Continued from page 1

“The decision was made to make him a younger man, as would be the case these days,” said Michael G. Wilson, Albert Broccoli’s stepson who is also co-producer of the series, by phone. “Let’s hope he goes on as long as Desmond Llewelyn did.”

It may seem a minor casting decision, but nothing is taken lightly by the family that has stuck with Bond this long. Their tribulations are brought to life in the documentary, “Everything Or Nothing,” which debuts Friday on EPIX.

In one incident from the 1970s, the film explains, Broccoli’s Canadian co-producer, Harry Saltzman, had squandered his Bond fortune on outside investments. Instead of turning to his partner for help, Saltzman pledged their production partnership Danjaq as collateral on nearly $20 million in personal loans from Swiss bank UBS.

Broccoli enlisted Wilson, a practicing lawyer, to prevent the production company from being foreclosed on by the bank. Wilson argued Saltzman couldn’t pledge 100 percent of the production entity without consulting his partner. In the end, the Saltzman-Broccoli partnership broke up. Saltzman bitterly sold his stake to United Artists, now a subsidiary of MGM, and was left penniless. Bond narrowly escaped unscathed.

In another segment, the family faces off against real-life nemesis Kevin McClory, an Irishman whose early script work with Fleming allowed him to win the movie rights to “Thunderball.”

The rights form the basis for “Never Say Never Again,” a 1983 remake. The film brought leading man Sean Connery back as Bond after a 12-year hiatus, and was a way for Connery to snub the producers that he felt had shortchanged him.

That year, Connery’s Bond and Roger Moore’s Bond in “Octopussy” hit theaters just months apart, though “Octopussy” won the box office battle. Due to the bitter rivalry, “Never Say Never Again” isn’t included in Danjaq’s count of 23 Bond flicks.

The documentary also explains why “Casino Royale,” Fleming’s first Bond book, was made twice. The first version debuted in 1967 and was a ridiculous mash-up featuring multiple Bonds played by the likes of David Niven, Peter Sellers and even Woody Allen. The spoof was possible because Fleming had sold that book’s rights to Columbia Pictures, now owned by Sony Corp., for a measly $6,000.

Sony gave the rights back to the Broccolis in a legal settlement in 1999. Sony later became the distributor of the last two films and “Skyfall.” That’s why a Sony Vaio laptop is among Bond’s arsenal of gadgets these days, despite Sony’s former archenemy status. (Heineken, not a shaken martini, is also a new favorite Bond libation, thanks to the brewer’s corporate sponsorship.)

Both Sony and MGM declined to comment about their business dealings ahead of the 50th anniversary on Friday.

But the curtain has yet to fall on the financial drama surrounding Bond.

In July, MGM made a preliminary filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission to prepare for an initial public offering of stock. The move would help pay off MGM’s owners, including Highland Capital Management and Anchorage Advisors, former MGM bondholders who are looking to recoup their investment after converting $5 billion in debt into ownership stakes in a 2010 bankruptcy.

The IPO could happen before “Skyfall” or potentially before MGM’s other major coproduction, the J.R.R. Tolkien tale “The Hobbit,” which MGM is co-financing with Warner Bros. and is set for release in December.

According to a person familiar with the matter, the timing is meant to take advantage of the hype surrounding the two movies, which promise to be among the year’s biggest money-makers. The person declined to be identified because they aren’t authorized to talk about confidential deliberations.

Barbara Broccoli said that this is the sort of financial engineering that her father never liked _ but which the family has had to deal with many times over the years.

Story Continues →