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Could Warner Brothers Reboot Babylon 5 Without JMS?

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  • Could Warner Brothers Reboot Babylon 5 Without JMS?

    As far as I know, he doesn't own the rights toB5 at all, except for theatrical movies, so if Warner Brothers decided they wanted to reboot B5, but they wanted someone like JJ Abrams to direct/showrun it because they disagreed with the direction Joe wanted to take it, could they do that? And if they did, would you still watch?

  • #2
    Yes, to the best of my knowledge, they could. Would I watch? I truly don't know. I might give it a try but it would be with an extremely critical eye.
    "Fascism always comes in quietly, holding a flag in one hand and a holy book in the other, inching its way in. The bugles and drums only sound after they've already taken over and believe it's too late to do anything about it." JMS Twitter Dec. 24, 2017

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    • #3
      That's interesting Jan. What do you mean to the best of your knowledge - you spend more time around him than anyone else here, so it would be interesting if you have insights or can point to examples where he says something to confirm it.

      I don't know. That's the bottom line. None of us know as far as I know. The closest thing we have to anything even resembling a hint is what he's said online over the years . . . . I tend to think Warner cannot do B5 without him . . . I know you disagree. But here's a couple of examples of why I am leaning in the direction I am. (Emphasis added by me)

      Back in 1996, and part of a reply where he's speculating on the future of the show, after its original run.

      http://www.jmsnews.com/Messages/Message/14440
      At that point, I'm not sure which way the runes point. Certainly they'll start cranking out more merchandise stuff, which by contract I have to approve, to make sure it's quality stuff. If they want to do a feature, I'll have to be involved, and they'll have to negotiate with all the cast members, who by then will have moved on to other projects and may or may not be available. Ditto for any spinoffs
      Back in 2003 during that pie fight he had with Jerry Doyle about him talking to folks about maybe putting a new show together. . . Jms hadn't heard anything about it, and as part of the exchange included this

      http://www.jmsnews.com/Messages/Message/4377
      Well, yeah, I did create the series, executive produce it, write 91 out of 110 episodes, and I do control many of the rights. And no deal can go forward without my involvement. By contract, if it doesn't happen with me, it doesn't happen.
      In 2009, a year after walking away from the Lost Tales a fan asked if any new B5 was in the pipeline after a rumour sprung up about some new stuff - here's part of the reply they got.

      http://www.jmsnews.com/Messages/Message/3594
      First, WB does not have anything going with B5 at the moment, and would not DO anything with B5 without my direct involvement. (Interestingly enough, I had a meeting just a few days ago with the HEAD of WB Television, and they confirmed that there's nothing in the pipeline, in or out of the studio, and won't be until and unless I authorize it.
      That at least seems to be pretty unambiguous stuff, and it's a position he's repeated for at least over 13 years! Back in 2008 Warner apparently wanted to do more Lost Tales (a figure of 5 million was mentioned) jms didn't want to do anymore, and said big budget movie or nothing in the future . . . No new Lost Tales came out, and nothing else has been made in over a decade. . . . I don't know what any of that means . . . . But it does sort of suggest that there could, and I only mean could, be some sort of behind the scenes power struggle going on regarding the show. . . . Warner own the copyright and have the TV rights, jms has the movie rights . . and if the above is to be believed, he also has to be involved in any new TV show, by contract or it doesn't happen . . . . . . I dunno, I can only go with what I've read from him. . . .

      As to whether I would watch any new show that didn't involve jms . . Of course I would, I'm a sci-fi fan. Would also definitely compare it with the original, but whether jms was involved or not would have no bearing on my view of it. . . . It would be either worth watching or not on it's own merits.
      Last edited by Triple F; 12-24-2018, 06:47 AM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Triple F View Post
        That's interesting Jan. What do you mean to the best of your knowledge - you spend more time around him than anyone else here, so it would be interesting if you have insights or can point to examples where he says something to confirm it.
        Without access to his contract, anything I say would be speculation. "To the best of my knowledge" means exactly that.

