1. James Bond producers concerned by film delay, says Hollywood Reporter

    By Matt Weston on 2010-07-27

    James Bond’s state of suspended animation hasn’t kept the superspy out of the news. Today, in the wake of Activision launching its next original 007 adventure Blood Stone, the Hollywood Reporter leads with the latest on Bond 23‘s inertia.

    Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson

    Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson

    According to the trade paper’s source, a former MGM insider, James Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are “deeply concerned” about the effect the delay will have on the picture when it finally moves forward.

    “They’re completely panicked that if they go five, six years without a Bond movie, it’ll be over,” a former MGM insider told the paper. “They don’t want to kill the golden goose.”

    The source claims Broccoli is hoping MGM will be sold to Time Warner, whose bid for the studio is the highest that has so far been offered. The producer is said to have doubts about whether other interested studios, including Spyglass Entertainment, Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate, could handle the scale of a Bond production. However, at $1.5 billion, Time Warner’s offer is well below the amount sought by MGM’s creditors. MGM is currently buckling under $4 billion of debt.

    The former MGM insider told the Hollywood Reporter, “Bond’s the entire yearly production budget for Lionsgate, and you’ve got Carl Icahn [the US investor currently seeking to acquire Lionsgate] saying they’re spending too much money. These [prospective MGM buyers] freak them out. [But] all they can do is work behind the scenes to get what they want.”

    Eon were previously reported to be interested in MGM being bought by Time Warner last month.

    Broccoli and Wilson are also keen to continue their relationship with Sony Pictures, which began with 2006’s Casino Royale. “They want to continue with Sony since Sony spends,” the Hollywood Reporter’s source said.

    The Bond producers are clearly protective of their family’s legacy. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Broccoli was quizzed by Sony’s top brass early in their relationship about what they like to see in studio executives. According to the paper’s source, “Barbara said, ‘We generally like studio executives, but we don’t like assholes like John Calley.’ [Sony chairman, president and CEO] Howard Stringer finally cut her off. It was the most awkward moment. [But] it was her way of firing a shot across the bow.”

    Daniel Craig as James Bond

    Daniel Craig as James Bond

    Eon’s influence over the studio is evident in their successful hiring of Daniel Craig for Casino Royale. Broccoli took note of Craig after MGM requested she watch Matthew Vaughan’s Layer Cake, who was under consideration to direct Casino Royale.

    “Barbara said, ‘I really like this guy, Daniel Craig,’ ” the Hollywood Reporter’s former MGM insider said. “We were horrified. We liked Eric Bana, Hugh Jackman. To her credit, she thought [Craig] was a great actor, had this magnetism. We wanted to do one more with Pierce [Brosnan]. [The producers] are generally cautious, but they are capable of doing bold strokes.”

    Meanwhile, past 007 alumni were quick to dispel fears the franchise would lose steam should Bond 23 not move ahead in the near future.

    “I’m not worried about 007,” said James Bond screenwriter Bruce Feirstein, who most recently penned the scripts for Activision’s GoldenEye and Blood Stone. “There’s a line at the end of every movie which we used in the video game: It’s that James Bond will return. It’s been true for 50 years. A hiccup like what’s going on at MGM is not going to change that.”

    Feirstein also noted that interest in James Bond didn’t wane during the six-year gap between 1989’s Licence to Kill and 1995’s GoldenEye.

    GoldenEye‘s casting director Pam Dixon agreed. “The long break was a plus in that instance,” she said.

    Broccoli and Wilson declined to comment to the Hollywood Reporter. However, there’s no doubting the sentiments behind behind Michael G. Wilson’s opening quip at the Blood Stone launch: “I wish we were launching a movie.”

    Be sure to check out the Hollywood Reporter’s full coverage.

    Development on the latest James Bond film has been suspended since April 2010.

    Keep watching for all the latest Bond 23 developments.

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