Spy entertainment to watch in 2014

It’s only a few days before the near year. So it’s not too early to think about spy-related entertainment coming up in 2014.

Daniel Craig during the filming of Skyfall

Daniel Craig during the filming of Skyfall


Bond 24 begins filming: The 24th 007 film produced by Eon Productions probably will go into production toward the end of the year to meet is October (U.K.)/November (U.S.) 2015 release date.

There’s not much hard information, other than Daniel Craig is back as Bond, Sam Mendes is again directing and John Logan is writing the script.

Ralph Fiennes, whose Mallory became the new M at the end of 2012′s Skyfall, TOLD REUTERS IN A DEC. 24 STORY that, “I know nothing, I’ve not been told anything, I have no information, no dates, no sense of the journey of my character at all! I don’t!”

If Bond 24 follows the same path as Skyfall, casting details will dribble out, though not be confirmed initially. With Skyfall, the casting of Fiennes, Naomie Harris and Javier Bardem were all reported long before the movie started principal photography in November 2011.

U.N.C.L.E. movie (probably) arrives in theaters: Director Guy Ritchie’s movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. wrapped production the first week of December. Warner Bros. hasn’t publicly announced a release date but there’s certainly enough post-production time for a fall 2014 release.

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer (Art by Paul Baack)

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer
(Art by Paul Baack)


The movie, starring Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer as Illya Kuryakin, will be the first U.N.C.L.E. production since the 1983 television movie The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which reunited Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, the stars of the original 1964-68 television series.

The film will also be a test whether there’s a mass audience in the 21st century for U.N.C.L.E., a “utopian” spy concept in which agents from opposing sides in the Cold War could unite against common menaces. The movie will be set in the 1960s, the same as the original show.

Mission: Impossible 5 starts production: Tom Cruise is back for a fifth time as the star of a Mission: Impossible film, which will be released at Christmas 2015. Cruise had been slated to star in the U.N.C.L.E. movie as Solo but dropped out as M:I 5 (which his production company produces) developed. That move gave the opening for Cavill’s casting in the U.N.C.L.E. movie.

Cruise’s most recent M:I film, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, was a hit while while paying homages to the original 1966-73 television series, while the original 1996 movie turned Jim Phelps into a villain. Since then, Cruise has had his ups and downs. So he could use another financially successful M:I movie.

Golfinger’s 50th anniversary: 1964′s Goldfinger turned Bond into a worldwide phenomenon. Dr. No’s 50th anniversary got a lot of attention, in part because Skyfall was coming out. It’ll be interesting to see if Goldfinger’s golden anniversary draws attention.

Welcome back, Ian Fleming

It took a while, but finally 007′s creator is getting a little attention during the 50th anniversary year of the cinematic James Bond.

On April 29, Eon Productions conducted a press conference in Istanbul. It was almost six months after the early November press conference to kick off filming of the 23rd James Bond movie. Fleming, without whom the “Bond wagon” of the past half century would not be possible, hasn’t been mentioned much. Sam Mendes, the director of Skyfall, spent some time talking about the author of the original Bond stories.

Here’s the account BY SKY NEWS about the April 29 event:

Speaking in Istanbul where the new film is currently shooting, the Oscar winner said he had gone back to the original novels to look at the troubled psyche of the MI6 agent.

“What Fleming created was a very conflicted character,” he told reporters.

Here’s a quote from Daniel Craig in a Reuters story on the Web site of the Vancover Sun describing what he and Mendes discussed:

“But we couldn’t shut up. It was a chance for us to reread Ian Fleming, and we started emailing each other, ‘What about this and what about this?’, and that’s how it snowballed.” (emphasis added)

Finally, here’s a A STORY BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS VIA THE HUFFINGTON POST:

“You always go back to the Fleming because the character Fleming created over a number of novels was incredibly complex,” Mendes said Sunday at a news conference in Istanbul, where the crew of “Skyfall” has filmed.

“Some people sometimes forget in the cliche of Bond, which is the international playboy, and someone who’s always untroubled, and almost never breaks a sweat, that actually what (Fleming) created was a very conflicted character,” said Mendes, who was joined by cast members, including Bond actor Daniel Craig.

