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 Message
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/22/1997 10:15:00 AM  

Message 1 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

"In the back of my mind, I wonder why Claudia, her agent, Joe, and the
WB/TNT folks couldn't sit down together (or conference call, or
whatever) and talk with each other on that final day."

I did. That Thursday night, I sat with her for half an hour,
urging her to call her agent, and have her agent call WB. Didn't
happen. We never even heard anything from her or her people until
literally 1 week after the deadline for scripts to start coming in.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/22/1997 2:46:00 PM  

Message 2 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

There was no pay cut for the fifth season for the cast. And the
residulas formula is standard for basic cable.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/23/1997 5:52:00 PM  

Message 3 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

Nothing was said about any of this online until Claudia began
talking about it at a convention Toronto and indicating that she had
been fired, which was not the case.

She passed.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/23/1997 5:52:00 PM  

Message 4 in thread 

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Bancroft Gracey <100532.1747@compuserve.com> asks:
> -bpg- Uncle-at-Large "....'Great Maker', huh?"

"They wouldn't like it, but they had to let a certain Mrs Roddenberry
set a precedent..."

1) Majel isn't a series regular, with the contract requirements
thereof.

2) Nobody messes with the Roddenberrys.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/23/1997 5:52:00 PM  

Message 5 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

There is nothing amiss with an actor seeing work as a
contingency if the current show is not renewed.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/23/1997 5:52:00 PM  

Message 6 in thread 

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Hero Games (Sue) <75162.372@compuserve.com> asks:
> If that's the case, then why wouldn't/couldn't he put it into
> writing?

"If that's the case, then why wouldn't/couldn't he put it into
writing? So far as I can tell, that's because although he can do
everything in his power to keep Ivanova out of four episodes, there are
higher powers within WB/TNT who could say otherwise. They're the ones
who hold CCs contract, not JMS."

Every studio holds the contract on its actors; that's the same
for every show.

Nothing could be put into writing in the form of a renegotiation
because all of the actors are on a favored nation basis...if one
renegotiates in his/her favor, they all get to renegotiate. Any of our
cast can take fewer episodes if they agree to be paid for fewer
episodes since that favors WB. Or they can come to me and we'll do it
unofficially, as has been done with every single cast member for 4+
years now. Peter wanted to do "The Late Shift," I wrote him out for a
couple of episodes to accommodate that; Andreas wants to do a movie, he
asks, and I write him out. This has never, ever been a problem.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/23/1997 5:52:00 PM  

Message 7 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

"Again, I'm not saying that JMS did anything wrong, but if the studio
can supercede Joe (i.e. Joe can verbally say 'I'll do it', but the
studio still has the right to say 'no'), then I can't blame CC for
wanting something in writing <shrug>"

Any studio can supercede the authority of an executive producer.

The question, though, is one of logic.

If Character X is not in an episode, is not written in an
episode, there is no grounds on earth for a studio to force the actor
to hang around the studio for that episode. Never been done to my
knowledge on ANY show, anywhere, at any time. Nor would there be any
reason to do so here.

And WB doesn't write the scripts. I do. And they don't bother
us on that one. We haven't had a creative note since year 2, episode
2, and that was mainly on a scene they wanted clarified.

In the past, with every actor on the show, I have said, "Come to
me, and we'll work out unofficially time for you to get away." There
are some occasions when I say, "Look, I *need* your character for this
episode, I can't do "Severed Dreams" without Sheridan," but that
doesn't happen too often. We have never had a problem with WB over
this. And never once have I given my word to an actor about being
available, and not had it work out.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/23/1997 5:52:00 PM  

Message 8 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

"In her message, CC has quoted Copeland as saying that if TNT/WB want
her to do the 22 episodes, there's nothing that can be done about it."

What John said was that if she wanted to be paid the full amount
(the 22 episode fee) she had to be in all 22.

"However, there still seems to be a question as to whether or not she
was informed of the correct deadlines or if WB/TNT withdrew whatever
offer was on the table before that deadline arose."

She was. They didn't.

