From The Express (London) (September 4, 1998)
By John Lyttle
Oh what tangled webs we weave...
Yesterday Jason Connery, son of the more famous Sean, was telling the press that he had been approached by a mysterious production company to play the part of James Bond, the role that made his dad famous.
"You wouldn't believe how much money has been offered to me," the 35-year-old actor said, before revealing the reasons he had turned down the cash and the chance to be the next 007. "I think the films have lost a lot of their magic because of political correctness," Connery went on. "And how could you top my dad?" Not that this was meant as an insult to the current Bond incarnation, of course. Of the rest of the Bonds, my particular favourite is Brosnan," Jason said, before graciously allowing that, "all (the actors) brought their own dimensions to the role."
The news that Jason was offered the opportunity to bring his own dimension to the secret agent is, however, news to Connery's agent. Peter Brooks not only denies that his client has ever been offered the part of 007, he also insists Jason has never spoken to journalists about the subject. Certainly Jason's near-casting as James came as a shock to Eon Productions, makers of the Bond series. "It's the first we've heard of it," said a spokesman. "What I can tell you is Pierce Brosnan is flying in on January 4 to begin shooting Bond 19."
Eon also dismissed the rumour that the nameless production company invoked by Connery was Sony, which is currently fighting Eon in the US courts over plans to produce a rival series of James Bond movies.
"That is an on-going legal situation," said the spokesman, "and until it is resolved, the part of James Bond could not be offered to any actor. Really, we are at a loss for an explanation."
By Paul Karon
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) / (Feb. 20, 1998) - Sony Pictures Entertainment, in its high-stakes attempt to kidnap James Bond from his 35-year-old home at MGM's United Artists banner, has made some startling claims of ownership of the 007 movie franchise -- and is suing MGM for a cut of the profits generated by the 18-film action series.
Legal documents recently filed in U.S. district court by Sony and its attorneys outline a strategy based on complex international copyright laws to buttress their right to go forward with their nascent rival Bond movie franchise.
Sony is claiming it has the legal right to the 007 franchise through its association with producer Kevin McClory, whose co-ownership of the Bond character stems from collaborations with Bond author Ian Fleming.
Sony suggests in its claim that the cinematic Bond character is not only separate from the literary secret agent, but is in fact partly McClory's creation, and therefore co-owned by him. And because of his ownership of the Bond character, Sony said, McClory is owed some portion of the estimated $3 billion the franchise has generated.
According to the documents, Fleming worked with McClory and scriptwriter Jack Whittingham through 1959 and 1960, developing 10 treatments and scripts that weren't based on any of the existing Bond novels. The joint script efforts, ultimately titled "Thunderball", were intended to become the original James Bond film.
Though those scripts and treatments did not result in the production of a film, Sony said, Fleming later wrote a novel based on them, also titled Thunderball, without giving McClory credit or payment from the book. McClory successfully sued Fleming, and in 1963 was awarded various rights, including the ability to reproduce any part of the Thunderball novel in films, and to use the Bond character.
"As a consequence of his joint authorship, McClory has at all times been at least a co-owner of copyright in and to the McClory scripts and all their elements, including the James Bond character as delineated therein," according to the Sony counterclaims. "Consequently, McClory (and now Sony) may freely exploit the McClory scripts."
Though a Bond picture called Thunderball was produced in 1965, Pierce O'Donnell, lead attorney for MGM and Bond picture production company Danjaq, disputed Sony's attempt to use that film as the source of McClory's ownership.
"The cinematic James Bond was fully delineated by the time Thunderball was made," said O'Donnell, citing the already-released United Artists pictures. "Instead of meeting us on the merits of our claim, they've concocted this bizarre claim that a man who spent a few months working on an unsuccessful Thunderball script with the man who created James Bond can somehow become the owner of the cinematic James Bond."
O'Donnell also questioned the timeliness of the suit. "This novel claim is being asserted for the first time in 35 years, after UA has made 18 Bond movies," said O'Donnell. "It is preposterous as a matter of fact and of law."
MGM and Danjaq released a brief response to the new Sony claims of ownership. "The defendant's response confirms our strongly held belief that Sony was delusional in asserting that it can launch a new series of James Bond films," an MGM statement said. "Expanding radically upon Kevin McClory's time-worn assertion of his rights to make James Bond movies based on Thunderball, Sony now makes completely unfounded new claims."