        As for his involvement in other iterations of the show...again, I don't know. But in general, he *sold* the show to WB. There would obviously be payments involved were they to do anything with the show - from creator fees to character re-use fees but anything else? None of us know. But there was a post he made a few years ago where he mentioned asking the head of WB if there was anything B5 in the pipeline and being told 'no'. That's indicitive that he wouldn't have to give authorization to any B5 universe project. Could he deny use of the characters he'd created? I don't know. If so, that might explain some of the posts you copied.

        I'm reminded of a comment he made regarding Jeremiah and contractual requirements that, not strictly relevant, could touch on what he meant in those quotes:

        ><<If there were a third season, the studio would have to pay me a consultancy
        >fee
        >but there would be no requirement to actually consult.>>
        >
        >Ignorant question here: Why?
        >

        A very well written contract.
        "Fascism always comes in quietly, holding a flag in one hand and a holy book in the other, inching its way in. The bugles and drums only sound after they've already taken over and believe it's too late to do anything about it." JMS Twitter Dec. 24, 2017

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        • #5
          Thanks for all the knowledgeable and thoughtful answers! I wasn't aware of any of that. I just know that they reimagined V without Kenneth Johnson's involvement, and I don't think any of the original creators of BSG were involved in the new series, either. When Disney bought Star Wars they hired people to basically throw out everything George Lucas did, so they could make it all new. So it seems like that's what Warner Brothers would want too if they ever did decide to reboot it. But it would be nice if Joe had a contract that would force them to at least consult with him.

          I would watch it, too, but would probably hate it. I generally only like remakes when I wasn't a huge fan or the original, or I never saw the original.

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          • #6
            And just in Looney's opinion my guess is that unless WB saw a HUGE demand from the public for B5 they would never go forward with a non-JMS B5 for two reasons.

            1.) Even with contracts there might be some interpretive angle JMS could exploit to bring a suit against the project, so it wouldn't be worth the trouble without HUGE public demand.

            2.) The name J. Michael Straczynski is synonymous with Babylon 5 and cutting him out might pose a huge marketing issue they would have to work around.

            I'm not saying WB cares all that much about either issue or would care if they thought they could make a bunch of money without him, but those two points are factors they would have to consider. Any project that might require some legal maneuvering around what his contract says would likely be viewed as more trouble than it is worth to them whereas for JMS a feature film is a HUGE prize he wants to claim. And while George Lucas' influence may or may not be that heavily attached to the new Star Wars media his name is still feature prominently.
            Susan Ivanova, "I'll be in the car."

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            • #7
              I'm like Jan on the matter :


              I am not against a reboot, but to me, a reboot is something about a open universe, where you have a framework to begin with, and then adventures, more like the comics : Batman, Spiderman, etc... or shows that have a more procedural approach, so rebooting it again and again is ok, you just tell other adventures based on that same canvas/framework (Charmed, Roswell, etc...). Those shows don't have any proper real ending, they are canvas/framework to showrunners to lead the story where they want.

              For Babylon 5, it's closer to a novel/story : Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, etc... with a whole universe and a narrative that has a beginning, middle and end, created and written by one man who has written more than 90% of the scripts.
              You don't reboot that in my perspective, that would be like saying about a book series "We are gonna reboot Harry Potter", "we are gonna reboot Lord of the Rings". That wouldn't make sense, because they are complete universe, (hi)story and narratives, that belong to the writer who imagined them along with their complete universe surrounding it.

              But, what you can do, is open the universe to other narratives : spin-offs, extended universe, etc...
              Doctor Who and Star Wars did it, and in the end even Star Trek did it too, with Star Trek Discovery, as they didn't have a choice with aging actors on one side, but not wanting to scrap the entire 5 first shows on the other (the movies cheat with their alternate timeline lol). Harry Potter is doing it too with Fantastic Beasts.

              So i'm not completely against, but I will be watching with a critical eye too because to me it's the same as in real life : you don't have to do it all again, unless you do it better and have something really new to bring, which would be impossible since it's a whole universe that have been imagined by the creator. If it's just a matter of "better CGI", well, redo the show FX and give us our BluRay release
              Also, i think it would be incredibly difficult for me to accept other actors in some role : G'Kar, Sinclair, Delenn etc... are to me completely linked to their actors (I think Kosh, i can accept a new actor though).

