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JOEL STEIN | [Love Your Work]

He's Lyons, David Lyons

October 16, 2005|JOEL STEIN

ENTERTAINMENT JOBS are inherently unstable. A part is cut from a script, and an actor is out of a job by lunch. You fall a few days behind on plot outlines for the network, and the next morning Steven Bochco is suddenly in charge of the female-president show you created. Your stockholders revolt over your autocratic management style and -- boom -- you're losing your Disney CEO job in 10 short years.

But rarely is there no hope for recovery. There are new parts, new pilots, new stories about summer camp to share with the world. On Friday, however, when Daniel Craig was named the sixth James Bond, it dealt a potentially fatal blow to the career of David Lyons, professional Pierce Brosnan impersonator.

Lyons has played Brosnan for the last 10 years. He says he's made $500 per hour as Bond, scaling buildings at corporate events, rappelling from helicopters at official movie studio functions and chatting up old ladies at private parties, where he has to tell them that, no, sadly, Q doesn't give him those kinds of gadgets.

When "Die Another Day" was released in 2002, Lyons was flown to Panama, Cyprus, Switzerland, Germany and France. The gigs helped him buy a BMW 645Ci convertible and a $1.2-million penthouse in Orlando, which, given the price of property in western Florida, must sit atop Cinderella's castle. But Lyons, 43, isn't thinking about selling the place. Despite the picture he posed for on Friday, sitting at a bus stop wearing a tux and holding a cardboard sign reading "Need new job!!! 'Old' James Bond. For sale: tux and spy stuff," he's already booked for the next few months and thinks the money will continue to come in.

"I see Sean Connerys all the time," he says. In fact, Lyons thought so little of Craig that he kept mistakenly calling him Craig Daly. "If a company wants to hire a James Bond impersonator, the women decide who to hire. I don't think they'll be rushing out to look for a Craig Daly look-alike. If they were giving out awards for the not-so-good-looking, he would win that for sure." Bonds can be so catty.

I was a little freaked out, in fact, at how fully Lyons believed in Brosnan's awesomeness. As much as I tried to steer the conversation toward Lyons' financial situation and how he could no longer score women by lying about being Brosnan, he kept talking about how much better the unduly fired Brosnan is than "Craig Daly."

He quoted box-office grosses and threw out insults like "disappointing," "shocking" and "Timothy Dalton." It's as if by being an impersonator, he had completely associated himself with the role he was playing. Though I guess we all feel a little defensive about the people we look like. I feel pretty sure that the kid who plays Harry Potter is going to be huge.

As a professionally trained journalist, I knew I had to run these slights by a Daniel Craig impersonator. Because there are none, I decided to call an impartial observer: John Allen, a Sean Connery look-alike who for the last two years has won the Cloney as the country's top celebrity impersonator. Though to me the person best at impersonating a celebrity the last two years has been Nicole Richie.

Allen has worked with Lyons several times, including a stint in which they threw a fake terrorist riddled with fake bullet holes into Donald Trump's swimming pool at a party in Mar-a-Largo thrown by the producers of "Flipper." As we learned from the Enron case, rich-people parties don't make any sense.

Lyons, he says, can continue to get work, but not, of course, the kind of work a Sean Connery can get at sales events, inducting corporate presidents into Your Majesty's Secret Service.

"I work with Roger Moores and Pierce Brosnans -- they all get work," Allen says. "But they love Sean because he's so elegant and sophisticated. And that's what the corporations want to be." Somewhere, on Friday morning, an underemployed 37-year-old blond guy with less-than-perfect skin and deep-set eyes looked in the mirror and said "I think Daniel Craig is going to make the best Bond ever." And by this afternoon, I'm sure he's standing outside Mann's Chinese Theatre saying, "Well, did you see 'Layer Cake?' "

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