EXCLUSIVE: Deadline has just learned that Javier Bardem has been offered a starring role in the upcoming James Bond film recently set for a November 9, 2012, release. Details about the character are being kept under wraps for now. But traditionally the biggest male role opposite 007 is the villain, and Bardem played a truly villainous villain in his Oscar-winning turn in No Country For Old Men two years ago. The EON Productions offer by principals Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli to Bardem to join star Daniel Craig and director Sam Mendes was made last week, at around the same time that  the WME-repped Bardem received his Best Actor nomination for Biutiful and another high-profile offer of a lead role, that of gunslinger Roland Deschain in the Ron Howard-directed trilogy based on Stephen King’s novel series The Dark Tower. (Amidst all this career activity, Bardem and Penelope Cruz welcomed their first son into the world.) But it should be noted that Bardem was offered the high-profile villain role in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and turned it down.

The other Bond #23 news is this: Deadline has learned that MGM’s new leadership is trying to leverage the next Bond pic, and indeed the Bond franchise, to create more cash flow for the post-bankruptcy studio. The new brass, Spyglass Entertainment co-owners Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum who are now the Co-Chairmen/CEOs of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc, are in the middle of negotiating to make an overall deal for worldwide theatrical and home entertainment distribution of not just Bond but also MGM’s new product as well as its library of films. But what isn’t known is that, as part of that deal, MGM wants whichever studio is chosen to distribute Bond 23 to co-finance a number of films with MGM. ”That would provide MGM quick cash flow,” an insider tells Deadline. “The quick cash flow allows MGM to have revenue which it hasn’t had in a long time. Thereby their books look better, and therefore the possibility of getting more funds for production is increased. So expect whichever studio lands Bond to also announce it is several co-financing deals allowing MGM into other pics that are already shooting.”

There’s no doubt this is a shrewd move by MGM, but Deadline has learned it’s not sitting well with the majors. Top execs at Sony and Fox and Paramount and Warner Bros who are all involved in the negotiations to distribute Bond ”are growing increasingly frustrated with the way that the Spyglass duo are playing one studio off another — and enjoying it,” in the words of one exec involved. One studio even described its strategy to win Bond #23 was reduced recently to ”pleading”.

Back on September 8th, Deadline first reported that Paramount and Fox and other studios already were jockeying to distribute Bond #23. (The Hollywood Reporter recently claimed this as exclusive news a full five months later!) Here’s what Deadline’s Mike Fleming wrote back then: “Warner Bros, Sony Pictures Entertainment and 20th Century Fox are the obvious outlets, but don’t count out Paramount. That studio has been co-financing partners with Spyglass on Star Trek and the upcoming sequel. That has grown into a strong relationship. I’m told that Paramount is making an aggressive push to win that franchise, much the way that it captured the Marvel Entertainment deal before that enterprise was sold to Disney. Obviously, Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson hold a lot of say in where the films go, but it will be a hotly contested property… Deadline was first to report the distribution outsourcing plan by the Spyglass duo, on June 29th.”

Broccoli and Wilson had been in pre-production on Bond #23 for release in 2011 but then it took almost a year for MGM’s future to sort itself out what with the failed auction sale of the studio, then the pre-packaged bankruptcy getting approval, and eventually Spyglass taking over studio filmmaking. Daniel Craig will be returning as the legendary British secret agent, with Sam Mendes directing a screenplay written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan. That script is being kept under wraps but the story begins after Quantum Of Solace leaves off.