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IT'S PAINTING AND DRAWING HERE From Monday 25th. April
Bond With a 'B' is Back! At last. Early November gave us the official announcement that we had all been waiting for. A press conference was held by Eon Productions in central London on Thursday, November 3, and this confirmed that James Bond movie no. 23 is 'Skyfall', which Michael G. Wilson at one point joked was 'the worst kept secret in London'. At another stage during the special media event Daniel Craig stated that, in doing his third 007 adventure, it was his intention 'to make the best Bond movie that we possibly could, and Bond with a capital B...'. Lined up on the panel were Berenice Marlohe, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Dame Judi Dench, Daniel Craig, Sam Mendes, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. Director Sam Mendes also confirmed that Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Albert Finney will also be part of the distinguished cast, but he did not at that point give any more details about their precise roles. Before taking questions from the audience, each member of the panel was invited to make some brief comments about the new experience now facing them. Sam Mendes, looking very happy, commented that he had always been 'a huge fan' of the Bond movies. He said he 'loved' Daniel Craig's first 007 movie 'Casino Royale', and was excited about his friend Daniel's work. He also explained that he 'wanted a huge challenge'. Barbara Broccoli, in her contribution, said 'working with Sam is a dream come true', and she emphasised that Sam Mendes has brought 'enthusiasm and commitment' to the project. Golden High Much of the media event went out live on various TV news channels, and numerous internet forums were soon chewing over the mini-avalanche of sudden Bond coverage. Just over an hour after the end of the media event, the JBIFC had written our first report on the proceedings (at 2.00pm), and this was followed by our second report an hour later (phew!). A number of other Bond fan websites had given detailed reports on the media event by the end of the Thursday, and it is no exaggeration to say that the official confirmation news about 'Skyfall' and its cast had gone truly global within hours. Bond remains big news. The British media in particular gave extensive coverage to the start-of-production media event for 'Skyfall' and, given all the anxieties there had been concerning MGM's financial situation over the last four years, the sense of relief and excitement at the return of 007 was very much in evidence, both on the day itself and over the following few days. The London Evening Standard, for example, carried an almost immediate response on the same day as the media event with: 'Bond Is Back: Stellar Cast For New Movie Skyfall'. The next day, people purchasing UK newspapers on a rainy Friday morning were faced with various colourful reports about the new Bond adventure. The Daily Express, to take just one example, placed a large photo of French actress Berenice Marlohe in her red dress on its front page with: 'Oh oh heaven! Meet Bond's new beauty'. Inside the paper, the coverage opened with the lines: 'For millions of Bond fans the wait was over yesterday as details of the hotly-awaited blockbuster were unveiled'. The paper also commented: 'Bond is back with a bang'. Cue the New 'Q' Bond news has been coming thick and fast during November. According to both the UK newspaper The Sun and (shortly afterwards) the BBC, the actor Ben Whishaw has been cast as the new 'Q' in the 23 rd James Bond movie. He will be following in the prestigious footsteps of Desmond Llewelyn and John Cleese, but it is thought that his version of MI6's gadgets Quartermaster will see a radical reboot of the character by director Sam Mendes. The 31-year old English actor recently starred in the well-received BBC drama series 'The Hour', which was about the world of newspaper journalism during the mid-1950s, around the time of the Suez Crisis (and coincidentally involved an espionage dimension, with Whishaw's character clearly admiring the work of Fleming). Whishaw's other acting credits include 'Criminal Justice' and 'Brideshead Revisited'. Interestingly, Whishaw is also due to play Richard II, opposite Rory Kinnear (who also, of course, has a role in 'Skyfall'), in a new BBC Shakespeare adaptation being overseen by Sam Mendes. This will form part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, designed to complement the Olympics in London next year. True to form, The Sun newspaper commented: 'Handsome ben will be the youngest actor to play the MI6 gadget master - and at 31 he is 12 years younger than 007 star Daniel