The Playlist says Burns may go uncredited on NTTD

Scott Z. Burns

The Playlist, which originally reported that Scott Z. Burns was recruited to do a rewrite on No Time to Die, says in a Dec. 4 story that the scribe may, indeed, go uncredited.

Here’s an excerpt:

“True Detective” and “Beasts of No Nation” director, Cary Joji Fukunaga, is set to direct the film along with sharing co-writing duties with longtime Bond film screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, and recent Emmy winner Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Scott Z. Burns did a rewrite too, but with five writers originally credited, someones gotta go) (emphasis added)

The Writers Guild of America will have the ultimate say. However, there are a number of writers contending for a credit for a limited number of writing credit slots for the 25th James Bond film. The others include Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, director Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

The Playlist reported in February that Burns, a noted “script doctor” had been hired to work on No Time to Die.

We’ll see what the final writing credit is after an arbitration by the union.

Scott Z. Burns apparently bumped from NTTD writing credit

Scott Z. Burns

Script doctor Scott Z. Burns, once hailed as coming in to overhaul No Time to Die’s script, isn’t listed as one of the film’s screenwriters in a new press release.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer sent a press release to outlets, including the MI6 James Bond website. MI6’s story, which includes updated credits from the press release, says the writers are listed as the writing team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, plus director Cary Fukunaga and scribe Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

In April, during a “reveal” event in Jamaica, those writers and Burns were listed as writers of the film. An April 25 press release listed the writers as “Neal Purvis & Robert Wade, Scott Z. Burns with Cary Joji Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge,”

Burns was also mentioned the same day in a tweet from the official 007 account.

That was then.

According to the Screen Credits Manual of the Writers Guild:

“Written by” credit generally will not be shared by more than two writers. In unusual cases, and solely as the result of arbitration, the names of three writers or the names of writers constituting three writing teams may be used.

That means there weren’t enough credit slots available. Purvis and Wade count as one writing entity because they’re a writing team. Two more slots were available. What’s more, the guild says a credit arbitration is automatic when “three writers are proposed for ‘Written by’ or ‘Screenplay by’ credit.”

Back in February, The Playlist reported that Burns had been hired to rewrite the script. “It’s an overhaul and I won’t be surprised if Burns is ultimately given first screenplay credit,” Rodrigo Perez of The Playlist wrote. That story was published before it was known that Waller-Bridge was also working on the project.

It remains to be seen whether the writing credit in today’s press release is the final version.

Meanwhile, the press release also said Christoph Waltz also is in No Time to Die’s cast. He played Blofeld in SPECTRE. Presumably, he’s reprising the role given the new film is tethered to SPECTRE. The casting announcement confirmed an April 25 tweet by Rodrigo Perez that Waltz was coming back.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge talks to BBC about No Time to Die

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Phoebe Waller-Bridge downplayed the extent of her script work for No Time to Die in an interview with the BBC.

“They were just looking for tweaks across a few of the characters and a few of the storylines,” Waller-Bridge told the BBC.

The writer-actress said her hiring by itself didn’t represent a big change in the way women are depicted in the Bond film series.

“They were already doing that themselves,” the BBC quoted her as saying.

“They’re having that conversation with themselves the whole time. It (her involvement) was much more practical. Just, ‘You’re a writer, we need some help with these scenes. And you come up with some dialogue for these characters’.”

Waller-Bridge was one of a number of writers who worked on the 25th James Bond film. Others include series veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade as well as “script doctor” Scott Z. Burns.

However, Waller-Bridge has a higher profile because she starred in Fleabag, a streaming series she created. She recently walked off with three Fleabag-related Emmy awards.

What’s more, some outlets have played up her contributions as critical. The Daily Mail, in a September story, quoted an executive it didn’t identify as saying she was “the savior of Bond, really.”

In the BBC interview, Waller-Bridge said she was first approached by Bond producer Barbara Broccoli.

“We met for coffee and then a few months later we met again,” Waller-Bridge told the BBC. “And then I met the director Cary Joji Fukunaga and then I met Daniel (Craig) after that. But I know Daniel and Barbara had been talking about it for while.”

TWINE’s 20th: A transition for Bond

Cover to the original soundtrack release of The World Is Not Enough

Adapted and updated from a 2014 post.

The World Is Not Enough, the 19th film in the 007 film series made by Eon Productions, marked a transition.

Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli hired a director, Michael Apted, with little experience in action movies. Apted was brought on because of his drama experience.

Apted also was charged with increasing the female audience for a Bond film.

“I didn’t understand why they picked me to do (The World Is Not Enough),” Apted told The Hollywood Reporter in an October 2018 interview.

“It turned out, they were trying to get more women to come and see it,” Apted said. “So, we really wanted to do a Bond with a lot of women in it. I was right person because I’d done a lot of successful films with women in them. But they didn’t tell me that until right before we started. When I found out, I finally understood.”

The producers also hired a new writing team, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, to develop the story. They’re still in the world of 007 20 years later.

The script development established a pattern the duo would soon be familiar with. They delivered their script, which would be reworked by other writers. In the case of The World Is Not Enough, Dana Stevens, Apted’s wife, revised the story. Another scribe, Bruce Feirstein, worked on the final drafts. Purvis, Wade and Feirstein would get a screen credit.

Meanwhile, Judi Dench’s M got expanded screen time, something that would persist through 2012’s Skyfall. The film also marked the final appearance of Desmond Llewelyn as Q. John Cleese came aboard as Q’s understudy.