By Bob Tourtellotte
LOS ANGELES, Feb 20, 1998 (Reuters) - In a legal battle that grows more bitter at each turn, Sony Pictures Entertainment has countersued rival film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. over the movie rights to fictional spy James Bond.
Since October, when Sony signed a deal with former Bond producer Kevin McClory to make movies based on Bond, MGM has asserted it owns exclusive rights to the Bond franchise. MGM in November sued to block Sony from making Bond movies.
At stake are billions of dollars in box office success. Over 35 years, some 20 Bond movies have grossed more than $3 billion in theater ticket sales.
The most recent Bond picture, Tomorrow Never Dies, opened in theaters in December and has grossed about $120 million in the United States. It is expected to eclipse that figure overseas.
McClory, along with Jack Whittingham, helped Bond creator Ian Fleming develop the original story line for 1965's Thunderball. By virtue of his involvement, McClory now owns rights to Thunderball and the characters within it.
What is in dispute is McClory's rights to make movies beyond merely a remake of Thunderball, which he has already done once with 1983's Never Say Never Again.
In court documents from the recent countersuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Sony claims that Bond and the Bond movies are all based on the sort of action originally written in the story line for Thunderball. Because of that, they say McClory is the co-author of the cinematic Bond.
Sony further claims that MGM and Danjaq LLC, the producers of 18 Bond pictures, owe McClory fees for all the Bond movies they have produced because he is the co-author of the cinematic Bond. And they want a full accounting of the profits and losses of those movies.
MGM attorney, Pierce O'Donnell called Sony's assertions "preposterous" and likened McClory to the "Rip Van Winkle of copyright laws. He has been sleeping on his putative rights for over 20 years."
Sony officials declined to comment on the record. O'Donnell said the suit and countersuit likely would not come to trial for a year.
The two movie studios are likely to continue waging their legal battle in the meantime, and MGM is already at work on a script for its next James Bond movie.
"Dish" column by Michael Fleming
NEW YORK (Variety) / (Dec. 11, 1997) -- The rivalry between MGM and Sony over the James Bond franchise thickens.
Dish hears that Sony topper John Calley is courting Sean Connery to star, and Godzilla tandem Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin to direct and produce, respectively. Though none of them has decided, grudges may motivate them to say yes. Connery did Never Say Never Again, the first remake of Thunderball, partly to stick it to producer Cubby Broccoli, whom he felt never paid him his worth. Though Sony bought Thunderball, Connery might like to reclaim his Bond identity and thwart the Broccoli-controlled Bond franchise again. And Emmerich and Devlin didn't have much fun working with MGM when the studio distributed their sleeper sci-fi hit Stargate, because the duo felt the studio didn't get behind the film until it opened strongly.
Adding to the intrigue, Dish also hears that Pierce Brosnan, who's played Bond for the two most recent MGM pics, met Martin Scorsese at a social event and asked if he might consider doing a Bond turn. Though Scorsese made no commitment, he didn't say no and seemed receptive.
Any Sony film is predicated on that studio successfully fighting the whopping lawsuit MGM filed to protect its Bond franchise and challenge Sony's plan.
Sony was mum, but an MGM spokesman said: "Regardless of who Sony may claim to be in talks with, MGM has all rights to James Bond and will block in court any attempts by Sony to proceed with a James Bond film in any way."
By Paul Karon and Rex Weiner
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) / Nov. 18, 1997 -- Two Hollywood studios are at war over the lucrative James Bond movie franchise.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Monday filed a $25 million lawsuit in federal court against Sony Pictures, charging that Sony's efforts to mount a rival Bond film are due to "a disgruntled former executive of (MGM's) United Artists Pictures."
The suit also names that executive, John Calley, the former UA president who is now Sony's motion picture head.
"This case is about the specious efforts of a global media empire and a disgruntled former executive of United Artists Pictures Inc. to lay claim to the most successful and enduring motion picture franchise in history," MGM's lawyers wrote in the complaint.
