Story of a Bear

Sometimes fans can blow a particular story completely out of proportion.

 

This is what happened to the story of Peter David (PAD) who wrote 2 episodes of Babylon 5, in particular “There all Honor Lies”, where B5 should be, at least in a small part, be financed my merchandize.

JMS made a small re-write as a response to receiving a Teddy Bear from PAD as a gift. JMS has gone on record as not liking “cute”, so the re-write resulted in the bear being spaced by captain Sheridan.

Later PAD put a story of a spaced bear into another story, saying that it was done by a race called the “Straczyn”. There was a bit more back-and-forth, and suddenly the fans were blowing this up to be a feud between PAD and JMS.

The truth is that it was all a friendly tease between the two, as Peter David wrote on his blog in 1997.

Please read the above link for the full story. I found it quite amusing.

My #FreeBabylon5 experience at Loncon3

Some of you may not be familiar with #FreeBabylon5, so here is a short description :

There have been several attempts to revive the interest in the Babylon 5 TV series, including JMS’ attempt to buy back the rights for everything. He already has the rights for a theatrical movie, but can not do much with that.

Come September 2013 he had enough of this and made a not on his Facebook page, saying that he could do no more and encouraging the fans to “be organized and be loud”, in order to get Babylon 5 back on TV screens and streaming services. Babylon 5 has been away from TV screens for over a decade in the US. He (and we, the fans) want casual viewers to be able to stumble across the series.

So – the fans started a campaign – letter writing and attention creating measures. The campaign has already been partly successful. The full 5 year series has been shown on the UK Watch channel, with a trailer referencing #FreeBabylon5, and is currently running in Denmark, Germany and Italy.

I have been participating by giving away FreeBabylon5 stuff at a few conventions, and had some fun with that.

Now on to my draft text for an article for the FreeBabylon5 website :

“This is a personal account of my (Babylon Lurker’s) attendance of Loncon3 also known as Worldcon 2014.

Since I live in the Netherlands this was the first Worldcon I have had available near me since I started to go to conventions.

I met Jan M Schroeder at Phoenix Comicon 2013 and Space City Con 2014, and she provided me with some #FreeBabylon5 treats to give away at conventions.

The first two conventions were small local conventions in Copenhagen, Denmark with 30 – 150 attendees – and I got to give away a bit of this. One Swedish writer saw my “#FreeBabylon5” badge and immediately reacted by saying that B5 is a brilliant show.

The third was Fedcon in Düsseldorf, Germany, a media oriented convention with about 5000 attendees. I did get to give away a fair amount of the #FreeBabylon5 stuff, since I met a fair amount of B5 fans there.

Having gone to bigger conventions I decided to go to Worldcon in London this year with a fair supply.

Loncon3B5web

I did not have a table, but just walked around, talking to people. I was slightly surprised by the sheer number of Babylon 5 fans I met there. I must have talked to about 100 people during the 5 days, and my impression is that about 80% of those were B5 fans who happily received the FreeBabylon5 stuff. I am aware that B5 is more popular in the UK than in the US, but among the US people I met the number of fans was high. Essentially everyone knew B5, and many of the non-fans had the show on their to-do list.

I have to assume that this is because Worldcon attendees have a very wide range of Science Fiction interests, books, films, TV, comics etc. I guess I should not have been surprised at all .

On Saturday a Babylon 5 fan meeting was arranged, and in spite of it coinciding with the masquerade we had 40 – 50 people there. Not everyone I met had even heard of the fan meeting. I am sure it could have been bigger if it had been more widely announced.

Jan had indicated that the temporary tattoos were quite popular at SDCC, at Worldcon I found that the #FreeBabylon5 ribbons were more sought after. I ran out of the ribbon supply, but I still have some of the tattoos left, and a few buttons/badges, too.

Loncon 3 has been a very good convention experience in general, and a good B5 fan experience in particular. I will certainly continue being a roving Ambassador/Ranger at other conventions that I will attend.”

Transcript of JMS’ Announcement of a B5 Movie

Jan M Schroeder has just finished a transcript from the JMS announcement. She has encouraged sharing, so I bring it here as well :

Updated 2014-08-10 due to a glitch.

