JMS Conference on CompuServe (Nov 02, 1996) *POSSIBLE SPOILERS*

Brent Barrett bbarrett at
Sat Nov 2 20:47:30 EST 1996

 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WARNING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 The following posts may contain SPOILERS for
 upcoming Babylon 5 episodes.

 Continue at your own risk.





 The following is a transcript of the SPOILER
 portion of a real-time chat conference held with
 J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) on CompuServe,
 November 2, 1996 at 22:00 GMT.



  Archives of this material may be found at:
                    - or -


Moderator: Spoiler warning! I'm going to start selecting questions
           in regards to Z'Ha'Dum and after!

Question from DUBLIN, OH: Troy Starr
What kind of title sequence can we expect in season 4?

JMS: (wow, 229 people now)  It's a *nifty* title sequence, dynamic, exciting, the
     best music we've ever had, and a very interesting approach to the
     narration.  (What, you thought I'd tell you?) 

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: Bob Koslosky

I have a hord of Star trek fans on my back... in Walkabout they say you should r
ename it "The Search for Kosh".  In Zha'a'dum they sat that they could swear the
y heard Obe Wan telling Sheridan to jump.  What gives?

JMS: How can you walk with so many people on your back?  It must be terribly hard
     on you.  Tell your friends to get a wider frame of reference.  The Spock
     thing was a one-shot done to find a way to bring him back....
     We've always established that Vorlons are putting pieces of themselves in
     others, and this will be stated explicitly in year 4, that's how they get
     around, by putting pieces of themselves in others like hermit crabs....
     which ties into what happened at Z'ha'dum.  If their frame of reference is
     so small as to think only of those two things, the problem is theirs, not
     mine.  Let them look into mythology, and legendry, about mythical creatures..
     who put themselves into other people, possession, American indian myths, on
     and on and on.  There's an old saying about books:  "A book is like a
     mirror, if an ass peers in, you can't expect an apostle to peer out."

Question from SEATTLE, WA: Andi Shechter
On behalf of the Fans of Michael, are we gonna see more of Mr. Garibaldi in
season 4? Btw, used to see you all the time when I hung with the Grid
Epsilon Irregulars.

JMS: Oh, most definitely.  We have some very interesting plans for Mr.
     Garibaldi.  But bear in mind that when I get gleeful about this sort of
     thing, it's always dangerous for the character.  

Question from SACRAMENTO, CA: Brent Barrett
Hello, Joe,
 What episode are you up to in writing currently?  Any new titles
to share with us?
 When can we expect to get a title for season four? :-)
Thanks a bunch,
  -- Brent

JMS: I'm finishing #11, "Lines of Communication."  Other titles: "The Illusion of
     Truth," "Atonement," "Racing Mars," others.  

Lyon: Where does 'Racing Mars' show up in the lineup of episodes?

JMS: #10.

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: Lee Burke
What was it like for melissa gilbert to act as Sheridans wife ...along side of h
er real husband....nice touch of casting !

JMS: That's more a question for her, but for us, it was great, she did a terrific

Question from DJO: Michael B. Truitt
The B5 series is great.  Will the relationship between  Captain Sheridan and Del
een continue to be a focus of the show?

Mike T.  Albuqueruque NM

JMS: Absolutely.  That relationship will have its continued ups and downs, as do
     all relationships, but it's a vital and integral part of the show.  

Question from NEWPORT BEACH, CA: Orb
Are there any things we should watch for in the first Season 4 eps?  Minor
between-season improvement types of things...

JMS: Well, we do more off-station stuff: we go to Minbar, Narn, Centauri Prime,
     Mars, gets consistently bigger.  Then there's a small break,
     so we can catch our breath (from about 8-10), then all hell breaks loose.  

Question from LONDON: Hubby
We've pretty much seen President Clark in one dimension (as the bad guy).  Knowi
ng the character as you do, what's his real motivation?  What does the world loo
k like through his glasses?

JMS: That's one of those "let me answer that in the show" questions.  

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: SysOp Dupa
After "The Fall Of Night" I was under the impression that you said we would see
what a Vorlon *really* looks like in Season three. Since that didn't happen (did
 it?), will we see it in season four?

JMS: Yep.  

Dupa: <g>

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: Kay Duff
Have you ever gone walkabout yourself?