Joining MGM in the suit to stop Sony's 007 production plans is Danjaq Ltd., the company originally formed by late producer Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman in 1962 to produce Bond films. Eon, the successor company to Danjaq, is run by Broccoli's daughter Barbara and stepson Michael Wilson, and is now partnered with MGM.
The suit charges Sony with attempting to abscond with Bond character and film property rights representing 3 decades of creative and financial investment by Danjaq and MGM.
"They've created a cloud over our 34-year-old James Bond franchise," said attorney Pierce O'Donnell, of the firm O'Donnell & Shaeffer, which MGM has hired to spearhead its legal battles with Sony.
MGM's initial goal is to halt Sony's Bond production efforts, O'Donnell said. "Assessment of financial damages comes next. If in the process we find that we've been damaged, we're going to take them to a jury trial," he said.
The suit also names Kevin McClory, an early collaborator on a film project with Bond author Ian Fleming, who has maintained rights to Fleming's novel Thunderball and who produced 2 Bond pictures based on the book.
Neither Sony nor Calley commented on the suit. McClory was also unavailable for comment.
O'Donnell told Daily Variety that the $25 million in damages are charged in connection with MGM's recent initial public stock offering.
"They calculated the timing to inflict maximum injury to MGM," said O'Donnell. He stopped short of saying that Sony's Oct. 13 announcement of its rival Bond project did in fact cause the IPO's less-than-robust acceptance on Wall Street last week, but did not rule it out.
"We are studying that," he said. "We may decide it's more than $25 million," O'Donnell said.
The value of promotional tie-ins and other marketing deals connected with the Bond property could be compromised by Sony's moves, according to MGM's legal team, which added that marketing partners have already committed more than $100 million to the campaign for the upcoming Tomorrow Never Dies, said MGM senior executive VP and general counsel David Johnson.
The MGM suit attacks McClory's -- and Sony's -- claims of ownership of Bond properties stemming from the Fleming novel Thunderball, which McClory produced for the screen in 1965, and remade in 1983 under the title Never Say Never Again. Both starred Sean Connery.
"Although Fleming granted McClory his interest in the copyright in certain preliminary script materials, Fleming did not, and could not, grant McClory the right to use the character James Bond and his pseudonym '007' in non-Thunderball films," according to MGM's suit.
MGM also claims that a 28-year U.S. copyright term on Fleming's work had expired and that a renewal of those rights Oct. 30 brought all of Fleming's U.S. copyrights -- including Thunderball-- under the MGM/Danjaq banner.
"They are out of the James Bond business," said O'Donnell of Sony and McClory. "I don't think they can make a martini that's shaken, not stirred."
But MGM is leveling its most personal charges -- theft of trade secrets -- against Calley, who as former UA production president was intimately involved in the reinvigoration of the Bond franchise with the successful 1995 film GoldenEye.
"During his tenure at United Artists Pictures, Calley acquired highly valuable proprietary information about the optimal ways to develop and exploit the franchise and bring it into the 21st Century," MGM said in its complaint.
Sony and Columbia induced Calley, the suit alleges, "to misappropriate this highly confidential information, which they are now using to, and intend to continue to use, to compete unfairly with the James Bond motion picture franchise which Danjaq and MGM have carefully developed and nurtured through decades by their own skill and effort."
By Bob Tourtellotte
HOLLYWOOD (Reuters) / (Oct. 22, 1997) - James Bond, agent 007, needs a bodyguard. Or, better yet, a very good lawyer.
The fictional super spy has battled the world's most diabolical villains on land and sea, in the air, even in space, and he always has won.
But now he faces being ripped in two as a second studio has announced plans to make a series of Bond movies, even though MGM claims the franchise and actively keeps it going. Two Bonds could dilute the world's most successful film franchise as well as confuse moviegoers.
Sony Pictures Entertainment and its deep-pocketed parent, Sony Corp., say they want to go into the Bond business big time. Hollywood is aghast, saying if Sony follows through, it will trigger one of the biggest legal battles in years -- complete with rumors of a personal vendetta and lots of money.
In fact, the story might make a good movie, if some studio could only get the rights.
Sony last week said it would make a series of Bond movies with Kevin McClory, producer of Bond picture Thunderball in 1965 and a 1983 remake, Never Say Never Again. The deal is a direct challenge to rival Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., which, with affiliates, owns rights to 18 of the 20 Bond pictures made so far.
