Apr 30, 2019

Tradecraft: KOLYMSKY HEIGHTS Miniseries in the Works

Interior artwork from the U.S. paperback
Deadline reports that the BBC Studios-backed production company Moonage Pictures has optioned Lionel Davidson's legendary final novel, Kolymsky Heights (1994) to adapt as a miniseries. As the trade puts it, the novel "tells the story of an Oxford Professor, who receives an envelope containing nothing but two cigarette papers, which begins a chain of events that will change the course of history. Set just after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the story follows Johnny Porter’s attempt to infiltrate the most secret research facility in Russia – a laboratory buried deep underground, a place nobody has ever left alive. Porter’s quest takes him over the Arctic Ocean and into deepest Siberia – constantly switching identities as he goes."

Davidson rose to prominence as a writer of spy thrillers in the 1960s, debuting with The Night of Wenceslas, which was adapted as the immensely entertaining 1964 movie Hot Enough For June (aka Agent 8 3/4) starring Dirk Bogarde, Sylva Koscina, and Leo McKern. He wrote spy novels for adults and, under the pseudonym David Line, for children fairly consistently throughout the Sixties and Seventies before going dormant in the early Eighties. He then re-emerged in the Nineties to great acclaim with Kolymsky Heights, and then never published another novel, dying in 2009. The book had gone out of print and Davidson had faded into relative obscurity until bestselling The Golden Compass author Philip Pullman talked it up, calling it "the best thriller I've ever read." The subsequent demand prompted Faber & Faber to issue a new edition in 2015.

According to Deadline, Moonage Pictures was "set up by a handful of Peaky Blinders execs," including "veteran Tiger Aspect exec Will Gould, former BBC Drama Commissioner Matthew Read and Tiger Drama’s Frith Tiplady." They've produced the Sean Bean action drama Curfew for Sky One, and are currently in production on the new sci-fi show Intergalactic. Read has a real passion for this project, telling the trade, "Lionel Davidson’s sensational novel has been at the top of my wish-list to adapt for a very long time. It has all the flair of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, combined with the awe of The Revenant, and in Johnny Porter it has that same elemental will to survive at its core. It’s a breath-taking adventure, and it demands the time and the ambition that only long form TV today can offer."

This will not be the first miniseries based on Davidson's work. His Cold War children's adventure Run For Your Life formed the basis for the beloved 1974 ITV miniseries Soldier and Me (available on Region 2 DVD from Network in the UK), and his 1978 novel The Chelsea Murders was adapted on Thames Television's Armchair Thriller series in 1981 (also available from Network, as, for that matter, is Hot Enough for June).

Dynamite's LIVE AND LET DIE Graphic Novel Due This Fall

While the publisher hasn't officially announced it yet, there is now an Amazon listing for Dynamite's second Ian Fleming graphic novel adaptation, Live and Let Die. According to the listing it's due out September 24, but that's probably best taken with a grain of salt considering their Casino Royale adaptation was delayed multiple times. While Denis Calero handled art chores on that book, Kewber Baal takes over for the second title. Baal is an old hand in the Dynamite stable, having contributed to volumes of their ongoing Army of Darkness, KISS, Jennifer Blood, and Green Hornet comics, among others. Van Jensen again pens the adaptation. The very cool cover art (which may not be final) nods to the famous poster for the Roger Moore movie, while remaining true to the content of the novel. It's unclear whether it's by Fay Dalton, who created the cover for Casino Royale along with the art for those beautiful Folio Society Fleming editions. It's not in quite the same style we're used to from her, but it is gorgeous! The 168-page hardcover will retail for $24.99 and can be pre-ordered now. Here's Dynamite's description:
In this second adaptation of the Fleming novels, Bond is sent to New York City to investigate "Mr. Big", an agent of SMERSH and a criminal voodoo leader. With no time for superstition―and with the help of his colleague in the CIA, Felix Leiter, Bond tracks "Mr. Big" through the jazz joints of Harlem, to the everglades and on to the Caribbean, knowing that this criminal heavy hitter is a real threat. No-one, not even the mysterious Solitaire, can be sure how their battle of wills is going to end… 
Thanks to Jack for the heads-up!

Apr 25, 2019

Full Cast Revealed for BOND 25 at Goldeneye Press Conference

At a non-traditional press conference today in Jamaica, appropriately held at the resort that used to be Ian Fleming's house, Goldeneye, James Bond producers revealed details about the next 007 movie--the twenty-fifth official entry in the 57-year-old series. One detail they did not provide was a title. This same situation occurred on Daniel Craig's second Bond film; no title was revealed at the commencement of filming press conference for the movie that ultimately became Quantum of Solace.

