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BABYLON 5 Returns!!

Merrick here...

I've checked around the Internets, and have found little (or no) reference to the news conveyed through the messages below. But this is definitely worth sharing, so here you go...

During last weekend's San Diego Comic a panel that (evidently) didn't enjoy the "in your face" notoriety of, say, TRANSFORMERS or SPIDERMAN 3... producer/writer/director J. Michael Straczynski (JMS, or "Joe") made an announcement regarding the future of this little concept he has called BABYLON 5.

The thrust of the news is this: straight-to-video BABYLON 5 adventures...involving B5 characters in an anthology format...should arrive late next year. Written and directed by JMS.

Personally, I would love, love, LOVE to see some well-considered B5 adventures. For me, the show stands behind only the original STAR TREK in the pantheon of orgasmically kick ass TV/SF (with STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE and the current BATTLESTAR GALACTICA vying for 3rd).

The franchise's "universe" is certainly rich enough...and broad accommodate this undertaking. The only thing that worries me about this is that CRUSADE and LEGEND OF THE RANGERS (both B5 spinoffs for TV) felt unpleasantly self-aware and forced. Given that so much time has passed since their production, perhaps Joe can now step into the universe with heightened detachment and clarity: the potential for greatness here boggles the mind.

B5 is clearly a labor of love for JMS -- it is clearly an undying and deeply personal committment. Don't see that too much in either television or film these days. It's nice to know that passion can pay off. For fans, and for Joe.

Here's The Nuclear Marine with a write-up from JMS' panel. There's a lot of material here - about other JMS projects (films, comics, etc.)- including a hint about major BABYLON 5-based game. A lot if interesting stuff, although I've highlighted the B5-specific content in blue for those wanting to cut to the chase.

The Nuclear Marine wrote...

Last week on the moderated newsgroup for Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski (jms) hinted at a big Babylon 5 announcement. Even without that, I was going to attend the panel. The panel occurred on Saturday, 22 July. Heres a breakdown on the information jms said was on the horizon.

As already reported on AICN, jms sold a movie script to be directed by Ron Howard presently called Changling. To show how small Hollywood can be, jms called Ron Howard Mr. Howard in a conversation about the script. Ron said No, you hired my dad to be on your show [Babylon 5], you can call me Ron. Despite working consistently in Hollywood as a scriptwriter and producer for 20 years, this large deal made jms an overnight star in the minds of corporate. It may be this single event launching many of these other events.

Jms has produced a 12 episode radio program for the Canadian Broadcasting Company called The Adventures of Apocalypse Al. Jms described it as a science fiction comedy in the vein of Hitchhikers Guide.

Touchstone will be producing a pilot that was pitched last year called Borrowed Lives. He did not go into details about this series.

The comic book Rising Stars will be developed as a series by Sam Raimis production company. This has me very excited as I enjoy jmss take on the Super Hero genre. Even with Heroes and 4400 in production, I think Rising Stars can rise to the top.

Two unnamed studios are currently bidding on the (movie?) rights to the Midnight Nation book. Midnight Nation is a stellar graphic novel. I hope this one comes through.

The one shot comic Dream Police has been pitched to a major studio. Negotiations are ongoing to determine of jms will write the script. I was not impressed with Dream Police. It played exactly like a Dragnet of the Dreamworld, so others may like it.

The biggest announcement I'll paraphrase: Every 6 months, I get together with WB to discuss what to do something with B5. The DVD sales have raised over 500 million in revenue. Now, I produced B5s 110 episodes at about 90 million dollars. Somehow, B5 is still 50 million in the red. Every time I mention that to WB they say We made a good deal, huh? Anyway, they asked if I wanted to do a feature film but I declined mainly because I can't yet picture structuring a B5 movie as long as [Andreas Katsulas] and [Richard Biggs] insist on staying dead. Maybe in a year or two I'll be able to but right now I can't do something big and those two roles will NOT be recast.

So I thought about it, and I suggested a bunch of short films. Little mini-movies or an anthology show set in the Babylon 5 universe. I pick a character and develop an hour-long story around that character. Stories that I wanted to tell during the B5 series but never had the chance to develop. They said, Okay. I said I wanted complete creative control. Do not change my words that I write, and I want that in writing. They said, Okay. And I want to direct. They said, Okay.

This project was green lit less than two weeks ago. Its going to happen. Production starts in September in Vancouver, Canada. Post-production will occur from October to February with a release of the first three anthologies in the second quarter of 2007.

In the comic book world, jms will be doing Bullet Points, a six-issue Marvel tale concerning the impact one bullet and one death can have on the Marvel Universe. Jms describes that the bullet that killed the scientist that gave Steve Rogers the super soldier serum. He has the scientist killed just 24 hours earlier. The bullet that killed the scientist also killed a young MP by the name of Ben Parker. The issues cover the sixty years after that event. Sounds like a macro What If, but the idea of Ben Parker dying in WWII brings a big OOOHHH! from the audience. Jms will also be doing something about a guy with a hammer (come on, we know its Thor).

During the question and answer portion of the panel, not too much was revealed. There are two enticing tid-bits. Jms had a conversation with a director. The director really wants to get into doing television (ironic as jms started doing television to get into comics). So they developed an idea for a television show thats never been thought of before. Jms refused to mention the director, but he said the director is one of the top five directors today. For some reason Im thinking M. Night Shyamalan, but it could just as easily be Ron Howard.

The other tidbit dealt with the question will there be a B5 computer game soon? Jms said he could not talk about it now, but that in two weeks expect something big to be announced. He hinted that if you ever wanted to live in the B5 universe, you might get your chance. Now, either thats a super holobrothel or a MMORPG. Im hoping for the former.

Lastly, he may have single handedly changed the mindset about Print on Demand Publishing. Originally, print on demand was a way for anyone to print a book for like 5 of their friends to read. No one serious would have used it. For the last year, jms has been selling collections of his Babylon 5 scripts on via cafepress website. That deal has made cafepress over a million dollars thus far. Due to the success, other authors are looking into using print on demand.

This was an enjoyable panel with LOTS of information put out. Jms, despite describing himself as having a fear of talking in front of people, handles himself well in front of a crowd. Never Surrender Dreams.

Thanks a ton for the write-up Nuclear Marine!

Big Ed from Texas with a reiteration of the B5 news; this message states A TITLE!

J. Michael Straczynski announced a new Babylon 5 project.

It's called Babylon 5: The Lost Tales.

It will be a direct to dvd collection of 20 minutes stories set in the b5 universe that will feature the prominent characters.

These stories will expand on the characters that were previously established. The only character he mentioned would not be covered would be G'Kar since he believes no one should ever voice G'Kar except for Andreas Katsulas, who passed away earlier this year.

Warner Bros has greenlit the project and he says production starts this September, hoping for a DVD release in the second quarter of next year.

Thanks to you, as well Big Ed. Appreciated.

Obviously, JMS in general...especially further BABYLON 5 projects...will be sources of great interest it the Geek community. We'll keep you apprised as more information comes in.

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