer “gestures toward a shadowy figure alone at a corner table behind a bottle and two glasses.” It’s Pamela, the woman Bond met at Leiter’s. She is wearing jeans, shirt and a padded vest. Her hair “is held by a headband.”

“An unexpected pleasure,” Bond tells Pamela. “For a moment I didn’t recognize you.”

“My work clothes,” Pamela responds. She gestures for Bond to sit down. She says the bottle contains, “Local rot gut.”

Bond “beckons” a waiter and orders his trademark vodka martini. “No fancy drinks,” the waiter says. “You take it the way it comes.”

Bond and Pamela compare notes. Then, as in the film, Sanchez’s thug Dario enters. Dario and his fellow thugs go up to the table where Bond and Pamela are sitting. A fight quickly ensues.

At one point, “Dario grabs the bottle of rot gut and raises it to clobber her,” according to the treatment. “Bond, who has drawn his PPK, hits him with the butt. Dario crashes to the floor.”

It’s more complicated than that, of course. The description in the treatment is very similar to the finished film. Pamela blasts a hole in the wall and she and Bond depart. Dario shoots Pamela in the back but she survives thanks to her bulletproof vest (the word “Kevlar” is not mentioned).

“What the girl who has everything needs,” Bond says.

“Mother said never to be without it,” Pamela responds. “Where are you going?”

The answer is the airport as part of the next step of his quest for Sanchez.

As in the final film, the boat runs out of fuel. Pamela complains about her clothes being wet. She changes into “a terry cloth robe too large for her.”

“I had you pegged all wrong,” Pamela tells Bond. “When you came in I thought you were a chauvinistic wimp about to get his ass kicked.”

“What do you you think now?” Bond asks.

“You didn’t get your ass kicked. I’m keeping an open mind about the rest.”

Pamela “leans over him. The robe opens.”

Bond “reaches up and draws her down to him. They kiss. He starts to roll her over.”

“Careful, I have a bruised back, remember?” Pamela says.

She “sits up and reverses their positions,” according to the treatment.

“I see I have to teach you some new tricks,” Pamela tells Bond.

“Surprise me,” Bond says.

TO BE CONTINUED

Licence to Kill treatment: Krest ‘brays with laughter’

Timothy Dalton’s gunbarrel

The blog continues its examination of a 1988 treatment by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson. Thanks to Gary J. Firuta for providing it.

M is by himself when he enters the house James Bond is renting.

When asked about his resignation message, Bond replies it’s a personal matter.

“There’s nothing personal in our business,” M says. “Has it something to do with Leiter?”

As in the final film, M tells Bond to leave the matter to the Americans and that Leiter had taken a risk in the line of duty. “And his wife?” Bond says.

M tells Bond he’ll keep his telex “in my pocket.” Bond’s license to kill is revoked and he’s to have no contact with Her Majesty’s government. “In three months if you’re clean I’ll tear up your resignation. Otherwise I’ll sack you.”

Bond thanks M. The MI6 chief goes to the door and “seems on the verge of softening.” Instead, M “growls,” saying, “Take care, James,” and departs.

In the final film, this sequence would be more elaborate. M would be accompanied by security personnel and Bond has to fight his way out.

Later, Bond and Jericho on the latter’s fishing boat have caught up with Milton Krest’s yacht, the Wavekrest. Bond uses field glasses to observe activity on the deck of the Wavekrest. Lupe, in a bikini, sees Bond and waves. He waves back. Krest, using binoculars, observes Bond and then glances at Lupe. “Get her below,” Krest tells his men. “And keep those fishermen away.”

Lupe is forced below and there’s a voice on a loudspeaker. “Stand off. Divers at work.”

Back at the Key West hospital, Leiter is still unconscious. Authorities are taking inventory of the havoc Bond caused at Krest’s warehouse. The fire department, in answering the false alarm Bond made, saw indications of drug activity and notified the DEA. Five hundred kilos of cocaine were discovered. One guard’s body was found in a tank of electric eels. Another guard was suffocated in the maggot incubator. Also found: pieces of a body in the shark pen tentatively identified as Killifer.

“In the bed, we see Leiter has regained consciousness,” the treatment says. “A slight smile indicates he has heard.”

The scene switches back to Bond and Jericho. It’s now night. Bond is in scuba gear. Jericho hands Bond a knife. “You find Sanchez, give him some for me.”

Much of what follows is very similar to the final film. Bond is underwater observing an underwater craft launched by the Wavekrest. Aboard the yacht, a “mildly drunk” Krest (he seemed a lot more drunk in the movie) is putting the moves on Lupe. Bond eventually gets on board the yacht and finds Lupe.

However, in the treatment, Bond is captured and brought to Krest.

By this time, Krest is “sobered up.” Under questioning, Bond tells Krest that he “was out for a moonlight swim, got a cramp and climbed aboard to recover.”

Krest “gestures for his boys to beat Bond up,” the treatment says. “They knock him around brutally.”

Things get worse. Krest’s scuba divers commandeered Jericho’s fishing boat and he is “obviously dead.”

