1. The Living Headlines

    By @mrpauldunphy on 2004-02-11

    Word on the latest Bond film has been scarce of late, and understandably so. The monolith of a film doesn’t go into production until later this year, but us fans still get the odd rumour here and there about how the latest flavour of the month pop star or talent show winner will become the latest Bond song crooner, or how that controversial director has been approached seventy three times to turn Bond into a woman and resurrect SPECTRE as a Socialist Lesbian cult, though by now we’re all cynical/wise (however you choose to phrase it) towards the publicity bandwagon that so many hacks jump gullibly on to, apparently unaware it’s just a hyped-up PR stunt to boost flailing popularity of said ‘celebrity’.

    We’re wise to that by now… Aren’t we?

    Very recently one story has been dominating the headlines of fan sites and burning the news channels across the planet- arguably the most important story since that of Bond’s re-introduction to the general public in the early Nineties. I am of course referring to Pierce Brosnan’s supposedly imminent departure as the fifth silver screen 007. I say supposed, because we have as of yet heard nothing from the official channels, and all we have been supplied with is mere conjecture and conveniently anonymous sources.

    Let’s present the facts, and take the rumours back to the grand old day of February 9th this year, when everything was intoned in a fine shade of sepia and old dears weep fondly about how life was good back then in the day. UK tabloid The Daily Mail reports Brosnan’s “pensioning off” as James Bond. He is supposedly failing to attract “enough young fans” and producers, Eon “will be recruiting a successor before the next film.” The more cynical among us would simply dismiss this: “But Brosnan’s their billion-dollar Bond, the most successful yet.” And you’d be right too. The figures speak for themselves; over 500 million of your American dollars worldwide at the box office for latest installment Die Another Day prove that Brosnan’s popularity certainly isn’t failing.

    Yet Mr Brosnan has been given the old one-two with yet more rumour and speculation regarding the much coveted role, a host of sources, from the Irish Examiner to the Times Of India’s site have all reported the same (though some may have just picked up on the news through the wires). Some sites have taken the rumour aboard like an old friend, Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, for instance report the rumour as semi-fact while others, perhaps wisely, have taken a more cynical approach; fellow fan site, for instance have blown the story out of the water and based on past experience, news stories and interviews, maybe it’s the best thing to do.
    Pierce has constantly been quoted as saying that he is “good for a fifth” and maybe even a sixth Bond film, and producer Barbara Broccoli stated in an interview earlier this year that commenting on a potential Bond after Brosnan would be akin to “asking a bride when she’s going up the aisle who her next husband is going to be.”

    Yet still these rumours persist, and talks of rising star Hugh Jackman becoming the next Bond are also thrown into the mix, thanks to the Melbourne Herald Sun (…who?). The thing that intrigues me most as a Bond fan is that as yet, we have had no official denial from MGM or Eon. They reacted to rumours regarding Judi Dench’s replacement prior to The World Is Not Enough’s filming with more zeal, but that may be due to a number of reasons. More than one person taking holiday leave at the office for instance. It’s a problem at this time of year, you see.

    Not only are the producers seemingly going to wave goodbye to the man who helped re-invigorate Bond back in ’95, but they are supposed to be taking a backward step (in time, of course), and focus on one of Bond’s earlier missions recreating the early days of 007, a step never seen before in the series infamous for lack of continuity between films and actors (but that’s why we love it so). The only time this was considered previously was back in 1986, after Roger Moore’s departure from the role and before Timothy Dalton’s crowning as Bond Number 004. The idea was eventually canned and normal service resumed (albeit a slightly darker, more brooding service). Anyway, I digress. The point I’m trying to make is that John Cleese is contracted for one more film as Q, which would definitely pose continuity problems seeing as 007 met him in 1999, not pre-1962. Then again, contracts are broken all the time in the movie game, so I’m potentially making a moot point. Then again we have the recently signed deal with Aston Martin, promising us a look at the new V8 Vantage come 2005, more evidence contrary to the rumour? Certianly, unless they intend to base Bond’s younger days in 2005.

    And plus, in Bond’s world years are irrelevant, which would mean that Tracy didn’t die in 1969 at all…Did For Your Eyes Only lie to us?!

    Of course we have the old conspiracy theories, that Eon or MGM want to check audience reaction, stockholder reaction or otherwise make people react in some way to the news (to which a great many have), but this rumour is still dogged with all those ‘anonymous source’ hurdles that so often proliferate bad rumours, even if this one does carry a little extra weighting than usual. I intend to treat it as such until we get official confirmation, but by all means vote in our poll whether you would like Brosnan to stay in the role or not, and comment on it in our forums, but you have to agree that it certainly has been the most interesting bandwagon to choose whether to jump on to or not of late. I must admit I would have much preferred a true story regarding the ditching of Purvis and Wade for someone mildly talented as screenwriters for future Bond films, but you can’t have what you want all the time and I’m sure this will keep us fans ticking over discussion-wise until a little later this year.

    Until then, I leave you with current producer Michael G Wilson’s wise words: “Ninety percent of rumours are not leaks. Ninety percent are just inventions of people with very active imaginations.”