Sunday, April 22, 2012

SILHOUETTE-GATE (UPDATED)


In yesterday's blog about the John Gardner U.S. hardcovers, some fans have wondered why The Man From Barbarossa uses a different silhouette of 007 on the cover art.

The story I read (although for the life of me I can't remember where) was that around the time of the release of Brokenclaw in 1990, Danjaq/Eon Productions complained that the silhouette Putnam was using on their Bond books looked too much like Pierce Brosnan. As we know, Brosnan had narrowly missed out on becoming Bond in 1986 and in 1990 Timothy Dalton was still the "Bond of record."

Eon's sudden sensitivity with any Brosnan-Bond connection might have also had something to do with a flurry of news reports around this same time that claimed Kevin McClory was once again planning to make an unofficial James Bond film, Atomic Warhead, with...Pierce Brosnan. Brosnan was also being linked to a possible (unofficial) James Bond TV series.

So when the The Man From Barbarossa rolled around in 1991, Putnam used a different silhouette. However, it's still from the same batch of images that had been created for the 1980s Ian Fleming Berkley paperbacks (this one came off Doctor No), so all it might have accomplished was to smooth things over until Eon's anxiety passed. By 1992 the "Brosnan-like" silhouette was back, and by 1995 Pierce Brosnan himself would be James Bond.

Anyway, that's the story I heard, but like I said, I cannot find the original source, so maybe I'm just spreading gossip. But that oddball The Man From Barbarossa cover offers some evidence that this story could be true.

UPDATE: 

Okay, I've finally found the source. Interestingly, it was not so much the cover of Brokenclaw that caused the "problem", but a full page ad for the book in the New York Times Book Review that used the cover silhouette (wish I had that ad!).

According to Frank Swertlow's "Hollywood Freeway" column in the L.A. Daily News (Aug 3, 1990), Brosnan's spokesman Richard Guttman said that "Pierce has received at least 30 phone calls" about the Brokenclaw ad, which the article notes "bares a striking resemblance to Pierce." This same story, along with Guttman's quote, appeared in USA Today.

Now, this all seems to be part of a continued campaign by Brosnan's publicists to keep him in the public mind as 007 (and tweak Eon over their selection of Timothy Dalton over Brosnan in '86). This campaign had gone on for years. Brosnan had done two Diet Coke commercials in a Bondian persona (below), and also appeared in various print ads with a Bondian look. Also, as I stated above, in 1990 he was flirting with working with the dreaded Kevin McClory on a rival Bond film, Atomic Warhead.

So it's debatable whether this Brokenclaw ad was really drawing public comparisons, or if this was just Pierce's people finding another way to tout their man as the Bond of public choice.

And, yes, I think this small publicity flare up could have been the reason the traditional silhouette took a one book hiatus in 1991 with The Man From Barbarossa.


Brosnan's best "tweak"

11 comments:

  1. Funny that "The Man From Barbarossa" is the one Gardner Bond novel that strays from the rest, and its silhouette does as well.

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  2. That sounds vaguely familiar. It does remind me of Brosnan, though.

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  3. I know that on the cover to Win, Lose or Die it does look a lot like Pierce.

    I recall a rumor that Dalton and Connery were cast WARHEAD, which would have coincided with the release of Tomorrow Never Dies.

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    1. Yeah, there were constant rumors about who would star in Warhead, but the project was never going to happen.

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  4. The McClory timing might have played a big part, but it also might have been the big push that Putnam gave to Brokenclaw. For some reason, I remember that one getting a lot more advertising than I'd noticed for the few preceding it--and CERTAINLY than those which followed. (By the time of Cold Fall, I'm not sure Putnam even realized they'd released the book!) There was a very prominent full-page advertisement in the New York Times Book Review with that Brosnan-ish artwork, and it looked even more like Pierce blown up so large. (And I'm pretty sure that full-page ad is still stuck up inside the closet door of my old bedroom at my parents' house!)

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    1. Oh my, I'd love to see that Brokenclaw ad. I collected ads from the LA Times book section, but I think the last one I ever saw was for Scorpius. Cool that you remember Brokenclaw getting a big push. I was travelling after college in 1990 and really missed this. In fact, I remember being surprised to find Brokenclaw in New Orleans. I didn't even know what the new Bond was called. :)

      You could be right that this is why it drew fire.

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    2. Looks like you were exactly right, Tanner. This was about the ad more than the cover. But now we REALLY need to see that ad. :)

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  5. I'd say the Bond silhouette is different just because there's not enough room for the standing figure, because of the longer title...

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  6. I'd love to see the photos the silos were made from.

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  7. Fascinating, John. Thank you for this great article. I remember reading an article on this way back on Kimberly Last's site. This could make a very interesting article on The Bondologist Blog - in fact I pencilled this one down in 2007!

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