Mar 22, 2017

Sixties Spy Show CORONET BLUE Coming to DVD At Last

Well, here's a welcome surprise! Kino Lorber announced today on their Facebook page that they will release one of the few remaining American spy shows of the Sixties not yet on DVD later this year! The elusive CBS series Coronet Blue, starring Frank Converse, was shot in 1965 but not aired until 1967 as a summer replacement series. It sounds like The Fugitive meets The Bourne Identity... though of course it pre-dated Robert Ludlum's book by more than a decade. The intriguing premise has long put this one need the top of my DVD wish list, and I'm thrilled that I'll finally have a chance to see it! Here's how Kino Lorber describes the series: "In this espionage thriller, Michael Alden (Frank Converse) is an amnesiac double agent in search of his true identity, while assassins of a mysterious syndicate are trying to locate and kill him." The strange (and probably detrimental) title comes from the few, seemingly nonsensical words that Converse can remember: "Coronet Blue." Coronet Blue: The Complete Series will include all 13 episodes - two of those never aired during its original run. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled before its central mystery could be solved, but one extra announced for the DVD is sure to clear that up. There will be a new interview with series creator Larry Cohen (whose career has encompassed everything from Sixties spy shows like Espionage and Blue Light to Eighties schlock classics like Maniac Cop and 21st Century high-concept thrillers like Phone Booth and Cellular), who has never been shy in sharing where he intended for the series to go. (Don't read the show's Wikipedia page, for example, if you don't wish it spoiled before you get to watch these DVDs.) So while the show may not have an ending, at least, unlike with The Sandbaggers, we can watch the creator describe what would have happened had it continued.

An impressive roster of guest stars on Coronet Blue included Alan Alda, Candice Bergen, David Carradine, Dick Clark, Denholm Elliott, Vincent Gardenia, Signe Hasso, Hal Holbrook, Sally Kellerman, Janet Margolin, Chester Morris, Juliet Mills, Patrick O’Neal, Mitchell Ryan, Roy Scheider, Daniel J. Travanti, Brenda Vaccaro, John Vernon, Jon Voight, and Billy Dee Williams.

It's been years since we've gotten a new release of an American Sixties spy series on DVD! (I think Jericho was the last one, and that Warner Archive set of Man From U.N.C.L.E. producer Norman Felton's 1966 WWII espionage drama happens to currently be on sale for a ridiculously low price on Amazon!) I never expected to see Coronet Blue get this treatment, and it's a most welcome announcement. Notable titles remaining MIA include Blue Light (also created by Cohen), Amos Burke: Secret Agent, The Double Life of Henry Phyfe, and, most of all, T.H.E. Cat. Let's hope some of those also turn up out of the blue in the months ahead!

Mar 16, 2017

Tradecraft: Henry Cavill Joins Mission: Impossible 6

Napoleon Solo is ditching U.N.C.L.E. for the IMF. Deadline reports that Henry Cavill has joined the cast of Mission: Impossible 6. Director Christopher McQuarrie made the announcement on Instagram before warning Cavill that "your social media account will self-destruct in 5 seconds." So apparently the actor holds no ill will against Tom Cruise for Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation crushing The Man From U.N.C.L.E. at the late summer box office in 2015. (Cruise himself was briefly attached to play Solo before dropping out due to scheduling conflicts from that M:I movie, opening the door for Hammer... who totally nailed the part.) There are no details whatsoever on what sort of part Cavill will be playing in the still untitled Mission: Impossible movies, but the trade reports that he will join "Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, and Jeremy Renner" in the cast. If this is true, then it would seem unlikely that Cavill will be a member of Cruise's team. It was rumored that Renner might not be available for this one, but if he is on board, it seems unlikely that there are three positions on the team for handsome men of action. (Imagine if the original TV lineup had been all Peter Lupus!) So will he be a villain? An external ally? I look forward to finding out! Cavill may have lost out on James Bond to Daniel Craig, but he seems determined to make up for that by booking roles in all the other spy franchises! (Is there a part for him in the next Bourne movie...?)

Mar 13, 2017

Public Service Announcement: Don't Forget to Reset Your DVRs for New Season of Archer on FXX

Archer returns for a brand new season on April 5. By now everyone is probably aware that the former spy parody will undergo a pretty big format change this year, morphing via coma dreams (Magnum-style, in keeping with last year's Eighties detective stylings) into a 1940s film noir send-up... but you may not know that it's also changing networks, moving from FX to FXX. And if you did know that, you still may not have considered the immediate ramifications of that switch. If you have a series recording set on your DVR, with many models you will need to cancel that recording and set up a new one for the new channel. Otherwise, Archer: Dreamland will fail to automatically appear in your recordings and you'll probably forget about it and miss the whole season. Or maybe that's just me who still uses a DVR and misses seasons when shows switch networks. But just in case! And another thing that might help you not forget that the new season exists is watching this promising trailer:

Mar 10, 2017

Full Red Band Trailer for Atomic Blonde

Yesterday we saw the teasers for the trailer, and today, sure enough, Universal has delivered for our viewing pleasure the full red-band trailer for Atomic Blonde in all its restricted and NSFW glory! I've said before that this will be the spy movie of the summer, and this trailer, every bit as fantastic as I had expected, would seem to confirm that! Everyone is going to be talking about David (John Wick) Leitch's film version of Antony Johnston and Sam Hart's Cold War Berlin-set Oni graphic novel The Coldest City (even despite the unfortunate title change)... especially after it premieres shortly at SXSW. Unfortunately it doesn't open until July, but that's plenty of time to build up enthusiasm! Charlize Theron (The Fate of the Furious), Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service), James McAvoy (State of Play), John Goodman (Argo), and Toby Jones (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) star.

Mar 9, 2017

Tradecraft: Night Manager Producers Plot New Period Spy Drama

Deadline reports that The Ink Factory, the production company behind the hit John le Carré TV adaptation The Night Manager (along with films of his work including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, A Most Wanted Man and Our Kind of Traitor), is plotting a new spy drama. The company, run by two of le Carré’s sons, will partner with Rise Films and Film4 to develop a Cold War spy film not based on one of the author's novels. Instead, the inspiration for The American War, an espionage tale set against the backdrop of the fall of Saigon in the last days of the Vietnam War in 1975, will be two non-fiction memoirs by former CIA agent Frank Snepp: Decent Interval: An Insider's Account of Saigon's Indecent End Told by the CIA's Chief Strategy Analyst in Vietnam and Irreparable Harm: A Firsthand Account of How One Agent Took on the CIA in an Epic Battle Over Free Speech. Tom Morton-Smith, who wrote the acclaimed play "Oppenheimer," about the father of the atomic bomb, will pen the screenplay.

