Cindy Macdonald reports for MI6 from Hollywood, where the talk of a young Australian 007 has taken over the town....

A New 007 From Down Under
8th April 2004

Hollywood, USA - Ever since the media circus came to Bond Town, the `Next 007` cottage industry within the entertainment press have been circling like vultures over Brosnan's ever changing situation, ready to start picking the bones of Bond #5 and ushering in the sixth screen incarnation.

Any available actor who fits the thumbnail sketch of Fleming's 50 year-old character seems to have had screen-tests, contract talks and approaches from the producers in recent months - if you believe everything you read in the press. The good ship Bond Rumour set sail on February 9th 2004 when the Daily Mail (UK) claimed Brosnan was axed due to his age. It seems like "eons" ago since that debacle wrapped up with official denials, but all hands to the deck, as the compass spins towards South and the engines are thrown to full steam.

Hollywood has been buzzing with one story all week, but not in the usual sensationalised American TV reports or gossip columns. Instead, the tale has been whispered through smoky bars, over water coolers and in the back seats of expensive cabs. It's just not the usual Hollywood way, which suggests to everyone who hears it, that there might actually be something to this one.

Step forward Michael Madsen, the only guy in town who has said anything on the record to journalists, who were swarming around the "Kill Bill:Volume 2" press junkets. Although his only brush with 007 onscreen was playing Falco in "Die Another Day", his bonds are stronger than his short performance might suggest, for Madsen is Pierce Brosnan's neighbour.

His claims? Brosnan is done with Bond, and the new one is waiting in the wings. But who? He couldn't remember. Some young Australian actor, Madsen said he hadn't seen any of his work, causing all the journalists to strike through the next word they had written down - Hugh...

George Lazenby may not be a familiar name to a casual movie viewer, or for that matter, the new generation of Bondites who have grown taller whilst Brosnan has been at the helm. However, it is to this one-time 007's homeland that the good ship Bond Rumour is about to take port - Perth to be precise.

It's the name on everyone's lips here, and now it's finally starting to seep out in the wider world, with movie rumour websites already preparing to unleash it upon Bond fans.

Heath Ledger.

At only 25 years of age, he never figured on "Next Bond" lists, not even the ones the Australian press have published.

Heath Ledger. That's the name. Remember it. Even the big money men, who have their fingers on the pulse as well as their wallets, back this one. Eon want to go in a new direction with 007, a younger Bond for a younger audience, claim the suits. Sound familiar? Does anyone else hear an echo? The good ship Bond Rumour has sailed full circle, picking up a new passenger from a far away land.

Heath Ledger

Cries by fans for official statements are likely to go unheard, but that's what keeps wind in the sails of this ship. All aboard! Batten down the hatches! There's a storm brewing...

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