JMS on Compuserve: October 18, 1995 -- Proper formatting

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at
Thu Oct 19 17:01:08 EDT 1995

Subject: JMS on Compuserve: October 18, 1995 -- Proper formatting
*  1: Oct 18, 1995: The Green Meddler <kilgalen at>


From: The Green Meddler <kilgalen at>
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_/  Green Meddler  kilgalen at   Nathan F. Wallace _/
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_/    C.I.U.P.K.C. Software -- Unleashing the Power!    _/

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Subj:  <What do they know?>		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Michael W. Mahoney, 	Sunday, October 15, 1995 5:06:01 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#369765

     Basically, all that was indicated in the script was that he for a beat isn't 
sure what's up...then lets it go.  I generally don't drop specific points explaining 
foreshadowing in the scripts, in case they leak out.  If a line like that isn't 
sufficiently clear for the actor's intent, they then come to me and I explain it 
verbally.  This was done in particular when we had to shoot "Chrysalis" before 
"Signs and Portents," even though the latter aired before the former.

Subj:  Brains & Telepaths		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Scott Belgarde, 	Sunday, October 15, 1995 5:06:02 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#369766

     No, no direct corrolary between IQ and telepathic potential; it's a matter of 
genetics, primarily.

Subj:  <Inquisitor Was?>		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Eric Baker, 		Sunday, October 15, 1995 5:06:04 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#369767

     I've always been a big fan of Alan's work, but I just couldn't get into this one, 
and gave up after the first couple issues.

Subj:  Ellison CITY Note		Section: Star Trek
  To:  GREG LASH, 74323,456		Sunday, October 15, 1995 5:06:08 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#369768

     The trade, I think, is a whole separate deal, so I have no info on that one.  The 
limited delay is only another week or so.

Subj:  New Season			Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Ron Russak, 		Sunday, October 15, 1995 5:06:11 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#369769

     Originally they were done on Amigas, but the software has now been exported to PC 
platforms, so that's their venue now.

Subj:  B5 Repeat on KCOP?		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Stephen C. Smith,	Sunday, October 15, 1995 5:06:16 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#369771

      No, there aren't any more repeats in LA or most markets; this is an overall 
PTEN change.  You get one chance and one only.

Subj:  <Divided Loyalties>		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Bob Perse,		Sunday, October 15, 1995 5:06:17 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#369772

     Certainly, a determined teep can get that information somehow....

Subj:  B5 Repeat on KCOP?		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  The Jawa / Jawa #2, 	Sunday, October 15, 1995 8:43:14 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#370016
<I really do hate to nag, but any word on the videos?>

     If there were word, you wouldn't have to ask about it.

Subj:  B5 Repeat on KCOP?		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Steve Bennett,		Monday, October 16, 1995 11:22:24 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#371760

     My *guess* is that they'll show the last four again to start reruns, or thereabouts.  
I haven't seen a final schedule yet.

Subj:  <Divided Loyalties>		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Will Gearhart,	Sunday, October 15, 1995 5:06:21 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#369773

     Oh, sure, I could tell you what *I* think is the absolute truth of the metaphysical 
aspects of the B5 universe...but what would be the fun in that?

Subj:  New DS9 opening = B5?		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Arthur Stoppe,	Sunday, October 15, 1995 8:39:09 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#370009

     I've actually received email from people who say they've been harrassed by some of 
the more extreme ST fans for liking B5; one recent correspondent sent me a note off the 
usenet describing when he went into an SF bookstore (that also carried comics, soundtracks, 
other stuff), and was derided for wanting the B5 soundtrack, made fun of, told the disk 
wasn't there, finally found it hidden behind some other stuff, and endlessly insulted in 
a way that was very openly hostile and mean-spirited.  It happens.

Subj:  New DS9 opening = B5?		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Tom Trankle, 		Monday, October 16, 1995 3:14:14 AM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#370332

     I saw your prior note, and I'd have to say that probably most of the items you cite 
as similarities in approach have to do with just about any space-borne science fiction.  
Many colony worlds, varying tech levels, that's fairly generic.