IS SONY DELUSIONAL?
"Any claim that (McClory) can create a James Bond franchise is delusional," MGM Chairman Frank Mancuso said in a terse statement. "We hope that Sony has not been duped by Mr. McClory's deception."
Sony executives declined comment on whether they were dupes or victims of a plot or simply knew a good deal when they saw one.
Under the deal, Sony's Columbia Pictures will make a series of movies based on original work by McClory, Bond novelist Ian Fleming and Jack Whittingham, all of whom contributed to the Thunderball screenplay.
McClory still owns rights to Thunderball and characters in it, including gadget genius Q and Bond's secretary, Miss Moneypenny. Other Bond rights belong to United Artists, a film unit of MGM, and the heirs of Bond movie producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli.
Since debuting in 1962, the Bond movies have generated more than $3 billion in revenue around the world, or about $85.7 million a year on average. It is the most successful film franchise ever. The most recently released, 1995's GoldenEye, hauled in more than $350 million for MGM globally.
Perhaps even more important than revenue is Sony's timing. MGM will launch its 18th Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies, in December.
The deal also comes on the eve of MGM's initial public offering of $250 million of common stock, expected in early November. MGM executives have spent more than a year planning for the offering and courting Wall Street financiers in roadshows that highlight the lucrative Bond franchise.
"Obviously it distracts from their message on the roadshow," said Art Rockwell, financial analyst with Los Angeles-based Yaeger Capital Markets.
But, he added, any damage will not likely be long-lasting. MGM is a full-service studio with a multitude of other assets that generate revenue, such as television production, a TV satellite network overseas, music, home video and the largest film library in the world with about 4,000 titles.
McClory's rights appear to be limited to Thunderball only, according to MGM lawyer Pierce O'Donnell, a powerful Hollywood legal eagle who has successfully sued several studios several times over.
As recently as 1995, he noted, MGM and affiliates won a federal court case that gave them full copyright ownership of the James Bond character.
O'Donnell said his clients have not decided whether to file a suit now or wait until Sony actually has a move script in hand.
Rockwell called Sony's move "a lot of saber rattling." And that is where the talk of a personal vendetta comes in.
Sony Pictures President John Calley ran United Artists for several years under MGM's Mancuso before jumping ship in 1996 to head up Sony Pictures. Indeed, Calley helped bring GoldenEye to the big screen.
When billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian and Australian media conglomerate Seven Network Ltd. paid $1.3 billion to acquire MGM in 1996, Calley and other executives were purposely kept in the dark during negotiations, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times.
The Times said that at the time of the sale, Calley received only a small bonus for his work in helping revitalize MGM, which was being sold out of bank foreclosure, compared to Mancuso's bonus of $14.5 million.
In an interview with the Times, Calley said "there is nothing personal about this." But the timing, the money and Bond -- one of the most enduring characters on film -- have Hollywood tongues wagging.
By Rex Weiner
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) / (Oct. 14, 1997) - It's spy vs. spy at the box office as Sony Pictures prepares to launch a James Bond movie in competition with MGM, which holds the 007 franchise.
Sony announced Monday that its Columbia Pictures studio will activate a James Bond motion picture franchise, based on story rights owned by producer Kevin McClory.
McClory produced the 1965 Bond picture Thunderball, based on a story by him, Jack Whittingham and Bond creator Ian Fleming; McClory also produced a 1983 remake of the film, Never Say Never Again, for Warner Bros.
Calling the studio's move "delusional," MGM chairman Frank Mancuso, has hired high-powered legal gun Pierce O'Donnell to challenge Sony's right to Bond.
Sony Pictures is headed by John Calley, who resurrected the 007 franchise with 1995's GoldenEye when he was president at MGM's United Artists. He joined Sony last year.
"There have been a number of great Bonds over the years," Calley told Daily Variety, denying that his move represents a personal challenge to his alma mater. "We are satisfied that McClory has the right to make James Bond."
He said there is no script as yet, no star or director attached, but he has set 1999 as the release year for Sony's first Bond picture.