Until now, we’ve heard how wonderful Daniel Craig is, how wonderful Sam Mendes is, how wonderful Barbara Broccoli is. We’ve heard catchphrases like “Bond with a capital B” and “the money’s all up on the screen.” But we’ve heard very little about the author who actually created James Bond and whose tales were adapted, relatively faithfully, for five of the first six movies of the film series.

Could this be manipulative? Perhaps. Craig talks in 2012 about he “reread Ian Fleming” when he said IN 2008 that Fleming titles mean “very little.” That suggests Craig perhaps didn’t read the Fleming stories that closely where titles such as Live And Let Die, From a View to a Kill and Octopussy were explained.

Even if that’s the case, it doesn’t matter. Without Fleming, none of this is possible. Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman would be forgotten movie producers. Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli might have been successful, but probably not as movie producers. Sean Connery, Roger Moore and other James Bond actors wouldn’t be quite as famous as they’d end up being.

It remains to be seen whether Skyfall will be true to Ian Fleming. And, as we’ve noted before, being true to Fleming has multiple interpretations. But, at least for one day, a long-dead author got a little recognition in an anniversary year that wouldn’t have been possible without him.

007 and Aston Martin: development of a myth

When Prince William and his bride pulled out of Buckingham Palace in an Aston Martin convertible, it didn’t take long for people to make the connection between the royal couple’s ride and 007. The Reuters news service (Ian Fleming’s one-time employer) ran a video it called James Bond moment for royal newlyweds. Meanwhile, some 007 fan Web sites wrote up the connect such as THIS EXAMPLE

No question, Aston Martin is viewed as 007′s ride. Bond driving an Aston Martin is a modern myth, one that thrived for decades. But the original connection was much more modest.

In Fleming’s 1959 novel Goldfinger, Bond drove an Aston Martin DB III from MI 6′s car pool. “Bond had been offered the Aston Martin or a Jaguar 3.4. He had taken the D.B. III. Either of the cars would have suited his cover — a well-to-do, rather adventurous young man with a taste for the good, the fast things of life.”

Richard Maibuam introduced the DB V model in his first draft of the screenplay for the 1964 film. However, he took it out in his second draft in favor of a Bentley, the literary Bond’s preferred personal car, according to film historian Adrian Turner, who reviewed all of the film’s drafts for a 1998 book. The DB V returns in later drafts by Maibaum and Paul Dehn. John Stears, the film’s special effects man, added various extras not in the novel.

Goldfinger, of course, was a big hit and the Aston Martin was one of the movie’s attractions. The DB V returned in Thunderball. Different Aston Martin models could be seen in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever (a visual joke in the background in a shot of Q talking to Bond on the telephone), The Living Daylights, Die Another Day, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

Some authors of Bond continuation novels have tried to equip 007 in different rides. Raymond Benson’s 1997-2002 run included Bond in a Jaguar. Jeffery Deaver’s upcoming Carte Blanche, a reboot of the literary 007, features the agent in a Bentley. There’s a special limited-edition of the new novel that plays up the Bentley connection.

None of that, though, is likely to shake the association between Bond and Aston Martin. The royal wedding on April 29 is just another example:

UPDATE: We’re reminded that the DBV (or DB5, depending on your preference) also appeared in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies, even though the main “Bond cars” were BMWs. In Raymond Benson’s novelizations of the films, we’re told Bond bought the car for his personal use after MI 6 was had decided to sell off the car.

Ian Fleming’s heirs try to extend another franchise

Ian Fleming Publications, run by heirs of the 007 author, have commissioned a sequel to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Fleming’s children’s story about a flying car.

In a story by the Reuters news service (which was also Fleming’s employer in the 1930s), we learn this:

James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s other famous invention, the magical car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, is set to fly again with the publication of a new series of adventures by children’s author Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Fleming’s estate, which has already found success with authorized spinoffs of the James Bond series, has decided to re-launch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with three new novels, the first of which is due for release on November 4.

