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‘Babylon 5’ Getting Rebooted At The CW

Babylon 5 is getting a reboot at The CW network which will have series creator J. Michael Straczynski involved as writer and executive producer. The new series at The CW is described as a “from-the-ground-up reboot”: Written by Straczynski, the reboot revolves around John Sheridan (played by Bruce Boxleitner in the original series), an Earthforce …

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Bruce Boxleitner Done With Tron; Doesn’t Want Reboots

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The third Tron movie was all set to start production this Fall, but then Disney abruptly cancelled the movie.

It’s not exactly known why Disney chose to cancel Tron 3, but it’s been said Disney may have gotten cold feet because of the poor reception to Tomorrowland, and that Disney wants to concentrate on their animated movies and big tentpole films.

Now Bruce Boxleitner, who starred in the two Tron movies as well as voiced his character in the Tron: Uprising animated series and the Tron 2.0 video game, has stated he is done with the franchise.

SlashFilm caught up with the actor at the recent Television Critics Association press event and asked if Disney decided to greenlight a third Tron, would he be back.

“I don’t really care anymore,” Boxleitner replied. “I’m done with it. I’ve moved on. I hate to say that but it’s been too up and down for me. I would rather not just keep going.”

Likewise, Boxleitner continued with mentioned he doesn’t want to be involved in reboots.

“I don’t want to repeat my career anymore,” he said. “That’d be like, ‘Let’s reboot Scarecrow and Mrs. King.’ No, I’m not interested. Or Babylon 5.”

Boxleitner continues with mention he thinks Disney doesn’t want to do science-fiction and wants to focus on movies such as Star Wars and Marvel.

“Obviously there’s something politically within but I know that they were in preproduction heavily. I know that the options for Olivia [Wilde] and Garrett [Hedlund] were picked up. That was all public knowledge, [reported in] The Hollywood Reporter. I’ve got a feeling they’re going to play it safe with their old [formula]. I mean, Tim Burton’s doing Dumbo. They’re going to make live-action out of their old animated classics. Apparently, that was successful. They also have Star Wars. Let’s not neglect that, and Marvel. Maybe they just felt they had enough of that sci-fi. We were the only real science fiction. Star Wars is fantasy, sword and sorcery fantasy with a spaceship. Marvel is superhero comics. Star Wars, yes, is science fiction. There’s fantasy elements as well, but Marvel is not. It’s comic books. It’s really not sci-fi. It’s not thinking science fiction. Maybe they decided they don’t want to do science fiction.”

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Babylon 5 Movie Reboot Announced

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J. Michael Straczynski announced at last month’s Comic-Con that he intends to reboot his Babylon 5 TV series with a feature film.

TVWise reports that JMS said he plans to have the script completed for the Babylon 5 movie by the end of 2015, which would then see production start in 2016.

No specifics are known in regards to the plot, but JMS did state he would like to use the cast members from the original series in the rebooted Babylon 5 movie in new roles.

“I’d love to see Bruce [Boxleitner] as the President of the Earth Alliance,” he said.

It’s said JMS is hoping Warner Bros. will be involved with the movie, as WB was involved with the TV series, but if WB doesn’t wish to be, JMS does own the rights to Babylon 5; so he can do the film under his Studio JMS banner on a $80 – $100 million budget.

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The Wayback Machine: Babylon 5 (1994)

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One of the most talked about (and complicated) sci-fi shows on TV was the beloved Babylon 5. It was exciting, human and tackled social issues ala Star Trek.

Let’s dial the ol’ Wayback to 1994 and take a gander, shall we?

Babylon 5 was created by writer and producer J. Michael Straczynski, under the Babylonian Productions label, in association with Straczynski’s Synthetic Worlds Ltd. and Warner Bros. After the successful airing of a pilot movie, Warner Bros. commissioned the series as part of the second-year schedule of programs provided by its Prime Time Entertainment Network.

The pilot episode was broadcast on February 22, 1993. The first season premiered on January 26, 1994, and the series ultimately ran for the intended five seasons. Describing it as having “always been conceived as, fundamentally, a five-year story, a novel for television,” Straczynski wrote 92 of the 110 episodes, and served as executive producer, along with Douglas Netter.