Pierce Brosnan, in his third 007 outing, was now an established film Bond. In interviews at the time, he talked up the increased emphasis on drama. In the film, Bond falls for Elektra King, whose industrialist father is killed in MI6’s own headquarters. But in a twist, Elektra (played by Sophie Marceau) proves to be the real mastermind.

Q’s Good-Bye

The movie tried to balance the new emphasis on drama with traditional Bond bits such as quips and gadgets, such as the “Q boat” capable of diving underwater or rocketing across land. Some fans find the character of Dr. Christmas Jones, a scientist played by Denise Richards, over the top.

Sometimes, the dual tones collided. Cleese’s initial appearance was played for laughs. In the same scene, however, Q, in effect, tells Bond good-bye in what’s intended to be a touching moment. It was indeed the final good-bye. Llewelyn died later that year as the result of a traffic accident.

The movie was a financial success, with $361.8 million in worldwide box office. Broccoli and Wilson, meanwhile, would return to the idea of increased drama in later entries after recasting Bond with Daniel Craig.

Bond 25 questions: The mid-year edition

We’re almost halfway through 2019. That’s as good a reason as any for the blog to ask some new questions about Bond 25.

What do you make of the (apparently) discarded title A Reason to Die?

The MI6 James Bond website sniffed out that A Reason to Die was the tentative title for Bond 25. But Eon Productions after conferring with its studio partners decided not to proceed with it the night before an April 25 live stream event from Jamaica.

What the blog wonders is why did it take so long to make that decision? Or, put another way, was the live stream event scheduled before said studio partners (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal among them) weighed in?

Back in 2015, Eon’s Michael G. Wilson said the production company devises the marketing while the studios executes those plans.

So, was A Reason to Die an Eon initiative? Were MGM (handling U.S. distribution for Bond 25) and Universal (handling international distribution) not in the loop until the last minute? Or was the situation more complicated?

Where did A Reason to Die come from anyway?

Edward Biddulph of the James Bond Memes website wrote on Twitter the title may stem from the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service novel.

Specifically, in Chapter 5, The Capu, Marc-Ange Draco tells Bond, referring to his daughter Tracy: “Will you help me save this girl? It is my only chance, that you will give her hope. That you will give her a reason to live. Will you?”

Is that a big deal?

It’s hardly the most significant Ian Fleming reference available. Fleming short titles (Risico, The Hildebrand Rarity, The Property of a Lady and 007 in New York) haven’t been used. However, plot elements from Risico were used for 1981’s For Your Eyes Only. Ditto for The Hildebrand Rarity in 1989’s Licence to Kill (plus a passing reference to the name Hildebrand in 2015’s SPECTRE). Also, plot elements from  The Property of a Lady showed up in 1983’s Octopussy.

What’s more, there are chapter titles from the Fleming novels that might be worth considering. Still, veteran 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are known for mining small details from Fleming. They were the first screenwriters on Bond 25. It’s possible A Reason to Die fits their original script.

So what happens next?

When Prince Charles visited the Bond 25 set at Pinewood Studios earlier this month, Daniel Craig told him that filming on the production was about one-third complete.

There’s no teaser trailer yet, although a promotional video was released this week. A teaser trailer may be out sooner than later and we may get a title — A Reason to Die or something else — at that time. As usual, we’ll see.

Waller-Bridge says 007 ‘relevant,’ films must evolve

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

The character of James Bond remains “relevant” while the 007 film series needs to treat women properly, Bond 25 screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge said in an interview with Deadline: Hollywood. 

“There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not [the Bond franchise] is relevant now because of who he is and the way he treats women,” Waller-Bridge told Deadline. “I think that’s bollocks. I think he’s absolutely relevant now.

“It has just got to grow,” she added. “It has just got to evolve, and the important thing is that the film treats the women properly. He doesn’t have to. He needs to be true to this character.”

The Deadline story contains some of Waller-Bridge’s most detailed comments about Bond 25. She has been interviewed a lot recently, with most of the stories concerning the second season of her streaming series Fleabag.

Waller-Bridge’s involvement with Bond 25 became known in April. In the Deadline interview, she complimented star Daniel Craig and said the movie’s story is in good shape.

“When I saw (Craig’s) Bond for the first time, there was a wryness to his performance that I really loved,” the writer-actress told Deadline. “So, I was really excited about writing dialogue for him. I mean, the script was there. It’s already there. I think it’s unfair to say that I’m writing the script.”

Besides Waller-Bridge, Bond 25’s roster of writers includes Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Scott Z. Burns.

Baz strikes with Bond 25 plot spoiler

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Like it says in the headline, it’s a spoiler so stop reading if you don’t like them.

Bond 25’s story line concerns “genetic warfare” and one reason scribe Phoebe Waller-Bridge was hired was to “boil it down,” the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye reported.

Bamigboye quoted a studio executive as saying:

“The movie’s premise is genetic warfare, which is fascinating — but you gotta boil it down and make it accessible”

Bamigboye didn’t identify the executive or say which studio he works for. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is 007’s home studio. A joint venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures will distribute Bond 25 in the U.S. while Universal will release the movie internationally.

“And that’s why Phoebe was hired,” the scribe quoted the executive as saying. “She has somehow made sense of it.”

The Daily Mail scribe didn’t provide many additional details.

An Eon Productions press release last month said the story involves “a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.”

A number of writers, also including Neal Purvis and Robert Wade as well as Scott Z. Burns, have also worked on the script.

The Mail on Sunday reported in April that Waller-Bridge had joined the roster of writers. But the MI6 James Bond website said earlier this month that Waller-Bridge had begun work earlier.

Bamigboye has had a number of Bond stories proven correct this decade. Among them was a March 2017 story that Purvis and Wade had been hired to start work on Bond 25’s script.