Sam Mendes watch: from Bond 23 to Oz prequel?

With Bond 23 being put on the shelf for who knows how long, there are now reports of Sam Mendes, the reportedly Bond 23 director-in-waiting, looking at other projects.

IF YOU CLICK HERE, you can read a story about Mendes may be directing a Wizard of Oz prequel.

UPDATE: THIS ENTRY IN A LOS ANGELES TIMES BLOG may have been where the Sam Mendes/Robert Downey Jr./Wizard of Oz prequel story may have started. An excerpt:

Several weeks ago we wrote that Joe Roth was meeting with newly anointed Disney production president Sean Bailey on a “Wizard of Oz” prequel about the wizard before he came to Oz.

Now we’re hearing that those meetings went well, so well that the project is on a fast track of sorts. According to word in the development community, Robert Downey Jr. is talking to producers about starring as the wizard (hard not to lick your lips at that one).

Meanwhile, two directors are said to be considered top candidates to get behind the camera: “American Beauty” director Sam Mendes (who may have some time on his hands now that “Bond 23” is in trouble) and “Hairspray” and “Bedtime Stories” director Adam Shankman, who most recently pulled the strings from behind the curtain at the Oscars.

(Downey’s and Mendes’ potential involvement, incidentally, were also mentioned earlier today in a tweet from Production Weekly.)

Meanwhile, The Guardian paper in the U.K. HAS A STORY saying that Mendes will direct a stage production of King Lear in 2012. An excerpt:

One of the most admired and bankable pairings in British theatre, actor Simon Russell Beale and director Sam Mendes, will return to the National Theatre in two years’ time for a production of King Lear. It’s their first work at the National since 1998, and Mendes’s first entirely British production since he left the Donmar Warehouse, the tiny London theatre where he forged an international reputation, in 2002.

Appropriate caveats: Mendes was never officially announced as Bond 23’s director, despite the number of reports LIKE THIS ONE or SUCH AS THIS ONE that he was close to be signed or was working on the film as a consultant in preparation for directing.
But the prospect had some Bond fans excited prior to this week’s annoucement that Bond 23 was being indefinitely delayed because of uncertainty surrounding ownership of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controls half the Bond franchise.