Craig'. The paper's unnamed 'source' was also quoted as saying that Whishaw's version of 'Q' will be 'very different' from the previous 'Q's, adopting a more serious tone in line with the trend in Craig's Bond movies. This was followed up later on Friday November 25 by a report from the BBC which said that Whishaw's agent had now confirmed the casting news. Writer Royale: John Logan Speaks The playwright and screenwriter John Logan, who is part of the 'Skyfall' screenwriting team alongside Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, was interviewed recently by the TriQuarterly, an online journal of writing, art and culture. Although the interview took place some time before the new 007 movie was officially confirmed as 'Skyfall', Logan made some interesting comments about his involvement in both general film writing and in the 007 franchise. At one point Logan was asked whether there is a common thread that connects all his work? He responded: 'Yes and no. In a way, I'm always drawn toward big characters and the exciting, theatrical idea. Complex, dark characters appeal to me'. At another juncture in the interview, Logan was asked: 'In 2002 you wrote Star Trek: Nemesis, and now you're working on the next James Bond movie, Bond 23. What is it like to work on a series in which other people have written the previous movies?' Logan replied: 'It's like being part of an ongoing story. I grew up on the Bond movies, and I remember the first one I saw. I remember seeing other ones over the years. They are part of my life story. Same with the Star Trek characters: they've been a part of my life for years. So to get to go in and help shape that ongoing journey is thrilling'. When asked whether there is any pressure, Logan commented: 'There is a unique sense of responsibility to it. The audience comes in with a certain level of expectation and a certain investment and familiarity with the characters. So you want to treat the audience really well'. A Special Bond: Fiennes and Logan Interestingly, since the 'Skyfall' press conference on November 3, it has also emerged that John Logan played a part in getting his good friend Ralph Fiennes a part in the new Bond adventure. The two men had collaborated recently on a modern version of Shakespeare (which both men are passionate about), when Logan scripted Fiennes's critically appraised movie version of Coriolanus. In an interview about Coriolanus, given on November 7 to The Playlist (part of the Indiewire Network), Fiennes revealed that Logan was partly responsible for him appearing in the new 007 adventure because, said Fiennes, Logan 'wrote this really interesting part which is really quite fun'. As we noted in our last Newsletter, Fiennes is a considerable catch for Sam Mendes and the new Bond production, and it would appear that Fiennes is already relishing his upcoming part in 'Skyfall': according to the Daily Telegraph's showbiz columnist 'Mandrake' (Tim Walker), while working out at a gym in New York, the Shakespearean actor's mobile telephone went off, and the ringtone was Monty Norman's instantly recognisable 'James Bond theme'! Logan's Law Another interview with John Logan appeared in November, but this time with Collider.com, and in this session he revealed some further clues about his work on the new Bond movie. Logan said that 'Skyfall' director Sam Mendes had known him for 15 years. Mendes had invited Logan to work on the 'great script' by Purvis and Wade, and Logan was unable to resist the offer, as he had grown up with the Bond movies: he said 'the first Bond movie I ever saw was Diamonds Are Forever, I remember every moment of it'. In slight contrast to Mendes, however, who said at the November 3 press conference in London that the 'Skyfall' plot was a stand-alone one, and not a sequel to 'Quantum', Logan said that to say it's not following on is one thing, but all Bond movies are in some way 'sequels' due the nature of the franchise: 'It has nothing to do with being a standalone film, as far as I'm concerned, because I don't think these films are standalone, I think they're part of a legacy'. Logan added that, with the longer writing time available for 'Skyfall' compared to 'Quantum', and with Mendes being involved with the project for a year before the cameras rolled, making the blend of action and drama work had been foremost in their minds: 'It's a very collaborative process, and Sam is front and centre on everything. He's got an amazingly exciting adventure mind, which not all filmmakers do...'