Purvis & Wade: who loves ya, baby?

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis, going from Walther PPKs to lollipops.

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis, going from Walther PPKs to lollipops.

Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, having concluding a run of working on five James Bond movies, have been hired to script a Kojak film starring Vin Diesel, according to the Deadline entertainment news Web site.

Here’s an excerpt:

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is getting serious about Kojak, hiring the scribe team of Neal Purvis & Robert Wade to script a movie around the tough-talking, smooth scalped cop played by Telly Savalas on the CBS series. Vin Diesel, who just wrapped Fast And Furious 6 for the studio, will play the chrome-domed cop in the film, which he’s producing with Samantha Vincent for their Universal-based One Race Films.

The original 1973-78 series originated with a made-for-TV movie called The Marcus-Nelson Murders that first aired in March 1973. That original project was scripted by Abby Mann, an Oscar winning screenwriter, and directed by Joseph Sargent. It gave Telly Savalas, normally cast as villains (including 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), a chance to play a sympathetic role. The story was based on the Wylie-Hoffert murders, also known as the Career Girls Murders, which led to to Miranda warnings.

Director Sargent won an Emmy and a Directors Guild of America award for The Marcus-Nelson Murders while Mann was nominated for an Emmy.

The CBS series made Savalas a big star and, for a time, a sex symbol (starting in the second season he doffed neckties a lot and didn’t button the first button or two of his dress shirts). Kojak’s catchphrase was, “Who loves ya, baby?” Kojak, trying to quit smoking, frequently sucked lollipops. The cast included the star’s brother George as one of the New York City detectives that worked with Kojak. The first season of the series included Christopher Walken and Harvey Keitel as guest stars. Richard Donner directed some episodes.

Savalas reprised the role in a some TV movies on ABC (part of a Mystery Movie revival that included Peter Falk as Columbo). There was also a brief revival series on cable television in 2005, starring Ving Rhames as Kojak.

To read the entire Deadline story, just CLICK HERE.

Blofeld and Strucker: masterminds separated at birth?

Blofeld in 007 Legends


This year, as part of the 50th anniversary of the film James Bond, there’s a new video game where Daniel Craig’s James Bond participates in storylines from five 007 films before the actor ever took up the part. The writer of the video game is Bruce Feirstein, who helped script three 007 films in the 1990s, starting with GoldenEye and running through The World Is Not Enough.

But something else caught our eye — the video game’s Ernst Stavro Blofeld looks awfully familiar but only if you’re familiar with a certain comic book spy.

The makers of the Activision video game instead of using the likeness of an actor who actually played Blofeld (Donald Pleasence, Telly Savalas, Charles Gray and Max Von Sydow), did a little mixing and matching. The 007 Legend’s Blofeld combines the facial scars of Pleasence’s version with the more physical Savalas version).

Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker menaces Nick Fury, courtesy of writer-artist Jim Steranko


Interestingly, and perhaps by coincidence, the 007 Legends Blofeld resembles Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker, the leader of the group Hydra that bedeviled Marvel Comics’ Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD.

In fact, the Strucker character was originally created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for the World War II comic, Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos. Writer-artist Jim Steranko devised the idea that Strucker survived World War II and now was the chief of Hydra in the 1960s SHIELD story.

Steranko began drawing the SHIELD version of Nick Fury with Strange Tales No. 151, while Stan Lee was still writing the title. Kirby provided rough layouts, essentially an outline for Steranko to follow.

Steranko eventually took over all of the art responsibilities and later began writing the SHIELD stories also. At the end of Strange Tales No. 156, Steranko produced a two-page spread revealing that Strucker, Fury’s World War II arch-enemy, was Hydra’s leader Strucker had a facial scar very much like the Pleasence version of Blofeld.

Meanwhile, here’s a preview of 007 Legends that was upload to YouTube:

Here are the opening credits for 007 Legends:

77 Sunset Strip’s experiment with film noir for TV

A cast shot of 77 Sunset Strip. All except Efrem Zimbalist Jr., would be gone for the sixth season.

77 Sunset Strip is one of those shows that, despite being popular in its time, doesn’t strike a chord with a lot of people today. It was one of Warner Bros.’s first hits on television and spawned three similar detective shows (Bourbon Street Beat, Hawaiian Eye and Surfside 6). Even more obscure is 77’s final season, which did a drastic makeover and began with an experiment of producing film noir for television.

William Conrad, producer-director of “5.”

A new producing team of Jack Webb (yes, that Jack Webb) and William Conrad (yes, that William Conrad) fired the entire cast except for star Efrem Zimbalist Jr. The actor’s Stuart Bailey character was now a hard-boiled, lone wolf private eye worried about paying his rent. The catchy Mack David-Jerry Livingston song was gone as well, replaced by an instrumental by Bob Thompson.

