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"Gentlemen and ladies, hold the presses. This just in: by curious quirk of fate, we have the perfect story with which to launch our satellite news network tonight. It seems a small crisis is brewing in the South China Seas. I want full newspaper coverage, I want magazine stories, I want books, I want films, I want TV, I want radio, I want us on the air 24 hours a day! This is OUR moment! And a billion people around this planet will watch it, hear it, and read about it from the Carver Media Group. There's no news..... like bad news."
― Carver informing his department heads of the sinking of the Devonshire[src]

Elliot Carver was a fictional British media baron who attempted to provoke a war between the United Kingdom and China in order to destroy the Chinese government and use the new government to obtain exclusive broadcasting rights in China. The character was the main antagonist in the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies and was portrayed by British actor Jonathan Pryce. Carver also appeared in Raymond Benson's accompanying novelization as well in his 1999 video game adaptation, voiced by Steve Hope Wynne.

Biography

Background

Elliot Carver was born in Hong Kong, officially an orphan. He is the illegitimate son of a German woman who died in childbirth and Lord Roverman, a press tycoon. A Chinese family took the boy for a one-time fee of fifty pounds. Thirty years later, Carver confronted and blackmailed Roverman into suicide and took over his media empire.

Elliot Carver went to college in Hong Kong and received a degree in the communication arts. By his own accounts, he had worked for a local newspaper during his adolescence. During his early adulthood, he was hired as a meteorologist at a Hong Kong Television Station and eventually became the station's anchorman. During this time, he often sexually harassed his female coworkers, to the point that one of them fled Hong Kong to get away from him.

In the years since, Carver fashioned himself as a media magnate, utilizing his background in the press and broadcasting. After striking success in rebranding Roverman's enterprise as his own, Carver took Paris McKenna as his first wife. Before marrying Elliot, Paris Carver was romantically linked to James Bond.

Emperor of The Air

In the present, Carver is a billionaire international media mogul of the German-based mass media company, the Carver Media Group Network. He frequently uses his influence to gain advantage for his firm or wreak havoc on opponents. Moreover, CMGN is typically the first to report on scandals and disasters due to the fact that it directly orchestrates them. During one of Carver's daily teleconferences, various heads of his divisions smugly gloat over the terror they inflict upon the world: Jeff Hobbs reports "floods in Pakistan, riots in Paris and a plane crash in California" while Philip Jones has all current releases of CMG's software loaded with bugs, forcing consumers to endlessly upgrade. To boost his viewership, Carver instructs Tom Wallace to call the President of the United States and threaten to release scandalous photos of him with a cheerleader if he doesn't sign a bill lowering cable rates - and then to release the photos when he complies.

During the CMGN Satellite Network inaugural party, Carver denies claims that after British beef baron Sir Angus Black lost £10,000 in a game of poker to him and refused to pay up, he exacted revenge by releasing stories on Mad Cow Disease. He further retorted that there was even less truth to the rumour that the French paid him 100 million francs to keep the stories going.

Attempting to provoke war

Having been denied media presence in China, Carver attempts to provoke a war between them and the United Kingdom, hoping to wipe out the existing Chinese leadership in Beijing. This action would effectively allow the Carver Media Group secure exclusive broadcasting rights in China for the next century. To that end, Carver arranges for a stealth ship to be built, utilising material smuggled by the Chinese general Chang. In return, Chang would be placed in the top seat within the Chinese government, while Carver would capitalise upon the coverage of the ensuing conflict.

During the initial phase of his plan, Carver sends American "techno-terrorist" Henry Gupta to purchase a GPS encoder (made by the American military) from a terrorist arms bazaar. Gupta then utilises the encoder to remotely interfere with the GPS systems of both the British HMS Devonshire and two Chinese MiG's. This sends the Navy frigate and Airforce jets off-course into what is perceived to be Chinese-held waters. Meanwhile, Carver has Richard Stamper and Captain Scott oversee the sinking of the Devonshire at the hands of his torpedo-like "Sea-Vac" drill (piloted by Timblin). From the Stealth Boat, Carver's forces unleash the Sea-Vac upon the warship and launch two guided missiles that obliterate the rival aircraft overhead. Carver then has his men eliminate the surviving crew with Chinese military-grade rounds while a diving team steals a cruise missile from the sunken ship.