. Try Another Way: Scottish Castle Location Changed In a surprise move, it emerged in mid-November that the 'Skyfall' production team have now decided not to use Duntrune Castle, near Lochgilphead in Argyll, Scotland, as a key location. It is thought the beautiful castle had originally been chosen for filming parts of the climax for the new Bond adventure in the early months of 2012. A considerable number of production crew had been due to descend on the castle and surrounding area, and local hotels had been booked. Hoteliers were looking forward to the potential boost to local income. According to sources, Eon Productions locations manager Russell Lodge made a personal visit to the castle to deliver the bad news to the owner. The castle's owner, Robin Malcolm, commenting to Scottish TV, said: 'We were as surprised as anyone when they said "No it's all off". I feel particularly sorry for hoteliers and tradesmen in the area who were looking forward to a prosperous New Year'. He added: 'For the past three months they have been sending people up here in increasing numbers to look around. Last time we had 50 people having lunch in our kitchen. I think they would like to keep a Scottish dimension in the film, but where they do that is up to them. You win some, you lose some'. One hotelier, in Ardrishaig, also confirmed that Eon had cancelled a booking for 22 rooms in February, 2012. Asked about the decision by the Scotsman newspaper, a spokeswoman for Eon Productions responded: 'Lots of locations have been scouted. We are looking at a number of different places'. Early 'Skyfall' Footage Shot in London No sooner had the 'Skyfall' press conference taken place at the Corinthia Hotel near London's Whitehall on November 3 than the crew were making use of locations in and around the Whitehall area on Thursday and Friday, and then, on Saturday November 5, at Smithfield Market, in Clerkenwell. Some of the shooting took place near Gate 20 at the famous meat Market which, ironically, is not too far from the Barbican Centre, where some scenes had been shot with Rory Kinnear and Judi Dench for 'Quantum of Solace'. Interestingly, both Kinnear and Dench were involved in the 'Skyfall' shooting at Smithfield, which saw a mini-convoy of black government-style vehicles (a Jaguar XJL and a Range Rover) using the road around the famous (but quite shabby) Market. The weather at the Smithfield location was rather grey and overcast at times, and wet-weather gear was needed at one point. Other key members of the cast involved included Daniel Craig. At one point, Michael G. Wilson arrived at the scene to quietly observe the proceedings and chat briefly to director Sam Mendes. Other London location shooting also took place in November, including in an area near Waterloo station, then at Spitalfields (not far from the famous Spitalfields Market), and, on Saturday November 19, outside the famous National Gallery in London's Trafalgar Square. The latter filming, which took place early on the Saturday morning, involved a smartly-dressed but bearded Daniel Craig pausing on the wide stone steps of the Gallery and then walking down them, and at one point he appeared to look skywards. A large crowd of extras were used as Gallery visitors. It is understood that the Gallery has signed a confidentiality agreement with Eon not to reveal any details about the day's filming. Thunderballs In an operation worthy of SPECTRE, on the morning of November 17 the JBIFC received a strange e-mail from somebody calling himself the 'Latin Sleaze'. The gentleman concerned, who was clearly hoping we would immediately run the story contained in his message, claimed that Sam Mendes had chosen former 'Oasis' band member Noel Gallagher to write and sing the new theme song for 'Skyfall'. The curious e-mail said: 'Apparently Daniel Craig is quite the fan of the now defunct British rock band', and it also alleged that Mendes and Eon producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson had 'been smitten' by Gallagher's latest work, as well as by some of his past ballads from his 'Oasis' days. When the JBIFC refused to play ball with this clumsy attempt at disinformation, the dodgy gentleman then took his story the very next day to some other Bond websites, who did decide to run the claims as 'breaking news'. The 'Latin Sleaze' even sold the story to the UK's Sun newspaper. When Gallagher heard about the claims shortly afterwards, the Manchester singer used his own blog to angrily refute the story. He made it clear he did know who 'Michael G. Wilson' is, and his reaction to the original 'source' of the claims was... well... characteristically unprintable! Syd Cain (1918-2011) The JBIFC was very sad to learn of the news that the production designer Syd Cain passed away on Monday, November 21, aged 93. The talented artist had a career that lasted nearly 50 years in the British film industry, and he was closely associated with some