Blanche Blackwell, Fleming companion, dies

Blanche Blackwell and Ian Fleming in Jamaica

Blanche Blackwell, who had a relationship with Ian Fleming, has died at 104, according to an obituary posted by The Telegraph.

Blackwell was part of two 007-related documentaries, 2000’s Ian Fleming: 007’s Creator ( an extra in the home video release of The Living Daylights) and 2012’s Everything or Nothing.

Her interviews for the documentaries provided perspective for fans about Fleming’s complicated life, touching on her affair with the married author. She lived in Jamaica, where Fleming wrote his James Bond novels.

“He was somebody who could be anybody he wanted to be,” Blackwell says of Fleming at the start of the 2000 documentary.

Ian Fleming: 007’s Creator included a section on Blackwell. “I decided how I wanted to live long ago,” she says. “And I’ve managed to succeed at doing it without getting into too much trouble.”

In 2012, The Express. published a feature story about her.

“A neighbour of both (Noel) Coward and Fleming, she was a society beauty who beguiled the guests who came to her home, Bolt House, in St Mary, Jamaica,” according to the story.

UPDATE (Aug. 12): The Washington Post has published a very detailed obituary of Blanche Blackwell that’s worth a read.

 

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007 film universe rumor and entertainment websites

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

It has been almost a week, but entertainment news websites are still following up on the rumor that Eon Productions wants a 007 film universe.

There hasn’t been anything new, but the rumor is making the rounds.

Here’s how it breaks down. The followups are not a comprehensive list. But this post does contain a shoutout to the original source and a 007 fan account on Twitter that picked up on it.

June 23: Jeff Sneider, editor-in-chief of The Tracking Board website, says in a tweet that, “I’ve heard the Broccolis have caught Universe Fever and would love to explore other corners of the Bond franchise…simultaneously.”

June 24: @Bond25Film on Twitter does a “quote tweet,” where you can see Sneider’s original tweet. @Bond25Film says (understandably) to take “this with a huge pinch of salt.”

June 24: In full disclosure, @Bond25Film’s “quote tweet” was the first time this blog heard of Sneider’s original tweet. After tracking the original tweet down, the blog did a post the same day plus a June 25 follow-up about questions raised by the rumor.

June 26: Phil Nobile Jr., a writer for Birth. Movies. Death. and a Bond fan, comes out with a post noting the Sneider rumor.

“I’m highly skeptical that this will come to pass, but as a fan of the franchise with no real Bond 25 news to report, I humbly offer these suggestions for opening up the Bondverse,” Nobile writes. His ideas include a prequel for M (the Judi Dench version).

June 28: The Express, in a story with the headline “James Bond SHOCK,” weighs in.

June 28: Esquire also comments on the rumor. “Do We…do we want this?” reads a secondary headline.

June 28: The Playlist, while citing Jeff Sneider, also says, Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson “might have a contemporary way to keep that money tap open.”

June 29: The Independent, again citing Jeff Sneider, says, “It seems like there’s no franchise on the planet that’s immune from the cinematic universe fever.”

June 29: Add /Film to the list. The site adds this observation: “Also the truth: a James Bond cinematic universe would completely fit in with the series’ modus operandi of borrowing whatever is cool, hip, or popular and making it its own.”

Martin Campbell’s other Casino Royale disclosure

Earlier this month, two-time 007 director Martin Campbell gave an interview to The Express newspaper in the U.K. that drew attention from Bond fans for two items: 1) Campbell describing how Daniel Craig won the role in a tight competition with Henry Cavill; 2) How Quentin Tarantino sought the screen rights to Casino Royale, Ian Fleming’s first 007 novel.

Martin Campbell, director of GoldenEye and Casino Royale.


Campbell served up a third disclosure that didn’t get as much attention. Based on the director’s comments, the 21st James Bond movie may have been a reboot even if Eon Productions hadn’t made it as Casino Royale.

The key excerpt:

“Casino Royale was not going to be the next film. They were developing another script but then, after a long battle, the Broccolis [the family behind the Bond franchise] suddenly got the film rights to the first Bond novel Casino Royale, despite Quentin Tarantino bidding against them.

“The script being developed, he says, was an original story in which James Bond isn’t the character we know today but someone younger and more screwed up. Pierce (Brosnan) was getting on for 49 or something, and clearly too old to play the younger Bond so they decided to go in a different direction.” (emphasis added)

If the director’s memory is accurate (and he was accurately quoted), producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli were going to do a reboot no matter what, featuring Bond at the start of his career. Bond wasn’t a rookie agent in Fleming’s Casino Royale. The novel was set in 1951 (according to 1959’s Goldfinger, when Bond encounters a minor character from the first novel) and Bond had been involved in intelligence work in one for or another since World War II. One of the two kills that got him 00 status was a Japanese cypher expert in New York.

