The James Bond Fan Club Newsletter Christmas 2013

Newsletter                                              Christmas 2013
Merry Xmas, 007!
We would just like to wish all our readers, members and supporters a very Merry Christmas and a great New Year. Thanks for sticking with us and being so loyal.
The past year has obviously been ‘quieter’ compared to just over a year ago (how time flies!) when Daniel Craig’s third 007 adventure Skyfall hit the screens, to widespread critical praise and huge global box-office success.
However, 2013 still saw its fair share of lots of 007-related news (see below). And, with the next Bond movie now officially set for release in late 2015, get ready for things to heat up considerably in 2014: the next year will undoubtedly be full of rumour, gossip and fact, and the JBIFC will continue to do our best to keep you up to date on all this, and try to sort out what is fact and what is fiction.

Licence Reviewed: The Mendes Dossier
At the beginning of this year director Sam Mendes caused some dismay when he indicated he would not be available for Bond 24, presenting the Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson with a huge challenge. Various names emerged as possible candidates for director on the next 007 movie, but the EON producers made it clear that they still hoped to entice Mendes back. Then, within weeks, after some complex negotiations, it emerged that Mendes had indeed changed his mind and agreed to come back after all. EON had changed the production schedules on Bond 24 to accommodate Mendes and his commitments to other projects, including his theatre projects, and there was an audible sigh of relief within the movie industry. The British media certainly welcomed the news, with a number of headlines proclaiming that Sam should ‘Never Say Never’!
From a View to a Thrill
Neal Street Productions, the highly successful production company founded by Mendes, Pippa Harris and Caro Newling in 2003, recently celebrated its 10 th birthday. The company has its discreetly-located HQ in a quiet backstreet in central London’s Covent Garden area.
Its latest production is the Gothic TV series Penny Dreadful for the American Showtime network, which Mendes has developed with Skyfall writer John Logan. And what a cast it will have! Stars include former 007 Tim Dalton, Eva Green (Vesper in Casino Royale), Rory Kinnear (M’s assistant in Quantum of Solace and Skyfall), and Helen McCory (a UK politician in Skyfall).
The new TV series will hit the small-screen in 2014. According to our sources, Neal Street Productions is also apparently keen to produce a new Sunday afternoon TV series aimed at the younger market, Flavia de Luce, which will be about a girl detective. Mendes will also direct Simon Russell Beale in a stage production of King Lear at the National Theatre in London starting in January, 2014. The two men have successfully worked together before.
Mendes will then apparently turn his attention to some serious pre-production work on Bond 24. Interestingly, in a little-noticed interview Mendes gave to the Guardian in late October, he said he would also still like to oversee the next set of Shakespeare productions for the BBC. He commented: ‘When I made Skyfall I was working on The Hollow Crown, too. It was something I personally wanted to drive along. It will be the same this time’.

The Living Highlights
Another big news story in the 2013 Bond calendar was the release of a new James Bond novel, penned by acclaimed author William Boyd. Although the publicity around the novel evidently did not reach the proportions of previous releases of ‘continuity’ Bond novels (mainly because Boyd wanted to avoid lots of hype), there was still a great launch for Solo in London, with wide national and international interest, and lots of media reviews. Many critics agreed that Boyd had successfully managed to capture the essence of Ian Fleming’s writing but also develop his own unique interpretation of James Bond at the same time, very much picking up from where Fleming had left off in the 1960s. And Boyd is clearly a major fan of the literary Bond, which helped enormously. His eagerness to carry out lots of detailed background research and pin down what makes our James tick came across particularly well in the interviews Boyd gave to the media.
The Living Stagelights
The second half of the year also saw Daniel Craig return to the stage, along with his wife Rachel Weisz and British actor Rafe Spall, for a new Broadway production of the famous Harold Pinter play Betrayal. Rehearsals began in the summer for an Autumn (Fall) opening, and, after opening to the general public in late October, it has proved to be a smash-hit success, breaking numerous theatre box-office records in New York.
It will end its 14-week run in early January, 2014, and then (we understand), after a break, Craig will turn his attention to pre-production preparations on Bond 24.
As we noted in our last Newsletter, Craig has made some interesting comments in publicity interviews for Betrayal, including one on his desire to build on the ‘reborn’ Bond seen at the end of Bond 23.
Some familiar faces attended the special preview performances of Betrayal, including Craig’s villainous opponent Silva from Skyfall (Javier Bardem). Fortunately for audience members sitting nearby, he did not remove his teeth in the interval!

