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Sean Connery was 'treated like shit' - says studio exec David Picker

05-Oct-2013 • Bond News

To promote his new memoir 'Musts, Maybes, and Nevers: A Book About the Movies', studio executive and past United Artists president David Picker has talked to ET about his time in the industry and some of the defining moments:

As for Bond, Picker was an avid fan of Ian Fleming's work and tried to get the ball rolling with Alfred Hitchcock directing a 007 adaptation. Later, Cubby Broccolli and Harry Saltzman acquired the option to produce his novels. Their $1.1 million budget request was turned down by their regular studio, Columbia, as being too high, so they went to United Artists and Picker, who gave them the green light for 1962's Dr. No.

"My vision of it and their vision of it was exactly the same," says Picker of the 007 films, adding with another laugh, "Everybody got rich off it but me."

Sean Connery was cast as James Bond, and the rest is history. But after five Bond outings, each one doing bigger and bigger box office, Connery was feeling unappreciated by Broccoli and Saltzman, who would renegotiate their deals for more money -- but never gave the actor his just rewards for becoming the face of the franchise. Connery left the series after 1967's You Only Live Twice, and was replaced by George Lazenby in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, "Which lays an egg," says Picker matter-of-factly. "Sadly enough, the Lazenby film was a disaster, and probably there wouldn't be any more Bond movies" if Picker hadn't brokered a deal with Connery for a king's ransom – and a deal to make any two other movies of his choice -- to bring him back for one more picture, 1971's Diamonds Are Forever.

"Sean realized he could trust us, came back, did the one movie, and saved the series," says Picker, who adds, "One of the terms of his deal was that he would not have to talk to the producers. It's laughable, but on the other hand, he was deeply offended and he had every right to be, because they treated him like shit." Connery subsequently gave his $1.25 million salary entirely to The Scottish Educational Trust Fund.

He adds, "Sean is famous for being cranky; I've never experienced it, he's never been anything but cordial, but he was heard to say that the only movie executive he'd ever liked was me."

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