It was a case of one Bond generation meeting the next when former United Artists President of Production David Picker met the latest James Bond actor Daniel Craig on stage to help present a special award to 007 Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.
The EON producers were the recipients of the highly prestigious David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Motion Pictures, a trophy which recognizes a Producer’s body of work in motion pictures, and is seen as one of the most important awards that can be bestowed on a film Producer.
The special award was presented to the talented brother-and-sister duo at the 25th Producers Guild of America (PGA) Awards ceremony, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, California, on Sunday, January 19.
David Picker, who as many Bond fans know played a major and enthusiastic role in the evolution of the early 007 films, described at the PGA Awards ceremony how, half a century ago, he had first read the Ian Fleming James Bond novels and tried to get the rights, but Fleming initially refused.
The Bond author finally sold the rights to Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, who started the franchise that has now been passed on to Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, who Picker called ‘two extraordinary people’, who had succeeded through ‘passion and determination never to compromise’.
Picker continued: ‘They have guided and pushed their father’s legacy and this cinematic phenomenon beyond all expectations’. He also pointed out to the audience that there had been ’23 movies over 50 years… with a license to kill at the box office’.
Current 007 Daniel Craig, also speaking from the stage, similarly paid moving tribute to the sheer hard work of the two EON producers, and was present when Michael Wilson made an acceptance speech on behalf of himself and his sister. Daniel also posed backstage for photographers with Dame Helen Mirren, who had been the ‘reserve’ Queen had Queen Elizabeth not agreed to play herself in the special 2012 Olympics Bond movie.
Wilson on Producing
Wilson, during the course of his acceptance speech, said they had learned a valuable lesson from the great producers who came before them: that the producer has to do it all!
Wilson praised ‘our father, Cubby Broccoli’. He said that Cubby taught them ‘not to fear failure but to learn from it. When it came to James Bond, he said, “it’s O.K. if you screw it up, but don’t let anybody screw it up for you”. It was from Cubby we learned its a producer’s job to inspire the cast and crew, and to act as a sounding board for the director… and to be their advocate with the studio’.
At one point, Wilson also described occasions when Cubby had taken a very hands-on approach and cooked dinner for the entire film crew, and he said he and Barbara would do the same. Wilson also joked that, if the next Bond movie is not a success, ‘Barbara and I will be available for all your catering needs!’
Trivia Note: New York-born David Picker has served as a highly successful movie executive and producer for more than 40 years. He played a key role in getting James Bond onto the big screen, and he was also instrumental in persuading Sean Connery to return to Bond for Diamonds Are Forever in 1971. He worked for United Artists until 1973, when he left to set up his own independent production company. His fascinating memoirs about the movie industry, Musts, Maybes, and Nevers, were published in 2013.