Skyhigh: The Skyfall Effect Continues
The smash-hit 23 rd James Bond movie in the 50-year old franchise is still making waves well over a year since its premiere. As well as stacking up a whole cabinet of awards in 2013, the movie is still garnering award nominations.
The Skyfall soundtrack composer Thomas Newman has been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Soundtrack, while Adele Adkins and her song-writing partner Paul Epworth have been nominated for Best Song. The 56 th Grammy Awards ceremony will take place in Los Angeles on January 26, 2014.
It also recently emerged that Nielsen, the leading global information and market research company, did some product research on the American 2013 Home Entertainment market and the best-selling DVD and Blu-Ray items. They found that Bond is as popular as ever. In a press release, Nielsen revealed that, between December 31, 2012, and December 1, 2013, Skyfall was ranked no.3 for Blu-Ray sales. This is great news for EON and MGM, as the U.S. market remains an especially important one for the James Bond franchise.

Staying Alive: The Fleming Effect Continues
James Bond, secret agent, trained assassin and… author? The Christmas edition of the UK’s literary and arts magazine The Spectator (December 14-28), contained an entertaining article by Matthew Woodcock on the literary aspects of Ian Fleming’s famous fictional creation.
He opened this with: ‘There is one last James Bond book from the late 1950s that remains unpublished’. However, it was not a book by Fleming, but one written by Bond himself! As Woodcock pointed out, in Fleming’s novel Goldfinger from 1959, the reader learns that 007 spends his hours on night duty at the anonymous Secret Service HQ near Regents Park compiling a manual on unarmed combat called Stay Alive!, containing the best that that had been written on the topic by his peers in secret intelligence agencies around the globe. In Woodcock’s estimation, it should come as no surprise that Fleming’s hero has writerly pretensions.
Ian Fleming often injected some of his own characteristics into James Bond. Fleming had read widely in French and German literature in his twenties, and subscribed to all the avant garde literary magazines of the day. Fleming collected First Editions, and also launched the Book Collector magazine.
The Bond author inevitably gave his famous creation 007 some interesting bookish impulses: Bond has a book-lined sitting-room in Moonraker, the books clearly used in his preparatory research for future missions.
Bond also evidently liked a good thriller, such as the work of Eric Ambler (cited in From Russia, with Love) and Raymond Chandler (cited in Goldfinger). As Woodcock noted, the literary references in Fleming’s Bond books are comparable to the furnishing of technical details about cars, dining, drinks, etc that Fleming used to ground his fantastic plots in a recognisable reality – something Kingsley Amis identified as ‘the Fleming effect’. Woodcock ended his article by speculating that, if Fleming had lived to tell the tale of 007’s retirement, James Bond may even have completed Stay Alive!

The Spectre of Modernism: Ken Adam Profiled
Sunday December 1 saw the transmission in the UK of a fascinating BBC Radio-3 documentary profile of the iconic film designer Sir Ken Adam, whose set designs for the Bond movies of the 1960s and 1970s became a hugely important part of the distinctive Bond visual formula.
Presented by film expert Matthew Sweet, and entitled ‘A Profile of Ken Adam: The Spectre of Modernism’, the programme opened with the luxurious instrumental theme from John Barry’s soundtrack for You Only Live Twice.
The programme argued that Sir Ken influenced a whole generation of architects who grew up in the 1960s, and the Adam design ‘look’ in his wide range of spectacular set designs can still be detected in the work of a number of top-class architects and designers today, including the work of Norman Foster who, in his contribution to the programme, pointed to the ‘wow factor’ in Adam’s work.
Adam’s main biographer, Christopher Frayling, also highlighted Adam’s wide influence and said the ‘War Room’ in Dr. Strangelove remained one of the most memorable sets in recent movie history.

