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  • JMS Opinion on TNT

    If this has been asked and answered a thousand times, I apologize, but I've never seen it. And I searched but couldn't find anything. Anyway, on to my question:

    As I remember, when B5 S5 was originally airing on TNT it seemed to shift timeslots quite a bit(if this was just me, I apologize again), and I was just wondering what JMS' opinion of TNT was. Were there problems, or was it pretty easy? Anything you can let me know would be great.

    Figaro Jonez

  • #2
    (short version)

    There's actually two sets of relations between JMS and TNT. The first was when they came along and gave us the 5th season in the eleventh hour and bought the rerun rights to the first four seasons. They were buying a known item and continued to leave JMS alone to do his thing. I don't recall any unannounced schedule changes, but I may be wrong. Sports always preempts drama, doesn't it?

    Then they commissioned Crusade and things continued as they had before for the first 5 episodes or so. Then things changed. Notes were written wanting ridiculous things at best, immoral things at worst and contradictory things at the same time. JMS tried to do what he could but eventually put his foot down and said "No". They pulled the plug and only 13 episodes were made.

    What JMS found out a year or so *after* Crusade was killed was that it was all deliberate on the part of TNT. While B5 Season 5 was on, they did a study and discovered that when B5 came on, the fans tuned in and the TNT regulars tuned out. When B5 went off, the fans tuned out and the TNT regulars came back. TNT wanted a show that would increase their core audience and it looked like B5/Crusade wasn't doing that.

    What to do? They had a contract with WB. They set out to prove that JMS wasn't providing the show that they wanted. They wrote notes, they closed production and added sets and changed uniforms...they wanted to be able to go to WB and say, hey, look what we've done - we've *tried* to tell this JMS guy what we want and he simply won't do it. We're not getting the show we want, WB so we're not going to make more episodes.

    After that, things got pretty spiteful and after the first run (I think) the B5 reruns were relegated to 7 AM on Saturdays and pretty much languished there until the rerun contract ran out.

    As for JMS' opinion of them...well, when I saw him in Vancouver a year and a half ago, he had a video with him. A teensy part of that video showed a cartoon starfury blasting a TNT billboard to smithereens.

    Hope this helps. For some of the posts JMS made at the time of Crusade, try a search here on JMSNews.com for ' TNT notes ' and there are some interesting things.

    Jan
    "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

    Comment


    • #3
      A few interesting remarks:





      #########Some Spoilers#######

      Let's meet our characters.

      CAPTAIN MATTHEW DRAKE, Captain of the Excalibur, the high-tech flagship of the
      White Star fleet of ships. (The fleet divides into teams to help increase the
      odds of finding a cure; when they find a possible lead, they call in the
      Excalibur, wait until it arrives, then they move on to the next destination
      while the Excalibur does its work.) In his 30s, dark, brooding, attractive,
      he's a fighter whose own Earthforce ship was destroyed during the initial war
      with the Drakh. (It wasn't his fault, as we will learn; he was up against
      impossible odds and barely managed to save his crew at great risk to himself.)


      Personally assigned to the Excalibur by Sheridan, this mission represents his
      chance to redeem himself. Hard-headed and practical, a man of action who
      doesn't believe in the mysticism practiced by the Minbari and the Rangers; if
      he can't feel it or taste it, it doesn't exist. A loner whose harsh exterior
      covers a heart that has been wounded too many times, and now refuses to let
      anyone near him.

      MARCUS COLE, a Ranger established on Babylon 5 during its third and fourth
      seasons. Energetic, bright, literary, with a poetic quote always at hand when
      it's needed, and a pike or a PPG rifle when force is needed. Trained equally
      in martial arts and philosophy. A dashing, romantic figure noted for a
      cheerfulness
      that belies something much deeper beneath.

      -------------------------------------------------

      We had to change Drake to Gideon because of a clearance problem, and obviously
      the Claudia situation threw a monkey wrench into using the character of Markus,
      as originally planned.

      jms
      --------------------------------------------
      ####################




      "And yet I don't recall a scene in which you fragged the head of ITN or any other network."

      No, but there were occasional little hidden messages in the episode, as when a character says, "We've had to make some compromises to get this show on the road." No one noticed that one, despite being rather literal.