Meanwhile, MI6 notices a spurious signal from one of the CMGN communications satellites, directed at the coordinates where the frigate was sunk. M sends James Bond to investigate Carver after his publication delivers news with critical details, hours ahead of competing media outlets. Bond travels to Hamburg and infiltrates Carver's launch party for his new satellite network. While posing as a banker, he meets the villain for the first time and also reunites with Paris. Carver develops an instant suspicion of Bond when the spy questions him about the applications of his satellites. He has his henchmen capture and attempt to interrogate Bond, but the spy escapes and cuts off power to Carver's live international broadcast, sabotaging the party and humiliating him.

Carver decides that his wife needs to die

Later, Carver learns by Gupta that Bond is a secret agent and commands Paris to get information from him as to why he was at the party and what he knows. Carver soon discovers that Paris and Bond are former lovers despite her claims that any former ties to the man were merely platonic. Feeling infuriated and betrayed, Carver has his wife killed by master assassin, Dr. Kaufman.

As Bond further investigates the Devonshire wreck, he discovers that the ship and aircraft had actually been in Vietnamese waters during the Stealth Ship's attack. During this time, Bond also discovers that People's External Security Force agent Wai Lin had also been probing Carver's activity. Previously, the two had encountered one another twice at Carver's Hamburg HQ - first at the launch party and later that subsequent day. The pair of agents are eventually captured by Stamper and taken to Carver at a CMGN tower in Saigon. Meeting with them, Carver reveals his plans to the pair and prepares to have them tortured by Stamper. However, they manage to escape and subsequently agree to collaborate on the investigation.

Final Showdown and Death

Carver seconds before his death

"I may have some breaking news for you: You forgot the first rule of mass media, Elliot: Give the people what they want!"
― Bond, before killing Carver

The two find Carver's stealth ship in Ha Long Bay and board it to prevent the madman from firing the stolen cruise missile at Beijing. During the battle, Wai Lin is captured but Bond manages to evade Carver's henchmen by using one of the guards to fake his death. On the ship's bridge, Bond captures Gupta to use as his own hostage. However, Carver kills Gupta as the final stage of the plan is set to go forth. Despite being cornered, Bond detonates an explosive, damaging the ship and making it visible to the Royal Navy's radar. Carver eventually sneaks up on Bond in the control room and holds him at gunpoint; he explains to Bond that by foolishly destroying the stealth ship, any evidence of Carver's actions is also destroyed. As the mogul pontificates, Bond secretly activates the Sea-Vac. With the roar of the drill having momentarily distracted the enemy, Bond is able to disarm him. He then holds a screaming Carver in front of the approaching drill and releases him at the last possible second, shredding him to pieces as Bond escapes.

Bond ultimately thwarts Carver's plan by positioning detonators on the missile to ensure its destruction before launch. With confirmation of Carver having expired in the Stealth Ship's destruction, M releases a news story stating that Carver went missing while on board his luxury yacht in the South China Sea, while the authorities believed he committed suicide.

Alternate continuities

Tomorrow Never Dies (novelisation)

Raymond Benson's novelization to the film adds more background to Carver's pre-film biography. The film itself mentioned that he previously worked for a newspaper in Hong Kong, but the novel reveals that he was the illegitimate son of the British newspaper baron Lord Roverman and a German prostitute. His mother died in childbirth, and his father paid a Hong Kong family to take him in. His foster father revealed on his deathbed who Carver's father really was. Carver went on to become a TV anchor in Hong Kong until he went to England to notify his father that he knew who he was, and his father tried to bribe him into never coming back. Carver then met Stamper and had him follow his father, and Stamper discovered that Lord Roverman was having an affair with an American prostitute and that he enjoyed dressing up in a Catholic school-girl's uniform while she spanked him. Carver tortured his father with this information until Lord Roverman re-wrote his will to make Carver his sole heir. Roverman then went back to America to find that Stamper had already murdered his mistress. Stamper then gave Roverman a gun and pressured him to commit suicide which he subsequently did. Roverman's wife and daughter tried to contest his will as they did not even know of Carver's existence, but Carver won in court and inherited his father's fortune.