“Whew! Okay, I’ve finally transcribed the relevant portions from my audio recording:

Quote:

JMS recaps what’s coming up and then:

So we’ve been having a really, really good year at Studio JMS. And where that comes in handy – where it’s kind of important involves this (B5 logo comes on screen). So… Fact: When I made the Babylon 5 deal with Warner Bros. it was just short of indentured servitude. Financially, I’ll never seen a dime out of Babylon 5 ever. I have no problems with that; I knew what I was signing when I go into it, but I mention it to piss them off every once in a while. One thing that I was able to withhold was the film rights. I still own the movie rights to Babylon 5. I’ve been pushing Warner’s for the last…ever since the early cretaceous period…to “Let’s do a Babylon 5 movie – a proper big budget feature film.” And they’ve always dragged their feet [because] that’s what Warner Bros. does. They knew that they had the upper hand because I couldn’t take it to any other studio because these days all the studios want all the rights. So if I brought it to say, Sony or Fox, they’d want the TV rights which Warner Bros. controls. Warner Bros. will never give those rights up so we were always handcuffed by that.

Turns out, however, there’s one studio in Los Angeles…Distributors, by the way, don’t care about the TV rights. Distributors just [care] about the movie, they don’t care about the TV part. There’s one studio in town that doesn’t care if it doesn’t have the TV rights…that wants to see this movie made and will do it with or without Warner Bros. (Studio JMS logo comes on screen).
Here’s the plan: We’re going to have, through Studio JMS, at least two, maybe three TV series on the air next year. We’re going to have at least one or two movies going ahead. And we’ll use that to parlay serious investment in the studio. I’m not talking Kickstarter, I’m talking about one hundred million dollars, two hundred million dollars; we already have people who are lined up and interested in doing that.

So in 2015 I will write a Babylon 5 screenplay. I’ll be giving Warner Bros. the opportunity – if they want to step up, “Help yourself”. If they don’t, 2016: We make it. I’m not going to wait around for more of our cast members to die. So that’s the long term plan and those are the current updates on everything that’s going on right now.

Question from a fan: Asked if JMS might crowd-fund for a million of the investment so that fans can be part of it.

JMS: I would rather not. Here’s the reason why, though. I come from the ranks of fandom – I’m as rank as any of you. To me, much as I understand that Kickstarter and crowd-sourcing are a way for those outside to get involved with the process, show their appreciation for the process, I am resistant to that lure because it feels to me like taking advantage of the fans and I have a hard time with that on a moral and ethical basis. I’d rather have an investor come up and say “Here’s a check for a hundred million dollars” – which I would gladly take, by the way; if anyone in the audience happens to have one of those lying around, let me know – than to come to the fans and try to get it. Science fiction fans, and horror fans, to a degree, are the most exploited folks out there. “Line up, buy the merchandise, watch the show.” And I just see this money suck happening. So the answer is no.

Question from a fan: Are you considering a reboot to bring in new viewers or are you thinking of a continuation with the cast and crew from the original series.

JMS: It would have to be a reboot because it’s now been twenty-plus years since we started that show and some of the age ranges wouldn’t always work with some of the characters. So we’d have to move a few people around. But what I want to do is use the original cast one way or the other and move a few things around. I’d love to see Bruce as President of the Earth Alliance; that would be the perfect role for him.

I love playing around with the cast anyway. The one story that I wanted to do for the original B5 and they wouldn’t let me do it was, when Londo was injured and had this dream sequence, I wanted to have different actors play different roles. So Jerry Doyle would play Londo. Claudia Christian would play Delenn and Delenn (Mira) would play Ivanova. Peter Jurasik would play Jerry Doyle’s role. Andreas Katsulas would be the Commander of the Station and Bruce would be G’Kar. They said, “People would be way too confused.” JMS: “They won’t be confused, trust me! Listen, they have the intelligence for this.” It was the only story that they said “No, no, no, no and by the way, no.” The chance to [ ] play around with the cast and have some fun with it could be a good thing.
Any errors are mine. Feel free to share.

Jan “

JMS announces a Babylon 5 movie at SDCC2014

This is the text from Jan M Schroeder regarding her Saturday activities at this year’s San Diego Comicon, brought here with permission. Thanks Jan.

I have my own comments on what could have lead up to this point, but that will have to wait. Please enjoy.

J. Michael Straczynski has bee a very busy bee, as you will see in Jan’s report below :

 

Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con (or the day JMS announced that he’ll do a B5 movie).
I got there at a good time, not long after the con opened at 10:00 AM. A little surprisingly, the mezzanine didn’t really seem too much busier than other days so far except for the food area being busier. I’ve got pre-written letters to WB and NBC/Universal out on the table and a fair number of folks took those to mail after adding a little demographic info. Five or six were left with me and I dropped them off to be mailed.
The big panel of the day was JMS’ of course. First I went to his signing and got a few things signed that will most likely be destined as fund-raisers. I verified with JMS that he wouldn’t mind if I handed out buttons and postcards before his panel. A new friend, Lukas, handed out at the door and I wandered the room where people were already staying from the panel before.