of the most memorable gadgets and set designs on the James Bond films from early on in the series. Working as both art and production designer on 'From Russia, With Love' (1963), for example, Cain designed what is probably one of the most iconic gadgets in the early 007 movies: the special black-leather attaché case, equipped with an Armalie AR-7 folding sniper's rifle, a throwing knife and a can of teargas disguised as talcum powder, something which proved to be a tearful surprise for Donald 'Red' Grant (Robert Shaw)! The JBIFC did a full interview with Syd which appeared in issue 22 of '007 Magazine' in 1990. This can be read in the member's area at: www.007.info/Members/SydCain.asp Sheer Magnetism: Live and Let Die Watch Sold Cain's creativity was on display at an auction held earlier in November. James Bond's specially adapted Rolex wristwatch, worn by Roger Moore in 'Live and Let Die' (1973), was sold at auction on November 14 for an eye-watering £242,000. The wristwatch, which was auctioned by Christie's, played a key role in Roger's first Bond movie. Near the beginning of the movie 007 explained to 'M' (Bernard Lee) that 'Q' had equipped it with a 'hyper-intensified magnetic field', which could deflect the path of a bullet even at long range, and an exasperated 'M' commented that he was very tempted to try this out! The movie also saw the watch convert into a buzz saw, which helped Bond break free from his ropes while a prisoner of Mr. Big. The wristwatch was converted from a stainless steel Rolex Oyster Perpetual by the late British production and art designer Syd Cain, and the Lot in the Christie's auction (Lot no. 1383) included two framed prints, one showing Bond unzipping Miss Caruso's dress with the watch ('sheer magnetism, darling'), and the other showing Bond with Solitaire tied to a hoist in Mr. Big's underground lair. The Lot also included Syd Cain's original production drawing showing the functioning of the different features of the watch. Syd Cain worked on more than 30 films, including four 007 movies. Since his retirement, Syd had concentrated on writing and illustrating children's and other stories. RIP, Syd. Bond Born in the Trenches? Historian, journalist, and Bond expert Ben Macintyre, whose books have included For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond (2008), designed to complement the Ian Fleming Centenary exhibition held at the Imperial War Museum in 2008, contributed an interesting article to The Times newspaper on November 9. Noting that a new James Bond film had just been announced in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday, Macintyre's article explored the possible personal reasons that influenced Fleming's creation of Agent 007. He suggested that 007 may have been born out of the terrible impact on Fleming's life that came from the death of a young man in the trenches of the First World War: Fleming's own father, Valentine Fleming, who had spent three appalling years on the front line in France and had been killed in 1917, aged just 34. The Fleming brothers had idolised their father Val. According to Macintyre: 'The character of James Bond, Ian Fleming wrote, sprang from many sources, including "all the secret agents and commando types" he had known as an officer in Naval Intelligence during the Second World War. But undoubtedly the central, commanding personality behind Bond was the father killed in the line of duty in 1917, the ultimate man of action from Fleming's impressionable childhood'. Double Agent Way back in January 2010 the JBIFC Newsletter briefly discussed wartime spy Eddie Chapman. Ben Macintyre was the host of a new documentary about the real-life career of the British double-agent, screened on the UK's BBC-2 channel on November 15. Based on Agent ZigZag (2007), his bestselling biography of Eddie Chapman, Macintyre's entertaining documentary explored how a notorious safebreaker and womanizer ended up in a British prison on the island of Jersey and, when the Germans invaded the Channel Islands, offered his services to the new Nazi occupiers, in return for a large sum of money. Chapman was then trained by German intelligence for a mission to blow up a factory in the UK, but when he was parachuted into the country he promptly turned himself in and offered his services to MI5, the British Security Service, as a double agent. It was a story of adventure, espionage, secret codes, double-dealing, love affairs and amazing courage. And what gave Macintyre's new documentary added poignancy was the recent discovery in BBC archives of footage from an interview that Chapman had given in 1994, footage that could not be used by the BBC at the time because of fears that his revelations would break