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Sheridan, Lochley, Galen, And More!! BABYLON 5: THE LOST TALES Begins Production!!

Merrick here...
A while back, we reported on plans to continue J. Machael Straczynski's BABYLON 5 via a series of ambitious new DVD releases. Over the past week, some news has come about illuminating the status of the production. The first intriguing snippet comes from Straczynski (herein JMS) himself, via a Usenet posting:
From: Subject: Further B5:TLT update from jms Date: 10/26/2006 1:01:01 AM Well, tomorrow I head back to LA for meetings on other projects for two days, then it's back to Vancouver again on Sunday to continue prep. So far everything's laying out very cleanly. We have an EFX house on board now, which was the last big step to be undertaken. It wasn't until the last day or so that we could really get into the CGI issues, which are huge on these stories. And in regard to that...the initial goal was to try and do three big stories in one DVD. So I wrote three scripts, featuring Sheridan, Lochley, Galen and Garibaldi. (I wanted to focus on the human characters initially so we'd have more time for prosthetics R&D for the next one.) The stories, as noted previously, were huge...all over the map, from Minbar, to Earth, Mars, the future, the distant past, as well as B5 itself obviously. We're also going to be trying some new production technologies, again trying to stay ahead of the tech curve, the way B5 has always stayed ahead on these things. And over the last few days, as we began to bring on crew and lay out the production, looking at just how complicated these mini-movies were going to be, the idea of making three of these monsters began to become a bit much for us to pull off on out first time out the gate, especially since I'm still kind of new as a director. So we decided to postpone one of the three to the next DVD, and lengthen the other two to make up the difference. GIven that the Garibaldi story was the most complicated visually and technically, also the most difficult from a CGi perspective, that's the one that got pushed until, potentially, next time. And if the sales are anywhere near what WB expects, and I think they will be, there's no question that there will be more of these down the road. So we're gong to focus in on those two stories and knock them out of the park. Same length, same running time, and now even bigger than at first anticipated since the budget on number three will now be applied to the other two. Part of what we're doing is to re-think the look of B5 to some degree. The show was created using 1993 technology, video toasters and amigas, and was to some extent limited by the paradigms and production methods we used in that. But it's now 13 years later, and while I will keep the feel of the show the same, and the silhouettes and designs, there's no reason to limit the look of the feel to what we could do six years ago (from when we stopped). So we're going to invest a lot of time, effort and money into really re-imagining some of the visuals at the present level -- looking at shows like Battlestar and the like -- and bringing those tools into B5 while still maintaining the feel of the show. I also managed to work in a nice nod to Andreas and Richard in the two mini-movies. So with that...the team is now in place, the last personnel have been hired, and as soon as I get back to Vancouver, I get to take off the producer's hat and put on the director's hat. jms message content (c) 2006 synthetic worlds, ltd. permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
That's interesting about SFX...I've had a bit of trouble with them, too. Probably not in the same way, though. Next up: here is the official press release announcing the START OF PRODUCTION...TODAY! Did BABYLON 5 fans ever find a collective name, by the way? I don't think they did. I mean, we have Trekkies, Trekkers, Browncoats, etc. -- but do B5 fans have a name? Rangers, maybe? if they don't, I think they need to come up with a name before these new installments roll around.
BURBANK, CA, November 13, 2006 – Warner Home Video (WHV) and Warner Bros. Television (WBTV) have announced the start of production of “Babylon 5: The Lost Tales,” a made-for-video movie that will be targeted towards the Babylon 5 loyal audience and science-fiction fans in general . The announcement was jointly made by Jeff Brown, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Non-theatrical Franchise, Warner Home Video and Gregg Maday, Senior Vice President, Movies and Miniseries, WBTV. WHV will be the home entertainment distributor for this made-for-DVD release which will include two new Babylon 5 stories collectively entitled “Voices of the Dark” in one film plus exclusive behind the scenes content. The stories will be written and directed by executive producer and original “Babylon 5” creator J. Michael Straczynski. Executive producer Doug Netter also returns in that role. Actors from the original series that have signed on to participate in the project include Bruce Boxleitner (“President John Sheridan”), Tracy Scoggins (“Captain Elizabeth Lochley”) and Peter Woodward (“Galen”). Babylon 5 is a top selling franchise on DVD to date with over $44 million in consumer sales. Launched in February 1993, the award winning series was a top rated show on television with more than 13.7 million viewers in its debut season. After its original planned five-year run – introducing the concept of a five year arc before other TV series began to use multi-season arcs -- the show went on to enjoy 9 successful years in syndication and Cable on the Sci-Fi Channel and TNT. It also spurred the creation of five feature length movies based on the series including The Gathering, In the Beginning, Thirdspace, River of Souls and A Call to Arms, as well as the limited series Crusade. Babylon 5 has received numerous awards including two Emmys, two consecutive Hugo Awards, the Ray Bradbury Award for Dramatic Screenwriting from the Science Fiction Writers of America, five English Media ‘Cult TV’ Awards, the E Pluribus Unum Award from the American Cinema Foundation, the Sci-Fi Universe Reader Choice Award for Best TV Series and was the winner of the TV Guide Poll for Best Sci-Fi Show. “We are very excited to be releasing this new made-for-video release filled with original content for ‘Babylon 5’, one of the most successful science fiction series of all time,” said Jeff Brown. “This popular TV show which has been off the air for a few years continues to have a strong loyal fan base that is hungry for more content. This is the first time we’re utilizing one of our popular TV franchises as a made-for-video title, and we have a strong commitment to the growth of this sector.” “It’s great to be reunited with Joe and Doug once again,” commented Maday. “I have always been very proud to be associated with their wonderful work on Babylon 5 and I’m confident the “Lost Tales” will add to the legacy of this very special franchise.” On an immense space station built by the Earth Alliance in the 2250s, the crew of Babylon 5 are charged with maintaining the peace among the various alien races by providing a sanctuary where grievances and negotiations can be worked out among duly appointed ambassadors. Aside from its diplomatic function, Babylon 5 also serves as a military post for Earth and a port of call for travelers, traders, businessmen, criminals, and Rangers. The story of The Lost Tales picks up several years after the events of its original story, and follows several of its major characters in new adventures set against the backdrop of the Babylon 5 universe.
Coolness. I'm really looking forward to seeing how these projects progress. Not sure how I feel about setting these things within a continuity so closely tied to the series/CRUSADE; I was personally hoping they might into the series' back-story (the Shadow War/Babylon 4) or forestory (JMS has indicated that he's worked out a B5 universe timeline for like a hundred jillion years of past and future). I don't believe CRUSADE or LEGEND OF THE RANGERS were B5 storytelling at its finest; they struggled to find a certain "truth". However, I think there are plenty of interesting stories left to tell in the Babylonian Universe, so...I'm holding out hope.


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