Mancuso, Calley's former boss, was less than thrilled. "Any claim that (McClory) can create a James Bond franchise is delusional," Mancuso declared in a terse statement. "We hope that Sony has not been duped by Mr. McClory's deception. Today, more than ever, we will vigorously pursue all means to protect this valued franchise that United Artists and the Broccoli family have nurtured for more than 3 decades."
Calley's move could not have come at a more sensitive time for MGM. The company, owned by Australia's Seven Network and Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp., is preparing to launch a $250 million public offering that is timed to coincide with the Dec. 18 release of the 18th Bond picture, Tomorrow Never Dies.
As a lure for investors, the studio is highlighting Bond as MGM's flagship asset; GoldenEye, starring Pierce Brosnan, grossed more than $350 million worldwide.
Sony teamed up with Sony a year ago after studio executives read an interview with the 71-year-old producer in Daily Variety.
In that interview, McClory said he was planning a Bond picture called Warhead 2000 AD, exercising rights to Bond gained from an early collaboration with Fleming and Whittingham that resulted in Thunderball, the 4th Bond picture filmed in association with Albert "Cubby" Broccoli.
McClory's rights were exercised once again with Never Say Never Again, starring Sean Connery and produced at Warner Bros., where Calley presided as head of production.
McClory would not comment on how much the deal was worth or how many pictures would be made. While Warhead 2000 AD is unlikely to be the title of the new picture, he denied that any new picture would be essentially a remake of Thunderball.
By John Horn
CULVER CITY, Calif. (October 13, 1997) -- MGM is not about to take Columbia Pictures' plans to make competing James Bond movies lying down.
Columbia, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, announced Monday it is making a series of new Bond movies -- stunning news to MGM, which believes it owns exclusive movie rights to the globetrotting English secret agent.
The Columbia films will be based on writings by the late Bond novelist Ian Fleming, writer-director Kevin McClory and producer Jack Whittingham, the studio said. Columbia said it plans to release its first Bond film in 1999. Casting and story details were not announced. McClory produced the Bond films Thunderball in 1965 and Never Say Never Again in 1983.
MGM said Columbia is "delusional" if it believes it can make any Bond movies. MGM's United Artists division has made 18 Bond films, the longest-running film franchise in Hollywood history. The MGM films, made with producer Albert Cubby Broccoli and his heirs, have worldwide theatrical grosses exceeding $3 billion, and none have lost money. There have been 5 actors in the name role, the most recent being Pierce Brosnan.
Columbia Pictures say it is convinced it has a legal right to produce the Bond movies. "We've done due diligence and there's no doubt Kevin McClory has the rights to make a series of James Bond films and he has licensed those rights to Sony Pictures," said Peter Wilkes, a Sony Pictures spokesman.
MGM found the explanation ludicrous. It will release the 18th Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies, on Dec. 19.
"Kevin McClory's claims of ownership of rights to James Bond have been disputed for over 10 years. Any claim that he can create a James Bond franchise is delusional," Frank Mancuso, MGM's chairman, said in a statement.
"We hope that Sony has not been duped by Mr. McClory's deception. Today, more than ever, we will vigorously pursue all means to protect this valued franchise that United Artists and the Broccoli family have nurtured for more than three decades," Mancuso said.
McClory said he, Whittingham and Fleming collaborated on several movie ideas in 1959. "Although they try to depict us as interlopers, we were in fact innovators," McClory said in an interview. He said Fleming's Thunderball was based on a movie idea he helped develop with the novelist.
"MGM's rights came after our rights," McClory said. "There is no doubt about this: We created our work with Fleming."
McClory's deal with Columbia was negotiated under the guidance of Sony Pictures President John Calley, who most recently ran United Artists.
"The new James Bond films emphasize our commitment to create motion picture franchises that serve as tentpoles for our release schedule and create business opportunities throughout the Sony family," Calley said in a statement.
By Erich Boehm
NAME: Kevin McClory
DESCRIPTION: Alternative James Bond 007 film producer.
LAST SEEN: Threatening to make a new alternate Bond pic.
LONDON (Variety) / Jan. 6, 1997 -- Film producer, screenwriter and director Kevin McClory calls himself a seanchai -- a difficult to pronounce Irish word for storyteller. And there is one story, Thunderball, that has played a big part in McClory's life for nearly 4 decades.