JMS started the panel by reviewing his current projects, both ‘out house’ (not Studio JMS) and in-house and continued with news. We got an introduction to the Sense8 actors. JMS described it as a “…complex, amazing tapestry of stories.”
– Ten Grand: JMS is currently negotiating with a major Studio/Network for a series based on this.
– Shadowman feature film: He’s two to three weeks from turning in the latest draft.
– He couldn’t name it, but he’s working on a project for Universal concerning Rod Serling and working with Carol Serling, Rod’s widow on it.
– Again he couldn’t say much but he showed a title card for a show called “Two Streets” that he’s just made a deal with Universal for that he’ll be working with “Walking Dead’s” Gail Anne Hurd.
– “Titans” is the name of the Feature film/graphic novel project that was just announced yesterday (see movie thread).
So it’s been a really big year for Studio JMS. And due to that, he can now look to doing a feature film for B5. JMS recapped that WB owns everything about B5 except the movie rights and even though he holds the film rights, to take a B5 movie to another studio without holding the TV rights wouldn’t work. There’s one studio in LA that doesn’t care about that – Studio JMS – and in 2015 JMS will write the script. He’ll give WB the opportunity to step up, but if they don’t, Studio JMS will make it in 2016 on their own with a $1-200,000,000.00 budget.

Fan questios:
A fan asked if JMS might crowdfund part of the film so that fans might be involved and JMS said that he resists doing that because it seems to him that SF fans are an exploited group and he doesn’t ever want to do that – he’d rather accept investor money.
Asked about the current situation with streaming Babylon 5, JMS said that it’s all up to Warner Bros. and gave the ‪#‎FreeBabylon5‬ campaign a nice plug, telling of the success in Europe to date and hoping for some movement domestically.

A fan asked if the success of a B5 feature might improve the chances of streaming and even future TV projects and JMS said that it would probably have a significant effect, that a good way to get someone’s (WB) attention is to rattle their cage.

Asked if the film would be a reboot or a continuation:
“It would have to be a reboot because it’s been twenty-plus years since we started that show and some of the age ranges wouldn’t work with some of these characters so we’d need to move a few people around. But what I want to do is use the original cast one way or another but we’d have to move some things around. I’d love to see Bruce as the PPresident of the Earth Alliance; it would be the perfect role for him.”

JMS went on to tell about a story he wanted to do that he wasn’t allowed to in the original show where when Londo was injured, he wanted to do a dream sequence where the actors played different characters but the studio thought the audience would get confused.
A fan asked what’s being made not that would equal B5 for being transformative and JMS replied that TV is having a golden age right now with lots of amazing things. being made.

He concluded with his regular homily for the fans to never surrender their dreams, that with persistance and talent and luck, can overcome your circumstances and follow your passionss and succeed.

Jan
(posting in various places- feel free to share)

 

Overview of Babylon 5 (B5) podcasts.

Starting with the Babylon 5 podcasts known to me now, here is the list :

The Babylon Podcast  :
– 280 episodes
– warning : Massive spoilers in their episode discussion
– Very comprehensive with episode discussions, interviews, discussing books and comics

The Babble On Project  :
– currently running
– essentially spoiler free sections and spoiler sections
– episode discussion, a few interviews.
– sometimes poor audio quality with shouting into the microphones.

Downbelow : A Babylon 5 Introcast  :
– started 2014, currently at episode 30, at the end of season 1
– intended spoiler free, they have succeeded in doing that
– each B5 episode has a discussion episode, some episode commentaries

Braving Babylon 5  :
– started 2014, currently at episode 9
– generally spoiler free, first time viewer of B5
– single host talking about one episode per podcast episode

The Babylon Project Podcast  :
– started 2014, currently at episode 4
– generally spoiler free section followed by a spoiler section
– single episode discussion

The Audio Guide to Babylon 5  :
– started 2014, currently at episode 5
– starting every episode with a generally spoiler free section then a spoiler section present from the beginning
– Single episode discussion

White Star 5  :
– started 2014, currently at episode 4
– spoilers inevitable due to the nature of the discussions
– Discussions of themes, characters etc – no episode discussions

Jumpgate : The Babylon 5 ReWatch Podcast
– Started late 2013 or early 2014, currently at episode 14
– spoilers inevitable due to the re-watch quality
– single episode discussions

SQPN : Secrets of Babylon 5  :
– ran in 2011 for 17 episodes, possibly pod-faded
– generally spoiler free, first time viewer
– two hosts discussing 2 episodes per podcast episode

Wow ! 9 B5 podcasts that I know about, and 6 of them started less than a year ago.
This really looks like a renaissance of the interest for Babylon 5.
That was the quick overview, some more details for some of the podcasts will follow.

 

Podcasts, Podcasts, Podcasts

If you search the net and iTunes – and many other podcast aggregators you can find thousands upon thousands of podcasts in all kinds of categories.

 

I have mainly focused on Science fiction and radio related podcasts, and I am going to tell a bit about the scifi podcasts I have collected. It is so easy to collect more than you have time to listen to, so I have over 1000 un-listened podcasts for later use.

I started my podcast listening when I had had an accident and broke the arm inside the shoulder, and since I was interested in Babylon 5 that is where I started the search, and, lo and behold, there was one : The Babylon Podcast They already had about 40 episodes out, so I got started with catching up. They also had a live recording, so one night (my time) I listened in – and they opened up for a brief talk, so on my first night of listening a podcast recording I could jump in and participate for a minute or two. Just for the fun of it – the episode I was on was number – wait for it – 42. The Babylon Podcast has run its course, and covered all things B5, series, spinoffs, comics, books. More detail on that in a later post. Beware The Babylon Podcast has lots of spoilers.

The Babylon Podcast led me to “Slice of Scifi”, a more general podcast mostly covering TV and films, always with an interview. I enjoyed that one a lot.

From the same group, and with the author MIchael Stackpole (among others, known from the Star Wars X-Wing series) there was “Dragonpage Cover to Cover”, all about books and authors, so I was fairly well covered.

Come 2014 – Babylon 5 podcasts seems to have had a renaissance, last I checked I had 5 (or 6?) more B5 podcasts in my podcast directory. I will give an overview in the next post, because they all have different qualities and different levels of spoilers for possible new B5 viewers.

 

Two conventions and some podcasts

In May and June I have been to two conventions , the Fedcon in Düsseldorf, Germany and Fantasticon in Copenhagen, Denmark.

At Fedcon a few Babylon 5 fans went together to make a little happening. You can find a series of pictures of Babylon 5 fans in and out of costume here

At both conventions I was giving away buttons for #FreeBabylon5, a group that campaigns to get Babylon 5 back on TV channels and Internet streaming. You can find more information on the Free Babylon 5 website.

I have participated in a few more of the Downbelow podcasts as a guest, and it has been fun following Heidi and Elisabeth discovering Babylon 5, and their – sometimes – uncanny guesses of what is to come. Of course, they miss greatly form time to time, but they are very observant.

Likely there will be a bit more on those activities later …

 

Another highlight from Space City Con

It is time to recall some highlights and other good experiences from different conventions I have attended.

Continuing with Space City Con I brought a poster that I had made from the photos I took at Phoenix Comicon in May 2013. with pictures of the Babylon 5 cast, some fans and a few of the pictures I took while traveling the South-West of the US – California, Arizona and Nevada.

I wanted to have the poster signed by everyone of the B5 cast who were at both cons, and apart from one person who did not really like the personal picture, the reacti0on was very positive. I also gave a copy of the poster to Patricia Tallman, so she could bring it to the “Great Maker” himself.

The #FreeBabylon5 group campaigning for getting B5 back on TV and streaming services got one that could be auctioned at Ebay for support of the group, and Ranger Jenny immediately set things in motion to get that one signed.

The most knowledgable B5 fan I know, Jan Schroeder, received one as well, and just seeing the surprise in the face was worth every effort.

I managed to get the poster signed by every cast member present at Phoenix and Space City. Mission accomplished. A slight disappointment was missing Jerry Doyle who canceled last minute, probably to to work commitments.

As a bonus, Peter Jurasik agreed to have a picture taken with him and myself showing the poster. Looks like he enjoys the interaction with the fans very much.

JurasinPosterWeb

A very enjoyable moment of Space City con, indeed.

My Highlight of Space City Con Jan 2014: Marshall Teague and the sword of Ta’Lon

As convention highlight goes the Phoenix Comicon was Excellent, with the “Promise panel” where Joe Michael Straczynski (JMS) told the story of Michael O’Hare’s illness leading to his departure from Babylon 5 after the first season. That was the absolute highlight of any convention for me and probably for the few hundred other fans attending the panel.

The other highlight was, of course the Reunion Panel with 14 people involved in creating Babylon 5, including JMS.

