Much online e-ink has been e-spilled over the question of which actor will take up the mantle of international superspy James Bond for the 25th installment of the perennial franchise. Will incumbent star Daniel Craig return for another go-round as 007, or will he be replaced by the likes of new challengers Tom Hiddleston, Dan Stevens, Emily Blunt, or Idris Elba? Who knows (not us), but as the mission to secure a star has been playing out, another big change-up has unfolded largely in the background.
The New York Times ran an illuminating item today about the recent scramble among studios to secure the creative rights to the James Bond property and the handsome paydays that go with it. Sony fronted the last four Bond flicks, steering the franchise into its commercially and critically fruitful Craig era, but their rights to Ian Fleming’s creation expired after 2015’s Spectre. Now, five different distribution outfits are all jockeying for the favor of rights-holders MGM and Eon Productions, making elaborate presentations all throughout this week.
The NYT‘s item states that Tuesday saw Sony make their case, attempting to dazzle the MGM folks by staging their big pitch in a recreated Dr. No set. Similar offers have been made by competitors Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox, and the wild card of the bunch, Megan Ellison’s new-boutique-distributor-on-the-block Annapurna. (After a rocky 2016, Paramount’s concentrating on getting their act together, and has refrained from throwing their hat into the ring. Disney’s focusing on family films for now, though a family-friendly James Bond would certainly be… something?)
A change in distributorship could mark a major change in the shape of Bond to come. Sony put their distinct stamp on the franchise, ushering in a tougher, more brutal Bond. Surely an Annapurna-fronted 007 would zag where the franchise has historically zigged.
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Many things come to mind when you think about transportation: Traffic, congestion, mass transit and the cost of fuel, to name a few. You might also think about the economy, urban planning and the environment. Yet one thing often is left out of the discussion: civil rights.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights lays out the case for transportation as a civil right in a report, Where We Need to Go: A Civil Rights Roadmap for Transportation Equity.
The way the conference sees it, access to transportation is key to connecting the poor, seniors and those with disabilities to jobs, schools, health care and other resources. It is essential to widening opportunities for all. Many of us take our mobility for granted, but getting around can be a real challenge for millions of Americans.
This is a key issue as Congress considers the surface transportation reauthorization bill, which essentially maps out federal transportation spending and priorities for the next six years.
“Smart and equitable transportation systems connect us to jobs, schools, housing, health care services — and even to grocery stores and nutritious food,” Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the conference, said in testimony presented to the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee. “But millions of low-income and working-class people, people of color and people with disabilities live in communities where quality transportation options are unaffordable, unreliable, or nonexistent.”
According to the report, the average cost of owning a car is just shy of $9,500. That may not sound like much until you realize the federal poverty level is $22,350 for a family of four. One-third of low-income African-American households do not have access to an automobile. That figure is 25 percent among low-income Latino families and 12.1 percent for whites. Racial minorities are four times more likely than whites to use public transit to get to work.
Yet the federal government allocates 80 percent of its transportation funding to highways.
“This is the civil rights dilemma: Our laws purport to level the playing field, but our transportation choices have effectively barred millions of people from accessing it,” the report states. “Traditional nondiscrimination protections cannot protect people for whom opportunities are literally out of reach.”
Americans in the lowest 20 percent income bracket – many of whom live in rural communities – spend roughly 42 percent of their annual income on transportation, according to the report. That figure is 22 percent for middle-income Americans.
Land use patterns contribute to the transportation divide. By focusing so much spending on highways, we’ve created decentralized communities. This is not, by itself, a problem. No one’s arguing everyone should live in cities. But we’ve underfunded mass transit and built minimal infrastructure for the 107 million people who walk or ride bikes to work each day.
(That’s a whole ‘nother issue: Americans make about 10.5 percent of all trips on foot, and only 1.5 percent of federal transportation funds are allocated to retrofitting roads with sidewalks and crosswalks even though pedestrians account