Tomorrow Never Dies (video game)

Carver appears throughout several points in the narrative, ultimately serving as the game's final boss. While his role in the adaptation is largely unchanged from that of his film depiction, the final altercation differs significantly. Unlike in the film, Carver engages Bond in a deadly firefight, utilizing a powerful submachine gun rather than the handgun from the film. Upon losing the showdown, Carver slowly succumbs to his injuries but not before activating the stealth ship's self-destruct countdown. With his dying breath, Carver assures Bond that escape is futile and that his media empire shall live on. As he keels over, the player is able to pick up Carver's weapon as well as the keycard needed to deactivate the missile launch.

Personality & Appearance

Personality-wise, Carver is manipulative and vengeful, remorselessly murdering anyone he deems useless or a traitor. Carver is also vain and highly narcissistic, going so far as to decorate his headquarters and other places pertaining to his media empire, with tapestries and over sized banners that bear his visage. It also appears that Carver has a rather unique affinity for television screens since all of his bases are saturated with unusually grand quantities of video screens, some large enough to cover several meter-high walls.

Physically speaking, Carver poses no real threat and would much rather rely upon his vast legion of henchmen before getting involved in any altercations himself. Possessing a rather wiry frame coupled with a thinning head of neatly trimmed grey hair, Carver (in traditional Bond Villain fashion) is perpetually seen wearing a series of identical black Nehru suit jackets; the media baron usually wears these vestments over a black mock-neck shirt and matching dress slacks. His most distinguishing feature, perhaps, are his reflective steel rimmed glasses with which he is never seen without.

Henchmen and Associates

Gallery

Quotes

"Caesar had his legions, Napoleon had his armies, I have my divisions: TV, news, magazines. And by midnight tonight, I'll have reached out to and influenced more people than anybody in the history of this planet, save God himself. And the best He ever managed was the Sermon on the Mount."
― Elliot Carver to James Bond[src]
"Delicious. Make sure you clear all the mines and bring the girl to me. (Gupta: Are you sure you want her here?) It's my business, Mr. Gupta. I like an audience."
― Carver to Gupta after capturing Wai Lin[src]
"Oh, how romantic. Do you realize how absurd your position is? (Bond: No more absurd than starting a war for ratings!) Great men have always manipulated the media to save the world. Look at William Randolph Hearst, who told his photographers, "You provide the pictures, I'll provide the war." I've just taken it one step further."
― Carver justifying his plot to Bond[src]
"GET THOSE FIRES OUT!!! Get down and protect the missile!! Oh, and Mr. Stamper, would you please KILL THOSE BASTARDS?!!"
― Carver snapping out after Bond and Lin breached the hull of his stealth ship, leaving it vulnerable to radar[src]
"The missile's fully programmed, it can't be stopped. In a matter of minutes, my plan will succeed. And thanks largely to your efforts, the British Navy will destroy the evidence, and I'll be out of here in a Carver News helicopter covering the event. It's going to be a fantastic show! (Bond: I have some breaking news for you, Elliot. You forgot the first rule of mass media, Elliot....... GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT!!!) No! NOO!!!! AAAAAAH!!!!!"
― Carver's last words before his death[src]

Trivia

  • While many reviewers compared Elliot Carver to Rupert Murdoch or Bill Gates, Feirstein based the character on Robert Maxwell. There is a reference to the mogul's death when M instructs Moneypenny to issue a press release stating that Carver died “falling overboard on his yacht."[2]
  • The role of Elliot Carver was initially offered to actor Anthony Hopkins (who also had been offered a role in GoldenEye), but he declined in favour of The Mask of Zorro.[3][4]
  • Carver, in announcing his hypocritical 'Declaration of Principles' on the abortive inaugural broadcast of his news network, is also reminiscent of fictional newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane, who in turn was based on real tycoon William Randolph Hearst, whom Carver paraphrases to Bond on his stealth ship.
  • In early drafts of the film's screenplay, his name is Elliot Harmsway.

References

  1. (1997). Tomorrow Never Dies (Blu-Ray). 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Event occurs at 00:25:20. "Friday 11, April, 1997 Late Edition"
  2. Bruce Feirstein. "Bruce Feirstein: The Tao of Bond-Film Naming", Vanity Fair, 29 January 2008. Retrieved on 6 March 2013. 
  3. "MGM's Completion Bond", Variety, 30 December 1996. Retrieved on 20 April 2016. 
  4. Production Notes – Tomorrow Never Dies. MI6-HQ.com. Retrieved on 5 January 2007.

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