Current Time in Dublin, Ireland is Friday, 11 June 2004 11:57 am


John Steinbeck, Nick Nolte and Thunderball producer Kevin McClory on a crisis in Hollywood

The studio stranglehold on the film industry tightens its grip


(Wednesday, May 16, 2001)
- When Nick Nolte criticised the state of the film industry in Cannes last week, he was echoing the same thoughts which John Steinbeck shared with "Thunderball" producer and co-writer Kevin McClory in 1957 when the Nobel prize winner said "...my interest in films has diminished to vanishing point because of the lack of creative originality amongst picture makers."

Nick Nolte accused the Hollywood studios of stifling creativity and being motivated only by money, declaring that ...".it's difficult to find a good movie in America. The old guys who had an interest in film are gone. The heads of studios are thirty-five. They don't know anything about literature. It's predictable stuff they are turning out."

McClory, who considers himself one of the old guys, is continuing his 41 year legal battle against MGM/UA/Danjaq for their continual infringment of his and co-author Jack Whittingham's James Bond 'film scripts'. McClory says "I believe it was their lack of imagination which led them to repeatedly copy and distribute the original formula of Thunderball (1960) - the theft of nuclear weapons by a terrorist organisation to blackmail the Western powers - plus other infringements such as The Organisation Spectre under its chairman Ernst Stavro Blofeld."

Technology played a leading role in the ongoing Bond battle on May 11th 2001, when a digital link between the Federal Court of Appeals of the 9th Circuit in Pasadena, California and a Dublin hotel enabled McClory to argue his case against MGM/UA/Danjaq as his own attorney. Doctor's orders prevented McClory from making the non stop flight to LA but modern technology provided a live link allowing him to 'appear' in court.

McClory's company Spectre Associates Inc's attorney, Paul Cohen elected the brilliant advocate Ms. Lucile Hooten Lynch who, ably backed by McClory, argued to halt MGM/UA/Danjaq from continuing to infringe his James Bond copyrights; all three companies have publicly stated that he had no such rights. An observer in the court stated after the hearing " I thought MGM/UA/Danjaq's many lawyers looked agitated when they left the courtroom."

McClory, who was quietly confident after the hearing, said simply " I would never predict verdicts in any court case....but I think Ms. Lynch's compelling legal arguments will be carefully considered by the court."

McClory's Bond rights have always been upheld by both the High Court and the appellate court in the United Kingdom. Legal manoeuvres by MGM/UA /Danjaq and the Fleming trustees failed to prevent the distribution of "Never Say Never Again" which was based on McClory's James Bond 'film scripts' and the novel Thunderball.

The UK appellate court in London found that McClory had the rights to make further James Bond films from those 'film scripts' and were not confined to a remake of "Thunderball".

The world's most famous James Bond, Sean Connery joined Kevin McClory and Len Deighton as a writer to assist in scripting the James Bond screenplay "Warhead" based on the 'film scripts' in 1976. Years later,Connery had his own Hollywood battles to fight and filed Breach of Contract claims against Danjaq/UA for $225 million.

In a recent book about Connery chronicling his work he reflects on Hollywood saying " In films they keep moving the goalposts every time they make a deal or contract." No doubt Connery would agree with Nolte who despaired that "The old traditional values have gone."

Writers worldwide could be affected by the implications of McClory's case if the US courts fail to recognise that his Bond 'film scripts' are works written by British and Irish writers in the United Kingdom and are protected under the Berne Convention. The effects of the Writers Strike are still echoing through the Hollywood corridors of power as the studios begin to realise that writers and creators are a force to be reckoned with.

Commenting on Hollywood's wake-up call, McClory declares " I have been called Rip Van Winkle by MGM/UA's lead counsel, but it is Hollywood that needs to wake up! You have nothing without the seanchai (storyteller). You should be treating creative writers with respect, not abuse and clever legal trickery."

For More Information

Caitriona Ward
Tel: 00 353 1 4759881 Mobile: 00 353 86 2505883 Email: cat@allirelandnow.com

007 Fans and Historians Bond Historians and afficionados can get further details on www.spectre.ie or its offshoot www.spectreorganization.com

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Copyright Spectre June 2000

A short history of McClory's epic battle to protect and preserve his inalienable right to make further James Bond films can be found in the Previous Press Release: 8th of MAY,2001 & the Statement