Bunkers Galore
There also some interesting exploration of Adam’s obsessions with ‘bunkers’, which went back to his frightening and real-life experience of Nazism in 1930s Germany and first emerged on screen in his work on the movie Obsession (1949), then in Ten Seconds to Hell (1959), and again in Dr. No (1962). In fact, according to Frayling, it was a case of ‘Bunkers Galore’ in Adam’s work, and he and Adam agreed that ‘bunkers’ represent places where madness can be ‘contained’.
In fact, referring proudly to what became his biggest job of the 1960s - the huge volcano set for Blofeld’s rocket base in You Only Live Twice - Adam joked that he thought he himself had gone ‘mad’, and everybody around him had thought he had, too! Adam revealed that he had been inspired by the ‘moonscape’ of volcanos after a location recce in Japan by helicopter, and Cubby Broccoli, sitting alongside him, had also come to the same view: what a great place for a secret base - in a dead volcano. Cubby had asked Adam how much he would want to build a volcano-based set, and Adam said he could do it for ‘a million pounds’ (an enormous sum back then). Much to his amazement, Cubby offered him the money on the spot.
Adam said it was ‘a very exciting set’.
Asked whether he felt sad when such sets were pulled down, Adam said not really, because he knew they had been captured forever on film. The programme ended by returning back to Adam’s wider influence and his mastery of make-believe environments as an influence on a new generation of architects. In fact, there was an enormous surprise for Adam, which clearly left him nearly lost for words: Frayling revealed to Adam the designs by Norman Foster for the new German parliament building, which Foster has acknowledged was influenced by the distinctive Adam ‘look’. And Adam could see this immediately. The programme ended with the Bond song Nobody Does It Better. Very appropriate!

Speculating about SPECTRE
In our last Newsletter we noted the official announcement made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Danjaq from Los Angeles on November 15 that they have now acquired all the Bond rights belonging to the late Irish producer Kevin McClory, who died in 2006.
The news from America led to numerous pieces by commentators around the globe speculating on whether this might herald the return of Ernst Stavro Blofeld to the EON Bond series at some point in the future. A typical example came in the UK’s Guardian newspaper (November 19), which headlined its piece: ‘Bond baddie cleared for comeback’.
There was also an interesting ‘debate’ piece on the website, which asked readers whether the next James Bond movie (Bond 24) should bring back Blofeld? The website pointed out that Skyfall made ‘brilliant’ use of ‘everything we love about 007, while operating within a story that was both action-packed and cerebral’. One classic element, though, perhaps remains in need of restoration to the series: Bond’s nemesis, Blofeld.
The site put the case both for and against the SPECTRE head’s return, and invited readers to vote: by December 17, this had reached 68% ‘yes’ and 32% ‘no’. The latest issue of the British sci-fi magazine SFX (no. 243, February, 2014), which has just hit the news-stands in the UK and elsewhere, also has some fun with all the endless Blofeld speculation.
Their own (short) report on the topic is illustrated with a cartoon of Daniel Craig’s 007 sitting in a new ‘Little Nellie’ autogyro. He is taking shots at a display of all the potential actors who could be leading candidates to play Blofeld!