“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again” will be published in Britain by Macmillan Children’s Books and set in the present day.

The Los Angeles Times, in its Jacket Copy weblog, did a follow up YOU CAN READ BY CLICKING HERE. We first noticed all this at the Book Bond Web site WHICH YOU CAN SEE BY CLICKING HERE.

Here’s our question: Would Ian Fleming Publications be able to have an open auction for the film rights? 007 producer Albert R. Broccoli formed a company separate from Eon Productions to make the 1968 musical version of the story. Eon was involved in a stage production of the story several years ago.

Eon has had a right of first refusal on the continuation novels that Ian Fleming Publications has commissioned over the years. Eon hasn’t used any continuation novel as the basis of a 007 movie but has also prevented any other film company from doing so. But could Fleming’s heirs have an open competition for the film rights to sequels? We don’t know. But it will be interesting to watch.

Jeffrey Wright tells Reuters 007 films have `independent movie’ feel

Reuters caught up with Jeffrey Wright, the most recent screen Felix Leiter, to discuss a new play he’s working on in New York, “A Free Man of Color.” The story is mostly about the play but Wright makes an observation or two about the Bond franchise.

Yet even in the film world, there is enormous variety, and contrary to what one might think, not all big-budget films are commodities, he emphasizes. “I’m part of a wonderful franchise, the Bond franchise,” having played CIA agent Felix Leiter in “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace.” “That’s about as big-budget as they come, but it feels like an independent movie when we’re on the set.”

Here’s how Reuters describes Wright’s newest role and current project:

(T)he 44-year-old actor is now playing a flamboyantly preening ladies’ man named Jacques Cornet in early-19th-century French New Orleans.

The world of “A Free Man of Color” is peopled with broadly drawn, larger-than-life locals as well as historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis, James Monroe, and Napoleon Bonaparte. This stylized, panoramic comedy-interspersed-with-tragedy is a story of manipulation, intrigue, and lots of adultery, in a place where the races intermingle freely.

To read the entire story, which is on The New York Times’s Web site, JUST CLICK HERE.

MGM watch: studio gets another debt extension, Reuters says

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. said today in an e-mailed press release it got another extension for repaying its debt, this one lasting until Oct. 29. Here’s the start of a STORY BY REUTERS that reported the news:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer [MGMYR.UL] said on Wednesday that its lenders agreed to extend a deadline for debt payments as the film studio prepares to be handed over to film company Spyglass Entertainment.

A source familar with the matter said last week that the founders of Spyglass signed a nonbinding letter of intent to take over MGM, which is struggling with about $4 billion of debt after being bought out in 2005.

Nothing new about the possible Spyglass deal in today’s announcement, much less whether (as fans hope), it will get Bond 23 out of its current state of limbo.

UPDATE: Nikki Finke weighs in on her Deadline site which YOU CAN VIEW BY CLICKING HERE. She sounds as tired of these debt extensions as most Bond fans.

Lazenby doesn’t care about Bond 23 woes, details sexual conquests, Reuters says

George Lazenby attended a screen of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in Los Angeles and took questions from fans this week. One of them concerned how Bond 23 is in limbo because of financial troubles at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. Reuters, the news service that once employed Ian Fleming, chronicled what happened next:

But when he was asked during a Q&A for his thoughts on the future of the Bond franchise, he was decidedly blunt.

“Y’know, I couldn’t give a s***,” he said, to much laughter during an exchange that following a screening of the film.

He also talked about what got him the role, making him the first film actor after Sean Connery to play 007.

“Too bad I couldn’t act, but it was fun,” Lazenby said, explaining that his arrogance and sure way with women helped get him the coveted role previously held by Sean Connery.

Asked about his sexual conquests during his glory days, the former model said, “I don’t want to brag too much, but at least one a day.”

Lazenby said co-star Diana Rigg wasn’t one of them.

He described her as “a tough nut,” who warned him against sleeping with so many women on the set. A chill set in once she caught him rolling about with a hotel receptionist on a mattress used by stuntmen, he recalled.

You can read the entire story BY CLICKING HERE.

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