McClory owns the rights to the 1965 James Bond pic. In 1983, he reworked the Thunderball premise into Never Say Never Again, with Sean Connery back as 007 when the other Bond was Roger Moore. Now there are plans for another alternate Bond feature, Warhead 2000 A.D., once again based on Thunderball but this time set to rain on Pierce Brosnan's parade.
McClory has yet to reveal a star or backer for the film, but he has a history of dogged determination. He says he is in negotiations with an actor he would like to have for Bond, and that several major studios have expressed interest in the project.
"I'm back in the Bond business because I have a couple of films I want to direct and Bond can provide the finance," McClory says. "I didn't want to make another Bond film, but now that I've come this far, I'm enjoying it immensely."
The Irishman, now in his late 60s (he says he is not sure of his exact age due to the unsettled circumstances of his childhood) has showbiz in his blood. Both parents were actors, of the traveling troupe variety.
McClory's first ambition was also acting. But after dyslexia drove him from school at an early age, he ended up in the Norwegian merchant navy. His ship was torpedoed by a U-boat in the war, and McClory spent a year in the hospital recovering from frostbite and shock. It left him with a stammer that persists today.
In 1947, McClory joined the sound department at Shepperton Studios in England. He worked his way up from boom operator to assistant director on films such as John Huston's The African Queen. Huston became a lifelong friend.
In 1958, McClory co-wrote, directed and produced his own film, The Boy and the Bridge. The film attracted the attention of James Bond creator Ian Fleming.
"Fleming saw a rough cut and liked it," McClory says. "At the time he was frustrated that the Bond novels had not yet been made into films." The two agreed to collaborate on a Bond script. McClory was also to direct.
In 1959-60, McClory, Fleming and screenwriter Jack Wittingham cranked out the series of scripts that would become Thunderball. The storyline was not taken from one of the existing Bond novels. According to McClory, working with Fleming was tough-going. "He was upper class and Eton-educated, and I was an uneducated Irishman, despite my film experience; we clashed a lot," he says.
Without financing, the project died. Fleming, however, using ideas from the scripts, went on to write the novel "Thunderball" in 1961, but did not credit McClory or Wittingham. McClory took Fleming to court, and in 1963 was awarded the rights to all the original "Thunderball" treatments and scripts as well as the film rights to the novel. "I believe Fleming was dried up as a writer, so he took a chance," is McClory's perspective.
By then, producers Albert (Cubby) Broccoli and Harry Saltzman of Eon Prods. were already making Bond pics. A deal was struck: McClory would be executive producer for the film Thunderball and Eon the producer. The deal also required McClory to relinquish the right to pursue the Bond brand for 10 years.
For Never Say Never Again, McClory pursued Connery to the set of Huston's The Man Who Would Be King in Morocco, but the actor's initial response was, "Never again, never again." He finally enticed Connery by first inviting him to co-write the script. Through the process of writing, McClory says, Connery regained interest in the character. McClory credits Connery with many of the film's one-liners.
According to McClory, there was an attempt by United Artists and Fleming's estate to block the film. He says he expects some "noise" again this time out, but that all potential players are aware that there are no legal problems whatsoever.
From the Sunday Independent [Dublin, Ireland] (Oct. 27, 1996)
By Trevor Danker
Stirred by definitely not shaken, the Great Gatsby of our times, Kevin McClory, is finally about to fulfill his cinematic dream of making his own James Bond film. This will be the 2nd time he has produced. What's more, he says he's raised the money, has a script ready, and is about to sign up 007 Mark 2 and wants to make part of the film here early next year. It comes after years of legal tussles since McClory acquired right to Thunderball - his licence to pursue the Bond brand - in a court case in 1963.
All of which signals a forthcoming major multimillion dollar Battle of the Bonds between his company, Spectre Associates, and the other Bond-backers, United Artists and Eon Prods., who has produced 17 Bond movies. These include Pierce Brosnan debut in GoldenEye, which has grossed a massive $345 million since its premiere in 1995. "We are ready to go," the debonair McClory told me last week as he shuffled around the West of Ireland. "The film will be called Warhead 2000 AD and and actor has been chosen to play Bond. But we won't announce it yet to keep the competition in the dark."
