Whether the rumour is true or not, the possible new guy still has a cool first name!

As MGM heads into its final hours as an independent studio, the question of who’ll be the next James Bond has exploded.
Earlier this week, word circulated that the Bond franchise-controlling Broccoli clan had patched things up with former 007 Pierce Brosnan and were negotiating a two-picture $40 million deal for him to reprise his role as the dapper spy. Yet another rumor had Brosnan making a single film while Sony — which is set to acquire the MGM studio this week — and the Broccolis groomed a new agent for a film to come out shortly after.
On Wednesday, the U.K. press gave its vote to British heartthrob Daniel Craig, reporting that Craig had been offered a three-pic deal by the Broccoli clan. Stateside sources say he’s no more of a certainty than other candidates that include previously rumored Clive Owen and Dominic West. Though unknown to most American auds, Craig has a Beatles-like following abroad and most recently appeared in the Brit pics “Layer Cake” and “Enduring Love.”
Despite the vacillation, each rumor has made a degree of sense. Sony, which will run the franchise once the MGM sale is completed, could do worse than keep on Brosnan, who took over the 007 role at a time when the franchise was on life support. Brosnan averaged $350 million in worldwide gross and set a franchise record in his last film, “Die Another Day,” with $425 million worldwide.
The Craig rumor seems plausible, given that “Die Another Day” scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are using Ian Fleming’s early Bond novel “Casino Royale” as the basis for a film to be directed by Martin Campbell. That novel, which was turned into a Bond spoof film starring David Niven, would lend itself to a secret agent in his formative years. And landing a young actor like Craig is possible because the actor wouldn’t cost much (such a strategy was employed to relaunch the “Superman” franchise with Brandon Routh).
The Broccolis have been notoriously tightfisted with their stars. Though Brosnan brought the franchise to unparalleled heights, he never received a gross percentage, nor has any actor who played the Bond role before him. So while Brosnan’s last Bond payday exceeded $20 million when bonuses were factored in, that was a fraction of the money Tom Cruise earned for the “Mission: Impossible” franchise or what Keanu Reeves got for “The Matrix” films. (That’s why early speculation over actors like Hugh Jackman, Jude Law and Colin Farrell seemed absurd.)
Brosnan’s reps have denied that any talks are taking place.
Brosnan and Craig aren’t the only actors making Web and press reports. This month’s Angeleno mag has its money on “Nip/Tuck’s” Julian McMahon, splashing the tuxedoed Aussie on its cover along with the headline “Meet the Next James Bond.”
Another name that has been floated in recent weeks is Gerard Butler (“Phantom of the Opera”).
All the possible Bonds named, however, are in line with the Broccoli’s tradition of casting aristocratic types — men whose idea of roughing it is settling for 200-thread-count sheets. Considering how the franchise has aged and the competition Bond now faces from more modern celluloid spies (think Jason Bourne), it would be wise for MGM — and now Sony — to consider more diverse possibilities.
MGM has denied that any Bond has been chosen. No announcement is likely to be made until the franchise is controlled by Sony, which has long wanted to be in the Bond biz. In fact, that desire caused a huge lawsuit between the studios years ago, when John Calley left UA to become Sony head and then tried to use “Thunderball”– the only book not completely locked down by the Broccolis at the time — as the basis for a rival Bond picture. MGM won that suit and the movie never happened, but Sony will have its own Bond picture in production this year, with somebody filling the tux.