the UK's Official Secrets Act (OSA). In fact, when Chapman had tried to publish the full details of his own story during his lifetime, he had been prosecuted under the OSA. However, from 2002, the British government relaxed their policy on historical secrecy and declassified their MI5 files on 'ZigZag', enabling Macintyre to write his biography. The re-discovery of the long-forgotten footage of Chapman (who died in 1997), which included scenes of the chain-smoking Chapman zooming around in fast cars and relaxing in the sun, helped Macintyre's new documentary bring added insights into the life of one of World War Two's most important spies. Reflecting on seeing the footage for the first time, Macintyre commented to the Radio Times: 'Meeting Chapman from beyond the grave was one of the strangest experiences I have ever had'. Did You Know? There was an attempt to tell the story of Chapman's wartime career in the film Triple Cross (1966), directed by three-times Bond director Terence Young. Christopher Plummer played the handsome spy. The movie portrayed Chapman as a suave devil-may-care playboy, and even had Bondian-sounding opening and closing credits music! Young also recruited some familiar faces for roles in the movie: Gert Frobe (from 'Goldfinger'), Claudine Auger (from 'Thunderball'), and Anthony Dawson (from 'Dr. No'). Interestingly, there were various rumours in the late 1960s that Broccoli and Saltzman had considered Plummer as a potential candidate to play 007 post-Connery. Bond Bits: Brief News Items You May Have Missed Sir Roger Moore was a 'guest' at the recent classic car show at the NEC in Birmingham, but as a life-size cardboard cut-out. A standee of Sir Roger Moore from his days as 'The Saint' could be seen, standing guard next to his Volvo P1800 used in the classic 1960s TV series. Members of the public were soon taking the initiative and getting their photos taken with Sir Roger!... Sir Tom Jones, who sang the powerful main theme song for 'Thunderball', recently applied for a Coat of Arms. According to the famous College of Arms, Sir Tom's crest features a demi red dragon holding an inverted leek! In 2002, another Bond singer, Sir Paul McCartney (who sang the theme to 'Live and Let Die') was granted a Coat of Arms featuring a guitar... Three extremely rare behind-the-scenes photographs of Shirley Eaton being painted gold for her role in 'Goldfinger', shot by private photographer David Hurn, were sold at the auctioneers Bonhams for £2,580 in November... Martin Campbell, the director of 'Goldeneye' and 'Casino Royale', is reported to be considering an offer to bring the 1980s American TV series 'The Fall Guy' to the big screen. The original series starred Lee Majors... Principal photography on 'Skyfall' commenced at Pinewood Studios on Monday November 7, and the official Twitter account was soon displaying a 'Day 1' clapperboard... Rory Kinnear, speaking in an interview given to 'CultBox', said that he would be involved in his 'Skyfall' filming through to the beginning of February, and: 'I think they are on until about April or May'. He also revealed that his character, Bill Tanner (M's Chief of Staff), 'gets a bit more facetime this time', and that his part 'is a bit more beefed-up'... Judi 'M' Dench, interviewed in the UK's Sunday newspaper The People on November 13, said the new Bond movie has a 'terrific story', and, reflecting on her own role, she also commented that: 'I just like playing M - being very, very cross and keeping Bond in order is a lot of fun'... A copy of the book-lover's magazine The Literary Review will appear as a prop in a scene set in M's flat in 'Skyfall'. The magazine's editor, Nancy Sladek, commented: 'We are thrilled. M is clearly a lady of great taste and authority'... The British satirical magazine Private Eye had a lot of fun with the news that Bond is back. The November 25 edition revealed that 'in his most perilous mission yet, 007 must battle with Skycorp, a crumbling sinister shadowy organisation hidden inside America'! A photo of Sky Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch was super-imposed on Blofeld's body, stroking a white cat... Bond author Ian Fleming's naval jacket, which he wore while observing the Dieppe commando raid in 1942, was sold at auction in late November for an astonishing £13,750. The jacket was put up for sale at Bonhams by Lord Mountbatten, who had inherited the jacket from the family of Ivar Bryce. Bryce had been a close friend of the Bond author since their schooldays... Play it again, Sam? According to various reports, Sam Mendes has signed for just 'Skyfall', but there is increased evidence that Barbara Broccoli is keen to woo him back for Bond 24. So, what do you say, Sam?...