              I wouldn't mind :
              - other spin-offs (a Rogue One-type movie with a recast Laurel Takashima on a classified mission on the Rim for example)
              - or a reboot of Crusade or Legend of the Rangers ! (which both had an incomplete arc) BUT with JMS input preferably .
              Last edited by Apsu; 12-26-2018, 06:56 AM.
              "Ahh...Beautiful. I will miss this. When it is gone." Kosh Naranek - 26 February, 2258.

              https://babylon5.xyz

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              • #8
                I am going to play devil's advocate here! Anything can be rebooted. I'm not saying this is necessarily a good idea, nor am I going to suggest it's always a success. I suppose the best contemporary example is BSG. For the most part, that worked and succeeded in creating a new universe, new stories and something that stood apart from the original on its own merits.

                I would have no issues with seeing B5 rebooted, as long as it deviated enough, in the same way BSG did. I would just want a different perspective on it, and kinks in the story so it would not be re-running the same thing again. Take the basic premise, run with it, reflect modern concerns and issues. I'd happily see characters gender swapped, I'd happily see a fresh cast, fresh writers, fresh ideas, perhaps with JMS in an exec producer / consultant role. No point in doing the same thing twice.

                I've seen little to convince me that JMS can repeat the greatness of B5. Nothing he's done since then has really blown me away. It was a combination of specific people, timing, advances in tech, and a good deal of effort on behalf of all those involved.

                I'd love to see someone else get a stab at it, as long as the spirit of the show was maintained and the person in charge was a fan of the original and had artistic merit.
                Last edited by Ubik; 12-26-2018, 09:26 AM.
                Captain John Sheridan: I really *hate* it when you do that.

                Kosh: Good!

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                • #9
                  Well, if they did redo it, I imagine they start with the same basic framework but tell the story in a reimagined way. So that it feels familiar, but keeps us old viewers on our toes, not knowing what to expect. What I would like to see is a more diverse cast like what we got in Sense8. More up-to-date tech. I know in the 90s no one could imagine what the future would really look like, but it always throws me out of the story a little bit. Maybe a bit less idealistic. Not BSG-like unless they choose to go Distorted Mirror with it. But still, something that would be more appropriate for the times, but still with hope.

                  I kind of hate Disney Wars, although Rogue 1 and Solo were both really good. 7 and 8 were done by hacks with zero understanding of the universe or the characters. But the books have all been really good, except for the novelizations. So if they got actual good writers involved new B5 could be great. But not if they get hack directors like Disney Wars did.

                  One showrunner with a vision can make it great. No vision and it will be a hot mess. If Joe could showrun, then hire a bunch of talented up-and-coming sci-fi writers to write a bunch of the episodes, then he wouldn't get so burnt out, but we could still have an amazing show.

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                  • #10
                    Yeah I think I would mind seeing a reboot that is just a parallel story. The B5 Universe is pretty big and we could have plenty of stories that took place in and out of B5 that are supposed to be taking place at the same time as the original series without actually involving characters from the original series. I mean there was always more happening on B5 than the main cast was aware of. You could have other Alien Ambassadors involved and all sorts of stories that just reference the main plot without needing to actually include the original main characters directly.

                    Then there are also the parallel stories that could have taken place between OBJECTS AT REST and SLEEPING IN LIGHT. You could finish the CRUSADE story without having to actually involve the main part of CRUSADE - I mean someone else might find a cure. The entire LEGENDS plot could be done from a different perspective.

                    My point is there are SO many tales that could be told in the many years between those two episodes that only reference the original stories.
                    Susan Ivanova, "I'll be in the car."

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                    • #11
                      Ubik I agree with you BSG is so much better than the original, i'm so glad they made it. I must also be one of the few on earth to love its spin-off, Caprica.
                      I guess i'm more afraid that, since the source material is so good, we end up with something mediocre like the reboot of V...

                      Looney agree ! That universe is so rich and so full of untold stories, you don't have to redo the narrative, but instead create new ones in the existing universe !
                      "Ahh...Beautiful. I will miss this. When it is gone." Kosh Naranek - 26 February, 2258.

                      https://babylon5.xyz

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