Come Space City Con in the beginning of January in Galveston, Texas.

One of the guests, Marshall Teague, was probably the most approachable of the guests from the Babylon 5 cast – with Jason Carter as a close second. Mind you, essentially all the Babylon 5 cast is very appreciative of the fans

First of all, on Friday evening, just having met with Jan (Schroeder), we entered the lift. He was in the lift already, and immediately started greeting every one of the fans there – personally – handshake and all. It gave us all the sense of a very gentle man.

He had also brought the sword of Ta’Lon and displayed it in public for the first time. At the “Narn” Panel he told that JMS had asked for some input for the character. This sword was his input to JMS for creating the character of Ta’Lon (aptly named after a talon, this sounds very much like JMS) .

At the last hour of the con I took time to go to all the B5 cast still present at their tables, and thank them for coming to see us fans.

I walked up to his table and did just that, when he asked “Have you seen the sword ?” “No, not really”. It was hanging on the wall behind him, but I had not seen it close-up.
He then invited me behind the table and took it down from the wall and handed it to me. I took and held sheathed sword carefully, studying it, knowing that is is a personal treasure for him.
I was standing there holding the sword of Ta’Lon in my hands.

I then was startled that he asked me to “Draw it !” I looked at him in the “Really ?” questioning look, and he repeated. Carefully I drew the sword and held it, felt the weight and balance, carefully moved it a bit around, then re-sheathed it.

Sword of Ta'Lon

Marshall Teague and the sword of Ta’Lon

I was stunned when he told me “Apart from me, you are the first person I allowed to draw the sword.”

I have no idea why this honour was bestowed on me, and I am pretty sure that my face looked absolutely ridiculous at that moment.

The morning after the con I talked to some of the people who accompanied him during the con, and they already knew the story, *he* had told *them*. They also told me that he was very particular about who could handle the sword.

When they heard that no pictures of the situation were taken, they kindly arranged for a picture to be taken, so on Monday evening I was holding the sword once again, this time for a picture with Marshall Teague.

A most extraordinary experience. I doubt that I will reach that level of excitement again at a convention, but then again, I thought that about the JMS “Promise Panel” at Phoenix CC. But The sword of Ta’Lon was a personal experience, and not shared with a few hundred people.

Update :
When thinking a bit about it, I realized that this is the first time that I have been recognized as a martial artist by another martial artist – without doing or saying anything consciously.
Interesting.

New Header picture, and some travel news.

I have installed a new theme for the blog.
The old one seems to have developed some errors in the rendering, and I did not have the inclination to look into the CSS or PHP code.
On top of that, The theme had some stock images (not too bad), but I decided to make my own Header Image.
The image is a crop of a photo I took a few weeks ago in Arizona.
Yes, I travelled to the USA in order to visit the Phoenix Comicon, since they had a celebration of the 20th anniversary for Babylon 5. How could I resist that ? 14 of the cast – well it ended up being 13, Bruce Boxleitner got work and had to cancel – and the creator of the series (“Great Maker”) Joe Michael Straczynski (JMS), in among others a big reunion panel on Saturday.

When travelling from Europe to the South West of the US, do you only go there for 4 days at a convention, and nothing else ? Of course I had to combine the convention with some travel in California, Arizona and Nevada, so I spent 2 weeks total in that area, and took a fair amount of photos. I was driving about 1900 miles (close to 3000km) in 7 days of driving.

One of them has now landed as the Header image for this blog. It is taken near Sedona in Arizona.

Apart from the convention the trip took me to :
San Francisco,
Joshua Tree National Park,
The area near Sedona, yes, all the red rocks,
Grand Canyon,
The Hoover Dam,
Passing by “Area 51”,
Yosemite National Park

Quite a lot in 2 weeks, and I had to cancel a few destinations I wanted to see, such as the Petrified Forest and the Meteor Crater in Arizona.

The trip is clearly too short for what I wanted to see, so I may have to go to the area again some time to complete the experience.

I have organized the pictures from the convention, and I am in the process of organizing the pictures from the rest of the trip.

Expect to read more about the trip later.

The convention pictures can be found at : http://jgander.home.xs4all.nl/photo/phoenix2013/index.html

Have fun if you take a look.

– and 2 weeks before the Phoenix CC I went to the Fedcon in Düsseldorf, Germany. Probably not the last time I do that, especially since it is only a few hours drive from where I live right now. Pictures will be sorted out for that one, too.
I expect to look through pictures from more conventions after that, most likely in the autumn/fall this year.