According to the trade, "the film will follow the rising tensions between the intelligence community and a U.S. administration whose refusal to accept the facts prompted a catastrophic compromise of vulnerable American and South Vietnamese personnel and their families, followed by a refugee crisis. Despite this system failure and heart-breaking betrayal, individual acts of heroism and Snepp’s own desperate last-minute efforts to persuade his superiors in Saigon to admit defeat resulted in the evacuation of many people." So, obviously, they're going for a very timely take on the material!

Two Teasers for the Trailer of Atomic Blonde

Universal has released two short, tantalizing teasers for a longer, red-band trailer set to drop tomorrow for Atomic Blonde, which I've said before will be the spy movie of the summer. Seriously, everyone is going to be talking about David (John Wick) Leitch's film version of Antony Johnston and Sam Hart's Cold War Berlin-set Oni graphic novel The Coldest City (even despite the unfortunate title change). Why? Well, take a look at these micro-teasers and see for yourself! Charlize Theron (The Fate of the Furious), Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service), James McAvoy (State of Play), John Goodman (Argo), and Toby Jones (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) star.

You'll be hearing a lot more about Atomic Blonde once it premieres next week at SXSW! It opens nationwide in July.

Mar 8, 2017

Trailer for George Lazenby Docu-Drama Becoming Bond

For the past year or so we've heard little about that George Lazenby documentary that was rumored to be in the works. But today it careened onto the internet in a spectacular way, with a fantastic trailer and the announcement that it will premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival next week. And the trailer reveals that it's actually quite a bit more than a traditional documentary. It's a "documentary-narrative hybrid," which combines interview material with Lazenby today with recreations of the larger than life tales he narrates. The recreation cast includes Josh Lawson (House of Lies) as Lazenby, Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) as Harry Saltzman, and Dana Carvey (Saturday Night Live) as Johnny Carson. Jane Seymour (Live and Let Die) and Jake Johnson (Drinking Buddies, Jurassic World) also star, the latter playing a presumably made-up or composite character with an inside joke name that may tickle hardcore Ian Fleming fans: Peregrine Carruthers.

Lazenby is an incredible raconteur, and the tale of how he basically conned his way into the most coveted role in the world, taking over from Sean Connery as James Bond despite zero acting experience, and went on to make a movie that many (myself included) consider to be the best in the series, On Her Majesty's Secret Service... and then promptly pissed away his sudden success... is certainly one deserving of this kind of lavish treatment! 

Director Josh Greenbaum's Becoming Bond premieres at SXSW on March 11 and makes its streaming on Hulu on May 20. EW premiered the stunning trailer, which you can see below: 

Now, if only Lazenby would finally write that autobiography he's been promising for years! Hopefully this movie will be a resounding success and spur him to do so.
Thanks to Sybil for the heads-up!

Mar 7, 2017

John le Carré to Publish New George Smiley Novel A Legacy of Spies!

This is perhaps the most exciting news I have ever written about here, in my ten plus years of blogging about fictional spies. It was announced today that John le Carré, the master of the espionage genre (and my personal favorite writer of all time) will publish a new novel about his most famous protagonist, George Smiley, in the fall. A new Smiley novel! Can it possibly be true? It is! There's a plot description on the author's website and even a pre-order listing on Amazon. A Legacy of Spies will be published September 5, 2017, in the United States, and September 7 in Britain. Here is the official description:
After 25 years, Smiley is back... 
Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, is living out his old age on the family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London.  The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him.  
Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London, and involved such characters as Alec Leamas, Jim Prideaux, George Smiley and Peter Guillam himself, are to be scrutinised under disturbing criteria by a generation with no memory of the Cold War and no patience with its justifications. 
Interweaving past with present so that each may tell its own intense story, John le Carré has spun a single plot as ingenious and thrilling as the two predecessors on which it looks back: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
So not just Smiley will be back, but also many of our other favorite characters from the earlier novels, including Guillam (whose role was disappointingly small in the previously final Smiley outing, The Secret Pilgrim) and even Alec Leamas, hero of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold! (Le Carré once seemed sworn against ever writing about him again, joking in his introduction to a later edition of The Looking Glass War that at the time of its initial publication, all the UK public seemed to want from him was Alec Leamas Rides Again.) Penguin editor Mary Mount provides some further fascinating hints of what we can expect from A Legacy of Spies on the Penguin website. "A Legacy of Spies asks questions about how we reckon with the past and with our political history," she writes. "As with all of le Carré’s fiction, it brilliantly illuminates human folly and our frailty. The pain, the clarity, of hindsight is so beautifully rendered showing how the passage of time fully exposes acts of violence, framed as utterly necessary at the time, for what they are."

Le Carré has always prided himself on staying topical and never looking" back, never dwelling on the past. When the Berlin Wall came down, many critics tried to write him off, but he not only stayed aggressively relevant in the post-Cold War world; he produced some of his greatest work against the backdrop of the New World Order (The Night Manager, Our Game) and the War on Terror (A Most Wanted Man). Perhaps writing his memoirs, The Pigeon Tunnel (published last year) got him in a more reflective mood and inspired him to revisit his beloved Cold War characters, but it certainly sounds like he's found a way to do so while still remaining doggedly current, which seems appropriate, especially in a time when half the daily headlines seem torn from the pages of a le Carré novel!

George Smiley first appeared as the protagonist of le Carré's first novel, Call for the Dead (1961), and served the same role in his second, A Murder of Quality (1962). The character took a backseat in his next two books, playing a more minor role in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963) and The Looking Glass War (1965), before taking center stage once more in the epic "Quest for Karla" trilogy, beginning with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974), and continuing with The Honourable Schoolboy (1977) and Smiley's People (1979). Just as the character never seemed to be able to retire from "the Circus" (as British Intelligence is known in le Carré jargon), the author never seemed quite ready to retire his character. He brought George back (again relegated to a secondary role) for a swan song in The Secret Pilgrim (1990), his eulogy for the Cold War. "It's over, and so am I. Absolutely over," Smiley told a gathering of MI6's latest recruits. "Time you rang down the curtain on yesterday's cold warrior... The new time needs new people. The worst thing you can do is imitate us." And so he exits, leaving them with one final piece of advice: "We've given up far too many freedoms in order to be free. Now we've got to take them back." Even that exit, it now seems, was not, absolutely, his final. I suspect the new novel will develop that final theme further.

