Happy 88th birthday, David McCallum

David McCallum in a Man From U.N.C.L.E. publicity still

Today, Sept. 19, is David McCallum’s 88th birthday.

He’s almost the last man standing from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Robert Vaughn is gone. So is Norman Felton, the producer who met with Ian Fleming in 1962. So is Sam Rolfe, who took the Felton-Fleming ideas and put them into a script. Many of the actors are gone, including Leo G. Carroll.

Earlier this year, Richard Donner, who directed the first U.N.C.L.E. episodes to prominently feature McCallum’s Illya Kuryakin character, also passed away.

There’s not a whole lot that needs saying. McCallum had a great career. He still has many fans who admire him. Happy birthday. We’ll leave it at that.

Happy 87th birthday, David McCallum

David McCallum in a Man From U.N.C.L.E. publicity still

Today, Sept. 19, is David McCallum’s 87th birthday.

There’s not a whole lot that needs saying. He’s had a great career. He still has many fans who admire him. Happy birthday. We’ll leave it at that.

Happy 86th birthday, David McCallum

David McCallum in a Man From U.N.C.L.E. publicity still

Today, Sept. 19, is David McCallum’s 86th birthday.

There’s not a whole lot that needs saying. He’s had a great career. He still has many fans who admire him. Happy birthday. We’ll leave it at that.

Happy 84th birthday, David McCallum

Sept. 19 is the 84th birthday of David McCallum, who seems busy as ever.

In 2016, he had Once a Crooked Man: A Novel published. He continues to appear in the NCIS series. And over the weekend, he celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary.

Below, we present an advertisement from McCallum’s days as Illya Kuryakin during The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Here the actor, evoking his U.N.C.L.E. image as the agent from the Soviet Bloc (“enigmatic agent,” as it says in the ad), is pitching U.S. Savings Bonds.  Happy birthday, Mr. McCallum.

 

1960s ad with David McCallum, playing off his image as Illya Kuryakin, pitching U.S. Savings Bonds

Craig to be paid $250K per episode for Purity: Variety

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

Daniel Craig, the current James Bond, will make an estimated $250,000 per episode for the Showtime limited series Purity, Variety said.

The estimate is contained within a package of stories about escalating star salaries for television, on broadcast, cable and premium channels.

Purity is Craig’s main project for 2017. (The actor hasn’t said whether he’ll be back for Bond 25.) It will consist of 20 episodes , with half to be telecast in 2017, the remainder in 2018. The actor also is an executive producer of Purity and Variety doesn’t specify if that’s part of the $250,000 per episode figure.

While a handsome figure, Craig’s estimated pay isn’t at highest level for television stars.

Mark Harmon, star of NCIS, which has run for more than a decade on CBS, receives an estimated $525,000 per episode. Lauren Graham and Alexis Biedel of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life on Nexflix get $750,000 an episode for a run of four 90-minute installments. It’s a continuation of a 2000-2007 series. The stars of The Big Bang Theory on CBS receive an estimated $1 million per episode.

Variety said it “conducted a wide survey of actors, executives, attorneys, agents, managers, and other representatives in an effort to offer a snapshot of the earnings power of talent at all levels in primetime, late-night, daytime, and news.”

Stories by Variety include a piece about movie stars flocking to TV projects and how soaring salaries for stars are rattling TV.

Thrilling Cities, the series?

Ian Fleming's Thrilling Cities book

Ian Fleming’s Thrilling Cities book

Actor Michael Weatherly’s production company is trying to turn Ian Fleming’s Thrilling Cities book into a television show, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The story is mostly about Weatherly’s impending departure from the popular NCIS television series and Thrilling Cities only gets a passing reference.

“In the meantime, however, Weatherly said he’s busier than ever with his production company, Solar Drive Productions, which is working on turning the book Thrilling Cities, from James Bond author Ian Fleming, into a possible series,” the story by THR’s Kate Stanhope reads.

Thrilling Cities was a non-fiction book by Fleming. It was based on a series of stories he did for The Sunday Times about important cities around the world.

“Fleming saw it all with a thriller writer’s eye. From Hong Kong to Honolulu, New York to Naples, he left the bright main streets for the back alleys, abandoning tourist sites in favour of underground haunts, and mingling with celebrities, gangsters and geishas,” according to a summary on the Ian Fleming Publications website.

Fleming’s short story 007 in New York was included in the U.S. edition of Thrilling Cities. The author had a harsh opinion about New York City and the short story was a bonus for American readers.

In 1962, there was an attempt to turn Thrilling Cities into a television series. The result, ended up being The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series.

Craig Henderson’s 1962 page for his U.N.C.L.E. Timeline website notes that producer Norman Felton was asked to read galleys of the upcoming Fleming book concerning whether it could be made into a TV show.

At a meeting, “Felton rejects the possibility of developing a TV series from Thrilling Cities — but he’s inspired to ad lib an idea about a mysterious man who travels the world on sensitive secret missions,” according to Henderson’s website.

That was the genesis of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Fleming himself was involved with U.N.C.L.E. from October 1962 until mid-1963 before withdrawing under pressure from 007 film producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.

Also of note, one of Weatherly’s co-stars on NCIS is David McCallum, who played Illya Kuryakin on U.N.C.L.E. Irony abounds.

McCallum says he won’t be in U.N.C.L.E. movie

Robert Vaughn and David McCallum in an U.N.C.L.E. publicity still.

Robert Vaughn and David McCallum in an U.N.C.L.E. publicity still.


Thanks to @Laneyboggs2001 who posted a link to the interview on Twitter.

