After three years since Elizabeth Banks was honored as Pioneer of the Year in 2019, the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation is back in action Wednesday night with its Pioneer of the Year Dinner, this time honoring the producers of the franchise. by James Bond, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. . Indeed, it was a welcome return for the industry charity that won what co-chairman Erik Lomis (with Heather Morgan) announced was a very healthy $1.5 loot. 007 million dollars for the cause.
MGM, United Artists Releasing and its new owner, Amazon Studios, sponsored the evening for the organization, whose members span the distribution and exhibition side of the business, and which saw everyone in high spirits in the Beverly Hilton Ballroom. Of course, the honorees themselves were responsible for much of that upbeat response from a crowd eager to get back to normal after three years in which the pandemic had KO’d this event. It also didn’t hurt that the latest James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, might fly in for the event after all, after he first couldn’t attend due to production schedules. His presence to greet a couple he called “family” was an added bonus, so he was joined by scheduled host Michelle Yeoh (The tomorrow Never Die) when presenting the very attractive looking trophy to the couple.
Awarded since 1947, when Adolph Zukor became the first recipient, there seemed to be a very warm feeling in the crowd for a pair of producers who have managed to sustain a thriving 25-film franchise now in its 60th year. Nothing bad. As producing executive Jonathan Glickman, who has worked on several Bond films, said about Broccoli and Wilson (who have dealt with various studio executives over the years) they have a simple philosophy, as defined by Wilson: “Never let temporary people make permanent decisions.” And he added that broccoli always said, “don’t spoil it.” Sound warning. He also told a hilarious story about the secrecy they demand regarding the Bond scripts. “There’s no chance of finding any script in the basement of Mar a Lago,” he laughed as he reiterated his number 1 rule, which is to never use email. Unfortunately, she didn’t stick with it on one memorable occasion when she made a mistake and emailed someone the script. Next thing he knew, he’d be online due to the infamous Sony hack, and it had his name watermarked all over it. Although he said he sweated every minute hoping they would find out once London opened, he said they never mentioned the breach and told him they were just getting over the incident.
Bond screenwriter Bruce Feirstein also shared stories of working with them to shape a Bond film, and even told a funny story about his own accidental encounter with Bond legend Sir Sean Connery. “Make sure you get the check,” was the advice the original 007 gave him. In the pre-performance reel, several others paid their respects via tape, including Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Hans Zimmer, Jeffrey Wright, Benicio Del Toro, Adele, Lashana Lynch, Billie Eilish, Jude Law, Eric Fellner, Blake Lively, Rami Malek, Judi Dench, David O. Russell, Lea Seydoux, Ana de Armas, and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos.
Yeoh, you’re getting a strong buzz from Oscar for Everything everywhere at once he said charmingly that he spent the whole night wondering why he agreed to do this. “I can’t sing, I can’t tell jokes and Barbara would say I can’t act,” she laughed, noting that they are genuine producers, fearless leaders and Hollywood royalty. Perhaps even referring to herself, she added she about the franchise that she started in 1962 with doctor not and has made $8 billion in the years since, “60 is the new 20. It’s so cool to be 60 and still hot!”. He then introduced Craig, who emotionally proclaimed that Broccoli and Wilson are “my family. Its impact is so great, so pervasive, that it goes far beyond the industry.” With that, Wilson thanked everyone who had anything to do with the franchise, in particular Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli, the actors, the exhibitors who believed in the power of the franchise, and many others. “I am so deeply proud of the work we have done together,” he said as Broccoli turned to him to deliver the acceptance speech.
Wilson also pointed out that there was still a bid to win a vintage 2003 Thunderbird used in the Bond franchise, and there was an auction for a pair of autographed watches that fetched big bucks thanks to some expert Lomis auctions that would make Sharon Stone proud. . One autographed by Craig raised $19,000. Sam Smith provided entertainment, including his Oscar-winning Bond song, “The Writings On The Wall”.