Two other le Carré novels, The Russia House (1989) and The Night Manager (1993) are set in the same world and feature some of the same characters, but not Smiley himself. They form a loose trilogy with The Secret Pilgrim as the middle book. The latter, which was made into a successful miniseries last year, features Smiley's Secret Service protege, Burr.

Smiley himself has been portrayed many times on screen, most famously by Alec Guinness in a pair of BBC miniseries and most recently by Gary Oldman in Tomas Alfredson's 2011 feature film adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Presumably, he'll next be seen on the small screen in the forthcoming miniseries version of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (previously filmed in 1965).

The Smiley Files
Part 1: George Smiley: An Introduction
Part 2: Movie Review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
Part 3: Book Review: Call for the Dead (1961)
Part 4: Movie Review: The Deadly Affair (1966)
Part 5: Book Review: A Murder of Quality (1962)
Part 6: Movie Review: A Murder of Quality (1991)
Part 7: Book Review: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963)
Part 8: Book Review: The Looking Glass War (1965)
Part 9: Book Review: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974)

Tradecraft: Vanessa Kirby Joins Mission: Impossible 6

According to Variety, Mission: Impossible 6 has begun casting. Vanessa Kirby, who plays Princess Margaret on the Netflix hit The Crown, will play an unspecified female lead. The trade reports that the unknown role "is expected to be on the same level as [Rebecca] Ferguson’s in [Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation]." Ferguson herself, having made such a star-making impression in that movie, is also expected to return. This will be the first time in the film series that a leading lady has reprised a role in more than a cameo. According to the trade, "Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner are also expected to return, though it’s unknown in what capacity." Rogue Nation's Christopher McQuarrie will write and direct, marking another first for a franchise previously known for showcasing a different director's style each outing. McQuarrie recently said that the sixth film would explore Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt character more. That makes me a little wary. While I always loved the rare character-focused episodes of the TV series, that was because they were such anomalies. The franchise, in both film and television, is not known for deep character exploration, but for elaborate cons and, in the films, enormous action setpieces. Still, McQuarrie did an excellent job with the last movie, so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Mission: Impossible 6 is expected to start filming sometime this spring. Cruise's next spy role, in the meantime, will be playing real-life CIA pilot Barry Seal in the Iran-Contra movie American Made (formerly known as Mena) for director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity).

Feb 23, 2017

The Coldest City Warms Up to Atomic Blonde, and Charlize Keeps Spying

The bad news is that, according to Deadline, Focus Features has changed the title of their Cold War Berlin comic book adaptation The Coldest City to Atomic Blonde. They had one of the coolest spy titles ever, and now they've got a Roller Derby competitor. (Nothing against Derby Dolls; they just aren't the same as spies.) They had a brand, and now they have a handicap. The good news, though, is that the movie looks awesome enough to overcome a title like that! (Perhaps it's just so damn cool that the studio thought it was only fair to handicap it?) Adding ammo to my suspicion of the movie's actual awesomeness and the studio's confidence in their product is the news that they will debut it at the hip South by Southwest film festival four and a half months before its July 28 opening, allowing plenty of time to build positive buzz. (And in another sign of confidence, they had previously moved up that opening from August to July, at the height of summer.)

Atomic Blonde is based on the Oni Press graphic novel The Coldest City, by Antony Johnston (Alex Rider, Queen & Country) and Sam Hart. While the moody, black and white comic (to which Johnston recently published a prequel, The Coldest Winter) played up the chilly, brooding Cold War paranoia of 1989 Berlin, it's clear from the (thankfully very cool) poster that the movie adaptation (penned by Kurt Jonstad and directed by David Leitch, half of the duo behind the ultra-stylish actionfest John Wick and the man tapped to direct Deadpool 2) instead plays up the neon MTV aspects of that decade. So perhaps it will be a little more Deutschland 83 than The Americans as 1980s-set spy entertainment goes. I think it's safe to say that we can expect a bit more action from the film, penned by Kurt Jonstad (Act of Valor), than the comic, which was more concerned with the treacherous internecine bureaucracy of Cold War espionage. Reigning action queen Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) stars as MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton, dispatched to Berlin to unmask a mole on the eve of the fall of the Wall. James McAvoy (State of Play), Sofia Boutella (Kingsman), John Goodman (Argo), Til Schweiger (Inglourious Basterds) and Toby Jones (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) round out the impressive cast roster. Trust me, even with that title, this is going to be the coolest spy movie of 2017!

Theron, meanwhile, appears to be addicted to spying. In a separate story, Deadline reports that Universal has optioned Need to Know, a forthcoming spy novel from former CIA analyst Karen Cleveland, for her to star in and produce. (She also produces Atomic Blonde through her Denver & Delilah Films shingle.) According to the trade, the thriller follows "a wife and mother who works as a CIA analyst. One morning while digitally searching files in hopes of unmasking a Russian sleeper cell in the U.S., she makes a shocking discovery that threatens her job, her family and her life." There is no publisher yet set, but the manuscript apparently sparked an intense bidding war. Theron was also previously attached to star in a movie of the Mark Greaney novel The Gray Man, in which the book's generic male super-assassin hero was going to be changed to a woman, but we haven't heard any news on that project since 2015, so I'm not sure if she's still involved or not. The actress will next be seen in The Fate of the Furious, a project that reunites her with her Italian Job director and co-star, F. Gary Gray and Jason Statham. (The trailers make it look like this movie easily tops Die Another Day's car chase on ice.)