     Definitely agree about the differences, though.

Subj:  New DS9 opening = B5?		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Arthur Stoppe,	Tuesday, October 17, 1995 12:41:17 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#372229

     Yes, I've seen the elusive Chris Franke, who is actually a 2'3" Latino with a 
broken nose and a tattoo covering both ears.  He hires this person to pretend he's Chris.

Subj:  B5 Horror Element		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  John M. Kahane, 	Sunday, October 15, 1995 8:43:16 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#370017

     In Zone, I tried as much as possible mainly to stick to the Serling influence in my 
stories; that I felt was my primary obligation.

     "Gethsemane" isn't a horror-type story at all, though it does have a very TZish 
feeling, so it doesn't owe to any of those.  Best to just let you see it when it airs.

Subj:  Lame Voyager Writing		Section: Star Trek
  To:  Janelle Keberle,	Monday, October 16, 1995 3:14:09 AM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#370330

     Okay, here's intro lesson #5, on How Hollywood Works, by jms, age 12.

     Writers, the really *good* writers, are few and far between.  Sure, you've got 
journeymen and journeywomen, people who can cobble up a decent story, but the percentage 
of really *good* writers is the same as it is in any other venue, a minority.  And of that 
sampling universe, smaller still is the group that can write perfectly for *your show*.

     Writer A may be a great writer on series A, B and C, but when it comes to show D, 
just doesn't Get It.  Every once in a very great while, someone walks in the door, and 
absolutely nails it first time at bat.  That person is *exactly* suited to your show.  
So it's in your best interest to grab that person and stick him on staff as fast as you 
humanly can.

     If you bring him in as a staff writer, he can't rewrite others, and can't verbally 
participate in story sessions (per WGA rules) with freelance writers.  His utility is 
limited, and since there isn't that much difference in salary between a staff writer and a 
story editor, you usually bring the person in as story editor.  Or, if the person has a lot 
of credits, you bring him or her in as a producer.

     Hence the preponderance of writer/producers in TV, which has somewhat become the 
norm.  Working through freelance scripts is a difficult thing on the best of days, so there's 
an understandable impulse to hire a whole bunch of writers who you know Get It, give them 
producer titles, and have them do the lion's share of the writing.  This is how most TV shows 
are done today. In a way, it's kind of diminished the title "producer," since many writer 
producers don't really produce, it's just a title with more money.  You've got 
producers, co-producers, associate producers, executive story editors, story editors, 
supervising producers and executive producers.  And even executive producers don't always 
participate in the day-to-day operation of a series, so they've come up with a term that 
creates a subset of executive producers, an unofficial term you'll never see on-screen, 
which is "Show Runner."  That's the one person who is running the whole darned thing.

     Is all this fairly new?  Yeah, fairly.  There was a time when the majority of TV shows 
were written by freelancers, but that was when the WGA consisted of far fewer writers than 
today, and it was easier to dip into that pool.  Now you've got well over 9,000 Writers 
Guild members, of which roughly 50% are unemployed at any given moment.  That's a lot of 
people scrambling to beat down your door at any moment, and when you factor in the greater 
risks these days, the short orders (you used to get a full season's order, 24 episodes, 
on networks, now you get 8, then if the ratings hold, 7 more, then a third order for the
 balance of episoodes, called the Back Nine, which means you can risk less with outsiders 
in your first batch), that can lead to a bunker mentality.

     Did I start out this way?  Sorta.  I've only written two freelance TV scripts for 
dramatic series; each time I get hired instantly right afterward.  On other shows, I'm 
just hired straight off, no freelance work required.  I didn't actually set out to be a 
producer; it was never my plan, or my goal.  Didn't want the Pointy Hat of Authority.