On the Thursday before the final Friday deadline, I sat in the
bar of the DeVere Hotel in Blackpool with Claudia and said, "Claudia,
the press has announced your departure from the show. WB takes it
seriously, and I have to start writing *yesterday*. We have to know if
you're in or out, and we have to know by mid-day (noon) tomorrow. If
we don't get an indication from your agent that you're in, the offer
will be withdrawn."

The offer was withdrawn at mid-day Friday, as indicated.
Because to wait any longer would damage the show, and our chances of
getting going without missing airdates.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/23/1997 5:52:00 PM  

Message 9 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

"CC trusts that JMS will do what he can, but feels that things might
be out of his hands and puts the question to Copeland who tells her
(via her agent) that what JMS offered is "Not possible."

It is not possible only if one wishes to be paid for all 22.

"5. A deadline is set for CC to get in touch with WB to confirm S5.
According to CC, she was told this by Conaway and not informed via
normal channels (i.e. via agent, manager, WB). She tries to contact
her agent regarding this but they miss each other over the weekend."

Ken Parks of WB Business Affairs informed her agent. I
personally informed her as well.

"JMS says she had a Friday deadline. CC says she was told Monday by
Conaway and that neither her agent or manager were informed of this
deadline."

After the Friday deadline passed, Jeff took it upon himself to
try and convince her to go back to the show. He went to her and said
that if she or her agent contacted WB on Monday, there might be a
chance to patch things up. That was the full extent of it. Jeff does
not represent the show, and was not asked to convey this to Claudia,
and was acting on his own good will to try and help her out. It had
nothing to do with deadlines.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/25/1997 7:30:00 AM  

Message 10 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

"No offense, but it's your word against hers, and my point is that we
don't have any reason to believe either one of you over the other."

Actually, that's not quite correct. There were approximately 10
actors there in Blackpool when all this went down...and they can all
verify the account that I have described in all this.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/25/1997 7:30:00 AM  

Message 11 in thread 

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Hero Games (Sue) <75162.372@compuserve.com> asks:
> My question then is, what about the supposed conversation between
> CCs agent and Copeland? Did this never take place?
> is the agent lying?

The conversation was not fully reported. If an actor wants to
be paid for 22 episodes, then yes, it is impossible for ANY studio to
put in writing that they will pay for 22 while getting only 16 or 18.
None of them will ever do that. Now, if an actor wants to 16-18 and be
paid for only 16-18, then that's another issue. But the former is not
possible, and that was what John was addressing. He's kind of gotten a
bad rap in this, without cause.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/25/1997 7:30:00 AM  

Message 12 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

I have little to quarrel with in any of that, though I will make
the point that there isn't really *that* much dissimilarity in our
reports, as others have pointed out...it's the behind the scenes stuff
and conversations and dates that get jumbled up in some of the reports.

It's also a matter of perception...here you perceive that my
"side" of it, if you want to call it that, is getting more support.
But on other nets, I've gotten a hideous amount of hate mail, and some
threats, disguised and outright. So it's a matter of what you see, vs.
what is. (Kinda like the overall situation.)

Finally...as you say, you have no reason to give more weight to
one side or another in this. But there is one aspect of this to bear
in mind. People can argue after the fact about how a tossed coin came
down, can debate whose coin it was, whether it was a dime or a quarter,
who said what about the ground it came to rest upon...and no one down
the road may have any reason to believe one report or another...but it
*did* come down, and it *did* come down either heads, or tails.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/26/1997 8:22:00 AM  

Message 13 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

No, it's almost impossible for an actor to be a regular on two
shows at the same time; to make the Stephen Furst thing work, for
instance, allowing him to be a regular on "Misery Loves Company," we
had to support his request, and we were happy to do that. Most
producers would rather not.

In terms of guest stars, though, it's pretty wide open. Armin
has even auditioned for B5 on one occasion. And some of our regulars,
like Pat, have done work on ST, as well as Andreas, who reprised his
character there.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/26/1997 8:22:00 AM  

Message 14 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

"JMS was simply not at that fatful alledged meeting between Claudis
and managment (or at least I've never seen him claim to be there) so he
only knows what others have told him about that meeting."

There was no such meeting.