Feb 10, 2017

Trailer for Amazon's New Spy Series Patriot

If I told you there were a new spy series starring both Terry O'Quinn (Lost) and Kurtwood Smith (Agent Carter, CHAOS), you probably wouldn't believe me, right? Or maybe you'd glibly reply, "What, no Gerald McRaney?" Okay, okay. You win. Sadly there is no Gerald McRaney present. But you've already got guaranteed crusty old spymaster overload with those first two! Still don't believe me? Well, lucky for me Amazon has provided a trailer to prove it. Of course, both those guys are supporting players. Michael Dorman (Killer Elite - way down the cast list) is the actual star of the Amazon original series Patriot, created by Steve Conrad (the Secret Life of Walter Mitty remake). Here's the official Amazon logline: "To prevent Iran from going nuclear, intelligence officer John Tavner must forgo all safety nets and assume a perilous 'non-official cover' -- that of a mid-level employee at a Midwestern industrial piping firm." Once again, I'm glad we've got a trailer, because the trailer makes it clear that there's a lot more than that going on here... and what looks like a really interesting tone. Some traces of In Bruges here. Or, to put it another way, it looks kind of like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (specifically the pilot, "The Vulcan Affair") meets Fargo (the series). In fact, this looks spectacular!

The pilot has been available to stream for quite a while. I'm a bad spy fan and I haven't watched it, but evidently enough others did for it to go to series. The series itself premieres in just a few weeks, on February 24 on Amazon Prime.

Feb 6, 2017

Tradecraft: Max Irons is the New Condor in Three Days Remake

Deadline reports that Max Irons (Jeremy's son, soon to be seen in the Julian Fellowes-penned Agatha Christie adaptation Crooked House) will attempt to fill Robert Redford's iconic shoes as CIA analyst Joe Turner in the previously announced MGM-produced miniseries remake of 3 Days of the Condor. The new Condor, as it is called (thus avoiding the 3/6 discrepancy over the number of days Condor spends on the run between the 1975 movie and the James Grady novel upon which it's based, Six Days of the Condor), will take the form of a 10-episode series for AT&T's Audience Network. (Great, another must-see spy show that requires ordering a whole new cable package, like Berlin Station!) Like Redford, Irons will play Joe Turner (not Ronald Malcolm, as he's named in the book), the desk-bound CIA analyst code-named Condor who finds himself on the run and in way over his head. Here's how the trade describes the new take:
Turner is an idealistic millennial who secretly joins the CIA hoping to reform it from within. But when everyone in his office is massacred by professional killers, this brilliant analyst is forced out of his ivory tower think tank and into battle with the most dangerous elements in the military-industrial complex. If he is to have any chance of surviving, Joe will have to do things he never imagined himself capable of — and discover that no one knows their true character until they’ve been tested under fire.
The good news is that other than the de facto "millennial" label, that description pretty much matches both the classic movie and the classic novel. (Both are essential for any spy fans!) The bad news is it doesn't really give us any hint of which source the scripts by Jason Smilovic (Lucky Number Slevin, My Own Worst Enemy) and Todd Katzberg will hew closer to, or what changes they've made to the material. But it is kind of amazing how easily Grady's plot (originally conceived in the Nixon era) can be applied to today's post-Snowden world and feel timely.

It was announced around the same time this project was first announced (early 2015) that Jay Roach (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery) was attached to direct a film of Grady's 2006 novel Mad Dogs, which features an older Condor in a bit part, but we haven't heard anything about that since. At any rate, I have high hopes for this new Condor miniseries! The material is still relevant, and Condor deserves to be a better known brand in the spy landscape. It would be great if the series proves successful and subsequent seasons draw from Grady's follow-ups Shadow of the Condor and Last Days of the Condor!

Tradecraft: Zoe Saldana to Star in Assassin Thriller Hummingbird

According to Deadline, Zoe Saldana (Colombiana) has signed on to star in the assassin thriller Hummingbird, based on a 2016 Black List screenplay by John Tyler McClain. (That's Black List as in the annual list of best unproduced scripts, as chosen by Hollywood assistants, not as in the one word NBC TV series.) Here's the official Black List logline for the movie: "A black-ops assassin’s latest mark forces her to question the truth of her identity and ultimately confront the unsettling fact that she’s more than a hired gun, she’s an entirely new breed of weapon." So... The Bourne Identity meets Hitman? Just a guess. Fundamental Films acquired the script last year and will finance and produce with Broken Road Productions.

Feb 5, 2017

Trailer: Len Deighton's SS-GB (Updated With Widescreen Version)

The BBC has finally put out a trailer for their adaptation of Len Deighton's alternate history spy novel SS-GB (first reported on in November 2014). Set in an alternate 1941 in which Germany successfully invaded Britain, the story follows a police detective (Sam Riley) in Nazi-occupied London as his routine murder investigation leads him into a conspiracy of espionage, atomic secrets, and the fate of the world. Kate Bosworth co-stars. Regular James Bond scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade penned the 5-part miniseries, which premieres this month in the U.K. While The Weinstein Company partnered with the Beeb for U.S. distribution, no American network or premiere date has yet been announced. TWC and BBC last partnered on War and Peace, which aired domestically on Lifetime.

The 24 Clock Starts Again Tonight After the Big Game

The long-awaited 24 revival, 24: Legacy, premieres tonight following the Super Bowl on Fox. Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton, Kong: Skull Island) stars as former Army Ranger Eric Carter, who finds himself reluctantly following in Jack Bauer's CTU footsteps when followers of a terrorist leader killed by his team come after the team on their home turf. (Wasn't that more or less the exact same plot as the first season of 24 with Dennis Hopper? I guess they figure if it worked once...) Miranda Otto (Homeland, Lord of the Rings) co-stars as Rebecca Ingram, former director of CTU now on the campaign trail with her Presidential candidate husband John Donovan (Jimmy Smits). Carlos Bernard provides continuity with the original series as fan favorite Tony Almeida. Like the excellent previous revival, 24: Live Another Day, 24: Legacy will be just 12 episodes/hours of real-time action, as opposed to the 24 of the original series. This is a great thing, because at 24 episodes the show used to consistently lag in the middle of the season. This was not a problem with Live Another Day, and I don't expect it will be one with Legacy.

Feb 4, 2017

Tradecraft: ABC Orders Spy Dramady Starring Toni Collette

Deadline reports that ABC has ordered the spy dramady Unit Zero to pilot. Unit Zero was created by Black-ish creator Kenya Barris and producer Lindsey Shockley. Shockley wrote the hour-long pilot. Toni Collette (Velvet Goldmine), who's been on a spy kick lately with roles in XXX: Return of Xander Cage (currently in theaters) and the upcoming Michael Apted thriller Unlocked, will star. According to the trade, "Unit Zero follows Jackie Fink (Collette), a brilliant but unassuming CIA engineer and single mom, as she leads a team of desk jockeys into the field as secret agents. Overlooked in the workplace, their invisibility makes them perfect for the CIA’s most covert missions." So it sounds kind of like Spy for television... which is certainly not a bad thing.

