[B5JMS] Ranting back: ( was: Re: On JMS : A minor rant...)

b5jms at cs.columbia.edu b5jms at cs.columbia.edu
Thu Jul 31 04:26:38 EDT 2003

From: janmschroeder at aol.com (Jan)
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2003 11:19:40 +0000 (UTC)
Lines: 45

Sam wrote:

>A) In regards to what happened to individual series, see my second post 
>in this thread.

I would...but it hasn't shown up yet aparently.  What I'm replying to now is
your second post in this thread according to both AOL and Google.

>B) Did you *read* my original (very soft-edged) rant?

Yep.  It got a little difficult at times with all of the caps and such but I
read it.  And I did cut some slack considering that you were upset and knew
that you were ranting.  When I replied it was after at least two other people
chimed in and started commenting on things they have no way of knowing about. 
Even you made false statements such as <<EVERY time the same problems crop up.
screwing over, internal politics, wacky memos...) >> which is, of course
provably false.

>So I 
>comment on the side stories, and the DEVALUATION of JMS' brand of 
>arc-based storytelling in the eyes of casual tv watchers and diehard fans.

By definition, we don't have to worry about diehard fans, right?  Fair weather
fans will simply do as they will and casual tv watchers have probably never
even noticed who wrote what when.

>So once more: I'm not saying anything. I did not say anything then, and 
>I'm not saying anything now.

But I *am* saying something:  
- I'm saying that as far as I'm concerned, JMS is right to fight for his work
and right to not allow the stories to be watered down and right to walk away
when he feels it necessary.
- I'm saying that he's earned my trust in his judgment bacause he's proved it
with over 100 hours of quality storytelling on TV and various other media less
'timeable' such as comics, audio drama, novels, short stories and even a fairy
tale and a play.

- I'm saying that disappointment isn't cause to make misstatements that others
might mistake for fact. 


From: jmsatb5 at aol.com (Jms at B5)
Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2003 04:36:01 +0000 (UTC)
Lines: 116

I haven't really commented on this because others have addressed the specifics
quite well, I think.  Of the projects cited, only two of the TV projectrs ended
with enmity, Crusade and Jeremiah.  I'm on good terms with SFC with Rangers,
good terms with WB on the same basis after B5...the problem with Rangers going
down had nothing to do with personalities or difficulties working with anybody
and everything to do with ratings vs. costs.

The B5 graphic novel has simply been waiting time for me to get it done because
of the number of commitments I've been dealing with.

So the premise is faulty to begin with.  You (the original poster) are asking
people or myself to defend something when your premise is misleading and
untrue.  There are FAR more difficult people, or people who are perceived as
difficult, out there working nonstop in TV.  This is a profession and a town
where eccentricity and difficulty is pretty much expected.

And part of your note proceeds, from my point of view, from fear.  There's this
thing of, "Well, you shouldn't make trouble, you'll never work again," which
keeps people in bad places long after they should go, or at least protest.  I
don't believe in that kind of weakness or fear.  By all rights, I should be
hard-core unemployable.  My rep for being a perfectionist, and being a fighter,
has been there from 1984, when I started working in TV.  But I've been
consistently employed more than any other writer I know in the field.  With
very few short gaps, I've been working in TV almost nonstop for nearly 20
years.  That simply doesn't happen.

The reason it happens is because I'm known for being a pain...but also for
being good, very good, at what I do.  After Murder, She Wrote ended its run,
they tried without success to get some MSW TV movies going.  It totally stalled
out, script after script.  Finally, one day, they said, "Well, there's always
Joe."  Then they went to lie down for a while, but they made the call, and I
wrote a script that got approved, got made, and broke the logjam.

Jeremiah had lain moribund at Showtime and Lion's Gate for *five years*.  They
couldn't get it off the ground.  Finally, they said, "Well, there's always
Joe."  After the usual lie-down, they called...and it went from a nearly-dead
project to on the air for two years.  

And as I write this, I have two new series in development, at least in the
formal pitching and development stage with studios attached, and I've barely
left Jeremiah.  I've had to turn down other requests for TV series development
because you can really only do two max at a time, one in first position, the
other in second.  No network or studio will take you in third position.

I've *always* been very open about people or situations who piss me off, but
only after being pleasant and negotiating has proven useless, and I've been the
recipient of that lethal combination of arrogant stupidity.

See, if a network or studio and I disagree, then we just disagree, it's
honorable, that's the give and take you *want* on a show.  I have a lot of
respect for Showtime, because whenever I wrote a script and kind of glossed
over anything in the first draft, figuring I could address it in the next pass,
they always caught me at it.  *Always*.  And as annoying as it was at times, it
was also kinda cool and gratifying to know that they were paying that kind of
attention.  And we never, ever had a problem.  Honorable people can have
honorable disagreements.  When that happens, my rule is that I don't walk out
of the room, or let them walk out of the room, until either they convince me of
the rightness of their views, or I do the same to them.  They agree not to pull
rank and I agree not to pull a prima donna.

And when you have a situation like that, as big as the arguments may get, I
never have a problem with it.  I actually *enjoy* that.  

I *do* have a problem with dishonorable behavior.  Always have.  When someone
lies to me, fucks me, or otherwise acts toward me in a dishonorable way, then
as far as I'm concerned the rules of engagement change at that moment.  And I
do so unapologetically.

Why?  Because it scares off the snakes.  If you know that you're going to be
raked over the coals if you act dishonorably toward me, it mitigates against
those with such intentions, they think twice.  Those who are honorable never
seem to have a problem coming to me.  It's the same reason I always tell every
studio I work for my three rules: I don't lie, I don't bullshit, and I never,
ever bluff.  And I expect the same in return.

So no, as far as my work is concerned, it is not and has *never* been a
problem.  And if it ever *were* to become a problem, I'd move off into writing
comics full time, or novels, or something else.  I'm more or less set in a
variety of venues.  The result is that I write what I want, for whom I want,
and I get paid for doing things I'd have to do for free otherwise.  

Your concern, really, is that *you* are afraid that *you* won't get what *you*
want.  That ain't my problem.  Nor will I allow your fears to become my fears. 
I do what I like and I say what I like.  I've worked my whole life to get to
that point, a point very few manage to achieve, and if you think I'm going to
change that because you're concerned you might not get your fix of a certain
kind of story...dream on.

As per:

>>So I 
>>comment on the side stories, and the DEVALUATION of JMS' brand of 
>>arc-based storytelling in the eyes of casual tv watchers and diehard fans.

It ain't my brand in the sense that I do other things, and I don't think I have
it in me to do anything of the complexity of B5 again for television...to write
91 out of 110 eps and be that gonzo nuts in every detail.  It damn near killed
me the last time; if I tried it again, it *would* kill me.  

It's great that you want the next thing I do to be the same as the last thing I
did.  But that ain't why I'm in the game.  I want the next thing I do to be
*different* from the last thing I did.  

It's the difference between having ten years of storytelling...or one year of
storytelling ten times.


(jmsatb5 at aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2003 by synthetic worlds, ltd., 
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine 
and don't send me story ideas)

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