Waller-Bridge being paid $2M for Bond 25, THR says

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is receiving $2 million for her work on Bond 25’s script, The Hollywood Reporter said, attributing the information sources it didn’t identify.

The information is part of a long feature story THR did on actress-writer Waller-Bridge. Relatively little of the story concerns Bond 25. But there are other tidbits.

–Waller-Bridge was “secretly” polishing the Bond script in March and April while also performing in a stage version of Fleabag.

–The writer-actress described working on Bond thusly: “There’s something about James Bond that always intrigued me in a similar way that Villanelle did.” That’s a reference to an assassin played by Jodie Comer in Killing Eve, the TV series created by Waller-Bridge.

“They live a fantasy! But it’s a life none of us would ever want, if we’re honest,” she added. “We don’t want to go put a bullet in someone’s head to sleep with people and have martinis. It’s a kind of fantasy nightmare.”

–Waller-Bridge didn’t directly confirm that actress Lashana Lynch is playing the new 007 in Bond 25 after Bond (Daniel Craig) has left MI6.

“The whole thing has potential to birth new iconic characters all the time,” she told THR.

Bond 25 questions: The Annapurna edition

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

Annapurna, one of the studios involved with Bond 25, has been having a financial crunch after a series of movies that underperformed at the box office. The Hollywood Reporter has said, quoting “multiple sources” that Annapurna has hired a law firm to explore “bankruptcy protection.”

Since Annapurna is a Bond 25 player, naturally the blog has a few questions.

What does Annapurna have to say?

Megan Ellison, Annapurna’s founder, wrote a note to employees.

“I got word this morning that there are some rumblings around town about our current status with the banks and that a story is likely to hit the press at some point today,” Ellison wrote, according to THR.

“Restructuring deals with financial institutions is not uncommon, yet the process is usually handled without a spotlight on it….Regardless of whatever comes out in the press, the truth is that we are well on our continued path towards success. There will always be speculation, misinformation and personal jabs in the press – that’s part of the business.

Sounds like a denial. Is it? 

Remember, THR reported that Annapurna had retained a law firm to evaluate a bankruptcy filing. It didn’t say the decision had actually been made to file. That’s not the firmest denial. Way back in the Watergate days, that sort of thing was dubbed a “non-denial denial.”

Moreover, when a CEO says they have no plans to do something, that applies to this moment, right now. Things change tomorrow, next week, next month, etc. Such statements have a very short life span. Things can change — and sometimes in a hurry.

Why should a Bond fan care?

Annapurna and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer are partners in a joint venture called United Artists Releasing. The joint venture will release Annapurna and MGM films in the U.S. UAR is slated to release Bond 25 in North America.

Bond 25, of course, is well underway in its filming schedule. The question is whether an Annapurna bankruptcy filing, should it happen  cause some kind of hiccup with U.S. distribution. Universal is handling Bond 25 distribution internationally. Meanwhile, THR updated its original story to quote an MGM “source” (not identified) as saying there won’t be an effect.

But we should be OK for Bond 25, right?

Probably, at least for now. But a week ago nobody was talking about the possibility of an Annapurna bankruptcy. It’s something to keep an eye on.

UPDATE (Aug. 8) –– Things might be dicier regarding that last question.

Deadline Hollywood has more details. The entertainment website says Annapurna “has burned through much of the $350 million credit facility the company secured in fall 2017. Those sources said Annapurna has either defaulted or is about to default on that debt. A deadline has been set by lenders for this week to come to a solution.”

Credit facility is a fancy way of saying borrowed money.

Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle and Megan Ellison’s father, may bail out Annapurna, according to Deadline. But the tech mogul is being a tough negotiator and preparations are being made to file for Chapter 11 in either California or Delaware if no deal is struck, Deadline reported.

Rip Torn dies

Rip Torn’s title card in a trailer for One Spy Too Many, movie version of a two-part episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Rip Torn, a quirky character actor, died today at 88, The Hollywood Reporter said, citing Torn’s publicist.

Torn was known for playing Artie the producer on The Larry Sanders Show. He also portrayed Zed in Men in Black. His IMDB.COM ENTRY lists almost 200 acting credits going back to 1956.

The actor also participated in 1960s spymania. Torn played Alexander, an industrialist who idealized Alexander the Great, in Alexander the Greater, a two-part story on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The story, with some additional scenes, was released as the film One Spy Too Many.

Alexander’s plot involves staging a coup in an unnamed Asian country. He intends to manipulate the coup’s leaders, in effect controlling the country. As part of Alexander’s plan, he will break each of the Ten Commandments. For example, he has imprisoned his parents as slave labor at a rock quarry in Greece. Alexander’s plot will be complete when he personally kills the leader of the Asian nation.

Alexander the Greater led off U.N.C.L.E.’s second season as the show was nearing the peak of its popularity. The trailer for the movie version is below.