Set between the years 2258 and 2281, it depicts a future where Earth has sovereign states, and a unifying Earth government. Colonies within the solar system, and beyond, make up the Earth Alliance, and contact has been made with other spacefaring races. The ensemble cast portrays alien ambassadorial staff and humans assigned to the five-mile-long Babylon 5 space station, a center for trade and diplomacy.

Rightfully described as one of the most complex programs on television, the various story arcs drew upon the prophesies, religious zealotry, racial tensions, social pressures and political rivalries which existed within each of their cultures, to create a contextual framework for the motivations and consequences of the protagonists’ actions. (Deep Space Nine anyone?) With a strong emphasis on character development set against a backdrop of conflicting ideologies on multiple levels, Straczynski wanted to take an adult approach to SF, and attempt to do for television SF what Hill Street Blues did for cop shows.

Generally viewed as having launched the new era of television CGI visual effects, it received multiple awards during its initial run, including two consecutive Hugo Awards for best dramatic presentation, and continues to regularly feature prominently in various polls and listings highlighting top-rated sci-fi series.

Initially written by Straczynski, DC began publishing Babylon 5 comics in 1994, with stories that closely tied in with events depicted in the show, with events in the comics eventually being referenced onscreen in the actual television series.

The five seasons of the series each correspond to one fictional sequential year in the period 2258–2262. Each season shares its name with an episode that is central to that season’s plot. As the series starts, the Babylon 5 station is welcoming ambassadors from various races in the galaxy. Earth has just barely survived an accidental war with the much more powerful Minbari, who, despite their superior technology, mysteriously surrendered at the brink of the destruction of the human race during the Battleof the Line.

In 2262, Earthforce Captain Elizabeth Lochley is appointed to command Babylon 5, which is now also the headquarters of the Interstellar Alliance. The station grows in its role as a sanctuary for rogue telepaths running from Psi Cops, resulting in conflict. G’Kar, former Narn ambassador to Babylon 5, becomes unwillingly a spiritual icon after a book that he wrote while incarcerated during the Narn-Centauri War is published without his knowledge. The Drakh, former allies of the Shadows who remained in the galaxy, take control of Regent Virini on Centauri Prime through a parasitic creature called a Keeper, then incite a war between the Centauri and the Interstellar Alliance, in order to isolate the Centauri from the Allianceand gain a malleable homeworld for themselves.

Centauri Prime is devastated by Narn and Drazi warships and Londo Mollari becomes emperor, then ends the war. However, the Drakh blackmail him into accepting a Drakh Keeper, under threat of the complete nuclear destruction of the planet. Vir Cotto, Mollari’s loyal and more moral aide, becomes ambassador to Babylon 5 in his stead. G’Kar also leaves Babylon 5 to escape his unwanted fame and explore the rim. Sheridan and Delenn move to a city on Minbar, where the new headquarters if the Interstellar Alliance is located, while celebrating their first year of marriage and the upcoming birth of their son, and mourning the loss of dear friendships. Garibaldi marries and settles down on Mars, where he and his wife share ownership of a prominent pharmaceutical company. Most other main characters, including Stephen Franklin and Lyta Alexander, leave Babylon 5 as well. (Whew! Yes, it was one of the most complex programs on television.)

As shown in flash-forwards earlier in the series, the next several years include the reign of Londo Mollari as Centauri Emperor. Sixteen years later, Londo sacrifices his life to rescue Sheridan and Delenn from the Drakh, in the hope that they in turn can save Centauri Prime. To prevent the Drakh from discovering his ruse, he asks G’Kar, now an old friend, to kill him, but Londo’s Keeper wakes up and forces him to kill G’Kar in return. They die at each other’s throats, in accordance with Londo’s vision many decades earlier, and Vir Cotto succeeds him as emperor, free of Drakh influence.