JMS: Well....yeah, kinda.  Back when I was living in San Diego (before it got
     nuked...well, that hasn't happened yet, but soon)...I got into a kind of
     similar mode of thought, and would go for walks through....
     downtown San Diego at 2-4  in the morning.  Hours, hours, hours, just
     walking through parts of the area where I could've gotten killed.  When
     folks asked me why, I couldn't answer, all I could come up with...
     was that I was looking for something.  And I found it, kinda, and in a
     somewhat similar situation...but that gets into some other personal areas,
     and this may not be the right forum for that.  Suffice to say I was....
     almost killed myself, and leave it at that.

Moderator: Here's one that fell out of the queue but got captured
           before it disappeared.... (from Martin Toggweiler)
           I noticed in "Z' ha' dum" that the Shadow city didn't
           look too "alien", in many ways the buildings resembled  a human city skyline.
           Is this meant to imply that there were many humanoids
           in this city, and not too many Shadows?

JMS: That wasn't the intent, no.  I think it's more the way it ended up. And it
     does have some nice elements, but it could've been stranger...if we'd had
     more time and more money.  

Question from LONDON: Darran
Joe, do you expect Warner Brothers to be a little more relaxed about next years
Con in Blackpool, England or is there still a lot of things they unlikely to all
ow e.g. the showing of clips from future episodes etc..

BTW: I'm not in LONDON, I'm 150 Miles further north.

JMS: We've worked out a deal on clips, but not on episodes.  WB has an obligation
     to protect its copyright, and sometimes that comes into conflict with what
     we'd like to do.  

Question from EBB: Susan Christ
On this weekend's Sci-fi Vortex, your make-up guy (Sorry, can't remember his nam
e) said that the make-up for season 4 was, so far, more like that for horror tha
n for sci-fi.  Would you please elaborate on that?

JMS: ......heh

Question from LONDON: JM
Having seen Bruce Boxleitner's wife, Gerry Doyle's wife, Walter Koenig's wife...
..are we going to see any more spouses?

JMS: I think we're fresh out.  

Question from DUBLIN: John R. Finnan
Joe, if you decide to go with the new series of Babylon, will this put back...
the 1000page dark fantasy novel you've been planning? Some of us would like...
to read that...<g>

JMS: Probably.  But them's the breaks.  It'll still be there when I get to it.

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: Buzz Lightyear
Bruce Boxleitner has commented on "two wars" in season 4. Shadow war and what el

And what are your favourite show's at the moment?

JMS: well, if one were to end the shadow war, there's still something very
     obvious that needs attending to.  And my favorite show is 60 Minutes.
     Then you got X-Files, Simpsons, and Millennium. 

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: Mary Broderick
Any luck bring Darin Morgan into your writing staff?  I agreed with your comment
s in SFX magazine ... he is very talented, and might help to lighten your what-m
ust-be incredible workload!

JMS: I'd actually called his agent about this last hiatus, and he said that
     Darren was taking time off from TV to write comedy screenplays.  He's the
     only one I called about.  

Question from NEWPORT BEACH, CA: Stephen C. Smith
Getting back to the subject of a potential sequel/spinoff TV series ... Would it
 also be an "arc" series with a finite limit, or would you go with the more typi
cal TV formula of an open-ended storyline?

JMS: It would have a looser arc than B5, and would be more adventure oriented
     than drama oriented.  B5 has always had a certain darkness at its core, and
     after X-years of writing that, it can start to creep into your soul...
     so I'd like to do something different, personally and for the viewers, play
     out some new colors rather than do the same thing.  Have fun with it.

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: G'Kane
OK, you KNOW the overall tile of season 4, but can you TELL it?

JMS: Of course I do.  Of course I won't.   

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: Nick & Sharons
theres ben a lot of talk about physics in relations to sheridans fall, how much
affects your interpretation of the reason for his not being killed ?

JMS: Zip. 

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: Michael Rubinstein
If the Shadow's objective is to pit the races against each other and give a gold
 star to the winner, then why are they now attacking directly? That just makes t
he races unite against a common foe.

JMS: Nope.  First they attacked careful to not let anyone know who was doing it,
     so they'd accuse each other.  Then they'd let another take the credit/blame
     for it, the Centauri in this case.  That'd spin off new alliances and new...
     wars, and everyone's scurrying for cover.  THEN they reveal themselves, and
     now you've got re-scurrying, some who try to make deals, and then attack
     others (as stated) thinking they have an unbeatable ally....
     most of the killing up until this point was done by the others, not the
     shadows.  This current campaign would also lead to scattering the pins, and
     watching as they restructure, and they'd pull out again to let them scurry..
     and keep chewing at each other, only coming out when necessary to tip things
     over, then recede again into the....shadows.  

Hi there jms

Is there anything that did not get put into the arc that you wanted to be includ
ed? and in the Minbari religion it says thet Valav will return, did Sinclair mea
n his birth will be his return?  Also have you read a book called "In search of
Aeincietn Gods" by Erich Danikin?