David McCallum, in an INTERVIEW ON THE MEDIA MIKES WEB SITE that he won’t make an appearance in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie now being filmed.

Here’s the key excerpt:

MS (MIKE SMITH): Final question, and I understand if you can’t answer it: next year marks the 50th Anniversary of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” Do you have any involvement in the upcoming “U.N.C.L.E.” film?

DM: No, right now I have nothing to do with that. It’s a whole new venture. But now that you tell me it’s the 50th Anniversary next year I’ll have to set aside a nice bottle of wine and open it. Maybe I’ll save it until the movie comes out.

As noted before, McCallum is busy doing the Los Angeles-based NCIS series. The U.N.C.L.E. movie, directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, is based in the U.K. To read the entire interview, CLICK HERE.

McCallum might be too busy for U.N.C.L.E. movie cameo

David McCallum in 1965 publicity still with Thrush women, including Sharon Tate

David McCallum in 1965 publicity still with Thrush women, including Sharon Tate

Thanks to @Laneyboggs2001 who pointed out the Omaha article to this blog via Twitter.

David McCallum, the original Illya Kuryakin and who was scheduled to be in Omaha ON NOV. 9 for a special showing of The Great Escape, gave an INTERVIEW to the Omaha World Herald. The interview suggests, but doesn’t definitively say, he might be too busy to do a cameo for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie.

The 80-year-old actor is busy on the NCIS series, a Los Angeles-based production, while the movie’s home base is Warner Bros. Leavesden studio in the U.K. Here’s an excerpt:

Q. What’s the shooting schedule like?

A: It’s an eight-day shoot (for each episode). This week I’m on set four of eight days. I’ve done 7.5. Normally it’s two or three.
(snip)

Q. What’s life like when you’re not shooting the series or jetting off to Omaha?

A. There’s not much else. I do get to New York to see my children and grandchildren. It’s a busy world, and I’m a busy person. I also do voiceover work for video games and cartoons.

Q. Any projects on the horizon you want to talk about?

A. I’ve got 18 or 19 more “NCIS” shows to do (this season). That’s pretty much it.

If there was an NCIS episode where McCallum’s Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard character doesn’t appear that much, the actor could conceivably jet over for an U.N.C.L.E. cameo. However, time is starting to draw short; the Guy Ritchie-directed U.N.C.L.E. movie, starring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, will wrap production sometime next month.

Of course, if the cameo were voice over only, the logistics might be less complicated. Also, it’s possible the actor is simply being cagey.

Robert Vaughn, who played Napoleon Solo in the 1964-68 series, said in AN OCTOBER BIRMINGHAM MAIL STORY he had gotten feelers about a cameo. Vaughn is already in the U.K. for a stage production of 12 Angry Men. There’s been no news whether a Vaughn cameo has, or will, occur.

Happy 80th birthday, David McCallum

mccallum

When you got it, you got it.

There’s a lot this blog could say about the remarkable career of David McCallum. THIS POST LAST YEAR on the eve of his 79th birthday sums it up nicely.

McCallum continues to enjoy a long run as a supporting player on NCIS and he’s still fondly remembered for playing Illya Kuryakin on The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

McCallum has had his share of tragedy and triumph in real life. He continues to please audiences and is the embodiment of being a professional.

Happy 80th birthday, Mr. McCallum. Here’s one of his more obscure credits, an appearance on the Juke Box Jury game show with music by John Barry:

Happy 79th birthday, David McCallum

David McCallum, left, in all of his U.N.C.L.E. glory as Illya Kuryakin

For many actors, there are periods of few jobs. David McCallum, who turns 79 on Sept. 19, always seems to keep working.

It has been almost 30 years since he last played U.N.C.L.E. agent Illya Kuryakin (in the 1983 television movie The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), but McCallum never seems to lack for work over a long career. In fact, his current gig, in a supporting role on NCIS, has lasted more than twice as long as his turn as Kuryakin (1964-68 excluding the 1983 TV movie).

The Scotsman transcended the “sidekick” role. There were other sidekicks on TV shows whose popularity rivaled or even exceeded that of the lead character (Rowdy Yates on Rawhide or Kookie on 77 Sunset Strip come to mind). But McCallum’s Illya Kuryakin went a step further.

McCallum appeared, in character, as host of Hullabaloo, introducing musical acts and dodging assassination attempts by enemy agents. At the end, two women “agents” get him in handcuffs, arousing an, er, interesting reaction among women McCallum fans.

All of that was a chance to get some extra work. On The Man From U.N.C.L.E., McCallum, by all accounts, was a true professional. Also, the actor made the best with lines like this one: “No man is free who works for a living. But I’m available.”

The Kuryakin character was created by Sam Rolfe, who scripted the pilot episode of the series and was producer of the show’s first season. But much of the character was developed by writer Alan Caillou in four key episodes: The Quadripartite Affair and The Guioco Piano Affair (the first significant use of the Kuryakin character); The Terbuf Affair (which actually revealed background about Robert Vaughn’s Napoleon Solo); and The Bow-Wow Affair (the first Kuryakin-centric story, which included the “no man is free” line). It didn’t hurt that star Vaughn was concurrently pursuing a PhD and didn’t mind the occasional break from the grind of filming.

McCallum has had his share of tough times. His first marriage to actress Jill Ireland ended in divorce and an adoptive son died of an accidental drug overdose. And the Illya Kuryakin has been a mixed blessing AS DESCRIBED IN A 1998 NEW YORK TIMES STORY.

Still, McCallum keeps working. He can even enjoy the occasional in-joke about his former life as U.N.C.L.E.’s ace Russian operative: