Empire magazine previews U.N.C.L.E. movie

Logo for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie

Logo for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie

Empire magazine’s July issue has a preview and new stills from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie.

Empire itself hasn’t put the content online. However, sites including COMIC BOOK MOVIE, HENRY CAVILL NEWS and HENRY CAVILL.ORG have run scans of the stills from the magazine.

A few tidbits in the Empire story via a summary in Henry Cavill News:

–The name Thrush isn’t being used for the criminal organization opposed by Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin in the Guy Ritchie-directed film. Empire quotes co-writer Lionel Wigram as saying, “I don’t think you can say that with a straight face these days.” Instead, it’ll be a network of ex-Nazis.

–Henry Cavill comments to Empire about his Solo versus how Tom Cruise would have played the part. “Tom would clearly have been playing a very different character to mine, albeit of the same name,” Cavill told Empire. “It’s not that I was replacing Tom Cruise; it’s that the dynamic of the story changed and I happened to fit that better.”

Cruise was in talks in early 2013 to play Solo. He exited the project to star and produce Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation. Cavill, who lost out for the role of James Bond in 2005 to Daniel Craig, was signed as a replacement.

–Cavill wasn’t cast as Illya Kuryakin because director Ritchie thought if the actor colored his hair blonde would look too much like Javier Bardem’s Silva villain in Skyfall. Armie Hammer go the role instead.

If you click on the links there are plot details.

John Stephenson, original Dr. Quest, dies

John Stephenson

John Stephenson

John Stephenson, a veteran character actor and the original voice of Dr. Benton Quest, has died at 91, according to BLOGGER MARK EVANIER, who frequently writes about television and comics.

Stephenson was part of a Jonny Quest cast that also included the voices of Tim Matheson, Danny Bravo and Mike Road. After the first several episodes, Don Messick took over as Dr. Quest’s voice but Stephenson continued to do a lot of voice work for Hanna-Barbera.

Stephenson also served as the announcer who informed the audience of the outcome of a case in the 1960s version of Dragnet. He also was a frustrated Thrush official in New York forced to take orders from Cesar Romero’s Victor Gervais in The Never-Never Affair episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., one of the most popular installments of that spy series.

Robert Drasnin, spy TV composer, dies

Robert Drasnin (1927-2015)

Robert Drasnin (1927-2015)

Robert Drasnin, a composer whose work included episodes of 1960s spy series, died May 13 at 87, according to AN ANNOUNCEMENT BY DIONYSUS RECORDS.

Drasin scored eight episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. during the second and third seasons, with the music repeated in episodes without original scores. He also scored Mission: Impossible and The Wild Wild West. With the latter, Drasnin specifically composed music for the third episode, “The Night the Wizard Shook the Earth,” the first appearance of Dr. Loveless (Michael Dunn). Drasnin’s short theme for the character would be in other episodes featuring the show’s arch villain.

Here’s an excerpt from the Dionysus Records obituary:

Bob is now mostly known for his two masterpiece exotica albums, Voodoo and Voodoo 2, but those are only two highlights in a long and multifaceted career as a player, composer, executive, and teacher.

He joined the Musicians Union at the age of 14 upon being hired to play in the Canteen Kids big band on Hoagy Carmichael’s radio show. He first made his way as a player through the forties, playing alto saxophone and clarinet with a great many big bands, including Les Brown, Freddie Slack, Tommy Dorsey, and others. He studied composition and conducting at UCLA, joined a bebop era Red Norvo Quintet (with whom he recorded), and evolved into a film/tv composer and also a very well regarded sideman (on clarinet and alto saxophone).

As a television composer, he was prolific. Twilight Zone, Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible, Man From U.N.C.L.E. all boasted great Drasnin scores, and such giants as Johnny Mandel and Jerry Goldsmith considered him an equal. Rightfully.

In September 2014, fans in the Los Angeles area gathered for The Golden Anniversary Affair, celebrating U.N.C.L.E.’s 50th anniversary. A highlight was a band playing music from the series. Frank Abe, who attended, posted this video of the band playing a piece of Drasnin’s first U.N.C.L.E. score for The Foxes and Hounds Affair.

Hawaii Five-0 reboot gets renewed for 6th season

Cast of the 2010 Hawaii Five-0

Cast of the 2010 Hawaii Five-0

The rebooted Hawaii Five-0 series, which has done occasional homages to James Bond movies, was renewed by CBS for a sixth season, according to A STORY ON THE DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD website.

The show has had episodes that evoked the 2012 007 film Die Another Day as well as one 2012 story that appeared to have homages to You Only Live Twice and Licence to Kill.

The original Hawaii Five-O (with a capital O instead of a 0) ran for 12 seasons, debuting in the fall of 1968 and finishing its run in the spring of 1980. With the renewal by CBS, the rebooted series is guaranteed to last at least half as long.

The highlight of the fifth season, which had its last episode on May 8, was the demise of the rebooted Wo Fat. Wo Fat 2.0 was a revamped version of the arch enemy of the original show, who appeared in the 1968 pilot and was featured in the final 1980 episode.

Wo Fat 2.0 in addition to being a mastermind (like the original Wo Fat) also did his own dirty work. Also, Wo Fat 2.0 had a personal motive for striking back against Steve McGarrett 2.0.

Anyway, Peter M. Lenkov, the co-executive producer, co-developer of the series, took to Twitter to celebrate:

Happy Mother’s Day from The Spy Command

Here’s a sampling of images of Mothers from the spy genre for Mother’s Day. If your mother is still available for a chat, take advantage of the opportunity.

99 became a mother toward the end of Get Smart's 1965-70 run.

Barbara Feldon’s 99 became a mother toward the end of Get Smart’s 1965-70 run.

Boris Karloff's title card from The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.'s The Mother Muffin Affair

Boris Karloff’s title card from The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.’s The Mother Muffin Affair

Judi Dench, who played two versions of M.

Judi Dench, who played two versions of M in James Bond films.

U.N.C.L.E. awakes: The Rip Van Winkle Affair

Bus for participants in U.N.C.L.E. movie press junket in Rome

Bus for participants in U.N.C.L.E. movie press junket in Rome

For one day, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was truly back after a slumber of more than 30 years. Rip Van Winkle only slept for 20 years.

May 9 was a press junket in Rome for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie. Images and comments flooded social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

There hasn’t been an official U.N.C.L.E. production since The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television movie aired on CBS in 1983. Principal photography for the Guy Ritchie-directed feature film took place in the late summer and fall of 2013.

There have been milestones since then, including test screenings in 2014 and release of a first trailer in February. Still, the Rome press junket represented the biggest push by Warner Bros. to begin to raise visibility for the film.

Warner Bros. is in an unusual situation for the “summer” movie season (which begins the first weekend of May). It has no “tent pole” movie, so AS NOTED IN THIS VARIETY STORY, it’s releasing more films than other studios for the summer, looking to make up in volume what it lacks in spectacle. Thus, U.N.C.L.E. has become part of the studio’s “flood the zone” strategy.

Anyway, that’s for studio executives. For U.N.C.L.E. fans — at least those who want new U.N.C.L.E. tales — May 9 marked a beginning (or reawakening).

The U.N.C.L.E. movie, by 2015 standards, is modest ($75 million production budget). It’s in the shadow of the James Bond franchise, whose new installment, SPECTRE, has a $300 million budget, making it one of the most expensive movies of all time.

On the very same day Warners had its coming out party, SPECTRE released its latest “clapperboard” shot, one of the ways the 007 franchise uses social media to promote its product. (If you want to see all the SPECTRE clapperboard shots in scene order, CLICK HERE.)

In the end, despite U.N.C.L.E.’s Ian Fleming connection (the 007 author helped name Napoleon Solo), the two are different animals. Bond is the big kid on the block. U.N.C.L.E. is trying to get established again after a long layoff.

The U.N.C.L.E.’s movie’s Napoleon Solo is played by Henry Cavill, passed over for the role of 007 in favor of Daniel Craig in 2005. Both movies filmed in Rome, but SPECTRE spent $60 million there, almost as much as U.N.C.L.E.’s entire budget.

May 9 was a big day for U.N.C.L.E. fans. It remains to be seen whether the U.N.C.L.E. movie so long in development will be worth the wait. For at least one day, many U.N.C.L.E. fans felt a surge of excitement that it might be.

U.N.C.L.E. press event in Rome includes screening

Twitter is providing some details about The Man From U.N.C.L.E. press event in Rome as participants post about what’s doing on.

For example, there was a screening of about 20 minutes of footage from the Guy Ritchie-directed film. Some of the Tweets:

Some of the press materials might become collectibles.

Meanwhile, Jim Chapman also used Instagram to post A SELFIE WITH A DOUBLE DECKER BUS WITH U.N.C.L.E. MOVIE POSTER ART all over it. That and other photos got put out via Twitter as well.

UPDATE (10:14 a.m.): One of the viewers did a Twitter-sized review of the movie footage shown. To view it, CLICK HERE.

UPDATE (11:25 a.m.): The cast, including Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, in Rome.

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