To kick off the new format, Webb and Conrad began with a five-part episode simply titled “5,” written by Harry Essex and directed by Conrad. The producer-director also made a cameo toward the end of the conclusion.

The show enlisted a large roster of guest stars. Some were key characters in the story, others eccentric cameo roles. The group included two actors who either had or would play James Bond villains (Peter Lorre and Telly Savalas) and others who’d play villains on the ABC Batman show (Burgess Meredith, Cesar Romero, Walter Slezak and Victor Buono). And being a 1960s event, of a sort, it wouldn’t be complete without William Shatner in the mix.

Anyway, “5” recent showed up online (but unofficially). It comes across as very ambitious for its time with some attempts at innovation but with some flaws as well.

Positives: At the end of part I, Bailey is caught off guard by an attack by a thug and rolls down a stairway. Conrad and his crew came up with some kind of rig so the camera in a point-of-view shot seems spin, matching the PI’s fall. Also, there’s some pretty good tough-guy PI dialogue. (“Did I hit a nerve?” asks New York City detective played by Richard Conte. “You couldn’t find one in a dental college,” Bailey replies.)

Negatives: At the start of the final part, the story runs out of a gas a bit and there’s a long recap of the first four installments. Also, it seems improbable that Bailey would lug a big 1963 tape recorder around. The tape recorder is merely a device to justify first-person narration by Zimbalist. It might have been better to just go with the narration and not worry about the recorder.

In any case, “5” nor the new format was a commercial success. Only 20 episodes were made at a time 30 or more episodes made up a full season. ABC showed reruns from previous seasons to fill out the 1963-64 season according to the show’s entry in Wikipedia.

Still, “5” was an interesting experiment and fans of film noir ought to check it out as Stuart Bailey travels from Los Angeles to New York to Europe to Israel and back to New York on the marathon case. We’ve embedded part one below. If interested, you can also go to PART TWO, PART THREE, PART FOUR and THE CONCLUSION. Warning: you never know who long these things will stay on YouTube.

The FBI’s homage to The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

We were checking out the DVD release of The FBI’s second season and came across what had to be a clear homage to The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as The FBI's Lewis Erskine


The FBI episode involved was the first of a two-part episode called “The Executioners,” in which guest stars Walter Pidgeon and Telly Savalas play a pair of mob bosses and aired in the spring of 1967. Anyway, here are the similarities to U.N.C.L.E.

U.N.C.L.E.: U.N.C.L.E.’s New York headquarters uses Del Floria’s Tailor Shop as a front. U.N.C.L.E. personnel go into a changing room, pull on a hook, which activates a hidden door that leads to the security entrance, where viewers would see Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) enter.

The FBI: La Cosa Nostra uses Milo’s clothing store in New York as a front. Mobsters go behind a changing screen that obscures a door. Once inside, they pull a hook, which activates a hidden door that leads to La Cosa Nostra’s hidden armory.

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


Another similarity: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s pilot, The Vulcan Affair, was directed by Don Medford, and later released as a movie, To Trap a Spy. The FBI episode was directed by Don Medford and later released as a movie, Cosa Nostra, Arch Enemy of the FBI (outside the U.S.).

Meanwhile the new DVD has three bonuses. 1) At the start of part I, we have the “bumper” where announcer Hank Simms says, “Next…The FBI…in color!” That has been stripped from other episodes after it went to syndication and color became commonplace. 2) In the main titles, we see the Ford Motor Co. logo. “The Ford Motor Company presents…The FBI, a Quinn Martin/Warner Bros. production!” That’s from the original broadcast version and has been stripped from other episodes after the show went into syndication. 3) At the very end, we see star Efrem Zimbalist Jr. tell us we’ve only seen the first half of the story and to tune in next week.

UPDATE (Feb. 22): We watched Part II on the DVD. It also has the Ford Motor Co. as part of the main titles. At the end (no spoilers): we see a brief sequence with Efrem Zimbalist Jr.: “Next week, The FBI will not be seen so the Ford Motor Co. can present an inspiring motor picture, The Robe, starring Richard Burton, Jean Simmons and Victor Mature.” Zimbalist assures viewers that The FBI will return in two weeks.

UPDATE (April 14): Warner Bros. uploaded a clip from Part I of The Executioners to YouTube showing the secret Cosa Nostra weapons drop. Decide for yourself whether Milo’s resembles U.N.C.L.E.’s Del Floria’s secret entrance.

QM’s The FBI vs. J. Edgar’s FBI

One of the more talked about (if not financially successful) movies this fall was the Clint Eastwood-directed J. Edgar, a “biopic” about J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio), who was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 48 years until his death in 1972. We were particularly interested because we enjoy the Hoover-sanctioned 1965-74 television series produced by Quinn Martin.

