Danjaq on bond wagon with two script deals

Danjaq Inc. has hired Richard Smith and John Cork to pen separate scripts for Agent 007, raising to three the James Bond movies in development.

The news comes barely two weeks after MGM/United Artists co-chairman/co-CEO Alan Ladd Jr. confirmed that UA is back in the Bond business with Danjaq producers Albert R. (Cubby) Broccoli, his daughter Barbara and stepson Michael G. Wilson, after a four-year hiatus (DailyVariety, May 13).

“Cliffhanger” co-scripter Michael France is now penning 17th in the series. He has not been pitted in a script race with Smith or Cork, Danjaq spokesman Charles Juroe told Daily Variety.

“There is no question about it: France is writing Bond 17. These other two gentlemen are writing for future Bonds down the line, assuming (the revived series is) a success,” said Juroe, who has worked in one capacity or another on all 16 Bond films.

Juroe is back in action himself after having retired when a flurry of (now settled) lawsuits made “License to Kill” the last Bond pic in 1989.

Bond veteran said until the lawsuits ground things to a halt, having one or two Bond scripts was routine for a company used to producing a sequel every other year.

“When you get up to 17 in one series, you do things differently. You don’t wait until 17 is a success to say, ‘Oh, we better do another one,’ ” Juroe quipped. “This two-year cycle does not give Danjaq the luxury to wait 10 or 11 months down the line to get started on the next one. They’ve learned they have to be ahead of the game. When United Artists say they’re ready to do another one , they’re expected to have one ready.”

And now that the series is back on track, it’s no surprise the two new writers are keeping their synopses top secret.

Cork, the scripter of the Whoopi Goldberg/Sissy Spacek period melodrama “The Long Walk Home,””impressed” the Broccolis with his idea, Juroe said.

Smith has a diverse list of credits that includes everything from acting (“Fathers of Pop”), producing (TV movie “Blackout”) and makeup (“Life Force”). However, his first professional screenplay was the Sylvester Stallone starrer “Lock Up,” a credit he shared with Jeb Stuart and Henry Rosenbaum.

Juroe figures the two new writers will fit right into the Bond beat at the Broccoli camp.

“When we were in our two-year cycle … there was a great deal of scriptwriting going on, based on Ian Fleming’s books. After ‘Live and Let Die,’ sometimes it would just be the title. For instance, ‘The Living Daylights’ first script was only 27 pages. Fleming wrote it as a short story,” which was later adapted by the team of Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson.

And are they writing for thesp Timothy Dalton? “Dalton is the Bond of record, ” Juroe said.

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