Authorities arrest suspect in killing of Barry Crane

Barry Crane (1927-1985)

Federal and Los Angeles authorities have arrested a suspect in the 1985 murder of Barry Crane, a veteran TV director and producer, The Hollywood Reporter said.

An excerpt from the story:

Federal and local authorities on Thursday arrested a man they believe brutally killed TV producer Barry Crane back in 1985, Los Angeles police confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

Edwin Hiatt, now 52, was taken into custody in North Carolina by the FBI Fugitive Task Force after detectives with LAPD said they identified him as Crane’s killer through DNA evidence.

Crane earned a reputation as Mission: Impossible’s “human computer,” capable of quickly breaking down complex scripts into filming schedules.

“To make it simple, he was a walking computer,” the late Stanley Kallis, one of M:I’s producers, told author Patrick J. White in 1991’s The Complete Mission: Impossible Dossier. “He had perfect recall and could juggle in his mind eighty facts at any moment.”

Crane’s title on that series was associate producer. He also was associate producer on Mannix. Both series were overseen by executive producer Bruce Geller. Crane became producer for the final season of Mission: Impossible.

After M:I wrapped production, Crane worked primarily as a TV director. Throughout this period, Crane was a noted player of Bridge. Before his tenure on M:I and Mannix, Crane was a production manager at series such as Burke’s Law made at Four Star Productions.

UPDATE (May 10): The New York Times published a story with additional details. Among other things, “Mr. Hiatt’s DNA matched cigarette butts recovered from the ashtray of Mr. Crane’s stolen car,” The Times said, citing court documents.

Barry Crane title card for an episode of Mannix

Phoebe Waller-Bridge talks (briefly) to THR about Bond 25

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Actress-writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge was interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter Podcast about her career. Toward the end of the interview she discussed Bond 25 a bit.

Waller-Bridge is among several scribes to have a go at Bond 25’s script.

“I think I’m still processing it,” she said during the May 8 podcast. “It’s really exciting.  The film they’ve got is such an exciting story.”

Host Scott Feinberg asked the scribe if her feminist humor will show up in the script.

“We’ll see, we’ll see what I can sneak in,” Waller-Bridge replied. “I was really just making them real people,” she said of the story’s female characters.

Waller-Bridge was recruited to the project by star Daniel Craig. She signed up after script doctor Scott Z. Burns spent four weeks doing his rewrites. The script originated with veteran 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

The Bond 25 portion of the interview doesn’t start until more than 53 minutes in.

Oscars do Emily Litella impression: ‘Never mind!’

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may have pulled an Emily Litella. “Never mind!”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has retreated from a plan of awarding four Oscars during commercial breaks, according to reports from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline: Hollywood.

As Emily Litella (a 1970s reference you can find on Google) might say, “Never mind!”

Originally, the academy planned that Oscars for cinematography, editing, live action short and makeup and hairstyling be given out during commercials, with edited versions being shown later.

This didn’t go over well from academy members of the affected categories, especially cinematography and editing, two crucial parts of movie making.

Had the rule been in effect last year, the broadcast would haven’t included live coverage of director of photography Roger Deakins finally winning after after a long string of nominations. One of Deakins’ nominations was for the 2012 007 film Skyfall, and many Bond fans were pulling for him to finally win in 2018.

Here’s an excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter story:

In a statement on Friday afternoon, the Academy stated that it “has heard the feedback from its membership regarding the Oscar presentation of four awards – Cinematography, Film Editing, Live Action Short, and Makeup and Hairstyling.” The statement continued: “All Academy Awards will be presented without edits, in our traditional format. We look forward to Oscar Sunday, February 24.”

The move came just nine days before this year’s Oscar telecast. The academy and ABC, which airs the awards show, have been trying to keep the program to three hours.

UPDATE (9:40 p.m., New York time): The statement is on the academy’s website.

Joseph Sirola, character actor and voice over artist, dies

Joseph Sirola as U.S. spymaster Jonathan Kaye is about to spring a surprise on Steve McGarrett and let Wo Fat go in The Jinn Who Clears the Way,

Joseph Sirola, a character blessed with a voice that attracted much voice over work, has died at 89, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Sirola “died of complications from respiratory failure Sunday at a rehabilitation hospital in New York City,” according to the entertainment news website and trade publication.

The actor played villains in second-, third- and fourth-season episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. He also portrayed U.S. spymaster Jonathan Kaye in five episodes of the original Hawaii Five-O series.

In his final appearance as Kaye, in The Jinn Who Clears the Way, his character springs a major surprise on Jack Lord’s Steve McGarrett. The Big Kahuna has captured arch villain Wo Fat. But Kaye makes the lawman let the villain go because there’s to be a prisoner exchange between the U.S. and China.

Sirola was known the “King of the Voice-Overs,” THR said, citing a 1970 Wall Street Journal about his frequent work on commercials., Sirola also won a Tony in 2014 for producing the musical , THR said.

Here’s the end of The Jinn Who Clears the Way: