ATTN JMS : Integrity of UK B5 Magazine

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at
Thu Oct 16 06:25:40 EDT 1997

From: sgwm <sgwm at>
Date: 15 Oct 1997 01:25:07 -0400
Lines: 174

In the first issue of the magazine you wrote the following regarding
the integrity of the Official UK B5 magazine:

"I told him [Editor John Freeman] that I didn't want this to be a
'puff' magazine, as we call it in the States: an easy, uncritical bit
of fluff produced just to publicise the show. If an actor says
something outrageous in an interview (which happens, oh, about every
10 minutes with this bunch) it sees print as-is...The magazine has to
be no-holds-barred in its coverage and its opinions. I've never been
big on propaganda, even when it's to my own advantage."

Joe, I would like to take serious issue with the magazine as issue 3
is in complete contrast to your own, very welcome, words above. At the
first real test of the magazine's integrity, it has IMO failed
regarding Claudia Christian's failure to appear in season 5. Now I
fully appreciate it is a thorny issue, and one which I have no
intention of reopening as the issue here is the magazine, but the
coverage in it was misleading, one-sided and, if you pardon my
language, could not fail to be "big on propaganda" and very much to
your advantage. My reasons are as follows.

The article on Claudia's departure presented the issue purely from the
point of view that you have expressed on this newsgroup. It includes
full quotes from the article in which you broke the news to the net
community. At no time in the article was Claudia's point of view
expressed as a right of reply and at no time was her side of the story
even remotely hinted at never mind stated as she had stated it.

I am extremely disappointed because this ribald treatment of such an
important issue for the show is in complete contradiction with your
own stated wishes for the magazine to be "no-holds-barred".
Furthermore, given Claudia had most definitely expressed an opinion on
what happened I find it distasteful that those views were not
presented alongside your own given you had stated "If an actor says
something outrageous in an sees print as-is." It is a
dichotomy, which only serves to detract from the magazines worth as an
open and honest portrayal of all things Babylon 5.

For fairness, I include a transcript of the complete article on
Claudia's departure so you may judge for yourself before I comment on
the omissions I feel were unfairly and prejudicially omitted:


	Claudia Christian (Commander Ivanova), rated one of the show's
most popular characters, has opted not to return for its final season.
Christian's contract expired after the fourth season and although the
rest of the series' main cast accepted, she refused an extension offer
from Warner Bros. during final negotiations to renew the show, seeking
time off from the series to appear in a film. A free agent, Christian
had given verbal assurances to both the show's producers and fellow
cast members that she would be available to appear in season five. She
has already recorded promotional trailers for the season one to four
re-runs alongside Andreas Katsulas (G'Kar) for TNT - the cable station
carrying Babylon 5 for its fifth season in the US.
	However, following discussions between Christian's agent,
Babylonian, TNT and Warner Bros., she allowed her option to continue
in the series as a regular character lapse. All B5's other main
characters have however signed their contracts in a new deal
reflecting the show's new home.	
	Christian's unexpected departure comes as a disappointment to
both sides.
	'The offer was on the table,' says Straczynski. 'We extended
it to the very limit.  All the other actors signed on, and urged her
to do the same.  [Claudia] chose not to. 
	'It was never a matter of anyone not wanting her,' he added.
'I personally urged her Thursday night to call her agent and talk this
out and make her intentions clear if she wanted to come back to the
	Although opinions differ on the exact circumstances
surrounding Christian's departure, neither side appears to have
completely closed the door to the character's future reappearance on
the show.
	'I will not recast the role,' says Straczynski. 'On the theory
that [Claudia] may come around someday and decide she wants to be in
one of the TNT features or one of the movies, we will be bringing in a
new character to fill that position in the B5 command structure.
Fortunately, 421, already filmed, is structured to allow us to adjust
for this without missing a beat, and the story will continue as
planned with only a minor variation in the first two episodes to
introduce the new character.'
	The new cast member - Captain Elizabeth Lochley - will be
played by Tracy Scoggins. 'I'd wanted to put a female in that
position, to keep the cast relatively balanced,' says Straczynski.
'I've actually come up with some very interesting ideas on this, which
are kinda fun... a way to put a lot more conflict into the inner
circle, if you will.'"

For instance, the article at no time expresses any of Claudia's
comments on her departure. I personally think Claudia was foolish but
I expect impartial journalism to be just that - impartial - and to
completely avoid her statements, thereby dismissing her right of reply
on the issue, was irresponsible if not downright sweeping it under the
carpet. IMO the feeling of the piece was that Claudia had left and had
not really wanted to return to a fifth season, whereas those of us
online who had access to her side of the story know that she painted a
very different story. 

For example, a key element in Claudia's contract "dispute" (for lack
of a better word) was that because the show was not being renewed par
se and was in fact being transferred to TNT, she was asked to give up
residuals for those shows - a "pay cut" to use her words. I expect
such a critical detail to be mentioned when presenting an unbiased
article on just why she did not renew her contract. Instead, the
article completely failed to mention it, choosing instead to mention
that she passed on renewal of her contract without giving any reason

It also failed to mention Claudia's offer to work 18 of the 22
scheduled episodes and the fact that she had been dissatisfied with
her role, feeling it had afforded her little opportunity to develop.
She also commented that she needed a challenge hence her desire to do
a film. Her own comments on the issue clearly mention her
dissatisfaction at being the voice of the resistance and remaining
stuck within C-and-C - a clear contrast, if I may say, to the dramatic
journeys that Sheridan, Delenn, Garibaldi, Franklin, G'Kar, Londo and
even Lyta have enjoyed on the show. It is also on record that Claudia
said she was never given the option of working and being paid for 18
episodes, an option she said she would have been satisfied with.

The article also failed to quote any of Claudia's statements despite
these being freely available on this very newsgroup and on her
website. In an article where two of the main players have disagreed, I
expect balance and equality in the presentation of their sides of the
story. Furthermore, where one of the protagonists is openly,
extensively and directly quoted on their side of the story, I find it
wholly reprehensible that the opposing viewpoint not be afforded
equitable treatment.

I appreciate that you are not the editor of the magazine Joe, and
therefore are not responsible for its editorial stance on this
particular thorny issue. However you do hold some sway regarding the
quality and, most importantly, the integrity of the product having
stated in no uncertain terms that you wanted a magazine which showed
all aspects of Babylon 5, good and bad, and that you wanted actors'
statements printed "as-is" and its coverage to be "no-holds-barred".

	I am exceptionally disappointed that the magazine has failed
so miserably in keeping to your stated objectives - that all matters
pertaining to the show should be portrayed openly, honestly,
warts-and-all. When I read your words in the premier issue I was very
pleased to see, at long last, that an official magazine would not
simply be a brainless self-promoting, self-admiring rag. Yet that is
exactly what it is. What we are being given is the complete
anti-thesis of your aspirations for impartiality, fairness and, dare I
say it, propaganda. Namely it has shown itself to be "a 'puff'
magazine: an easy, uncritical bit of fluff produced just to publicise
the show. "

If you do have sway with the editorial stance, I would hope you would
use it to rectify the situation and give us the magazine we deserve -
a magazine that reflects not only the content of the show, but its
values, its courage and most-of-all its integrity. You have spent a
long time teaching us that understanding is a three-edged sword - to
my opinion that makes your side, her side and the truth in-between. I
for one would like that opportunity to hear all sides and make up my
own mind on the matter.



Fear not your enemies, for they can only kill you; fear not
your friends because they can only betray you. Fear only the 
indifferent, who permit the killers and betrayers to walk
safely on the Earth.
                                         Edward Yashinsky

From: jmsatb5 at (Jms at B5)
Date: 15 Oct 1997 16:41:54 -0400
Lines: 96

Yes, every argument has two sides.  But not all sides are equally valid or
 truthful.  If they were, then you could never decide between A and B.  If I
 say that the Germans won WW2, and you say they lost WW2, they are different
 points of view...but one is slightly more valid than the other.

What is stated in the magazine is what happened.  There are no subjective
 characterizations here, those are the specific events which have been
 corroborated now by a number of people.  Should the B5 magazine put in things
 that we know to be utterly and totally false?  For instance:

>For example, a key element in Claudia's contract "dispute" (for lack
>of a better word) was that because the show was not being renewed par
>se and was in fact being transferred to TNT, she was asked to give up
>residuals for those shows - a "pay cut" to use her words. 
> I expect
>such a critical detail to be mentioned when presenting an unbiased
>article on just why she did not renew her contract. Instead, the
>article completely failed to mention it, choosing instead to mention
>that she passed on renewal of her contract without giving any reason

Let me put this to you in the most straightforward way I can: this is an
 absolute and total fabrication, and has been from day one.  No actors have
 been asked to give away their residuals, and no actor was asked to take a pay
 cut.  It never, ever, ever happened.  

What did happen was this: there are different formulas for residuals in
 network, syndication, and cable TV.  The network formula is the largest fee
 per rerun, followed by syndication and then cable.  In cable, AS PER THE
 SCREEN ACTORS GUILD rules, the amount an actor is paid over double-scale is
 credited against the domestic residuals (also not foreign residuals) in much
 the way an advance is paid against a book.  When that amount is earned out,
 the residuals begin again.  This is standard cable residuals.  So a) nobody
 was giving away residuals, and b) all of the actors received their pay
 increases this season as per their contracts.  Every one of them.

So you ask me why that wasn't mentioned.  Because it is simply, flatly, and
 categorically and PROVABLY untrue.  It's not a matter of presenting another
 opinion.  It's not true.  Period.  Never happened.  

As for not explaining why she chose not to re-up for S5, that would have
 required subjective implication, and she never TOLD us.  She simply allowed
 the offer from WB to lapse, let the contract expire, so we had no tie on
 her..and she left.

Yes, she asked for fewer episodes, but to be paid for all of them, and that was
 expressed to me prior to her passing on the offer.  But nobody ever said,
 "Okay, you didn't give us X, so we're passing."  They just let it pass without
 comment.  TO THIS DAY they have not communicated to us their specific
 reasoning.  Should the magazine speculate on what's going on inside the heads
 of other people?

>It also failed to mention Claudia's offer to work 18 of the 22
>scheduled episodes 

She didn't offer that.  She offered to work in 18 but get paid for 22, which
 constitutes a pay raise, which violates our contracts with all the other
 actors.  Again, why should we put something in that is not true?

>and the fact that she had been dissatisfied with
>her role, feeling it had afforded her little opportunity to develop.

Again, she never said that to us, or said it to the magazine.

>t is also on record that Claudia
>said she was never given the option of working and being paid for 18
>episodes, an option she said she would have been satisfied with.

Where is that on record?  It was certainly never expressed to us during all of
 this when it was going on.  And she has never said, in the post you mention,
 that she would do 18 episodes  for only 18 episodes pay.  Check the original
 post.  It's not there.

You say that her POV was not represented.  Ours was not represented on her
 websites (any of them).  I imagine therefore that you have sent email to those
 sites, and to Claudia, protesting that as well.

There's a kind of mentality that says that you can't make any kind of choice
 between two arguments, that all sides are equally valid.  But that's not true.
  Some statesments are more valid than others IF they can be proven.  Every
 single statement we have made has been proven, and verified by cast members,
 and even those at the Blackpool convention who were there as fans.  There is
 not one shred of evidence to back up the statements that pay cuts were asked
 for, or residuals were given away, both of which would violate SAG rules and
 are simply untrue.  

If something is a fabrication, should it be printed "as-is?"  Or do you post
 rebuttals to it within the same article, and get into a brawl in the magazine?
  Or do you simply state the absolute bare facts, without characterization, and
 let what's *provable* stand on its own?

That latter approach was the only way to go.  

-*** B5JMS SUBSCRIBERS: Replies to messages go to the list maintainer,
-*** <b5jms-owner at>.  If you want to reply elsewhere, adjust
-*** the "To" field.  The best way to reach JMS is to post to rastb5m, which
-*** can be done by sending email to <b5mod at>.

More information about the B5JMS mailing list