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 Message
    From: "jmsatb5@aol.com" <jmsatb5@aol.com>
 Subject: Re: JMS: Fugiting Tempus
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 12/7/2007 1:38:18 PM  

Message 1 in thread 

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On Dec 6, 5:28 am, Jan <janmschroe...@aol.com> wrote:
> As the exclamations of "I can't believe it's already/almost
> winter/Christmas/Chanukah/Solstice/Kwanzaa/Hogmanay/Festivus/2008 etc." grow
> daily louder, that means it must be just about time for the Annual JMS Year-End
> State of the Straczynskiverse Post.*
>
> So what can you tell us about what you're doing now, your thoughts on the strike
> (and what it's left hanging), any gossip from the 'Changeling' set and the usual
> laundry list of comics, plays, novels, audio drama, songs, fairy tales, spec.
> scripts or other stuff you might have in process?
>
> No pressure or anything but since Babylon 5 sprang fully formed from your
> forehead during the '88 strike, there's a lot of interest in what's got your
> attention during this one.
>
> Thanks,
> Jan
>

First, it's important to emphasize that I suppport the strike
wholeheartedly, it's necessary and a decade overdue. I wish it
could've come at a different time, but everyone wishes that whenever
it does come.

On the TV project I co-wrote and would produce with the two mega-film
makers (henceforth just "the group"), we took the first three scripts
out to auction in the weeks leading up to the strike. Everybody
wanted to be in business with the group given the massive reps of the
film-makers (and me, I suppose).

The up-side of the project was that everyone agreed that they had
never seen anything like it before. The down-side was that they had
never seen anything like it before. This is a business where people
are comfortable with what they've seen. Some found it too
controversial/weird. Some wanted it and made offers, but only on the
condition that we tone it down a bit and make it more conventional.
At the eleventh hour, one that had passed turned around to say
yes...but by then it was too late and everyone stopped buying things
with the strike about to happen.

So the group conferred, and what we'll probably end up doing is
financing the project ourselves, first as a ten hour miniseries, and
take it from there. There's no question, given the names involved,
that we can turn around and get financing from a studio and/or DVD
distributer and from worldwide television pre-sales. So when the
strike is over, we'll pick up that thread again, write the next 7
episodes, shoot the thing, then sell it to whichever network wants it
the most.

This means we won't have to compromise anything creatively, it'll be
exactly what we want it to be.

On the film front...there are two dream projects I've always wanted to
write (I'm omitting Trek here to eliminate the rumors that might
follow), two things I've wanted to do my whole life. Both of them
fell into my lap right before the strike. But the underlying rights
had to be obtained by the studios in writing, and it took time to do
that...to the point that they finished their negotiations to obtain
the rights the day before the strike, and the day before they could
start negotiations with me.

So again, this is something that, with luck, we can pick up again
after the strike, assuming that their interests don't cool in the
intervening months, which is always a risk on any project.

Paramount is still looking for an a-list director for World War Z, and
the moment they find one who says yes, that will go into production.
These are solid production offers.

Surfer and Sunlight were both turned in long before the strike, so for
now it's a matter of writing comics, catching up on the B5 script
books (we're targeting January for the next one), and writing specs
for myself. (Under the strike you cannot write for, or turn anything
in to, the studios, but you can write for yourself as much as you
want.) I'm writing one spec based on a true story from about 60 years
ago, as well as some others more in line with fictional work.

Because I've known without question for over a year that we'd go on
strike, and that the strike had the potential to last at least six
months, I've been able to arrange my finances so that I should be able
to get by reasonably well for the duration of the unpleasantness.
Others, who kept telling themselves it wasn't going to happen, are
going to have a harder time of it.

But this...this was inevitable.

jms
    From: "jmsatb5@aol.com" <jmsatb5@aol.com>
 Subject: Re: JMS: Fugiting Tempus
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 12/7/2007 5:40:58 PM  

Message 2 in thread 

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On Dec 7, 3:40 pm, Jan <janmschroe...@aol.com> wrote:
> In article <76613250-69d2-41bf-8c6c-c817d87a3...@v4g2000hsf.googlegroups.com>,
> jmsa...@aol.com says...
>
>
>
> >Because I've known without question for over a year that we'd go on
> >strike, and that the strike had the potential to last at least six
> >months, I've been able to arrange my finances so that I should be able
> >to get by reasonably well for the duration of the unpleasantness.
> >Others, who kept telling themselves it wasn't going to happen, are
> >going to have a harder time of it.
>
> >But this...this was inevitable.
>
> Glad to hear that. From the sound of things the timing of the strike could
> really mess things up for those on-the-brink projects. Fingers crossed for a
> speedy and fair resolution (yeah, yeah...so I'm an optimist).
>
> Follow-up question: Is it because you've already submitted the TV project to
> various studios that your Group can't write the next 7 scripts during the stike
> even though you didn't have any firm takers?
>
> Thanks for the update.
>
> Jan