The Case for Blofeld
By coincidence, before the official announcement about the McClory rights was made, a special blog article on the very subject of Blofeld’s absence was written by Scott Meslow for the ThinkProgress website on November 5, which argued that it is indeed time to bring Blofeld back into the James Bond franchise. According to Meslow, this would not have to be the bald, cat-stroking version seen in the EON series, but could be a new interpretation that could be based on the more ‘elusive’ version in the Ian Fleming books and one that would fit into the more ‘grounded’ style of the Daniel Craig 007 films. As Mewslow pointed out: ‘In each of Blofeld’s literary appearances, James Bond isn’t even entirely sure that he’s targeted the right man; every time Blofeld evades justice, he undergoes extensive plastic surgery on his face, loses or gains a significant amount of weight, and flees to a well-stocked hideout, which makes him all but impossible to track with any kind of certainty’. Meslow argued: ‘In many ways, Blofeld has become a more poignant villain than ever. In a modern political context that has shifted from enemy states to scattered, elusive enemies, the idea of a villain with the intelligence and resources to reinvent himself is a frightening one’. In Meslow’s view, Blofeld’s ‘chameleonic qualities make him a uniquely strong candidate for reinterpretation’.
Did You Know?
Blofeld nearly came to a glittering end, buried in crystals of sodium chloride (salt!). The actor Charles Gray (1928-2000), who had a small role as Dikko Henderson, Bond’s contact in Japan in You Only Live Twice (1967), and then played a silken, aristocratic interpretation of Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever (1971), was originally going to be killed off on screen in the seventh James Bond movie. The original ending, as envisaged by writer Richard Maibaum, had Blofeld escaping from the oil-rig in his one-man BathoSub, with Bond in hot pursuit in a weather balloon. The chase would have climaxed in the two men reaching land and desperately climbing over hills of pure white salt at a salt mine, with Blofeld eventually falling to his death in a salt granulator. The owners of the salt mine chosen by Guy Hamilton were not keen and refused permission for their mounds of salt to be used. Hamilton, who was also under tight budgetary and time constraints on the movie, also decided that the sequence would have been too long.
Bond Bits: Brief Items of News You May Have Missed
Some kind of doomsday machine, boy? Where’s Sheriff J.W. Pepper when you want him? A publicity stunt on the River Thames in London in late August to publicise a new speedboat ride, and featuring lookalikes of Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarznegger and Daniel 007 Craig, sparked a major police alert when the actors were mistaken for armed criminals...
According to the London Evening Standard newspaper, the lookalike action heroes were seen speeding up the Thames in a high-powered jet-boat, all carrying guns. A member of the public dialled the emergency services, fearing an armed attack on the Houses of Parliament was underway…
The London Metropolitan Police’s special marine unit were alerted and four officers quickly intercepted ‘Arnie’ and ‘007’ by boat as they disembarked at a pier (ironically, not far from where some key scenes for the river chase in The World Is Not Enough were filmed). Police quickly realised the armed intruders were just a publicity stunt and were all armed with toy replica guns. ‘Bond’ and his team were given some ‘friendly advice’ by police officers…
Hair-raising: according to the UK’s Independent newspaper, former Bond villain Javier Bardem has revealed that his distinctive spiky jet-black hairstyle in Ridley Scott’s recent movie The Counsellor was modelled on one of Hollywood’s famous producers, Brian Glazer…
Write another day? According to the gossip columnist Ephrain Hardcastle in the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper (September 27), Ian Fleming’s great nephew, Literary Review deputy editor Tom Fleming, has written a 007 story. And he and his brother are adapting it for a movie. However, there could be some obvious problems about this. Hardcastle noted: ‘I hope their project will survive discussing this matter with the Fleming Literary Estate, which controls the literary depiction of Bond, and the redoubtable film producer Barbara Broccoli, who protects the movie franchise’…
Rosamund Pike, who played Miranda Frost in Die Another Day (2002), was announced as the new voice of Lady Penelope in late September. The ITV network in the UK is making a rebooted version of the famous 1960s children’s TV series Thunderbirds. David Graham, who provided the memorable voice of Lady Penelope’s chauffeur, Parker, will reprise his role…
From Oxford to Cambridge: Pierce Brosnan was seen, er, ‘brushing up’ on his linguistic skills from a ‘languages tutor’ at New College, Oxford University, in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). The former 007 was back in the high citadels of the UK’s higher education system in late November, but this time at Oxford’s rival, Cambridge University. Pierce shot some scenes at Clare College, Cambridge, on a rather grey and rainy day for his new movie How to Make Love Like an Englishman
Pierce was filmed driving out of Clare College on a motorbike, and heading off for London. The director of the film said he welcomed the rainy weather, because it helped provide a suitable contrast to the next part of the movie. Pierce plays a sex-obsessed Professor in the new film, and other locations have included the Savoy Hotel in London and sunny California…
It is not the first time Pierce has shot a movie in Cambridgeshire. He shot some key scenes for Goldeneye (1995) at the Nene Valley Railway in the north of the county…
Are you a completist? And Is George Lazenby’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service one of your favourite Bond movies? If so, the December, 2013, edition of the UK’s Collector’s Gazette (no. 357) contains an article on ‘Bobbing with Bond’, by Eric Bryan, which looks in detail at the Corgi tie-in models for OHMSS, including the bobsleighs, orange Volkswagen, and Tracy’s red Cougar. According to Bryan, these are among the most coveted of all Corgi and Bond collectables. Good luck, 007…