JMS: I think if the arc had anything else in it it'd explode.  RE: Valen's
     return, well, that's still a mystery there, open to interpretatin.  As for
     Van Daniken, yeah, but ages ago.  

Question from DUBLIN, OH: Troy Starr
Now that there is a "power vacuum" on Minbar, how is Minbari society functioning

JMS: not as well as it might, which will become an issue soon.  

Question from LONDON: James&Deb's
Jms i hope no typo's this time :)
 Any news on when season 4 will come to england and if it will be wide screen.

JMS: I don't know for sure, but it'd have to be middle or early spring at the
     soonest.  Don't know about widescreen, that's up to C4.  

Question from VANCOUVER, BC: kelly
Will Ivanova be involved in any sort of a romantic relationship in the upcoming

JMS: Could be.  

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: B5Lurker
Joe, now that we have seen the finale, will Sheridan be the same Sheridan?

JMS: Yes and no.  There's always a price to pay.  Even if he comes out of this,
     that price cannot be avoided.  

I really love the use of prophecy, telepathy and living
technology in the show. Will there be more of
a scientific or whatever background given to this in
the future episodes?

JMS: I'll certainly try to work it in, and have, where possible.  It's an
     interesting area.
     (hang on)....
     Here's a funny thing.
     Well, funny weird.
     See, every so often, someone will ask, "How much of you goes into a script?"
     and I'll answer, "More than I know at the time," and they ask for an
     example.  A few questions ago, someone (Kay) asked about if I'd ever gone...
     on walkabout, and I thought of the San Diego thing...and it suddenly dawned
     on me that that was behind the Franklin thing.  Long story short: I got
     attacked and mugged by a gang, and beaten nearly to death....
     and survived only by a sheer act of will.  And I'd honestly never, ever put
     that together with Walkabout, until the question, and suddenly there it was,
     I was working out *exactly* what I'd gone though, denying it to myself...
     the whole time that it was going on.  Well.  Anyway.  That just hit me like
     a ton of bricks, and thought I'd pass it along.  

Dupa: <so that's why he nuked SanDiego!>

Question from LONDON: Entil Marcus Cole
As a hopeful future author, I began a while ago writing my own book. I started w
ith a simple Idea and it has spiraled out of all control, into this gargantuan *
Thing*. What advice would you give to someone staring a *Big* story like this in
the face.

JMS: Write 2 pages a day.  Don't think about how big it is.  Just do it in small
     bites.  Never look down, never let them see fear in your eyes.  

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: Jim O
my wife was upset when some major characters were missing in last episode from s
eason 3.  1.) Will any of them be back  2.) any hints for next season 3.) will y
ou still quit at 5 1/2 yrs?

JMS: All our regular/recurring cast return for year 4.  No hints; it's right
     around the corner, so there's no point.  

Question from CINCINNATI, OH: David Kuhn
How's Netter handling the job of the CGI so far this year.  I saw previews of to
mmorrow's feed.  Was the CGI in ep 1 stock footage or all new for this year crea
ted by netter or foundation?

JMS: The new CGI looks great, even better, frankly.  There's plenty of new CGI in
     the episode, and a nifty shot in the new title sequence...I defy anybody to
     tell the difference except by recognizing stuff.  

Question from LONDON: Hubby
What kind of fan behavior annoys you the most?  (Here's your chance to get somet
hing off your chest! ;-)

JMS: You mean aide from someone sending me a trojan horse and virus which knocked
     down my computer so I had to spend 4 days rebuilding it, or the reposted
     rumor yesterday that I'd had a heart attack...?
     Can't think of a thing.  

Question from LONDON: Nick Coe
  You said summat a while back about S4 having a 'Filmic' quality.  Can you elab
orate on what you meant?

JMS: It's a tonality thing...the feel of it is mature, grander, more film like.
     It's hard to quantify, but if you watch, you'll feel it.  It's the best
     we've ever done.  

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: Angela
Since you brought it up, what are the circumstances surrounding the "nuking" of
San Diego?  Where did that come from?
Angela    Dayton (hu-hum) Ohio

JMS: Terrorists who snuck it in to retaliate for something, and felt that they
     should strike at something relatively untouched and pristine.  It was a
     dirty nuke, and a good sized one.  

Question from DUBLIN: John R. Finnan
Have you any room in Season 4 to "farm" out scripts to other writers? Or are...
you going to attempt 2 seasons in a row???

JMS: So far, it's jms scripts.  I may die.  (Well, there go the rumors again.)  

Question from LONDON: Toni
Hi Joe

Brilliant Series!!
What do you consider to be the best moment on the show - the one that worked bes
t and came out right?

Toni - Scotland

JMS: general note to people: don't page me with private questions or I will hurt
     you.  Now, to the question:
     It's hard to pick one.  The elevator scene with G'Kar and Londo is just
     lovely; the death of the emperor in Coming; but probably the bombing of
     Z'ha'dum with that whole montage is as close to art as we've gotten.

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: Jones
In New York City we just saw Z'hadum, and there's people on a call in cable show
 talking about how great t was....  We love  B 5!

JMS: That's great, thanks!  

Question from DUBLIN, OH: Richard Long
why the name Babylon, what prompted you to use this name.

JMS: It was an attempt to create a place of commerce, industry, drawing people
     from many places...the tower of Babel being an intersection of many voices,
     so it fit.  

Question from EAQ: Shawn Ratner

Does the cast get together when Babylon 5 is not in production during the week?

JMS: Constantly.  They go on vacation together, have dinners together, hang out,
     go to air shows, same for the crew.  It's a very tight bunch, and we like
     each other, and they all hang out.

Question from CFQ: dan r. tilley
Have others from the scifi community (ie George Lucas, etc.) commented on B5?

JMS: Not really, no.  

Lyon: I think Majel Barrett's appearance qualifies as a comment from the scifi
      community. <grin>

Willmoth: And the fact that DS9 keeps using what has been used on B5 :-)

Whiteside: We're reaching the 90 minute mark.  Did you have anything specific
           you'd like to mention (say your script book or something).

JMS: (holds up copy of The Complete Book of Scriptwriting)  "Yo.  Buy my book."

Dupa: ISBN and price?

Whiteside: ISBN was in the blurb at the beginning of the conference.

JMS: I don't wanna hawk it too's there.  Beyond that...I'd just note
     that the first 6 episodes of B5 are the most intense, character driven
     episodes we've ever done.  They've all done good.

Whiteside: We have more than enough questions to keep going for a while.

Lyon: Also, folks, remember to visit the SF & Fantasy Forums, specifically the
      SFMEDONE Forum, for all three Babylon 5 message sections and lots of witty
      repartee with jms. <grin>  GO SCIFI.

Dupa: <plug>

JMS: commercials.  I can't escape them.

Willmoth: Everyone needs an outlet :-)

Dupa: and I'll be in the lobby selling my jams and jellies.

Whiteside: OK, I'll continue with a few more questions, then.

Question from DUBLIN, OH: Troy Starr
How weakened are the forces of the Army of Light after their engagement with the

JMS: They're okay, tired but okay.  And the big fleet hasn't even assembled yet.

Question from SEATTLE, WA: Andi Shechter
Will we ever see the Technomages again?  They were a wonderful creation.

JMS: Actually, yeah, but I'm looking at the sequel for that.  

Question from LONDON: GAIL
Any chance of giving Marcus Cole a lot more action?

JMS: Most definitely.  And some funny moments soon with Franklin that should
     drive folks nuts.  

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: Dave
In Shadow Dancing, Deleen looked surprised when Sheridan stated that his dream s
ent by Kosh may be just that, a dream. Was this intentional?

JMS: Delenn is always surprised.  

Question from LONDON: John Morris

Did Valen have children?  Does his "line" continue in the year 2260?

JMS: Ah, a question that...will be dealt with in one of the novels, and the
     series, but I'd rather hold that for then. 

Question from EAE: Paul Hachey
It would seem logical that the Vorlons would know the Shadows true "purpose",  w
hy did Kosh not share this with Sheridan and expose it all?

JMS: Because they don't trust us.  They know what's best for us, and would rather
     make the decisions for us.  That means controlling information.  

Question from LONDON: Martin Shaw
Hi, I really enjoyed the play between Ivanova and Corwin in Exogenesis. Are we g
oing to see more of Corwin in future eps?

JMS: Not in the first batch, but later, I do want to do more with it.  

Question from LONDON: Colkai
In a recent interview, with yourself and BB, Bruce was like a kid with a new toy
 about S4, how do you manage to keep such enthusiasm in your cast and crew, (Fou
ndation excluded natch.)
Kai - St Helens

JMS: You push them to try new things, let them explore new colors, give them
     proper respect for their work, and make work a good place to come to.  It's
     real simple.  

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: Karl Behrendt
In the months in which we see no new episodes, is there any chance of seeing som
e repeats from the first season?

JMS: Nada.  

