Solo Gets Encore

I don’t really believe the public is clamoring for an U.N.C.L.E. movie, much less one starring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer. But Variety says that’s what we’re getting.

Yes, count on Armie Hammer to bring to the role of Ilya Kuryakin everything we liked about his Lone Ranger. Surely there must have been something. The script calls for Cavill’s Napoleon Solo to be initially hostile toward Hammer’s character. Now there’s something nobody will have any trouble believing. And count on the critics to take up where he leaves off.

But who will be agency chief Alexander Waverly? Robert Vaughn, who played Solo on TV, says he hasn’t been contacted about the part. Many fans would like to see Vaughn in character finishing his U.N.C.L.E. career as Waverly’s successor. (Leo G. Carroll, who originated Waverly, died in 1972.)

513px-Robert_Vaughn_David_McCallum_Man_from_UNCLE_1966It’s been a long time since U.N.C.L.E was on any screen, big or small. Vaughn and David McCallum reprised their roles in 1983 for CBS’ TV movie The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. And a few years later, when the A-Team was on its last legs, Robert Vaughn came aboard to play General Hunt Stockwell, the federal spymaster who picked their assignments. The role was an overt reference to his old series, and his debut episode “The Say U.N.C.L.E. Affair” also cast David McCallum as a Russian (“Ivan Trigorin”). Of course, it would be a struggle to believe McCallum doing a Russian accent these days, after watching him so long as the idiocyncratic Scottish medical examiner on NCIS.

David Klaus says his dream cast for an U.N.C.L.E. movie is George Clooney as Napoleon Solo, Orlando Bloom as Illya Kuryakin, and Patrick Stewart as Alexander Waverly (Ian McKellen would also suit him as Number 1, Section 1.)

[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]

Update 08/05/2013: Fixed McKellen reference per comment.

Gene DeWeese (1931-2012)

Gene DeWeese died on March 19. “He had been in great pain (physical and mental) from Lewy body dementia,” reports Mike Lowrey, “and it finally took him pretty suddenly, after months of pain and mental suffering had traumatized [him and his wife, Bev] badly.”

Bev and Gene had been married for many years. Beverly Amers and Juanita Wellons formed the Eastern Indiana Science Fiction Association (EISFA) in the early 1950s and in time wed two other club members, Buck Coulson and Gene DeWeese.

Buck revealed in a Pixel interview:

When we first got acquainted, he wrote voluminous letters to loads of people but would barely say two words in a face-to-face contact. A friend of mine met him once, and after he’d left, asked, “Does he talk?”

The Coulsons’ fanzine Yandro won the Hugo in 1965. About the same time, Buck and Gene launched pro careers as collaborators on a couple of Man From U.N.C.L.E. novels. DeWeese remembered:

The U.N.C.L.E. books were the first sales Buck and I had made, in fact the first things either of us had written longer than a short story, so we considered them a great ‘earn-while-you-learn’ program.

The team of DeWeese and Coulson wrote several sf novels, plus two murder mysteries set at Worldcons, Now You See It/Him/Them (1975) and Charles Fort Never Mentioned Wombats (1977), filled with references and in-jokes. Another reference-filled short story  “Queen of the Timies,” appeared in Mike Resnick’s Alternate Worldcons (1994), in which Time Tunnel fans gather to honor Time Fleet Admiral Bjo Trimble and the show’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, presents a special cut of “The Trouble with Trimbles.”

DeWeese, writing solo, also did novels based on TV sf shows like Star Trek and Lost in Space and wrote gothics under a pen name. His YA novel The Adventures of a Two-Minute Werewolf was made into a TV movie. His last story may have been “The World of Null-T,” published in 2010.

Before turning to fiction DeWeese was a technical writer in the Apollo program of the 1960s.

With Christopher Priest’s name being bandied about lately, it’s an interesting coincidence that DeWeese once named him as one of the authors he especially liked:

Gene: I’ve always read both sf and mysteries — PLANET STORIES and Clarke and Erle Stanley Gardner in grade and high school, Priest and Clarke, Gorman and Pronzini, etc., now.

[Thanks to Mike Lowrey, Steven H Silver and Andrew Porter for the story.]