Following on from our report in the previous Newsletter over rumours that the new Miss Moneypenny, Naomie Harris, is being given an expanded role in Bond 24, the MI6 field agent was also tackled on the subject of Eve Moneypenny in the January, 2014, issue of the UK’s popular movie magazine Total Film
The interview with Naomie, given to help publicise her role as Winnie Mandela in the new film about the recently-deceased Nelson Mandela, talked about the ‘quite extraordinary’ levels of interest that had been shown at the time about her precise role in Skyfall, and she was pleased that most people had kept the ‘secret’ about Eve being the new Miss Moneypenny…
In relation to Bond 24, Naomie appeared confident that Miss Moneypenny will be seen both behind a desk at MI6 HQ and also out in the field again: ‘I’d find both roles really interesting. Even being in the office I’d find satisfying, but being out in the field would be… I imagine they would get her out in the field’. The interview also made it clear that she is really looking forward to working with the Skyfall team again, especially Daniel Craig and Sam Mendes…
Presidents Kennedy, Reagan, and Clinton were all Bond fans. And what did U.S. President Barak Obama say to Naomie Harris when he was introduced to her at a high-profile screening of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom? ‘The last time I saw you, you were kicking butt in Skyfall!’…
Last month we noted that former Bond candidate Henry Cavill, who is Napoleon Solo in the new and highly-anticipated Man from U.N.C.L.E. movie, had been filming at the Hankley Common location in Surrey that was used for some Scottish sequences in Skyfall (Bond’s ancestral home and family chapel were built there)…
After further location shooting in the UK, principal photography on the new UNCLE movie has now been completed. Cavill will also be reprise his recent role as Superman in a new adventure for the Man of Steel, this time opposite actor Ben Affleck as Batman
Director and actor Affleck, who was recently appointed the new Batman in a surprise move, has faced a lot of vocal opposition from some outspoken Batman fans, and one can’t help but be reminded of the similar reception given to Daniel Craig when he first became 007. Interestingly, Affleck was quite complementary about Skyfall earlier this year…
When Affleck’s film Argo emerged as an Oscar and BAFTA contender, he said he hoped Skyfall would also get rewarded, adding: ‘We shot a lot of Argo in Istanbul, and I was out there scouting locations while Bond was there. We shot in the same bazaar, but we were thinking about doing a scene on the rooftops so I went up and had a look and just thought: no way, it’s too scary to walk along here! I couldn’t believe it when I saw that opening of the Bond film and they were riding motorbikes up there. That film is just on a different level’…
The ever-versatile Rory Kinnear, who reprised his role as MI6’s Bill Tanner in Skyfall, appeared as the infamous Lord Lucan in a two-part TV drama shown on the UK’s ITV network in December. The drama, partly based on Ian Fleming biographer John Pearson’s novel The Gamblers, focused on how the flamboyant aristocrat Lucan had escalating gambling debts and, after the murder of his children’s nanny in November, 1974, apparently vanished without trace…
While he was shooting Lucan, Rory was also playing Iago in the play Othello at the National Theatre in London (for which he recently shared a Best Actor award with his co-star Adrian Lester). But, according to the BBC’s Radio Times (December 7), playing two roles in tandem did pose one particular and quite tricky problem for the 35-year old Shakespearean actor: he was unable to grow his own moustache! Instead, Lucan’s characteristic guardsman’s handlebar moustache in the drama was a stick-on one! Now, if he had gone to ‘Q’, MI6’s gadget-master could surely have rustled up the latest hi-tech radio-controlled moustache (or even recycled the one worn by Roger Moore in Octopussy?)…
And talking of ‘Q’, the new Q actor Ben Whishaw, who will reprise his role as the MI6 Quartermaster in Bond 24, was the special guest at a ceremony held at Pinewood Studios in early December. He officially opened the ‘Q stage’, a brand new state-of-the-art building at the studios…
In a special ceremony held on December 4, Ben formally unveiled the new hi-tech facility, which is a purpose-built facility for both film and TV production, and is part of Pinewood-Shepperton’s overall expansion plan, designed to meet the growing demand in the UK for additional specialist production resources. Appropriately enough, among the invited guests at the ceremony were the EON producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, who have built up a particularly close bond with the studios over the years…
According to the Daily Mail (December 6), Skyfall director Sam Mendes’s National Theatre production of King Lear (see earlier in this Newsletter) will be broadcast into selected cinemas in the UK live on May 1 for ‘National Theatre Live’. It is one of several productions going out on ‘NT Live’ during 2014…
The JBIFC was very sad to hear about the death of Peter O’Toole, the famous star of film and stage who shot to fame in the epic David Lean movie Lawrence of Arabia. Among O’Toole’s various roles in movies in the 1960s was a small guest role in Charles K. Feldman’s rogue version of Casino Royale, in a sequence which remains difficult to explain even to this day! Lawrence of Arabia was a hugely influential film, and Sir Roger Moore and Barbara Broccoli have both revealed they are big fans of the movie…
And, of course, Sir Roger really enjoyed himself dressing up as a T.E. Lawrence-style figure when he met his Egyptian contact in The Spy Who Loved Me (apparently his favourite Bond movie). There was also a nod to Lawrence again later in the movie when some brief use was made of composer Maurice Jarre’s iconic Lawrence of Arabia music score…
The Bond film that nearly was? A unique red bound script of an early screen treatment for what nearly became the first 007 movie, written by Jack Whittingham and based on story ideas from Ian Fleming, was sold at Bonhams auctioneers on December 18 for £16,250…

No comments: