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JMS Speaks

J. Michael Straczynski

NEWS FROM JMS

Here's the latest from the B5 moderated newsgroup:

Two quick items....
Tomorrow my first issue of The Brave and the Bold appears from DC. I haven't said too much about this book because a) I wanted to make sure there was a good sized backlog so it'd stay on schedule and b) until it was closer to the debut. What's cool about this series -- which is in answer to folks who asked, of all the books I could've done at DC, why TB&B, which isn't normally in the top sellers -- is that it lets me put together characters from anywhere I want in the DC universe into stories that have a complex moral center to them.

Each of the issues are stand-alones, and have some of the best stuff I've done in comics lately. The first issue features Batman and Dial H for HERO in a story about self-sacrifice; the second features the (Barry Allen) Flash and the Blackhawks in a tale that asks "when, if ever, is it right to kill?"; the third is (believe it or not) with Batman and Brother Power the Geek (I'm not going to say much more about it than that, except that it's my favorite of the first bunch); and the one after that features Green Lantern and Dr. Fate in a story that pits life and death against the question of free will vs. determinism (not something you generally see in a comic).

So I'd love it if folks could spread the word to swing by their comics shops tomorrow and pick up an issue. If you liked the kinds of moral and ethical stories we did in B5, I think you'll like what we're doing with B&B.

That said...a bit of news. In addition to the feature work, I now have a mainstream prime-time drama series in development with one of the Big Four broadcast networks. Not cable, not syndication, one of the Big Four. (I can't say which yet, pending an announcement.) The pilot script will be turned in by year's end, and after that they'll decide if they want to shoot it. As noted, it's primarily mainstream with a touch of genre to it, and it should be a lot of fun.

As for those who've asked when we might see the Crusade script books...keep watching the skies...there's something moving up there.

For more information on the BRAVE AND THE BOLD, go to http://dcu.blog.dccomics.com/2009/09/15/step-into-j-michael-straczynskis-brave-and-the-bold/ for a review and a look at a few pages from the latest book, on newstands now.

UPDATE FROM JMS

Back from London, and gradually working my way out of jet-lag to catch up with writing. As I'd anticipated, the BAFTA went to "In Bruges," and deservedly so. Overall, it was a great experience, and I'm perfectly content with the resolution. One can't expect a home run in one's first kick at the cat, as they say in places where apparently cats are not terribly popular.

(And to a query upstream, yes, I have a theramin. No, I don't use it to make strange noises in the middle of the night. I have a cat for that.)

In other mews...I mean, news....

I'm on draft two of Forbidden Planet, and the process is going well, very exciting stuff, and I hope I can talk about some of that in more detail soonish.

About to make the final touches to World War Z, then with any luck we can get this thing into pre-productoin also soonish.

Draft One of Lensman is in, now working on draft two.

There have been a couple of previews for Ninja Assassin, and the audience scores have been just terrific. I have a suspicion that this is going to do very well.

The pilot script for Last Words has gone in to Dreamworks, and they're very very pleased with the script. So we'll see where this goes.

Interestingly, due to all the writing work, I've lately begun to be offered directing gigs, most of it in the SF genre (natch). Nothing has grabbed me enough yet to want to tackle it, but we'll see what the future holds. A couple of studios have extended the offer for me to write and direct my own stuff, which is pretty cool.

My agent has forbidden me to take on any other screenplay assignments until March/April, but some projects have begun to circle Casa Straczynski of late, looking for an open place to land when an opening comes. Some very cool stuff on the horizon.

The interesting times continue.
jms

JMS

JMS UPDATE

From the B5 moderated news group, December 4:

One small thing that I can confirm is that yes, I've made a deal with a cable network to write a pilot for a new TV series in the paranormal genre. That's all I can say about it for now.

Have lined up the next couple of films I'll be writing after the first of the year, and will have more to say about them...well, after the first of the year.

To the news of Forest Ackerman's death:

I grew up a fan of Forry's work, I read Famous Monsters of Filmland cover to cover every month...but ended up with mixed feelings after one particular incident.

When Robert Bloch (author of Psycho) was dying of cancer, the family wanted to keep it quiet and not let people know so he could pass in peace. Forry broke the news, which I suppose was bad enough, but this is what happened in the aftermath, per Harlan Ellison, who told me about it at the time. (Harlan, Bob, Silverberg, and Julie Schwartz used to get together for Thanksgiving dinner every year, so we were all kind of in this circle.) While Bob was on his death-bed, Forry sent a letter to Bob asking him to sign the enclosed card so that Forry could say he got Bob's very last autograph.

There's not much I can say about that, that would be more telling than the telling of it.

A third-hand anecdote.

Halran and I were friends of Bob's. We hung out. We gathered each year for Thanksgiving. Harlan and I teamed up to help Bob's widow, after his passing when some unfortunate circumstances came up. When the Forry letter arrived, Harlan called me from Bob's house and read it over the phone. Bob's wife was in tears. Harlan and Forry never spoke again from that day on.

You might want to carefully reconsider those words "third-hand anecdote."

JMS UPDATE

Just a small comment in the B5 moderated newsgroup on Nov. 6 related to JMS doing a re-write of FORBIDDEN PLANET. One site reported that FORBIDDEN PLANET was going to be a remake and more of a continuation. JMS' response is below:

That report is totally incorrect. It's not going to be retro, and it's not going to be a continuation. When Altair 4 blows up, it blows up. I have, however, found a way to honro the original movie without in any way besmirching it in order to do this iteration. Once folks find out what we're actually going to do, I think they'll be most pleased. Forbidden Planet remains one of my favorite films of all time, and I wouldn't even think about doing this project if I didn't think there was a way to do it that would not in any way diminish the original...which is why this is the the first development in years to actually get to the script stage. Everybody involved is very excited by the approach.

CATCHING UP WITH JMS

Here are a couple of postings from the B5 moderated newsgroup I thought you would enjoy:

I've never been a guy who likes a lot of flash. Anybody who's ever seen me knows I don't go for expensive clothes, or fancy cars, or the latest styles. I shop at the Gap and Land's End. I don't have expensive paintings or jewelry. I travel light. I'm a simple kind of guy.

But the Changeling sale was such a major event, such a transformational experience, that I thought...this really has to be something special to mark the moment. A once in a lifetime splurge.

So I got something I've long wanted: the Torneau Gotham Tahiti del Sol watch. It's my lucky watch, and I only wear it to big events and important meetings. The rest of the time I just kind of look at it and smile.


I did an interview for the LA Times that will be coming out in a big spread on Sunday, an interview for the Hollywood Reporter, Script Magazine, NPR's All Things Considered, and there are a bunch more yet to come.


I don't actually know how to describe what this is all like. It wasn't anticipated. It was never on the agenda. It just happened.

I don't normally allow self-indulgences, but I will allow one just this once, because it may illuminate the discussion. So there will be a measure of ego in what follows; forgiveness is requested in advance.

Leaving aside B5 for the moment, I often felt that I was a better writer than the shows I found myself working on. By that I mean...you can write the best Jake and the Fatman script in the whole world, but it's still Jake and the Fatman. It's like putting in ten years teaching a pig to sing; even if you achieve the goal, at the end of the day, what've you got for all your work? A singin' pig.

So I'd kind of reconciled myself to the notion that probably nobody would ever know what I could really do when I pulled out all the stops and had a clear field to play in. As has been quoted in B5, happiness is "the exercise of vital powers, along lines of excellence, in a life affording them scope." The scope was missing. Now, suddenly, that scope has become available, and I'm writing at the very edge of what I can do. Every day is a huge challenge. Now the question has become, am I good enough for the venues I'm now occupying? The onus is now on me to live up to the venue, not the other way around. And I like that. I like having to prove myself. I like to stand out on the crumbling edge of what I can do, to see what I can see from there.

It's almost like the universe saying, "Okay, bigshot, you've been running your mouth about what you can do, so here's your chance to run with the big dogs. Nobody's holding you back now. So let's see what you can do. Put up or shut up.">[? Just on its own terms, Changeling has been a huge validation of my life's work. And I'm very much at peace with that.

As for having a following...I think that's true within a fairly refined demographic. Most of the mainstream public really has no idea (or had no idea, before being hit with ten zillion Changeling posters) who I am. That's kind of the writer's lot in media, and I'm totally cool with that. I watched Angelina and Clint and others having to deal with the level of celebrity they have, and it's no fun. You can't go anywhere or do anything without being stalked. I would never, ever want that. So I'm happy to be just where I am.

And that's a nice feeling.

UPDATE FROM JMS

Date: 7/13/2008 6:42:18 PM
From the Babylon 5 Moderated Newsgroup

Putting this on a recent thread here where it's more likely to be seen in a quick fashion....

Several things just to update folks.

First, many thanks to all those who sent along research suggestions and offerings to be of assistance on the project I can't talk about. I've been swamped with deadlines and unable to reply to any of the public notes and private emails, but as soon as I can get my head above water, be assured that I'll be in touch with many of you.

Second, as noted in the original thread before I hijacked it, yes, the plan at the moment is that I will be at Comic Con San Diego this year, primarily doing my thing on Thursday and Saturday afternoons.

There is a *chance* -- mind you, it's just a slim chance but to be honorable I must mention it -- that a work situation *may* preclude my appearance there. Or it may not. I'll know more by the end of next week, and for now as far as I know, everything's on target for me to be at SDCC. If that changes, I'll be sure to let everyone know as far in advance as possible.

One final note re: recent discussions on TMoS and more Lost Tales.

B5:TLT was commissioned at a $2 million budget to, yet one more time, "test the waters" for B5. We did what we could with that, and that was that. As we did with Rangers, which also suffered from not having a lot of money because of concerns about "is there really a B5 audience?" Which is, of course, a foolish question from a studio that has never really understood what it has in B5.

Of late, there have been more discussions from WB about doing more DVDs, again at a low cost, or a cable thing, again with minimal investment.

So for the last few months, I've been giving this whole subject a lot of quiet thought. And I've come to a conclusion.

B5 as a five year story stands beautifully on its own. If anything else is to be continued from that story, it should be something that adds to the legacy of B5, rather than subtracts from it.

As well intentioned as Rangers and TLT were, as enticing as it was to return to those familiar waters, in the end I think they did more to subtract from the legacy than add to it. I don't regret having made them, because I needed to go through that to get to the point where I am now psychologically, but from where I sit now, I wouldn't make them again.

So I've let everyone up here know that I'm not interested in doing any more low-budget DVDs. I'm not interested in doing any low-budget cable things or small computer games. The only thing I would be interested in doing regarding Babylon 5 from this point on is a full- featured, big-budget feature film.

It's that or nothing.

And if it's nothing, I'm totally cool with that because the original story stands on its own just fine. I'm not lobbying for it, I'm not asking fans to write in about it (nor should you) because such campaigns never really have much impact...that's simply the position I've taken up here. Lord knows I don't lack for other things to do these days. I'm busier on more prestige projects with terrific people and great film-makers than at any other time in my career.

At the end of the day, for me, it's not just a matter of getting more B5. It's a matter of getting more *good* B5 that respects what came before it and doesn't have to compromise visually or in terms of action. The original show deserves better than that, the surviving cast members deserve better than that, and the fans who have supported it over the years definitely deserve better than that. A lot better.

So I've drawn that line in the sand, and I'm happy living on whichever side of that line the universe puts me. Just thought you should know, 'cause it's your show too.

jms

JMS - RESEARCH HELP

This is from the B5 moderated news group (June 17):

I apologize for the cryptic nature of what follows, but in time this will all be cleared up.

Starting mid-July into August and possibly September, I'm going to be traveling quite a lot in researching a new movie project that I cannot, for the moment, announce. (Not Lensman, this is a different project, and I've already started on Lensman.) Suffice to say that the research stage is going to be extensive in the extreme.

The main emphasis is on advanced technology. If someone who can do the math were to look down the road a million years and see what advances might be there, based on what we know now, what would that look like? Advanced tech here covers warfare, living, toys, environment, health, media, space travel, you name it. Everything that a civilization a million years more advanced than we are might use or encounter.

Secondarily to this would be information on planetary physics and alien biology.

To that effect, my intent is to visit as many of the following places as possible: NASA Florida, the Wright-Paterson Air Force Base High Technology Labs, MIT, CalTech, and any other places that seem like good prospects. (If there's anything missing from that list, feel free to add it.) I'm going to listen, ask questions, and try to keep up. And no, there's no money involved, though if anyone proves to be insanely helpful, I can try to work out a consulting credit. No promises.

The studio is going to help with some of the legwork here, they say they can get me into Wright-Pat, but we'll see...even so, the ways of studios grind very slowly. So I turn to you lot for assistance since a number of you either are, or know someone who is, directly involved with this stuff.

So...let the games begin.
jms

JMS

UPDATE FROM JMS

I snatched this from the B5 moderated news group this morning:

It's been a while, I know...but things have been awfully crazed at this end of the modem.

I was there for the premiere of Changeling (no the name isn't going to change) at Cannes, and it was, overall, perhaps the most surreal experience of my life. I was ensconced at the Hotel du Cap overlooking the French Riviera, just abaft from Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt and Mick Jagger (who came to dinner with the bunch of us that Friday) and surrounded by sights I could never have imagined myself seeing. Day-trip drives into the South of France for shopping, into Monaco and Monte Carlo where I dropped five hundred Euros at the casino because, well, you pretty much have to...and the premiere.

Imagine for a moment: a procession of twenty one cars preceded and followed by French police running lights and sirens to get the motorcade through the streets of Cannes en route to the press conference and, several hours later, the premiere. A sea of popping flashbulbs. Paparazzi and TV cameras and microphones, reporters from all over the world, and everyone shouting questions, to look this way or that way. The red carpet, long and broad as the ocean. The theater, three thousand seats filled with tuxedoes and gowns and stars. Smiles and tears at the right moments as the film rolled by. A ten minute standing ovation. Proclamations and prophecies of Oscars.

Surreal. Dream-like. Impossible. Was any of this really happening? To me?

Impossible. But there it was.

Then: after more days of interviews and press and screenings and stunningly positive, glowing reviews, on to Berlin, where my script for Ninja Assassin was being filmed. Brilliant stunt work. Dinners in the cool German evening. Then off again to London for meetings with several production companies regarding TV projects, and a meeting with director Paul Greengrass on They Marched Into Sunlight, for Tom Hanks' company, before flying back to LA for four days of massive jetlag.

Never give up, folks. Never stop trying. Never surrender dreams.

Because sometimes they come true.

Two asides before I crash.

First, on the plane ride home, I'd picked up the July issue of T3 Magazine, which contained in the mylar packet a subsidiary slim issue about future tech and jargon and looked ahead to gadgets yet to come. I meant to take it with me off the plane for research on another project, but left it behind and it doesn't seem to be available anywhere here; I may have missed the issue. Point being, could one of our UK friends scan that magazine (it was only like 20 pages) and upload it to me? If you do volunteer, could you note it here first to avoid lots of folks duplicating the efforts? Accept my thanks in advance.

Second, keep an eye out for Daily Variety on June 19th. Another surprise yet to come.

This is the dream. This is the fairy tale we all expect but so rarely get. I am at peace. Go figure.

jms

WB Logo

NINJA ASSASSIN

Ranger Gordon alerted me to this WB announcement:

''Ninja Assassin'' Starts Production in Berlin
Rain Stars in the Film under the Direction of James McTeigue

Rain BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Filming is underway on “Ninja Assassin,” being directed by James McTeigue (“V for Vendetta”) from a screenplay by Matthew Sand and J. Michael Straczynski. Joel Silver, Grant Hill, Larry Wachowski and Andy Wachowski are producing, with Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni and William Fay serving as executive producers.
“Ninja Assassin” stars Korean pop star Rain (“Speed Racer”) as the central character, Raizo; Naomie Harris (“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”) as Europol researcher Mika Coretti; Ben Miles (“V for Vendetta”) as Europol Agent Ryan Maslow; legendary martial arts performer Sho Kosugi (“Revenge of the Ninja”) as the ruthless leader of the Ozunu Clan; and Rick Yune (“Die Another Day“) as Raizo’s rival, Takeshi.
Principal photography is taking place at Babelsberg Studios and on location in various parts of Berlin.
“Ninja Assassin” follows Raizo (Rain), one of the deadliest assassins in the world. Taken from the streets as a child, he was transformed into a trained killer by the Ozunu Clan, a secret society whose very existence is considered a myth. But haunted by the merciless execution of his friend by the Clan, Raizo breaks free from them… and vanishes. Now he waits, preparing to exact his revenge.
In Berlin, Europol agent Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris) has stumbled upon a money trail linking several political murders to an underground network of untraceable assassins from the Far East. Defying the orders of her superior, Ryan Maslow (Ben Miles), Mika digs into top secret agency files to learn the truth behind the murders. Her investigation makes her a target, and the Ozunu Clan sends a team of killers, led by the lethal Takeshi (Rick Yune), to silence her forever. Raizo saves Mika from her attackers, but he knows that the Clan will not rest until they are both eliminated. Now, entangled in a deadly game of cat and mouse through the streets of Europe, Raizo and Mika must trust one another if they hope to survive…and finally bring down the elusive Ozunu Clan.
The behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Karl Walter Lindenlaub, production designer Graham “Grace” Walker, costume designer Carlo Poggioli and editor Giancarlo Ganziano. The Wachowski brothers’ longtime stunt coordinators Chad Stahelski and David Leitch are also on board as second unit co-directors.
“Ninja Assassin” is a Warner Bros. Pictures presentation in association with Legendary Pictures and Dark Castle Entertainment.

JMS

UPDATE FROM JMS

JMS

THE CHANGELING

I don't know about you, but I have been watching reports from Cannes all week. THE CHANGELING is getting fantastic reviews and here are some pictures from a recent press conference where JMS is featured. We've known of JMS' talent for years -- it is just now coming to the attention of others.
THE CHANGELING PRESS CONFERENCE
Ranger Regis sent along a link to the video of this Press Conference from Cannes http://www.festival-cannes.fr/en/mediaPlayer/9426.html. The entire 40-minute press conference (with translation in French) can be seen at http://cannes2008.canalplus.fr/film-changeling-20-mai-2008-page1.aspx?PlayVideo=4.
Ranger Mike sent in the following clipping from IMDb:
Movie Reviews: 'Changeling'
Clint Eastwood's Changeling has drawn some of the strongest early reviews yet at the Cannes Film Festival. (Critics were unsure what the actual title was. The festival said on Tuesday that it had received a written notice from the studio that the title had been changed to The Exchange, aligning it with the French title, L'Échange. But at a news conference Eastwood implied that he had not agreed to a such a change, and the daily festival program, after revising the title on Tuesday changed it back to Changeling today.) Geoffrey MacNab in the London Independent called the film a "magisterial piece of work." While predicting that the movie won't become a big box-office success for Eastwood, he concluded that "in its unfussy craftsmanship and emotional punch, it shows him still at the peak of his powers." Writing for the British trade publication Screen Daily, Mike Goodridge predicted that the movie will "go all the way from the Palais to the Academy Awards." Several critics attending the screening came away forecasting an Oscar nomination not only for Eastwood but also for the film's star, Angelina Jolie. "She is the entire, anxious point of Eastwood's film," wrote James Christopher in the London Times, "and absolutely terrific." Todd McCarthy in Daily Variety called her performance "top notch." And Kurt Honeycutt wrote in the Hollywood Reporter," Jolie puts on a powerful emotional display."
Another article noted is at http://www.festival-cannes.fr/en/article/56129.html

Ranger Jim found this article that includes a quote from JMS:
"I was so astonished by the extent to which she suffered by asking one simple, clear question: What happened to my child," said J. Michael Straczynski, who researched Christine Collins' ordeal and wrote the screenplay for "Changeling." "She did all the heavy lifting. I just wrote it down."
From a longer article at http://movies.msn.com/news/article.aspx?news=315022.

Variety has reviewed the film as well. You can read all about it at http://www.variety.com/VE1117937210.html

The Hollywood Reporter's review can be found at http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/awards_festivals/fest_reviews/article_display.jsp?&rid=11148&imw=Y


Over at http://blogs.amctv.com/shootout/ you will find an interview with J. Michael Straczynski, screenwriter for THE CHANGELING.

I know I've been absent here for a long time, but it's been necessary to getting out from under a number of deadlines and personal stuff that's been going on which basically put me into (or undre) the bunker to focus on getting things done. There was a two week period where I didn't leave the house other than to get mail. At all.

But with so much going on at the moment, I felt obliged to come in and put out some information, with the note that there will be more to come in the next week or so.

To the question of Emerald City Con, yes, I will still be attending, though I don't yet know the schedule. I imagine they'll mainly have me doing stuff on Saturday just because that's the main day for the con, but that's conjecture on my part.

Yes, I will be attending the Cannes Film Festival with Changeling along with the rest of those involved in making it. The announcement was just flat-out stunning.

On the work side, in the post-strike environment, I've 1) sold two original screenplays, 2) was hired to rewrite/basically write a new script for a project for the Wachowskis, 3) have just finished a deal to work on a project with Wolfgang Peterson, 4) have another spec script going to auction around the end of May, 5) just closed the deal on another assignment which is based on a very influential series of SF books, 6) have one more deal to write a remake of a nearly legendary SF movie that will close in a few days, 7) there's a deal on the table for both Dream Police and Rising Stars which I'm considering right now...all this in addition to writing The Twelve and Thor (which remains in the top 5 of best-selling comics) and getting the script books out the door.

Which explains why nobody's heard a peep from me in ages.

Now I need to take a nap.

jms


JMS UPDATE

JMS NEWS AT WONDERCON

Here's more from WonderCon:
http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6535257.html
http://blogcritics.org/archives/2008/02/25/144049.php
http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=13119.


Ranger Jan sent in this report:

JMS had his spotlight at WonderCon today and there's news and updates on *lots* of things!

- Book of Lost Souls: JMS is waiting on a determination on the status of this. The Icon line is sort of reserved as a prize for Marvel's exclusive writers.
- Dream Police: Ditto
- B5 comic with Wildstorm: JMS is looking to turn that in within a couple of months.
- Squadron Supreme: JMS decided to stop and regroup after he felt that he'd lost track of the story after the move to a team story rather than the focus on Hyperion. To be revisited later.
- Rising Stars Compendium: He doesn't know anything about it.
- Asked about more Lost Tales: No new word on more. JMS retold how WB had started talks for more but refused to accellerate the process, thinking that there wouldn't be a writer's strike. The good news is that WB is now starting to realize that they've really got something in B5 ('bout time!). JMS told us why there were sock puppets sprinkled in the Lost Tales Diaries: When JMS was told the budget he'd have to work with, his response was, "For that amount of money, I can do it with sock puppets, not people."

- Asked about working with DC: JMS didn't give any specifics on titles though he mentioned that people who know the characters who've influenced him will know what he's interested in (I'd guess that to mean Superman).
- He does have a deal to write two creator owned titles for Image. One is called "Justice" and the other "Ten Grand".
- Now that the writer's strike is over he's got seven other feature films lined up, two of them genre from film and print. When asked for hints, he simply mentioned how nice it was that Ron Howard had acquired the rights to the "Lensman" series.
- JMS is starting his own production company named "And the Horse You Rode In On Productions". I believe that he's looking to bring "Midnite Nation" and "Rising Stars" into this company.
- World War Z, the adaptation that he's written from the Max Brooks bestseller is, if production goes as currently planned, slated to be a big tentpole production with a possible 100 million dollar budget.
- The Silver Surfer movie he's written will be an origin story which is why that wasn't in the FF movie.
- For Marvel, he's got two miniseries planned: one SubMariner and one Captain America.
- Asked if he might ever write an autobiography, JMS told of having begun the "JMS Historical Reclamation Project" a while back by asking fans for pictures of the many places he'd lived as a child and that he's begun writing an autobiography focusing on how, if he could become a success, anybody can.
- He continued on by pointing out that he never sits when doing his spotlights, hasn't for a long time. The reason for that is because you always stand when reporting to your superiors and that's those of us in the audience who he looks to to create the next great stories.
It was a fun panel, as usual, with lots of joking and fun with the audience.

Go over to www.Newsrama.com and read the entire article. It talks about Amazing Spider-Man, Thor, The Twelve, Bullet Points and Silver Surfer: Requiem. For comic book lovers, you'll want to know if JMS is continuing his efforts on these books.

JMS HISTORICAL RECLAMATION PROJECT
Though in this case the historical entity being reclaimed is...well, me, basically. I'll explain in a moment.

First, an apology and explanation for being absent for so long. The last few months have been probably the most hectic in terms of deadlines and work in the history of my career. The work has been great, but there's just been a bucket of it and it's all been due at once. I've turned in the latest draft of World War Z and it's now going out to directors, I'm now on the third draft of the Silver Surfer movie which is also being fast-tracked, Changeling starts shooting in almost exactly two months, I'm hip deep in comics work and finishing the final touches to a TV project that we will be taking out to sell early September, and I've started the screenplay for They Marched Into Sunlight for Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks company. All of this, in addition to a personal tragedy - the recent loss of my father in law - has put me way behind the eight ball of late. But I'm finally digging out from under...which brings me to this note.

While I was growing up, my family moved around a lot. Sometimes as often as two or three times in a year, sometimes staying put for as much as eighteen months. (No, we weren't a military family, it's a long story.) Every six months on average we were in a new town, city, state, new school...it became a blur after a while.

So when I turned twenty-one, I asked for only one gift on my birthday: I wanted my past. I wanted a list of where I'd lived and when so I could start putting together something vaguely resembling a sense of continuity. It took a long time to get that information together, and some of it was still sketchy, but at least I had something in hand.

And promptly proceeded to lose it.

I literally just found the envelope with the information in a box that hadn't been checked properly and had been sitting around for years...simply years, I tell you. I've gone on-line to try and find photos of some of those places, but obviously it's difficult at best, most people don't generally run around taking photos of the front of their houses or places of work and put them on the nets for all to see.

Then it struck me: invariably, at conventions and the like, I see B5 fans and others who tell me what the show has meant to them, and is there anything they can do in return. I've never had a really good answer to that question. I do now.

So I put this proposition out into the ether to see what happens.

Appended to this note is a list of places I've either lived in, gone to school at, or in general am trying to get a handle on from my past. I may, in time, use this information and these photos in an autobiography (yes, I'm giving it some thought, no promises). If you reading this live in the vicinity of any of these places and want to take some good digital pictures of them and send them along, that would not only be great, but if I do write that book, and use the photos there, though there won't be a payment for them, I will be sure to give a proper photo credit with your name at the back of the book. (So BE SURE that the filename for any photos sent along has your name included for reference later.)

Honestly, I'm very curious to see what this turns up. Here goes. Again, some of these are general, I don't have street addresses for a few of them, so just a photo of the residential parts of the street in those cases would be great. These are all places I lived in (plus some schools and a couple of other places) from the start until shortly after I graduated high school, in chronological order.

I don't want anybody going out of their way on this stuff...if it's convenient and you're in the area and can grab a good shot, terrific, but honestly, this is an indulgence on my part and a favor on yours, so don't over-extend.

LIST OF LOCATIONS

Graham Avenue, Paterson, NJ

East 11th Street, Paterson NJ

River Street, Paterson NJ. (Looking for not only a sense of the residential area, but my grandmother used to own a bar on River Street, don't know if it might still be there or not.)

Van Houton Avenue, Paterson NJ

Hamilton Avenue, Paterson NJ

275 Dakota Street, Paterson NJ

Blessed Sacrament School, Paterson NJ (three blocks from River Street)

Clarence Street, Los Angeles

Utah Street School, 174 North Utah Street, LA CA

Grape Street, Los Angeles

St. Aloysius School, 2023 East Nadeau Street, LA

Pine Street, Napa CA

St. Stephen School, possibly located at 131 Midland Avenue, Kearny NJ

Butler Street, Paterson NJ

Our Lady of Lourdes School, 186 Butler Street, Paterson NJ

Clifton Avenue, Newark NJ

Summer Avenue School, 257 Summer Avenue (now Roberto Clemente) Newark, NJ

Aberdeen East Apartments, L-11 Sutton Drive, Matawan, NJ (Now Long Brook Apartments) (Note: I THINK this is the right place, but the name change has thrown me and I can't tell from the online real estate shots...it was called Aberdeen East Apartments when I was there, that much I know for sure.)

St. Benedict School, 165 Bethany Road, Holmdel NJ

Lloyd Road Intermediate School 401 Lloyd Road, Aberdeen, NJ

Barrington Gardens Apartments, 129 Belaire Court, Matawan, NJ (there are two apartments side by side there...I was in at the end of an apartment building that faced out onto a courtyard bordered by another building, and when I looked out my window on the other side I could see into a big forested gully)

Matawan Regional High School, 450 Atlantic Avenue, Aberdeen NJ

323 Main Street, Matawan, NJ

Inglewood High School, Inglewood CA

Lennox High School, 11033 S. Buford Avenue, Lennox CA

1250 Fifth Avenue, Chula Vista, CA

Chula Vista High School

First Baptist Church, 494 E Street, Chula Vista CA

310 North Convent Street, Bourbonnais, Illinois

Kankakee Community College (especially looking for any shots from 1972)

900 West Spring Valley Road, # 148, Richardson, Texas

Richland College, 12800 Abrams Road Dallas TX

555 Naples #304, Chula Vista, CA

65 Mitscher Street, Chula Vista, CA

Southwestern College, 900 Otay Lakes Road Chula Vista, CA

3987 Debbyann Place, San Diego, CA


J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI - NEW PROJECTS
If you hop over to www.imdb.com, you'll see some pictures of JMS with Doug Netter & Tracy Scoggins. However, the big news you'll see are all the announced projects!

# World War Z (2008) (announced) (screenplay)
# They Marched Into Sunlight (2008) (announced)

JMS indicates that he is writing the screenplay from an outline by Paul Greengrass, who's also directing.
# The Changeling (2008) (pre-production)
# Babylon 5: The Lost Tales - Voices in the Dark (2007) (V) (completed)
We all know about The Lost Tales -- hopefully JMS will be able to tell us about WORLD WAR Z; THEY MARCHED INTO SUNLIGHT and THE CHANGELING soon.

THE CHANGELING: Shooting is likely to start in September. I'm supposed to meet with Clint (Eastwood) sometime this month go go over the script with the goal of starting prep sometime in July. Angelina (Jolie) is still a go.

The news seems to be everywhere now, and Fox hasn't said anything about NOT commenting on it so...yes, I'm writing the Silver Surfer movie. (Have written, actually, being the more correct form...the script has already been turned in.)

Overall, this has probably been the most extraordinary year of my career. There's Changeling with Eastwood/Jolie/Howard slated for 2008...the Silver Surfer movie, which is going to be a big film, also looking at 2008...They Marched into Sunlight with director Paul (Bourne Ultimatum) Greengrass, based on a historical novel by a Pulitizer prize winning author, for Tom Hanks' company, open date on when it goes... World War Z for Brad Pitt's company, also potentially 2008...the King David script for Akiva Goldsman....just the company of those names alone is astonishing. I am, as they say, in the tall grass now.

And there are still at least two, and possibly three major announcements yet to be made at Comic Con, which regardless of whether one is a TV or movie fan, an SF fan or a comics fan...are gonna pin people's ears back.

There isn't a day when I don't feel as though I woke up in somebody else's life.
jms


Here's the cored of it, and what people looking in need to understand.

Basic stats:
Fifty percent, half the Writers Guild, is unemployed, at any given time.

The majority of WGA members sell maybe one or two TV scripts per year.

The same majority of WGA members earn less than 45K per year, less than many grade school teachers.

Most WGA members have to work daytme jobs to supplement their writing work.

And the percentage of WGA members who earn six figures and up accounts for less than 1% of all WGA members.

Those are not rosy stats.

Leaving out the aspect of deferred compensation...residuals exist to help writers stay alive and available between assignments. If you only make one or two sales in a year, the residuals for what you sold last year will help pay this year's bills and allow you to keep writing. Take that away, and the bulk of the writers working in TV would have to drop out of the business.

Writers, directors and actors have, until recently, been able to get residuals on the various venues through which their shows are seen (broadcast and cable TV, overseas exhibitions and theatrical distribution). But virtually everybody in that group gets nothing out of the distribution means that were not covered by those long-ago contracts (the last real negotiation was in 1988). DVDs, Xbox, Itunes, bittorrent, most satellite systems, Joost and other internet distribution systems do not pay anything to anyone in those three categories. In theory they should get something, the foundation is there in the old contrats, but the formula used to determine residuals based on VHS sales can be adjusted infinitely to ensure nobody gets anything.

We're not talking here luxurious terms for luxurious circumstances; we're talking about the basic necessities of life that will help writers, especially newer, retired or struggling writers, keep their homes and pay their bills. Bread and butter issues. If you're a writer making six figures plus in sales per year, residuals aren't that big a deal...it's everybody else, everybody who's just making ends meet, who live or die depending on the small residuals check that comes in from time to time, helping out when bills come.

Just so everyone's clear on the concept.

jms


COMIC BOOK UPDATE

Q: Will there be any books or comics coming out in conjunction with B5 Lost Tales?

A: No plans for any as such, though there may be a mini-comic included in the DVD, but that's still in the yes/no stage.

Q) Is Thor your only ongoing at Marvel right now? What other comics are you writing right now?

A: I'm still finishing up on Amazing Spider-Man, with 2 of the regular book and 2 of the "One More Day" mini to write, and then I'm off. One more issue of "Ultimate Power" to write before handing the baton off to Jeph Loeb to finish the mini (Bendis did the first 3, I'm doing the middle 3, with Loeb last in rotation). Working on Thor as an ongoing title, the only monthly in addition to The Book of Lost Tales, which will be coming back shortly. Also doing a 12 issue maxi series tentatively called "The Twelve" that will be bringing back a bunch of WW2 era Marvel heroes not seen since then.


Angelina Jolie Folks --

For some time now, I've been alluding to several major developments which I haven't been able to describe while they were ongoing. Well, that's now no longer a problem with one of them, because the news has finally been released.

I won't even tell you here what it is...just click on the link and go.

Trust me.

This one's worth it.

Clint Eastwood http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117960798.html?categoryid=13&cs=1

Another kick in the shin to the naysayers.

March 17, 2007

Over the weekend, there was a link on-line to a podcast from the NYCC where JMS conducted a panel discussion. Here, from JMS, is the reason the podcast was pulled:

Yeah, I had the piece pulled because a) I hadn't been told they were going to be taping the appearance and putting it up there, and b) there's stuff from the blogs that should not be out there because they're still in progress. (The delay in posting the blogs has been in waiting for the final CGI to be delivered in those cases where we have before and after shots...which is nearly all of the blogs.)

Still catching up on deadlines here, not helped by the fact that on Tuesday last I took quite a spill and in addition to banging the hell out of both knees and spraining an ankle, ended up fracturing two ribs (the 4th and 5th lateral ribs on the left side, for those keeping score). So I'm alternately a) in pain and out of it, or b) gooned on vicodin and tylenol and likewise out of it.

More when the colors around me become recognizable again....
jms

Here's hoping JMS has a speedy recovery.

Date: December 31, 2006 3:12am

Periodically, at conventions, people ask me, "What movies do you watch or grow up watching? What's in your collection?" Having just gone through and for the first time itemized my DVD collection, I figured I'd upload it for those with a morbid curiousity about such things. It's mainly movies and television, some documentaries (admittedly left-leaning), some funny things and just weirdnesses...so if you want to know what a TV writer has in his collection (and yes, I know it's a long list, I like to own my DVDs rather than rent them, and I have lots of room on shelves for them), and what informs his (my) brain when working on stories...here's the list.

It's a weird compendiium of shlock 50s movies, classics, highbrow-stuff, and the sort of movies you'd expect a 13 year old to buy...but it's what my tastes call home.

God help anyone who actually goes through and reads this whole list....
jms

-----------------------------------------

"4D Man"
"7 Faces Of Dr. Lao"
"12 Angry Men"
"13 Ghosts"
"20 Million Miles To Earth"
"21 Grams"
"28 Days Later..."
"The 39 Steps"
"The 40 Year Old Virgin"
"100 Years Of Horror"
"1776"
"1984"
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
"2010: The Year We Make Contact"
"Abominable Snowman"
"Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely Special (The Last Shout / In New York)"
"Absolutely Fabulous: The Complete Series"
"Absolutely Fabulous: Series 5"
"The Abyss"
"The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen"
"Adventures Of Superman: The Complete 1st Season"
"Adventures of Superman: The Complete 2nd Season"
"Adventures of Superman: The Complete 3rd and 4th Seasons"
"Adventures of Superman: The Complete Fifth and Sixth Seasons"
"Advise And Consent"
"Aeon Flux"
"Aimee Mann: Live At St. Ann's Warehouse"
"Airplane!"
"Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill, Live"
"Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season One"
"Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season Two"
"Alice Cooper: Prime Cuts"
"Alien"
"Alien Planet"
"AVP: Alien vs. Predator"
"Aliens"
"All That Jazz"
"All The President's Men"
"Almost Famous"
"Amadeus"
"American Graffiti"
"American Splendor"
"America's Atomic Bomb Tests #1: Operation Tumbler Snapper"
"America's Atomic Bomb Tests: The Collection"
"An Inconvenient Truth"
"Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy"
"The Andromeda Strain"
"Angry Red Planet"
"The Animatrix"
"Annie Hall"
"Apocalypse Now - The Complete Dossier"
"Apollo 13"
"The Apostle"
"Armageddon"
"Army Of Darkness"
"Arsenic And Old Lace"
"Assault On Precinct 13"
"Atomic Cafe"
"Atomic War Bride / This Is Not A Test"
"Attack Of The Crab Monsters"
"Avengers '66 Set #2, Vol. 3 & 4"
"Avengers '67 Set #1, Vol. 1 & 2"
"Avengers '68 Set #4, Vol. 7 & 8"
"The Aviator"
"Babel"
"Bad Day At Black Rock"
"Bad Seed"
"Batman"
"Batman and Robin"
"Batman And Robin: The Serial Collection"
"Batman Begins"
"BBC History of World War II: Hiroshima"
"Beast From 20,000 Fathom"
"Beatles: Hard Days Night"
"Beatles: Help!"
"Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour"
"Beatles: The First U.S. Visit"
"Beatles: You Can't Do That: Making Of A Hard Day's Night"
"Beckett On Film"
"Beginning Of The End"
"Bela Lugosi Collection: Murders In Rue Morgue / The Black Cat / The Raven / The Invisible Ray / Black Friday"
"Bellboy"
"Ben-Hur"
"Berkeley In The Sixties"
"Best Bits Of Mr. Bean"
"Best Of Bud Abbott & Lou Costello #3: Meet Frankenstein / Mexican Hayride / Meet The Killer, Boris K"
"Best of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Vol 4"
"Best Of Ernie Kovacs"
"Best Of Fractured Fairy Tales"
"Best Of Red Skelton Show"
"Big Buy"
"Big Trouble In Little China"
"Billie"
"Billy Joel: Essential Video Collection"
"Billy Joel: Greatest Hits #3: The Videos"
"Blackadder: The Complete Collector's Set"
"Blackboard Jungle"
"Blade"
"Blade II"
"Blade Runner"
"Blazing Saddles"
"The Blob"
"Blue Vinyl"
"Bogie & Bacall"
"Bonnie And Clyde"
"Boogie Nights"
"Das Boot"
"Boris Karloff Collection"
"The Bourne Supremacy"
"Bowling For Columbine"
"Braveheart"
"Brazil"
"Bringing Up Baby"
"The Brothers Grimm"
"Bruce Almighty"
"Bubba Ho-Tep"
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Chosen Collection"
"Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Complete First Season"
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Fourth Season"
"Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid"
"Cabaret"
"Call Northside 777"
"Camelot"
"Candidate"
"Capote"
"Carnival Of Souls"
"Carol Burnett Show: Show Stoppers"
"Carpenter Collection: The Thing / They Live / Prince Of Darkness / Village Of The Damned"
"Casablanca"
"Cat Ballou"
"Cecil B. Demented"
"Century Of Science Fiction"
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"
"Chasing Amy"
"Chicago - The Razzle-Dazzle Edition"
"Chicken Run"
"Chinatown"
"A Chorus Line"
"Christine"
"A Christmas Carol"
"A Christmas Story"
"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe"
"Cinderfella"
"Citizen Kane"
"Close Encounters Of The Third Kind"
"Collector"
"Comedy Of Terrors / The Raven"
"Complete Superman Cartoons: Diamond Anniversary Edition"
"Conspiracy Theory"
"Constantine"
"Control Room"
"The Core"
"The Corporation"
"Crash"
"Crawling Eye"
"Creature Comforts - The Complete Second Season"
"Creature Comforts: The Complete 1st Season"
"Creature From The Black Lagoon: The Legacy Collection: Creature From The Black Lagoon / Revenge Of The Creature / ..."
"Crimson Tide"
"Crop Circles: Quest For Truth"
"Crosby, Stills & Nash: Acoustic"
"Crosby, Stills & Nash: CSN"
"Crosby, Stills & Nash: Daylight Again"
"Curse Of The Demon / Night Of The Demon"
"Daily Show: Indecision 2004"
"Damn Yankees"
"Danger Mouse - The Complete Seasons 5 & 6"
"Danger Mouse: Seasons #3 & #4"
"Danger Mouse: The Complete Seasons 1 & 2"
"Daredevil"
"Dark Water"
"Darkness"
"Das Boot - The Original Uncut Version"
"Dawn Of The Dead"
"Day Of The Dead"
"The Day The Earth Stood Still"
"Dead Poets Society"
"Deathtrap"
"Delicate Delinquent"
"Demons"
"Denis Leary: Complete Denis Leary"
"Destination Moon"
"Destination Tokyo"
"The Devil's Advocate"
"Dial M For Murder"
"Dick Cavett Show: John Lennon & Yoko Ono"
"Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons"
"Dick Van Dyke Show : Season 1"
"Dick Van Dyke Show : Season 2"
"Dick Van Dyke Show : Season 3"
"Dick Van Dyke Show : Season 4"
"Dick Van Dyke Show : Season 5"
"Die Another Day"
"Disorderly Orderly"
"Do Not Adjust Your Set"
"Document Of The Dead"
"Donnie Darko"
"Don't Look Now"
"Don't Raise The Bridge, Lower The River"
"Doom"
"Dr. No"
"Dr. Strangelove"
"Dracula"
"Dracula: The Legacy Collection: Dracula / Dracula's Daughter / House Of Dracula / Son Of Dracula"
"Duel"
"Dune"
"Dunwich Horror"
"The Eagles: Farewell Tour: Live From Melbourne"
"Eagles: Hell Freezes Over"
"Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers"
"Easy Rider"
"Ed Wood"
"Ed Wood, Jr. Collection: Glen Or Glenda / Jail Bait / Bride Of The Monster / Plan 9 From Outer Space"
"Edison: The Invention Of The Movies"
"Edward R. Murrow Collection : This Reporter / The Best Of 'See It Now' / The Mccarthy Years / Harvest Of Shame"
"Elizabeth"
"Elton John: One Night Only: The Greatest Hits Live!"
"Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room"
"Enter The Dragon"
"Errand Boy"
"Escape From New York"
"Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind"
"Eurythmics: Peacetour"
"The Evil Dead : Book Of The Dead"
"Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn"
"Excalibur"
"The Exorcism of Emily Rose"
"The Exorcist"
"Exorcist: The Beginning"
"Eye"
"F For Fake"
"Fahrenheit 451"
"Fail Safe"
"Pit And The Pendulum"
"Fall Of The House Of Usher"
"Fantastic Four"
"Fargo"
"Fawlty Towers: The Complete Collection"
"Fiddler On The Roof"
"Field Of Dreams"
"Fiend Without A Face"
"The Final Countdown"
"Finding Neverland"
"Firewall"
"First Men In The Moon"
"First Spaceship On Venus"
"Flags of Our Fathers"
"Fleetwood Mac: Tango In The Night"
"Flowers Of St. Francis"
"The Fog"
"The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara"
"Forbidden Planet"
"Foreign Correspondent"
"The Forgotten"
"Forgotten Silver"
"Frankenstein - The Legacy Collection"
"Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man / House Of Frankenstein"
"Freaks"
"French And Saunders: At The Movies"
"French And Saunders: Back With A Vengeance"
"French And Saunders: On The Rocks"
"French And Saunders: The Ingenue Years"
"From Hell"
"From Russia With Love"
"The Fugitive"
"Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum"
"Futurama, Vol. 1"
"Futurama, Vol. 3"
"Galaxy Quest"
"Gangs Of New York"
"Ghostbusters 1 & 2"
"Ghosts Of Mars"
"Give My Regards To Broad St."
"Gladiator"
"Glory"
"The Godfather DVD Collection"
"Godzilla"
"Godzilla And Mothra: Battle For Earth / Godzilla Vs. King Ghidora"
"Godzilla: King Of The Monsters"
"Gojira"
"Good Night, And Good Luck"
"The Good, The Bad And The Ugly"
"The Graduate"
"The Grapes Of Wrath"
"The Great Dictator"
"The Great Escape"
"The Green Mile"
"The Grudge"
"Guide For The Married Man"
"Gunga Din"
"Hair"
"Hamlet"
"Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection, Vol. 1"
"Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection, Vol. 2"
"Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection, Vol. 3"
"Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire"
"Haunting"
"Hell House"
"Hellboy"
"Helter Skelter"
"Henderson Monster"
"The Hidden Fortress"
"High Noon"
"High Plains Drifter"
"A History Of Violence"
"Hooked Generation / The Psychedelic Priest"
"Horror Of Dracula"
"Hospital"
"Hostel"
"House Of Flying Daggers"
"House Of Wax"
"House On Haunted Hill"
"Howl's Moving Castle"
"Hunting Of The President"
"I Confess"
"I Married A Monster From Outer Space"
"Ice Age"
"Image Of An Assassination: A New Look At The Zapruder Film"
"In Cold Blood"
"In Good Company"
"The Incredible Adventures Of Wallace And Gromit"
"The Incredibles"
"Independence Day"
"Indestructible Man / Amazing Transparent Man"
"Inherit The Wind"
"Innocents"
"Inside The Actors Studio - Icons"
"The Interpreter"
"Interview With The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles"
"Invader Zim #1: Doom Doom Doom"
"Invader Zim #2: Progressive Stupidity"
"Invaders From Mars"
"Invasion of the Body Snatchers"
"Invisible Man: The Legacy Collection: Invisible Man / Invisible Man Returns / Invisible Woman / Invisible Agent / ... Revenge"
"It Came From Outer Space"
"It! The Terror from Beyond Space"
"Jack Paar Collection"
"Jaws"
"Jerry Maguire"
"Jesus Christ Superstar"
"JFK"
"Jiminy Glick In La La Wood"
"Joe And Max"
"John And Yoko's Year Of Peace"
"John Denver: Wildlife Concert"
"John Fogerty: Premonition"
"John Ford Goes to War"
"John Lennon: Gimme Some Truth: The Making Of Imagine"
"John Lennon: Lennon Legend: Very Best Of John"
"Johnny English"
"Jonathan Winters: Rare And Riotous"
"Joseph Campbell And The Power Of Myth"
"Ju-On"
"Kagemusha"
"Kill Bill: Volume 1"
"Kill Bill: Volume 2"
"King Kong"
"King Of New York"
"Kingdom Of Heaven"
"Kinsey"
"Knightriders"
"Kodo"
"Kronos"
"Kumars At Number 42"
"Labyrinth"
"Ladies In Lavender"
"Land Of The Dead"
"Landmarks Of Early Film"
"Larry Sanders Show: 1st Season"
"The Last House On The Left"
"Late Night with Conan O'Brien - The Best of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog"
"Laugh-In: Boxed Set 1: Best Of Rowan And Martin's Laugh-In"
"Laugh-In: Boxed Set 2: Best Of Rowan And Martin's Laugh-In"
"Lawrence Of Arabia"
"A League Of Their Own"
"Left Of The Dial"
"Legend Of Hell House"
"Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events"
"Lewis Black: A Pair Of Lewis Black Shorts"
"Lewis Black: Black On Broadway"
"Lewis Black: Unleashed"
"Lion In Winter"
"Little Caesar"
"Local Hero"
"The Longest Day"
"Look, Up in the Sky - The Amazing Story of Superman"
"Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Vol. 2"
"Looney Tunes: Golden Collection: Volume Four"
"Looney Tunes: The Golden Collection, Vol. 1"
"Looney Tunes: The Golden Collection, Vol. 3"
"The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring"
"The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King"
"The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers"
"Lost Horizon"
"Lost In La Mancha"
"Lost In Space"
"Lost In Space: Season 1"
"Lost In Translation"
"Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra"
"Lost: Season 1"
"Mad Max"
"Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior"
"The Magnificent Seven"
"Magnolia"
"Malcolm X"
"The Maltese Falcon"
"The Man"
"Man From Planet X"
"Man On Fire"
"The Man Who Would Be King"
"The Man With No Name Trilogy: A Fistful Of Dollars / For A Few Dollars More / The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly"
"The Manchurian Candidate"
"Manhattan"
"Manhunter"
"Manster"
"March Of The Penguins"
"Mark Twain Tonight!"
"Mark Twain's America"
"Mars Attacks!"
"Marx Brothers Collection: Night At The Opera / Day At The Races / Night In Casablanca / At The Circus / Go West/The Big Store"
"Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection: Duck Soup / Horse Feathers / Monkey Business / Animal Crackers / The Cocoanuts"
"Master and Commander: The Far Side Of The World"
"Master Of The Rings: Unauthorized Story Behind J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings"
"The Matrix"
"The Matrix Reloaded"
"The Matrix Revisited"
"The Matrix Revolutions"
"Mean Girls"
"The Meaning Of Life"
"Meat Loaf: Bat Out Of Hell: Classic Albums"
"Meat Loaf: Hits Out Of Hell"
"Meat Loaf: Live With The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra"
"Meat Loaf: VH-1 Storytellers"
"Melissa Etheridge: Live... And Alone"
"Memento"
"Memphis Belle"
"Men In Black"
"The Merchant of Venice"
"MirrorMask"
"Modern Times"
"Mondo Mod / The Hippie Revolt"
"Monster"
"Monster That Challenged The World"
"Monsters Crash The Pajama Party: Spook Show Spectacular"
"Monty Python and the Holy Grail"
"Monty Python's And Now For Something Completely Different"
"Monty Python's Flying Circus Set #1, Vol. 1 & 2"
"Monty Python's Flying Circus Set #2, Vol. 3 & 4"
"Monty Python's Flying Circus Set #3, Vol. 5 & 6"
"Monty Python's Flying Circus Set #4, Vol. 7 & 8"
"Monty Python's Flying Circus Set #5, Vol. 09 & 10"
"Monty Python's Flying Circus Set #6, Vol. 11 & 12"
"Monty Python's Flying Circus Set #7, Vol. 13 & 14"
"Monty Python's Graham Chapman: Looks Like A Brown Trouser Job"
"Moulin Rouge"
"Mr. Smith Goes To Washington"
"The Mummy"
"Mummy: The Legacy Collection: The Mummy / The Mummy's Hand / The Mummy's Tomb / The Mummy's Ghost / The Mummy's Curse"
"Munchhausen"
"Munich"
"My Favorite Year"
"Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection #3: The Atomic Brain / The Unearthly / The Sidehackers"
"Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection #4: Girliin Golden Boots / Hamlet / Overdrawn At The Memory"
"Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection #5: Merlin's Shop Of Mystical Wonders / Touch Of Satan / Timechasers / Boggy Creek II"
"Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection #8"
"Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 9"
"Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Essentials: Santa Claus Conquers The Martians / Manos, Hands Of Fate"
"Mystery Science Theatre 3000: Set 7"
"Naked City: 1st Set"
"Naked Lunch"
"The Name Of The Rose"
"National Geographic: Egypt Eternal: The Quest For Lost Tombs"
"The Natural"
"Neil Young: Heart of Gold"
"Network"
"Neverwhere"
"Night And Fog"
"Night Gallery: The Complete 1st Season"
"Night Of The Living Dead"
"Night Stalker / Night Strangler"
"A Nightmare On Elm Street"
"The Ninth Gate"
"No Direction Home: Bob Dylan"
"Notes on a Scandal"
"Notorious"
"The Nutty Professor"
"The Office: The Complete First Series (UK)"
"Oldboy"
"Olivier's Shakespeare - Criterion Collection"
"The Omega Man"
"The Omen"
"On The Beach"
"Once Upon A Time In America"
"Once Upon A Time In China"
"Once Upon A Time In Mexico"
"Once Upon A Time In The West"
"One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest"
"One Step Beyond #01"
"Orson Welles: The Stranger / Orson Welles On Film"
"Outer Limits: The Original Series: Season 2"
"Pale Rider"
"Patsy"
"Patton"
"Paul McCartney: In Red Square"
"Paul Simon: You're The One: In Concert From Paris"
"Payback"
"Penn & Teller: Bullsh*t!: Season 1"
"Penn & Teller: Bullsh*t!: Season 2"
"Perfect Candidate"
"Petrified Forest"
"Phantom Of The Paradise"
"The Philadelphia Story"
"Pink Floyd: The Dark Side Of The Moon"
"Pitch Black"
"Planet Of The Apes"
"Platoon"
"Police Squad!"
"Portishead: Pnyc Roseland"
"The Poseidon Adventure"
"Predator"
"Pressure Point"
"Prince Of Darkness"
"The Princess Bride"
"Prisoner #1: Arrival / Free For All / Dance Of The Dead"
"Prisoner #2: Checkmate / The Chimes Of Big Ben / A, B And C / The General"
"Prisoner #3: Schizoid Man / Many Happy Returns / It's Your Funeral"
"Prisoner #4: Change Of Mind / Hammer Anvil / Forsake Me / Living Harmony"
"Prisoner #5: Girl Who Was Death / Once Upon A Time / Fall Out"
"The Producers"
"Proof"
"Psycho"
"Psych-Out / The Trip"
"Public Enemy"
"Pulp Fiction"
"Pulse"
"The Punisher"
"Quatermass 2"
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"Ray Harryhausen Science Fiction 5-Pack Giftset: It Came From Beneath The Sea / Earth Vs. The Flying"
"Ray Harryhausen: The Early Years Collection"
"Red Dragon"
"Red Eye"
"Red Skelton"
"Reefer Madness"
"Ren & Stimpy: The Complete 1st And 2nd Seasons"
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"The Right Stuff"
"The Ring"
"Ringu Anthology of Terror"
"Ripping Yarns: Complete"
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"Robbie The Reindeer: Hooves Of Fire / The Legend Of The Lost Tribe"
"Robert Rodriguez Mexico Trilogy: El Mariachi / Desperado / Once Upon A Time In Mexico"
"Robot Monster"
"Rocketship X-M"
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"Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends: Complete Season 3"
"The Rocky Horror Picture Show"
"Roger And Me"
"Rolling Stones: Voodoo Lounge"
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"Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead"
"Ruling Class"
"Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming"
"Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch"
"Salem's Lot"
"Saw"
"Schindler's List"
"Sci-Fi Classics"
"SCTV #1: Network 90"
"Seabiscuit"
"Secondhand Lions"
"Seconds"
"Secret Agent #1"
"Secret Agent #2"
"Secret Agent #3"
"Secret Agent #4"
"Secret Agent #5"
"Seven Days In May"
"Shakespeare In Love"
"Shaolin Soccer"
"Shaun Of The Dead"
"Shock Corridor - Criterion Collection"
"The Shootist"
"Sid Caesar Collection: The Buried Treasures : The Impact Of Sid / The Legend Of Sid / Shining Stars"
"The Silence Of The Lambs"
"Simon & Garfunkel: In Concert"
"The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season"
"The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season"
"Sin City"
"Singin' In The Rain"
"Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow"
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"Somewhere In Time"
"Soupy Sales Collection: The Whole Gang Is Here!"
"South Park: The Complete 2nd Season"
"Spartacus"
"Spawn"
"Spellbound"
"Spider"
"Spider-Man"
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"Star Trek V: The Final Frontier"
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"Star Wars Trilogy : A New Hope / The Empire Strikes Back / Return Of The Jedi"
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"The Addams Family - Volume One"
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"Unforgiven"
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"Val Lewton Horror Collection: Cat People / Curse Of The Cat People / I Walked With A Zombie / The Seventh Victim / ..."
"Vertigo"
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"W.C. Fields Comedy Collection: Bank Dick / My Little Chickade / You Can't Cheat An Honest Man / It's A Gift / International ..."
"Wag The Dog"
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"Warrior, The"
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"What the #$*! Do We Know!?"
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"X the Unknown"
"X2"
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"Yakuza Papers, Vol. #1: Battles Without Honor And Humanity"
"Yellow Submarine"
"You Bet Your Life : The Lost Episodes"
"Young Frankenstein"
"Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman / Sonatine"
"Zombie"


Update from JMS:
Date: 10/26/2006 1:01:01 AM

Well, tomorrow I head back to LA for meetings on other projects for two days, then it's back to Vancouver again on Sunday to continue prep. So far everything's laying out very cleanly. We have an EFX house on board now, which was the last big step to be undertaken. It wasn't until the last day or so that we could really get into the CGI issues, which are huge on these stories.

And in regard to that...the initial goal was to try and do three big stories in one DVD. So I wrote three scripts, featuring Sheridan, Lochley, Galen and Garibaldi. (I wanted to focus on the human characters initially so we'd have more time for prosthetics R&D for the next one.) The stories, as noted previously, were huge...all over the map, from Minbar, to Earth, Mars, the future, the distant past, as well as B5 itself obviously. We're also going to be trying some new production technologies, again trying to stay ahead of the tech curve, the way B5 has always stayed ahead on these things.

And over the last few days, as we began to bring on crew and lay out the production, looking at just how complicated these mini-movies were going to be, the idea of making three of these monsters began to become a bit much for us to pull off on out first time out the gate, especially since I'm still kind of new as a director. So we decided to postpone one of the three to the next DVD, and lengthen the other two to make up the difference. GIven that the Garibaldi story was the most complicated visually and technically, also the most difficult from a CGi perspective, that's the one that got pushed until, potentially, next time.

And if the sales are anywhere near what WB expects, and I think they will be, there's no question that there will be more of these down the road. So we're gong to focus in on those two stories and knock them out of the park. Same length, same running time, and now even bigger than at first anticipated since the budget on number three will now be applied to the other two.

Part of what we're doing is to re-think the look of B5 to some degree. The show was created using 1993 technology, video toasters and amigas, and was to some extent limited by the paradigms and production methods we used in that. But it's now 13 years later, and while I will keep the feel of the show the same, and the silhouettes and designs, there's no reason to limit the look of the feel to what we could do six years ago (from when we stopped). So we're going to invest a lot of time, effort and money into really re-imagining some of the visuals at the present level -- looking at shows like Battlestar and the like -- and bringing those tools into B5 while still maintaining the feel of the show.

I also managed to work in a nice nod to Andreas and Richard in the two mini-movies.

So with that...the team is now in place, the last personnel have been hired, and as soon as I get back to Vancouver, I get to take off the producer's hat and put on the director's hat.

UPDATE FROM JMS

Date: 10/22/2006 10:46:51 PM
BABYLON 5 OFFICES ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Tomorrow morning at 9 a.m., the Babylon 5 TLT production offices in Vancouver will officially open up next door to the stage we're using. The crew has been hired, Chris Franke is on board for the music, cast deals have been set.

Interesting times all around.
jms

October 14, 2006
Fast follow-up....

Just got back tonight from Vancouver, and we've now nailed down/hired nearly all of our key department heads and the Director of Photography who I'll be working with closely during production. We spent today in the first informal production meeting going over how we're going to shoot this, reviewing the storyboards, determining what's going to be green screen and what's going to be practical set...this should be a pretty cool looking project, with some sights we haven't really seen before as well as some more familiar sights.

What I can say about the three episodes is that we go to Mars, Minbar and of course B5, we introduce a new kind of Minbari cruiser, and there's a rather startling sequence on Earth. I've decided to shoot each segment a little differently from each other, so they each have their own visual style that complements that particular story. On Monday the B5 team up north will be checking out the stages, and about a week or so from now the actual B5 offices will open up and folks will start moving in.

It's starting to feel a lot like fun.

We'll also be working with WB to put together a special reel from the shoot that we can bring to debut at San Diego Comic Con next year.

Meanwhile, not only has the Universal feature deal noted in another thread been finalized, so I'm writing that now, but the Paramount feature deal has *also* been closed, so now there are two big-budget feature screenplay assignments that I have to write, the first due by late November/early December, the second one sometime to be delivered shortly after the first of the year. A third assignment is kind of nibbling around the edges which could be very cool, even though I couldn't start writing it until I finish the other two, which means it'd have to be spring 2007 to turn in the script if the assignment comes in.

Finally, now that Ron has said it's okay to bring in other directors on Changeling, there's been a small flood of a-list directors coming around to try and pick up the assignment. Part of the attraction is not just the script, but the acting talent involved...as noted in the LA Times piece, Reece Witherspoon (and two other oscar-winning leading female actors) are extremely interested in the lead role. I imagine we'll start having meetings in the next few weeks to narrow down the list of directors.

It's crazy-busy, but good.
jms

Date: October 12, 2006
JMS writes:
Just a quick follow-up...I'm in Vancouver (coming back in 24 hours) finishing up a round of final staff interviews for B5:TLT. Thus far, we've hired two other producers, a script supervisor, a post supervisor, the editor, a production manager, a conceptual artist/storyboard guy, an art director/production designer, a first assistant director, and closed several cast deals, with the rest probably to be closed next week, at which time I may be able to say who they are. Pending final negotiations, Chris Franke has agreed to come on board to do the music. We're interviewing CGI houses up here to decide which to go with. The three scripts have been completed, and are now being storyboarded. We've narrowed down the director of photography options to just a few last guys, and should have that decided by week's end. We've also locked down the stage and have started putting together our package (camera, lights, grip and electrics).

By this time next week, about 80% of our crew will be in hand, the rest coming aboard during the start of prep.


THE CHANGELING

Here's an update from JMS on THE CHANGELING project:
Just to clarify before the wrong impression gets out there....the project has not been back burnered. First, Imagine owns the script, they bought it, they want it, they want to see it made, so does Universal. When Ron decided to go with the Frost/Nixon thing first, one option would have been to hold onto Changeling until he was free to direct it. But with the Forst/Nixon thing going first, Changeling couldn't be shot until 2007...so Ron is going to produce, with Imagine, and they're going to get another a-list director to come on board and shoot this thing asap. The only thing that got back-burnered was Ron, Imagine still wants to make this, and Ron has been gracious enough to allow another director in, but still produce it, so it can get filmed this year.

The draft is now ready to go, there are five a-list directors who have said they want to come on, it's been budgeted, and the president of Imagine called today *specifically* to say that they want to put this thing into high gear now that Ron's made up his mind. They'd like to see this thing going before the cameras by Spring.


A question was posed to JMS comparing the B5 script books to the new Star Trek Script Books coming out. The ST books include scripts from other writers. JMS response addresses that question -- and provides a quick update on his recent activities.

"Which kind of goes to the core of what I wanted to do with the B5 script books, to make the maximum amount of information and the maximum number of scripts available for as little as possible. This way, when all is said and done, you have a real sort of holographic snapshot of the making of the show from pretty much every angle.

To the larger question above...it's my understanding -- and I could be wrong, but this is what I've heard -- that the Roddenberry estate made a deal with the writers to sell their scripts some time ago. Whether that was a one-time payment, or there's some sort of residual, I don't know, but there does seem to have been permissions involved.

Speaking of...I plan to get volume 9 done and up for the last week of this month. It's been kind of crazy of late, as noted earlier, but I'm coming into a smooth patch for a bit where I can catch up on that and some Marvel work. The last draft of Changeling has gone in to the studio, so we're now awaiting a decision concerning production...Touchstone has responded very well to the Borrowed Lives pilot script...and I just got back from two days in New York meeting with the director and producers on the next feature that I'll be writing for Universal (one of them being Akiva Goldsman, a very nice man). Also got to meet Will Smith in the production offices of I Am Legend while I was there. Also seemed like a very nice fellow."

BABYLON 5: LOST TALES

Following the announcement of this project by JMS at San Diego Comi-Con, JMS posted the following information in the B5 moderated newsgroup:

To the other questions that have arisen: we're looking at 3 half-hour episodes/stories for the first DVD, with additional features and the like in the other half hour. Each story will be worked around a given established character, the specifics of which are still TBD contingent upon availabilities and other issues.

We have a budget, we're greenlit, we're going.

As for what prompted the interest now at WB...it's only recently that they've finally run through all 5 seasons, which for many years now has been a constant source of revenue, and I think they would love to have something to continue to with. The recent news re: Changeling probably didn't hurt, but the deal was actually being negotiated long before there *was* a feature film deal with Imagine. As I recall, we finalized the deal right around the time that the Imagine news was announced.

It was a rather extraordinary 24 hours.

I held off saying anything until I was cleared by WB to announce it as a go project. Ultimately, whether we shoot in Vancouver or elsewhere will be a function of the deal that gets made locally.

For more on the San Diego Comic-Con, go to Reports.

JMS AND CONVENTIONS

Tonight I sent this note to all parties with whom discussions are or have taken place concerning convention appearances through the rest of the year.

With regrets to all concerned, the crush of work has left me no choice but to cancel all convention plans through at least February '07, and potentially beyond that. This is something I have been agonizing over for some time, but recent events have left no room for maneuvering.

My sincere and profound apologies to all concerned. I hope you will understand that this was not a decision made lightly, and it is my hope that we can reconvene in the future.

JMS UPDATE

From: jmsa...@aol.com
Date: Tues, Jul 18 2006 4:22 am

Readers of this newsgroup have noted, and asked about, the reason why my postings here have been on the steady decline for some months now.

The reason is that I have been reading, and thus replying, less than before, because it seems that nearly every thread have a posting by an individual who has dedicated himself to the task of insulting me on a constant basis, on a personal and professional basis. This nearly pathological obsession has manifested itself as, for lack of a better term, the death of a thousand papercuts. Each post is, on its own, as irrelevant and unimportant as he is, but in the aggregate becomes a constant note of insult. He remains in this group not to participate in the discussion, but to find some way to work an insult or derogatory comment about me at every possible opportunity. He is, for lack of a better term, going out of his way to shit on me in a place where he knows I have to read it...because that is his goal, to insult me where he knows that I hang out...because he's too much of a coward to do it to my face.

I'm not talking about critical opinions of a show, or disagreements, I'm talking about bald-faced insults, affronts, digs and offense on a personal and professional nature that have no business here.

I have discussed this previously with the moderators, who say they are powerless to keep him out, that he has made it clear to them that he does not and will not respect the will of either the moderators or the members of this newsgroup, who he views with utter contempt, as evidenced in the many messages in which he has described the members of this group as "joe worshippers" and terms too vile for me to repeat. He has stated to the moderators that if he is forced to leave, that he will simply join again under a different ISP or a different name, that the group must and will be held hostage to his conviction that the moderators have no authority over him, that he can ignore the purpose of this group, which is in part to provide a buffer zone between me and net-stalkers, and that his right to be here outweighs the right of the group or anyone in that group to keep him out, myself included.

A writer has only three resources: time, energy and visceral material, and when those are being spent being pissed off, when every message thread you'd otherwise like to participate in gets hijacked and polluted by a dozen new insults, snide asides or affronts, you just stop reading because life's too short.

Since the moderators cannot remove this individual due to his threats to remain no matter their actions, or the intentions or guidelines of this group, it seems that I therefore have no choice but to absent myself from this group. It is for this reason that I have already mainly stopped reading and posting, and the members of this group, who have participated in good faith for so long, deserve an explanation.

With luck, my departure will remove this individual's reason for being here, and at least the group can return to a discussion of the pros and cons of the show without his presence, because my absence will have taken all the fun out of it.

jms


On the front page of the June 27 Variety:

"Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment have purchased J. Michael Straczynski's thriller "The Changeling," which is being eyed by Ron Howard to direct. Project, to be produced by Brian Grazer, joins the shortlist of pics Howard is considering as his next endeavor.

Story, billed as based on actual events, is about a mother who prays for the return of her kidnapped son. When her prayers are answered, however, she begins to suspect the boy who comes back is not her child."

From JMS:
It is, without question, the biggest deal I've ever made, and with Ron directing (everyone is talking about it as though he's going to do it, though that has not been stated officially by anyone), and it moves me from being marginally known in the film business right into the catetory of a-list writer overnight, which parallels what happened with Akiva Goldman. I'm thrilled that Ron is involved, because I've always thought he had amazing story sense and he's one of the directors I most regard in this business.

Those involved were great in the deal making, and this stands to be a huge movie.
jms

CONGRATULATIONS from everyone here at The Zocalo Today. It is about time that a LOT more people discover the wonder of you writing -- that B5 fans have known for a long time..


From B5 moderated NewsGroup:

For the local B5 folks in and around Charlotte...I'll be there for the Heroes Convention the weekend of June 30th, doing a lot of signing, some panels, my usual one-person song and dance (minus the singing and dancing, natch).

Also, being up to my tuchis in deadlines and general nonsense, I forgot to put out a note that volume 8 of the B5 scripts went up yesterday, which has the last few scripts from season three, including obviously our season finale "Z'ha'dum," and the first batch of scripts for season four. What's really cool is that, in addition to the new intro -- which reveals for the first time how we literally nearly lost the show because of an accounting error, among other cool stuff -- features a bunch of full pages of Peter Ledger's original concept art for B5, including the first drawings of our characters at that time, as well as the world of B5 itself. Most of it has not been seen before, certainly not in anything more than postage size images on a PTEN flyer.

There may also be some interesting announcements coming soon on the film/tv front. Whether or not I will be able to talk about them by Heroes Con, I don't know, but if not, certainly by San Diego (by which time a lot of it will have been announced in the trades anyway). No fair guessing, because trust me, most of this is stuff that can't be guessed.

Keep an eye on the Hollywood trades for the coming week. (It could slop over into the following week, but I doubt it.)

One of the biggest things to happen to my career is about to happen.

JMS ON CRUSADE
From the B5 moderated newsgroup:
When asked if JMS would tell us what he had planned for Crusade, his response was:

JMS: I haven't written that intro yet, but my sense is that yeah, I will go into some of the detail on that aspect of it. There's certainly nothing to be lost by doing so, and I think people will find it interesting...because the show as it would have eventually morphed resembled the show that began almost not at all.

UPDATE FROM JMS ON MONGOOSE BOOKS

From: jmsatb5@aol.com
Subject: Re: An Open Plea to Mr Straczynski
Date: 5/21/2006 9:24:47 AM

Matthew Sprange wrote:
> Hello to all.

> > I would like to start by saying that I am very, very sorry to have to > conduct any sort of discussion in this manner. I feel I have been forced to > do so because Mr Straczynski has not answered any of our direct emails for > some time.

No, that is not the case. This is public because you have been making public claims about my involvement, which led fans of B5 to ask me about it in a public manner, to which I responded.

> From our perspective, there is nothing we would like > better than to be on speaking terms with Mr Straczynski, whose work we have > the deepest admiration for and, indeed, we have been immersed within for the > past four years.

Funny way of showing it.

> I fully understand that Mr Straczynski may be unaware of the processes > involved in the approval process at Warner Brothers for publishers such as > ourselves, particularly after the recent changes in their procedures.

I have been dealing with B5 licensees for ten years. I think I understand the system, which has not changed overmuch.

> However, everything (and I mean _everything_) we publish or manufacture for > Babylon 5 is approved by Warner Brothers, via their Burbank offices.

Curious, since on contacting some of the folks at WB licensing they don't seem to be aware of any recent submissions for approval.

> Let;s bury the hatchet and begin > to work together, as I have a feeling our goals are much the same. The > Babylon 5 fans are still out there. Let us do something great together for > them.

More on this in a minute.

> >>>Let me be clear: I have provided no outlines for novels to Mongoose. > Nor are there any outlines of episodes beyond what was shot plus the > two scripted but not shot episodes. There ARE no outlines to which > they could have had access. So this is false.

In your reply below, you do not address your statement that you had outlines by me. To say that you had scripts, about also which more in a moment, and say "well, these are the outlines I was referring" is disingenuous at best. An outline is an outline and a script is a script. Unless one wishes to deliberately confuse the two to create the impression of involvement.

> We have access to three scripts, which we were planning to use as the basis > of the first Crusade novel, and a collection of notes collated mostly from > things you have said yourself.

So you were planning to use my scripts, without so much as informing me, and pillage my notes online, which are incidentally my property, as the basis for your novels.

Lovely.

> There has, to date, been _no_ direct > planning for Crusade beyond this.

Which is not what you said on your website, or in the interview.

> It is something we would very much like > to do, but the first step was to round off the open end of the televised > Crusade episodes.

Meaning by adapting my scripts, without telling me. Are you aware that when someone adapts someone else's scripts there generally has to be some kind of arrangement made, plus something as cordial as, oh, I don't know...telling the person who wrote those scripts that you're DOING it?

> There are larger implications for the B5 timeline with > regards to Crusade, and it is something we would like to see rounded off as > a whole because of the effect on continuity. However, this is a longer term > plan and is something we would very much like to involve yourself with.

More later.

> >>>You cannot have less input than zero input. I have had zero input into > these novels. So to say there is less now means that there was some > before. Soi this is also false.

> I believe I am right in saying that the quote was made with regards to > Babylon 5 projects as a whole, rather than the novels specifically.

No, actually, you are wrong, because the question was asked of you concerning the novels, not the B5 projects as a whole. You again dissembled, just as you are attempting to do here.

> So, I would like to make an open plea. We would very much like to re-open > lines of communication with you, Mr Straczynski. We stand by everything we > have done for Babylon 5 thus far, and would be more than happy to explain it > to you, as we see it ourselves. We would like to bring you on board for the > novels and the other projects that are being planned and, if possible, would > like to commission you for original work on them.

> > I believe we could have resolved all of this a long time ago if there had > simply been better communication and understanding on both sides.

Such as, for instance, informing me that you were rummaging through my scripts and online posts for your material without telling me...?

> I can understand how the situation must seem to you

I rather doubt that.

> and I ask you to try to > understand how things are for us. I believe there is a common ground and, > as I said, that our goals are likely similar. At the end of the day, we are > a company of nice people who are passionate about Babylon 5 and wish to > provide fans of the series with a service we can all be proud of.

> > I am willing to email you this evening, or give you a call. We would be > happy to fly you to England, at our expense of course, to bring you to our > offices and show you, face-to-face, just what it is we are doing, how we are > doing it and where we hope to go. If, after that, you believe we are on the > wrong track, we would be happy to sit down and bring your ideas front and > centre.

> Let me make something as clear as I possibly can.

This is not about money, not about The Deal, not about a free trip to England.

First, this is about being honest with the fans. I have worked very hard, since the very inception of Babylon 5, to always be as straight as humanly possible with them, because the one thing about the truth is that it always comes out, one way or another. Everything I say is archived...if I prevaricate, if I lie, if I misrepresent, those words are sitting there, waiting to be used as a bludgeon...a blunt instrument that I willingly created for that very reason.

To date they have not been used in that way. Because I have always been as straight with the fans as anyone mortal can be. Even when the darkest hours came, and very few would believe me about how and why Claudia left, time passed and sure enough the words I posted online were shown to be true by her own comments made in the aftermath, sometimes years later.

My involvement with the so-called B5 novels from Mongoose has been mis-stated and misrepresented, and the conduct of pillaging my scripts and posts without my knowledge or permission is dubious at best, dishonorable at worst.

Second, and most important of all...this is about what drove the creation of Babylon 5 in the first place: an attempt to ensure a certain quality of storytelling within the framework of a consistent universe. The first Dell books were not what they should have been because they tended to operate outside canon; so steps were taken to bring the Del Rey books into canon, working closely with the publisher, and the fans across the board agree that those novels were better than those which preceded them.

That is how we have dealt with every single licensee to date...with the exception of this situation, and these books, which brings to mind the following point:

You have also stated that these books are "100% canon." No, they are not. Because for something to be canon means not that they have been researched, but that the events described therein will be referenced elsewhere, that they will be viewed as "having happened" in the B5 universe...as the Del Rey novels, and my own short B5 stories, are canon. Things referenced in those stories can show up in any future B5 films or TV projects because they *happened* in our story, in this universe.

The events in the Mongoose books do not fit this criteria. They are licensed B5 fan fiction, nothing more, nothing less. And lots of folks like that stuff, and that's all to the good.

But do not say that they are "100% canon."

And I have no desire to become involved with these novels, and will not endorse them. It ain't the money, it ain't the Deal...I am for rent, but I am not for sale, because I have an obligation to the viewers of this show to be consistent and to always work for the utmost quality in our storytelling within the framework of a consistent universe.

If you want to create a pocket universe, feel free. But it's got nothing to do with the B5 universe insofar as I am concerned.

And leave my scripts and my notes out of it. I do not approve their use.

This conversation is at an end.

jms

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Synthetic Worlds, ltd.
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JMS UPDATE

April 7, 2006

Here's an update from the B5moderated newsgroup:
A few things here and in the link need to be clarified.

First...I've tried to post here a few times in the past, but it always got bounced by the software, so I've been basically hanging fire until it got resolved. With luck, this will get through; I'd hate to have to retype this all over again.

I've also been up to my ears in work, of which some points follow, and that has taken me a great deal off the beacon of late.

First, to the matter at hand...and just to get one error out of the way...Robert Sheckle's "Watchbird" was adapted by me alone; Mike Cassutt is adapting Varley's "Persistence of Vision." The press release conflated the two. (I didn't know about the release until Mike called me, chagrined, but I told him not to sweat it, errors happen. This is now in the process of being corrected.)

The anthology is a by-invitation deal, it's just me, Mike, Harlan Ellison, Michael Tolkin, Ray Bradbury and a couple of others who, for whatever bizarre reason, sombody decided would constitute the scripts half of the Masters equation (the other half being the original short story).

Last summer, I was called into a meeting with the MoSF folks and offered the show runner position. It would be a short order show, maybe 6-13 episodes, to shoot in the fall. This happened at roughly the same time that I placed a development deal for my own series with Touchstone, which would not go to the next level until the next May. So the timing could not have been better. I would be able to go in, tackle this, and be done with shooting by the time development moved ahead on the Touchstone series.

But it took MoSF longer than expected to close the deal with ABC, and now they're going to be starting production in May, which conflicts with the Touchstone deal. Because there are contractual limitations regarding what you can do or develop on show B while you're working on show A, if I did the former, it would prohibit me from the work and meetings necessary for the latter, especially since the former is in Vancouver and the latter is in LA. So it came down to choosing between a short-order gig running someone else's show, and my own series, and though it was a painful decision, I have to go with the Touchstone deal. Everybody understands the situation, and everybody's fine with it.

So I got the "Watchbird" script in asap, and that will be one of the first scripts into the production pipeline as soon as they can lock down a director. I may or may not be able to be up there for filming because the same time as they shoot *that,* we have to do post-production and mixing on the 20 episode radio series I'm doing for the CBC in Toronto, and that *has* to be finished at that time in order to be available for broadcast in the late spring/summer and it's a huge amount of work to get done, so I may have to opt to be in Toronto rather than Vancouver (if this keeps up I may have to change citizenship).

Then later in May the Touchstone deal kicks in, and that will take up a huge block of time. I've also been approached by a major director (one of the biggest in town) who wants to go in and pitch a project of mine at the networks for a series, and if that that goes into development I'm going to be up to my ass in alligators for some time...all of that on top of the comics work, of course.

I also just finished writing a screenplay (historical drama, very serious, based on a true story) that is getting some serious heat and name people attached to it, so we'll see where that goes as well.

Point being...with all this work on my plate of late, particularly the TV stuff, I've been kind of off the radar screens for a while, and may have to disappear from time to time over the course of the next few months. But I'm around....

jms

Next week three jms comics hit the stands, the third (and best of the first batch) issue of "The Book of Lost Souls," which I'm very happy with, the next "Fantastic Four" issue, and the next "Supreme Power: Hyperion" issue. It's sort of an all-jms-all-the-time thing (which would have to be the most boring network on television, but there you are).

In addition to the other books I'm doing for Marvel, I'm set to do two more mini-series in 2006, neither of which I can discuss at the moment.

Also, now that the CBC strike is over, "The Adventures of Apocalypse Al" has been picked up again, and we're looking to do the voice tracks in February. The 20 five-minute radio drama episodes should air a few months thereafter, to allow time for post and publicity and the like. I believe it will thereafter show up on BBC Radio, Radio Ireland, the US market, and a number of other places before ultimately being released on CD.

It would seem that everything is now in place for the TV series that hired me as show runner to go ahead, and I'm now starting on the first script, which is due late January. Other writers have also been quietly put to work. I don't want to say too much else about this because there's still one last detail that needs to be ironed out at a much higher level regarding the venue and the like, and I've had too many things that were 99% go sideways at the last second for me to not approach this like a Lucy-and-the-football situation...so we'll see, but at the moment, things look like they're moving ahead.

As for the other series, the one I created, I can say this much now: it's been purchased for development by Disney's Touchstone Television, and we will be bringing it out to the networks this coming June at the start of development season.

Two different studios are currently in negotiation to pick up the film rights to "Midnight Nation," and another studio has offered to pick up "Rising Stars" for a series for next year, but we'll see where that goes...not all options go anywhere. "Dream Police" is now also in development with another studio, and I've turned in a detailed outline for the feature. They're now looking to pair up the material with the right director so they can take it out formally to the film marketplace.

WB has begun making inquiries here about doing a B5 DVD trivia game, but that's still very much in the preliminary discussions stage, so we'll see. (This would mainly utilize existing footage from the series and TV movies.) I've also been consulting with them about the coming debut of B5 on AOL in January, and several related areas.

Volume 3 of the B5 script books (which got a great review on www.cinescape.com) will hit around the first week of January. Because there's SO freaking much material in this one -- an 18,000 word intro plus 30 pages of memos PLUS all the scripts -- we've had to push the photos to volume 4, or risk making something so large that it might not come out right. This is my favorite so far, the most personal in many ways, the funniest, and the most informative on behind-the-scenes stuff. I'm nearly done with the volume 4 intro, which I like, but v3 remains my favorite so far. We should be able to debut new volumes around the first week of every month, so all 12 of the remaining 14 primary volumes would be finished by next December.

Convention-wise, in March 2006, I think I'm slated for a convention in Hungary, work schedule permitting, and the convention in New Zealand in October 2006. Other conventions include World Con in Anaheim in August, San Diego Comic Con in July, and Heroes Convention in North Carolina in June.

There's other stuff as well, but those are the high points for the moment.

jms


JMS UPDATE

From: jmsatb5@aol.com
Date: 11/9/2005 3:45:53 AM Over at the B5 moderated newsgroup, someone asked:
... if this exercise (bringing the Babylon 5 scripts to publication) has a degree of closure about it for you?

A: It certainly puts full stop to the work done on the original series. If anything else comes after, that's all well and good, but by putting this out is the last thing I knew I had to do with the original show. Make the show, do the trick, then open up the magic box and let everyone poke around inside to see how the trick was done...so that somebody else can learn from it and do the same down the road...which was always the intent, as I've said many times over the years.

Not to be morose -- though being russian that's nearly unavoidable for me -- but I've been thinking about this since your question, and see, the thing is...before I did this five year arc thing, nobody else really had, y'know? Not quite like this. And I'd like to leave behind the blueprints, the bread crumbs that led me through the story, so somebody else can come along and beat me at my own game someday...do something even more elaborate, more insane. I'd love that, more than I can tell you. But the thing is, and this is something that's been on my mind since we lost Richard, and for other reasons of late...none of us lasts forever. And I didn't want my notes to just get filed away at some university, or reconstructed afterward by someone who didn't really understand what it was all about, who wasn't there, who wouldn't understand what it all *meant*, in the end, what it *felt like*...so I wanted to make sure these got out there, while I still could, y'know?

This amazing online conversation, this dialogue, started over twelve years ago, and the road between there and here has been the most remarkable of my life; the road has taken me, taken us, to breathtaking places...through the most important thing I've written to date in my life, the one thing that they'll put on my obit when the day comes, and so it seems right to bring that conversation full circle with this, putting the whole damned thing out there. It's the closest I will come to going to everyone's house one night, one at a time, and saying, "This is what happened, once upon a time...."

I'd even be inclined to try it, but there are far too many of you, and as noted above, nobody lasts forever. So these rather massive letters, tossed into the great unknown, will have to suffice.

And no, don't worry, I'm fine...russian, and therefore fatalistic, but fine...it's just something that's been on my mind of late, and was one of the reasons I wanted to do this. It is closure, in that sense. That was a good call on your part.

jms


October 2005:
Here are a few segments from the B5 moderated newsgroup I think you will be interested in reading:

Update from JMS:
First, an advance word to those who are looking on...as noted here earlier, all of the B5 scripts that I wrote are going to be published in book form via www.babylon5scripts.com (a clever and inventive title), and I just had it confirmed to me that the site will be going on line right around the 28th of this month, give or take a day or so.

There will be 14 volumes, containing all the episodic scripts that I wrote, plus "In the Beginning" (in the 14th) and in volume 1 the ORIGINAL 1989 version of "The Gathering" that was used to sell the show but which was massively changed prior to production, which features different characters and gave Kosh a life-mate named Velana.

The 15th volume will be given without charge to those who pick up all 14 volumes...even the shipping charges will be covered. That volume will contain the lost Soul Hunter script (well, not lost, I recalled it because I'd unwittingly written a Star Trek style script instead of a B5 style script), a never-before-seen draft of Midnight on the Firing Line written a YEAR before we got the go-ahead for the series to show WB how the series would work, which is *massively* different (and a bit more surreal) from what was filmed...the original B5 series bible...the 5 year arc overview given to WB before we started filming season one to show how the series would work (and which followed Sinclair's character all through those five years on B5)...and the script used in the now-famous (or infamous) practical joke played on Andreas and Peter which had G'Kar changing genders and ending up in bed with Londo.

Each volume also has an original introduction from me, and a lengthy discussion of each episode, averaging about 40 pages per book, with a lot of behind the scenes information never revealed before, along with what went into the writing and producing.

There will also be a collection of B&W photos from my private collection taken behind the scenes, which have never been seen by anyone before. (Some books will have more photos than others, depending on how often I made it to set that week.)

As noted before, for the first week or so after each new volume is released, they'll be knocking ten bucks off the price of each volume to reward the B5 community for keeping an eye on this. And yes, they do ship internationally.


insert from a later message for clarification:
Yes, they will be released one volume at a time, every two or three weeks. The 15th volume will not be available until after volume 14 has been put out there. This creates a level playing field between those who can only pick up one book at a time, and those who'd dive in and get them all at once.


Moving on to other topics for a moment....

The same week, the 26th, will also see the publcation of issue one of "The Book of Lost Souls," the new comic I'm doing with Colleen Doran, and published by Marvel. This book is not like anything I've ever written before (the closest would be Midnight Nation), and it's definitely not like anything else Marvel is doing, and it's just gorgeous to look at (and not bad to read, either). No spandex, no costumes...a kind of modern dark fantasy, very adult, sometimes very dark but ultimately hopeful...and best of all, it has a talking cat named Mystery who is modeled after Buddy the Miracle Cat, so really, how can you go wrong?

Finally...and I almost hate to type these words for fear of jinxing anything...but in addition to the network project in development, I've been offered show-runner on another series which should, if all goes according to plan start shooting up in Vancouver in the spring. That's all I can say about it for now, except that I've accepted the offer and we're now concluding negotiations. More on this as it develops.


Q: Whatever happened to the B5 Quote Book?

A: The book was going to come out from Simon and Shuster under Byron Preiss' ibooks imprint...but just as things were being finalized, Byron was killed in a car accident, and the whole reason I'd placed that (and the other books of mine) with ibooks was because of Byron being there. So when he was gone, there was no reason to keep it there, and I'm not sure what the future for ibooks is going to be without him there to oversee it.

We are, however, considering bringing it out via the same venue as the B5 script books, should that initial publication work out as planned.

And speaking of...the babylon5scripts.com site is scheduled to go live at the end of the month. I've finished writing the last bits -- captions for some of the behind-the-scene photos I took back then, including the first makeup tests of G'Kar, Londo and Delenn, candid shots of the cast and crew, the first time we assembled everyone...it's quite a cool look back, and stuff nobody's ever seen.

But the main thing, again, is the publication of the scripts. It's been an exhaustive process, gathering up all the script files, cleaning them up, and writing introductions for all of the episodes. (The intros are now averaging about 40-50 pages each per volume...so that by the end, there will be enough new content in the intros to make a whole book all by itself.) It's a real chance, with the passage of time, to talk about stuff I could never talk about before, and other stuff I can now discuss in more detail than could be possible in an article or a convention appearance.

So keep an eye out...the site goes live in about ten days....

Babylon 5 Books by Mongoose
Mongoose asked me to consult with them, since they are doing just a couple of books and as I understand it ONLY for release in the UK...asked if I could help come up with some stories for them, or provide material from myh notes, proofread the manuscripts, make corrections, maybe write an intro, and do lots of other stuff...and I said okay, great, what are you going to pay for my work?

At first, silence. As if they were stunned that I would actually ask to be paid for my time and work. Then finally, they came back with...five hundred bucks per book.

To which I responded, "You have GOT to be kidding me."

I have, subsequently, washed my hands of the Mongoose books. I haven't seen anything, don't know what they're doing, so sure as hell it ain't canonical.

This is getting annoyingly commonplace. I got an email from the Warner Bros. division handling the German DVD superbox, for instance, wherein they said, very happily, that they were figuring on getting maybe six to ten million bucks for this new edition, and would I help them to make sure everything was right, to consult with them on the design, the packaging, the text, the artwork, the docs, a bunch of stuff. So I said, again not unreasonably, "And what is WB's standard fee for this consultation?"

To which WB responded that they don't pay people for the honor to be involved in these DVDs. But he's getting paid, the guy who did the artwork is getting paid, the only person who's not getting paid is the guy who made it. So I declined. They replied with ominous words suggesting that it would be bad if I let the fans down...but I don't bow down for emotional blackmail.

Writing is a job no less than being a carpenter. All a writer has, at the end of the day, is time, energy and visceral material. And right now, there's an awful lot going on career wise, and my free time is at a premium. You pay for someone's time if you have them consult, or write, or research for you, or if you otherwise engage their professional services. That is pro forma for every profession on the planet...except, it seems, for writing, where they think you're so glad to be asked to the ball that you'll go along with being treated unprofessionally.

Pass.


Date: October 3, 2005
JMS On Writing with Outlines

Ranger Jan asked: How about the outline for "In the Beginning" (Or another of the TV movies)?

There isn't one. There aren't any for pretty much the whole of Babylon 5, at least in terms of my scripts.

I don't write outlines. Ever, if I can avoid it.

This is for one singular reason: my outlines suck. For me, the characters aren't the characters until I'm in the script and hearing them speaking. Otherwise it's all just moving pieces around the plot-line. I write probably the worst outlines in the history of really bad outlines.

So I don't write them. I tell the people I work with that I will write the first draft as the outline for purposes of money and notes (meaning I won't pull a "well, it's already written, so I can't change it" if the studio has notes).

They're often a bit nervous about this initially...but very soon they get on board with the idea. Because a script I write from an outline is always, ALWAYS inferior to one written on the fly, because I lock into what I thought of when I was just moving pieces around.

So I think there are a few from the very first season, but just the most basic, shorthand kind of synopses...a page or two, just saying what it's about and what the major themes are, not beat-by-beat.

Once they got past the anxiety of not getting outlines, I was free to fly.

B5, Crusade, Jeremiah, on and on...I just don't write outlines. I sit down at the computer, type FADE IN..and the rest follows. I've said it before, I open up a window on that place and that time and just write down what happens. I blast through to the end...type FADE OUT and out the script goes, usually with only minor changes thereafter, usually to accommodate production changes.

So all those scripts you have, Jan, that have FINAL DRAFT was also my first draft and also the ONLY draft to that point...I would literally start in on page 1 on a Monday, hit page 48 on a Tuesday or Wednesday, hand it over to distribution...and what you have, is what came out, as it came out.

I'm not even in the same state let alone the same ballpark, or even the same league, or even the same *planet*...but the only time I ever heard someone describe the creative process the way it is in my head -- for good or ill -- was the first time I saw Amadeus. There's the part where you see Mozart composing, and it's all just *there*...he's writing, and it's playing in his head...he gets interrupted, he looks up, the music stops, he talks to someone, then goes back to it...and the music just starts playing again, every note in place. And when he hit the end, he was done, no revisions. Again, I'm not making a comparison, I ain't that stupid, but in terms of the *process* that's identical to the way I work.

So in terms of outlines...there just aren't any.


BABYLON 5 SCRIPTS

Here's a note from JMS regarding Babylon 5 scripts. Go to www.babylon5scripts.com and sign up to be notified when the Babylon 5 scripts are available for ordering. From the notes read at the B5 moderated newsgroup, response has been tremendous. The poor system was blown out after 48 hours of activation with everyone signing up for notification. This alone shows that Babylon 5 is STILL very much a favorite.

The special items JMS mentions below sound marvelous and even if you have most of the scripts already, there will be a few that you will need to add to your collection because this version is different from any others made available.

So read on -- I've added a few more recent items on the Babylon 5 scripts issue, so that you are up to date on that. Enjoy!

J. Michael Straczynski JMS UPDATE
Date: 9/12/2005 5:32:38 PM
Here is an update from JMS pulled from the B5 moderated newsgroup:

Okay, I've given it some more thought, and there are a couple of things that I can say...but again, I have to keep some of this close to my vest for a while in terms of details, at least in the first regard.

I've just had a treatment purchased for series development by a major studio/network. (This is non-B5.) The cool thing is that this is for one of the major broadcast networks and, if it ends up going ahead, would be for a prime-time series. But I have to attach all the usual caveats: the process is this...you write the treatment, then you write the pilot, then if the network likes the pilot script, they produce the pilot, and then if they like the pilot they give you the series. It's a very, very long process and like 90% of all development deals in town it can stop at any given point.

But I'm very pleased about it because it's a major studio, major broadcast network, and that's terrific. More than that I absolutely can't say because everything about the story being developed is totally confidential.

Now, that said, there's a little something else....

For years, I've been at conventions and had fans come up with photocopied scripts they'd purchased from script stores or dealers for $20 a pop, many times in poor condition...with loose or missing pages, hard to read, and thought, there has to be a better way for fans to get these scripts without paying that much for copies that are often inferior.

So now, at some point in October, we're going to fix this.

All 91 Babylon 5 scripts that I wrote are going to be made available through an ndependent publishing firm in trade paperback form. We're still working out the final details in terms of how to put the scripts together, but right now the plan is to do 7 scripts per book, each volume released every two weeks or so, at a cost of about $29 per volume if ordered in the first week or so it comes online) or $39 per for those who buy later. That's four bucks per script if purchased early, about five per script if published later...which saves fans a HUGE amount of money.

There will be 14 volumes in all, each again containing 7 scripts AND newly written introductions and commentaries about each episode that are thus far averaging about 30 pages per book, telling some of the behind-the-scenes stories that have never been told before (and some that have), talking about the writing process, how the arc was created and maintained, anecdotes about cast and crew, what went into the stories...enough so that at the end, at 30 pages over 14 volumes you get about 420 pages of new material on the making of B5...a book unto itself.

On top of THAT...some of the books will contain rare b&w photos from my own personal archives, taken by me on set, which have never before been seen by anyone else.

The very first book will have the Gathering script, plus 5 additional scripts (to make up the 7 hours of material) BUT...and this is the cool part...the script of the Gathering included in this volume will be one that has NEVER BEEN OFFICIALLY RELEASED BEFORE.

See, when we went to sell Babylon 5, I wrote a pilot screenplay to take around. When we made the deal, the notes process began...and the script went through considerable changes. But this is the ORIGINAL draft, the one only seen by the studio and the other producers on the show.

What's different? How about Garibaldi trying to get hold of his dying father back on Mars...how about a shape-shifter instead of a Minbari assassin with a changeling net...Londo as a part-time pick-pocket...Dr. Chakri Mendak instead of Dr. Kyle...new scenes between Lyta and Laurel, Delenn and others that were later cut...a LOT more character scenes with Sinclair and Garibaldi...a discovery about Delenn's lifestone and what that means to the Minbari...where Sinclair is NOT put on trial, but finds a whole different and more interesting way to solve the mystery of Kosh's assailant...and the introduction of Kosh's life-mate, Velana, who plays a very important role in the script. (Didn't know Vorlons had life-mates, did you?)

This script is HUGELY different from the one we filmed -- funnier in places, with more character moments -- and it has been kept under lock and key all this time. Now, for the first time, it will be officially released in the first volume of this set.

And here's the coolest part...as a gift for the fans...a FIFTEENTH volume will be given FREE to those who pick up the other 14. And what is IN this 15th volume, you ask?

Remember the lost script for "Soul Hunter," of which only 5 copies existed before I pulled them back, destroyed all but one copy for my files, and wrote a brand new script to replace it...all because it felt too much like a Star Trek script? Well, THAT one is in the free fifteenth volume. It also features a comic sub-plot concerning B5 being audited.

As if THAT wasn't cool enough...nearly a YEAR before we began writing episode scripts, before we HAD the series commitment, WB wanted to see what a typical episode might look like. So I wrote a draft of "And the Sky, Full of Stars," one of our most important episodes, that is massively different from what we would later produce...including fantasy sequences with Knight Two as the proprieter of a dark carnival of sorts.

It will also contain the Babylon 5 writers bible...the production draft of "The Gathering" as a companion to the original draft offered in volume one...and something very special.

For over ten years, fans have asked "What would Babylon 5 have been like had Sinclair stayed?" Well, that question will be answered in this volume.

After we finished the movie, but before we got the series going, WB asked to see a breakdown on this five-year arc thingie. So I wrote a six or seven page, single spaced outline of the ENTIRE FIVE YEARS with Sinclair still in place. The document makes for fascinating reading when compared with the series as it developed. NOT ONLY THAT, but the same document has a brief outline for A POTENTIAL BABYLON 5 SEQUEL SERIES, which would have been entitled BABYLON PRIME.

Again, that's what will go out FREE OF CHARGE to those who pick up the full set. While obviously all these volumes can be purchased a la carte for those who don't want all the script, this fifteenth volume will ONLY be sent out free, it cannot be purchased directly.

So for roughly a quarter of what fans would spend to buy the scripts individually from dealers, which are often poorly photocopied or otherwise in bad shape, you get uniform trade (large-ish) very handsome paperback editions, WITH the introductions, photos, and the bonus book.

(Doing the math more specifically...to purchase all the scripts one at a time would cost nearly $2,000. Here, if copies are purchased as the script books first come online, the full set would cost around $420; if purchased after the discount period, we're talking about $560...which is, again, for 15 volumes counting the free one, amounting to nearly FIVE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED PAGES OF MATERIAL.)

I'll post another message when they officially go online at babylon5scripts.com but in the interim...know that they are coming.

When asked about additionial scripts being made available, JMS responded:

Should these first volumes go as planned, then we will look to release more down the road, including "Crusade."

The site has now gone up, at least insofar as it now has a page there where folks can sign in their email addresses in order to be notified when it goes fully online. It's both babylon5scripts.com and b5scripts.com

It would be great if all the folks seeing this could pass along the word to the various other websites and newsgroups where Our People are still hanging out, to get the word out...though the funny thing is that when the sign-up page went up for 30 seconds just for a test, 5 people signed in within 30 seconds....

Ranger Jan, always jolly-on-the-spot with the question everyone is dying to ask -- did just that to JMS. How many names did it take to break the system?

I don't know the figure...I know that by the end of the first day it passed the one thousand mark, but where it cracked the mainframe beyond that I don't yet know. Also, the main one to use for email addresses is the babylon5scripts.com address, the b5scripts.com should not be used for now to help their system handle it all.

The other good thing about getting folks in early is that we've discussed internally the idea of limiting the period during which these scripts will be available. We've talked about doing this for just one year so that they have value as limited editions so that they can be a real investment, vs. a two-year window, vs. an open-ended situation. We're still backing-and-forthing on this one. We've also discussed limiting this to a 5,000 or 10,000 print run, but I don't know if that's practical since some will want the full set and some won't and we might get some lopsided results. Either way, if we do go for a short window of one sort or another, it's best to get everybody in sooner rather than later.

(As noted, we're doing 7 scripts per book, so it starts with the original draft of "The Gathering" plus 5 episodes, through "Mind War"...continues cleanly until the end of the series, where there are only 5 episodic scripts remaining, so we'll be putting in "In the Beginning" to round it back up to 7 again.)

jms


JMS ON SHORT STORIES AND TWILIGHT ZONE
August 11, 2005:
Q: I wonder if you (or anyone here) could give me some insight to SF short story writing.

A from JMS: For me, the nature of the story determines its length. It's really a matter of how much time it takes to tell, and how much effort you have to put into the characters and details for the greatest impact. There are some things you know are just not long enough to sustain a novel.

A short story is meant to do one thing, and do it well..whatever that one thing happens to be: communicating a theme, creating a character, hitting with an interesting plot or gimmick or device. It's like a drive-by shooting, you get one shot and you have to hit the target. By contrast, in a novel you get to do more of those things, and you can do them in combination with one another because there's room to play. The flip-side is that you don't have to sustain this very long in a short story, whereas in a novel you really have to work to hold the reader's interest over the course of 400 pages or so. There are stories and plot gimmicks that a reader will consent to stick around for in short formm, where he or she isn't investing a lot of time, that they wouldn't tackle in a much longer form.

For instance, the short story I have coming out in a few months in the Book of Dark Wisdom anthology, "The Darkness BetweEn the Stars," could not sustain a novel in its current iteration. You could *make* it a novel by dragging in a lot more characters and doing what's essential in all forms of prose writing, asking the next logical question, but thematically I don't think it would really sustain. It was written to have a punch at the end, to ask a particular question, and pose a thematic issue regarding the intersection between science and theology (a common theme with me) and then run like hell.

Q: Joe, is there anything new you can tell us about possible film adaptations of either Midnight Nation or Rising Stars?

A from JMS: Not at the moment. Midnight Nation is available, and it's one of those things I might spec out on my own after a while, and Rising Stars just ended its option period with MGM. There are a couple of studios nosing around the edges of the thing, but we'll have to see. And yes, I control the film and TV rights to both of those.

August 12, 2005:
Q: JMS's writing book is "The Complete Book of Scriptwriting" and doesn't touch on other forms. He did, however, write a bit about how he came to write each of the episodes of Twilight Zone in his anthology. Essentially, he took those scripts and made them into short stories. I highly recommend it.

Now that the DVDs are out, it's interesting to watch the episodes and read the book. JMS, if you're still reading, was there a reason why "What Are Frends For" didn't make it into the anthology

A from JMS: Yeah...basically, I wrote that episode as a freelancer for the CBS iteration, and I'd written it in the Zone tradition of a morality fable, so that we learn, by the end, that the father is doing to his son what his own dad did to him...that is the whole POINT of the episode.

Well, when I turned it in, they said that they didn't want to do morality tales, that that was the OLD zone and this was the NEW zone and they didn't DO that. Which seemed to me rather a violation of the whole premise of what the Twilight Zone is. So they took out that aspect...and of course the script no longer worked. It's like taking the whale out of Moby Dick, the whole thing collapses of its own weight.

They passed it from hand to hand, they mucked it up, then finally reverted to my draft again...but still took out the whole point of the thing, and produced it. So that story that aired isn't the story I wanted to tell...which is why it wasn't in the anthology.


Here is the latest update from JMS (from the B5 moderated newsgroup):

1) Fantastic Four. My first issue came out a bit ago, and on June 22nd they're releasing an expanded version of the same issue with script and other material.

2) Amazing Spider-Man, where we're about half-way through the current Hydra arc. When finished, this will segue into the big Spidey event that will occupy pretty much the rest of the year and span all of the relevant titles.

3) Supreme Power, the next issue of which (#17) comes out also on the 22nd. After issue 18, we're doing two SP miniseries, one with Nighthawk, the other Hyperion (I'm doing that one), then we relaunch with a new number one under the Marvel Knights banner. (Gary Frank remains as artist.)

4) Dream Police ALSO comes out on the 22nd, making it kind of a red-letter day for jms stuff. Apparently the pre-orders were very good, but given more that just came in too late for the print run, the need may exceed demand on this one, so you may want to nab it fast before it sells out.

5) The Book of Lost Souls, a new monthly title with Colleen Doran as artist, debuts in September under Marvel's creator-owned Icon imprint.

6) Bullet Points, a new miniseries that will come out sometime second or third quarter 2006.

7) Silver Surfer miniseries for 2006. There's another maxi series on tap for 2006 that Marvel has requested, but I have to kind of hold that back for now until they're ready to relase the info.

And now, having looked at all that, I have to go lay down for a while....
jms


San Diego Comi-Con
They have me on a few Marvel panels, don't know the specifics yet, the He-Man panel for the first DVD launch, some signings, and the usual spotlight thing...with luck, nobody will get arrested.


PHILADELPHIA WIZARD WORLD

Over the weekend, J. Michael Straczynski was a guest at Philadelphia Wizard World. Highlights from a report at Comics Contiuum is below:
J. Michael Straczynski said he is working with Marvel Studios on a television project featuring Marvel characters. "We're putting the budget together and it could prep in August or September, although there could be a few bumps between here and there," Straczynski said, not revealing the characters. "I try not to get too excited, but it could be a lot of fun."

Straczynski gave an update on the Rising Stars movie. "MGM couldn't figure out what to do with it and the option expired last month," he said. "Three other major studios are currently interested in it."

In terms of Babylon 5, Straczynski said he told the story he wanted to tell. Plans for a feature film weren't realized, and he has no B5 books planned.

With Amazing Spider-Man, the book has changed with the move of Peter, Mary Jane and Aunt May to Avengers tower after Aunt May's house burned down. "It's so much fun right now with the dynamics," Straczynski said. "He'll be there for a while and come back to his own life eventually." Peter's life is tabloid fodder when Mary Jane is caught by the press going to Stark Tower at 2 a.m. and, trying to keep Peter's secret identity, tells them that she was meeting Stark. Straczynski said he will deal with the ramifications of Peter living in the tower, and he's tempted to keep Aunt May, who has a budding romance with Jarvis, there after Peter leaves. "Peter's going to wig out because he doesn't know how to deal with it," JMS said the Jarvis/May relationship.

REQUEST FOR HELP FROM JMS

Date: 5/3/2005 6:10:55 AM
From: jmsatb5@aol.com
Subject: From JMS to Canadian Fans - Urgent Medcal Request

I'm posting this both as a new thread and a follow-up to an existing thread to make sure it gets through in a timely fashion.

A while back, I'd asked for cancer information on behalf of a friend. Now I need some real serious help here as the situation has escalated.

The father of a friend in Ottawa, Ontario Canada underwent surgery for lung cancer which had a good result for a time, but things have unexpectedly gone sideways. There is now a problem with the cancer moving toward the brain. Left unchecked, it will be fatal.

There is treatment which can help immensely even at this stage...however, he is caught up in gears of the medical bureaucracy there and as things stand now, won't be able to get to the treatment until it's too late to do any good. I need someone who can break him out of the gears and get him into treatment asap and in general be of help to the family.

So I turn to the Canadian B5 fans and anyone with connections up there.

Let me be clear: DO NOT EMAIL ME UNLESS YOU FIT THE CRITERIA BELOW. The family does not have much time before the treatment becomes unhelpful, so therefore neither do I. I can't put in time poring over ten thousand emails fishing for the right ones.

So reply ONLY IF you are a) someone who can help them break out of the gears and get the treatment needed, or b) you know such an individual personally. An oncologist, a hospital administrator, an obuds...somebody who can DO something, preferably in the Ottawa area, but they can go elsewhere if necessary. Do NOT send emails to recomment web sites, pass along pesonal stories, or suggest places you've heard about. I appreciate the concern and the advice, but this isn't the time. This is, very literally, a matter of life and death and time is of the essence.

I know there are a lot of Canadian B5 fans out there, and somewhere in your ranks I know there is somebody who can help here. Raise your hand and let me know who you are and what you can do.

jms


JMS YARD SALE

Here's a note from JMS everyone will want to read:

Date: 4/9/2005 9:11:29 AM
Okay. That's it. I give up.

Over the last few days, I've been trying to sort through the tons of boxes that have for the most part been sitting in storage for the last several years to try and find space for all this stuff, and there just isn't any. The floors are wall-to-wall with boxes, crates, palletes, you name it, the detritus of decades of making shows and writing comics and being a pack-rack. It has literally grown to overflow two rental storage facilities.

I have reached the point best expressed by Oscar Wilde's last words: "Either that wallpaper goes, or I do."

There's just no room, and I'm going insane.

So I'm going to have a yard sale.

Now, understand, the majority of this stuff will never leaving my hands, and for those I have set aside places here at the house...the statue of the B5 station that sat for five years on the desk of every commanding officer on B5...the actual prop Book of G'Kar...a number of props and bits of memorabilia that have honored places here.

But a lot of the rest is going to go out the door, because either that wallpaper goes, or...well, you get the idea.

It's going to be kind of a JMS retrospective in some ways, because as I said, this stuff covers decades...from memorabilia and storyboards for the Ghostbusters, He-Man and Captain Power series, original scripts from Twilight Zone and Murder, She Wrote...but the bulk of it is B5 stuff.

There are the actual script books I used during production, into which I shoved the script I was working on, the breakdowns, shooting schedules, any storyboards that were needed...the whole thing, in one book per episode, some of which still have my original notations.

There are episodic dailies tapes, with takes and bits not previously seen anywhere, posters, publicity material, a ton of stuff.

Props from the show, from my personal collection, where I have doubles or just no place for them anymore.

(One of the things I'm letting go traces back to the pilot. Not sure if the show would ever actually go, I paid the wardrobe department to make me a B5 captain's uniform. I know, I know, I'm the ultimate geek, but there you are. Suffice to say given the passage of time and calories, there's no way on god's green earth that that uniform is ever going to fit. Not that I ever wore it past the initial fitting, but for sure it ain't gonna happen now. So that's on its way out.)

Another prime item is going to be one of two huge original art pieces that the late Peter Ledger did for me to help sell B5 itself, big, elaborate paintings, signed by Peter. The one I won't sell is the first painting of the B5 station itself from the outside; the one I just don't have room for is the very first visualization/painting of the Garden area, with the core shuttle, folks floating around, and in the bar, a fight breaking out between humans and aliens, with an early version of Garibaldi in the thick of it.

There's caps, and a disco-style prototype of a B5 crew jacket, a few of the original blue key B5 symbol t-shirts made up before we did the pilot and given out at a couple of conventions, an assortment of souvenirs and some truly, truly weird shit, some of which nobody's ever heard of before, let alone seen.

I'm still holding on to about 75% of the stuff, but the other 25% has got to go.

So starting sometime probably next week, the week of the 11th, and from time to time over the next month or so, keep an eye on Ebay. (I'm playing with the idea of doing this chronologically, from the earliest stuff to the latter stuff, but I don't know if I'm disciplined enough for that.) I likely won't put this stuff up every day, only when and as I think of it. So you may have days pass with nothing, then a day when four or five items go up. The Ebay user ID is babylon5auctions. Once I've cleared out enough room to actually see the floor again, the auctions will stop and that user ID will go away.

Let the games begin.

jms

THE ZOCALO JMS SPEAKS

JMS UPDATE

3/14/05:
Here is an update on current projects from the B5 moderated list:

"in JMS unplugged, one of the pages had mention that you were working on a novel that would come out early 2005 I believe? I haven't heard any word of this since then. I also recall you saying that you were going to do a Silver Surfer miniseries...I could be wrong on that one though. Or has Fantastic Four taken over that idea? Thanks!"

The novel is taking its own bloody time, as is the play. I've always been a very careful novelist, and only tend to work on the books when I have time to dedicate to that book and nothing else (which is why there have been so few of them over the years). And a lot of the last year was taken up by TMOS and related stuff...so before things get crazy I want to get back into them again.

I'm also about one-third of the way through an original screenplay based on a true story, a mainstream story set during WW2. I don't figure it'll be done for a while, yet, though...I'm having to do a great deal of research in order to get this right.

In terms of other projects...one thing that I may need to clarify, especially in light of a number of querying emails I've gotten of late in the wake of TMoS.

Writers -- the working ones, especially in TV and film -- get approached by literally dozens of people a year on a variety of projects. Most of the time, the average audience member never knows about this because you only hear about the ones that get made. I have always tried to make everyone familiar with the process of being a writer, good and bad, so from me you hear about almost everything that comes along. With other writers, you hear about the one thing that does go ahead, not the twelve that didn't go, for one reason or another.

What makes for a successful writing career, especially in this town, is first and foremost that you are *hired,* that people pay you to write. There are people in town who've written dozens of screenplays, all of whom are considered very successful, despite the fact that not one of them has ever gotten produced.

With maybe two gaps of less than six months each, I've been working as a writer in TV and film non-stop for twenty-two years. Only 2% of the WGA earns six figures and above; I haven't fallen below that in 19 years.

If you go over the jmsnews.com archives, you won't ever find me saying, "Well, I'm going on vacation for the next month because it's quiet and I may as well." There's a reason I haven't taken a vacation since 1986...because I've been too freaking busy.

The second criteria is that what you write should get made, both in terms of pilots and scripts. I've written well over 200 produced scripts, and of the five pilots I've written -- B5, Crusade, Rangers, Jeremiah, Polaris -- four were produced and aired, and three went to series. The usual batting average is one out of ten just to get the thing *made* let alone aired. Which is why I don't write many of them...I write the pilot, it goes into production, and if it goes to series, I vanish up my own ass for years at a time.

(That, incidentally, is probably the only real downside to my career...I launch a show and dedicate myself to it full time, not developing other shows or projects at the same time, which many other writers do. It's important to me to invest all my attention, not split it by developing at the same time I'm producing. So while I'm working on a project, I pretty much just disappear from the rest of the world. Emblematic of this, I had a meeting not long ago with some CBS executives, and one of them said, "You know, around here you're a lot like Bigfoot...everybody's heard of you but nobody's ever actually SEEN you."

So after Jeremiah, I had a few months off to catch my breath, then TMoS came up (as well as a number of other offers that I passed on because they weren't things I felt I could do well), and kept me busy until just a few weeks ago, and now I've taken an offer on another series that should, if all goes according to plan, start prep in July.

I say all this just to give you a sense of the landscape from here, and to say to those who've written in and worried...don't. Believe me, I haven't been *out* of my ass in alligators in years, and if current trends are any indication, won't be for some time to come.

We now return to our regularly scheduled Q&A....

To the FF question...my first issue comes out in May, issue 527, and I'd particularly recommend it for B5 folks because this is more of an SF title for me...I get to explore the Big Questions, and get into interstellar and cosmic issues...it's a very big playground, and at three issues in, it's just a fun book to write. So you may want to get your store to pre-order it for you, because I'm very very happy with this one.

The Silver Surfer mini is proceeding apace...art is coming in, I'm three isses into that one as well, but I don't know when it's going to be coming out because they want to get a bunch of the art under their belt before they pull the trigger. (It's all *painted pages* not just drawn and inked/colored...and it's spectacular, gorgeous stuff.)

And one note on the prose area...I don't get a chance to write fiction very often, but I recently turned my hand to a short story. It's SF/horror, entitled "The Darkness Between the Stars." By coincidence, not long after finishing it, I got an inquire from the editor of the Book of Dark Wisdom, a very spiffy little magazine with an SF/horror point of view, asking if I had anything. So that story will be appearing in, I think, either issue 6 or 7. (Their website is at http://www.darkwisdom.com )

Dream Police, meanwhile, will debut in June, and The Book of Lost Souls is targeted for September, both under Marel's Icon line. I'm VERY happy with how Dream Police has come out...Mike Deodato did the art, and it's spectacular. Beautifully noir.

Finally, I should have some additional convention info in the next few weeks for folks who've been asking.

More later...gotta get back to work (yes, on Sunday).

STAR TREK - POST FROM J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI

I'm trying this via google to see if I can access the groups, since I've been offline since AOL stopped carrying newsgroups.

I don't normally do this...in fact, I don't think I've ever done this in any group before, because I've always kind of waited to make sure it was worth doing, and that it would make a difference.

I'm sending this to both the B5 folks reading this and any Trek fans looking on.

Bryce Zabel (recently the head of the Television Academy and creator/executive producer of Dark Skies) and I share one thing in common. We are both long-time Trek fans, from the earliest days, who felt that the later iterations were not up to the standards set by the original series. (I'm exempting TNG because that one worked nicely, and was in many ways the truest to the original series because Gene was still around to shepherd its creation and execution.)

Over time, Trek was treated like a porsche that's kept in the garage all the time, for fear of scratching the finish. The stories were, for the most part, safe, more about technology than what William Faulkner described as "the human heart in conflict with itself." Yes, there were always exceptions, but in general that trend became more and more apparent with the passage of years. Which was why so often I came down on the later stories, which I did openly, because I didn't feel they lined up with what Trek was created to be. I don't apologize for it, because that was what I felt as a fan of Trek. That's why I had Majel appear on B5, to send a message: that I believe in what Gene created.

Because left to its own devices, allowed to go as far as it could, telling the same kind of challenging stories Trek was always known for, it could blow the doors off science fiction television. Think of it for a moment, a series with a forty year solid name, guaranteed markets...can you think of a better time when you take chances and can tell daring, imaginative, challenging stories? Why play it safe?

When Enterprise went down, those involved shrugged and wrote it off to "franchise fatigue," their phrase, not mine.

I don't believe that for a second. Neither does Bryce. There's a tremendous hunger for Trek out there. It just has to be Trek done *right*.

Last year, Bryce and I sat down and, on our own, out of a sheer love of Trek as it was and should be, wrote a series bible/treatment for a return to the roots of Trek. To re-boot the Trek universe. Understand: writer/producers in TV just don't do that sort of thing on their own, everybody always insists on doing it for vast sums of money. We did it entirely on our own, setting aside other, paying deadlines out of our passion for the series. We set out a full five-year arc.

But when it came time to bring it to Paramount, despite my track record and Bryce's enormous and skillful record as a writer/producer, the effort stalled out because of "political considerations," which was explained to us as not wishing to offend the powers that be.

So on behalf of myself and Bryce, I'm taking the unusual step of going right to the source...right to you guys, fueled in part by a number of recent articles and polls, including one at www.scifi.com/scifiwire in which nearly 18,000 fans voted their preference for a new Trek series, and 48% of that figure called for a jms take on Trek. (The other choices polled at about 18% or thereabouts.)

See, if somebody doesn't like a story, doesn't want to buy it, that's all well and good, that's terrific, that's the way it's supposed to be. But when "political considerations" are the basis...that just doesn't parse.

So here's the deal, folks. If you want to see a new Trek series that's true to Gene's original creation, helmed by myself and Bryce, with challenging stories, contemporary themes, solid extrapolation, and the infusion of some of our best and brightest SF prose writers, then you need to let the folks at Paramount know that. If the 48% of the 18,000 folks who voted at scifi.com sent those sentiments to Paramount...there'd be a new series in the works tomorrow.

I don't need the work, I have plenty of stuff on my plate through 2007 in TV, film and comics, so that's not an issue. But I'd set it all aside for one shot at doing Trek right, and I know Bryce feels the same.

If you want this to happen...it's up to the Trek and B5 fans to make it so.

The rest I leave to the quiet turning of your considered conscience.

J. Michael Straczynski

Actually...belay everything I just said.

In the 24 hours between the time I composed the prior note, and sent it, and it made its way through the moderation software, two things happened:

1) I heard from a trusted source that Paramount is giving the Trek TV world a rest for maybe one to two years, depending on circumstances, no matter who would come along to run it. So it's not right to have folks putting in time doing something that ultimately would be pointless, I don't think that's a proper use of anybody's time.

2) At the same time as the above, an offer came in to run a new TV series for fall of '06, and since there's no way anything Trek can happen in the interim, I've said yes (now we have to negotiate the deal, but that should be fairly straightforward).

So on two counts, the whole thing is kind of moot.

We can reconvene a year or two down the road to see where this takes us, but in the interim...my apologies for waking everybody up in the middle of the night.

As you were.
Thanks and with great chagrinedness --

jms


UPDATE FROM JMS

Here is an update from JMS as gleaned from the B5 moderated newsgroup:
Date: Sun, Jan 30 2005 2:23 pm
From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)

I know I've been hunkered down a bit of late, and there have been very good reasons for it...which someday I suspect I will be able to tell, perhaps in the form of another fairy tale....
previous fairy tale from JMS

So in the interim, a quick roundup.

I'd say that the next two weeks are going to be critical for the future of TMoS (The Memory of Shadows). There have been a variety of conversations about a variety of things and people, and some offers are starting to go out to various individuals...so we shall see what we shall see.

On the subject of the Crusade DVD commentary...I see another fairy tale looming in the future... WB has agreed, after quite a bit of noise, to remove the commentary that I did from all future pressings of the set, since that was the deal that we had made: use it all, including the explanation of what happened, or use none of it. So those of you who have your DVDs now, and for the next bit, will have that commentary. Those afterward won't. I don't know when the next pressing will be, but whenever that is, is when the change takes place.

AOL as some have noted is closing down its newsgroup system, so I'm going to have to retrench. Consequently, I may be offline for a bit...though I'll likely be off regardless for the next bit while the dust settles on TMoS.

I've added a comics convention appearance in Canada this summer, but I'll let the con in question do the announcing at the proper time rather than pre-empting them.

In February at one point I'll also be in Toronto to co-direct my radio drama series "The Adventures of Apocalypse Al" for CBC Radio. It should be a great deal of fun. It's kind of Monty Python Meets The Maltese Falcon En Route To the End of the World.

In relation to the comics stuff...my first issue of Fantastic Four (entitled "Distant Music") will be coming out in June, the same month that my graphic novel Dream Police *finally* hits the stores. Mike Deodato has had to squeeze in the artwork between issues of Amazing Spider-Man, but it's been worth the wait. It's just gorgeous...very film noir but also very funny.

We've also found an artist finally for The Book of Lost Souls, which will be debuting from Marvel in September. I can't reveal her name yet, because that has to come through Marvel, but she's a very well known and popular artist.

Finally, for those of you who know Fiona Avery's work from Crusade, B5 and her own comics, I'm informed that her first novel, "The Crown Rose," is due to come out in hardcover from Prometheus Books. It's a historical fantasy set in Medieval France and quite good. You can locate the book at:

The Crown Rose

It would be great if the B5 fans out there could give this book a great send-off.

More on other stuff when I can post it.

From: jmsatb5@aol.com (jms at b5)
Subject: Quickie from JMS

I know I've been hunkered down a bit of late, and there have been very good reasons for it...which someday I suspect I will be able to tell, perhaps in the form of another fairy tale....

So in the interim, a quick roundup.

I'd say that the next two weeks are going to be critical for the future of TMoS. There have been a variety of conversations about a variety of things and people, and some offers are starting to go out to various individuals...so we shall see what we shall see.

On the subject of the Crusade DVD commentary...I see another fairy tale looming in the future...WB has agreed, after quite a bit of noise, to remove the commentary that I did from all future pressings of the set, since that was the deal that we had made: use it all, including the explanation of what happened, or use none of it. So those of you who have your DVDs now, and for the next bit, will have that commentary. Those afterward won't. I don't know when the next pressing will be, but whenever that is, is when the change takes place.

AOL as some have noted is closing down its newsgroup system, so I'm going to have to retrench. Consequently, I may be offline for a bit...though I'll likely be off regardless for the next bit while the dust settles on TMoS.

I've added a comics convention appearance in Canada this summer, but I'll let the con in question do the announcing at the proper time rather than pre-empting them.

In February at one point I'll also be in Toronto to co-direct my radio drama series "The Adventures of Apocalypse Al" for CBC Radio. It should be a great deal of fun. It's kind of Monty Python Meets The Maltese Falcon En Route To the End of the World.

In relation to the comics stuff...my first issue of Fantastic Four (entitled "Distant Music") will be coming out in June, the same month that my graphic novel Dream Police *finally* hits the stores. Mike Deodato has had to squeeze in the artwork between issues of Amazing Spider-Man, but it's been worth the wait. It's just gorgeous...very film noir but also very funny.

We've also found an artist finally for The Book of Lost Souls, which will be debuting from Marvel in September. I can't reveal her name yet, because that has to come through Marvel, but she's a very well known and popular artist.

Finally, for those of you who know Fiona Avery's work from Crusade, B5 and her own comics, I'm informed that her first novel, "The Crown Rose," is due to come out in hardcover from Prometheus Books. It's a historical fantasy set in Medieval France and quite good. You can locate the book at:

The Crown Rose

It would be great if the B5 fans out there could give this book a great send-off.

More on other stuff when I can post it.

From: jmsatb5@aol.com (jms at b5)
Subject: Re: ATTN: JMS: ASM 516

So, the newscaster on page six: was that a lighthearted poke at DC (who, you know, will publish the B5 graphic novel unless *that's* in the crapper), or was it related to the unpleasantness many of us believe is occuring between you and WB over TMoS and over what has definitely occurred with the Crusade DVDs?

No, there was no relationship there. I wrote that scene the same day I heard about an arc from DC called Absolute Power that looked like it was trying to co-opt some of what I was doing with Supreme Power, right down to the title, so I poked back.

jms


From: jmsatb5@aol.com (jms at b5)
Subject: Re: Is JMS a bit Muslim?

Therefore, the question is, has JMS been studying Islamic Theology?

I have made it a point to read the holy books and as much as possible of the supporting texts of pretty much every major religion on the planet.

Consequently, I've read nearly all of the Koran (though not all of it, I must confess), the Bible end to end (twice, which given Deuteronomy and Numbers is saying something), all of the Bhagavad-Gita, a truckload of books on Zen (which is in some ways closest to my way of thinking), the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Dead Sea Scrolls, sections of the Talmud and the Apocrypha, several books on tribal African, Native American and Aborigine beliefs, some but not all of the Hindu vedas (mainly samhita and upanishat).

I've also read truckloads of Greek and Roman mythology (which may go a ways toward explaining the names of so many of the ships in B5) and Greek and Roman philosophy, which is a very different thing, with the former oriented toward figuring out the whims of the gods, and the latter about figuring out how the world works. I have always enjoyed Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato, but I will confess to having a soft spot for Zeno, because he was *such* a pain in the ass. (I actually managed to plow through the Enneads by Plotinus, which is a bit dry, but interesting reading.) And I would commend The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius to just about anyone.

Philosophically, I've always been a bit of a mutt, frankly, in part because I'm one of those people who can see five sides to any two-sided argument. And after a while, you begin to realize that most of these books are about dietary habits, social conduct, burial practices, whose truth can beat up somebody else's truth, hierarchical constructs, who gives orders to whom, why, and what penalty is attached to disobedience.

So I've always tried to extract from all of them those elements that seemed honest to me. What matters to me is simplicity of truth, humility, practical wisdom and a sense of humor, which is why there's a lot I like in Zen, there's so much humor in it, even a laughing buddha.

I don't, however, subscribe to any of them wholecloth.

So no, I'm not a Muslim. I go the Mahatma Gandhi route...I am none of those things, and all of those things.

JMS took the Arabic word, Minbar and used it to name a race of noble, pious and virtuous beings.

It's the word for a pulpit in a mosque, which I've noted elsewhere before.

It is not, however, an endorsement of any one group. It just seemed appropriate, as with naming the Earth Alliance ships after classical mythological figures.


From the B5 moderated newsgroup, here is an update from JMS on his various projects:

December 7, 2004:
Comics:
The latest issues of Supreme Power and Amazing Spider-Man came out this past week, and I'm very happy with them, especially Supreme Power. The next issue coming out has probably the most brutal and realistic fight I've ever done in this area, it really shows what would happen in this kind of situation, with these sorts of individuals. The first two trade paperback collections of Supreme Power have also come out, availble at amazon.com for those who'd like to catch up on the story.

I've turned in the first issues of two books that Marvel has asked me to write, which I'll have to wait for them to announce publicly -- one's a regular ongoing title and the other is a six issue mini -- and we're about halfway through the art on Dream Police, which Mike Deodato is drawing. (It looks gorgeous, by the way.) And I'm three issues in on The Book of Lost Souls, also for Marvel.

"But in Purple..."?
Slight delay due to a shift in publishers, but I should have some info soon about when that will be coming out.

TV (if any)?
Not at the moment. There are two times a year when show-runner types get hired: in March and April to produce pilots when the scripts have come in, and in July/August to pitch new series. So that window will open next in the spring.

Since it's no longer an issue, because the show was not picked up, the series I'd mentioned that had come to me to talk about coming aboard as an EP was Warren Ellis' Global Frequency. I'd met with the people involved, been approved by the network, went by to meet Warren during filming in Vancouver, who seemed like a very nice sort, and was waiting for the next round of serious conversations...but the show has not been picked up by WB. I know they're shopping it elsewhere, so we'll see, but for now, at least, that's that. (I have to say, by the way, that the pilot script is probably the smartest script I've ever read. It could really be one hell of a series.)

One last aside, on a long term project...a certain known film writer/director was recently asked by a particular studio to do a series using an established character. This person is a big fan of B5 as well as a friend, so a call came to me to ask if I wanted in on this. I said hell yes. I can't say much else about it, because a) it wouldn't be appropriate and b) things can still fall out, though that's doubtful at this stage (negotiations have formally begun with the studio), but if it does go ahead, the plan is to write the whole first season over the course of 2005, shoot in the spring of 2006 for a fall 2006 debut. There are reasons why we'd have to write the whole thing first that will become clear once I can explain what the character is. Again, I dont want folks to get too excited about this, because this is a weird business and this is the one town where hope can kill you, but if it goes ahead as discussed, it could be massively cool.

Animation (just covering all bases)?
Warners came to me last year about a possible B5 animated series, but I don't think it's going to go anywhere. This happens every couple of years.

Shared Universe?
They've picked the first writer for the Distant Stars series of books, but I don't know where things stand yet on the first novel. That reminds me, I have to check in and see how that's going.

The preliminary copies of Tribulation (the last of my original novels bring reprinted by iBooks/Simon and Schuster) came in last week, so it should be coming out soon. That puts all of my novels now back in print: Demon Night, OtherSyde, and Tribulations, with Straczynski Unplugged also available, all on amazon.com.

and....whatever it is that you're not able to tell us about this week?
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (the Canadian equivalent of the BBC) will be producing my radio drama series The Adventures of Apocalypse Al. I'll be co-directing with their people up in Toronto. It's a series of 5 five-minute dramas per day, for four weeks, recapped in half-hour installments on the weekends, for a total of two hours. It's comedy/action, very noir, with a supernatural bent. The script is all done, so now we just get to have fun. (Like all CBC productions, it'll be syndicated worldwide, to the BBC and elsewhere, as well as released on CD down the road, for those not living in Canada.) I'm *really* looking forward to this because I love the radio drama form, and this could be a lot of fun.

Finally, because there is a lot of stuff that's going to be popping this coming year, I've decided to end my hermit period and barnstorm a number of conventions in 2005. I didn't do any this year, not counting the NJ fund-raiser, and only one or two the last few years before. I opted out because I'm much more comfortable talking about the work and what's going on than just appearing as myself, and because I view the cult of personality thing pretty much the way G'Kar did, with a jaundiced eye at best. Because of B5 and everything else, it all just kind of got too big, and I had to withdraw for a while or risk losing perspective.

So there will be FedCon in Bonn, Germany, the Comics Expo in Bristol England, and a bucket of comics conventions here in the US. I may also do a few non-comics cons, depending on what comes along, before ducking back into my shell for another couple of years.

And that's that for now.
jms

JMS UPDATE

Here is just a very brief update lifted from the B5 moderated newsgroup -- JMS answers some questions on on JEREMIAH and TMOS:

1. When will Season 2 of "Jeremiah" be released on DVD? We don't have Showtime, and we've watched Season 1 Dvds ad infinitum.

I've no idea, it's an MGM decision, and they have not consulted or informed me concerning any of the DVDs.

2. Does the recent death of Richard Biggs mean that the B5:MoS project has been cancel(l)ed or postponed?

It's resulted in a slowdown to make changes and adjust things.

3. Will the remaining eight episodes already filmed of "Jeremiah" constitute Season 3 or part of Season 2?

They were filmed as season 2, how Showtime chooses to market them is their province.

Here are some exceprts from the B5 moderated newsgroup I think you'll enjoy:

When JMS was asked if he were going to work on ENTERPRISE, his response was:
A: No, just to clarify, though I got a call last year about coming onto Enterprise, offering an EP position, and declined, the series I mentioned has nothing to do with any current series, it's a new show. As for Manny, he's a good writer, and left to his own devices, I think he could be a big help over there without the other powers that be impeding the process.

Amusingly enough, on the Trek front, Bryce Zabel (the creator of Dark Skies) and I got together and wrote a treatment earlier this year that specified how to save ST and develop a series that would restore the series in a big way. I actually think it could be a hell of a show. Whether that ever goes anywhere with Paramount, who knows?

The newsgroup is also a great way to get help. Here's an example:
JMS writes: I just got a request from Tracy Scoggins, who inquires if there's anybody out there who's done web site creation and design who can come in and volunteer to help her out in creating a very simple site on fairly short notice...nothing terribly elaborate, just a simple informational kind of thing. Emails are fine to avoid plugging up the newsgroup. Thanks.

Talk about response!
Well, it's like 16 hours later and I've had about 300 emails from volunteers to help out Tracy, so I think we've got it covered. Many thanks to all those who volunteered, I've passed on the information to Tracy and she'll be in touch with whoever's work seems most in line with what she wants to do.

June 15, 2004:
Okay, let's try this again. Best to break the ice by just sort of doing a round-up of what's going on and what's coming and suchlike.

I'll try to address some of the questions that have come up about what's coming up.

On the movies DVDs, and what's inside: the main thing is that we've got commentaries on literally every one of them. Mike Vejar and I did a commentary on In the Beginning, I did one with John Iacovelli on The Gathering, and another with Janet Greek and Tracy Scoggins on River of Souls. I can't remember now if I solo'd on A Call to Arms or if Mike was there as well (it all blurs after a while...I've done something like fifteen of these things by now).

There's a separate cast commentary on Thirdspace with, I think, Pat, Jeff, Jesus Trevino, and one or two others.

On the Crusade DVDs, there's one commentary I did on the original pilot (once WB and I came to a meeting of minds, to wit, "I'm gonna say what happened to the show, what *really* happened...you got a problem with that?"). There's a second commentary track with Fiona, Janet, Peter Woodward and Carrie Dobro.

(We interrupt this message with a coded message for our friends in England and Australia: keep your eyes on the horizon.)

One oddity...constant readers will remember a while back when I was asked what TMoS was, and I provided a list of things it *wasn't*. The aforementioned oddity is...one of those things has come up as an adjunct to TMoS.

Also, expect word fairly soon-ish about a new series of B5 novels.

Elsewhere on the prose front...Straczynski Unplugged is out now, and Tribulations will be coming out in December.

I've turned in all three final Rising Stars scripts, and the first issue of the last arc comes out in October, I hear.

Next week a new arc and a new artist starts on Amazing Spider-Man, and it's a stinking cool issue. You can read a preview of the whole issue for free at:

http://www.milehighcomics.com/firstlook/marvel/spidey509/

On other projects...I'm making sudden progress with the medieval play I've been twiddling with for the last few years, and may have it done in the next couple of months. Once that happens, my plan is to do a limited, small production for two weeks or so here in LA, just to see how the text works with an audience, then take it away for another few months, twiddle with it some more, then go for a larger venue. I may do something similar in London, since I may be spending a bit amount of time there fairly soon.

And for those who've asked, I won't be in attendence at San Diego Comic Con this year due to a variety of commitments.

Oh...and I've been offered an EP position on a network series, and while I don't usually do that on shows I don't create or develop, when I heard what this project was, I had to get on board. We still have to negotiate a deal, and work out how that will interface with the stuff that'll be going on later in the year, but fortunately the start date for the series should work out, at least at this point.


REPORT FROM NEW JERSEY
Ranger Jan traveled to New Jersey to where JMS appeared at a small comic con held by Hawthorne High School on 5/8 to benefit their art department that is sorely in need of funds. JMS traveled there at his own expense and he removed his 5 item cap and charged a $1 per autograph fee to benefit the school. Jan flew up from Florida for the day and meet up with several folks from the moderated newsgroup, JMSNews and B5TV. She has posted a report, which I have copied to the Reports Page.

I know I've been absent for a while now, but there are reasons, especially in regards to B5:TMoS. In a project of this nature, and this size, there's stage one (let's do this) stage two (let's make everybody's deal) and stage three (making it). We're hip-deep in stage two just now, and it's taking a freaking long amount of time to get through it all. Stage two is also the most unnerving and nerve-wracking stage when there's a lot of money involved, as there is in this situation.

So every day is a case of "Are we there yet?" and being told yes...almost.

I swear, it's the kind of thing that could lead a monk to murder.

Thing of it is...there's a LOT happening right now in the B5 universe, on a multitude of fronts, some of it in response to TMoS, some of it coming up completely on its own. All I can say at this moment is that if you've been waiting for new stuff in the B5 universe, you may be getting your wish in spades very soon.

Soon, I promise, all will be made clear. I don't like being Mr. Mysterioso on this, but if I say too much, the-powers-that-be will use my head to make a 2.35:1 sized hole in the wall.

More of this update is at JMS Speaks.

April 29:

I know I've been absent for a while now, but there are reasons, especially in regards to B5:TMoS. In a project of this nature, and this size, there's stage one (let's do this) stage two (let's make everybody's deal) and stage three (making it). We're hip-deep in stage two just now, and it's taking a freaking long amount of time to get through it all. Stage two is also the most unnerving and nerve-wracking stage when there's a lot of money involved, as there is in this situation.

So every day is a case of "Are we there yet?" and being told yes...almost.

I swear, it's the kind of thing that could lead a monk to murder.

Thing of it is...there's a LOT happening right now in the B5 universe, on a multitude of fronts, some of it in response to TMoS, some of it coming up completely on its own. All I can say at this moment is that if you've been waiting for new stuff in the B5 universe, you may be getting your wish in spades very soon.

Soon, I promise, all will be made clear. I don't like being Mr. Mysterioso on this, but if I say too much, the-powers-that-be will use my head to make a 2.35:1 sized hole in the wall.

On other fronts....

Ibooks/Simon and Schuster just delivered the final production galleys on Straczynski Unplugged (originally called JMS Unplugged, which I recommended over Straczynski Unplugged because I couldn't imagine anyone Asking For It By Name without blowing out an incisor or two, but who listens to me). It includes some stories from my Twilight Zone anthology, plus "Say Hello, Mister Quigley," "Cold Type," "We Killed Them in the Ratings" and "The Salvation of Lyman Terrell," which have appeared in various publications but have never been gathered together before in one book, plus a new introduction. I think it should be hitting stores sometime in the coming month.

Ibooks/Simon and Schuster are going to be putting together a whole line of JMS books, including a shared universe series of novels and other stuff...more when I can talk about it.

For those who've been considering getting into the Supreme Power series, Marvel published a graphic novel containing the first 6 issues last month (it ended up at #3 out of the top 100 titles). It's a good jumping-on point for the series, which I'm eminently proud of. (I know, a dangling participle, what can I say?)

I'm doing two other books for Marvel, one of which I think they should be able to announce soon. The other is the Dream Police book, which I brought over from Top Cow. Mike Deodato is doing the art, and it's just beautiful. (Mike is also doing the art on Amazing Spider-Man during John Romita Jr's leave of absence, and it's very nice indeed.) The first scripts are in on both the new project, and for the Doc Strange miniseries, and artists have been selected, but it's up to Marvel to release that info.

Finally...for those who want to support a worthy cause...recently I heard about a high school in Hawthorne, New Jersey (not far from Paterson, where I was born) which was having a small comic convention to raise funds for its art program. The high school arts program for the coming year had to be cut entirely due to lack of funds, to the point where this past year people literally had to scrounge in junk yards for wire for sculpture classes.

Initially, I was going to just donate to the cause, but the more I looked into this, the more it became clear that I had to kind of do something. So I'm going to be flying out for the day to be at the fund-raiser convention for the school. (I know, I know...I pass all the big conventions that pay big bucks and I do this instead...I'm not wired up right, I admit it, but...sometimes you just gotta do what's right, you know?) It's not an alma mater for me or anything, but in hailing from Paterson (also Newark and Matawan) when I was a kid I probably got in fights with kids from Hawthorne, so I figure I owe something, right?

I got my real start as a writer in high school, through teachers who saw in me something more than a kid from the streets. Those teachers -- specifically Rochelle Terry and Joanne Massie at Chula Vista High -- gave me the support I needed to start following my dreams, so it's a crucial time for others as well, a time that needs our support, particularly at a time when so many schools are suffering from similar cuts.

The convention is May 8th, Saturday, and I'll be there to talk, answer questions, and sign autographs. Now, we usually try to limit signatures to 5 or so per person, but I'm taking the cap off...and in another break with tradition, in which I never ask for a fee to sign stuff, this time I'll be charging one buck per autograph, with all of the money going to the high school. So for those of you in the area with twenty copies of various comics or books or whatever...this is your chance to stock up. There will also be an auction to further help raise funds.

Details about the fund-raiser and the other fine guests can be found at:

http://www.newsarama.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=12223

This is the first appearance I've made at any kind of East Coast convention in years, and the first time I've been in New Jersey in over 30 years, so there's no way to know how long it'll be before I get into town again. And admission is only $3, so how can you go wrong?

It's a worthy cause. So if you're in the vicinity, stop by, step up, and do some good.

If you can't make it, and can't help, check into your local schools and see if they need help. Because odds are they do.

March 21:

JMS UPDATE: You all know how much JMS loves toying with our emotions! He is in 7th Heaven these days. Here is his latest coded message: The trade paperback containing the first six issues of Supreme Power hit the stands this past week, for those who want to jump on. Oh...and starting around the Ides of May, look to the wrong side of the river for word from Harry, Jack and Albert.

Not that I'm enjoying this, of course....
jms


February 26, 2004:
Here is the latest from JMS:

Y'know, if there's anything more annoying than having to sit on good news, I can't think of what it might be. (Well, okay, being staked to an ant hill at high noon is a pretty obvious one, but you get the idea.)

The only things I can say right now about B5:TMoS is that now that all the correct agreements have been signed, sealed and delivered, the draft has gone in, met with great enthusiasm all around, notes have been received, and the next draft is in process and has to be delievered within two weeks so that certain other steps can be set into motion.

I still can't tell you what it *is* because that has to come from the proper people through the proper channels at the proper time...but I can tell you a few cases of what it *isn't*...it isn't a novel, or a short story, a comic, an animated series, a radio drama or a stage play. Beyond that, deponent sayeth not.

Except to say that it's pretty cool.

On a side-note...for those following the Suprme Power books...as good as the series has been to date, and selling in the top 15 pretty consistently, the next two issues, 8 and 9, the first of which goes on sale March 3rd, are going to put this book on the map in a big way. They're just stellar issues. If you haven't gotten into the book yet, now (or backtracking to issue 7, the start of the new arc) would be a good time to do so, because it's going to start kicking some serious ass.

For those who've been inquiring about the latest on Buddy....

Well, I've finally answered one of the questions I've had about the whole of the Boo clan (named for the first cat adopted out of this group, Boo, the cat with one blue eye and one green eye). I suspected that one of the two progenitors of this group was a siamese, givens ome of the markings, a suspicion recently confirmed when one came out with all the siamese recessive genes....

And now Buddy, the king of the recessive genes, has answered the other half of that question. The other progenitor was a Maine coon cat...which is what he is, in spades.

Maine coon cats are big, very funny, very predatory (in a cute way) cats that can get to be 25 pounds or better. Not only does Buddy have all the markings, inclusive of the big sweeping tail that's as long as he is...at 8 months he is already 12 pounds without an ounce of fat there anywhere. By the time he finishes growing -- and Maine coon cats can grow into their third year -- he will be big enough to have his own zip code.

I have let a furred Godzilla into my home.

They are also known as the clowns of the cat species...as evidenced pretty much every day, inclusive of the day he found the bag of plastic peanuts, rolled around in same, until static electricity had covered him nose to tail in phosphorescent green styrofoam peanuts until you couldn't see a trace of fur...and went parading around the house as proud as if he'd just discovered radium (which, given the green color, seemed about right). I scraped them off, and they kept flying back onto him drawn by the static, but finally got them all off...he ran off...I turned around...and he had done exactly the same thing again. This time the pursuit went all over the house, leaving little bits of peanut over every square inch.

He doesn't meow, he chirrups and trills, Maine coon traits. So he wanders the house, just talking to himself all day. I think he's worried about the economy, but I'm not sure.

He's also the poster child for attempted suicide. Leaving out how he was found, every day he does something to elicit a shriek of horror from me. In a ten minute span of time, for instance, he went from trying to chew through a power cord at the socket (sticking his claws into the open socket below for leverage), to wrapping the mouse cord under my desk around his neck like a noose, and finally, when chased out of my office, I looked out to find him sticking his paw into the toaster.

It's like that every day with him. Every. Day.

I don't know where he came from, but he does seem in an awful big hurry to get back there. Whether he or I survive this process only the universe knows.

If anyone sees a mushroom cloud rising from the Los Angeles area someday, you will know that Buddy finally hit the big time....

jms


From the B5 moderated newsgroup:
Nothing major, more under the headings of FYI....

1) For those who follow my prose stuff...I've written a new short story, "The Salvation of Lyman Terrell," which will be made available for reading for free on amazon.com in the next few weeks (I'll try to remember to let folks know when it goes up) as part of a series of such bonuses they're offering to customers.

2) Thanks to a series of industry screenings, I've had the opportunity to see the final Lord of the Rings movie...and for those wondering, it's spectacular. I loved the first one and considered it a masterpiece; wasn't quite as happy with the second one, which I felt (and despite some corrections made via the extended cut, still feel) that it suffered where it diverged from the book, and where it replaced story logic with movie logic.

But "The Return of the King" is magnificent on every level. There are times you feel you're looking at some forgotten history come to life, the imagery is almost painfully beautiful at times, breathtaking and awe-inspiring other times. I remember sitting there, thinking there are some things one feels priviliged to have lived long enough to have seen. This is one of them. It's brave, heroic, tragic, moving, funny, inspiring and wistful all at the same time.

So for those who were hoping for the best...your hopes will be realized. It's just freaking magnificent.

JMS UPDATE

I just caught this on the B5 moderated newsgroup and thought I'd best post this ASAP, so that everyone can start thinking ahead toward January when we will hear more from JMS regarding Babylon 5. This latest update from JMS gives us a lot to be thankful for:

RISING STAR:

Yes. There were a number of conditions set before Top Cow in order to resolve this, and those conditions were met. So the final three scripts will be turned in by late January/early February, and the Rising Stars story will be complete.

DOC STRANGE:

Well, lessee...the first issue of the Doc Strange mini is nearly done, and I've turned in the first issue of a new series for Marvel which will have to await a more formal word from them, I'm afraid, since PR is properly their venue on things like this, and the next Supreme Power comes out next week. Spidey 501 came out a few days ago (and the last page is kind of a goof from what I'd originally scripted...it's a long story, but it doesn't look like it should.)

BABYLON 5:

On the B5 front, there has been something of rather substantial proportion that's finally gone from talk to money, such that I'm now working frantically to meet some deadlines, but there's nothing I can say about this until after January 15th, probably closer to the end of that month.

The only thing I can say is that phase one of the new project is a go, hence the furious writing schedule at this end of things, which is why I've been silent until deciding to kick up some dust on the political discusion. I've been writing my little brains out.

I know the immediate result of this will be speculation, but if we could keep that to a low roar on the nets to avoid precluding anything, that would be a wonderfulness. But trust me: I wouldn't go on about something in this way if it wasn't a significant development. Just trust me on this one for a bit and hold fire until further word.

(Longtime followers of the various news groups know that an eep means that something significant has happened, but that I can't talk about it...the eep is just a way of saying, on the QT, that something has, indeed, happened and it's real, not just speculation or maybe-gonna-happens. So on that basis, you may consider this an eep.)

And on the topic of fans for a moment...I'm happy to mention that we've included a thanks to Steve Grimm (Lurker's Guide) and our resident moderator Jay Denebeim on the Season 5 DVD. Just a way of saying thanks for years of help and support.

Oh, yeah...and next year you can expect two new DVD sets that a) include all of the TV movies in one package (with commentaries from me on "The Gathering" and "In the Beginning") and b) package all 13 of the Crusade episodes into one box.

UPDATE FROM JMS

I just ran across this update from JMS over at the B5 moderated newsgroup. I think there is something for everyone here -- including the tidbit about something Babylon 5 on the horizon. I certainly have my fingers crossed that this one does come through.

I know I've gone to ground a bit lately, so I thought I'd pop out with some bits and pieces for folks. (One of the reasons I've gone quiet is that I've undergone a bunch of little surgeries, including some dental work from hell, but the majority of that is done now so I'm well on the mend. I won't go into the surgeries, but suffice to say from now on I shall be known as Dorothy.

(Now let's see who actually falls for that one.)

Meanwhile, I'm in the midst of pitching new shows and picking up projects. There's some interesting possibilities in the works, about which more when they go from possibilities to realities.

In terms of what's coming up...ibooks/Simon and Schuster has put up the solicitation for the first of my novels they're going to be reprinting, starting with Demon Night. You can check out the book at

http://ibooksinc.com/catalog/htm/scifi/straczynski_j_info.htm

And for those who've been wagering on this...I've decided to keep Buddy. The problem isn't so much that I've bonded to him, though I have, as he's utterly imprinted on me as the guy who saved his life and he just goes nuts when I'm gone. (It's a great scam, and he plays his part well.) So Buddy the Miracle Cat (or Buddy TMC as he's known to his rap friends) is here to stay.

The second season of Jeremiah will debut on Showtime on October 10th at 10:00 p.m. (a much better time slot than 10:45) with "Letters from the Other Side, Part One," and I commend you to this season whole-heartedly. I think it's stronger than the previous season. There's more of a clean through-line to the story, less in the way of stand-alones, there are a lot of changes awaiting our characters, and the show looks great. Of the 15 episodes this season I wrote 13, so there's a real sense of continuity there. And this year we're joined by Sean Astin, currently appearing in the Lord of the Rings movies.

(As stated, I've opted not to return if there's a third season, but a) that has nothing to do with the quality of this season, which is terrific, and b) what some people, from the postings I've seen, don't seem to quite get is that this is more the norm than not. Lots of people come on, create a show, get it up and running, and either leave after the first season or the second, sometimes even just launching the show and moving away in the first season. That's the nature of TV. You generally do a couple of years here and a couple of years there. There are exceptions to this of course, situations where creators opt to stick around for the duration, but in most cases people move on. So this ain't a big deal.)

To the many questions that have arisen here of late...yes, as I mentioned before, there is the possibility of something Babylon 5 related on the horizon, but again I don't want anyone getting excited until we know if either one of these two projects is going to actually come to fruition. We should know where this lands in the next few weeks. The only thing I will say is that they're not print projects, so if you were to assume it's for TV or film you wouldn't be too far off...but that neither of them are series. And that's all I'm going to say about them for now.

On the comics front....

The next Supreme Power, issue 3, comes out in a few weeks, either the 1st or the 8th of October. There's a preview at:

http://www.popcultureshock.com/reviews.php?id=2474

The cover for SP 4 is at --

http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/preview.php?image=solicits/marvel112003/big/SUPREME_POWER_4.jpg

-- and there's a funny in-joke on the cover for issue 5 of SP, which you can find at:

http://www.comicscontinuum.com/stories/0309/22/supremepower5.htm

And no, I didn't know about this until I saw it on the net.

The latest Spidey, part two of the three-part arc leading to issue 500, hit the stores on Wednesday last, and the coming finale is 38 pages of story with a guest series of pencils by John Romita Sr. as well as the inimitable JR JR.

(Having gotten a bit ahead on Spidey and well ahead on SP -- #2 just came out and I'm about to turn in the script for #7 -- I'm in talks with Marvel to do a new title for them, so we'll see how that turns out.)

I *think* that's it for now...as always, I'll probably remember something else ten seconds after sending this, but I'm pretty sure that's all the news that's fit to print.


iBOOKS PUBLISHES JMS' PROSE WORK

Press Release
He raised the bar for epic science-fiction storytelling on television with his syndicated series Babylon 5, then followed it by elevating the way in which superhero tales are told with his critically acclaimed scripts for Marvel's The Amazing Spider-Man and Supreme Power. Now, New York-based publishing house ibooks, inc. is pleased to announce that it has solidified plans with Hugo, Eisner and Emmy award-winning writer and producer J. Michael Straczynski to re-introduce his growing number of fans to some of his earlier works.

October 2003 will see the release of Demon Night, Straczynski's first novel. "What made Demon Night work", says Straczynski in a new afterword written specifically for this edition, "and the reason that it has now been picked up for republication by ibooks, is that I wrote it for myself, out of a love of the form, the genre, and a desire to be entertained by a story told about characters who mattered to me."

Straczynski Unplugged Following Demon Night will be Straczynski Unplugged, to be released in April 2004, a collection of published and all-new short stories, including a number of dark tales adapted from his episodes written for the TV series The New Twilight Zone. At press time, release dates for the remaining titles, the horror novel Othersyde and the supernatural-mystery Tribulations, had not been determined.

Demon Night is not ibooks' first encounter with the writer, however: His best-selling comic book series J. Michael Straczynski's Rising Stars" published by Top Cow Comics was novelized for ibooks in two volumes by author Arthur Byron Cover. Both volumes are still available from book retailers, with Book 3 to follow after the series reaches its conclusion.

One doesn't have to look far to see just how popular a writer Straczynski has become in recent years. At this year's Comic-Con International: San Diego, Marvel Comics announced that pre-orders for his upcoming Mature Readers series Supreme Power passed the 100,000-copy marks a new record for retailer orders on a Mature Readers title. He has worked as writer/producer for such series as Murder, She Wrote, Jeremiah and Walker, Texas Ranger, and he has published over 500 articles and numerous short stories for such publications as the Los Angeles Times, Time Inc, Amazing Stories, Penthouse, Writer's Digest, Pulphouse, The Los Angeles Herald Examiner and Twilight Zone Magazine.

Scheduled for release in October 2003, Demon Night is a trade paperback-sized novel retailing for $11.95, available now for ordering through comic shops, book stores, and on-line book retailers (ISBN 0-7434-7522-4).


While surfing through sites this morning, I pulled this from the JMS News site. It is a great catch-up on his projects:

Q: Will we see more Babylon 5 and what are your new projects?

To part one of your question, one never knows.

To part two...season 2 of Jeremiah is just about finished in terms of production, and will go on the air sometime probably early or mid August.

Spidey continues to come out regularly.

My new comic, Supreme Power, also from Marvel, debuts July 16, with art by Gary Frank.

Now that Jeremiah is done, I'll be turning my attention to finishing off Rising Stars.

I have a new television series currently in development, we finalized the contract with the company last week, and we'll see where it goes.

The director of Daredevil has said he wants to make Midnight Nation his next film, so we're taking meetings over the next few weeks to see if we can make that happen.

Just finished the commentaries and interviews for the B5 Year 3 DVD set, and I think it's a bit better than the year 2 commentary I did, which I think kinda sucked. Year 2 comes out in April.

I'm doing a new audio drama series which I can talk about more later. We should go into production as soon as I've finished the last of the scripts over the next week or so.

I know there's some other stuff, but I've just forgotten it. (There may also be some strong interest in Polaris from another studio.)

New Update from JMS
On projects new and old...there's been a variety of happenings.

On Jeremiah, we're about to start on episode 7, "Voices in the Dark," and I just finished writing 8 and 9, "Crossing Jordan" and "Running on Empty." By the time we hit mid-week, we'll be halfway through shooting on the season, which should wrap around the first week of April, though post will take us through mid-May.

On Polaris...we got down to one of three projects of which one or two would be greenlighted for production. It went down to the wire, but finally SFC decided that the premise of Polaris was a little too science fictiony, when they were looking to go for ideas that had more immediate mainstream appeal. So even though they felt that Polaris was the best written of the projects they had in development, they went for a project about intergalactic (not interstellar, intergalactic) vampires called "Bloodsuckers." It is, to be fair, one of those concepts that, when you hear it, you get it, there isn't a lot of background needed.

It happens. Networks develop tons of shows but only green-light a handful every year. Showtime had something like 35 projects in development this past season, and picked 3. So at least we made it to the final cut, which is something.

We still feel strongly about Polaris, and once the turn-around period has expired, plan to bring it elsewhere.

But as one door closes, another opens. The thing about television is that you can only have x-number of projects in the works at one time as a show runner (as opposed to someone who EPs and just sells shows). For instance, on Jeremiah, I'm in first position, meaning MGM and Jeremiah have first call on my services. When Polaris was in development, it occupied second position, meaning that had it gone ahead, that show would've had call on me above any other projects, but second behind Jeremiah in case of any conflicts of priorities or schedules.

It's very difficult to sell or develop projects in third or fourth position, because it has the potential to compromise those productions if you get jammed up on shows with higher priority.

Which is a long way to say that, once Polaris went away, it cleared the decks to take on another television project in development, which is very new and I can't discuss it yet until we're further down the road.

On the comics front, I've turned in the first 2 issues of Supreme Power, and should have the third issue in sometime next week. I'm working with Gary Frank and Joe Quesada on the art and look of the book, which is very cool. Also working on issue 51 of Amazing Spider-Man, which I hope to turn in this week. (Issue 49 should be out in a couple weeks, I think.)

I've been told the writer/directors doing the dust-up on Rising Stars: The Movie are progressing well, and I keep hearing about this thing shooting sometime later this year, but that's strictly unofficial until somebody tells me on the record.

The text for the B5 Quote Book is nearly done, and I think that one will be out around April.

I'm also doing an 80-minute audio drama called "The Adventures of Apocalypse Al," for a company that will put the show out later this year.

What and When is "Supreme Power"?

Supreme Power is an updating of the Squadron Supreme book done quite a while back by Mark Gruenwald. It was one of the first books, possibly the first book, to really examine the role of the superhero in society, and as such is generally considered to have paved the way for such later works as Watchmen, Dark Knight, Marvels, Kingdom Come and others.

Marvel said, basically, if you could take those characters, who were used at a time when comics were still quite a bit more restrictive than now, due to the comics code and other influences, and update them, recast them, free to do whatever you want...what would you do?

Hence, Supreme Power. While it has its moments of dark humor, it's a very intense, serious book. And because it's being done for the Marvel Max line -- which is aimed at mature readers -- there are very few limitations in terms of imagery and language. Marvel has said it wants me to take this book to the wall, and that's pretty much where I intend to go.

Interestingly, unlike the aforemtentioned titles, this isn't a limited series...it's intended to be an ongoing series, while trying to sustain the kind of intensity you get in that kind of limited edition. It's a massive writing challenge, though one of my main goals is to do right by Mark's original creation.

I think the first issue appears sometime in February or March.

So when can we expect RS:Bright? And do you plan any other spinoffs of Rising Stars?

This one, by Fiona Avery, is due out in February, I think. I know that Top Cow is planning other follow-ups to the Rising Stars story, but I'm not directly involved in the writing of them due to my contract with Marvel. One of them may follow the events of Laurel Darkhaven, the teek who ended up a CIA assassin.

Also, when is the next Midnight Nation slated?

There are no more Midnight Nation single issues; it was intended as a 12 issue miniseries, and it's done. I just learned (on this newsgroup, as it happens) that the graphic novel is finally coming out and now available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

Folks, I don't generally hock my stuff around here, because I think it's rude. But in all honesty, in many respects, from a sheer writing perspective, Midnight Nation represents some of the best stuff I've ever done in the form. It's something that I poured a lot of emotion into, a lot of personal feelings and history and beliefs, covering life, death, religion, god, how we achieve meaning...all balanced against a cross-country quest by two people, one out to reclaim his soul, the other a woman sent to help him or kill him, depending on how the story ends up.

It is also, oddly enough, a love story.

It's one of the things I'm proudest of as a writer, and I commend it to anyone who found the ideas in Babylon 5 of interest. And the art by Gary Frank is just gorgeous, and evocative, and full of emotion.

There's a great Cinescape review of the book at --

http://www.cinescape.com/0/Editorial.asp?aff_id=0&this_cat=Comics&action=p age&obj_id=34965

-- which contains spoilers, however, so if you want to hold off on some of the surprises, you may want to just get it cold. The key part of the review, though, says:

"MIDNIGHT NATION offered a unique twist on some very old cosmological concepts, and managed to make the idea that "love conquers all" the very core of its resolution without resorting to smarmy melodrama. That's a rare accomplishment, and all the more reason why MIDNIGHT NATION will be remembered as one of the most absorbing and emotionally moving sagas in modern comics history."

It's a nifty little story. Honest.

Do you ever get emotionally burnt out from all the passion you clearly put into your writing?.

Yeah, I do. I tend to operate under the theory that unless you feel something while you're writing, it's impossible to make the audience feel something upon seeing it. So in the actual course of writing a scene, or a story, I wind myself up to whatever emotions I'm describing...usually by putting myself in a similar place, using past experiences from my own life.

There were times on B5 when I was so whipped from the emotional roller coaster of the show's story, not to mention the production requirements, that I was just staggering under it...they used to just sort of point me from one place where I was supposed to be, to the next.

I think it's necessary to burn brightly when you write. I also know it takes a whopping big chunk out of you in return. But I don't know any other way to do it.


Things You Don't Expect To Hear

November 25, 2002
Here is a little tidbit I found interesting -- and amusing -- from the B5 moderated newsgroup:

So I was talking to Doug Netter this afternoon, who had in turn spoken with Bruce Boxleitner earlier in the day about the year 2 DVD. In the course of that conversation, Bruce mentioned something that Doug in turn mentioned to me.

To wit:

Bruce had been at the White House about a month ago, in the company of wife Melissa Gilbert, president of the Screen Actors Guild, for a discussion with some of the functionaries there concerning acting roles moving north of the Canadian border.

As they're talking, in a long conference room, in the middle of the meeting the door oens and Karl Rove -- main strategist for the Republican Party and power behind the White House throne -- comes in. He says (paraphrased from memory) to Melissa, "I hope you'll forgive me, but I actually here to see Bruce."

He then tells Bruce, "I just wanted to tell you that I'm a big science fiction fan, and that Babylon 5 is the best science fiction television series *ever*."

Then there's a pause, and he adds....

"And the President thinks so too."

Upon hearing this, I went to lie down for a spell, but I fully expect to be back on my feet by Spring, latest.

jms

November 22, 2002
Here's a JMS response to a question regarding a script purchased by a fan. I thought you might find it interesting.

Caveat Emptor. Buyer beware.

Be advised that with very few exceptions, any script you buy online is going to be a photocopy, possibly several generations down. Only multicolored drafts are actual production drafts. So if you get an all white draft, or one where the colors don't match the headers (REVISED BLUE 10/14/98, that sort of thing), it ain't the real deal.

The ONLY scripts that one can sell legally are actual productoin scsripts used in the shooting as memorabilia. Anyone selling anything else is a pirate. The rights to the physical script belong to the writer, per the Writers Guild Separation of Rights Provision.

This is important because many writers receive income from selling their scripts at convention (as with David and others), or by publishing them in book form. Mass copies sold by others, illegally, remove or seriously inhibit the writer's ability to do either of those things.

jms


November 13, 2002

Q: Are you ever going to write any more novels in the near future?

The drag is that I was a couple hundred pages into a new novel, mainstream, when the events of 9/11 happened and I had to spike the novel because everything that happened since that day (with a few minor variations) lined up pretty much with my book, which kills any chance of publishing it.

Takes a while to come back from looking at two-hundred-plus dead pages.

On a happier note, I'm in the process of signing a deal that will put all three of my novels, plus my anthology, back into print early next year.

September 11, 2002

A number of people, who were not able to get hold of ASM36, asked if I could repost the text of that issue in commemoration of the anniversary since it's pretty much unavailable now. With some modifications to make the statement more general, the text follows. It may be freely posted anywhere it may do some good.

jms

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you the following special bulletin.
Longitude: 74 degrees, 0 minutes, 23 seconds West.
Latitude: 40 degrees, 42 minutes, 51 seconds North.
Follow the sound of sirens.

Some things are beyond words.
Beyond comprehension.
Beyond forgiveness.
The questions come:

How could you let this happen?
Why didn't you know this was coming?

How do you say we didn't know? We couldn't know.
We couldn't imagine.
Only madmen could contain the thought, execute the act, fly the planes.
Even those we thought our enemies are moved. Because some things surpass rivalries and borders.
Because the story of humanity is written not in towers but in tears.
In the common coin of blood and bone.
In the voice that speaks within even the worst of us, and says This is not right.

Also here are those who face fire without fear or armor.
Those who step into the darkness without assurances of ever walking out again,
because they know there are others waiting in the dark.
Awaiting salvation.
Awaiting word.
Awaiting justice.

Ordinary men.
Ordinary women.
Made extraordinary by acts of compassion.
And courage.
And terrible sacrifice.

We've voted, and we're going to try to take the plane.
It's the only way to stop them hitting Washington.
I love you.

Ordinary men.
Ordinary women.
Refusing to surrender.

Ordinary men.
Ordinary women.
Refusing to accept the self-serving proclamations of holy warriors of every
stripe, who announce that somehow we had this coming.
...probably what we deserve....
All of them who have tried to secularize America...the pagans and the abortionists
and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians and the ACLU....
I point the finger in their face and I say, "You helped this happen."

-- it is God's will that America should fall through their iniquity and
their sin --

We reject them both in the knowledge that our tragedy is greater than the sum
of our transgressions.

Bodies in freefall on the evening news.
Madness in mosques, shouting down fourteen centuries of earnest prayers,
forgetting the lessons of crusades past:
That the most harmed are the least deserving.

There are no words.
There are no words.

The death of innocents and the death of innocence.
Rage compounded upon rage. Rage enough to blot out the sun.
And the air still filled with questions.

Is it going to happen again?
What do I tell my children?
Why did this happen?

What do we tell the children?
Do we tell them the evil is a foreign face?

No. The evil is the thought behind the face, and it can look just like yours.

Do we tell them evil is tangible, with defined borders and names and geometries
and destinies?

No. They will have nightmares enough.

Perhaps we tell them that we are sorry.
Sorry that we were not able to deliver unto them the world we wished them to have.
That our eagerness to shout is not the equal of our willingness to listen.
That the burdens of distant people are the responsibility of all men and women
of conscience, or their burdens will one day become our tragedy.

Or perhaps we simply tell them that we love them, and that we will protect
them. That we would give our lives for theirs and do it gladly, so great is
the burden of our love.

In a universe of Gameboys and VCRs, it is, perhaps, an insubstantial gift. But
it is the only one that will wash away the tears and knit the wounds and make
the world a sane place to live in.

We could not see it coming. No one could. We could not stop it. No one could.
But we are still here. With you.
Today. Tomorrow. And the day after.

We live in each blow you strike for infinite justice, but always in the hope of infinite wisdom.

Because we live as well in the quiet turning of your considered conscience.
The voice that says all wars have innocents.
The voice that says you are a kind and a merciful people.
The voice that says do not do as they do, or the war is lost before it is even begun.

Do not let that knowledge be washed away in blood.

When you move, we will move with you. Where you go, we will go with you.
Where you are, we are in you.

Because the future belongs to ordinary men and ordinary women, and that future
must be built free of such acts as these, must be fought for and renewed like
fresh water.

Because a message must be sent to those who mistake compassion for weakness. A
message sent across six thousand years of recorded blood and struggle.

And the message is this:

Whatever our history, whatever the root of our surnames, we remain a good and
decent people, and we do not bow down and we do not give up.

The fire of the human spirit cannot be quenched by bomb blasts or body counts.

Cannot be intimidated forever into silence or drowned by tears.

We have endured worse before; we will bear this burden and all that come after,
because that's what ordinary men and women do. We persevere.

No matter what.
This has not weakened us.
It has only made us stronger.

In recent years we as a people have been tribalized and factionalized by a
thousand casual unkindnesses.

But in this we are one.

Flags sprout in uncommon places, the ground made fertile by tears and shared resolve.

We have become one in our grief.
We are now one in our determination.
One as we recover.
One as we rebuild.

You wanted to send a message, and in so doing you awakened us from our self involvement.

Message received.

Look for your reply in the thunder.

In such days as these are heroes born. The true heroes of the twenty-first century.
You, the human being singular.
You, who are nobler than you know and stronger than you think.
You, the heroes of this moment chosen out of history.

We stand blinded by the light of your unbroken will. Before that light, no darkness can prevail.

They knocked down two tall towers. In their memory, draft a covenant with your
conscience, that we will create a world in which such things need not occur.

A world which will not require apologies to children, but also a world whose
roads are not paved with the husks of their inalienable rights.

They knocked down two tall towers. Graft now their echo onto your spine.
Become girders and glass, stone and steel, so that when the world sees you, it
sees them.

And stand tall.

Stand tall.

Stand tall.

J. Michael Straczynski

This message is copyright © 2000 by Synthetic Worlds.


Q: Can you tell us anything about POLARIS yet?

A: Polaris is a new SF series of mine under development for the Sci-Fi Channel. I've turned in the final draft of the two-hour pilot, and now we will wait to see what occurs.

I've kept the basic storyline of Polaris under lock and key because it's the kind of thing which, once you hear it, you know instantly why SFC picked it up to develop, even though it's a fairly pristine area inside the genre, and I'm trying to keep competition to a minimum for now.


Q: What do you think about the situation between SCIFI and Farscape and will it affect your situation with SCIFI?

A: I don't think the Farscape situation much impacts my stuff with SFC one way or another. I suspect there were a number of factors, including the cost of the show (which was the highest on the network, from what I've heard, but that's second-hand and may not be accurate) combined with the fact that SFC (via their parent company USA Networks) didn't own the show.

Lemme splain....

If a network owns the show they air, they can reap long-term profits from syndication of the program. More and more, USA Network (and other cable outlets) is under pressure to own what they produce, otherwise they're paying huge sums of money to produce shows that they air a few times, then the money goes to the studio that did the actual production. The higher the cost, the iffier the proposition.

So that may have been an issue here. They needed Farscape to help build their audience, but now that this seems to be coming together for them, the logical (for a network) thing would be to start paring away what they don't own, and which is costly, to replace it with their own stuff.

One of the things you can never allow yourself to forget is that TV is a business designed around making a profit, and determining who owns what long-term revenue streams.

Doesn't affect Polaris one way or another, since if that goes, it would be under the aegis of the network.

Q: Shouldn't the studio owning a show give Sci-Fi a better deal to offset that, and get a studio's show on the air? That way, everybody can win.

A: That's the logical thing, but logic and show business rarely dine at the same table.

Most studios would rather own 100% of nothing than 50% of something. That sounds outrageous, but it's all a part of that all-or-nothing profit thing that they ALL have going. And they're all in competition with one another.

This came into play on the Rangers situation, where WB was reluctant to let SFC own a part of the show, since SFC is owned by Universal Vivendi, and WB is in competition with Universal.

So it's a real balancing act. If Rangers had gotten a higher rating (had it not been killed on the East Coast by the biggest football playoff in the last decade), even though it was owned by WB, they would almost certainly have committed to a series, since that rating would balance out not owning the show...on the flip side, had Rangers been owned by SFC/Universal, and gotten the same rating that it actually got, they would've been able to say "Okay, let it grow, because we own it and we're willing to take the risk and we're losing less money in license fees since we're paying them to ourselves in any event and we can get the merchandising revenues," which only the studio gets.

Studio logic is kind of like looking at the gorgon...too close and you're turned to stone.


July 12, 2002:

From the B5 moderated News Group:
Question: JMS, are you a millionaire?

A: Harrumph...I'm still only 47, though I look about 60 in most photos.

The main monkey on my back is comics, comics related collectibles, and...erm...I think I just ran out of stuff.

Though I'm not going to get into the specifics of this discussion, one thing that needs to be factored into the overall understanding is that Los Angeles is a VERY expensive town in which to live and work, and the entertainment business is a VERY expensive field in which to work.

Gas, food, restaurants, clothes, rent (average rent for a small two-bedroom apartment out here is about $1300 per month), mortagages (you can't find much anything decent in town for less than about $800,000 as your baseline, and for that you're getting maybe 1400 sq feet), it's just a money sink.

And very few people, especially writers, work year-round. You may have six months when you're flush, then six months to a year with nothing. The average WGA member makes one TV sale per year; the average WGA member makes less than your average elementary school teacher. Only about 2% of the WGA earns over $100,000 per year.

William Goldman is probably one of the best writers we have; after five years of big hits, he couldn't get arrested for nearly ten years. Then he became big again. Factor five years of income, however high, across 15 years total...you see the dilemma.

Income tax takes about 30-45% of any money you make in that tax bracket (however shortly you might be there), the agent gets another 10%, the attorney another 5%, so you're losing about 60% of your income right off the bat.

Which is why you can't let yourself get too caught up in the money part or you'll go insane. All you can do if you're sensible is focus on the art and the craft and hope for the best.

Here's the only thing I know that makes any sense when it comes to money: find what you enjoy doing, find what moves you to passion, find what you can't *not* do, and the miraculous thing about it is, if you're half decent at it, and dedicate yourself to getting better, and keep at it, after a while, sonuvagun, you can almost always find a way to make a living off it.

Well, before taxes, anyway.

jms


July 9, 2002:
Anything new on B5 novels coming out?

A: Nope, nothing's on the boards, and I think Del Rey's license has either expired or is about to expire, so any other company could certainly come in and make a case for picking up the license.

JMS/Stephen King on writing:

"You don't write for the money, because if you do, you're a monkey. You don't write for the fame, because if you do, you're a monkey. You don't even write because you like to write, because if you do, you're still a monkey. You write because to NOT write is suicide."

Stephen King
jms


May 27, 2002:

What's pending...I'm about 4-5 issues ahead on Spider-Man now, with another issue coming out next Wednesday...I've turned in the next draft on "Polaris" to the SciFi Channel, and that seems to be moving ahead nicely....

And there's another TV project that's been in the works for a while now that's also getting a bit toasty at the moment, but I can't say anything about it yet, not until the ink dries.

As for the healing...not great. The finger didn't heal right after the dislocation, and it looks like the emergency room doctor who put it on (who said she hadn't done this sort of thing before) kinda put it on sideways...so it locks and hurts and when I went for a follow-up in LA, the doctor took one look at the thing and said, "Surgery." Looks like a combination of a ruptured tendon and some bone bits that got into the joint and have been sawing back and forth all this time.

So now I've got to go in and have the damned thing operated on, and there's a better than even chance that because of the surgery I may lose some function in the finger.

April 10, 2002

Letter-writing campaigns:

The other thing that needs to be emphasized, in terms of fan letter campaigns, is that the currency of the fan campaign is that it's been in large measure devalued by over-use, at least in terms of how the studios see it (having been told this straight up). These days *any* show that is nominally SF or fantasy, when its time ends, gets a writing camapign to get it back or keep it on the air. Good show, bad show, indifferent...the campaigns come regardless. So it doesn't really carry the same weight it did once.

And I think they've always been of limited impact anyway...it did have some impact on S3 of the original Trek, and if a show is "on the bubble" as they say, bordering between renewal and cancellation...but beyond that, it really doesn't have an impact.

The first ST feature wasn't commissioned because of fan mail, it came because Star Wars came out and did huge bucks and somebody in the Paramount brain trust said, literally, "waitaminnit, don't WE have one of those?" and rushed ST forward.

It's not passivity on my part as much as just trusting to the forces of history. Sooner or later, what goes around, comes around. My job is to make sure it's done right when it happens.


April 9, 2002

Q: Was the rush to production a factor in the failur of "Legend of the Rangers" to make the cut at SCIFI?

A: The script worked fine, the CGI worked fine, the time constraints were not an issue.

What killed us was the football playoffs. That is a matter of record.

They were hoping the show would do a 2.7 or 2.6 to get picked up. In *every market* where we weren't up against the highest-rasted football game in ten years, we pulled those numbers or better, in some places hitting a 3.1, which is just about unheard of for SFC. Those numbers came in because the show *worked*.

But we lost the east coast and most of the midwest to the game. When you averaged it all out, we got a 1.7 or thereabouts. The SFC knows why, we know why, it's not like that's an issue, and we *gained viewers* as the show went along, which only happens if the show -- script, CGI, performances -- works. But in TV, the overall number is the overall number, and it's hard for a network to get past that, especially in dealing with advertisers.

If we'd aired on any other night of the week, there would be a LoTR series in prep right now.


On the outcome of Babylon 5:

Dunno...did something go wrong? Did the master tapes of B5 get degaussed or something?

Not to make light, but you have to look at this from my side...as I said, the main thing was the five years. We got them. Anything else is a bonus. The finished eps are there, and will be for as long as images are transmitted. It's there, on the shelf.

Will something else happen with B5 down the road someday? The universe being as cyclical as it is, almost certainly. But if nothing ever does, *I'm okay with that*.

I was at a convention a while ago -- one of the last I attended, and you can put a cause and effect thing there if you want -- and there were all these actors and people campaigning for their shows to come back, from V to Battlestar to Lost in Space, you name it...and people kept coming up to me and saying, with great gentility and real affection, "I hope you get your show back on again."

And I kept trying to tell them...I ain't here for that. I'm not trying to get it back on. If that were the case I wouldn't have chosen to end it after five years in the first place. I was there to celebrate that we'd *done* it, not that it should come back or that I wanted people to campaign for it. Which is why I haven't urged writing campaigns or anything else.

I set out to tell the story I wanted to tell, and I told it. If something else in the B5 universe comes along, terrific, I'm there...but if not, that's okay too. It's like Zack said in Sleeping in Light, which was meant as a sorta coda to the production of the show...everything we set out to do, we did, and nobody can ever take that away.

CATCHING UP WITH JMS

February 24, 2002

It has been a while since I posted anything here. It's not because JMS hasn't been posting information, but since it refers to "Legend of the Rangers" or "Jeremiah", I put the information on those pages. This morning, there are some posts about JMS and Superman. You probably know, JMS is a HUGE Superman fan. Here are some postings from the B5 moderated group I thought you'd enjoy.

Q: What is your most cherished Superman related item?

A: I have a number of very cool Superman things, some costing a fair bit, but the one thing that is emotionally the closest to me is the one that came freely.

Long time ago, former Superman editor and living monument Julius (Yes I'm Older Than The Pyramids But I'm a Nice Guy So What Of It?) Schwartz used to give out these gold Superman emblem tie-tacks, cheap but cool. I managed to snag one of them a few years back.

A couple of years later, I'd been wearing it on a sport coat and discovered, to my horror, that it had come off somewhere and was just gone.

Now, every Thanksgiving, we'd all get together for dinner...me, Harlan, Susan, Julie Schwartz, and Ellie and Robert Bloch. Sometimes more if the situation merited, but that was the core of it.

That Thanksgiving, I explained what had happened and asked Julie if he had any more of the tie tacks. He didn't. So I figured that was pretty much the end of it.

It was about a year later that we lost Bob Bloch. It was a great loss to the core group and to the field and to all Bob's fans.

About three, four months after that, I got a note from Ellie, by way of Harlan, containing a gold Superman emblem tie tack, one that Bob had gotten from Julie years earlier. She said she knew that Bob would've wanted me to have it.

So of all the Superman items I have, that is the one that I cherish most.


More Superman Trivia from JMS:

Q: How did his mum buy the cloth for his costume without arousing suspicion?

It came from the swaddling clothes he had with him in the rocket from Krypton. Ma Kent had him use heat vision to cut the threads.

Q: Where does Clark Kent buy his spectacles, given that they are presumably plain glass?

They were made from the same rocket.

Q: Why doesn't anyone notice that Clark never works out, even though it would be impossible to have a body like that without doing so? And if he doesn't work out, why would he bother waxing his chest and back? (and who helps him with the back?)

Actually the new Clark does some of that just to ease suspicion.

Q: Where does Superman keep his wallet?

In the pouch of his cape, which is also where he keeps his CK clothes when he has to change on the fly.


Date: 6/29/2001 7:11 PM Eastern Daylight Time

Some general round-up things....

1) As folks sorta kinda know already, in addition to the B5 pilot movie, I'm doing another project (a series) which goes into full-blown prep in just a few weeks. Due to the air date being moved up a bit, and consequently the start of filming and prep being moved up, I'm going to be unable to make it to San Diego Comic Con this year. My apologies for those who were hoping to see some of the footage from Rangers that I'd planned to bring. (And with regrets, I can't let anyone else walk around with that stuff.) I've only missed it once before, due to pneumonia, because it's my favorite convention and the ONLY big one I was planning to do this year, but the way the shooting schedule is laying out, I don't have any choice.

2) On the topic of the other, non-B5 project...which I *still* can't talk about by name because the deal hasn't been announced yet (it's making everybody nuts)...we're deep into casting, we've hired about 90% of our crew, and scripts for the series are well underway. We will be rolling film on the opening movie September 4th, finish that, then go right into filming the 18 episodes for a total of 20 hours.

3) The producer's cut of Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers is now in hand, and goes to the network and studio today. I think it's a really kickass movie, and in terms of general production, performances, and stuff like that, it's probably right there with In the Beginning (not in scale, of course, since ItB is just *huge* and sews up the B5 storyline in this big tapestry, they're two vastly different kinds of stories, but in terms of overall quality of production and how well it works).

4) The latest draft of the Rising Stars screenplay, "Born in Fire," went to the producers the other day, and I think we're now in pretty good shape. As it turns out, there was an article in the Hollywood trades about a week or two ago, in which MGM talked to vendors (licensees) about their upcoming films for 2002, and Rising Stars was among them...so thats kinda cool. If the first film works out, they want to commission 2 more and make it into a trilogy that reflects the 3 act structure of the RS comics.

5) My new graphic novel from Top Cow, "Delicate Creatures," will debut in September at a bookstore near you. (I think it's coming out in hardcover.)

6) Jeanne Cavelos new installment of the Techno-Mage trilogy, "Summoning Light," is scheduled to be out July 1st but is already in some stores.

7) Talks have resumed on the third TV project that I had alluded to earlier, now that I've finished up enough stuff to clear the boards a bit, and I'll let you know more about that if and when it becomes a reality.

8) Because of all the stuff going on in 1-7 above, there have been some delays in the pub dates on RS and Midnight Nation. These are entirely my responsibility because I can only write one word at a time, but I'll be catching up shortly. Tow Cow has been very gracious in giving me the time I need to get deal with the TV/film stuff.

-- and two annoying little nigglies to round it out to 10 --

9) Folks have emailed to ask if I'm still lurking on the scifi.com/babylon5 board because I haven't said anything there in a while...the answer is no, because fan fiction began to show up, and where it is, I can't be. I do find this kind of awkward, because it's the one thing I've ever asked from fans: if you know I'm in X location, however infrequently, please keep fanfic away from where I can see it, especially since I'm telling new stories now in the B5 universe and don't want to imperil myself legally by being exposed to fanfic. There are plenty of sites where that stuff is available.

9a) A subset of 9 and a request...I keep seeing posts from people who are freely exchanging textfiles containing the Crusade scripts that were posted on bookface.com. To those folks, the rest of you can move on...I don't think you've stopped to realize that what you're passing around so freely is my property. It's not taking from WB, or TNT, it's taking from *me*. I own the scripts that I write, under the Writers Guild Separation of Rights provision. I allowed Bookface to put them up because they gave me assurances that they could not easily or well be pirated. (They clearly did not anticipate the ingenuity of some folks.) You are infringing on my rights, my copyright, my ownership, and causing me to regret my decision to let folks see them, such that I may never do this again because it greatly reduces my ability to ever sell them or publish them in book form in future. You have, in effect, stolen my property and are freely distributing same. That it's not available elsewhere is not the issue; we all want things we can't have, or which are not currently available. I'm asking you politely, as the guy who *made* this show and *wrote* those scripts (and *owns* those scripts) for you to stop. If it doesn't stop, I'm going to have to start taking action against those doing this. (I've been giving my attorneys quite a workout lately, inclusive of making sure that a certain individual who has been fabricating stuff about me for six years on the unmoderated group...will do so no longer.)

10) Last bit of annoyance...in that past, I've recommended various websites to folks as great places to shop or get free information...so it's only fair to report back when it goes the other way. In all the time I've spent online, the *worst* experience I've ever had has been with thinkgeek.com. They waited weeks to send out stuff ordered for next-day shipment, screwed up the order and sent the wrong stuff, spent weeks trying to get someone to talk to about it, got the proverbial buck-passing, assurances made that were not kept, and the result is that it's now three months and I'm still nowhere on the problems. I've never seen a company this careless or inefficient or sloppy. If you're looking for electronics to buy...go ANYwhere else. Trust me on this one.

Which is about the longest posting I've written in almost a year, because I haven't had time to keep up on stuff...sorry for the frequent lapses, but as noted above, things have been mad beyond description this year in terms of the work involved, busier than at any other time in my life, so I've had to pull back...on the theory that I can either write about the work or do the work, and at this moment the latter has to take precedence.

Things will, one hopes, lighten up soon....

jms

(all message content (c) 2001 by synthetic worlds, ltd., permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine and don't send me story ideas)

THIRDSPACE

JMS recently posted some comments about the elevator scene in Thirdspace. Thought you would enjoy them.

Q: Loved the scene between Jeff Conaway and Pat Tallman in Thirdspace. Can you give us a little background on it? How many takes did it require?

A: Not many, he nailed it just fine every time.

Funny thing about that scene...we were told before filming that the script was 8-10 minutes longer than it should be, and I had to make cuts. I didn't agree, but the director was very concerned, so with great reluctance, I snipped about 8 minutes out.

So on practically the last day of filming, we get a report from the film editor that we're about 6 minutes *short*. The director suggested ways to expand the last few shots, and we could add some more CGI, but it wasn't nearly enough. I now had to write a new scene to make up the difference. (If I'd not had to make the cuts in the stuff shot to that point, we'd've been fine.)

Given that it was the last day or so, we'd already released a number of the cast, and struck many of the sets. I asked what we had left to work with. We had Zack, and Lyta, some extras...and an elevator. So with that in mind, I wrote that scene in about 20 minutes and turned it over to Jeff, who memorized the lines overnight and showed up the next morning and nailed the scene.

ATTENTION TO DETAIL

In response to a comment in the newsgroup regarding JMS' Amazing Spiderman writing, Joe offered this insight into his attention to detail:

I've always been weird that way, I go for the details, I like turning things around and looking at them in different ways. When I was in college, I helped a local community center fix up a "youth activities room," which meant getting scraps left over from carpet stores and putting them together into a kind of montage carpet.

Now, all the other guys working on this grabbed whatever big swatches of carpet were available and started laying 'em down. Me, I was at the other end with all the tiny scraps, a few inches across, maybe a foot, assembling them in this very detailed, precise sequence, this little abstract tapestry, if you will. At the end of the day, you would stand at one end of the room and, as one person put it, "you can tell where Joe was sitting today."

E-MAIL RULES

Periodically, JMS sends out rules for sending him e-mail. Here's the list:

1) Please do not send me inquiries about the storyline in private email. You may think, "Well, it's just me," but at last Neilsen count there were about 15 million of you out there, and only one of me. I can't get into lengthy discussions about the plot or storylines in email. I end up answering the same questions multiple times, and the answers go to only one person at a time. If you have a story question, ASK IT IN A PUBLIC FORUM, NOT IN EMAIL, so that others can benefit from the answers.

(Here's where this gets silly. Often, when I'm speaking at a convention, I'll ask, at the end, "Any other questions?" And nobody puts their hands up, even though we've got a few minutes left. Then, as soon as the presentation is over, 50 people rush the stage with questions they want to ask...many of them very good, and which the audience would've loved to hear answered. You tend to be a very smart, perceptive bunch...don't deny others the quality of your questions.)

2) Please, please, PLEASE do not send me story ideas in email.

3) Do not send jpgs or anything else that requires downloading; I was hit by a trojan horse and virus lately, and consequently I have a very firm no-download policy on anything else coming into me via email.

4) Private email should be used for things you cannot discuss in a public forum, or for which confidentiality is needed for other reasons. I'm swamped with 500 messages a day...if it doesn't have to be sent email, please don't do so.

5) Requests for agent suggestions, or requests to read your scripts or stories, will be met by stony silence.

6) We cannot give studio tours, or afford to send out scripts, or story bibles, or actor photographs. When the actors do this, bear in mind that it is a kindness *that comes out of their own pockets*, as there is no budget from WB to send photos.

I hate to be as brusque as this, but I'm starting to get overloaded with email, and an occasional advisory seems necessary.

Many thanks.

JMS

COMIC PROJECT UPDATE

Q: Joe, what will happen with Joe's Comics as Rising Stars and Midnight Nation conclude? Are there new titles in the works?

A: I've already lined up the next regular series, an anthology title, and a new graphic novel, Delicate Creatures, which is already written. I don't want to do more than 3 books per month (2 Joe's Comics titles, 1 other title a la Spider-Man) so one will have to phase out to make room for another to avoid the workload getting too hairy.


CRUSADE AND SCIFI

How does SCIFI differ from your other network experiences?

A: It isn't so much different as it is pretty much the same, in the sense that the whole TNT situation was an aberration; I had NEVER had that much interference, that level of interference, on ANY other show before. There have been headaches, sure, but that's part of the job and never to this extent.

So SFC's involvement has been pretty much on a par with what has gone before. They had a handful of notes on the outline, ditto on the script, and that was it. And in both cases they were primarily small notes, line notes or character bits.

You *expect* to get some notes along the way, because the network/studio is the buyer. I'm okay with that and always have been. The TNT situation was simply insane.

Q: Any idea of how long it will take SCIFI to decide on whether or not to proceed with Crusade?

A: Things take the time they take. The show just barely finished ariing on SFC. Look at the time frame between when B5 started airing on SFC, and when we got the go-ahead to do Rangers. TV doesn't work in idealized terms..."Gee it did great so let's go out and make a deal RIGHTNOW!" It is a slow, wearing, grinding process. TV is a cautious business.

I have not been told, definitively, "no" by SFC, nor have I been told "yes;" I know what's in their budget to do at this moment, and I know they want to test the B5 waters in general with Rangers. I cannot imagine that, if the show does well, they wouldn't want to revisit Crusade.

But to say that I want the show to die is right up there in the top two percentile of the top ten percent of dumb things I've heard this year. I would love to be able to finish the story, and finish it properly. Until that happens, it will always be an unresolved issue with me.

WORKING WITH CHRIS FRANKE

Q: How closely did/do you work with Christopher Franke on the music for the series?

A: Chris and I sit down to spot the movie (meaning I call out the spots, minutes/seconds/frames) where I want the music to come in and go out. I give general directions, more in terms of the emotion of the scene or my intent than in musical terms because I don't speak that particular language with any facility. On rare occasions I'll say I want a particular instrument, or a particular sound. Usually it's left to Chris, who knows what I want better than I do sometimes.

OTHER PROJECTS

Q: If SCIFI came to you and said they would like to further Crusade. Would you be willing to take that project on, considering your current workload?

A: It would be possible, but we'd have to lay things out and schedule them in such a way as to allow me to do the work properly.

Q: A while back you mentioned pulling together a graphic novel for Babylon 5. Where does that stand right now?

A: I'm in the process of nailing down the story, which may work out to be a pre-WWE Sinclair/Sheridan crossover, involving Mars, Minbar, B5 and a conspiracy.

NEW PROJECT

Q: That Which Can Not Be Named -- can you give us any new information on that project as yet?

