The James Clayton Column: Saving James Bond and Ron Burgundy

James wonders why Anchorman 2 hasn't been greenlit, and has some budget-saving ideas for the next Bond movie...

“I am in a glass case of emotion!” Reading the news that Anchorman 2 is a no go, how else am I meant to feel? The Legend Of Ron Burgundy is such that it surely can’t be contained in one movie. Because Paramount have passed up on the chance to make the sequel that was all set to shoot next spring, the tale of San Diego’s classiest TV personality will go untold.

We’ll never watch his career trajectory crash through the televisual stratosphere, going national then international then intergalactic, becoming a reality TV boxing star along the way as the first winner of the celebrity version of The Contender. Tragically, we’ll have to survive without The Late Show With the Legend, Ron Burgundy.

All because Paramount are smelly pirate hookers so misguided that they can’t see the comedy gold in their clutches, the troubled TV viewers of the 21st century won’t be eased to sleep with the words, “stay classy”. I can only agree with Burgundy’s colleague and San Diego sex machine Brian Fontana in his assessment of the studio: “I know it sounds harsh, but God does not want them to live.”

The best news anchor that side of 1978 is instead left to wander aimlessly through the sweltering back streets of broken America, drinking down the milk of unkindness (it never goes down smooth, and yes, milk was a bad choice), his suit dishevelled and his marvellous moustache unmaintained. Sweet Odin’s raven: what a sorry state of affairs.

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Still, at least Burgundy has some company in the Alleyway of Cultural Institutions Rejected and Abandoned by Hollywood. Ron, meet Bond. British secret service agent 007 is, likewise, looking to a future where his infamy is just a fading memory of ‘70s fashion, free-and-easy sexual conquests and sharp comebacks.

Since 1962, James Bond has been an invincible über-masculine screen icon who’s survived Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the end of the Cold War, numerous nuclear incidents and probably thousands of unprotected sexual encounters. Now, though, in 2010, it looks like his franchise has been brought to an abrupt halt by something as spurious as a ‘recession’.

The people at MGM (those that haven’t been swallowed by that grouchy lion) reckon that they can’t afford to produce a 007 picture in this harsh economic climate. As with Paramount’s redlight on a ready-to-rumble Anchorman 2, I find MGM’s decision baffling. Is James Bond not a bankable box office hit that draws a profit and piles of hype on every theatrical release?

Bond is an established institution. Audiences know the formula and will pretty much go and see any movie as long as it’s got guns, girls, gadgets and that surf guitar theme tune. All you need then is some memorable set-pieces, exotic locations (these can be backdrops filmed at Pinewood Studios) and a flash car that some automobile giant has paid you to incorporate into the action and voilà: another instalment in the canon.

It’s a 007 film and that’s all that matters. Who cares if it’s farfetched (Moonraker), gaudy (Diamonds Are Forever) or features an awful cameo appearance by Madonna (Die Another Day)?

All audiences want is a fix of the Bond formula and a momentary escape into a glamorous non-reality of espionage, speedboat chases and henchmen with silly accents and sillier take-over-the-world schemes.

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As far as movie production goes, making a Bond movie is one of the least risky ventures and surely it can’t be too hard to put together a 007 flick even when funds are limited.

The MGM lion simply needs to use his imagination and approach Bond film number 23 with a careful eye on how savings can be made. Luckily enough, I have a few financial solutions to see it through.

Listen up, Mr. Lion, for I am the prophet of motion picture profit…

Go Crazy With Product Placement

The 007 film is already the supreme cinematic vessel of commercial synergy, so if money is tight, selling advertising space beyond taste and decency is a logical step. Set up a scenario where James Brooke Bond has to fight evil Dr. Pepper and his renegade Honda factory robot and thwart their plot to steal the data of every Visa card owner by spreading a virus through Google. Luckily, 007 ate Weetabix for breakfast and is, therefore, sharp-witted enough to download the ‘Powerade Megalomaniac Destroyer’ app on his iPhone. Mission accomplished, relax with Cadbury’s Caramel.

Hire A Low-Budget Director

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Give the directorial gig to someone who specialises in shoestring moviemaking and a Bond film can be pumped out at great speed without gross expense. To nominate one such resourceful operator, at Troublemaker Studios, Texas, Robert Rodriguez acts as director, editor, composer and probably even hairdresser, always producing entertaining action movies on a tight budget. Alternatively, get Roger Corman (he could make a film about the fall of the Roman Empire with two extras and a sagebrush) on board and you’ll have Bond 23 wrapped in two days, delivered below budget, with a cameo from the corpse of Vincent Price as a bonus.

Make Bond Teetotal

Because his liver must be knackered and the champagne lifestyle is no longer feasible, Bond’s inexhaustible bar tab and expenses account need reining in. Thus, 007 should sober up and drink cheaper, lower calorie alternatives to vodka cocktails and Dom Pérignon, like cranberry juice or tap water. The series will live longer and in better health until dodgy Central American plumbing brings Britain’s finest down with dysentery.

Hook Up With Another Franchise Caught In Limbo

In the style of Alien Vs. Predator, put two seemingly stagnant series together and hope they spawn fresh life. Terminator 007? How about a blockbuster crossover buddy movie starring Bond, Daredevil and the Incredible Hulk? Perhaps an Anglo-Japanese co-production of James Bond Vs. Gojira?

Lo and behold, in a San Diego back alley there are two alpha males of the old school acquainting themselves, establishing the link that will lead to cinema magic. Californian TV news and British intelligence join forces and combine in a mash-up that makes everything right again.

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I can see it now: Christmas 2012 in the cinema and the opening shot makes us look down the spiralling barrel of a gun. A tuxedo-wearing, moustachioed man slides in smoothly on a swivel chair, swings around to face us and with his trigger finger fires an air-shot at the teleprompter behind that camera that has erroneously added a question mark to the end of the catchphrase.

“The name’s Burgundy… Ron Burgundy?”

James’ previous column can be found here.