Feb 1, 2017

New Trigger Mortis Limited Edition from Easton Press

Connecticut-based publisher Easton Press, who specialize in high-end, leather-bound limited editions, has just announced a beautiful new signed edition of Anthony Horowitz's bestselling 2015 James Bond continuation novel Trigger Mortis. The Easton edition is the same dimensions as the first American edition, but bound in leather with 22kt gold accents and a hubbed spine. The pages, printed on acid-neutral paper, are sewn, and there's a ribbon bookmark sewn in as well. Easton are no strangers to James Bond. In 1990 the publisher produced a gorgeous illustrated, leather-bound edition of From Russia With Love as a one-off; later that decade they created slip-cased facsimiles of all the Ian Fleming UK firsts as "The James Bond First Edition Library," and in 2005 produced "The Complete James Bond Collector's Edition," a beautiful leather-bound set of all 14 Fleming novels. Both of those sets, long out of print, are now highly sought after collectors' items, selling for many times the publisher's original price.

It's unclear what the limitation is on Easton's Trigger Mortis, but the signed volume is available from the publisher's website for three monthly installments of $44 until the edition sells out. Unfortunately, signed books cannot be shipped to California because of a well-intentioned but idiotically executed law passed in 2015, which is sure to annoy a lot of fans.

Other notable Easton Press spy titles over the years include leather editions of John le Carré's A Perfect Spy (this is a really cool book, with a "secret code"-themed pattern on the cover), William F. Buckley, Jr.'s Saving the Queen, Robert Ludlum's The Parsifal Mosaic and James Grady's Six Days of the Condor. Last year they produced a beautiful set of le Carré's "Karla Trilogy," featuring a Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy signed by the author that also comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by (and this is neat) both le Carré (a pen name) and David Cornwell (his real name). This set is still available.

Jan 25, 2017

Trailer for Famke Janssen in Blacklist Spinoff Redemption

NBC has released a trailer for The Blacklist: Redemption, the new spinoff of their hit series The Blacklist starring the always awesome Famke Janssen (GoldenEye) as the leader of a team of former spies and criminals seeking redemption for their past transgressions by using their espionage skills to solve problems official government agencies don't dare touch. Sounds like The Equalizer meets Leverage. I don't watch The Blacklist, but I'll watch anything with Janssen in it, so I'll be giving this one a try for sure! The Blacklist: Redemption premieres Thursday, February 23 at 10/9c on NBC, filling in the eight week hiatus of The Blacklist.

Jan 24, 2017

Paul Gulacy Paints Flint Tribute with Nick Fury, Black Widow and Shang-Chi

Paul Gulacy, a comic book artist instantly synonymous with spies thanks to his stellar work on titles like James Bond 007: Serpents Tooth and Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, has revealed a new piece on his website that will be of particular interest to fans of the genre. The commission recreates Bob Peak's famous poster art for In Like Flint with Marvel spy heroes like Nick Fury, Black Widow (a la Maud Adams), Shang-Chi, Clive Reston and Leiko Wu. I particularly love seeing Fury in the Flint pose, as James Coburn would have certainly made an excellent Nick Fury at one time! (His role in Hudson Hawk, though not patched, actually feels of a piece to some degree with the Fake Nick Furies that populated filmdom prior to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, like Charlton Heston in True Lies, Angelina Jolie in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and a pre-Fury Sam Jackson in xXx.) Interestingly, Gulacy drew a spot-on Coburn as the hero of a horror comic that ran in Eerie Magazine in 1979. His epic espionage saga Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu (written by frequent collaborator Doug Moench) is currently (finally!) being reprinted by Marvel in massive hardcover Omnibus editions, which are worth every penny of their somewhat steep price tag. Here's the iconic original poster that inspired this awesome painting:

Jan 18, 2017

Tradecraft: BBC and AMC to Re-team on Spy Who Came in from the Cold Miniseries

We learned last summer that the next John le Carré miniseries would be a new adaptation of his seminal 1963 novel The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Now we know the networks that will air it. Unsurprisingly, given the tremendous success of The Night Manager on both sides of the Atlantic and its three Golden Globe wins last week, the BBC and AMC will again partner on this new SpyDeadline reports.

As previously reported, The Ink Factory and Paramount Television put the project into development in June, with Slumdog Millionaire Oscar winner Simon Beaufoy taking on the unenviable challenge of adapting one of the greatest spy novels of all time. (Goldfinger's Paul Dehn wrote the script for the classic 1965 feature version along with the author.) "The old lion himself," as Hugh Laurie described le Carré at the Globes ceremony, provided a quote for the press release, saying about the new "limited series" (as miniseries are now known), "I’m very excited by the project, and have great confidence in the team." Cast and director have yet to be announced.

Read my book review of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold here.

Jan 5, 2017

Tradecraft: Archer Moves to FXX (UPDATED)

When Archer comes back for its eighth season it will be on a different channel. Deadline reports that the animated spy comedy is moving from its cable home of seven seasons, FX, to FXX, another Fox-owned cable station to which a lot of FX comedies and cartoons have already migrated. This move was originally planned for last season. In July, Archer was renewed through Season 10 and we learned that the upcoming Season 8 would shift milieus from its nebulous Cold War/present spy setting to 1940s detective. This won't be the first format change for the series, and the characters will remain true to themselves despite the new setting. Watch a new trailer below:

Dec 14, 2016

Meet the New Bryan Mills in TAKEN TV Trailer

NBC has provided us with our first glimpse at the new, younger Bryan Mills in the forthcoming Taken TV show. The series, which EuropaCorp's Luc Besson has been developing since 2010, will serve as a prequel to the popular neo-Eurospy movies starring Liam Neeson, with Clive Standen (Vikings) stepping into Neeson's very particular skill set. Homeland's Alexander Cary serves as showrunner, and Jennifer Beals co-stars. Taken: The Series premieres on February 27.