A: Here's the dopey thing...I can answer this and a bunch of related stuff, I just can't say what it IS because the PR department still hasn't gotten to issuing the silly press release.

In general details...

We prep July/August; we plan to shoot right after Labor Day. (Labor actions permitting.) In addition to a two hour pilot, there are now 6 scripts in the works. We've begun refining budgets, talking cast, music, crew, staff have been hired in various areas, contracts have been signed, we have a firm order on 20 hours of TV for this project...we even have a date for our debut, March 15th 2002.

I just can't tell you what it IS yet.

JMS ON CRUSADE

How do you think you did with Crusade, now that we are through half the 13 episodes? Do you have a favorite episode?

I still think the first five produced were our best of the ones we shot, in terms of the ones I wrote. The best scripts of mine per se would probably be the two that didn't get produced but which were made available via bookface.com, To the Ends of the Earth and End of the Line. I think they would've kicked over the table and shown where the production, and the story, was going. They're also the ones I wrote after "Apperances," which is where I decided, "Fuck it, fuck TNT, fuck the notes, I'm just gonna go back to what I was doing for the first 5 and write what I want." I got pissed, and sometimes I write best when I'm angry about something.

Weakest of my scripts...probably The Long Road, which started out as a good idea, and is still about 70% a good idea, but it's over-written and it feels...I dunno... stagey, somehow.

You actually happened to hit me with this question on a reflective night, so I'm taking a bit more time than I normally would with this.

I was talking to a friend recently, and I mentioned that in looking at the Crusade episodes on SFC, something about them bothers me...not the performers, who are all great, or the direction, which was generally quite good (with some lapses), but the writing. They didn't seem to me to have the same level of energy as B5.

To which I was told, "You want to know the truth of it? I was glad when they shut down Crusade." Now, as you might expect, I was kind of taken aback by this, and asked for clarification and what this had to do with my original statement.

The reply: "You were *exhausted*. You did five years of backbreaking work, you were averaging 3-4 hours sleep a night if you were lucky, you lost your hair, your health, and a good-sized chunk of your sanity...you were *tired*. The best thing would've been if there had been a year break between B5 and Crusade, to give you a chance to catch your breath. Would it have made a difference to TNT's decision? No. They changed their mind about the show based on their new ratings surveys before you ever shot a frame of film. But you wouldn't be sensing that lack of energy in the episodes now.

"Look at the stuff now: the Rising Stars screenplay is getting fast-tracked, the studio and the network love (title deleted until press release is issued), it's some of your best work ever, and Rangers has the energy that B5 always had, that Crusade didn't. It's still better than 95% of what's out there, but it's not you writing at the top of your top form."

"So how come you didn't say this at the time?" I asked.

"Because then you couldn't have heard it, wouldn't have listened. Now you can."

Hearing something like that is very difficult, because we all like to think we're invulnerable. In retrospect, I think there's a measure of truth to it. Maybe more than a measure.

Crusade is a good show. It got beaten down after the first five, stayed kind of beaten down through network notes and my own fatigue fighting fights that I shouldn't have had to fight, then picked up with the two post-fuck'em scripts because my energy was gearing up again at that decision. But overall it was a good show.

Not that it made any difference to Crusade's eventual fate; that had zero to do with the writing, acting, or directing, and everything to do with an internal corporate TNT decision about SF in general. Even written at 100% of my energy level, even if it had been a GREAT show instead of a very good show, it STILL would've met the fate it met. Of that there is no question.

It was starting to pick up speed again with those last two scripts. I think we would've eventually progressed in quality to where it needed to be.

But I had just enough energy to get it started, to write and produce it, but not enough to go through all that AND the day-to-day battles with the network. Having gone through five years of hell on B5, I could handle any two of those three, not all three.

And I'm wondering now if, in the long run, maybe it was the best thing that could have happened. If it had not gone the way it did, I almost certainly would never have been in a position to do the things I'm doing now...a (still classified) high-profile and high-budget TV series for one network, a B5 TV movie that will almost certainly go to a series on SFC, and the Rising Stars feature film in addition to a bunch of other stuff. And it's all fresh, with energy, there's fun there, and I think Rangers will have the fun and energy and cool stuff that is emblematic of B5.

I've always tried to be very forthright in my appraisal of my own work...I know where my strengths are, but I also know where my failings are, and I think one needs to be blunt about both. So I tend to be pretty merciless when looking back at this kind of thing, but I think it's necessary.

It's weird to think that I'm actually in a *better* position now, in terms of my career and the quality of my work, with Crusade having gone the way it did, than I would be if it had continued...but there it is.

It's a funny old world, you know...?

CRUSADE ON SCIFI

I'm sure you are all wondering how the show is doing as it goes through it's first run on SciFI. Here is a note from JMSs talking about the opening ratings:

The opening episode did a 1.1, and the second night (Needs of Earth) got a .9, both far and above what was anticipated...and significantly, as season openers go, "Racing the Night" (my original pilot/opener) built in audience whereas "War Zone" (the one TNT commissioned) decreased in audience on their respective opening nights.

Schedule/Workload

Q: Isn't the workload of all the upcoming projects going to be a hard one?

Not at all, because I haven't been doing the B5 production fandango for the last 5 years nonstop. And the workload, at least at this point, looks like it's going to dovetail quite well....

We shoot the Rangers MOW May/June. The other (still TWCBN*, alas) series would begin prep July/August, and (labor relations permitting) shoot right after Labor Day (I just realized how appropriate that is...that's damned funny).

Shooting the 20 hours involved in The Other Project will take us through January, maybe into early February. If Rangers goes as a series, we'd probably start shooting in February/March. We've even discussed having crew going from one project to the other, and just rotating between them.

*That Which Cannot Be Named

Projects outside of Sci-Fi

Q: What kinds of material do you enjoy writing outside of the sci-fi genre?

A: Not that terribly much anymore, to be honest. Most of what I used to do in other areas came by way of journalism...used to work for the LA Times, the LA Herald Examiner, San Diego Magazine, TIME Inc., the LA and San Diego Readers, Writer's Digest and others...varyingly as columnist, contributing editor, special correspondent...doing features, reviews, columns, interviews, that sort of thing.

At the moment, in my copious spare time, I'm writing a medieval play (which I've been working on for quite some time, and will which probably continue to take a good long time to finish because it's that kind of play) and I'm about 150 pages into writing a mainstream novel, which I figure I'll be able to finish during the coming writer's strike (which doesn't cover prose).

One of my mainstream stories to come out recently is "We Killed Them in the Ratings," which though horrific isn't technically a horror story.


Q: What is your writing process?

A: When I sit down to write, I go over and revise the previous day's work. This lets me catch up mentally with where I left off, and condenses the revision period so that by the time I'm done...I'm done. So I'm constantly tweaking, trimming, revising, and otherwise mucking with the words. Once it's done, it's pretty much done. This is especially vital in TV which doesn't leave much time for going back and revising; you finish it, slit your wrists, and go on to the next script.


Q: How has your vision changed over the intervening years?

A: There are a couple of factors in the questions you ask. First and foremost, my comments about getting the heck out came at a time when I was emotionally, physically and psychologically exhausted by the demands of telling this particular story. People who know me, know what it did to me.

(Emblematic of the toll it was taking...it's pro forma to insure actors at the beginning of each season so that if they are injured or killed or otherwise incapacitated, the show is insured against that loss. Production staff -- writers, producers, others -- are almost never similarly insured. But after season 2, seeing what it was costing to get this show made, the powers that be insisted that I be insured, so that if I collapsed or dropped dead the show would be insured. I'm always reticent to talk about that kind of thing, because it seems really indulgent, but that's the truth of it.)

I've had a bit of time to catch my breath since then -- though none of my hair has grown back -- so I think I'm in the biz for a bit longer. I figure I've got another couple of shows in me...but I can't let any of them be as dramatic an effect on my life again, it's just too debilitating.

The other factor in all this is that, in doing 5 years of B5 and one of Crusade, I became very attached to this universe. I like visiting it. Even when I'm not working in it, the characters are there, in my head. So there's the lure of kind of going home again.

NEW SERIES INFORMATION

Q: Can you give us a sort of timeline on the production?

A: Writer's strike (if it happens) would be triggered on May 2nd, which is why the script has to be totally finalized before then. The actor's strike (ditto) would take place July 1st. We'd be finished well before this.

Q: Has an airdate been determined yet?

A: Airdate hasn't been finalized yet.

Q: Filming begins in mid-May. What happens then?

A: General rule of thumb for any kind of TV movie: 8 weeks prep, 6 weeks post, anywhere from 17-24 days shooting. Any network can hold any show for as long as they want, though the longer they hold said show, the more difficult it becomes to hold cast, crew, sets, stages.

Q: With Netter Digital no longer in existence, will you be hiring or forming a new CGI team to handle the Ranger film?

A: Yes, we'll be looking to employ a new EFX firm, probably in the Vancouver area.


Q: Will it be shot for high-definition TV?

A: We've already discussed shooting it in wide, and *editing* in wide (rather than 4:3 as we did on the B5 series) and then *compositing and creating cgi* in wide, so that however it gets initially shown, it'll exist from the git-go in a true wide version.


Q: Will you resume your relationship with the Jet Propulsion Lab to keep the science as accurate as possible in the new series?

A: It's certainly something I'd pursue when it comes time to do the series.


Q: With comics and other projects, how will you keep up?

A: You've gotta understand...I've always done multiple projects. While I was story editing Twilight Zone, I wrote and sold my second novel, was writing a monthly column for Twilight Zone Magazine, and hosting a two-hour weekly talk radio show on KPFK-FM Los Angeles, Hour 25.

At the tail end of B5, I was handling all the post production for B5, writing the 2 new movies, writing and setting up Crusade, writing multiple outlines for the various Del Rey novels, writing the "We Killed Them in the Ratings" novelette that was published shortly thereafter in an anthology, and writing Rising Stars.

It's just kinda what I *do*.

It's always been that way with me...I like writing in a lot of different fields at the same time because it keeps me from going stale. The more work I have, oddly enough, the better I get...I'm at my worst when I have only one thing in front of me, and I fret over it and second-guess it to death.

I sometimes think I'm the only creature known to modern science whose natural environment is hot water....


Excerpted from JMS posting:
Date: 3/21/2001 11:27 PM Eastern Standard Time

Re: hiring actors/actresses for a few days only:

When you do episodic TV, you look at the days per episode that somebody works. When, for instance, we had Richard Biggs do an appearance in Crusade, it only required being there for a couple of days out of a 7 day schedule.

It's standard in that kind of situation to look at the actor's weekly fee and pay them for the number of days they appear. In other words...and these are totally bogus figures, just for ease of discussion...if Actor X gets 7,000 for a 7 day shoot, then if you only need him on another show for 2 days, you pay $2,000. If you need him for the whole episode, you pay the full $7,000.

That's what we did with Richard, and what we've always done.

On shooting the production in Vancouver:

LOTS of shows are shooting in Vancouver, with all KINDS of budgets. X-Files and Millennium shot up there for years and were *massively* expensive shows.

Our budget for the TV movie is absolutely in line with what's usually spent...and if you actually knew anything about TV production, you'd know that you don't spend the money to fly someone from LA to Vancouver, put them up, and do all the rest...just to use that person for a walk-on.

CRUSADE BROADCAST ORDER

JMS on Crusade's broadcast order:

So the SciFi Channel asked me what order I'd like to air the series in, since the folks at TNT kafuffled the airdates and schedule based on what I'd originally had in mind. The theory is, you start out with general episodes to introduce the situation, characters and story, then you focus on individual characters. The first five we shot, intended to produce this effect, got shoved to the back of the line and we then had to air the individual-themed ones *first*...essentially inverting the order.

So SFC asked me what the preferred author's order would be...and that's how they've structured it, costume change be damned. Yes, there will be some dialogue glitches now, because we looped a few things to try and do least violence to the chronology of previously shot shows...but from an overall story perspective, this is the preferred order (as best I could remember it when they called and asked).

So here is the order in which the Crusade eps will be broadcast:

Mon, April 9 8:00 PM CRUSADE RACING THE NIGHT
Tue, April 10 8:00 PM CRUSADE THE NEEDS OF EARTH
Wed, April 11 8:00 PM CRUSADE THE MEMORY OF WAR
Thu, April 12 8:00 PM CRUSADE THE LONG ROAD
Mon, April 16 8:00 PM CRUSADE VISITORS FROM DOWN THE STREET
Tue, April 17 8:00 PM CRUSADE THE WELL OF FOREVER
Wed, April 18 8:00 PM CRUSADE EACH NIGHT I DREAM OF HOME
Thu, April 19 8:00 PM CRUSADE PATTERNS OF THE SOUL
Mon, April 23 8:00 PM CRUSADE THE PATH OF SORROWS
Tue, April 24 8:00 PM CRUSADE RULING FROM THE TOMB
Wed, April 25 8:00 PM CRUSADE THE RULES OF THE GAME
Thu, April 26 8:00 PM CRUSADE WAR ZONE
Mon, April 30 8:00 PM CRUSADE APPEARANCES AND OTHER DECEITS

DVD NEWS

Here's the latest from JMS on the DVD release of The Gathering:

"The release of the first DVD of "The Gathering" and "In the Beginning" has been put back a month, at my request. There was apparently some misunderstanding about which version of The Gathering to put out, and they were going to do the original version rather than the re-edit (which would go for the European market). They had already invested about $100,000 in copying costs when I found out about this, and I asked if they could please reconsider and do the re-edit instead. They finally agreed, which is commendable in the extreme. It'll add one month to the release schedule, but I'd rather have the best version out there and wait the addtional 30 days.

I have to really thank WB for taking the time and spending the money to put out the right version.

JMS ON SCIFI PROBLEMS

A number of problems still persist at SCIFI regarding the broadcast quality of Babylon 5. Here is a comment from JMS:

I'll be posting this to the scifi.com/babylon5 board in a bit, but the jist of it is this....

I sat in the room with the editor while they corrected this error, and the revised copy of the episode that I received on vhs was, indeed, corrected.

My suspicion is that they've put all their emphasis on getting the correct S2-4 widescreen eps delivered to SFC in a comparitively short amount of time, and haven't sent them the new master yet. (The closed captioning that appears there now is a different process.)

I have a call in to WB now about this, but I suspect that the above scenario is correct. I think they preferred at this stage to put all their efforts into getting the big problems done first, focusing on the smaller problems later.

JMS on "Casting Shadows" Date: 26 Feb 2001 19:31:52 -0700 Q: I like the length of the new book. It gives you time to get to know the characters.

A: That's something I was very pleased with when I saw the length of the book. You really need to spend time with the story and the characters for the incidents provided in the outlines to make any kind of dramatic sense or impact.


JMS TV Watching
Date: 23 Feb 2001 20:59:57 -0700

Purely subjective opinion on my part, but the best writing these days seems to be showing up in:

Sopranos
Oz
West Wing
Futurama
Buffy
Angel

Those are my must-see TV programs. I've also been impressed with the improvement in writing on Roswell. I kinda like Ed but I usually end up watching it through parted fingers 'cause for someone who grew up as socially awkward as I did, it's just painful....


Date: 2/28/2001 10:50 PM EST
I'll be posting this to the other thread asking the same question, just to save time recomposing (or decomposing, I suppose)...

Here's my dilemma: there are two definite go projects that I can announce. But I can't announce either of them because it's not within my purview to do so. The studios have to make those announcements.

The problem is that one deal has only recently been concluded, and the other -- a done deal since January -- has been awaiting the studio PR department to put out a press release. They haven't been in any particular hurry to do so since (information deleted) won't start until the Fall.

So I've basically been going insane since January, with Big News to announce, but not being able to say *anything* because it would be a serious breach of studio protocol. If I so much as eep they'll beat the crap out of me (and rightly so, to be fair about it).

So I'm waiting as much as you are...with the exception that as a result of both these projects going ahead, I'm drowning in work and can't spend that much time thinking about how I'm going nuts.

JMS UPDATE

PREPARING BABYLON 5

Q: What did you use during your "pitch" session for Babylon 5?

A: They were given the pilot screenplay for The Gathering, an extensive series treatment with sample stories covering most of the first season, with notes on where the series would go, and lots of sample artwork on the station and the characters.

With some exceptions, it was very close to what became the B5 writer's bible, which was available for a while via thestation.com.

Q: How did you map-out Babylon 5? It's technology, history, etc?

A: I basically took a historical perspective on the story, and just laid out the basic events going about a thousand years back, and a thousand years forward in fair detail, and thumbnailed-out the rest for about a million year period.

I alway figured that Earth would have pretty much the lowest tech level going in, because that would make it more interesting, and preserve some of the wonder of SF storytelling...you only get that sense of awe when somebody else has something you don't.

Latest JMS News:

Rising Star Movie:
"Film-making is a long process. The first draft is in, I'm currently revising it for a second draft. If all continues to go well, and so far it's gone very well, we could film this sometime in the fall or spring of next year, so it could conceivably be in theaters by next fall/winter. Assuming nothing glitches along the way, and you always have to assume those things."

New Writing Panel:
"I forgot to mention in my last post that on March 26th, I'll be doing a panel discussion on writing for the fantastic, which will be carried via satellite to various universities and the two divisions of the Museum of Television and Radio. The panel will feature me, Harlan Ellison, Chris Carter and 1-2 others TBD."


B5 DVDs:

Q: What will be the first DVDs released?

A: The first disk will have In the Beginning and the SE version of The Gathering.

B5 Graphic Novel:
Q: What sort of length will the novel be?

A: My last conversation with them indicated a length of about 100 pages, give or take.

Q: Can you tell us the context of the graphic novel?
A: I think I'd like to do something in continuity with the series, so that it feels like an unproduced episode...but I haven't decided yet, and don't want to go too far down that road until I've talked more to the guys at Wildstorm. They've been great in all this, they initiated the project, and I want to be sure that welcome is treated properly.

Q: Who owns the rights to the comic, WB or DC?

WB owns the rights, which reverted after DC stopped doing the books. They'd rather not go to an outside company for political reasons.


JMS UPDATE

While I'm waiting for permission to talk about some of the big stuff that's going on, some general news....

CRUSADE:
As announced today in a press release from the SciFi Channel, the network has picked up all 13 episodes of Crusade for broadcast this Summer. This will be the first time the series has been broadcast since its brief, original run on TNT.

I received an email the other day from Fiona Avery (B5 reference editor, columnist for the B5 Magazine and script writer for both Crusade and Earth: Final Conflict) announcing that the first issue of her new, original comic, NO HONOR, will be debuting next Wednesday the 21st from Top Cow/Image. (I've seen the scripts/artwork and it's killer.)

B5 GRAPHIC NOVEL
On the topic of comics...I will be writing a one-off B5 Graphic Novel for Wildstorm that will debut later this year. I figure on writing it as soon as I get out from under my current deadlines.

(later post about the graphic novel:)

I think I'd like to do something in continuity with the series, so that it feels like an unproduced episode...but I haven't decided yet, and don't want to go too far down that road until I've talked more to the guys at Wildstorm. They've been great in all this, they initiated the project, and I want to be sure that welcome is treated properly.

One aside...as you know, most viruses that go out these days tend to attach themselves to Microsoft Outlook email address books. Apparently there's an *awful* lot of you out there that have me in your email address books, even though you may not have actually used it in that way. Hence, whenever one of these viruses gets out, as one came out today, I invariably get a bunch of them in my email box. Just as a favor to me...if you don't actually *need* my email address in your address book, can you delete it to help me out when this kind of stuff happens? It ain't like I'm hard to find....

B5 ON DVD

And finally...yes, it's true, B5 will be coming out on DVD starting with The Gathering and In the Beginning, to be released in July. The series will start soon thereafter. I've been going over the artwork and related issues for WB Home Video, and though at this time there's no supplementary material involved, at least as far as I know, it should be pretty cool. (Don't know yet which aspect ratio they'll be using, but my *guess* would be widescreen, now that WB is correcting the earlier versions.)

All of that said...as noted well above, there's some substantial TV-related news sitting out there waiting for me to talk about it as soon as I'm given the go-ahead to do so. Suffice to say that one very large deal has now been set and closed, another is in heavy negotiations (with money now on the table from those involved), and a surprise third project is also coming up fast and furious.

More on these when I'm allowed to talk about them. Probably sometime next week.

jms


Date: 13 Feb 2001 08:09:19 -0700

While I'm waiting for permission to talk about some of the big stuff that's going on, some general news....

As announced today in a press release from the SciFi Channel, the network has picked up all 13 episodes of Crusade for broadcast this Summer. This will be the first time the series has been broadcast since its brief, original run on TNT.

I received an email the other day from Fiona Avery (B5 reference editor, columnist for the B5 Magazine and script writer for both Crusade and Earth: Final Conflict) announcing that the first issue of her new, original comic, NO HONOR, will be debuting next Wednesday the 21st from Top Cow/Image. (I've seen the scripts/artwork and it's killer.)

On the topic of comics...I will be writing a one-off B5 Graphic Novel for Wildstorm that will debut later this year. I figure on writing it as soon as I get out from under my current deadlines.

One aside...as you know, most viruses that go out these days tend to attach themselves to Microsoft Outlook email address books. Apparently there's an *awful* lot of you out there that have me in your email address books, even though you may not have actually used it in that way. Hence, whenever one of these viruses gets out, as one came out today, I invariably get a bunch of them in my email box. Just as a favor to me...if you don't actually *need* my email address in your address book, can you delete it to help me out when this kind of stuff happens? It ain't like I'm hard to find....

And finally...yes, it's true, B5 will be coming out on DVD starting with The Gathering and In the Beginning, to be released in July. The series will start soon thereafter. I've been going over the artwork and related issues for WB Home Video, and though at this time there's no supplementary material involved, at least as far as I know, it should be pretty cool. (Don't know yet which aspect ratio they'll be using, but my *guess* would be widescreen, now that WB is correcting the earlier versions.)

All of that said...as noted well above, there's some substantial TV-related news sitting out there waiting for me to talk about it as soon as I'm given the go-ahead to do so. Suffice to say that one very large deal has now been set and closed, another is in heavy negotiations (with money now on the table from those involved), and a surprise third project is also coming up fast and furious.

More on these when I'm allowed to talk about them. Probably sometime next week.


Chris Franke:
Q: You mentioned that you had spoken to several individuals about upcoming projects. How about Christopher Franke?

A: I haven't talked to Chris yet, but I can't imagine doing another project in the B5 universe without him.

NEW B5 PROJECTS AT SCIFI

JMS has a way of popping up when the subject of Babylon 5 arises. This happened recently at the SCIFI/Babylon 5 Message Board. There is always a lot going on there, but JMS dropped over and here's an excerpt from the note he left:

"To confirm what Bonnie Hammer has stated, yes, there are conversations ongoing between SFC, WB, myself and Doug Netter about some new projects. I'm not at liberty at this point to be much more specific than that. Could be a movie in the B5 universe. Could be a series set in the B5 universe. Could be a combination of those, plus a little something else. Suffice to say that SFC wants to become the new home for B5 in all its parts and pieces, and there are several possible ways to accomplish this currently under discussion.

We may have some resolution on these issues as early as next month. To that end, we have verified the availability and interest of those who helped make B5 a success among the crew, and everyone we have spoken to is excited and ready to get going. Same crew, same quality, same dedication.

Beyond that, I can't comment...except to say that if we get the go-ahead on what I think may be coming, it could be a very exciting opportunity to do another kind of story that no one's ever done before in SF TV, just as no one had ever done anything quite like B5 before.

So watch this space, keep an ear to the ground, and stay out of trouble...interesting times are a'coming...."

jms

For those of us who have been on-line with JMS for a while, this has to be some of the BEST news we've had in a LONG time!


Residuals on Babylon 5 Q: Do actors get residuals for the re-run showings of Babylon 5?

A: Actors and writers get residuals each time an episode is aired. The amount of that residual is not based on the ratings, so any actor can't tell how it's doing based on that.

There are three different formulas used to compute ratings, one for network, another for syndication, a third (and the crummiest) for cable. Crummiest in that the amount of the residual is tied to the amount paid for the rights to show the series. Consequently, many of the studios that own cable networks (as Universal owns USA Network, for instance) sell the shows to themselves for the smallest amount possible.

Hence, a residual that, for a third or fourth airing, might bring a couple thousand bucks elsewhere, in that situation brings you literally about five dollars.

This is one of the issues being addressed in the current pre-strike negotiations.


Comic Book Update Q: When will the next issues of Rising Stars and Midnight Nation be out?

A: I've just today approved the last of the colored pages on Midnight Nation 5, and I think this is the strongest issue to date. It gives you a preview of what's coming down the road (again my tendency to show you what's coming at the end, but you don't know the context) and it's just completely kickass, especially the artwork, which is impressive as all hell.

I think it'll be out in a couple of weeks. Keep an eye out for it, it's a good one.

Same deal here, the last of the colored pages came through on Friday, so it should be out in a few weeks.

SCIFI Postings Following the Pittsburgh Post Gazzette article, JMS posted the following on the SCIFI Message Board:

...I'm not usually as cranky as the last few messages would imply. It's...well, there's a joke about a kid who, at seven years old, has never spoken a word. One day, at dinner, the kid looks up from his plate. "The soup's too salty," he says.

The parents are astonished, numbstruck. "You can talk!"

"Of course I can talk."

"Well, why didn't you SAY anything before now?"

"Until now, everything was fine."

That tends to be the dynamic through which I get pulled into situations like this...when there's a problem that needs to be addressed. And then I come in all elbows and angles. So that sometimes becomes the way I can be perceived..."Boy, jms sure is pissed."

No, not really, that's just the only context in which I get seen sometimes...one of those "until now everything was fine" situations.

To those who've wondered...yeah, I do sometimes lurk here, checking out the messages (avoiding anything that looks like a story idea, natch). I don't post here as a rule because I've discovered over the years that my presence can sometimes have a cooling effect on discussions, people can feel hesitant to say something negative about the show if I'm right there.

Truth of the matter is, I have no problem with anyone who has a negative opinion of B5 or anything else I've written. For starters, you can't argue with someone's opinion of something. Their facts, if they're wrong, sure. But not everybody is going to like the same things. I like milk chocolate, I don't like dark chocolate, white chocolate is a contradiction in terms and an abomination in the eyes of the lord. Your mileage will vary. That's okay. It's SUPPOSED to be that way. No matter what you make, there will be a bell curve of people who unequivocably love it at the one narrow end, people who unequivocably hate it at the other narrow end, and in the middle, people who like it or dislike it to varying degrees. As long as the bell curve slants more to the like than the dislike, you're doing okay. But ain't no way everybody's gonna like everything you do. Just not possible.

And there's nothing anyone can say about B5 that's harsher than some of the things I've said about it at times as I've slogged my way through making it, imperfections, goofed voice-overs, warts, clumsy lines and all. There are any number of episodes I'm not thrilled with, and one or two that I wouldn't mind if they fell off a pier somewhere. (And most of them are shows I've written.) So I certainly don't take issue with ANYone with similar responses.

Having an open exchange of opinions is important, so I don't usually poke my snout into the situation unless there's a direct need for same. The only drawback, as noted above, is that when I do come in, it tends to be in full avenging angel mode, which is unfortunate because about 99% of what I've seen here, and on other, similar boards, is nothing but terrific. As usual it's the demented 2% who screw things up for the rest.

Before retreating back into the shadows, if you've managed to wade through all this verbiage, a couple of bits to make the long and over-written voyage a little more salutory....

To confirm what Bonnie Hammer has stated, yes, there are conversations ongoing between SFC, WB, myself and Doug Netter about some new projects. I'm not at liberty at this point to be much more specific than that. Could be a movie in the B5 universe. Could be a series set in the B5 universe. Could be a combination of those, plus a little something else. Suffice to say that SFC wants to become the new home for B5 in all its parts and pieces, and there are several possible ways to accomplish this currently under discussion.

We may have some resolution on these issues as early as next month. To that end, we have verified the availability and interest of those who helped make B5 a success among the crew, and everyone we have spoken to is excited and ready to get going. Same crew, same quality, same dedication.

Beyond that, I can't comment...except to say that if we get the go-ahead on what I think may be coming, it could be a very exciting opportunity to do another kind of story that no one's ever done before in SF TV, just as no one had ever done anything quite like B5 before.

So watch this space, keep an ear to the ground, and stay out of trouble...interesting times are a'coming....

jms


Date: 1/16/2001 12:31 AM Eastern Standard Time

A number of items here, of varying timeliness and relevance.

As some have noted, Bookface.com is now an ex-website. For those wanting to get their hands on Tribulations, the book is still available from darktales.com. There are no plans currently to put the book up anywhere else online.

Rising Stars 12 and Midnight Nation 5 came out a few weeks ago (would've made more mention of this but it's been kinda hectic here lately on a number of fronts).

(And speaking of comics stuff, Crusade writer and B5 Reference Editor Fiona Avery wrote the script for the X-Men Annual 2000, which came out last week from Marvel. Her own series, No Honor, will debut from Top Cow late February. Folks can keep up on her stuff at www.fionaavery.com)

My first draft screenplay for the Rising Stars movie went in on Christmas day, and the studio reaction has been EXTREMELY positive. I can't say more about this at the moment, but things are looking very good for the long haul on this.

I've turned in 4 scripts for new City of Dreams episodes, but due to production tie-ups on other projects at Seeing Ear Theater, they won't be up at www.scifi.com/cityofdreams until around the first week of February.

Finally...and you'll have to forgive the vagueness of this...B5 fans may want to keep their ears to the ground for the next few weeks. There are several things that have been simmering for a while now, which I haven't commented on because I wanted them to be realities, not possibilities, before I said anything. I think the former may finally be working out...so keep an eye on this newsgroup for the next few weeks. There may be a number of interesting announcements.


Q: In a recent interview, John Romita, Jr. indicates you may be changing Spiderman in some way. True?

A: The information John cited is not accurate; the spider is too important an icon to the Spider-man mythos to remove.

Coming Strike Concerns:

Q: With the coming writer/actor strike, how will you be filling your days?

A: I've got 3 comics per month to turn out (Rising Stars, Midnight Nation, Spider-Man), plus the weekly Psycomic column, and the City of Dreams scripts aren't affected because radio drama covered any more by the WGA, and I'm writing a new novel, more of a mainstream book, and there's other stuff...I don't generally have or take time off.

Q: What type of writing is not covered by WGA?

A: WGA covers TV and film and is working on covering internet TV productions. That's it.

Only working for WGA covered areas is prohibited during a strike. I can write for my own pleasure all I want (though what that has to do with the nets is anyone's guess).


JMS Update

Very, very busy right now. I kind of let things go by the boards a bit while I was working on the main two projects, the Jeremiah 2-hour pilot for Showtime, and the Rising Stars feature for MGM. The former is now in, and we hope to have some kind of response by mid-December. I'm about 2/3rds done with the Rising Stars screenplay, and hope to have that in by the same time, mid-December.

One of the things that kinda fell by the wayside was The City of Dreams, and now that Jeremiah is in, taking away half of my biggest worries for the moment, I'm working to catch up. I've now turned in episodes 8 and 9, and hope to have the remaining 4 in by the end of the year.

I just last week turned in Midnight Nation 5, "Past Present, Present Tense," and my intent is to turn in the next issue of Rising Stars, #13, probably next week.

Moments before coming here, I turned in next week's psycomic column, this one on writing and characterization.

My first issue of Spider-Man will go in to Marvel around mid-December. It will come out around May/June of next year.

There's more stuff beyond that, but I can't talk about it yet. Probably in the next week or so. A couple of them should be of particular interest to B5 fans.


For folks who've been asking when the new City of Dreams episode(s) would be going up at www.scifi.com/cityofdreams...I've turned in two scripts. The first one up, "The Alpha and Omega of David Wells," should go into the studio in about a week, and will star Peter Gallagher (of American Beauty, and Sex, Lies & Videotape). The second episode, "Dream Police," will go up a bit thereafter.

And for those missed the first few issues of Rising Stars and have been wondering when the trade paperback was coming out...well, it's out. "Rising Stars: Born in Fire" gathers the first 8 issues, plus various covers, with Neil Gaiman's introduction. It hit newsstands this past week.

After bugging the guys at darktales.com, I've gotten them to lower the price a bit for the Tribulations trade paperback, so this may be a good time to check it out.

The Jeremiah pilot movie script is in at Showtime, and we'll know something about the disposition of said pilot in about 2 weeks.

(A non-directly-jms related plug: the friendly folks at factory-x.com have just come out with the secong large pewter sculpture, a Black Omega Starfury, which looks even better than the station figurine. They also have one of the niftier opening menus for the B5 stuff, with music and the B5 logo in various languages (Minbari, Narn, Centauri and others.) You can find the whole shebang at http://www.factory-x.com/B5.html

SCIFI AND WIDESCREEN PROBLEMS

Here's a note from JMS regarding the problems SciFI has been having with the widescreen version of B5.

Today I went to a meeting at Warner Bros. technical support, where we went over the problems detected in the SFC widescreen airings. I now have some answers and some information on this. I have to say up front that the WB folks have been nothing but helpful and determined to fix the problems.

In "Midnight on the Firing Line," wherein a teapot is shown instead of a starship when the audio indicates the latter...the editor explained that it resulted from a pause/freeze frame during assembly, and when he restarted the equipment, it jumped shots. This will be fixed.

In "Covictions," wherein a comp shot of several monitors doesn't show the surveilance footage, but rather shows just the original babcom logo...they had missed this on their list of comp shots, and will go back and insert the proper footage now that they know the problem is there. (They QC everything, but often with the audio down, so they had no way of knowing that they were talking about camera footage, and figured that it was okay since there was something -- the babcom logo -- in the monitors rather than totally blank screens.)

In "Inquisitor," wherein the west end/east end audio correction wasn't made...they were going off the original PAL audio transfers, which in this case didn't work because we made that audio correction *after* broadcast and replaced the audio for that shot afterward. They're going to go back to the revised 24 track audio and insert the proper audio.

Here's what's going to happen beyond this.

1) WB is going to go back to using *only* the original 24 track audio stems for the dubs.

2) Seasons 4 and 5 as it turns out are already in proper wide versions, as is season 1, so the only ones that need to be addressed are seasons 2 and 3.

3) WB is going to run cassettes of the whole series in the new version and I'm going to personally go over every damn episode personally looking for any potential problem areas (such as comps that may not have been recognized as such by the WB editors). It's possible that I may miss something here and there, because 110 hours is a LOT of TV to watch...but it'll certainly help.

They were *extremely* helpful and apologetic at WB, and are determined to do everything they can to fix the situation as fast as possible.

As for the audio...the audio transfers are being done directly off the original clones (either the original PAL, digibeta or 24 track stems), and QC'd. So what they suspect *may* be the problem is if the SFC is running the digital tracks through a dolby decoder. If you try to decode Dolby that isn't there, on a digital track (which doesn't need Dolby because it's digital) it can make the audio crunchy or lead to drop-outs, pops and other problems. I've sent word to SFC to have them check that at their end of things.

So the situation is well in hand.

NETTER DIGITAL AUCTION

Q: Given the fate of Netter Digital, do you have any plans to sell scripts in some other fashion?

A: No, not at this time. Be advised, btw, that anyone selling copies of scripts other than the actual ones used during production, which are multicolored, is ripping you (and the writers) off. It's patently illegal and constitutes copyright infringement.

Q: Will remaining scripts in the Fan Club inventory be available for sale?

A: That is not feasible. Only a few scripts were on hand in the fan club offices, so while those might be in play...under the WGA separation of rights provision, the writer of a script owns the rights to the actual, physical script, so that would be me and whatever other writers worked on B5. Nobody can authorize the sale of such scripts but the writer.

LETTERBOXING AT SCIFI

Just to let folks know...Doug and I have gotten into the situation, and have been working with both WB and SFC to straighten the situation out. WB has finally backtracked the problem, and will be taking steps shortly, as in the coming week or two, to fix it and begin the process of providing new (and proper) widescreen copies.

There will be some delay on the physical delivery of the tapes, because the original prints are all in cold storage, and you literally have to allow them time to defrost before you can run them through, and then there's the duplication time involved...and we haven't yet determined if new copies will be provided from S2 ep 1 and on in that order, or if they'll try to nail the next ones up in the airing schedule to get the corrected versions on the air sooner...but either way, we have been given assurances that the problem is now being dealt with.

SFC has been very helpful and patient in this situation, and it looks as if there was an error at the duplicating lab contracted by WB, literally a case of loading the wrong prints into the system, because the S5 eps are in proper widescreen, so we're looking at errors in S2-4 only.

To further assure that these errors are not perpetuated, we will have teams of Democratic and Republican observers present to...oh, wait, sorry, wrong crisis.


JMS ON ELECTIONS

Date: 13 Nov 2000
Okay, I'm going to separate out my general opinions from the meat of this, because they shouldn't be occupying the same space at the same time.

With any luck, this will be my last word on this for the time being, because this group really should be discussing B5 stuff, as many folks have requested.

I've never been a straight-party voter on any side of things. I was more than happy to vote McCain because I thought he was the best man in the race at that time. When he fell out, I felt that the best man in the race at that time was Gore, and voted accordingly.

Somebody asked if I'd accept Bush at the end of all this if the votes go his way. It was, and is, a silly question. I will accept *whoever* the vote ends up favoring on either end of the spectrum. (Not that it's up to me to accept anybody, it's a legal process that has nothing to do with me.) I had serious reservations about Nixon's performance as president, but I never questioned his *legitimacy*. I just thought he didn't make a very good president.

As I said elsewhere, I cannot imagine *anyone* on hearing proof positive that one side or the other engaged in illegal maneuvering, not wanting to take whatever time was involved to investigate the situation and ensure that those responsible be dealt with under the law.

And I equally cannot imagine anyone, on hearing proof positive that the election results were arrived at in a legal and proper way, not accepting as final and conclusive the results of that election.

If Bush, at the end of the day, is legally the winner of all this, no voter fraud involved, then one cannot question his legitimacy. That's the way the system works.

Do I think he will be a *good* president? Honestly, no. But I have always been willing to give any new president the time and space needed to prove otherwise.

I would hope that both sides would agree with this sentiment, whatever their own personal assessment of the individual in question.

That aside...I've been ruminating on this whole situation, and have come to the conclusion that this is a massively good thing for the country as a whole. Why?

Several reasons.

In recent years, we have been a fairly uninterested nation as far as politics and the mechanisms by which politics are carried out are concerned. If you asked any group of people a few weeks ago to explain the electoral college, few could've done so. But you cannot now walk into a restaurant or a bar without hearing people debating the relative merits of the electoral college, discussing the validity of butterfly ballots, and the role of the judicial system in the implementation of votes in the executive branch. It is, for the most part, healthy, productive, energetic and *informed* discussion.