The QM FBI is an idealized version of the real life agency, which by various reports spied on civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and performed other less-than-heroic acts. interestingly, producer Martin was initially hesitant to do a series based on the FBI because he and Hoover were different politically.

But the show, produced in association with Warner Bros. (which released Eastwood’s J. Edgar plus the heavily pro-Hoover movie The FBI Story in 1959) proceeded anyway. It would end up being Martin’s longest-running television series, running nine years. In real life, the FBI might be accused of going easy on the Mafia, at least prior to John F. Kennedy becoming president. But on QM’s The FBI, the bureau was vigilant against organized crime, even in episodes LIKE THIS ONE or LIKE THIS ONE, where the mob bosses had names like Mark Vincent or Arnold Toby and avoided the word “Mafia.” And, of course, the QM FBI never failed to catch spies working against U.S. interests.

However, if you catch certain episodes of QM’s FBI, the Hoover influence is unmistakeable. In many episodes, you can spot a photo of Hoover in an FBI office. In EPISODES LIKE THIS ONE, a character comes out of Hoover’s office (we never see the Director, of course) obviously moved to put their scruples aside to aid the cause of law and order. The real-life Hoover’s influence extended to having approval of the casting of Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Inspector Lewis Erskine, the lead character of the television series.

Enough of this heavy thinking. Here’s a complete second-season episode of The FBI, along with its original commercials (the Ford Motor Co. logo appears in the main titles). Towards the end, you’ll see a promo for the next episode, the first of a two-part episode called “The Executioners,” in which future James Bond villain Telly Savalas appears as, what else, an organized crime figure. That two-part episode would be released outside of the U.S. AS A MOVIE.

UPDATE: Oops moment in the epilogue. The suspect shoves a guy into the water. But agents Erskine and Rhodes (Stephen Brooks) are so intent on arresting the suspect (J.D. Cannon), they never check back on the innocent guy who got shoved into the water. What if he drowned?

UPDATE II: One connection between this episode of The FBI and Clint Eastwood. The assistant director of the television episode was Robert Daley, who’d serve as producer on a number of films for Eastwood’s Malpaso Productions, including being executive producer of Dirty Harry and producer of Magnum Force.

Most ridiculous 007 villain schemes? Here’s one author’s list

Over 47 years of films, James Bond villains have come up with lots of schemes for the intrepid secret agent to combat. And, truth be told, some have, eh, been on the fantastic side.

Anyway, last year the io9 Web site compiled a list of what it considered the most ludicrous James Bond villain plots.

At the top of the list? Blofeld’s Virus Omega scheme from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. An excerpt:

Blofeld, played by Telly Savalas, wants to blackmail the world by hypnotizing a woman to love chickens…the woman has just had sex with James Bond, and now she’s being hypnotized to adore chickens. That’s got to be someone’s exact fetish, somewhere on the internet.

Well, the plot was a little more involved than that, but see for yourself. We put in one link above but in case you missed that, you can entire article by CLICKING HERE.

More HMSS (and reader) nominations for best line(s) from James Bond movies

Our post the other day about nominations for best lines from James Bond movies drew five responses. So here’s some of the feedback we got for additions plus a few we added.

The World Is Not Enough

James Bond: The world is not enough.
Elektra King: Foolish sentiment.
James Bond: Family motto.

Die Another Day

Q (following virtual reality exercise): Very good, 007, though killing M. was certainly not part of the exercise.

Bond: I think if you examine the replay Q, you’ll see M. suffered only a
flesh wound.

Diamonds Are Forever

Plenty O’Toole: Hi, I’m Plenty!
Bond: But of course you are!
Plenty: Plenty O’Toole!
Bond: Named after your father, perhaps?

(later after Bond coolly demonstrates his expertise at the crap table.)
Plenty: Say, you’ve played this game before!
Bond: Just once.

(still later when Bond has finally entered Blofeld’s lair at an abandoned oil well)

Blofeld: At present, the satellite is over…Kansas. Well, if we destroy Kansas, the world may not heard about it for years.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

(at end of the pre-credits sequence)

Bond: This never happened to the other fella!

(during ski chase)

Blofeld: We’ll head him off at the precipice!

Dr. No

(Bond arrives in a car, with a corpse in the back seat, at Government House)

Bond: Seargeant, make sure he doesn’t get away.”

(Bond to Miss Taro)

Bond: Forget it. I’m feeling Italian and musical.

(Bond and Honey just before meeting Dr. No)

Honey: I’m glad your hands are sweating too.
Bond: Of course, I’m scared too.

From Russia With Love

Grant: The first one won’t kill you. Not the second. Not even the third. Not until you crawl over here and you kiss my foot!