In theory, yes, we could, and there are plans for the three of us to
meet later this month and January to at minimum break out what the
rest of the episodes would be. How quickly we can turn the scripts
around is up to their film schedule, and we need to confirm that it
would be okay to do so with the guild, since again this is for
ourselves, not a studio or network. If not, then we'll have to wait
until post-strike to do any more work on them.

In terms of Changeling...we have about two more weeks of shooting and
that'll be in the can. I've seen some assembled scenes, and it looks
truly amazing. Everybody's doing an outstanding job on this, and I
think we've got a real winner on our hands.

jms
    From: "jmsatb5@aol.com" <jmsatb5@aol.com>
 Subject: Re: JMS: Fugiting Tempus
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 12/8/2007 2:47:17 PM  

Message 3 in thread 

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On Dec 7, 8:47 pm, "Jeffrey O. Gustafson" <PsicopJe...@hotmail.com>
wrote:
> > First, it's important to emphasize that I suppport the strike
> > wholeheartedly, it's necessary and a decade overdue. I wish it
> > could've come at a different time, but everyone wishes that whenever
> > it does come.
>
> All the reactions I have seen online about this strike note how
> *different* it is, both in terms of the widespread blogging and use of
> online videos, the overwhelming public support of the strike, and the
> overall positive mood of the picketers. Joe, what have your
> observations and experiences been over the past month, and how does it
> differ from the '88 strike, in your opinion?

It differs in every way, which is what the studios haven't yet fully
grasped.

During the shooting on TLT, I had dinner with several folks including
an exec from Warner Bros. when the subject of the coming contract
expiration came up. And the fellow from WB, whose name I'll omit for
now, was practically cackling about it...saying that they already had
their positions in place, and that they were looking to the WGA
fracturing and falling apart as it always had in the past during these
negotiations, splitting into factions and internal argumentrs and
dissension, while they just sit there and wait for the implosion to
tell us what the terms will be, and which we would then accept.

And I remember thinking, pal, you have NO idea the full extent and
nature of the wood chipper you're about to walk into face-first.

See, the thing of it is, on one level, he was right, that's how things
WERE. But things had changed. There is a tendency, in military
strategy, for the generals to fight each new war using the techniques
and tactics that had worked in the last war, often without
understanding that the shape of the battlefield had changed. We saw
it in the Revolutionary War, where British soldiers marched in strict
formation into the birth of guerilla warfare; in the Civil War, where
generals still had troops firing at each other from nearly point-blank
range without grasping that this wasn't necessary because the accuracy
of the weapons had improved by orders of magnitude leading to huge
slaughters, and in Vietnam, where we ended up playing the British to
the VC guerillas.

The shape of the battlefield had changed. In the past, yes, the
producers were able to divide the guild along set lines, pitting TV
drama writers against sitcom writers against feature writers against
unemployed writers against working writers.

But now we had a) more determined leadership and b) every writer in
each of those groups had sat back and watched as the DVD sales of
their work in every arena flew out of stores and made billions for the
studios while they saw nothing. It united the hell out of everybody.
So there ARE no fault lines this time for the producers to exploit.
But they're still running the same playbook as last time. And the
more it doesn't work, the more pissed off they become.

One side-effect of this...after the sales on B5:TLT came in, way
exceeding WB's projections, they initiated talks about what to do
next, including commissioning more DVDs. Looking at the calendar, I
suggested that they might want to hurry the bureaucratic process
because we were going to be in a strike situation soon, so if they
wanted to move, they'd better commision a script fast.

And they said in response, and I quote verbatim, "We don't want to be
pressured in the process because we know there's not going to be a
strike this year, we can handle the Guild."

Face, wood-chipper. Wood-chipper, face.

>Do
> you have any other non-TV/Movie/Comic projects that you are working on
> to fill the time, like that play you mentioned a few years ago?
>

The play is still ongoing, believe it or not. I keep trying to decide
if it's as good as I think it *might* be, or if it's too smart for its
own good and simply crap. At present it's about three-fourths done
and has been that way for over a year while I debate. So what I might
do during the break is to hire some actors, get a small space, and
just have a staged reading of what's there. Once I hear it, I can
decide what to do with the damned thing.

jms

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