An involved, excited electorate -- even a pissed-off electorate -- is an *informed* electorate, and that cannot but bode well for the future.

A month ago, a lot of people didn't bother to vote because they didn't think it would make a difference. Now, with states teetering on going one way or another by as few as 17 votes, nobody can think that way and a LOT of people are kicking themselves for not voting. I suspect that in four years, this will lead to a massive turnout of people determined not to make the same mistake twice.

This whole situation has brought into clear focus the still-remaining problems with ballots and the methods of balloting in any number of states, problems that have never really been dealt with before because until now there was never a *need* to deal with them. Now that they have been brought to light, this will almost inevitably lead to reforms and clarifications.

Some people have referred to this as a "constitutional crisis." But it's not. This IS the system working, using all of the various permutations set in place at the federal, state and local levels, at the polling place and the court house. What this says is that WHATEVER the problem, sonuvagun, there are peaceful and statutory means set up to deal with them.

If the system didn't work, if this were a constitutionsl crisis, there would be no other option but violence. And that ain't the case here. Either side going the legal courtroom route isn't going outside the system, the courts are a PART of the system, part of the chain of checks and balances that keep the whole together.

Out of this will come precedent and changes that will be useful the next time something like this happens.

Government and situations like this are part of the process of considering new contingencies and developing ways of working around them. If you look at the Constitution, you see a group of bright people who sat down and considered every possible variation or contingency that could be foreseen at that time, and who wrote down what to do in this event or the other. Most of those are still utterly applicable today, and the ones that don't address the problem directly still set up the parameters by which they can be addressed in other ways.

The Constitution is a living document, and this current situation is simply one more opportunity for growth and learning.

At the end of the day, whatever means or methods are used, and whatever one may think of the person involved on either side, we WILL have a new president. We will have one with legal validation, and that president will come into office in a peaceful transfer of power.

That is the very *core* of the Constitution and the system that has grown up around it. It *is* the process. The process has not broken down.

Whenever there's a situation like this, everybody says not to push things, that the system can't take it. The system survived Watergate and Vietnam and the Civil War and the fight for Civil Rights and two world wars and a bunch of smaller ones. It will survive this quite handily.

Over time, barnacles, moles and pocket fluff accumulate on any system of government. From time to time, something must occur to shake loose the growths and dust off the lint. This is such a moment.

It is not a crisis. It is a good thing.

jms

BABYLON 5 AT SCIFI

There has been a LOT of comment about SCIFI's airing of the show. Most people can't stand squishing the credits at the end; there have been problems with audio and video. Here's a recent comment from JMS on the situation.

Nov. 13 from JMS:

I expect that we will have some kind of resolution on this situation next week. I've been in discussions with several people from the technical division at SFC, giving them the information they need to backtrack with WB and figure out what happened. They had no idea there was a problem until several second season eps had aired because there was no reason to do any kind of check against the regular aspect ratio episodes since all of season 1 was correct.

We know they're ALL in widescreen in PAL format because we worked closely with WB to ensure they were all fully conformed when B5 was completed. And a number of us visited WB technical ops and also went to Laser Pacific to view eps from two later seasons during season 5. (We made the field trip so we could evaluate how the cgi comps were transferring to PAL in order to make some minor adjustments to color value balance in future comps, which sometimes showed line trading. And I received confirmation from WB at that time that they were finishing up the last of the widescreen deliveries.)

Anyway, as stated we should have some reading on this next week.


The Science Fiction Channel has been getting a lot of guff about the condition of the letterboxed episodes, and while the guff is *correct*, it is not correctly *aimed*.

Insofar as I know, SFC has nothing to do with the conversion of these episodes. They run what WB gives them to run. If there are audio or video glitches, the eps came that way.

The audio is a good example. A number of people have voiced concerns about how the eps sound, and I think I've figured out what the problem is there.

When we mixed B5, we used the full dynamic audio range. We came close to illegal audio every so often -- y'know, when your subwoofer threatens to explode during a shadow battle -- but we never crossed the line. Nonetheless: it's a VERY dynamic mix.

I suspect -- I don't know but I suspect -- that when they did the transfer of eps, they didn't go back to the original stems. They probably just transferred the eps via a standard duplication system which has built-in audio limiters that look for excessive (for TV standards) highs and lows and damp them down.

The result is that the audio becomes "crunchy," if you will, or static-y, because you're losing frequency waves at either end.

What they're doing to the video, I don't know.

But SFC is getting a bad rap on this, and it's undeserved.

Craig Engler, Executive Producer of SCIFI.COM posted this note recently at the B5 message board:
The short version is: The programming department at SCI FI is trying to figure out what's going on with the letterboxing for season 2. The first we heard of any problems was a note from JMS saying that the fans were concerned. Right now the programming department is in the midst of looking at episodes to see what the cropping situation is, etc. Once I know more I'll let you know. Thanks everyone for bringing it to our attention, and apologies for any inconvenience.

RATINGS

The ratings are holding rock solid on B5. For the last five weeks, they look like this:

0.7
0.8
0.7
0.7
0.7

Prior shows in that timeslot averaged .4 to .6 (and oddly enough we've doubled the ratings for kids and teens in that timeslot) and it bumps up every time from its lead-in.

For some kind of comparison, the most recent list of SFC shows that I've seen puts B5 in the top 10 (#4 to be exact), well ahead of most of SFC's original programming.

New Projects

The Scripts for Jeremiah and Rising Stars is due soon. How are they coming?

A: The final draft of the Jeremiah script has to be in by December 1st for a production decision; my goal with the Rising Stars screenplay is to get it turned in at the first-draft stage on December 1st, get notes and revise over the holiday break.

The first draft on Jeremiah went to various parties about a week ago, and has thus far met with very positive response. There's still a ways to go, but the signs are positive thus far. There are layers and layers of bureaucracy when you're back at the networks.

JMS On The Elections

A: Well, it looks like the jury is still well and truly out...talk of irregularities and missing ballot boxes in Florida....

Haven't had this much fun since good old Mayor Daly and the ballot-stuffing boys of Chicago....

If you check out cbs.com and abc.com, you will find reports of police cars outside polling centers in mainly black communities in Florida ticketing people who showed up to vote for minor offenses, intimidating african-americans...a so called "computer glitch" which gave the Socialist candidate -- who was polling literally 1 or 2 votes in every other county -- nearly 10,000 votes in *one county* that may have been for Gore...the 10,000 Gore votes that disappeared from Vusalia (sp?) county after they had already been logged into the computer...

Not to mention the GOP calls to older people telling them they couldn't vote unless they *specifically registered* for this election, and best of all, the call that THEY GOT ON TAPE AND GAVE TO THE FBI from a GOP phone bank saying that people had to bring their voter registration cards with them to be eligible to vote, and if they didn't, it could cause them legal trouble.

We're looking here at some massively serious allegations of vote fraud, intimidation, and more.

The GOP has literally tried to steal the election.

Also, MSNBC just reported that 19,000 ballots were *thrown out* because they had two holes punched for presidents, as though somebody had gone through and mass-punched ballots to disqualify them.

Choice of Candidates

Get real...this is the worst you can do in opposition to Bush, who lied to the press about any prior arrests, changed his driver's license number to make it harder to track such arrests (and was arrested at least once or twice more for vandalism and rotten behavior), got his daddy to put him in the National Guard to avoid the draft and went AWOL for 90% of that, never bothering to show up for his tenure there, and may now be at the center of the biggest and most blatant attempt in decades to steal an election through fraud and intimidation?

Yeah, much better choice.

UPDATE ON PROJECTS

JMS Interview

http://www.zealot.com/features/archives/jms/b5.php3 A fairly recent interview with JMS.

B5 COMICS

Q: Now that DC is owned by Wildstorm, is there a possibility for Babylon 5 comics?

A: In theory, yes...WB didn't want to let the book outside "the family" so they wouldn't let anyone other than DC do it, but now that Wildstorm is owned by DC, it's a possibility.

TWILIGHT ZONE MATERIAL

Here's something I thought people might find interesting... It's a site with copies of a few articles written by jms during his tenure on The New Twilight Zone. They're lot's of fun... enjoy:

http://www.thetzsite.com/pages/color/articles.html

PSYCOMIC COLUMN

I got the word today that the revamped psycomic.com site -- owned by USA Networks -- will be going online Monday.

One of the features is a new weekly column by me (each Monday) and a new weekly column by Kevin Smith (each Friday).

My column is entitled "Letters From the Edge," while Kevin's is "Views Askew." My first installment is "I'm Fine, How Are You?" in which I try to avoid writing a mission statement.


October 1, 2000

Boy, has this been a week....

As most folks know by now, the news about Marvel entrusting me with their flagship title The Amazing Spiderman broke on the nets Monday/Tuesday. As a longtime Spidey fan, this is something I'm looking forward to enormously. You can expect to see the first jms-written issue of TMS probably around March or April of next year.

On Wednesday Rising Stars 10 came out (and Midnight Nation 2 is due out in 2 weeks).

Also this week...after writing my first pass on the outline for the Rising Stars feature film (tentatively entitled "Born in Fire"), MGM read the outline, loved it, had a couple of very smart suggestions...and as of Wednesday, I've been put to script.

On Thursday, some friendly folks at Warner Bros. asked if they could take up the banner of my project The World On Fire (formally with Chris Carter) and take it out in the Spring to sell it as a series.

I also turned in the outline for the pilot TV movie this week, and today, Friday, was put to script on THAT project as well. With that hurdle passed, I can now talk a little about it. The network is indeed Showtime, as some have speculated, with Paramount Television the studio attached, and it's for an hour-series (debuting with a two-hour pilot movie) slated for their Sci-Fi Fridays slot. The project is based on an outside source, though I can't yet comment on that. I'm on as executive producer/show runner. In addition, feature film director Joe Dante is aboard also as executive producer, and he will be invaluable in setting the visual and directorial tone of the series. It's been an absolute pleasure working with Joe, and if we get past the next few hurdles -- every series has to go through the stages of pilot outline, pilot script, decision to produce the script and then the go-order on a series, same as with B5 and every other program -- I'm *really* looking forward to working with him on the series.

The Rising Stars movie screenplay will probably be turned in sometime middle or late November; the Showtime TV movie screenplay will probably be turned in around November 1 for production reasons.

It has been just an *astonishing* week....


WORKS ON BOOKFACE

From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
Date: 9/18/2000 3:01 PM Eastern Daylight Time

Because I've been up to my ears in work the last few weeks, like an idiot I kept forgetting to update the Tribulations info posted earlier.

The entire manuscript of Tribulations, my first new novel in 12 years, is now up at www.bookface.com, having been serialized last month in 4 weekly segments. It's been at the #1 spot now since it first went up, and now it can be read all the way through online for free.

(And for those who want to actually buy the thing -- and be entered in a drawing for the keyboard on which I wrote most of Babylon 5 and other stuff, signed and with a letter of authenticity -- it's available over on www.darktales.com.)

Other stuff still available to be read free online at bookface include: the last two scripts I wrote for Crusade (the arc-starter To The Ends of the Earth, and the planned season one cliffhanger End of the Line), and three short stories of mine, Say Hello Mister Quigley (dark fantasy), Cold Type (contemporary fantasy), and We Killed Them in the Ratings (novelette length thriller).

Aside from my stuff, btw, Bookface has really expanded its inventory of new original works by established and up-and-coming writers...it's fast becoming the place to go to find out what's coming up on the horizon in terms of rising SF and fantasy writers.

JMS ON THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

Jumping in with what will probably be my only thoughts on the issue....

I supported John McCain early on, even though I've traditionally voted democrat, because I thought there was a man of great substance up there behind the podium. I don't believe in following party lines, I try to find the best person for the job.

I think Gore is okay. I'm not massively enthusiastic, I think we could've done better on that count, but at the end of the day, he's okay. I think he'll do a decent, reasonable job.

I definitely do NOT want GWB in office, for very strong reasons.

This is a man who said, when he was told that there might be a huge budget shortfall in Texas as a result of his administration's choices, "Well, hopefully I won't have to worry about that." This is not a man who we should put anywhere NEAR the White House.

Further, major corporations put up nearly $100 million bucks, the largest in history, for his primary campaign. Corporations like that don't put up money at that level unless they think they're going to be getting something back in exchange. This is a man who is going to be absolutely beholden to big business, as he was in Texas, where the first things he did was to provide a massive tax break for big oil, and the "tort reform" he lauded later was a bill to make it harder to sue corporations when they do bad stuff.

This is a man who is a total chameleon. When McCain trounced him in one of the primaries as a reformer, suddenly Bush came out with all these banners saying HE was a reformer. He co-opts the other guy's stance when the other guy is ahead because he really has no other stance other than "I want the job."

He was packaged and picked because the party heads think Bush was a brand name they could promote, and because he was well placed to get the southern vote. They picked him because of logistics, not because he was the best man for the job.

He's prissy, arrogant, brittle, not terribly bright, and if he gets anywhere near the White House the damage he will do the country will, I believe, be *substantial*.

JMS ON VOTING

In a previous post, you stated that "Voting is the absolute, bare minimum requirement for being a citizen." Can you comment further?

A: Is it a rule? No, of course not. I was speaking of the matter of honor and of principle and of responsibility, things not overmuch popular in a time of "Leave me alone, I can do whatever I want, you're not the boss of me."

One is not *required* to help a person who is being assaulted in the street...but a basic requirement of decency and humanity is that we *try*.

When I was a guest at Chicago Comic Con a few years ago, some guy was caught shoplifting in the dealer's room. He punched the dealer and started running, the dealer followed, yelling for somebody, ANYbody, to stop the guy.

Nobody moved, which is when it came inside my peripheral vision.

The dealer got a partial hand on the guy, but the dealer was an older man, he wasn't going to be able to take this guy, who was a toned (as it turned out Navy) guy.

So I jumped in and tackled the guy. The two of us brought him down, and we held him, against his struggling, until the cops finally showed up.

We live in a representational form of government, which has a lot of problems and a lot wrong with it. It also has a great deal to offer: the street lights generally work, the mail generally comes, we are generally free to voice our opinions without fear of gulags or death squads.

To vote is *our part of the bargain*. If we want government to keep to THEIR part of the bargain, how can we in all good conscience not keep *our* part of the bargain?

I'm not jingoisitic, I know and am quite open about all the problems of this country and this government. But I also vote every year, year in and year out, good candidates and goofballs, because if I don't, then I'm not entitled to gripe about the consequences.

Every year, fewer and fewer people vote, meaning that our futures and our fortunes are being dictated by an increasingly smaller portion of the population because the rest just don't want to be bothered.

And I'm sorry, but to me, that ain't the proper perspective of a citizen. It's not just a one-way "gimme" street.

To vote is not the *legal* requirement of a citizen -- and by the way, the freedom you cite is first and foremost the freedom to choose the form of your elected government -- but it *is* a moral and ethical requirement.

Because if you don't exercise it, sooner or later you will lose that freedom and all the others you cherish, because those with a vested interest in making those freedoms go away will be the ones to pass the final laws, unopposed by dissenting voices at the ballot box.

Freedom does not equate laziness.

I said it in the show: you must choose the future you want, or others will choose it for you.

CLAUDIA CHRISTIAN'S LEAVING THE SERIES

Q: Did you consider just recasting the role with Tracy Scoggins when Claudia Christian left the series?

A: I've heard this before, and while it's a sensible and reasonable assumption to make, the one thing wrong with it is that it ain't true.

When Claudia left, I roundfiled (trashed) thefew scripts I had been working on with her character because they could not be used. They were first and in some cases second drafts, or partial scripts.

The scripts with Tracy in them were written for Tracy. Period.

As annoyed as I (and the rest of us) were with Claudia when she chose to leave, at the same time I just couldn't justify recasting it like that. It just didn't feel right to me, and I suspect a lof of fans would've felt the same way.


There have been a series of questions to JMS about his writing. Some are below, but here is a portion of the exchange that I think you'll enjoy.

Looking back:
Q: In hindsight, would you do things differently with the series?

A: In general, there isn't a frame I wouldn't go back and tweak in editing, a single line I wouldn't want to revise one more time to get it tighter or more to the point.

In more specific terms...the problem I had going in was that no one had ever done anything quite like this before, and as a consequence there were no road maps, no guidelines. I was kind of inventing the form as I went along, and I've always been somewhat insecure about my work, as many writers are, and there were times I'd think, "Christ, there isn't enough going on, I need more stuff happening here or else it's going to be just the writing and I'm dancing on the edge as it is"...and the threads would get so dense and manyfold that there were times when I was afraid I might actually lose control of the thing and the whole thing would tip over and end up in a ditch.

It took me a while to realize that I could relax and trust the writing to take me where it wanted to go. It was only this slowly dawning revelation that let me write things like Comes the Inquisitor or Intersections in Real Time, which is really just two characters in a room. I didn't need a lot of intrigue-ridden threads all over the place to keep things moving, it was okay just to write the scene and the characters and let the drama play itself out.

And there were times I didn't adjust to stuff as fast as I would've liked. When we got unionized in season 3 -- the most painless such activity I've ever seen, by the way, but still a distraction -- I was in the middle of writing Exogenesis. Then my world got kicked over by the negotiations, and when I came back to the script finally, 7-10 days later...it had gone cold, and I'd lost the fingerprints of the story. I couldn't drop it because we needed it in the pipeline to shoot, but in my view the first half of that episode sets up a cool premise that is not quite lived up to by the second half.

Same thing when Claudia chose to leave the show. That was a hard one on all of us, but in my case, I had a whole arc worked out for her that had to be dropped. I suddenly had to bring in a new character, weave her threads out of the tapestry, and adjust everything else in the first third of that season totally on the fly. (And on top of all that, my detailed notes on the first half of the season were tossed out by the hotel staff that moved my stuff from one room to another in Blackpool without checking with me. I had to recreate stuff on the one hand and angle it all off in a different direction on the other, both at the same time.)

While I think I did okay, it ain't pretty in a lot of places. If it had happened in the second or third seasons, I could probably have handled it with a bit more finesse, but at that point we were all on the edge of exhaustion. (Indicative of that: each season of a show, actors are brought in to a doctor, checked out, and insured for the season, so if something happens to them, the company is insured against delays. For the first time I know of, the writer producer (viz: me) was given that treatment -- this was a mandate to me, because others had noticed what the show was taking out of me -- so if I upped and died of a cardiac infarction in the middle of things, or collapsed of exhaustion, the company would be covered.


Q: Were there times when you feel you went beyond what you "thought" were your limits?

A: When it played even better than I'd expected it would. On a script, you see the scene and you think, "Well, I think it'll work," but you never really *know*, and like everybody else in the business, I've been fooled...something that looks like gold on the page turns into a dog when it hits the stage or the editing room, and something you thought wouldn't work ends up being massively cool.

Severed Dreams, the scenes where Sheridan makes his decision on hearing that troops are coming in...and Delenn's timely arrivel...I knew they'd be good, but I had no idea the real effect they'd have until I saw 'em in the editing room. Same with the Sheridan takedown in Face of the Enemy.

Probaby the biggest example, though, is Sleeping in Light. I knew that the last scene(s) would be effective from the script and the edit...but when we laid in Chris Franke's score, even before we had the EFX done, I began to realize that this was going to be a *crusher*. We didn't have the final EFX in until late 5th season -- I didn't want to finish it and give anybody a chance to accidentally run it early -- and when they were dropped in...it ruined me when I watched it straight through for the first time.


Q: Did you ever reach a point, as you wrote the episodes, when it struck you that what you were writing wasn't just mere television? That you were often moving people in a very profound way? And, as you wrote, was there a time when you first looked at the words on the page and had to sit back and say 'Wow!' or perhaps a time, other than SiL, when you yourself wept at what you had done? Maybe that seems a strange question, but B5 had so many moments of what I like to consider 'Perfect Cinema' when everything - script, visuals, music, acting - fell into place to create something so unforgettable that it still has the same effect on people even after repeated viewings. That's not just writing, that's a form of true brilliance.

A: Emotion is the hardest thing to do in TV, because of the constant interruptions by commercials. And there's this kind of too cool for the room sensibility that passion is passe, and it's all about the plot...which is why a lot of shows are *interesting* but not a lot of them really ramp up your emotions.

Drama is supposed to make you feel something. Hell, go all the way back to Twain...and this is from memory..."A short story or a novel should make you *feel* something for the characters, for the good to succeed and the bad to fail. In (title) you feel none of that. You want them all to land in hell, together, as soon as possible."

Otherwise what's the point?

My theory of writing has always been that if I can make myself laugh, the odds are that I can make the audience laugh; if I get misty eyed at something I'm writing (and it happened a LOT on B5), the odds are pretty good, since I'm a fairly restrained kind of guy, that it'll have that effect or more on the audience. So yeah, I tend to feel what I'm writing, because that's the only way TO write.

Those are kind words, and I hope that at the end of the day they may even become true. I'm too close to judge.

The only thing I do know in this regard comes from a quote from, I think, Madeline L'Engle. She said, "If an artist exists in true service to the art, then the art is greater than the artist." There were times on B5 when I didn't know WHERE the hell this stuff was coming from...I only knew that it was bigger than I was at times, and the moments that were created as a result were something...important.

That, at least, is what I hope for.


Q: Can you tell us why you write? To teach, explore new areas?

A: Both. Sometimes you don't really know what you may think of something until you have to verbalize it...to *explain* what you feel about somethilng. I've taught writing on several occasions, and each time I end up learning as much as the students because of the necessity of verbalizing what is often a subconscious, even a subliminal process.

I'm very careful not to teach per se in my writing, because on a wider scale, I'm not sure what I have to say that would be of any use, validity or purpose to anyone else. I believe in what Mark Twain said: "If you want your stories to last forever -- and by forever I mean a hundred years -- you must neither overtly teach nor overtly preach. But you must covertly teach and covertly preach."

I again quote, this time from William Faulkner: "The only thing worth dealing with as a writer, the only thing worth the blood and the pain and the effort, is the human heart in conflict with itself."

For me, the complex issues ARE the only really valid issues, and the ones most worth writing about. On a day to day basis, how often do we have to deal with rewiring a bomb so it won't go off and kill a busload of kids, as happens every other night on TeeVee?

But every day, sometimes every hour of our life, we have to wrestle with the profound issues: who do we trust, who can we tell our secrets to, what do we regret, what do we want, how do we love and how do we forgive and do we survive doing either one of those?

Those aren't great philosophical issues fit for academic dissection...those are bread and butter considerations that affect us every day.

I'm not satisfied, and I hope I never become satisfied, because that leads to complacency. I'm constantly questioning myself, my assumptions, what I wrote yesterday and what I hope to write tomorrow. I know there are some damn good answers out there, but until I find the questions that match the answers, I've got nothing.

I think that, more than anything, I'm trying to write about the things that interest me, the things that bug me, the things that don't make sense to me. I don't *have* many conclusions to write about, and am deeply suspicious of the few that I do have.

At its heartmeat core, writing is about exploring the questions of your heart on the assumption that what intrigues you, what inflames or amuses or ennobles you, will have the same effect on someone else. It's about taking chances, and taking risks, and pushing yourself to be honest in the issues that present themselves.

I saw an interview recently with the (relatively) new commandant of the Marine Corps, who said, of the Corps' experiments with organization, techniques and so on, "Experimentation -- TRUE experimentation -- means that you push yourself *until you fail*." Failure is not only a possibility, it's a requirement, so that you learn where your limits are, so you can address them and try again and next time push yourself beyond the point where you failed the last time.

That, to me, is about a good a description of the job of the writer as I've ever heard.


Q:You have so many projects going on now, I'm sure you're quite pleased. Are you happy to see a number of things coming together at the same time?

A: I would suspect it's a combination of things. In Excalibur it was said, of Arthur, the king and the land are one; when one suffers the other suffers; when one flourishes, the other flourishes.

With me, it's always been a case of "joe and the work are one; when one suffers the other suffers; when one flourishes, the other flourishes."

I'm at my best when I'm doing a lot of things, when the work is solid, and it's been appreciated by people in the industry, and the number of new coming gigs kind of validates the work that went before...and, though I know it shouldn't, it kind of validates me *to* me. I'm a writer, I define myself as such, so my self image and the work are inextricably interwoven. This is not always a good thing, but by the same token it is not always a bad thing.

So on balance...yeah, I'm happy. Most days. Like you, there are some days I'm most emphatically NOT happy. I try not to go on line during those moments because I'm not fun to be around. But in general I'm more happy than not.

And after Crusade, it wasn't so much that I wasn't *happy* as I was *pissed*. I knew what that show was going to become, what it could be, and I was mainly angry at the loss in terms of talented cast members, the stories we would have told, and so on.

But I never once considered that it would be a long-term problem. Every show runner takes a year or so to get another project going because if you do the math, there are 10,000+ WGA members, of which a large number are producers, and, what?, 25 or 30 network series, of which most already have show runners attached. It takes time for a slot to come open. Many EPs have spent as much as 2-3 years between gigs. In this case it's just about a year, and that's very good...not to mention that there's been a lot of other work in the interim, the Murder She Wrote TV movie, the comic, the radio dramas, that sort of thing.

And, I must confess, there's a very small part of me that is happy knowing that there are some people who will be absolutely annoyed to hear that I'm doing well. It's a definite character flaw on my part...but it's one I can live with.


New Series for JMS

Here's something new from JMS I'm sure you'll want to read. It is related to the new TV show mentioned by JMS in his interview with Tony Tellado:

"We just closed the deal for me to come on board as executive producer/show runner this week, and the first substantial creative meetings start on Wednesday.

What I *can* say is this:

* it's in the SF genre

* it's for one of the pay cable networks (which means no censoring of language or ideas or images, which is a terrific situation for any writer, allowing you to go as far as they have on, say, The Sopranos or Oz)

* it's slated to start with a 2 hour pilot which I'll be writing and is due no later than December

* it'll probably be shot in Vancouver since there are a lot of locations in it that we can find in one place only up there

* there's a high profile director attached to the project and that involvement was one of the real inducements for me to sign on with this because I've always admired his work in TV and film

* assuming the pilot script passes muster, we'll probably begin shooting in February or March for a Fall debut. (What's nifty is that while there's a pilot required, as with ANY new series, in this case they're willing to go into production on the series based JUST on the script, we don't have to go out and shoot a full pilot first)

* on a personal level, it pays over double what I got on B5 or Crusade, which is kinda nice

* it will have an arc to it, but not as rigorous as the B5 arc

And like that.

My *guess* (and that's all it is) is that the network will release some info about this over the next couple of months, but will probably hold back anything more substantive until after the pilot is written.

Practically from the first day after Crusade went down, there have been various offers, but except for the Chris Carter deal, which went down when Harsh Realm was pulled, none of them were things I could get really excited about. This one, though, is something I think I can really sink my teeth into.

It's really been an amazing year so far... Tribulations has been the #1 read on bookface.com for three weeks running, City of Dreams is a bonafide hit on scifi.com, we closed the deal for me to write the Rising Stars movie for MGM, and now the series deal is now in place....

You just got to keep doing what you're doing, and do it to the best of your ability, and sonuvagun, somehow things work out.


Can you tell us any more about the new series? The network involved?

A: To specify more than I have -- narrowing it down to just the pay cable networks, which leaves just HBO, Showtime and TMC -- would constitute an announcement and subvert the authority of those who should rightly make that announcement, and without their consent I can't do that.

It's kind of like the early year or so of B5's history, when it was TWCBN, That Which Cannot Be Named. I'll talk about it more when I can.

With the new series coming along, does that mean that a "Crusade" revival is totallyl out of the question?

A: Not at all, since many producers handle more than one show, though I'd have to do it at arm's length in second position.


A CHANCE TO HAVE JMS' KEYBOARD

From: J. Michael Straczynski 3:20 a.m. on 28-Jul-2000

By now, most of you know about the Crusade scripts and the original stories of mine that have appeared on bookface.com: "Cold Type," "Say Hello, Mister Quigley" and "We Killed Them In the Ratings."

Well, we're taking it to the next level.

Previously, I've had two novels published in hardcover from E.P. Dutton: "Demon Night" and "OtherSyde." They were published about a year apart, and did very well (the former was nominated for a Bram Stoker award). I always wanted the time and opportunity to write another novel.

That was over ten years ago. Then I fell down the TV black hole and never had a chance to catch my breath and tackle another novel.

After Crusade, I saw that I had a chance that I might not get again soon. In general, show runners go maybe a year or so between shows, and that would be a great window to try for a new novel before I got dragged into TV land again (and I'll have more info on that topic soon).

As a result...I recently completed my first full-length (100,000 word) novel in nearly twelve years. I'd considered taking it to auction in New York, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt this one should be done differently. So through special arrangement with bookface.com, I'm making my new novel available to be read FREE online, as a thanks to all the Babylon 5 fans who supported us over the years. It will be serialized in four installments beginning in August, so you may want to keep an eye out for it.

TRIBULATIONS is a contemporary dark fantasy novel (not a horror novel) set in present-day Los Angeles. The main characters are SUSAN RANDALL, a crime reporter with the Los Angeles News-Tribune, and RAYMOND WEILL, a man with a dubious background who believes that the series of crimes she is investigating has a supernatural origin which only he truly understands.

It is, oddly enough, a fun book. It has scares, humor, action, and strong, colorful characters. It takes some all-in-good-fun pot shots at the journalism profession (somewhat from my own experience, working for the LA Times, Time Inc. and others), new age bookstores, the LAPD, psychics, politics, show business, TV news, fringe groups and agents.

It has a crusade of sorts, plus priests, tears, blood, voices in the night, carnage, corned beef, soldiers of light and emissaries of dark, the lost and the dispossessed, fights over an air conditioning system and at least one major Los Angeles riot.

It is also a book about the ways we do, and should, treat each other. It is about trust, and hope, and respect, and the responsibility we bear to stand, alone if necessary, against impossible odds if we believe we are right. It's about taking chances, and rebirth; about the nature of evil, the story of Job, and the different forms of love. It's about some of the things we've forgotten, and some of the things we need to discover anew.

It is, I think, the best book I've ever written. I'm very proud of it, and if you liked B5, I think you'll like this one.

Two other important notes in this regard:

Upon casually mentioning a while ago that this may be on the horizon, I received a small flood of emails from people asking if there was *any* way to get this book in physical form... because not everyone is on the nets, and not everyone who IS on the nets can access the site.

So for those who can't wait for the ending, or who really want to have this in actual book form, I've arranged with Dark Tales Publications (darktales.com) to make a limited number of copies of the book available in trade paperback form. They've done a great job on design, it looks great, and they're vastly excited about publishing it. To make finding the book easier the bookface.com site will link to their site starting with the third installment.)

Now, here's the kicker. This is just for fun.

If you've seen any of the photos taken in my office at the BABYLON 5 stages, you've probably seen me working at a Kinesis ergonomic keyboard. It's an odd looking thing, with two recessed wells where the keys are located. I bought this keyboard right around the end of the first season/start of the second season of B5.

On this keyboard, I wrote the lion's share of all the scripts for BABYLON 5, wrote all my CRUSADE scripts...wrote all the memos to various departments and some rather heated memos to TNT...posed with it for pictures appearing in British SF magazines...wrote 90% of my online postings done from the B5 stages...wrote the MURDER, SHE WROTE TV movie that aired recently on CBS...wrote the script for my project with Chris Carter, THE WORLD ON FIRE...and, finally, this is the keyboard on which I wrote TRIBULATIONS. I used it until just recently. It works fine, though the cord has a tendency to come loose inside the keyboard and may need to be reinstalled.

I've been offered substantial sums for this keyboard, probably the most iconic symbol of my 5 years spent making BABYLON 5 and talking with fans online. One person suggested that on Ebay it would pull in an astonishing amount of money.

So, being the contrary person I am...I'm giving it away.

Each person who buys a copy of TRIBULATIONS from darktales.com will have the option of being included in a raffle. At a date still being set, we will finish the raffle at a convention, and the keyboard will be given away to one of those participants.

In addition, I will personally sign the keyboard and include a certificate of authenticity.

My hope is that whoever gets it will use it to create the story that could become the next BABYLON 5. And, in time, pass it along to the next person in line.

Meanwhile, starting in August, the book will be freely available to read online at bookface.com.

Hopefully it won't take another 12 years before I get around to writing the next book....

jms

Have you seen Jeanne Cavelos' technomage novel yet?

A: I'm reading the first installment of the Technomage trilogy now, and though I'm only about halfway done, I think it may be the best of the bunch. If there's any one of the books that I think could be considered Nebula material...it's this one.


Q: For people who discovered "Rising Stars" too late to get back issues, will it be coming out in another format soon?

A: The first 8 issues, comprising act one of the story, will soon be released as a graphic novel from Top Cow.


Q: "City of Dreams" is wonderful. The latest, "Rolling Thunder" is terrific. What else do you have in store for us?

A: Thanks, it's a very moving episode, and one I wrote kinda fiercely. The next two up are mainly fun episodes, one partially for humor, the other kinda creepy.

The next 4 after that are the experimental episodes, where I'm going to try and do different things with the form. It's really hard, because you have to turn your head upside down, but the first one should be quite entertaining, in a weird, scary kind of way.


Q: How will "Midnight Nation" differ from "Rising Stars"?

A: Certainly in the case of MIDNIGHT NATION, it's a focused story about two individuals, as opposed to an epic tale about 113 people over 60+ years. We get right into it and get things moving almost immediately.

It's also been a big help to get Rising Stars going because it's helped me learn a lot about how to do this. My goal as always is to make the next thing better than the last thing.


There has been a lot of discussion about the new Amazing Stories story about Marcus and Ivanova. Do you care to comment about it?

A: What's been kind of fun about the discussion of this episode here and elsewhere has been the bipolarity of it all.

On the one side you have those who think it's a very romantic story with a happy ending. Which is totally the right response.

And then on the other side you've got those who think it's a morally dubious story or even worse. Which is ALSO totally the right response.

It becomes a question of what you, the reader, thinks is appropriate, and where the priorities are. Does Marcus, having laid down his life, and suffered, and lost everything and everyone he holds dear, deserve a last shot at happiness using a technology that is probably being used by other people for far worse purposes?

On the other hand, the technology and the invasiveness of it raises very real questions and concerns. One can say it's an invasion, but is it really? Is it her, or is it a blank slate? What makes her, *her*?

If, in the end, he is happy at last, and she is happy, who are we to question?

But should we not question the *thrust* of the technology, and the uses it might be put to in future?

I knew it'd drive a wedge right down the middle of the readers, and that's exactly why it was written...to pose questions and raise issues for heated discussion. Because what's right or wrong here is a matter of perspective, as it should be.


Q: Any new merchandise coming down the pike?

A: I keep forgetting to mention this, so while it's in my head thanks to a prior message here....

One of the niftiest B5 items to come down the pike lately is the HUGE pewter B5 station you can find over at factory-x.com. They put in a LOT of work making this thing just right, and the work shows. They're also going to be coming out with a Starfury and other ships. They're totally gorgeous, pewter and silver, and you have to see 'em to understand why I'm so jazzed.

I don't usually go out and flog for the licensees, but this one is real nifty.


Q: Will there be more Babylon 5 comic books?

A: No, there won't be any B5 comics for one simple reason: DC is owned by Time Warner, parent company of WB. Their feeling is that, because they own DC, nobody else should do a B5 comic. But it ain't gonna happen under DC. Even so, they don't want to turn it loose; better no one should do it.

It's like a monkey with his hand around a nut in a jar...he won't let it go, but he can't get his hand out of the jar, either....


In "End of the Line", the script ends in a cliffhanger. How long does it take you to write a script?

A: It's my job. It pays well and I get to work my own hours. It kind of depends on the script, and how well I've worked it out prior to ever sitting down at the keyboard. My average writing time for an episode is about a week, give or take a day or two in either direction. Some I've written in as little as one day (and, oddly, the ones written in a day tended to be my better ones, because it all came out in a white heat and I wasn't sitting there second-guessing myself the whole time).

In the case you cite, it was a while ago so my memory may not be wholly accurate, but I'm *pretty* sure I wrote both those scripts in about 3-4 days each.


Q: Generally, how accurate are you with >respect to the time factor now that you've done it so MANY times? 43 minutes isn't a lot of time to work with on some of the more complex episodes. You seem to write as you visualize the scene.

A: 45 pages. I would always hit within a page or so of 45 pages. Yeah, I tend to direct on the page. If you watch an episode and read along with the script, you see that shot for shot, with few exceptions, it matches. I write what I see in my head. And I see the whole episode, filmed, before it's ever actually, well, *filmed*. Then it's just a matter of transcription.

A beat is just a pause, allowing for impact or emotional transition or emphasis.

DAVID
I love you.
(beat)
Mostly.

Sometimes you can parse it a bit and say "He takes half a beat to respond," but by that point you're getting into dicey terrain.

Sometimes actors can rush a scene through, nor not see where the emphasis of the story is in the dialogue, so that's just kind of an arrow that points to important stuff.


"The Path of Sorrow" is a very interesting Crusade episode. I'm surprised TNT did not want more exposition in the story.

A: That was actually their other suggestion when I vetoed the rest, that we NOT see the flashbacks, but rather have them "talk about their feelings about what happened." They stated that nobody wants to see flashback stories, they only want to see what's happening in the present tense.


Q: Will you be at the San Diego ComiCon coming up? I don't see you on the guest list.

A: I'll be there, and I think they've got me booked pretty solid all day Friday starting at about 2 or 3 through the Eisner Awards. Not much for thereafter.


With all the issues and problems that Babylon 5 faced over it's five year run, how did you keep going - not knowing what was ahead in the future for you or the series?

A: Pure, naked, unbridled, ornery, stubbornness.

Q: Now that Babylon 5 has ended, what is your goal? What do you want at this point in your life?

A: To tell the next story. And the one after that. Whether that's a TV show, or a book, or a comic, or a play...it's all the same to me, as long as I get to tell my stories the way I see them in my head.

In TV, I figure I've got another few years left in me before I just can't handle it anymore, so I'd kinda like to do one more show, maybe two depending on what does or doesn't last...and then get out. I'm 45 now, so that would put me at about 50, a good age to go for a quieter lifestyle.

Q: Surely you want to write longer than that?

A: See, my mind -- that same, pigheaded mind -- made itself up pretty firmly on this one.