“Friend of yours?” Krest asks Bond. Krest “brays with laughter.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Licence to Kill treatment: A knock on the door

Licence to Kill’s poster

Continuing the blog’s examination of a March 1988 treatment by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson. Thanks to Gary J. Firuta.

Felix Leiter is seriously wounded and his bride, Della, is dead. James Bond observes the authorities investigating the crime scene.

Bond picks up a clue more easily than he would in the final film. Bond spots “a single diskette on the floor” and “pockets it” before the police see it.

Bond then goes to the Harbor Master’s office and “hands a message written on a telex form to a pretty girl operator.”

The message begins, “Urgent to Universal Exports, London.” The operator then remarks, “The rest is gobbledygook. What are you? Some kind of secret agent?”

“Just terminating a contract,” Bond replies. “Don’t want the competition to get wind of it.”

Jericho, Leiter’s friend, is waiting for Bond outside the office. Jericho tells Bond how difficult it is to find large sharks. “Ask the boys over at Krest’s. His business is selling rare fish to zoos and aquariums all over the world.”

Bond asks Jericho if Krest keeps sharks. “Great big ones,” Jericho replies. “In a pen under his warehouse.”

In the finished film, things wouldn’t be that easy. Bond and Sharkey visit a number of places looking for possibilities where Leiter may have been attacked. Bond talks to Milton Krest and spots a carnation on the floor, which tells the agent this is where the attack occurred.

In the 1988 treatment, Bond and Jericho pay a visit to Krest’s place, with Jericho piloting his fishing boat and towing “a tarp-covered dory on a long rope.” Bond is under the tarp and, with some trouble, enters the warehouse.

What follows is similar to the final film, including tossing a guard into a bed of maggots. “The guard’s body heaves among the maggots,” the treatment says.

Killifer, the DEA agent who accepted Sanchez’s bribe, gets the drop on Bond. But things go awry for Killifer and Bond gets the advantage. Killifer falls into the shark pen.

As Bond leaves, he pulls a fire alarm near the rear exit. Jericho is waiting outside in his fishing boat. As Bond boards, Jericho spots money in the water “amidst a cloud of blood.”

“Forget it,” Bond tells Jericho. “It’s blood money.”

The next morning, Bond is at a rented house. He’s on the telephone. Jericho, via other fishermen, has discovered Krest is on his yacht near the end of the Florida Keys. Bond will meet Jericho at his boat. Bond hangs up.

Then, there’s a knock on the door. It’s M.

“What’s this about resigning, Double-O-Seven?”

TO BE CONTINUED

1988: Licence to Kill treatment Part II

Licence to Kill’s poster

We pick up the 1988 treatment by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson after Felix Leiter has gotten married to Della.

The newlyweds drive off in a car. Meanwhile, Bond’s attention is drawn to “Pamela, standing alone further down the curb.” Bond attracts a cab and offers Pam a ride. “Thank you, no.”

Bond “accepts the rebuff with a smile and slight shrug, then gets into the cab,” the treatment says.

Meanwhile, Franz Sanchez is being questioned by Hawkins, Leiter’s associate, and Killifer. “a tough experienced D.E.A. agent.” As in the final film, Sanchez says he’s willing to pay $2 million to whoever helps him get away. Also, as in the final movie, Killifer makes a show of being offended.

Bond has made it to the “crowded wedding reception.” He encounters Della. “Obviously old friends she holds up the ring, laughing, says it took a long while but was worth it.”

Della asks Bond to get Leiter. Bond then finds Leiter in conversation with Pamela, who quickly exits.

From here, the treatment is very similar to the film, with Killifer helping Sanchez escape. We then go back to the wedding party as it is breaking up, with Bond one of the last guests.

Leiter tells Bond his honeymoon with Della will be a long one. Leiter is retiring, according to the treatment. “He’ll go partners with Jericho and he and Della will spawn a few sprats.”

After Bond leaves, Della says: “What’s this sprat stuff? Just a fish story or on the level?”

Leiter laughs and draws her closer. “Let’s find out. We’ll clean up, tomorrow.”

Things quickly go awry as Sanchez’s goons attack Leiter. Della is horrified as her husband slumps to his knees.

The treatment then shifts to Milton Krest’s Ocean Exotica Warehouse. Krest is described as “a burly, coarse, florid-faced American drug distributor.” Krest’s business, we’re told, is a front for drug operations. Killifer also is present.

As in the final film, Sanchez is going to get even with Leiter. “Sanchez castigates him for daring to think he could destroy him. To Sanchez he is nothing but a cockroach to be stepped on. But he can be useful as an example of what happens to those who stand in his way.”

As Leiter is about to get chewed on by a shark, he says, “See you in hell.”

Sanchez’s response is a bit longer than the final film. “Yes, a living hell. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

After the shark has attacked Leiter, Sanchez instructs Dario. “Pull him up,” Sanchez says. “I want enough left for his people to see.”

The next morning, Bond is at the Key West airport. He spots a newspaper headline: “COLONEL CRACK ESCAPES.” Bond quickly leaves and heads to Leiter’s bungalow. He finds Della’s body (the treatment specifies she has been strangled). He also discovers Leiter, his hair still wet, barely alive.

TO BE CONTINUED