Goldeneye resort
What was revealed was the cast, confirming some long running rumors and offering some pleasant surprises. Foremost among those pleasant surprises was the news that, after more than a decade, Jeffrey Wright will reprise his Felix Leiter role! The beloved series character was last seen in 2008's Quantum of Solace. With a third turn as 007's CIA friend, Wright will surpass David Hedison, becoming the actor to play the role the most times. And should this untitled film prove to indeed be Craig's swan song as Bond, as he has said, then it will also make him the only Bond actor to date to have one consistent Felix throughout his entire run in the role. History in the making, folks!

Other new male faces include Billy Magnussen (a comedic standout in Game Night who previously worked with Bond 25 director Cary Fukanaga in Maniac), rumored to be playing another CIA agent, Rami Malek (Best Actor Oscar winner for last year's Bohemian Rhapsody), seemingly confirming that he'll be an antagonist by saying, via video, that he'll "be making sure Mr. Bond does not have an easy ride of it," Dali Benssalah (A Faithful Man), and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy's Toby Esterhase, David Dencik. The stunning Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049), who previously worked with Craig in Rian Johnson's upcoming whodunnit Knives Out, and Captain Marvel scene stealer Lashana Lynch (who is of Jamaican descent) join the hallowed ranks of Bond Girls.

Ana de Armas
As previously reported, for the first time since Eunice Gayson's Sylvia Trench in From Russia With Love, there will also be a returning Bond Girl this time out. (There have, of course, been other returning actresses, but in different roles.) Lea Seydoux will reprise her SPECTRE role of Madeleine Swann, last seen driving happily off into the sunset with Craig's James Bond. Other returning cast members include Bond's entire MI6 support staff: Ralph Fiennes as M, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Rory Kinnear as Bill Tanner (also setting a new series record, surpassing Michael Kitchen's two turns in the role during the Pierce Brosnan era), and Ben Whishaw as Q.

Lea Seydoux
Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson also confirmed some heavily rumored contributors to the screenplay for Bond 25. Series mainstays Neil Purvis and Robert Wade will be joined by Scott Z Burns (The Bourne Ultimatum) and, in especially exciting news Killing Eve creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge (rumored to have been brought on a Craig's suggestion to inject more humor). Killing Eve is a terrific spy series with a very unique creative voice, and should she end up with a screen credit (something ultimately determined by the Writers Guild), Waller-Bridge will be the first woman to receive one since Joanna Harwood on the first two movies with Sean Connery! As previously announced, American director Cary Joji Fukunaga (who helmed the entire riveting first season of True Detective) directs, having come aboard after Danny Boyle famously left the production. Though not mentioned at today's Jamaica presser, cinematographer Linus Sandgren (La La Land, First Man) was previously confirmed to shoot the movie. As far as I know no composer has yet been announced. Personally, I'm crossing my fingers hard for a David Arnold return to mark Craig's final outing.

Cary Joji Fukunaga
Broccoli revealed a tantalizing outline of the new film's plot. As recapped by The Hollywood Reporter, "Bond is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica after leaving active service. But his peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology." Besides a triumphant return to Jamaica, the iconic shooting location of Dr. No and Live and Let Die, filming will take place in Norway (where at least one second unit sequence has already been shot, in order to take advantage of the winter weather) London's Pinewood Studios, and scenic Matera in Italy. The press conference (whose only questions were actually chosen from Twitter rather than journalists) concluded by offering us our first glimpse at one of these locations. Presumably this is Bond's house in Jamaica where he's enjoying the soft life (a plot point perhaps borrowed from John Pearson's experimental 1973 continuation novel James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007, which had the agent retiring to the island).

Apr 20, 2019

Trailer for Luc Besson's LA FEMME NIKITA Remix ANNA

Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment have finally set a release date for Luc Besson's latest neo-Eurospy spectacle, Anna. It will open June 21. And the director's latest take on his oft-trod La Femme Nikita territory looks spectacular! It's got a late Cold War setting, a sexy leading lady, an impressive fight in a restaurant... and apparently Helen Mirren as George Smiley! (Check out those Guinness glasses!) Seriously, this looks utterly awesome. I can't wait!

There's no U.S. or international 1-sheet yet, but here's the French advance poster.