Reason is basically this: I started working in TV round about 1984/85. That's 15 years already in this particular vineyard. And it's soul-killing work. Always has been. Charles Beaumont said it's like climbing a mountain of ka-ka to pluck one perfect rose...only to find by the time you've gotten to the top that you've lost your sense of smell.

It's hard, tedious, soul-breaking work, mainly for the kind of people you have to deal with, and I have only so much visceral material. I've worked hard all my life (as have most people), working round the clock for *years*, rarely ever taking a vacation, writing nonstop...I *need* to find that time when I can relax a bit, and that ain't never gonna happen as long as I'm working in TeeVee.

Give up writing? That, no, I'll be writing until I fall down dead. But TV? Yeah, I could give that up pretty easily when the time comes.

Q: In a recent interview, Larry DeTillio talked about a Crusade episode he was going to write and it had something to do with Dureena. Was that just a tease or a hint at what was to come?

A: Dureena would've been taken away in a 3 parter, and when she returned she would've had the sword referred to in the uploaded Crusade script. So no, Larry wasn't messing with anyone's head.

Q: Will the new scripts be made available for purchase at some time in the future -- like at the Fan Club or Scripts From the Lot?

A: Nothing is set at the moment.

Q: What will "Midnight Nation" -- the first of Joe's Comics be about?

A: It's a contemporary story that doesn't really fit most categories...maybe magic realism comes closest, dark fantasy maybe...it sets some of the tropes of the dark fantasy genre against a modern setting, with a police officer on a quest to recover something taken from him, a search which shows him a side of the country usually not seen, the hidden doors and secret places only glimpsed out of the corner of the eye....

Q: How did the "Murder She Wrote Movie" do in the ratings?

A: Apparently the show was a strong #2 rated program for the first hour, and a strong #3 rated show for the second hour...which is MUCH better than CBS had been anticipating given that we were up against the season finales of Friends and Frasier which drew something like a 30 share (meaning nearly 1/3rd of the country was watching them), which is hideous competition.

Q: What address is best to use for you and for the cast/crew of the show?

A: 14431 Ventura Boulevard, PMB 260
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

As an aside to folks in general...mail to the cast should these days be sent via their respective fan clubs. As folks have scattered to the four winds, it's become increasingly difficult for the B5 fan club to track people down and get mail to them, and there are often long delays. And we don't really have the staff to handle a lot of this stuff.

So mail to cast should generally be sent via their fan clubs from this point on.

Q: Do you consider the DelRey books cannon?

A: In broad strokes, yes, the series is canon, since I came up with the outline for all the Del Rey novels. And overall, I'm very pleased with how they've been going.

Q: What can you tell us about Babylon 5 coming out on DVD?

A: I actually can't recall now where I heard it, I've been kind of scattered of late, but what I do recall hearing was that they were going to release some in the UK and if they did well, they would consider releasing them in the US. But that was the full extent of what I'd heard, and it certainly isn't binding on anybody.

Q: What about the high-definition widescreen version of the show?

A: This I *can* speak to with authority, because I've SEEN the widescreen versions. We worked hand in hand with the guys at WB's technology office to help handle the transfer to widescreen. Not only that, but at one point we sat down at Laser Pacific here in LA with a bunch of guys from WB, LP, and our team (Flinn, me, Copeland, others) to view an ep in widescreen to examine ways in which we could take greater advantage of the wide frame while still protecting for current aspect ratios (i.e., don't shoot everything dead center, have it off-center a little more or bleed off the side, because it'll all come back again once you retelecine back to the original widescreen, that sort of thing).

What WB says, repeatedly, is that there is no such critter. Which is true and not true. There is no such critter in NTSC format. The widescreen versions were made for foreign release, in PAL format only.

So there is no NTSC format widescreen. But you can HAVE an NTSC format widescreen by just transferring the PAL digibeta tapes to NTSC.

It costs about $1,500 per episode to do this, because it has to be carefully tweaked to avoid digital artifacting and line trading and the like. (See how much tech stuff you learn being an exec producer?) WB has been unwilling to pony up the dough for that transfer. ($1500 x 110 episodes + the 5 movies is a good chunk of change.)

So widescreen versions DO exist. I've seen them, others in the B5 team have seen them, and some of the movies have been released in wide in the UK.

One can only hope that, in time, they can be persuaded to expend the effort.

Q: Babylon 5 was recently voted best show of all time by SFX magazine. Do you have any comment on this?

A: As for being the best show of all time, that comes from the readers of the magazine, which is a very cool thing...especially because all SFX does these days is diss the show and myself. So I'm glad it got the award from the fans; it's the wrapping that needs work.


Q: What can you tell us about Babylon 5 going to DVD?

A: I actually can't recall now where I heard it, I've been kind of scattered of late, but what I do recall hearing was that they were going to release some in the UK and if they did well, they would consider releasing them in the US. But that was the full extent of what I'd heard, and it certainly isn't binding on anybody.


Q: Anything on the widescreen version of Babylon 5?

A: This I *can* speak to with authority, because I've SEEN the widescreen versions. We worked hand in hand with the guys at WB's technology office to help handle the transfer to widescreen. Not only that, but at one point we sat down at Laser Pacific here in LA with a bunch of guys from WB, LP, and our team (Flinn, me, Copeland, others) to view an ep in widescreen to examine ways in which we could take greater advantage of the wide frame while still protecting for current aspect ratios (i.e., don't shoot everything dead center, have it off-center a little more or bleed off the side, because it'll all come back again once you retelecine back to the original widescreen, that sort of thing).

What WB says, repeatedly, is that there is no such critter. Which is true and not true. There is no such critter in NTSC format. The widescreen versions were made for foreign release, in PAL format only.

So there is no NTSC format widescreen. But you can HAVE an NTSC format widescreen by just transferring the PAL digibeta tapes to NTSC.

It costs about $1,500 per episode to do this, because it has to be carefully tweaked to avoid digital artifacting and line trading and the like. (See how much tech stuff you learn being an exec producer?) WB has been unwilling to pony up the dough for that transfer. ($1500 x 110 episodes + the 5 movies is a good chunk of change.)

So widescreen versions DO exist. I've seen them, others in the B5 team have seen them, and some of the movies have been released in wide in the UK.

One can only hope that, in time, they can be persuaded to expend the effort.


Q: How do you feel about remakes of movies -- like Seconds?

A: They won't get it right. They never do, in these remakes. The Haunting remake was an utter disaster that failed because it had NO understanding of what made the original film a success: the mystery of what you DON'T see.

They should just leave it alone.

Q: Now that the list of Hugo nominees has been released, do you have any comments?

A: Having seen the list of nominees, which doesn't include any of the B5 TV movies which would have been eligible, I have to say that...I agree with the slate of nominees. The list had The Sixth Sense, The Matrix, The Iron Giant and two others I can't recall right now...and I can't think of ONE of them that I'd bump for a B5 or Crusade project, much as I like them.

It's an excellent list, and in one sense I'm relieved; if a B5 or Crusade item had made the final cut, I'd *still* have to vote for the Matrix as best of the bunch, and I'd hate to have to do that. This saves me the existential angst.


Q: What information do you have on Crusade at the Sci-Fi Channel?

A: I get the sense from some folks at SFC that they wanted to make the B5 deal its own thing, without diluting it, and that they might well come back next year to pick up the Crusade reruns as another kind of event to spike the B5 reruns a bit.

Note: I'm not saying that's what's going to happen, only my sense of what will *probably* happen, given some recent conversations.

Everything in TV has its time; shows are acquired at specific points and in specific ways. That's why, for instance, the project Chris Carter and I had in development has to wait until July/August before I can take it out again; development season runs from about that time through October, then the door's shut.

To that point, as an aside, since people have emailed and asked what is involved in development in terms of my side of things....

In the case of the project I was doing with Chris, you don't simply jump over a broom on the floor and say "Okay, we're now in development." (Taxi fans will get that one.) Contracts are signed and deals made BEFORE you get into development and before you pitch it to anyone.

Why?

Because let's say you DON'T sign a deal in advance. You take the project to a network. They want it. The writer can then hold up the studio for exorbitant monies because he knows the network wants the show. Studios will NEVER put themselves in that vulnerable a position. (On the flip side, a writer wants to make sure his or her position on the show is guaranteed in advance.)

So in the case of THE WORLD ON FIRE, once I'd pitched it to Frank and Chris, and they liked it, before any development work could commence we had to strike a deal between me, Ten Thirteen Productions, and Fox Studios. Negotiations took about 2 or 3 weeks, if I recall.

In that deal, signed around July/August last year, Fox agreed that I would exec produce the series if it were picked up. Chris and Frank would also be EPs.

Even though the show didn't get picked up because of the Harsh Realm situation, what's significant is that a) the negotiation and deal, which is now a matter of record at Fox, put my salary quote at nearly double what it had been at B5 (this is important because all new deals are based on your last deal), and b) it proved what I'd believed: that having run B5 for five years, keeping it on budget, on schedule, and making it hugely profitable for WB, was a hell of a lot more important to the studios than the Crusade situation. Shows get dropped all the time, sometimes in contentious circumstances.

What mattered to Fox and Ten Thirteen (and all this is a matter of record, I couldn't say this stuff if it weren't true or Fox would nail my ass to the wall) was what was done with B5. I don't think they were even *aware* of Crusade, to be honest.

So when the next development season comes around in July/August, we'll see what happens. In general I'd prefer to run my own show than come in on someone else's show (show runners for new and returning series get hired May/June). I've had some nice offers, including a project with Joe Dante that I'm very strongly considering, but in general I'm holding out for something *cool*, whether it's my own show or someone else's.


Q: Do you know why the magazine decided to publish this issue now?

A: There had apparently been plans to do this issue previously, but one thing or another kept getting in the way, logistical problems and the like. It's a good piece. A few errors here and there, but nothing really major.


April 4, 2000

As I write this, we are finishing production on a new MURDER, SHE WROTE TV movie (I'm on as producer and writer), which is tentatively slated to air May 18th on CBS. The TV movie is entitled "A Story to Die For," and co-stars Richard Crenna and a lot of other folks including, in a strong supporting role, Daniel Dae Kim.

Kinda nice to be back at a network again.

More announcements as I'm able to make them.

Here's a post from the newsgroup that I just HAD to post in it's entirety. I think the people involved in Finland share a lot of the emotion we have for the show and have expressed themselves in the following post. It's long, but I think says it very well for ALL of us:

From: leopold@pikkusirkku.cs.tut.fi (Herranen Henrik)
Date: 30 Mar 2000 15:14:00 -0700

"Humans form communities." Our community was created to allow people to see the series as it aired without the fear of spoilers, but during its three-year existence it grew to be something bigger. We laughed and cried; we loved and we hated; we flamed each other and even married; but most importantly, we cared. It does not matter whether we liked or hated a particular episode, what matters is that we *felt*. We felt strongly enough to calculate the trajectories of Sheridan's baseballs. We exposed our nightly dreams to the public. We talked endlessly about technology that does not exist. We speculated, and rewatched the episodes to catch hints of things to come, making the series an unique watching experience.

Babylon 5 brought together a number of diverse people. First, watching videos taped and sent overseas as the story unfolded in the US. We were originally just a handful of people, but as B5 began airing here in 1997, an online community was formed under the guidance of those who had already seen the episodes so that the younger could also see the story unspoiled.

Sleeping in Light aired one week ago, and the newsgroup will soon be dismantled, so that it does not have to suffer dying slowly as people move away. But what it achieved, remains.

We, the people of the Finnish sfnet.viestinta.tv.babylon5 newsgroup, wish to express our gratitude for the magnificent tale you have given us, and wish you well.

Thank you.

Signed by:
Janne Aalto : Thank you for everything.
Riku Aalto :
Jukka Aho :
Marko Aho : You showed that a long story is possible on TV!
Pekka Ahonen : Thank you for the greatest SF series ever made
Aki Ahtinen : thank you
Elina Ahvonen : Thank you for creating B5, see you beyond the Rim ;-)
Matias Alanko : This might sound VERY lame, but still: Thank You!!
Hanna Alasalmi : Good night, Babylon 5, the brightest star in my sky.
Raimo Anttila : Many thanks for you and all who created B5!
Antti Arola : Nothing's the same anymore...
Matti Aumala : [ o)
Per Backman : Faith manages. Thank you.
Nils Beiskjaer : Thank you seems poor and inadequate, but.. Thank You
Tomi Bergman : Thank you wery, wery much!
Juha Ekholm : Life consists of laughter and cry, Babylon 5 gave both.
Sanna Elo : Thank you!
Jukka-Pekka Forsberg : Thanks for this wonderful scifi experience.
Erik Forsström : The best series there ever was. Thank you JMS!
Jarkko Girs : Thank you, beware somebody's watching you!
Henri Grönroos : Thank you for best Tv-Show ever
Markus Haapala : Thanks!
Tuomas Haapanen : Babylon 5 has a special place in our hearts.
Sami-Pekka Haavisto : You'd be surprised...
Hannele Hakala : Babylon 5 in my heart forever. Thanks!
Jyri Hakola : Faith manages.. Thank You
Jutta Halonen : Faith manages!
Tuomas Halonen : One word: thanks!
Karri Haltiala : Thank You.
Mika Hanski : Remember Byron!
Mikko Hanski : We live for the one, we die for the one.
Arto Harjula : The best story I have seen on tv since 1962!
Marko Haverinen : Nothing more to say: thank you!
Teemu Havukainen : Kiitos, Thank you
M. Petteri Heikkinen : Startide is rising
Eeva Heikkonen :
Jukka Heinonen : Thank you for an amazingly addictive saga!
Jyri Heinonen : Thanks for everything!
Jesse Helin : I have no words..
Lea Herd : Thank you, the series was pretty nice
Markku Herd : Thank you for the wonder.
Emma Herranen : B5 has guided my life to a better direction. Thanks.
Henrik Herranen : Moderator's Greetings
Tomi Heteaho : Too bad about crusade.. :-(
Arto Hietanen :
Esa Hiltula : Thanks from a lurker
Elina Hjerppe : Thank you
Lasse Holmstedt : No kiitos JMS! Se oli upeaa.
Valtteri Honkasaari : Thank you for the best thing that has ever come from TV
Atte Honkasalo : Thanks!
Tomi Hurenius : May she rest in piece...
Ari Huttunen : Thank you very much.
Miika Huttunen : Thank you for an excellent story.
Tommi Huuhtanen : Babylon 5 is *magnificent*. Thank you!
Fatso Huuskonen : I'm... Speechless...
Tuomas Hyyppä : Thanks!!
Mikko Hyökki : Thank you for these five seasons.
Karri Hämäläinen : Thank you for B5.
Eero Hänninen : I thank you from bottom of my hart of this great show!
Lauri Härsilä : Best Scifi-series in the Universe
Jarno Iivarinen :
Petri Isomäki :
Santeri Itälinna : The Answer to Life, The Universe & Everything... 42.
Jouko Juhola : Thank you for this great series.
Hannu Juottonen :
Heli Juottonen :
Vesa Juusola : Great work, JMS! From the btm of my heart - thank you.
Timo Jyrinki : Thank you, for the experience, for the thougths & so on
Seppo Järvenpää :
Jyri-Pekka Järvinen : Thanks for an unforgettable experience.
Jussi Jääskeläinen : Years of joy had ended... Missing you B5!
Satu K. : Thank You.
Tommi Kaituri : It was a good story, storyteller.
Atro Kajaste : Words only go so far. Thanks for this experience!
Mika Kallo :
Kalle Kamunen : Thank you very much!
Tomi Kangas : Thank you so much for the best scifi-story ever written
Tapio Kanko : Thanx... It was a f****in´best series in whole world
Tommi Karesvuori : Thanks for the best tv series I've ever seen!
Antti Karhu : Thank you for making the best tv-series ever!
Katja Karhu : Thank you :)
Jarmo Karonen : For his story of the future, the history of the future.
Anne Karppinen : Thanks for an excellent show.
Ilkka Karppinen : Babylon5: N
Tero Karppinen : Thank's for the best live-action science fiction serie!
Kristjan Kasevits :
Riku Katainen : Thank you for giving me so many beautiful moments.
Milla Kauhala : SiL IS beautiful.Thanks for a FULL story.I'll remember.
Juha Kaunisto :
Janne Kauppi : BABYLON 5 LIVES FOREVER !!!
Klaus Kekki : Thanks for these unforgettable months...
Juha Kerätär : Babylon 5 is an epic. And I love it. Thank you for it!
Ville Kilkku : Babylon 5 has been simply the best scifi-series to date
Olli Kinnunen : Thank you for making a show that made tv worth watching
Timo Kinnunen : Thanks!
Jan Knutar : B5 is the best story I've ever seen or read, thankyou!
Risto Kokkonen : What should be said is said.
Lauri Kolehmainen : Thank you, JMS, for the greatest sci-fi series ever!
Aatu Komsi : I am so, *so* grateful. We'll keep the faith.
Eetu Komsi : Zathras great hero!Others come, but we remember Zathras
Petri Konttinen : B5 is by far the best tv-series I've ever seen!
Ville Koponen : Thanks for B5.
Mika Korpela : Thank you JMS and same in finnish 'Kiitos'
Ariel Koskinen : Wow, I'm gonna remember that. Thank you, thank you.
Markku Koskinen : Thank you so much for the series, I'm going to miss it.
Petri Kuikka : Thank you VERY much!!!
Timo Kuismanen : Babylon5 is one of the greatest tv-series ever.
Esa Kuokkanen : Thanks for saving my life !
Anna Kuosmanen : Thank you!
Petri Kuukkanen : Live long and prosper!
Jori Kuusela : Thank you JMS and all the people who made B5 possible.
Pasi "pazi" Kuusisto : Spank you. Spank you very much! : )
Marita Kuusto : B5 really made me think and enjoy, thank you.
Marjo Kuusto : Thank you for showing us what the future is like :)
Timo Kyttä : I saw every episode and enjoyed every minute. Thanks!!
Jerri Kämpe : THX, for a great expedition into my own mind with B5
Päivi Kärki :
Klaus Käyhkö : JMS Rulz!
Eikka Laakso : You made the Best TV-Series ever. Thank you!
Sami Laakso : Greetings, O Great Maker. :)
Jari Laaksonen : -
Jukka Lahtinen :
Jarkko Laiho : Thank you for the emotions.
Jarkko Lainkari : Thanks for the dream that felt like a real
Kimmo Laitinen :
Joonas Laitio : A map to worklife!
Sami Lakaniemi : Thank you for the best science fiction series... ever.
Matti Lakanmaa : Only an alien lifeform would require alternative series
Olli-Pekka Lamminen : Must all good things come to an end...
Turo Lamminen :
Heikki Laurila : Thanks Joe, You have done great job whit b5
Jyri Lehtinen : Babylon5 is something greater than a tv-series. Thanks.
Anssi Lehtinen :
Erja Lehtiniemi :
Jussi Lehtiniemi :
Pertti Lehtisaari : Thank you for the best tv-series EVER made!!!
Paavo Leimula : Every story has an end, but only few lives forever!
Anne Leinonen : Thank You for this great experience!
Antti Leinonen : Thank You!
Petri Lepre : Thank you for the 5 years of joy and sorrrow..
Esa "Elmo" Leppälä : Babylon 5 was the only MUST SEE for me. Thank you!
Aleksi Liimatainen :
Antero Linde : Thanks for creating B5, the best tv series ever made!
Tommi Lindroos : Toast. To the best story ever seen on TV.
Nestori Liski : B5 is the best serie _ever_!
Tomas Lundqvist : Thank you!
Anssi Luomaranta : Thank you. :-)
Mikko Luusalo :
Jani Lyttinen :
Pekka Lyyra : Thank You!
Mauri Majanoja : Thanks for the experience of B5
Jukka Manninen : Thank you for giving me the weekly dose of great scifi
Mika Marjamaa : Three words: "Thank You, JMS"
Otto Martin : Thank you, and luck with all your future authorings.
Mikko Mehtonen : Wow!
Jaakko Meriläinen : Thanks for the ride.
Pasi Mikkonen :
Jaron Moilanen : Tolkien would've been your fan. Magnificient Story!
Seppo Molander :
Aki Muhli : B5 was great! Thank you very much!
Juha Mykkänen :
Marko Mäenpää : Thank you. Hope for new series is all we got.
Harri Mähönen : What could I say? Impressive!
Matti Mäki-Petäys : There will never another series that I'll like so much.
Teemu Mäkinen :
Samuli Mäkinen : Thank you for the best TV-series.
Mika Määttä : best series for a thousand year
Lilli Nenonen : Thank you for B5. We will miss it...
Antti Niemelä :
Joose Niemi : Thank you.
Riitta Niemistö : Faith Manages!
Juha Niini : Thank you! B5 was impressive TV-series.
Janne Nikkanen : Thank you for the best tv-series EVER made!
Paul Nikolov : Thank you for Babylon 5,the best TV series ever!
Aleksi Nurmi :
Harri Ohra-aho : Be seeing you
Toni Oinas :
Leena Ojala :
Pasi Ojala :
Tommi Ojanperä : Shine on you crazy diamond!
Ossi Ojutkangas : Thanks.
Harri Oksanen :
Heikki Ollila : Peace, love & happiness
Jouni Paakkinen : Many thanks!
Tuukka Paavola :
Jussi Paju : Just another lurker..
Hannu Pajunen : Thank you very much! Really.
Teemu Palkki : Let's keep it short: Thanks.
Stefan Parviainen : Thank you for a great TV series
Tommi Pehkonen : We want more ! (Please...)
Juhani Peltola : Thank you! B5 was very interesting.
Matti Peltola : B5 is one of the best tv-program i've ever seen.
Perttu Perkola : Tnx. Been a good five years enjoying your show.
Harri Perälä : It was a good story.
Markku Pesonen : Thanks for the great show.
Timo Pietilä : To make a long story short...Thanks
Mirva Piippo : Thank You. B5 is the best TV-series ever made!
Olli Pitkänen : Well, look at that. The sun's coming up
Matti Poutanen : Thank you for B5, it was really something spectacular.
Juha Pudas : Thank You...
Aki Pursiainen :
Reko Pyyppönen : Word(s) is not enought to do this
Sirpa Pöyhönen : B5 was much more than just a TV-series, thanks for that!
Jaakko Rajakallio : Babylon 5 was great, thanks JMS
Miia Ranta : speechless, still sobbing... thank you.
Antti Rantakaulio : You wrote best tv-program ever!
Jarkko Rasanen : Very good show!
Tommi Raulahti : Thank you very much for best Sci-fi TV-series ever made
Rami Remes : ei mulla mitään sanottavaa oo
Pasi Rintamäki : Thanks for all who created Babylon 5
Reko Rintamäki : It was something spectacular.
Teemu Ristivuori : Pelastakaa B5:ITF!!
Timo Rossi :
Panu Ruotsalainen : Thank you!
Tapio Ruotsalainen : Thanks for the great story.
Sami Ruuska : Thank you very much
Ville Ryhänen : B5 was the best and most moving TV-series ever made
Petri Räihä :
Jussi Räty : Smile
Kimmo Räty : I want to thank you about REALLY great TV-program.
Olli Salmi : Thanks for giving a purpose for my life ;-)
Toni Salminen : Greatness is Babylon 5, thanks.
Sari Salmisuo :
Timo Salo : Thanks! A lot!
Antti Salomäki : Great series, i thank you for that.
Tatu Salonen : After months, I'm still speechless. Thank you.
Ville Salonen : Great work
Vesa Seppänen : Yeah.
Niilo Siljamo :
Ari Siltavuori : From the dawn to the dawn
Ari Sippola : The best tv-series ever, what else can I say.
Jouni Siren : Thanks for the great story!
Juha Stenbäck : "No, no. Don't leave." -Sheridan to his 'father' in B5
Olli Sulopuisto : Thanks for the series. That's all there's to say.
Matti Sunnari : Thank you
Kari Suvitie :
Mikko Särelä : Thank you
Marianne Tamminen :
Juha-Matti Tapio : Faith manages. Thank you.
Janne Tenhovirta : I`ll see You in a million years
Vesa Tenhunen : Thank you. It was a great story.
Riku Tiikasalo : Babylon 5 made a difference. Thank you, JMS!
Markku Tirkkonen : Excellent series. Thanks!
Jokilehto Tomi : Thank you for the best Sci-Fi serie ever!
Jarno Tuomainen :
Tuuli Tuominen : Thank you for the moments, thank you for the story.
Jani Tuovila : Thanks for the best tv-series ever!
Salla Tuulos-Tikka : Thank you!
Kaija Tuuna : It has been proved, that B5 can bring people together.
Kalle Vahlman : Can't talk.
Pellervo Valkama : yo! you rock =)
Rami Valta :
Ville Vataja : Thank you, You made our world a better place to be.
Mika Vesa : Thank you for such a fantastic idea: Babylon 5!
Hannu Vesala : B5 really kicks ass! The BEST tv-series ever!
Timo Viinanen : Good luck on the path that you walking.
Mikko Vilpponen : "Toast. To absent friends, .. and memory still bright."
Ilkka Virolainen : The best tv-series of all time!
Joni Virtanen : This journey has ended.Another begins.Time to rest now.
Miika Virtanen : Nothing is the same anymore... Thank you.
Henry Vistbacka : Thank you. Babylon5 has been a GREAT ride.
Eetu Vuokko : Yes.
Janne Vuontisjärvi : :)
Eero Välimaa : Thanks for the Best TV-series EVER!
Jarkko Vääräniemi :
Mika Wendelin : Just wanted to say thanx for the greatest series ever!
Tero Ykspetäjä : -
Juha Yli-Olli : That was it, thanks!
Teemu Ylikoski : And the winner is.....B5
Joel Yliluoma : Mr. Straczynski, you made a respectable story.
Mika Ylisaukko-oja : It was... unbelievable! Thank You!
Joni Ylistö : Sankyuu, that was nice :)
Tim Åkesson : best piece of sci-fi I've ever seen, really great!
Miikka Åsten : The world will never be the same again... Thank you
Mika Äärelä : Thanks for 5 exiting seasons. We own you a big bow!
Siv Österlund :

( As a bonus for you who had the courage to read until this point; some of the weirder products of fandom in Finland: http://koti.mbnet.fi/sjtm/kuvat/jouluvorloni.jpg http://www.cs.tut.fi/~leopold/Babylon5/Kumiankka/Img/Roanoke.jpeg)

- -- (Technical note: if sending a news message to sfnet.viestinta.tv.babylon5 outside from Finland, please send it directly as a mail message to the moderator's account babylon5@modeemi.fi.)

From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)

Wow...for all the "speechless" comments listed there, the biggest one has to be on this side of the modem. I'm totally knocked out by the kind words; thank you. To know the show made a difference, and will be remembered, is the one thing that makes all the effort worthwhile.

My thanks to you again, and my best wishes to everyone in the sfnet.viestinta.tv.babylon5 newsgroup.

Truly, the tale is now Finnish'd.


Saw something the other day about "Joe's Comics" -- the new Top Cow Universe created by J. Michael Straczynski. Something new? It's supposed to be available March 29.

A: I can talk more about this after next Wednesday. It kinda falls into the "various announcements" heading....

Can you tell us about any new projects you have been working on?

A: Here's a brief post I snatched from the newsgroup.

"In 1987 and 1988, I had two novels published consecutively, DEMON NIGHT and OTHERSYDE. Subsequent to that, I fell down the TV hole and never had time to even try to write another novel, though I did do the occasional article and short story, including one mystery novelette in the anthology Blowout in Little Man Flats.

Knowing that the TV season is going to start gearing up soon (June-October is prime hiring season for show runners), I decided I may not have another chance anytime soon...and have just completed my first new novel in 12 years.

It's now gone off to my NY agent (the LA agency loves it as a possible feature), and we will see what we will see. It's a contemporary mystery/noire thriller with supernatural overtones, set in LA, and weighs in at just under 100,000 words. With luck, we can get this thing out by the Fall, assuming the planned auction goes well."

"In an auction, the book goes out to X number of publishers, who have until Y date to respond with an offer. Best offer gets it."

"Just a note in response to those who've asked about what's coming up next for me that's non-B5 in nature...along with the just completed novel, there are a number of things that I've signed to do that I haven't been able to talk about, but will be able to start releasing some of that information here over the next few weeks, so stay tuned...."


You've won a number of awards for writing, etc. over the years. Which one means the most to you?

A: The one that always means the most to me is the Hugo, because that one comes from the fans, the viewers, not the critics, or the literary establishment, or even from peers. That one comes right from the people who read your stuff, and it is thus the most meaningful.


How do you write a work like "Rising Stars"?

A: I take the same approach to writing a comic as writing a script; I flesh it out panel by panel, page by page, rather than doing a plot and letting the artist break it down. Not because I don't think the artist can or should, but because I just don't know how to write it any other way. I need to see it in my head, shot for shot, or I can't follow or create the narrative.


What does it look like?

Like this. (From Rising Stars #1) Please excuse the weird margins; it came in odd when I did the text insert from the script.

"Nova Placenta"

PAGE ONE

SPLASH PAGE
Earth looms large in BG. We can see the edge of the North American continent through a scattering of clouds.

In FG, we see part of a massive ball-shaped energy field with arcs and eruptions like solar flares. The bulk of it bleeds off the page, we see only enough of it to know that it's big, and it's heading right for Earth.

CAPTION
Poet's Journal. This is way it happened.

PAGE TWO

This page is done in soft pastels, an airbrushed feeling, romantic, the faces of the two people seen here smiling, warm, loving. This and the facing page, page 3, are meant as parallel pages, so the poses used in one should be reflected in the facing page. (It may help to read each panel one at a time across the two pages, rather than straight through.)

PANEL ONE - A BEDROOM, NIGHT

There is a couple in bed: 30s, the man is EVAN, dark haired, the woman ELIZABETH, with red hair. A vase of flowers is beside the bed. It's night, and Evan is in bed smiling up at her as she settles into the bed. She is pulling open a nightgown, clearly on her way into the bed.

His arm is draped across the bed, ready to accept her. A trace of moonlight filters in the lightly curtained window, which blows gently with the nightwind.

CAPTION

Not the way I would like to think it happened.

PANEL TWO

A medium-high shot angling down toward the bedroom window in BG. In FG Elizabeth and Evan are embracing, their mouths hungry for one another, loving, passionate.

PANEL THREE

A downshot of Evan's face in the bed, her POV, his eyes closed in rapture, mouth slightly open, her hand reaching out to him.

PANEL FOUR

A close-up of the Elizabeth's face in the bedroom, his hand on her face, straddling him, the lovemaking continues. A vague glow backlights her head.

PANEL FIVE

A wide shot again, same angle as the first panel, as the two entwined in sex look toward the open window, which is now lit by brilliant light from outside.

PANEL SIX

A thin horizontal panel across the bottom of the page, broken into repetitive sub-panels in which we see the ball of energy coming closer and closer to the earth, moving left to right, toward the intersection of pages 2 and 3, so that in the last part of the panel it's about to strike the earth.

PAGE THREE

This page is done in darker, more stark art and colors, the look severe, more realistic.

PANEL ONE - THE SAME BEDROOM, NIGHT

Evan is still in bed, but dead asleep. Instead of a vase of flowers beside the bed, there is an empty bottle of beer. His arm is draped across the bed, but in sleep, where he passed out. Elizabeth is in the same pose as the other page, but from the expression on her face and her movement, pulling the nightgown closer, we can tell she's getting out of bed, not getting in. A trace of moonlight filters in the lightly curtained window, which blows gently with the nightwind.

CAPTION

Or even the way it probably happened.

PANEL TWO

The same medium-high shot, angling down slightly toward the window in BG. In FG, we see a part of Evan's body, still asleep on the bed, and out the window we see Elizabeth embracing a blonde, muscular man, their faces locked in the same kind of passionate kiss as on the previous page.

PANEL THREE

A close shot of Evan in bed asleep, mouth slightly open, drooling.

PANEL FOUR

Outside the house, a close-up of Elizabeth's face, the larger hands of the blonde man touching her face, the house behind her in BG, the stars above...making love under the stars...as a light begins to appear in the sky above them.

PANEL FIVE

Evan in bed is awake now, same angle as the first panel, looking out the window to where the night has lit up like daytime. The two figures making love outside are caught in the sudden glare, but almost made invisible by it, whited out.

PANEL SIX

A thin horizontal panel across the bottom of the page, broken into repetitive sub-panels in which we see a sperm coming closer and closer to an ovum, moving right to left toward the intersection of pages 2 and 3, so that in the last part of the panel it's about to enter the ovum.

PAGE FOUR

SPLASH PAGE

The night has turned into day, totally obscuring the house except for the barest silhouette, just enough to make out the forms of the couple outside the house, standing, and the man inside, now standing on the porch, their forms almost skeletal or blurred out, the way those old x-ray Specs would make things look when you would squint through them.

CAPTION

Just the truth about the way it happened, and what came after.

CAPTION

Though no one really understood what happened that night. Not for a long time.

CAPTION

Not until the first of us was born.

jms


Q: Seems as if everything B5 is coming to a close. Do you know why merchandising for the show is down?

A: We've heard from licensors and publishers, including Titan and Del Rey, and the #1 reason they cite the problems they're having is that TNT is airing the show at 7 a.m. Saturday mornings here in the US, which is the biggest market, and where it *cannot* add new viewers. (Kung Fu is aired middle afternoon weekdays.) Putting it at 7 a.m. Saturdays was a testosterone decision by some folks at TNT.

So without question or hesitation, from the source: the continued placement of B5 where it is is hurting the publishing licensees. This is but the most current and visible example.

Q: When will the next "Rising Stars" issue be out?

A: Six should be out either this coming week or the week thereafter. Things start moving awfully fast now.

I'm enjoying "Rising Stars" very much -- good story, attention to details.

A: Thanks muchly, I appreciate the kind words. (Interesting about the part re: reading the book to music; I always write to music, and I think that may sometimes affect the pacing of the thing).

I wanted very much to do a book about *people* who are going through this situation, and I'm glad to see that their humanity is coming through.

It's been fun.


If Babylon 5 would go to DVD, could there be expanded episodes; background information included?

A: Highly unlikely, given the cost and the number of episodes involved and the need to track down all that footage.

This is different from the "Special Edition" of The Gathering?

A: The "Special Edition" is NOT a director's cut. It is another producer's cut. What you saw in the original version of the pilot was with very few exceptions what the director assembled. What is in the special edition is what Copeland and I were able to re-edit after having done the show for a while. Sure, anyone can go in and re-edit the various episodes, but that isn't the same thing as a specific director's cut, and those are gone. Q: Are licensed items considered canon? How does that all work?

A: How closely it ties in depends on the item in question. To some extent that's Fiona's job, to cross-reference new products with what's gone before to ensure that there are as few violations as possible, whatever we can catch.

So the goal overall is to not *conflict* with what's established wherever possible. (Some folks have unfairly gigged her for lapses with one of the original RPG books, not understanding that she hadn't even been HIRED when that book had gotten put together, and that was one of the reasons for bringing her in in the first place.)

As to something that adds to the canon, that tends to be something that I generate, as with the B5 trilogies from Del Rey. They are canonical in the broad strokes, though it's impossible to ride every single small detail and get anything done on any kind of reasonable schedule.

We've noticed that you talk about the main cast a lot more than individuals like Robin Sachs, who were in a few episodes, but as a supporting character. How involved were you with casting people for the series, like Robin Sachs? Did you do the selection or was it the Casting Department?

A: No, I was directly involved with the casting of just about everybody on the show. But when you work with someone day in and day out, you naturally develop more of a familiarity than with guest stars, even when they do make several appearances, as with Robin.


Q: How have you structured "Rising Stars"?

A: There are always peaks and valleys; the first bunch of Rising Star issues were really establishing the rules and who some of the characters are; the fact that the murders are going on, the possible motive, and introducing a bunch of suspects.

Now all that pipe has been laid, and I can start to really move the arc of the story forward, do more in present-tense than in flashback. That's kind of where the fun really kicks in.


February 3, 2000

There are a number of issues left unresolved at the end of "Sleeping in Light". Will these be covered in any upcoming publications? For example, the fate of David Sheridan?

Q: That will be covered in one of the Centauri novels being written by Peter David.


January 22, 2000

Q: What is the coolest item made available from the B5 universe?

A: Probably the Starfury model.


Q: Have you gone to see "Galaxy Quest" yet? Did you enjoy it?

A: I enjoyed the film. As it happens, I went to see it with Harlan, and I was thinking, "Isn't this odd, for the person who wrote the most famous Star Trek episode, and the guy behind B5, to be watching Galaxy Quest together."


Date: 14 Jan 2000

Q: What can you tell us about your next "Amazing Stories" story?

A: The first one was a Londo story because I really wanted to do something different and cool with the character, go inside his head and show the transition to being emperor, let folks know that inside he was still the same Londo...the second one with Lyta and G'Kar was mainly for fun, to play with them and see their relationship together out there.

The third, which I just finished and turned in to Amazing Stories, and which will appear I think around May, was written with one express purpose: to set the proverbial cat amongst the proverbial pigeons with something that's going to send a ripple all through B5 fandom; it's a story I don't think anyone ever expected to see.

Just the first line alone should stun a number of B5 folks

And that's all I'm going to say about it. But just know...there's a real toad-strangler coming up in May.


RISING STARS

January 15, 2000

Unfortunately Top Cow hasn't been keeping to the schedule for "Rising Stars". Is that going to change soon?

A: Actually, TC is really getting that part together; 4 came one month after 3, and we just locked down the pencils and inks on 5, so that's heading toward hitting the next deadline, or damn close to it.

Five, by the way, is probably the strongest issue of the bunch, and definitely kicks over the table on the storyline.


Q: You mentioned that Rising Stars #4 will be out this week. They have been really late, so are you sure it is coming out now?

Q: Actually, it IS out this week, and the rest of the schedule is falling into place as well. Christian is massively catching up on the scripts in hand.


Out of curiosity, how did you hook up with CBS News for the segment that aired on the Sunday Morning program?

Q: Apparently the segment producer was a big B5 fan, so she called one day.

January 6, 2000

Q: This question comes up all the time. What is your view on fan fiction -- the use of B5 characters in other works of fiction?

A: I can't give permission because WB owns the rights to those characters, not me. And I think they would still view it as a form of copyright infringement.


January 5, 2000

Q: Can you tell us exactly how you begin writing?

A: I always start with character. Character gives you plot; if you start with plot and try to back your way into characater, you can go afoul very easily.

You have to know who your character is, what he wants, how far he will go to get it, and how far someone else will go to stop him. Answer those questions and 90% of the plotting work is done for you.


Further comments by JMS can be found at Page 2 - JMS Speaks

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