Event Report: Bond Symposium at Hofstra University
Hempstead, Long Island is less than an hour and a half from home, and I was within two miles of the place when I got lost. Really hopelessly lost. Lost like, 45 minutes late. And I wasn’t the only one either. Another attendee took a cab from about the spot that I got lost to the conference two miles away, and it took 25 minutes. Long Island is some kind of black hole.
Anyway, I only attended four of the many wonderful symposium events.
First, Lee Pfeiffer interviewed Robert Davi. It was a sit-down on a theater stage, very much a chat with microphones, and very informative. Davi pointed out that he, Benicio del Toro, and Timothy Dalton were in Mexico City during the making of Licence to Kill with nothing to do with their evenings that didn’t involve tequilla, but he refrained from telling the juicier stories. He talked about how important it was to find sympathy in his character, and you can tell, as he speaks, that he still sympathizes with Sanchez. ‘None of the killings were my fault,’ he says, ‘My character was provoked every time.’ And again, ‘He could have whipped Lupe sadistically, as a fetish, but I did it in a ‘hurts me more than it hurts you’ way, as if I was sad to do it.’ He also explained the casting of Talisa Soto: “It wasn’t about the acting,” he said, “Which was what it was. It was about choosing the girl that Sanchez would risk his life to get back.” And Davi and Cubby Broccoli agreed that only Soto could be that to Sanchez.
The next event was the panel, “Writing Bond.” Participating were
- John Griswold (author of Ian Fleming’s James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies)
- Raymond Benson (author of The James Bond Bedside Companion, six original James Bond novels, and novelizations of James Bond movies)
- Lee Pfeiffer (author The Incredible World of 007, co-author of The Essential James Bond, and producer of “The Making of Goldfinger” and “The Making of Thunderball” DVD documentaries)
- me (author of The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book)
- Lois Gresh (co-author of The Science of James Bond)
I definitely had the “little ol’ me” feeling, being with such illustrious co-panelists, and I had a blast! We discussed a lot of different things, from what was hard and easy and confusing about writing Bond, to the advantages and disadvantages of being authorized (Pfeiffer and Benson) or unauthorized (the rest of us). Benson talked about the unique task of creating Bond fiction, and Pfeiffer shared his unusual relationship with the late Cubby Broccoli. I think the panel was fun, informative, and diverse. I know, I was on it so I’m biased, but I learned a lot and enjoyed myself, and I hope I also contributed.
Next up, Lee Pfeiffer interviewed the amazing Tom Mankiewicz via videophone conference. Way high-tech, and what a great interview it was! Mankiewicz is a real raconteur, and he could have filled the whole time with just one question, because he had so many wonderful stories to tell. From confronting racism in a Louisiana parish during the making of Live and Let Die, to secretly polishing Christopher Wood’s script for The Spy Who Loved Me (and getting totally caught by Roger Moore) to meeting John Wayne on his very first job, everything he recounted was fun, funny, and fascinating.
After that was a dinner banquet. Again, so much fun. So many wonderful people to meet, so many interesting stories to here. Pfeiffer and Benson did a presentation during dessert of “Myths of Bond” (like, no one ever died of being painted gold), and then Benson did a wonderful piano medley of James Bond music.
And, big surprise! Representatives of Aston Martin of Long Island were there with a car, a beautiful silver coupe (lower right picture in the link). Not only did I get photographed sitting in it (ohmigodz ohmigodz), I sent the gentlemen home with a copy of my book, so I photographed it sitting in the trunk. Photos to follow.
I was sorry to have to leave.