Three years after Londo’s death, Sheridan himself is on the verge of death and takes one last opportunity to gather his old friends together. Shortly after his farewell party, Sheridan says goodbye to Delenn, though in Minbari fashion they use the word “goodnight” to signify their hope of an eventual reunion. Sheridan then takes a final trip to the obsolete Babylon 5 station before its decommissioning. He returns to the site of the final battle between the Vorlons and the Shadows and apparently dies, but is instead claimed by The First One, who invites him to join the other First Ones on a journey beyond the rim of the galaxy. The Babylon 5 station is destroyed in a demolition shortly after Sheridan’s departure, its existence no longer necessary as the Alliancehas taken over its diplomatic purposes and other trading routes have been established.

Super nerd word triva: The final episode features a cameo by Straczynski as the technician who switches off the lights before Babylon 5 is demolished. Cool, eh?

Just writing about Babylon makes me miss its world and all its potential. Like Star Trek’s franchise and Lost, it became a part of my so-called life.

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JMS Says Babylon 5 Return Is Up To The Fans

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Want Babylon 5 to return in some form?

Well, you better start making some noise!

Creator of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski, took to his Twitter and Facebook accounts to offer up that if Babylon 5 is to ever return, the fans have to get behind it.

JMS lets it be known that a return for Babylon 5 is essentially out of his hands as he doesn’t own it, Warner Bros. does.

As Babylon 5 is currently not playing on Netflix, SyFy or the like, the series will “slide into obsecurity.”

Seems fans have been bugging JMS about Babylon 5 with the prolific writer offering the following:

To the online backinh and forthing…some hard facts. Because Babylon 5 isn’t on the air in the US anywhere, it’s impossible for the show to add new viewers except one at a time, friend to friend, or if you’ve heard about it enough to want to shell out the money for the DVDs. Casual viewers can’t stumble across it while channel surfing. (As we all know, after Trek was canceled for poor ratings, it found its audience in syndication.) So in answer to the photo below, either WB has to be convinced to release the show somewhere, or a network like Syfy or Chiller or another along those lines has to be prompted to pick it up. If not, quite honestly, and without any way to add new viewers, the show will eventually slide into obscurity. This ain’t something I can do, or even directly participate in. It’s up to the fans now.

There is no chance for a Babylon 5 kickstarter as well, as JMS again cites he doesn’t own it.

So it seems as if Babylon 5′s last best hope is…you.

(Via Blastr)

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JMS Sounds Off On Alan Moore and Before Watchmen; Compares To Babylon 5

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We just posted Alan Moore’s thoughts on the recently announced Watchmen prequel, Before Watchmen, where the writer compared his original to Moby Dick, and thought the new take to be “completely shameless.”

One of the creators onboard for the new series of 7 prequel comic books is J. Michael Straczynksi. JMS is writing the Dr. Manhattan issue with artist Adam Hughes, and JMS being JMS, he is not one to bite his tongue when it comes to his thoughts and opinions as well.

JMS posted a lengthy and well thought out rebuttal of sorts to Alan Moore’s arguments, offering up the question: What If the same happened with his beloved Babylon 5?

Here’s the post from his fan Facebook page:

Rather than answer the questions about Watchmen piecemeal in separate topics, I figured I’d address the key ones here, all in one place. 

Let me start out by tackling head-on the most frequent question: “how would you feel if Babylon 5 was being done without your permission?” It’s a fair question, and it needs to be fairly answered…but it has to be an honest comparison, apples to apples, not apples to pomegranates.

First, we have to take the word “permission” off the table. Warner Bros. owns Babylon 5 lock, stock and phased-plasma guns, just as DC owns the Watchmen characters. DC wasn’t making creator-owned deals back in the 80s. Moreover, they were variations on characters that had been previously created for the Charleton Comics universe. Main point is: neither of us owns these characters in any significant legal way. Consequently, neither company needs our permission to do anything.

But I get that we’re talking about the emotional aspect of all this, not the legal stuff, which is pretty cut and dry. So again: apples to apples.

How would I feel if Babylon 5 were being made and I were shut out of anything to do with it, despite my desire to be involved? I’d feel pretty crummy about it. But as it happens, that has absolutely nothing to do with this situation in any way, manner, shape or form.