      >You said that whenever you can't write what you want to write, you get
      >out. You were the only one who had to suffer when you quit
      >newspaper-jobs, but now that you have people working under you, is it
      >harder to make the decision to get out? I would think it would be.

      It does become progressively harder. What's not generally known is that at one
      point, I walked off Crusade. It was when the worst of the notes came in, and I
      told Doug, and I told WB...I'm gone. I can't do what they're asking me to do,
      it's wrong, find somebody who will.

      They prevailed on me to come back, and the main tool for this was "What about
      the crew and the cast? If you walk, what happens to them?" Reluctantly, after
      several days, I came back...and this led to the big notes meeting with TNT
      where I told them I couldn't/wouldn't do what they were asking on moral,
      ethical and creative grounds.

      Very detailed, insightful analysis here:

      http://www.jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1...rising%20stars





      Last edited by CRONAN; 06-18-2004, 05:28 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Hope this helps. For some of the posts JMS made at the time of Crusade, try a search here on JMSNews.com for ' TNT notes ' and there are some interesting things.
        ---------------------------------------------------

        Jan, you weren't kidding.

        I just finished browsing through that search, and my head's still spinning. Oooh boy......

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by CRONAN
          Jan, you weren't kidding.

          I just finished browsing through that search, and my head's still spinning. Oooh boy......
          Yeah. Can you imagine how JMS felt when he found out that it was all premeditated to cause the show to be cancelled?? No wonder he was adamant about getting that part in his Crusade commentaries.

          Jan
          "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

          Comment


          • #6
            Little details:

            The scheduling changes all came in the first four years, when the show was on broadcast television and syndicated by the pseudo-network PTEN. Local stations were forever moving the show around.

            TNT aired it consistently in the same timeslot with an "encore" broadcast each week in another timeslot. (I seem to recall Wednesdays at 10 PM for new 5th season episodes with the same episode rerun at 11 PM the following Monday.) Apart from pre-emptions the show stuck to the same schedule for all of S5.

            TNT's programming people in Atlanta and their production people in Los Angeles included some really big B5 fans. It was this group that convinced the network to buy the rerun rights (outbidding The Sci-Fi Channel) to seasons one through four when they became available in 1997. They also convinced the network to commission two new made for TV movies to be filmed after S4 wrapped. (Thirdspace, which was filmed first because it used the station sets, and In the Beginning, which was shot after the main sets had been struck and stored pending a decision on S5)

            It was the experience of making Thirdspace and ItB with Babylonian Productions that convinced TNT (which was then looking to get into the original series biz) to pick up B5 for its fifth and final season. Production was coordinated through TNT LA, and the network made a huge deal out of acquiring the show as its first original series. (They did far more to promote the series than Warner Bros. and PTEN ever had.)

            Things went very well with TNT for all of S5 (they hardly offerd a "note" the whole time and when they did JMS agreed with them) and right through the first five episodes of Crusade (the grey uniform shows.) S5 and the first five Crusade shows, along with all the TV movies, had been overseen by TNT Productions in Los Angeles. According to people who were there, things didn't start to turn sour until Atlanta called L.A. to find out how the dailies looked on Crusade. The L.A. folks told the truth - knowing the quality of Babylonian's work they hadn't looked at the dailies after the first episode, because they were hip-deep in work on a couple of big-budget TV movies. That's when a team from Atlanta was dispatched to take over, when the first production halt took place, and when the uniform changes were instituted.

            While I think there was a faction within TNT that wanted to unload B5 and Crusade from very early on because of the "audience swap" noted in JMS's comments (a phenomenon that was being discussed on the ISN News Forums while S5 was still on the air, BTW, so I'm not sure why it came as such a surprise to JMS.) But I don't think they had the numbers or the influence to do anything until after the first five episodes were in the can. If the network just wanted to get out of its contract by being obnoxious and making impossible demands it could have done so without spending the money to spruce up the sets and have new costumes designed and made. I think some clueless execs inserted themselves into the production process and made a hash of it (the sets and costumes were redesigned because these clowns didn't know that Avid digital editing files are lo-res and tend to look dark, and do not represent the final broadcast quality of the finished episodes.) Frustrated and not unable to understand TV series production they were open to the arguments of the anti-B5 faction that the show should be killed.