"No, it's not Sean Connery. He's too old for the part now. But he has said he would play the villain in a James Bond film if the price was right." He didn't, however, dismiss Tim Dalton as a possible Bond. He played the character in Licence to Kill and The Living Daylights.
"I haven't spoken to Pierce Brosnan for some time, so I don't know if he is aware of the new Bond. I am anxious to make part of the film in Ireland. The rest of it will be shot in the US, Australia, and the Caribbean. Raising money for a Bond film is never really a problem. A lot of people wondered where I disappeared to for the last couple of years. I was in Amsterdam writing the script."
McClory's fight to make his Bond movie goes back to the early 1960s when he and fellow writer Jack Whittingham, now dead, successfully took Bond creator Ian Fleming to court over the storyline of the novel Thunderball, which, they argued, was based on the film script, Thunderball, the three had completed in 1960. In 1983, McClory reworked the picture's story into Never Say Never Again. Fleming's estate later tried unsuccessfully to block the release of the film, which marked Sean Connery's return to his most famous screen role.
By Erich Boehm
LONDON (Variety) / October 9, 1996 -- Two rival James Bond movies are in the works following last year's successful resurrection of the secret agent franchise with GoldenEye.
Pierce Brosnan is getting ready to reprise his role as 007 for a project tentatively titled "Bond 18" which will be directed by Roger Spottiswoode.
However, as the film's producers scout locations, another filmmaker is close to announcing details of his Bond project called Warhead 2000 A.D.
Speaking exclusively to Daily Variety from Ireland, producer Kevin McClory revealed plans for the film but was reluctant to give details, in order to keep "the competition" in the dark. McClory said he will announce more substantial information on funding and casting in 2 or 3 weeks.
No actor has yet been signed, but McClory says that a lead has been chosen and while the ink is not on paper, it's close to it. Similarly, financing is "as good as" in place.
McClory produced the 1965 Bond movie Thunderball and re-worked the story -- with himself as executive producer -- into 1983's Never Say Never Again. The estate of Bond creator Ian Fleming tried to block the latter picture, which marked Sean Connery's return to the role after a 12-year absence.
In an echo of Connery's return to the role, one possible Bond for McClory is Timothy Dalton, who played the character in 1987's The Living Daylights and 1989's Licence to Kill. McClory does not rule out Dalton as a possibility, saying he considers him an extremely fine actor.
McClory says his reasons for initiating an alternative Bond are twofold: "We have a damn good story, a Bond with a credible story and a potent, ruthless enemy, and it will enable me to fund the other films I want to make."
McClory acquired rights to Thunderball in a court case in 1963. He and fellow writer Jack Wittingham (now deceased) successfully took Fleming to court over the storyline of the novel Thunderball, which they argued was based on a film script the 3 had completed in 1961.
The producers of "Bond 18", working with the estate's backing, declined comment on McClory's plans.
From The Boston Globe (September 9, 1989)
By Paul Hirshson.
Pierce Brosnan may at last get to play James Bond. When Roger Moore proclaimed he would do no more Bond movies, Brosnan became producer Cubby Broccoli's first choice to play 007 after his TV series, Remington Steele, was canceled by NBC. But NBC and MTM Productions refused to let Brosnan out of the rest of his Steele contract in case they decided to do more episodes. At one point, everything -- the sets, costumes and the rest of the cast -- went on hold waiting for Brosnan to join them in Europe to start filming. Broccoli, who had held up production on Living Daylights as long as possible, finally asked NBC and MTM either to go with more Steele episodes or to release Brosnan for his movie. NBC refused to release him, so Broccoli, who had to start shooting immediately, chose Timothy Dalton to play Bond. But Kevin McClory, the Irish producer who made the only non-Broccoli Bond film, Never Say Never Again -- loosely based on Ian Fleming's novel Thunderball -- recently won the right from the courts to make a Bond movie based on a minor work by Fleming called "Atomic Warhead" that would star Brosnan. McClory has told Brosnan that he wants him to play Bond in "Atomic Warfare," but also said he cannot commit to any kind of money offer until the film gets launched financially.
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