1. Barbara Broccoli Shoots Down Tabloid Reports

    By Athena Stamos on 2006-03-05

    “His teeth are fine, his driving is fine, he doesn’t have heat rash and he’s not afraid of the water.” That’s the word today from Bond producer Barbara Broccoli as reported in Variety.

    Tabloid reports that 007 star Daniel Craig has been taking a beating on the set of Casino Royale have rained down on the production almost from the first day of shooting.

    “We’re aware of it, but it doesn’t mean anything to us,” says Broccoli, who adds she’s used to being scrutinized by the press and sensitive fans. “There’s always a heightened interest in Bond, and every time we recast the role there’s even more. It’s just in keeping with what we’ve been experiencing.”

    Daniel Craig as James Bond

    Daniel Craig as James Bond

    The Variety article also sheds light on Eon’s new working relationship with Sony and Columbia Pictures topper Amy Pascal, who is said to be working with the producers to contemporize the franchise and grow its audience in a younger direction.

    Broccoli says the team has come to “happy agreements” on all Bond matters, and that “all casting and director decisions were made with Amy…. The script and everything.”

    “I’m glad to be working with a woman executive,” she says of Pascal. “It’s nice for me.”

    Sources familiar with the producers’ arrangement at MGM say so long as Broccoli and Wilson stayed within the budget the studio had approved, they had the right to make all creative decisions, including casting and script, but that they never invoked that clause, instead opting to include the studio in the filmmaking process.

    As for the producers’ financial arrangement, people with knowledge of the deal say they do not put up money for P&A (prints and advertising), but receive gross points as well as an upfront fee. Most contract deals and legal work are done through Eon Productions, costs that are put on the film’s budget and then reimbursed.

    Yet Broccoli does admit that, “We’re all very strong-minded individuals,” and people close to the film say there have been lively negotiations. Sources say Broccoli was the most passionate about hiring Craig (Variety claims Sony initially pushed for Clive Owen), although Pascal now waxes adoringly over the blue-eyed Layer Cake star and is said to be looking to cast him in another Sony pic.

    And while the studio pushed for A-list leading ladies, such as Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron, who turned the role down (not surprisingly, considering Eon’s no gross points rule), the producers insisted on less- expensive, lesser-known thesps who wouldn’t overshadow Bond. A compromise was reached in Eva Green, a thesp with international cred (she’s French) who starred in the steamy NC-17 Bertolucci pic The Dreamers

    Co-producer Michael G. Wilson characterizes the Sony partnership as “collegial.” “We’re all headed in the same direction. The idea that someone throws down the gauntlet— it never comes to that.”

    As on all Bond pics, the production schedule for Casino Royale is brisk. Shooting began Jan. 30 in Prague and will wrap this summer in order to have the pic in theaters Nov. 17. Things were unusually close to the wire on this pic, and Green was cast two weeks into shooting.

    The short schedule puts added pressure on Sony marketers, who were in the Bahamas (where the pic is now shooting) as early as last week gathering material for a Casino Royale teaser trailer.

    Not that raising awareness is a big dilemma when it comes to Bond. “You have an incredible advantage with the franchise because you know what it is,” Pascal says.

    The $100 million-plus Casino Royale, which is the story of Bond’s first mission, is not being touted as a special effects or “gadgets” pic.

    “There will still be effects, but they won’t be obvious to the audience,” Wilson says. “We have great action sequences, a lot of things blowing up … but not space effects or things disappearing or invisible cars.”

    Casino Royale is the 21st James Bond film produced by franchise holders Eon Productions. The MGM/Columbia Pictures production began shooting in January and is due for release worldwide on 17 November 2006. Starring Daniel Craig as James Bond, it is currently being filmed in the Czech Republic, the Bahamas, Italy and the UK.