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Shaken 007 producers put James Bond on ice

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Not surprisingly, the producers of the James Bond franchise have put the brakes on developing and producing the next installment of the 007 spy series because of the ongoing drama plaguing the franchise’s home studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.

‘Due to the continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of MGM and the failure to close a sale of the studio, we have suspended development of ‘Bond 23' indefinitely,’ producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli of Eon Productions said in a prepared statement. ‘We do not know when development will resume and do not have a date for the release of ‘Bond 23,’ ' which is the sequel to ‘Quantum of Solace,’ released by MGM’s co-financing partner Sony Pictures in 2008.

The sequel was previously scheduled for release in late 2011 or in 2012 to coincide with the franchise’s 50th anniversary. Director Sam Mendes had been helping develop the script with an eye toward potentially directing the movie. A production start date had not been set.

MGM had no official comment on the development. But a person close to the studio, who wasn’t authorized to talk about it on the record, said, ‘It was not unexpected given all the uncertainty and the ongoing process.’ Broccoli and Wilson, who took over the Bond franchise in 1995 from Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli, Broccoli’s father and Wilson’s stepfather, could not be reached for comment.

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Saddled with $3.7 billion in debt, MGM’s lenders have been pushing for either a sale of the company or a restructuring with an infusion of capital to remain a stand-alone operation. A number of different plans, as well as a $1.5 billion bid by Warner Bros. parent Time Warner Inc. are still under review. But any resolution is not expected for several more weeks, according to the person.

--Claudia Eller


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