If at any point in the last 25 years, Alan had said, “you know, there’s a Watchmen story I’d like to tell,” there’s no question that DC would have given him both the freedom to tell that story and a check big enough to dim the lights at their offices for a week. And there were frequent overtures for him to do just that. In 2005, DC actually offered to give him ownership of the characters if he’d come back to do more stories with them. 

They wanted his involvement, solicited his involvement, would have been thrilled at his involvement. He declined at every point. Fair enough. It’s his choice, and it’s his right to make it.

So now – apples to apples – let’s make the B5 comparison. Let’s say Warner Bros. came to me and said, “we want to do more Babylon 5, and we want you to run the whole thing. We’ll pay you anything you want, give you a proper budget, and you will have complete creative freedom.” (Actually, they made that offer last year, and I said yes enthusiastically, because I love these characters and that universe. At the eleventh hour the distribution system they had been trying to put together fell apart, and so did this, but let’s stick to the subject, shall we?)

So let’s say that Warners makes that offer, and I said, “No, I don’t want it, take your accursed money, your big budget and your complete creative freedom and begone, get thee behind me Satan!” Let’s say they came back and said “Okay, then how about we pay you vast sums of money just to consult? How about that?” 

“No,” let’s say I cried, “no, no, a thousand times no.”

“How about just to meet with us? Just for an hour?”

“No, absolutely not, nuh-uh, no way, not a chance.”

“What if we sweeten the deal? What if we offer to give you full ownership of Babylon 5, legally and contractually, so you own it? How about that?”

“Fie, I tell you, fie!”

Well, where does that leave us?

If Warners offered me creative freedom, money and a budget to do the show the way I wanted, up to and including my completely owning the show, and I said no to that deal, and if after Warners waited TWENTY FIVE YEARS for me to change my mind they finally decided to go ahead and make B5 without me…then I would have absolutely zero right to complain about it. Because it was my choice to remove myself from the process, it wasn’t something foisted upon me by anybody else.

And frankly, and I’m only talking about me here, if I made that choice, I would be an idiot. Because I love those characters and that universe, and would greatly enjoy the chance to play with them again. Every TV writer in town would show up at my door just to personally kick the crap out of me, and they’d be right to do it.

On to the next topic.

“These were one-off characters, they were never intended to be used again.” A really good point whose only problem is that it’s not actually true. That was certainly never DC’s perception of the characters, and Alan himself floated an idea about doing a Minutemen prequel back in 1985. 

Alan didn’t walk away from Watchmen for artistic reasons, he walked away over contract language regarding ownership issues. It was a contract dispute. In time that morphed into something else, but that was not what happened at the time.

“These characters are sacred, nobody else should write them.”

If we’re going to talk about the sanctity of characters, let me point to an observation I made in one of the interviews:

“Alan has spent most of the last decade writing some very, very good stories about characters created by other writers, including Alice (from Wonderland), Dorothy (from Oz), Wendy (from Peter Pan), as well as Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, Jekyll and Hyde and Professor Moriarty. I think one loses a little of the moral high ground to say, “I can write characters created by Jules Verne, HG Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle and Frank Baum, but it’s wrong for anyone else to write my characters.”

Some folks have replied to this with “well, Alan says this is different because he’s using those characters in different situations.” (I’m not vouching that Alan said that, only that this is the most common reply. If he never said anything to that effect I’m happy to be corrected.)

I’m really good with the English language, but I’ve turned that sentence over several times and I can’t parse it in any logical way. What the heck does it even mean? The moment you have Mr. Hyde do anything not in Robert Louis Stevenson’s book, it’s a “different situation.” I think that the argument being made here is that by putting Mr. Hyde in a modern context, then that makes it Alan’s and that makes it legally and morally okay. 

If that’s true, then I invite Alan to try that with James Bond, or Jason Bourne, or any other character where the writer or the estate is still around to fight for the rights of their characters. Legally, yes, you can do what you wish with public domain characters. But one ends up on a slippery moral slope to say that all of these other writers’ characters are fair game but Alan’s characters are sacred on a moral or emotional basis. 