     But I discovered early on that the only way to make sure nobody rewrote me, that the 
words got through as I wanted them to get through, was to go up the ladder until I became 
an executive producer/show runner.  It's a hell of a lot of work.  If someone said, "Look, 
we'll make you a staff writer, pay you crappy money...but we won't change your words," 
I'd take it in a hot second.  But that hasn't happened, so here I the cannon barrel.

Subj:  "Inside Trek" column		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Michael Grabois, 	Monday, October 16, 1995 3:14:11 AM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#370331
<Did you see this past weekend's version of the "Inside Trek" column? It purports to be a 
Star Trek info column, but recently it has turned into a general Science Fiction column: 
who's appearing where, what TV shows are on, etc.

On Saturday, they had an interview with Bruce Boxleitner, also praising B5 as well as 
quoting you. I don't know if the LA papers carry it, but I can send it to you if you 
didn't see it.

     Yeah, thanks, I'd love to see a copy....

<Should I send the "Inside Trek" column to the Ventura Blvd address?

     Yes, thanks, that'd be great.

Subj:  B5 cards, etc...			Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Phil Koltko, 		Monday, October 16, 1995 11:22:28 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#371761

     Because you're still hooked into the way the non-B5 world does things. We're kind of 
obsessive about stuff here.

     Yes, I do have approval over everything, and while a few things could've been better 
with the cards, I'm overall quite pleased.  It's a start.  Remember, we're still in the 
process of convincing people that there really is interest in the show, so the miracle 
isn't whether or not a given product was done well, rather that it was done at *all*.  
So these so far are fine, and we'll continue to improve.


Subj:  B5 cards, etc...			Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Phil Koltko,		Tuesday, October 17, 1995 6:36:05 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#372661

     Basically, when you go into someone else's company, as much as you may advise, 
suggest, and carry on, ultimately it's not your company, and you're bound by the way other 
people do business.

     Some people can license a product, for instance, but because the show isn't a proven 
money-producer in licensing, they may want to hedge their bets; they may not invest as much 
money into production, or publicity, or  artistic contributers of one sort or another.  
So the choices you then get to approve may not be the ultimate best  possible in a theoretical 
world in terms of pushing the envelope or being as daring as the show.  Their inclination is 
to  play it safe.

     As time goes on, and people become reassured that B5 products will work for them, they 
will be more comfortable investing more money into them, which in turn will attract more 
artistic types, which then leads to more daring or unique stuff.

     The first few novels were, I thought, fairly prosaic; the next batch are, I think, 
more interesting...because the book company is now putting a little more effort and thought 
into the product, since the first 3 volumes have very much proven their worth.  And the list 
of writers on the next batch is very good, includng SM Stirling and Neal Barret Jr.

     It's a growing process....

Subj:  Major B5/ST News			Section: Star Trek
  To:  David Seraphin,	Monday, October 16, 1995 11:22:02 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#371763
<Thank you JMS for the quick response and  I appreciate the clarification.
And "always with due respect" because what you do is great and a welcome breath of fresh a
ir in a very stale TV business, Again many thanks for creating such a wondeful show!>

     Thanks, your support is very much appreciated.

Subj:  <Talia Winters>			Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Brian Kornfeld, 	Monday, October 16, 1995 11:22:08 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#371766

     1) You're assuming Bester knows everything.  Also, Bester's interest may have been 
more...carnal than PsiCorp oriented.

     2) The real Talia was becoming more and more disenchanted with PC, and this was in time 
going to pull her into resistance activities, which Talia v2.0 would only be *thrilled* about.  
The self-protection mechanism only kicks in when the personality's existence is threatened.

     3) Remember that Ironheart was not seeing Talia under the best of conditions...he was 
fighting hard NOT to use his abilities, for any reason, because it created mindquakes...he was 
pulling everything IN.  And later he was shot, also not a good position.

     It lays out fine, really.

Subj:  <Talia Winters>			Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Pankaj Mangalik, 	Wednesday, October 18, 1995 2:06:05 AM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#373241

     Having written the episode, produced it, edited it, seen it at least 20 times, to 
synopsize it again, after all that, is something I really don't think I'm up to, much as 
I'd like to....