Nov 26, 2016

Cover Art for Big Finish's Steed & Mrs. Peel Comic Strip Collection

Ever since Big Finish first announced they'd be adapting the Sixties Avengers comics that ran in UK comics magazine Diana (no relation to Rigg), I've been looking forward to their promised trade paperback collection of those gorgeous original comics even more than the adaptations themselves. But it's been a long wait. On the Big Finish website, the collection is still available for pre-order and touted as "out in November..." yet there's very little of November left! (Volume 2 of the Steed and Emma audio dramas also has yet to materialize.) But it is coming. There are now pre-order listings on Amazon and Amazon UK as well, which both state a December 31, 2016 release date. Comixology has a digital version solicited for February 2017. But this snappy cover art would seem to indicate that the book is finally on its way to being a reality, whenever it actually materializes. The rather simplistic stories, intended for children and running just a scant six pages each (originally delivered in two-page installments), aren't very memorable, but Emilio Frejo's artwork is truly stunning, and I can't wait to have an archival collection of it for my bookshelf!

In addition to the 1966-67 comics themselves (listed under the titles Big Finish used for their audio versions), the 96-page trade paperback includes an introduction by Big Finish's David Richardson, interviews with actors Julian Wadham and Olivia Poulet (who voice Steed and Emma, respectively, in the audio adaptations), and an article entitled "From Strip to Script" by Kenny Smith, editor of Big Finish's magazine Vortex.

Read my reviews of two of these Diana comics ("Return to Castle De'ath" and "The Miser," as they're now known—though you won't find any reference to the fantastic Season 4 episode "Castle De'ath" in the strip itself; that connection was a stroke of genius on Big Finish's part for their expanded audio version) on the superb website The Avengers Illustrated.

Nov 25, 2016

Australia Tries for an Archer of Their Own

Dark Horizons reports that Netflix will distribute the new Aussie cartoon Pacific Heat internationally starting in December. While the animation isn't nearly as good, this series is clearly going for an Archer vibe. Maybe it will be worth a look? Check out the trailer and judge for yourself:

Tradecraft: Accident Man Goes from Comic to Movie

Huh! This is a bit of news I never expected to report. But, according to Deadline, the early Nineties indie comic Accident Man is being made into a movie! That’s about as culty as it gets. I was a fan of the comic in its final incarnation, at Dark Horse (attracted by those awesome Howard Chaykin covers), and even I had forgotten about it entirely until reading this. So kudos to someone’s agent! The comic, by Pat Mills and Tony Skinner, originated in the UK monthly Toxic! where it ran three storylines before that aforementioned 3-issue miniseries ended up at Dark Horse. Titan ended up collecting the entire saga in a very handsome hardcover. It was about an assassin who, like The Mechanic, specializes in making deaths look like accidents. Like all of Mills’ work, however, it was satirical, absurd, and quite funny. And despite the fact that the hero is an assassin and not a spy, it seriously traded (especially in that later incarnation) on James Bond imagery (as you can tell by the Chaykin cover pictured) and tropes. The initial Deadline story specifically reported on the casting of Twilight’s Ashley Greene in the female lead, but a quick check of IMDb revealed Scott Adkins (The Bourne Ultimatum, Criminal) listed as playing suave killer Mike Fallon. A few days later, in a separate story, the trade confirmed Adkins as the star, along with Ray Stevenson (The Transporter Refuelled), David Paymer (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), Amy Johnston (Option Zero), Ray Park (Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever) and Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite). Here’s how Deadline describes the film:
Said to have a Deadpool-esque tone, the story centers on the life of Mike Fallon, a high-class hitman, known for making assassinations look like unfortunate accidents. Fallon’s cavalier attitude changes the day his ex-girlfriend, Beth is murdered. He teams up with Beth’s new girlfriend Charlie (Greene) on a murderous rampage to find out who killed her.
 So "Deadpool" was the magic word used to sell this project, and not the one we usually read about here, "Bourne." Stuntman Jesse Johnson directs from a script by Stu Small,

Nov 20, 2016

New xXx Trailer Showcases Extreme Women

The latest trailer for the latest entry in a franchise that started out as a Vin Diesel vehicle highlights two of the many people who aren't Vin Diesel in Paramount's xXx: Return of Xander Cage. Ruby Rose, 30, and Nina Dobrev, 27, take center stage from 49-year-old Diesel in this spot clearly aimed at millennials rather than the Mountain Dew-guzzling Gen Y audience of the original xXx, reinforcing that this is a team movie like the recent hit Fast & Furious flicks (or Paramount's own recent Mission: Impossible movies), and not a solo star vehicle like The Last Witch Hunter. Works for me. As much as I disliked the first two entries, I can't help getting a little excited about this one....

Nov 11, 2016

R.I.P. Robert Vaughn

We have lost another pillar of Sixties spydom. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. himself, Robert Vaughn, has passed away at 83.

While no one would deny that it was the partnership of Napoleon Solo (Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) that made the show special, Man From U.N.C.L.E. fans tend to be divided on their favorite agent. I've always been a Solo man. Initially conceived by Ian Fleming, Solo was intended to be a TV version of James Bond. That's easy enough on paper, but as we've seen in countless Eurospy movies (as well as various TV attempts at the formula), in practice, it's easier said than done. Really only a handful of actors successfully managed to imbue their superspy characters with the suave charm that defined Sean Connery's 007: James Coburn... Richard Johnson... and, of course, Robert Vaughn. While producers Sam Rolfe and Norman Felton undoubtedly contributed to Solo's character, it was really Vaughn who made him so likable. Let's face it: the spy genre is full of suave charmers. Ultimately, it comes down to the actors to make that charm real. And Robert Vaughn had charm in spades! In short, he was cool. Thinking of this coolness, what leaps immediately to my mind is not one of his many genuinely clever witticisms. It's a line that would be cringe-worthy on the tongue of... really, just about anyone! In the U.N.C.L.E. movie To Trap a Spy, the beautiful Lucianna Paluzzi (Thunderball) seductively asks Napoleon, "What would you like me to change into?" To which the debonair secret agent replies, "Anything... but a boy." (Surely part of the success of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. among children was that it sometimes served up the very same scenarios and lines that they came up with while playing James Bond with their spy toys and costumes!) You simply had to be cool to deliver a line as corny that... and even make it sound sophisticated. Iconic as the character became, audiences didn't tune into The Man From U.N.C.L.E. for Napoleon Solo. They tuned in for Robert Vaughn.