I would suggest that there are just as many people around the world who hold Wendy from Peter Pan sacred, or who might think it untoward that Alan had Mr. Hyde literally sodomize the Invisible Man TO DEATH after the latter serially raped a bunch of girls at a private school. How would Robert Louis Stevenson or H.G. Wells have viewed such a story? 

Despite this, somehow, by Alan’s lights, that’s not just okay, it is right and proper. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have done it. Alan’s a genius, and if it were in my power I’d set him up with a big distribution system, ten million dollars, and publish anything he wrote, up to and including the phone book. 

I’m just suggesting that one needs to be consistent in one’s moral stance if one wishes that moral stance to be taken seriously.

“This will dilute the legacy of the original Watchmen.”

Can’t happen. The book is the book is the book. It will always be up on the shelf. You can read it alone, or after the prequels, or before…it doesn’t change a word of it. The original book has twenty five years of legacy standing behind it. It’s not that fragile. It’s a work of art, and art endures.

“So how come you left Thor because they were messing with the story?”

Apples, meet oranges. Thor was a work in process, versus a finished work in the case of Watchmen. No one’s suggesting a mid-course correction in the original book. I would have been happy to remain on Thor for decades, but when I saw the ominous approach of an Event that would once again erase or damage the story that I had worked so hard to create, I opted out. By contrast, nobody is infringing on a story Alan wants to write. Finally, again, opting out of Thor was my choice, just as it’s Alan’s choice not to be involved in any further Watchmen projects. I have no more right to complain about what came afterward than…well, anyone else in that situation.

“You didn’t like what Mongoose Publishing did with Babylon 5.”

True. Leaving aside that they were trying to include novels into a licensing contract that was intended only for game books and reference…leaving aside that instead of going to quality writers they picked up fan fiction on the cheap from amateur writers…the books were dreadful and not in keeping with the standard that I applied to anything done in the B5 universe. I’d bounced a couple of properly authorized and sanctioned novels previously because I didn’t feel they were up to snuff. The quality was the issue, not my involvement, because under contract I was involved and had approval. Had the books been better, they would’ve come out. They weren’t, and they didn’t. Apples and oranges.

I think those are all the major points that have been repeatedly brought up here and online elsewhere. To which I would add only the following codicil. 

When I met with the others in New York to discuss these books, I was in awe of the assembled talent. These were, and are, some of the brightest lights in the comic business. (And me, holding up the rear.) Listening to Brian A, I frankly thought I should be sitting at the children’s table, not here. And beside me was Len Wein, who was involved with the original Watchmen books. Amazing.

I wish you could’ve been there. I wish you could’ve seen the passion, the care, the creativity in their eyes and in their voices. There was no talk of money, or of deals, it was all about digging into characters for whom we all shared a profound reverence and appreciation. No detail was too small to delve into. What really happened to this character, who died or disappeared? Why did this other character dissolve into madness and alcohol? Who the hell was the Twilight Lady? There was an excitement and a dedication to preserve the quality of the characters that I wish you could have been present to witness firsthand. 

It. Was. Awesome.

I have always put a great emphasis on doing right by the money fans have to spend on product. This is because I come from ridiculously poor circumstances, and equally ridiculous fannish circumstances. I saved all summer to buy a membership in the Supermen of America Club. Another summer got me a wonderful envelope from FOOM. I was the only kid in my neighborhood who not only ordered a pair of X-Ray Specs, but expected them to actually work…and was devastated when they didn’t.

So I’ve always viewed things from a perspective of, “Is this going to be worth somebody’s hard earned cash?” I won’t speak of my stuff, because the specter of enlightened self-interest raises its head…but when I think of what Brian and Darwyn and the others are doing with their books, the stories they’ve chosen to tell, and the reaction I think these stories will meet, the quality of the art and the storytelling…for me, as a fan, the answer is an enthusiastic “hell, yes.”

The books will speak for themselves.

Everything else is just foreplay.

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