James Bond is celebrating his 50th Anniversary in Arcadia with a special advance fundraiser screening of the newest 007 film “Skyfall” on Oct. 29, well before most of the rest of the world sees it, and nearly two weeks before it officially opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 9.
With James Bond having a connection to Arcadia, Santa Anita Park, and Breeders’ Cup (see below), proceeds will benefit racing charities and be used as seed money for a potential 2013 return of the Arcadia’s Best Patriotic Festival and parade.
The first Bond movie presented in the giant-screen IMAX format will be shown at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, at the AMC Santa Anita 16 IMAX theater in the Westfield Santa Anita mall, which seats nearly 300 people.
Ticket purchasers will also gain entrance to a reception at Bar Louie starting at 5 p.m. on the first floor of the mall near the valet parking, and featuring free Heineken beer and hors d’oeuvres. Santa Anita Park CEO Mark Verge’s team has also lined up a new Aston Martin to be on display, gift give-aways, and a silent auction.
MGM, under studio chairman and Santa Anita horse race fan Gary Barber, and Verge are partnering on the pre-Breeders’ Cup World Championships fundraiser event from which all proceeds will be donated to three charities: CARMA (California Retirement Management Account for retired race horses), the PDJF (Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund), and Arcadia’s Best Foundation.
The latter is the non-profit community events arm of this web site that produced One Community, One Book events the past two years and last year’s Arcadia’s Best Patriotic Festival that attracted 4,000 people to watch more than 70 local parade entries on First Avenue in Downtown Arcadia.
In response to popular demand, organizers hope to raise enough money to produce the Festival and parade again next summer. Donations from this “Skyfall” screening — split with the other two horse racing charities — will be put towards raising the $35,000 needed for the Festival and parade. Otherwise, the money will be put into producing the next One Community, One Book program.
Tickets are priced at $100 each and are available on Santa Anita’s website, www.SantaAnita.com.
“Skyfall,” the 23rd film in the longest-running and most successful film series of time, stars Daniel Craig in his third outing as the British secret agent even though this is the first new Bond movie in four years. Adele’s theme song for the movie was just released this month (music video at bottom).
Arcadia, Santa Anita, and the Breeders’ Cup have a special connection to 007:
The man who brought the 1950s James Bond novels by Ian Fleming to the big screen with “Dr. No” in October 1962 was Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli (yes, of the Italian family responsible for creating the vegetable of the same name by crossing a cauliflower with rabe).
About the time he was becoming a movie producer, Broccoli also acquired a taste for thoroughbred race horses after being introduced to the sport by friend Alfred G. Vanderbilt.
After more than a quarter-century of 007 movies and in the midst of the longest unplanned six-year gap in the series in the early 1990s, Broccoli became owner of a horse that he called Brocco.
At the same time, Cubby was grooming his daughter Barbara Broccoli and stepson Michael G. Wilson to take over his role as primary producer and overseer of the franchise. His last official act with the 007 films was to cast Pierce Brosnan as the new James Bond. At the time, Brosnan was the star of the popular TV series “Remington Steele,” which filmed parts of at least one episode in Arcadia, across the street from the Santa Anita race track at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.
Meanwhile, Broccoli was riding Brocco to global fame in a different arena.
Under Hall of Fame Santa Anita jockey Gary Stevens, Brocco won the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race in one of the rare years it was held at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia on Nov. 6, 1993. The second favorite at 3-1 won by five lengths, making him the “new darling of the ’94 Derby,” according to Sports Illustrated.
Five months later, Brocco won the $500,000 Santa Anita Derby Handicap on April 10, 1994, for the 85-year-old Broccoli. Again under Stevens, the three-year-old Brocco came from nearly 10 lengths off the pace and gradually caught and passed Tabasco Cat for a three-quarter-length victory, stamping Brocco as the “Best of the West” heading into the Triple Crown classics.
Broccoli, wearing running shoes, a bright red sweater under a tweed coat, and using a cane, was accompanied by his wife, Dana. He likened the Santa Anita Derby victory in Arcadia to the opening night crowd for his first Bond movie in 1962 at the London Palladium, “Dr. No.” He said Brocco – which won four of his eight races and placed second twice – was the best horse he ever owned.
A year later “Goldeneye” completed Cubby’s final stamp on the 007 series by resurrecting the James Bond franchise in 1995.
Broccoli died the following year in 1996.
It’s fitting on the 50th anniversary of Broccoli’s film franchise to present one of the first screenings of “Skyfall” during Breeders’ Cup week just a few hundred yards from the site of the most memorable victories of Broccoli and his horse Brocco at Santa Anita Park race track.
– By Scott Hettrick