Michael G. Wilson, working with Richard Maibaum, had pursued an “origin of Bond” story for the movie that ultimately become 1987’s The Living Daylights. Then-Eon boss Albert R. Broccoli vetoed the idea, according to the Inside The Living Daylights documentary on the film’s DVD. Campbell’s recent comment raises the possibility that Wilson dusted off the concept almost 20 years later and it got folded into the plot of the film Casino Royale.

Still, Campbell (who also directed 1995’s GoldenEye) was only one of the participants involved and thus his comments are only one piece of what happened. Perhaps there’s yet more of the story to be told. Meanwhile, you can CLICK HERE
to view a timeline put together by the MI6 James Bond fan Web site of Quentin Tarantino’s attempt to film Casino Royale.

If this is an April Fool’s gag, it’s a good one

Given this is April 1, 007 fans, like people generally, are taking a skeptical look at items they think may be April Fool’s gags. So it is with A STORY IN THE U.K. SUN NEWSPAPER saying that Daniel Craig filmed a scene in Buckingham Palace that will be part of the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

An excerpt:

JAMES Bond star Daniel Craig is to open the 2012 Olympic Games ceremony after a personal invitation from The Queen.

(snip)
In the film, he arrives by Royal Appointment to be told his latest mission is to launch the Games.

Her Majesty may even make a cameo appearance but the Palace is keeping details a secret.

A billion people watching on TV around the world will see Bond getting his instructions before he is taken by helicopter to parachute into the Olympic stadium in Stratford, East London.

Daniel, 44, and a film crew headed by Trainspotting director Danny Boyle were given unprecedented access to The Queen’s private rooms on Tuesday.

The story was picked up on THE WEB SITE OF FOX SPORTS (both the Sun and Fox Sports are part of the Rupert Murdoch-led News Corp.); the WEB SITE OF PEOPLE MAGAZINE; and a number of NUMBER OF OTHER NEWS WEB SITES gleaned from typing in “Daniel Craig The Sun Buckingham Palace” into Google.

Meanwhile, also on April 1, another U.K. newspaper, the Express, reported that Craig had filmed at the palace for Skyfall, the 23rd 007 film.. Both the Sun and the Express used the same headline, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” (All capital letters for the Express, “secret service” not capitalized in the Sun).

(A tip of the cap to the MI6 James Bond fan Web site, which had THIS STORY about the dueling stories in the Sun and the Express.)

The Express speculates Bond 23 will be `Oscar-friendly’

The U.K. newspaper The Express, in a story by David Stepehenson, is speculating that Bond 23 director Sam Mendes wants to make Bond 23 “Oscar friendly.”

Here’s an excerpt of a story that doesn’t appear to contain a lot of lot hard facts:

Rumours are growing that new British director Sam Mendes is planning to ditch a host of stunts and action scenes from his first Bond film.

Insiders say the new film, expected to be called Skyfall, will be very different in tone as Mendes instead aims for “characterful performances” that will put his creation in the running for Oscar nominations.

That could put a lot of pressure on Daniel Craig, who will be making his third appearance as the British secret agent It will also provide a big opportunity for the 43-year-old who has said that he wanted to bring more “emotional depth” to the role.

(snip)
One source said: “There are growing rumours Sam Mendes is cutting out the action scenes and making it Oscar-friendly.”

Let’s examine this passage carefully.

“Rumours are growing” (Translation: no actually reporting here, just passing along rumors.)

“Insiders say the new film…” Are these the producers? Associate producers? Actual crew members? Caterers? The Express doesn’t spell this out. You can protect the identity of a source while indicating whether that source actually knows something. (i.e., a person with direct knowledge would be the phrasing of a story based on someone with with actual, direct knowledge.) The Express doesn’t bother.

“That could put a lot of pressure on Daniel Craig…” Yes, it could. Or maybe not. The phrasing indicates the autor doesn’t actually KNOW. Put tactfully, the author is SPECULATING. Put less tactfully, he’s pulling it out of… well, never mind where.

To read the entire story in The Express, JUST CLICK HERE.

The Express may, or may not be, on to something. But its presentation leaves much to be desired, suggesting there’s at least some guess work. If you read the entire story on The Express’s Web site, you’ll see additional examples.