            (BTW, that business of B5 fans and TNT fans not overlapping is a perfectly legitimate reason for dumping a show. It is not a legitimate reason for doing so in a way that lets you renege on a $9 million commitment or that makes it impossible for the show to move to another network that actually wants it - which is what TNT did. But their initial complaint did have some merit, to give them their due.)

            I don't think the actual timeline supports the idea that TNT had decided to kill Crusade from the git-go - because surely they could have saved money by messing with JMS's head so badly before the pilot was shot that they could have dumped the whole thing.

            Regards,

            Joe

            Edited to clarify a point
            Last edited by Joseph DeMartino; 06-20-2004, 08:53 PM.
            Joseph DeMartino
            Sigh Corps
            Pat Tallman Division

            Comment


            • #7
              That's encouraging....

              Comment


              • #8
                TNT also used to mess with World Championship Wrestling at that point in time, as well. A year after Crusade, in order to promote the shitfest called Ready to Rumble, they forced the company to make David Arquette the world champion.

                I never watch TNT anymore...do they have any new original shows?
                Recently, there was a reckoning. It occurred on November 4, 2014 across the United States. Voters, recognizing the failures of the current leadership and fearing their unchecked abuses of power, elected another party as the new majority. This is a first step toward preventing more damage and undoing some of the damage already done. Hopefully, this is as much as will be required.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Since the CRUSADE debacle, TNT has been on my blacklist and always will be. I do not watch it. Not that there's ever anything decent on there to watch anyway.

                  CE
                  Anthony Flessas
                  Writer/Producer/Director,
                  SP Pictures


                  I have no avatar! I walk in mystery and need nothing to represent who and what I am!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    <<Not that there's ever anything decent on there to watch anyway.>>

                    Talk about lack of anything decent to watch...I have Andromeda on SFC here...the worst acting I've seen in decent memory. The only minor exceptions are Sorbo's delivery and a kind of thick and hot blonde girl (not the short-haired blonde...she sucks. This one have big lips and Sorbo just invited her to join the crew and now he's Frenching her...and this () has gone on too long). Man, how do shows like this stay on?

                    *recent memory...ha, is that irony?
                    Recently, there was a reckoning. It occurred on November 4, 2014 across the United States. Voters, recognizing the failures of the current leadership and fearing their unchecked abuses of power, elected another party as the new majority. This is a first step toward preventing more damage and undoing some of the damage already done. Hopefully, this is as much as will be required.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      TNT aired it consistently in the same timeslot with an "encore" broadcast each week in another timeslot. (I seem to recall Wednesdays at 10 PM for new 5th season episodes with the same episode rerun at 11 PM the following Monday.) Apart from pre-emptions the show stuck to the same schedule for all of S5.
                      For some reason, I remember it airing on saturday mornings at first, and then they moved it to Sundays, and then to Wednsday. It was a huge hassel for my dad and I (both fans), but maybe we were catching the encore presentations.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Go here for much more info on JMS and TNT and Crusade

                        http://www.isnnews.net/forums/showth...?threadid=2244
                        "I am not a number! I am a free man!"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm a little confused. Is it true that the grey 'bell hop' uniforms were JMS' and the black ones were TNT's?

                          I'd always assumed it was the other way round. (I must admit to not liking the bell hop ones)

                          On reflection, perhaps the best solution would have been if he had stuck to original Earth Force gear, maybe then he could have stood his ground a little more on costumes (as they were already established from before).
                          *Den-Sha*

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bonehead
                            I'm a little confused. Is it true that the grey 'bell hop' uniforms were JMS' and the black ones were TNT's?

                            I'd always assumed it was the other way round. (I must admit to not liking the bell hop ones)

                            Yeah, I suppose we should be grateful to TNT for the black uniforms at least.

                            Jan
                            "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I was hoping for metallic silver with a V-stripe and boots.
                              Recently, there was a reckoning. It occurred on November 4, 2014 across the United States. Voters, recognizing the failures of the current leadership and fearing their unchecked abuses of power, elected another party as the new majority. This is a first step toward preventing more damage and undoing some of the damage already done. Hopefully, this is as much as will be required.

                              Comment

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