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How NBC Revoked Pierce Brosnan's License to Kill

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Pierce Brosnan had never been happier to be out of work. It was spring 1986, and he had received word his NBC sleuth series Remington Steele would not be renewed for a fifth season. After the first two years, he explained to an interviewer, he had pretty much had enough. Four was plenty. And now there was more reason to celebrate its demise: Following a successful screen test, he was the first choice to be Roger Moore’s successor as James Bond.

“Under the circumstances,” he said, “if it had gone a fifth [season], I would have been p*ssed off.”

On being offered Bond, a character who had made a huge impression on Brosnan since seeing Sean Connery in the role at age 11, he was equally candid. “If I don’t do Bond and some other guy gets it … I’m going to be really p*ssed off.”

Brosnan’s show was axed in May 1986; shortly thereafter, he was offered the Bond role. The victory lap lasted roughly two months, at which point NBC made the inexplicable decision that Remington Steele wasn’t canceled after all.

NBC

The search for a new Bond seemed to take a page out of David O. Selznick’s famous campaign to find his Scarlett O’Hara for 1939’s Gone with the Wind. Speculation, information leaks, and other gossip amounted to piles of free publicity. When Roger Moore decided to end his association with the role after 1985’s A View to a Kill, the entertainment press had a field day trying to guess his replacement.

Mel Gibson was one name discussed; so was Sam Neill. But longtime Bond producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli had his sights on Brosnan, who he had first met during filming of 1981’s For Your Eyes Only. Brosnan’s new wife, Cassandra Harris, was playing a Bond girl in the film. They had dinner at Broccoli’s house; Brosnan would also show up on set, where it would be easy for someone to mistake his GQ appearance for Ian Fleming’s spy.

“I’m Bond, James Bond,” Brosnan would joke while giving Harris a ride back from shooting.

Broccoli, however, took it more seriously. After confirming NBC was canceling the four-year-old Remington Steele owing to stiffer competition on Saturday nights from ABC's Spenser: For Hire, Broccoli began discussing a three-picture deal with the actor that would begin with 1987’s The Living Daylights.

There was just one asterisk: NBC had 60 days to essentially reverse course and act upon their right to retain the cast for another season. While contractually permissible, it was considered unlikely. As late as July 13, 1986, NBC president Brandon Tartikoff was telling press the show had already reached its creative peak.

Ratings, however, were another story. The series got a boost in summer reruns as a result of the media attention over Brosnan’s casting. Instead of being a lightweight detective show, Steele became a place to check out the new James Bond.

Sensing they could capitalize on the attention, Tartikoff decided to order six more episodes as a mid-season replacement for the 1986-1987 season. The network wasn’t oblivious to the problems this created for Brosnan, who had a verbal agreement to do Bond: They offered to have the show relocate to Europe so he could work on both. Broccoli, however, was not agreeable to the idea. In his eyes, the Bond brand couldn’t afford to be diluted by an actor appearing on a weekly television series. Broccoli resented that NBC was capitalizing on the success of his hard work.

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With just days left before the network option expired that July, Brosnan got the call: Remington Steele was back on. Though he’d shot promotional material for Bond already—including the classic gun-in-air pose—he hadn’t signed the three-picture deal. Broccoli was free to part ways with him, and that's exactly what he did.

In the 2012 documentary Everything or Nothing, Brosnan explained how the whole experience left him rattled. NBC ran just six episodes of Remington Steele before canceling it for good, making their intrusion even more senseless. Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway one day in 1987, Brosnan saw billboards of new Bond Timothy Dalton staring back at him. The other guy had gotten it.

Dalton’s brooding Bond was a departure from Connery and Moore. After two films and a six-year hiatus owing to MGM’s legal troubles, he and producers parted amicably and the role was recast for 1995’s GoldenEye.

This time, Brosnan was available. Speaking to press to promote the film, the actor said that the part had “felt wrong to me then—now it feels right.”

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By Napoleon Sarony - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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25 of Oscar Wilde's Wittiest Quotes
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By Napoleon Sarony - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

On October 16, 1854, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland. He would go on to become one of the world's most prolific writers, dabbling in everything from plays and poetry to essays and fiction. Whatever the medium, his wit shone through.

1. ON GOD

"I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability."

2. ON THE WORLD AS A STAGE

"The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast."

3. ON FORGIVENESS

"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much."

4. ON GOOD VERSUS BAD

"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."

5. ON GETTING ADVICE

"The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself."

6. ON HAPPINESS

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go."

7. ON CYNICISM

"What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."

8. ON SINCERITY

"A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."

9. ON MONEY

"When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is."

10. ON LIFE'S GREATEST TRAGEDIES

"There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."

11. ON HARD WORK

"Work is the curse of the drinking classes."

12. ON LIVING WITHIN ONE'S MEANS

"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination."

13. ON TRUE FRIENDS

"True friends stab you in the front."

14. ON MOTHERS

"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his."

15. ON FASHION

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."

16. ON BEING TALKED ABOUT

"There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

17. ON GENIUS

"Genius is born—not paid."

18. ON MORALITY

"Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike."

19. ON RELATIONSHIPS

"How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being?"

20. ON THE DEFINITION OF A "GENTLEMAN"

"A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally."

21. ON BOREDOM

"My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s."

22. ON AGING

"The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything."

23. ON MEN AND WOMEN

"I like men who have a future and women who have a past."

24. ON POETRY

"There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope."

25. ON WIT

"Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit."

And one bonus quote about Oscar Wilde! Dorothy Parker said it best in a 1927 issue of Life:

If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.

1. ON SCIENCE

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.

2. ON NASA FUNDING

"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles

3. ON GOD AND HURRICANES

"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole

4. ON THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY INVENTED FOR USE IN SPACE

"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles

5. ON THE DEMOTION OF PLUTO FROM PLANET STATUS 

PBS

"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

6. ON JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC

"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole

7. ON DEATH BY ASTEROID

"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles

8. ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND AMERICA'S MOONSHOT

"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

9. ON INTELLIGENT LIFE (OR THE LACK THEREOF)

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

10. PRACTICAL ADVICE IN THE EVENT OF ALIEN CONTACT 

A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole

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