Question from SANTURCE, PR: Ricky Cruz
Every think of directing an episode?
It's telepaths now, but what was the shadow's weakness during the original war?
Thanks for always taking time out of your busy schedule for your fans.

JMS: The shadows' original weakness was Cadbury Chocolate.  And telepaths.  As
     for directing an ep, it'd have to be just once, to experience it.  But we'll

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: G'Kane
Sorry to hear about the gang attack! Anyway, are there any plans to do a "techni
cal manual" for B5 in the near future, or will the background in the RPG be deta
iled enough? And are the new ships you mentioned for s4 going with new races, or
 just other shipclasses?

JMS: Yeah, Boxtree (UK) is doing a tech manual, and we'll see new ships from
     familiar races and new ones.  

Question from LONDON: PhiLL
On Z'Ha'Dum, how big was the hole that JS fell into. There seemed to be a
deliberate lack of perspective. thanks for a great ride!

JMS: Several miles deep, maybe a lot more.  

Question from EAI: Marco Peacock
JMS, have you ever wanted anything too "outrageous/weird"" in your series, but f
or some reason wasn't allowed to? Please ask WB to promote B5 more in The Nether
lands, because they're still airing season two here! Thanks!

JMS: I can't think of anything; I get pretty weird sometimes, but nobody ever
     says don't do that.  They don't bother me.  I think I scare them.  

Question from HONOLULU, HI: Mark Ambard
Will there be a Hallmark holiday ornament? A White Star would be nice. Or a B5.

JMS: Nope.  

Question from SAN MARCOS, CA: Don Berg
I saw lots of Babylon 5 VHS videos (1st and 2nd season) being sold
at last weekend's San Diego creation convention.  Is this legal?

JMS: (Wouldn't Morden's head make a great Hallmark ornament?)
     No, the sale of those videos is definitely NOT legit.  

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: Laurence R. Justus
You state there are plans from Revell-Monogram for models to come out. At the re
cent RCHTA (Hobby) Show in Chicago nothing was mentioned, just the release of mo
dels from Battlestar Galactice. Can you be a little more elaborate on this.


JMS: No, because the deal was just made a few weeks ago; they don't roll out or
     promote stuff until they have stuff to promote.  They're now deciding which
     models to make and so on.  

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: Trevor Hart
Will we ever see the explorer class ship with Sheridan's friend as captain again

JMS: No immediate plans, no.  

Question from EXTERNAL NETWORK: Norman
In "The Making of Babylon 5" Jerry Doyle pointed out ' Is there no woman for Gar
ibaldi ?' - 'No ? Then I quit !' -- So is this going to change ? Will there be a
ny woman for him ?

JMS: Depends on how much longer this will continue to annoy Jerry.  As soon as
     it's no more fun, he'll get laid.  

Question from EBB: SysOp J. Shaun Lyon
>From Brenda Sulley: You've said that by end of S/3 you pretty much have all your
 "cards on the table," but it looks like there's still much to tell in 2 years!
 Are we really seeing the full picture now, or is the "3rd age of mankind" just
the story of the battle with the Shadows?

JMS: The 3rd age goes beyond that...but as it happens, we'll spell out what that
     means exactly in the first third of year 4.  And then we move on to other
     stuff.  Life is change.  

Question from AUSTIN, TX: Richard K.
In "Shadow Dancing", the scene with Dr. Franklin in down below and the little gi
rl with the ball.  I smell a hint.  Is there?

JMS: Whatever you're smelling, it's got nothing to do with me.  

Question from ALBUQUERQUE, NM: Joe Walters
Since there is some talk of possible spinoffs (I know you've got at
least one under consideration somewhere), I'd like to request another.
We'd REALLY like to watch a continuing series of "The Adventures of

JMS: Be very, very, careful what you ask for.  

Dupa: <Zathras can never have own show>

Whiteside: OK, that's the end of the questioning for Joe.

JMS: Thanks for coming, and for supporting the show.  It's much appreciated, more
     than you can ever know.

Lyon: Thanks again everyone for joining us for our conference with Joe Straczynski,
      and be sure to join us in the SF Forums (GO SCIFI) (yes, another
      commercial...last one!)

JMS: Oh, the RPG sourcebook is GREAT!

Willmoth: Thanks again, Joe!

Whiteside: Those who didn't get their question in can always ask Joe in the forum.

Dupa: Author! Author!!

JMS: Where?  Where?
     Wherewolf?  Therewolf.

JMS: Okay, I'm ducking out so Stephen and the others can talk.  Thanks again,
     everyone, and I'll see you on the other side.

 [ End of transcript ]

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