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The J. Michael Straczynski Message Archive

 

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by J. Michael Straczynski (JMS).

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 Message
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: ATTN JMS: Are you a millionaire ?
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 7/9/2002 3:09:00 PM  

Message 1 in thread 

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"You don't write for the money, because if you do, you're a monkey. You don't
write for the fame, because if you do, you're a monkey. You don't even write
because you like to write, because if you do, you're still a monkey. You
write because to NOT write is suicide."

Stephen King
jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2002 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: ATTN JMS: Are you a millionaire ?
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 7/12/2002 9:55:00 PM  

Message 2 in thread 

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>He has been lucky enough to be
>quite prolific in a high paying field for a number of years despite
>the pressure of TV writing being a young man's game.

Harrumph...I'm still only 47, though I look about 60 in most photos.

>would require that JMS is
>an idiot (something he continually disproves), has a monkey on his
>back (he has several, but can't say that I have detected one that is a
>particularly costly financial drain), or has been swindled by a CFO /
>Money Manager (events probably would have been leaked to CNN).

The main monkey on my back is comics, comics related collectibles,
and...erm...I think I just ran out of stuff.

Though I'm not going to get into the specifics of this discussion, one thing
that needs to be factored into the overall understanding is that Los Angeles is
a VERY expensive town in which to live and work, and the entertainment business
is a VERY expensive field in which to work.

Gas, food, restaurants, clothes, rent (average rent for a small two-bedroom
apartment out here is about $1300 per month), mortagages (you can't find much
anything decent in town for less than about $800,000 as your baseline, and for
that you're getting maybe 1400 sq feet), it's just a money sink.

And very few people, especially writers, work year-round. You may have six
months when you're flush, then six months to a year with nothing. The average
WGA member makes one TV sale per year; the average WGA member makes less than
your average elementary school teacher. Only about 2% of the WGA earns over
$100,000 per year.

William Goldman is probably one of the best writers we have; after five years
of big hits, he couldn't get arrested for nearly ten years. Then he became big
again. Factor five years of income, however high, across 15 years total...you
see the dilemma.

Income tax takes about 30-45% of any money you make in that tax bracket
(however shortly you might be there), the agent gets another 10%, the attorney
another 5%, so you're losing about 60% of your income right off the bat.

Which is why you can't let yourself get too caught up in the money part or
you'll go insane. All you can do if you're sensible is focus on the art and
the craft and hope for the best.

Here's the only thing I know that makes any sense when it comes to money: find
what you enjoy doing, find what moves you to passion, find what you can't *not*
do, and the miraculous thing about it is, if you're half decent at it, and
dedicate yourself to getting better, and keep at it, after a while, sonuvagun,
you can almost always find a way to make a living off it.

Well, before taxes, anyway.

jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2002 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: ATTN JMS: Are you a millionaire ?
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 7/16/2002 8:14:00 PM  

Message 3 in thread 

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>A side thought. Jeremiah is being made in Canada. At what point does
>JMS have to start paying Canadian Income Tax?

I was able to get a waiver on LoTR because it was a short-term engagement, but
on Jeremiah I've been paying Canadian taxes (as well as American taxes) since
day one.

Even so, my Canadian tax burden is still far less than the average Canadian has
to shell out every year, percentage-wise. Though I'm still somewhat of a
newcomer, my feeling is that, frankly, the Canadian people are getting hosed.
I understand the dilemma of having a very large country and a very small
population that has to support that infrastructure, but even so they're just
getting hammered out of all proportion and reasonableness.

jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2002 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: ATTN JMS: Are you a millionaire ?
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 7/16/2002 10:12:00 PM  

Message 4 in thread 

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>Don't forget we have more of a more generous social infrastructure, but
>nowhere near enough big profitable corporations to support it. Still,
>we like to think at least we're better off than the Finnish. :-)

Yeah, in theory it's a generous social infrastructure, but it don't work.
Between lower paying salaries and a tax burden that leads a lot of
professionals in various areas like medicine to go to the US, you've got a
brain drain and a resources sink that kills a lot of that infrastructure.
(Which is why I spent 6 hours in the emergency room of Vancouver General
Hospital, before being taken into the actual work room, and another 2 hours
before getting worked on by a doctor, the day I dislocated my right ring
finger...there was only ONE emergency room doctor on duty on a Saturday night.)

It costs less, but there's less OF it, and it's not terribly efficient, and
doesn't give your average Canadian the value for his/her money.

Maybe I'm a bit more vocal about this than I should be, as an American (and
knowing how much we've contributed to the problem) but goddamn, you guys are
getting taken to the cleaners up there.

jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2002 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: ATTN JMS: Are you a millionaire ?
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 7/19/2002 9:04:00 PM  

Message 5 in thread 

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>Hmm, maybe there's hope of turning JMS into a libertarian yet. :)

I like to consider my mind an open door.

It's just not a revolving door.

jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2002 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: ATTN JMS: Are you a millionaire ?
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 7/19/2002 9:09:00 PM  

Message 6 in thread 

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>But I think it's a baseless, and, I might say, entirely inappropriate
>and distressing thing to say about "the Republicans," whose collective
>will is not as clear-cut as that.

Yes and no...but a lot of the party's stands are in total lock-step.

For instance...I know somebody who ran for office as a Republican last year
(jms looks around the audience with doe-like eyes of innocence, letting folks
figure out the rest for themselves)...who told me that as part of running, the
Party gave him a box full of notebooks that contained what was to be his stance
on any number of issues. He was not to diverge from them.

But most troubling...he was given what was essentially a loyalty oath,
stipulating that he would support George W. Bush in the forthcoming primaries
*exclusively*, and not McCain, and if he didn't agree, the Party would withhold
its financing from his election bid.

So much for the marketplace of free ideas.

jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2002 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: ATTN JMS: Are you a millionaire ?
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 7/21/2002 10:42:00 PM  

Message 7 in thread 

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>Yes, yes, the "platform". Again, it begs the question, "What do the
>Democrats (or any other party) do differently, if anything?"

I don't know. Does one legitimize the other? If both are doing something
wrong, does it mean therefore that either are free from criticism? I've never
understood this logic: "Well, HE does it too." So? And in this case we DON"T
know if he/they do it too.

>ame question, did not the Democratic party exact a similar loyalty
>oath for Al Gore from candidates?

Dunno. Are you saying they did? If so, if you know that to be the case, I'd
be interested in hearing about it. If you don't know it to be the case, then
it's just pettifogging.

jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2002 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)

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