[B5JMS] Attn JMS: OT - "Changeling", "Criminal Minds" and your scriptwriting book

Posts of Babylon 5's creator Joe M. Straczynski b5jms at mail.fsl.cs.sunysb.edu
Sat Oct 3 04:33:55 EDT 2009

From: Joseph DeMartino <jdemarti at bellsouth.net>
Date: Thu, 1 Oct 2009 08:08:33 -0700 (PDT)
Lines: 45

In this week's episode of "Criminal Minds" the trigger for a
contemporary murder spree is a decades-old crime.  In the earlier case
a serial killer used a small boy (in this case his 6 year old son) to
lure other boys into his pick-up truck so he could drive them off to a
secluded location, lock them in cages and eventually kill them and
bury them on his property.  Sound familiar?  In one dramatic flashback
to 1977 the then "current" victim, a 12 year old, talks the son into
helping him escape.  As the older boy is climbing a fence, the father
catches up with his son and grabs him.  The boy urges to the 12 year
old to keep running, and that child does make his escape and
eventually tells the police where the bodies are buried.  The killer
and his son are long gone and the whole story only comes to light when
the son suffers a psychotic break and starts killing people himself.

Obviously you didn't invent the Wineville murders, and the mere
existance of "Changeling" could have suggested using that case as the
basis for a crime the BAU would investigate, but some of the details
in the episode really were awfully close to the specifics of the
movie.  (Although the over-the-fence escape scene took place in
daylight and neither boy's mother played any role in the story.)

BTW I was flipping through your "Complete Book of Scriptwriting" the
other day (any chance of a 3rd edition?  The industry has changed so
much since you last revised it, although most of your predictions
about it hold up pretty well) and came across the opening scenes from
"The Strange Case of Christine Collins".  I had completely forgotten
that bit from the book, and didn't realize that the script had been in
circulation that long.  (Very interesting to trying to picture a
younger Shelly Duvall in the Collins role.)  What most struck me is
how little the final film differed from that original script.  (IIRC
the only real difference was the brief exchange between Christine  and
her supervisor as she was running for the Red Line trolley.  I'm
guessing this was added to establish Christine's position as a rising
professional, and to introduce the supervisor earlier in the

I seem to remember your talking about publishing some of your research
on the real case at some point  (perhaps in conjuction with the
screenplay?)  Is that still in the cards?



From: Joseph Straczynski <jmsatb5 at aol.com>
Date: Fri, 2 Oct 2009 23:23:51 -0700 (PDT)
Lines: 20

Sadly, the methods used in Changeling are not uncommon...tactics like
this have been used by others in varying combinations.  (As a kid in
Paterson, maybe ten, I'd gotten lost coming home from school, was
walking around crying, and a car with two guys and a woman said that
my dad had sent them to get me.  The woman was trying to reassure me
that it was okay to get in the car.  I didn't.  And no, my folks had
never sent them.)

As for the script excerpt, I'd mentioned elsewhere in various
interviews that I'd heard of the Collins case a number of years
earlier, and had tried on several occasions to write the script but
had never gotten past the first section and a rough outline for the
rest.  I just didn't have the skill set to write it properly until
years later, when I tried one last time.

I still want to do the novelization, but there's been so much film
work that it's been hard to peel away the time.


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