While The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is Vaughn's towering legacy, it wasn't his only brush with espionage. His half-hour Gerry Anderson-created ITC series The Protectors (1972-1974) also carries my high recommendation for spy fans. At the time, Lew Grade was importing a lot of American stars from the previous decade to headline his trademark adventure shows, and Vaughn acquits himself far more admirably in this context than some of his colleagues! (Cough, Gene Barry, cough.) While the character remains a bit of a cypher owing to the half-hour runtime, his jetsetting detective Harry Rule embodies all of that Vaughn charm and coolness that gave life to Napoleon Solo. And I suspect that Vaughn is probably the only actor to fight fully kitted-out scuba divers on dry land (or deck) in two separate series! (The Protectors actually takes the prize in that category, because the fight involves swordplay.) In my book, that's an honor worth noting. Vaughn also orbited the spy world in the shows Washington: Behind Closed Doors (giving an Emmy-winning performance as the Bob Haldeman character opposite former Girl From U.N.C.L.E. Stefanie Powers in a miniseries based on John Erlichman's roman a clef about Watergate) and The A-Team.

On the big screen, his best spy role came in the 1966 Helen MacInnes adaptation The Venetian Affair opposite Elke Sommer. Though its evocative title (which actually came from the novel, despite sounding like an U.N.C.L.E. episode name) and lurid marketing ("Enjoy the Fine Arts of Venice... Murder! Spies! Women!") clearly aimed to capitalize on Vaughn's television success, the film is actually far more serious and downbeat than the fanciful Man From U.N.C.L.E. Like its atmospheric, harpsichord-heavy Lalo Schifrin score, it has far more in common with The Ipcress File and The Quiller Memorandum. Vaughn's most famous film roles came outside the genre in movies like The Magnificent Seven, Bullitt, The Mind of Mr. Soames, The Towering Inferno, Battle Beyond the Stars (in an homage to his Magnificent Seven roots) and Superman III, but he continued to make spy movies of varying quality throughout his career, including Brass Target (with Patrick McGoohan), Cuba Crossing, Hour of the Assassin, Skeleton Coast, and, of course, the 1983 telefilm The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. 

Off screen, Vaughn was known for his liberal politics. A lifelong Democrat, he continued his education after wrapping The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Hollywood blacklist. A former Army drill instructor himself, he was active in the antiwar movement, campaigning for Eugene McCarthy and memorably locking horns (and more than holding his own) with conservative talk show host (and spy author) William F. Buckley, Jr. (Their articulate debate on Buckley's Firing Line is well worth watching, epitomizing the late Sixties political schism in America.) 

In the late period of his career, Vaughn riffed on his U.N.C.L.E. persona in a fun, nostalgia-driven guest appearance on Diagnosis Murder before creating one more indelible role on the highly entertaining U.K. con artist series Hustle. As Albert Stroller, he still conveyed all the charm and charisma that made Napoleon Solo a household name four decades earlier.

Robert Vaughn was a class act and an icon of the spy genre. To say he will be missed is a gross understatement. We have lost one of the titans of popular culture espionage.

Nov 10, 2016

VARGR Contest Winner

It was great yesterday to have not one, but two new James Bond comics out from Dynamite (Warren Ellis's "EIDOLON" and Andy Diggle's "Hammerhead"). The hardest part was deciding which one to read first, but they both turned out to be totally satisfying! Yesterday also concluded the first Double O Section 10th Anniversary Contest, which means that one lucky reader won a copy of the beautiful hardcover edition of Ellis's first 007 story arc for Dynamite, "VARGR." And that winner is...

Andrew A., of Boulder, CO. Congratulations, Andrew!

Thank you to everyone who entered. Stay tuned for another cool Bond contest coming up in a few days. And for those who didn't win this one, James Bond 007: VARGR is available from Amazon and I highly recommend it!

Read my review of James Bond 007: VARGR #1 here.
Read my interview with writer Warren Ellis here.

Nov 7, 2016

Double O Section 10th Anniversary: Top 7 Spy Scores of the Past Decade

The score is an integral element of any movie, but for me even moreso in a good spy movie. As a genre, spy movies have a more distinctive sound than just about any other popular genre—yet there are endless variations on what we think of as that "spy sound," as evidenced by this fairly eclectic list of....

My Favorite Spy Scores 2006-2016

1. Daniel Pemberton: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

Urged by director Guy Ritchie to avoid the brassy, bombastic spy tropes of James Bond music for his 1960s-set film version (review here) of the classic TV show, Daniel Pemberton drew instead from slightly more obscure corners of Sixties spy music and ended up creating the most enjoyable soundtrack of the decade. He comes out of the gate offering not horns, but bongos and flutes, setting the precedent for an eclectic score that evokes more than anything the somewhat obscure Eurospy scores of the decade (and their close cousins, Spaghetti Westerns) by the likes of Ennio Morricone and Piero Umiliani. His inspired use of a cimbalom also recalls not only Morricone’s Arabesque, but some of John Barry’s great non-007 spy music, like The Ipcress File and The Persuaders!, as well as Edwin Astley’s harpsichord-heavy ITC music. What it doesn’t especially recall is Jerry Goldsmith’s original U.N.C.L.E. music, and his theme from the show is basically absent. Would I have liked to have heard a new version of that theme in the movie? Sure, of course I would have. But I find it impossible to complain when what we’ve got is the most creative spy score of modern times! Pemberton’s music is the perfect accompaniment to Ritchie’s movie, which is a finely-crafted love letter to the same sorts of Sixties cinema from which the composer draws.
2. David Arnold: Casino Royale (2006)

David Arnold had done wonderful things with The James Bond Theme in his Pierce Brosnan-era Bond scores, but by deciding to withhold that famous theme (other than a few well-deployed bars) until the end of Casino Royale (review here), he demonstrated exactly how capable a composer he is for this franchise. The recurring "You Know My Name" melody throughout not only recalls the way John Barry used to incorporate the theme song into each score, but also serves as a fine theme for the character on its own. This is a Bond score that doesn't need the Bond theme, and that's a very impressive feat! In fact, I'm a little bit disappointed that "You Know My Name" didn't become a secondary recurring theme for Craig's Bond the way "007" was in the Barry days. Casino Royale is a spectacular Bond score, and would also be a spectacular score and theme establishing an entirely new character or franchise.

