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From OO7 to Zero? New James Bond film suspended

Through no fault of his own, the most enduring and exciting of modern movie action heroes, James Bond, has been benched. Producers have halted development of the third Bond picture to star Daniel Craig (above) because they fear that the murky future of their studio partner, MGM, would leave the production in limbo. Bond producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said: "Due to the continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of MGM and the failure to close a sale of the studio, we have suspended development on Bond 23 indefinitely."

The Broccoli-Wilson team daringly "rebooted' the franchise four years ago with "Casino Royale." Their best move was hiring Craig, the most Byronic of 007s. In "Casino Royale" he was unexpected and stirring, and even in that misfire "Quantum of Solace," he managed the astonishing task of rooting an outlandish yet sober-sided movie in reality and bringing it an air of wicked amusement, too.

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I wasn't looking forward to seeing what director Sam ("American Beauty") Mendes would do with "Bond 23" (the film was due out in 2011 or 2012), but the admirable Peter Morgan ("Frost/Nixon") is one of the writers on the script and Rachel Weisz, who never disappoints, has been rumored as a costar.

In a movie world where intriguing adult action heroes are a disappearing species, it would be a sizable loss for Craig to be sidelined for long. He's been by far the best Bond since Sean Connery. Do you agree? How much will you miss not seeing a new Bond film for at least three years?

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The Bond series has cherished Baltimore connections.

The co-founder and longtime producer of the franchise was Barbara Broccoli's father, Albert "Cubby" Broccoli. (She and her half-brother, Wilson, took over after her father died in 1996.) The life-prolonging treatment he received at the Johns Hopkins Hospital led to the creation of the Dana & Albert "Cubby" Broccoli Center for Aortic Diseases at Hopkins. And Barbara's cousin, Dr. James D'Orta, who has served on the Board of Visitors for Johns Hopkins Medicine and is chairman of the board and CEO of the D.C.-based Consumer Health Services, Inc., has long been one of James Bond's medical overseers: he gave Daniel Craig his first series physical.

EON sponsored four Bond benefit premieres for Hopkins' aortic-diseases center at the Senator -- "Tomorrow Never Dies" in 1997, "The World Is Not Enough" in 1999, "Die Another Day" in 2002, and "Casino Royale" in 2006 -- and one at the Landmark Harbor East, for "Quantum of Solace" in 2008.

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