"Now Claudia was alledgely present at that alledged meeting where they
are alledged to have told her to find another job."

Again, there was no such meeting. Claudia was in the UK, at the
same convention I was attending, when all this went down. And *I* was
the one who told her that she had to have her agent contact WB to tell
them she was in, or they'd withdraw the offer.

Kinda sticks a pin in that particular balloon....

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/26/1997 5:57:00 PM  

Message 15 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

"reminds me very much of what I was told by someone with good reason
to know about the loss of Michael O'Hare from the show i.e. that the
people in charge of the purse-strings basically made the decision."

See, here's what kills me about all this.

When the Michael situation took place, I came out very openly
and I said, "No, this was my decision, working with Michael," and very
few held *me* accountable, they tried to blame WB...here, I came out
openly and said I tried everything I could to keep Claudia on the show,
and that her eventual departure was not my decision, it was hers, and
I'm being given the rap for it. I didn't get it when I *did* make the
decision (with Michael), and I'm getting it now when I *didn't* make
the decision.

Some days it's enough to make me lose my hair.

Waitaminnit....

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/27/1997 5:14:00 PM  

Message 16 in thread 

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{original post unavailable}

Ray: extremely, extremely well said. Better than I could have
said it, and probably better than I *have* said it.

You really ought to give this writing thing a shot sometime,
y'know...?

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/27/1997 5:14:00 PM  

Message 17 in thread 

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John F Davis <73455.43@compuserve.com> asks:
> how did the British rags figure out what she was GOING to say
> while she was still saying "I'll be there"?

No...let me stress this again: there was never any meeting here.

The meeting you *might* be thinking of was the one where we
brought in the actors to explain to them the differences in syndication
vs. cable residuals formula. That took place some weeks before.

If it helps, let me break down the dates for you a bit:

July 9th: the Variety and Reuters pieces appear saying Claudia's
has left the show. WB wants to know where Claudia stands, and we need
to know because at this point I've finished writing the new 422, and am
about to start on 502 (actually the first S5 episode). I hear about
this when Claudia, I and the rest of the cast are in the UK at
Blackpool. The WB need for urgent clarification is conveyed to
Claudia's agent.

July 10th: I reinforce to Claudia, at the pub in the DeVere
hotel, that unless she confirms through her agent by noon Friday, the
11th, that she wants to be on the show, the offer will be withdrawn,
that she will have, to all intents and purposes, passed on the offer.

July 11th: there was no "final comment," no meeting...again, we
are still in the UK. For there to be a final comment, she or her agent
would have had to actually *speak* to someone. But no call came from
either Claudia or her agent. There was NO response at all. Thus, the
offer was finally and reluctantly withdrawn because we were simply out
of time, and having been told that silence = a pass on the offer, there
was no longer any reason to maintain the offer. She passed.

July 12th: Jeff goes to Claudia and on his own, tries to
convince her to try and work this out on Monday, that if her agent
makes contact first thing, maybe this can be worked out. This is not a
position that I told him to advance to her, he did this entirely on his
own, hoping that she could still come back from her decision. Bruce
and other cast members also try to talk to her about this, concerned
about her decision.

July 14th (Monday): Claudia leaves the convention mid-day,
announcing that she is going to go to a photo shoot.

The weekend of July 19th-20th: I'm at ComicCon in San Diego,
where I learn that Claudia, at another convention, has announced that
she was fired from B5. And that, to paraphrase, is where the blitz hit
the fans.

I know you keep trying to find some way that maybe I wasn't
there, perhaps to save me from the situation...but I was there for
every bit of it; having the room 4 doors down from Claudia at the time,
I couldn't be *more* in the thick of it unless I slept on the floor of
her room.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Claudia Opts Out-JMS
      To: CIS  
    Date: 7/27/1997 5:14:00 PM  

Message 18 in thread 

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{original post unavailable}

Re: Turhan...yeah, everybody on the set yelled at me when we had
to kill off Turhan's character. He was one of the genuinely sweetest
and nicest persons to come work on the show, and they all fell in love
with him. If there's EVER a way I can figure out how to bring him
back, I'm up for it.

jms

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