JMS on Compuserve: October 18, 1995 -- 77 char formatted

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at
Thu Oct 19 17:00:47 EDT 1995

Subject: JMS on Compuserve: October 18, 1995 -- 77 char formatted
*  1: Oct 19, 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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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.
He was made fun of, told the disk wasn't there, finally found it hidden 
behind some other stuff, and was 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 
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 

     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 thantoday, 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.
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 
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 
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 
clarificationAnd "always with due respect" because what you do is great and 
a welcome breath of fresh air 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 ?!?!  Halleleujah!!

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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