C.I.A. Meets James Bond In "Spy Gadgets" TV Special
Producer Recruits Childhood Film Heroes For Nostalgic Look at Cold-War Culture
Cigarette-pack radios... secret umbrella-guns... missile-firing cars! The incredible world of spy gadgets -- from the actual gear used by the C.I.A., to the amazing gimmicks in Hollywood spy thrillers -- is the focus of "Hollywood Spytek," debuting May 10 on the Discovery Channel.
Icons from classic espionage films will be showcased on the program, including the original Shoe Phone from the spy spoof "Get Smart," the actual Walther PPK used by Agent 007 in the James Bond films, and the original prop Pen Communicator made popular on the TV spy hit "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."
Danny Biederman -- the show's co-producer/writer and director -- examines the relationship between the Cold War era of the 1960s, and the international "spy craze" that engulfed the entertainment scene at that time. A widely-recognized spy authority who has served as an expert consultant to MGM's James Bond series, Biederman opened the vaults to his world-famous 4,000-piece Spy-Fi ArchivesTM for use in the special.
An ultra-rare collection of movie/TV spy props, wardrobe and production art, the Spy-FiTM collection had its world premiere inside C.I.A. headquarters in 2000. The Spy-FiTM Exhibit received international media attention and, due to popular demand, has extensively toured the U. S. intelligence community. Biederman and the C.I.A. are currently presenting a joint exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. It has broken all previous attendance records at the site.
The stars and creators of the most popular TV spy shows were recruited by Biederman to appear on "Hollywood Spytek." Included are interviews with Robert Vaughn of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," Don Adams and Barbara Feldon of "Get Smart," Robert Conrad of "The Wild Wild West," Buck Henry and Leonard Stern (creator and producer of "Get Smart"), and prop masters Bill Bates and Tim Smythe ("Mission: Impossible" and "Wild Wild West").
On the special, Biederman demonstrates such imaginative prop gadgets as the Canteen Phone, which Maxwell Smart used on a desert mission to call his Chief; and the Cigarette Case Communicator that agent Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) employed every week on "U.N.C.L.E." Danny follows the development of the spy genre from Ian Fleming's post-World War II creation of James Bond, through the '60s Cold War period.
Countering Hollywood's take on espionage is Keith Melton -- intelligence historian and collector -- who demonstrates the spy gear used by the world's real intelligence agencies. An official C.I.A. spokesperson comments on the remarkable similarities between spy fact and fantasy.
Biederman -- who, as a teenager, interviewed Sean Connery for a documentary he was making on the set of a James Bond movie -- says that "Hollywood Spytek" is a show he's wanted to produce for years. "The people who created these classic adventures and clever props deserve to be recognized," he says. "They were my inspiration as a child. I'm thrilled that they will be telling their story in this special, and that these historic film artifacts„which are being preserved in the Spy-Fi ArchivesTM -- will be shared on primetime television for the first time since their original use by the stars of these productions."
Author of the new Warner Bros. book, "The 007 Collection," and script writer for several network spy series, Biederman is currently developing a feature screenplay while fielding offers for new exhibit venues -- and an eventual permanent home -- for the world's largest collection of cinematic spy memorabilia.
"Hollywood Spytek" was executive produced by Craig Piligian and Joel Rogers for Pilgrim Films and Television.