Subj:  Episodes Evaluation		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  peter  stathis, 	Tuesday, October 17, 1995 12:41:18 PM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#372230

     The shadows influence is partly the gothic horror influence overall, and a lot of 
Jungian influence.

Subj:  <Divided Loyalties>		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Spencer W. Farrow, 	Wednesday, October 18, 1995 2:05:24 AM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#373236
<<>>Yeah, well, the great thing is that I've found a source for Drake's Cakes out 
here in CA...<<

Drake's Cakes in CA?  (You're a Drake's Cakes fan!  I knew I liked you!)

You mean I can actually get Funny Bones without travelling to the east coast ?!?!  

Are you at liberty to divulge your source, or will it be revealed in a future ep?  <vbg>  

TIA - Cheers - Spencer

BTW, "Divided Loyalties" was a great episode.  If this is just a warm-up to the things 
that are to come, it's going to be  a *great* season.  (Let's see, a box of Funny Bones, 
a quart of cold milk, and a great new B5 episode to watch.......  the makings of an very 
enjoyable evening.......)>

     Try Slices pizza on Van Nuys in Sherman Oaks; they sell 'em by the box.

Subj:  Back to the Beginning		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  John M. Kahane, 	Wednesday, October 18, 1995 2:05:25 AM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#373237
<I was rewatching the pilot movie for the umpteenth time  (but the first time in quite 
some time) , and wondered whatever happened to the information Delenn gave to Sinclair 
which was supposedly "everything [the Minbari] know" about the Vorlons.  Now obviously, 
this was likely a lie considering the serious doubts I have that Delenn would hand Sinclair 
a file explaining the whole bit about the Old Ones, the past Shadow war, etc. - so was there 
actually any info there?   Did Sinclair ever get around to reading it?  Just a couple
 of good questions that I thought I'd ask you...>

     Yeah, there was a lot of info was everything she had *there* at hand, but 
not everything the Minbari have overall.

Subj:  B5 Horror Element		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  John M. Kahane, 	Wednesday, October 18, 1995 2:06:00 AM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#373238

     What many folks forget is that Serling's story were as often about redemption as 
about damnation; about hope as often as about horror.  That lesson is forgotten by many 
horror writers who claim him as influence.

     The Serling influence, for me, is the strength of individual humans to endure much, 
sacrifice greatly, yet come out the other end of the struggle something nobler and stronger.

Subj:  Talia/Garibaldi/Comic#8		Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Allan  S. Nassau, Wednesday, October 18, 1995 2:06:02 AM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#373239
<I'm a little confused over continuity between issue #8 of the comic and Divided Loyalties.
 In issue #8 Garabaldi looks at Talia in the Shadow/Psi Corp Human medical experiment lab...
I mean he "LOOKS" at her since his gazing raised the suspicions of the people in the lab.
 But in Divided Loyalties he doesn't appear to have met her before.
 Doesn't he remember seeing her on Mars with Sinclair?
 What gives?>

     Nope, he was looking at the process overall; he never saw Talia.  The one shot of her is 
the omniscient POV, not his.  (And even if he had seen her, it would've been only a glimpse of 
a blonde woman, no name that he could see, and after so many years, given that her condition 
wasn't great at the time, he wouldn't necessarily recognize her in any event.)  But it's a 
moot point; the comic never indicated that he saw her.

Subj:  B5 via CON-RAD			Section: Babylon 5
  To:  Grey Culberson,	Wednesday, October 18, 1995 2:06:03 AM
From:  J. Michael Straczynski, 71016,1644#373240
<CON-RAD will be my first 'B5-heavy' convention.  Will I see these wonderful things I've 
heard mention of like blooper and title videos? 

BTW, I just heard L. Nemoy is confirmed for the banquet.  Will you be taking part in the event 
as either a recipient or a speaker?>

     I've got some concerns about ConRad that I'm looking into; have to get into that more 
before I comment.



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