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Sean Connery as James Bond in 'Dr. No.' (MGM)
Sean Connery as James Bond in ‘Dr. No.’ (MGM)

Just as bookies all over the world are taking bets on the next Pope, they’re offering wagers on who will win Oscars. British bookmaker William Hill even has a kind of movie version trifecta, a special Lincoln bet bundle. But did you know that there’s a market for betting on aspects of the Academy Awards ceremony itself, specifically the James Bond 50th anniversary tribute segment?

The Irish bookmaking firm Paddy Power is currently taking two bets connected to the Bond celebration, an eagerly anticipated part of the show on February 24. You can bet on whether Daniel Craig is going to parachute into the ceremony (at press time, the odds were 4/1) or whether the evening’s host, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, will dress up as a Bond girl at some point during the broadcast (odds on that are 7/1).

But the biggest gamble is the one that Oscar producers are taking as they hope that they can draw a full house of 007s — they’re trying to get all six actors who’ve played James Bond to attend the tribute. Invitations have reportedly gone out to all of them, and the conventional wisdom was that Sean Connery was the least likely to participate. In fact, given his animosity to the producers of the official Bond franchise, and his decision two years ago to bow out of public appearances, many saw it as a safe bet that he wouldn’t show up.

But there were guardedly optimistic reports last month that Connery might actually surprise everyone.

Scotland’s Daily Record quotes “associates” of the Scottish actor as saying that the Oscar tribute is a “different proposition.”

The paper also cited one “Oscars source” who said that Connery had been invited and had not immediately said no, even though, the source said, “he is quick to turn things down.”

The source went on to say: “Sean’s relationship with the Oscars is good and we’re hoping he’ll appear. His issues with the Bond producers are not our business and we hope he will overlook that as we pay tribute to what he has done. It would be magnificent to see him up there with the other actors – and quite a coup.”

Quite a coup, indeed. But now there are fears that it’s another Bond who could be a holdout. TMZ is suggesting that Pierce Brosnan, Bond #5, may not attend. But the website’s story is based on pretty sketchy evidence: TMZ’s own stalkerazzi-type “interview” in which someone with a camera ambushed Brosnan as he was loading up his car in Malibu and asked him whether there’ll be a six-Bond reunion.

“Well, they’ll be missing one,” responds Brosnan. When TMZ’s guy asks the Irish actor whether he’s referring to himself or to Connery, the answer, if it was even offered, was inaudible.

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By Paul Hechinger