3. Michael Giacchino: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)

Michael Giacchino really upped his game in his second Mission: Impossible score. He made ample use of the Lalo Schifrin themes fans want to hear  (“Mission: Impossible Theme” and “The Plot”), but also created a lot of riveting original music that felt like a logical expansion of those themes rather than something so contemporary it felt at odds with the classic material. Best of all were the localized variations on the main theme. I absolutely love the track, “Mood India,” a terrific piece of local flavor music that slowly morphs into a Bollywood take on the famous theme. Likewise, the Middle Eastern-flavored “A Man, A Plan, A Code, Dubai” subtly incorporates Schifrin material into the sort of epic local flavor music that characterized the best Bond scores of the Sixties and Seventies. And he even gives us a take on “The Plot” with a Russian chorus that sounds out of The Hunt For Red October for the Kremlin sequence!

4. Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson: Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)

For Kingsman (review here), Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson went the opposite route from Daniel Pemberton on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. While he sought to intentionally avoid brassy Bondian bombast, they revel in it. While distinctly contemporary, this is an unrepentant pastiche of classic Bond scores, and quite a successful one at that. (If only the movie had been as good!) The epic sound does a lot to make the film’s budget-conscious setpieces feel bigger than they are, and tries its best to make digital mattes like the Kingsman underground hangar feel as spectacular as we wish they looked. The album is a great listen outside of the film itself that simply screams, “spy!”

5. Herbert Gronemeyer: A Most Wanted Man (2014)

Herbert Gronemeyer’s very contemporary score for this taut John le Carré thriller is another one that manages to say “spy” without the traditional musical vocabulary of the genre. It does so through its wonderfully downbeat tone (utterly appropriate for the le Carré material), which always makes me feel like it’s raining when I hear it out of the context of the movie, and with its impeccable sense of place. The score not only convey’s “Hamburg” very effectively; it specifically conveys the Muslim community within Hamburg when called upon to do so. Some of the more ambient tracks, like “Text from Jamal,” are downright Eno-esque. Gronemeyer's score is completely modern, but it's the perfect 21st century compliment to Sol Kaplan's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold soundtrack.

6. Ludovic Bource: OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies (2006)

While I was initially disappointed (as with The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) that this comedic Eurospy revival (review here) didn't make use of Michael Magne's infectious original OSS 117 theme, my disappointment was quickly mitigated by what an awesome job Ludovic Bource did capturing the spirit of the era in which the film is set. His score perfectly matches the mise-en-scene, special effects, fight choreography and all the other behind-the-scenes elements that meticulously recreate early 1960s filmmaking. The movie is a comedy, but the score plays things completely straight, as scores must in a successful parody. (Spy, Johnny English and Austin Powers all also delivered straight, good faith spy scores.) Even the scene in which star Jean Dujardin ends up flinging chickens at an opponent is scored earnestly—or at least in the manner of the era. With its hip, lounge-y vibe (my favorite cue is the ultra-chill "Froggy Afternoon"), North African local flavor and occasional legit action number, Bource most directly evokes Henry Mancini's Sixties Pink Panther music. It accompanies the film perfectly, and makes for a great listen on its own.

7. John Powell: Fair Game (2010)/Green Zone (2010)

Reflecting my own tastes, the majority of my choices on this list are deliberate throwbacks. But this pair of 2010 scores by Bourne composer John Powell ring with a thoroughly contemporary spy sound. Powell is the first composer to completely redefine what audiences think of as “spy music” since John Barry defined the sound to begin with in the Sixties. Both composers worked within a wide spectrum of sub-genres, from outlandish fantasy (You Only Live Twice in Barry’s case; Knight and Day for Powell) to grounded, serious action (From Russia With Love; the Bourne films) to gritty drama full of bureaucratic hurdles (The Ipcress File; Fair Game), applying their signature motifs across the board. While many great composers have worked in the spy genre over the last several decades (and some have experimented with totally different sorts of scores), no one has so exhaustively overhauled the sound of spy movies as Powell. Barry’s jazz-infused style remained the expected and accepted soundtrack of the genre up until the 2000s (when it may have been partially done in by George S. Clinton’s spot-on pastiche in the Austin Powers movies). Now it’s propulsive percussion–which offers somewhat less room for variation, but perfectly compliments the high-energy spy movies being made today–and Powell brings that in spades to Fair Game (review here) and Green Zone (review here), signaling “spy” to the audience as loudly as Barry-like trumpet flourishes did in the past.

VARGR contest code word: AMBER

Nov 6, 2016

Tradecraft: Abbie Cornish is Jack Ryan's Latest Wife

Deadline reports that Australian actress Abbie Cornish (Bright Star) will be the fifth actress (counting a non-speaking walk-on by Gates McFadden in The Hunt for Red October) to play Jack Ryan's wife, Cathy Ryan. Although at this stage in their relationship, she will still be Cathy Muller—as she was in The Sum of All Fears (as played by Bridget Moynahan) and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Keira Knightley), a reminder of how many times this series has been rebooted. (The trade actually spells her name "Mueller." I'm not sure if this is a typo or a departure.) While in the Tom Clancy books Ryan's wife was a surgeon, according to the trade she will be slightly reimagined in the new Amazon TV series Jack Ryan as "a doctor specializing in infectious diseases." The article goes on to describe the character as "intelligent, competitive, a rising star in the medical world and Jack’s love interest." To date, Cathy Ryan was probably most memorably played by Anne Archer in the two Harrison Ford Ryan movies in the Nineties.

As previously reported, the 10-episode straight-to-series Amazon drama stars John Krasinski as the titular hero. It hails from the Lost duo of co-showrunner Carlton Cuse (The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.) and writer (and, like Ryan, former Marine) Graham Roland. Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes, Skydance Media and Paramount TV co-produce. The first season will be an original storyline about Ryan's early days at CIA, though from the trade's description it sounds as if it will incorporate elements of Clancy's Patriot Games: "Jack Ryan is a reinvention with a modern sensibility of the famed and lauded Tom Clancy hero. It centers on Jack Ryan (Krasinski), an up-and-coming CIA analyst thrust into a dangerous field assignment for the first time. The series follows Ryan as he uncovers a pattern in terrorist communication that launches him into the center of a dangerous gambit with a new breed of terrorism that threatens destruction on a global scale." Will his report on this pattern in terrorist communication be entitled "Agents and Agency?" That would be a nice Easter Egg for Clacy fans.