Even as bookmakers in England are laying odds on who will replace Pierce Brosnan in the next James Bond movie -- Hugh Jackman is the favorite, then Colin Farrell, Orlando Bloom, and Jude Law -- Variety is reporting that Brosnan remains on board the franchise, whose next installment is due in theaters in Nov. 2005. In fact, 007 studio MGM has just renewed its first look deal with Brosnan's production company and is developing at least two movies with him, including a sequel to his hit ''The Thomas Crown Affair'' and a thriller called ''Mexicali.''
The Variety report counters rumors that surfaced in the British press earlier this week saying that Eon Productions, which makes the 007 movies, was dumping the 50-year-old Brosnan because of his age. (By comparison, Sean Connery was 53 the last time he played Bond, in ''Never Say Never Again,'' and Roger Moore was 57 when he made his last Bond movie, ''A View to a Kill''). ''Obviously, we have a great relationship with Pierce from the Bond films,'' MGM vice chairman Chris McGurk told Variety. ''But he and Beau [St. Clair, Brosnan's producing partner] are very talented producers as well, and we're excited to continue our work with them in that capacity. They have some great projects in the works.''
The busy Brosnan has some non-MGM projects lined up, including the actioner ''The Matador,'' in which he plays a hitman (the shoot starts next month in Mexico) and the romantic comedy ''Laws of Attraction'' with Julianne Moore, which New Line will release in April.