James Bond travels to many exotic international locales, but Broadway may have to wait. There was buzzy news earlier this week when Merry Saltzman told Playbill that she’d acquired the rights to mount a stage show based on 007, had people already working on the book and music, and gave fans hope to expect a production by as early as late 2017.
Her claims were given instant credibility because Saltzman is the daughter of Harry Saltzman, the late Bond producer who helped invent Ian Fleming’s spy for the big screen along with Cubby Broccoli. But the current powers behind Bond Inc —the Broccolis’ Danjaq LLC and Metro Goldwyn Mayer — doused any excitement for a live-musical with an official statement “confirm[ing] they have not licensed any rights to Merry Saltzman or her production company to create a James Bond musical. Danjaq and MGM jointly control all live stage rights in the Bond franchise, and therefore no James Bond stage show may be produced without their permission.”
UPDATE: Merry Saltzman responded to the Bond camp’s claim, telling Playbill that she didn’t need approval because she intends her musical to be a parody:
“Eon, Danjaq, and MGM et al’s statements are accurate as far as they go. Placeholder Productions’ and my statements are also accurate. Placeholder did not claim to have purchased rights to a stage production from Eon et al (nor did we intend to imply we had). Placeholder did (and did claim to) purchase rights to a James Bond musical parody written by Dave Clarke with music and lyrics by Jay Henry Weisz. The key word here is ‘parody.’ Parody, the courts have repeatedly upheld, is fully protected under the fair use principle of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 and, as such, does not require permission from the owners of the intellectual property being parodied. We are producing a parody, no permissive rights are required from Eon, Danjaq, MGM et al to produce our show; it will not infringe on their intellectual property. James Bond: The Musical will go on as planned.”
Danjaq is the holding company that owns Eon Productions, the production company responsible for all the Bond films. It was created by Broccoli and Saltzman more than 50 years ago, and is named after the gents’ wives (Dana and Jacqueline). Harry Saltzman, however, sold his interest in the 1970s due to other financial difficulties.