Peter Morgan says his `big hook’ is part of Bond 23 script

Peter Morgan, the prestige screenwriter originally hired to write Bond 23, says the movie retains his “big hook,” according to an interview on the Digital Spy Web site.

An excerpt:

“I hear that an idea, the central idea, is still there but not one similar thing other than that. I think they’ve still kept the big hook, which I’m not going to tell you!” (Morgan) said.

Of course, this was the same Peter Morgan who declared in another interview that that James Bond is dated and didn’t sound like he particularly cared for the character.

Morgan dropped out after financial problems, would lead to a short stay in bankruptcy court, at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. forced Bond 23 to shut down for almost a year. When MGM and Eon put out a release early this year that Bond 23 was back on, it said the script would be written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan, with no mention of Morgan.

How much of this is hype, how much is real is anybody’s guess. But, from our standpoint, the hiring of Morgan — whose previous work is lathered in politics — was very suspect. His involvement is part of a broader trend where Eon seems desperate for prestige, rather than concerned about putting out an entertaining movie.

Peter Morgan, 007 fans hardly knew ye

Peter Morgan, screenwriter of Frost/Nixon and other prestige movies, joined a line of scribes such as Len Deighton and Anthony Burgess, who gave a try at writing a James Bond movie and couldn’t get it done. “The whole thing went to hell,” Morgan said in an interivew, published on the Indie Wire blog. “I’m so happy to be doing something else.”

Eon Productions put out a news release last year saying that Morgan would join Neal Purvis and Robert Wade in writing Bond 23. In the Indie Wire interview, which you can view for yourself starting around the 3:20 mark of the following video, Morgan says he “wrote a treatment, I never wrote a script…I went there with an orignial idea.” He never mentions Purvis and Wade.

Take a look for yourself:

In the next video, starting at the 0:15 mark, Morgan says the Bond is dated and “I’m not sure it’s possible to do it … I do think the absence of social reality in the Bond film…if they fix that, or they get that of if they get that in a script, which I’m so hoping they will, where you can actually believe in him, that he isn’t just a person in a dinner jacket…he is a creature of the Cold War, Bond….I just personally struggle to believe a British secret agent is still saving the world.”

Morgan goes on the praise Sam Mendes, the would-be director of Bond 23. You can see for yourself:

Eventually, the financial troubles at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., which controls half of the Bond franchise, caused Morgan to cease his efforts, which he clearly doesn’t seem sad about. The fate of Bond 23 won’t be decided until MGM’s future is resolved.

Some observations and specuation about Morgan’s comments:

— Prestige apparently means more to current Eon boss-people Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli than it did to master showman Albert R. Broccoli, Eon’s co-founder with Harry Saltzman. Broccoli relied on Richard Maibaum, at least for first drafts, while Saltzman tried to entice more prestigious scribes, such as Paul Dehn (on Goldfinger) and John Hopkins (on Thunderball) to revamp Maibaum’s early drafts. Deighton also did some work on From Russia With Love, according to U.K. film historian Adrian Turner, and Burgess was among a gaggle of writers that pitched ideas for The Spy Who Loved Me. But the old Eon seemed to keep it all in perspective (i.e. they didn’t let the search for presige bog down the screenwriting process) than the current crew.

— Morgan sounds like he was never highly interested in the world of 007. You half expect him to sound like Sebastian Faulks, author of a 2008 Bond continuation novel, that it might be a jolly good romp to try writing a Bond movie.

— This is another case why press releases shouldn’t be viewed as any more than the tip of an iceburg.