Babylon 5: The Lost Tales

Andy_Bu

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From JMS on Oct 22:

Tomorrow morning at 9 a.m., the Babylon 5 TLT production offices in
Vancouver will officially open up next door to the stage we're using.
The crew has been hired, Chris Franke is on board for the music, cast
deals have been set.

================================================== ======

Way cool

Andy
 

nolesrule

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Joe D's aware of it. I see him posting in rastb5m all the time.

I'll let him explain what B5:TLT is all about, since he's really good at explaining this stuff. But yes, it's new B5 material.
 

MatthewLouwrens

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So that was very preliminary information from the time they made the initial announcement.

If you go to JMS News and browse around, you'll be able to get a bit more updated information.
 

joshEH

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A buddy of mine who managed to score a sit-down with Peter Jurasik at Dragon*Con this summer (super nice guy, too) learnt that one of the first episodes deals with Londo, and another one features Vir as the main character in the storyline.
 

BrianW

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I hope JMS uses this opportunity to answer a few questions about the B5 universe, like who made the Great Machine (and why), and whether Londo's "gift" to Sheridan's son ever amounted to anything. I can do without exposes on Techno Mages, Rangers, or flashbacks to the card game between the Vorlons and the Shadows that got them bickering.

Oh, shoot, who am I kidding? I'll watch these things no matter what.
 

MatthewLouwrens

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Cool. I always enjoy Londo and Vir as characters. Still, sad that we won't get to have G'Kar in the stories - he and Londo were always such a wonderful pair.

That's the funny thing about television - here are people that we never know, never meet. I wouldn't know the first thing about Andreas Katsulas. And yet, when I wrote the above paragraph, afterwards I just sat there for a moment, sad that he had died, because he inhabited this character that I developed a great affection for. And so the world just felt a little bit emptier because Andreas Katsulas had died.

It's a curious thing.
 

joshEH

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Agreed about the Vorlon/Shadow conflict millions of years ago -- it'd be far too esoteric and abstract for a "human" audience to comprehend anyway. The whole story about Londo's "gift" to David Sheridan can be found in the Long Night of Centauri Prime novels (particularly in Book III, Out of the Darkness), though it'd be nice to finally show David in the flesh on the series and tie into (or even adapt part of) the books.
 

Sam Favate

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Looking forward to this. Does anyone know when the first one will air? I hope Warner will resist the urge to put them on DVD individually and wait to collect the whole series together.
 

Joseph DeMartino

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OK, here's the situation as of today:

A few months ago JMS met with WB, which had finally gotten around to really auditing the take on the DVDs (something in the area of half-a-billion dollars world-wide), to discuss possible projects in the B5 universe. For the first time since Crusade shut down they seriously broached the idea of a financing and distributing a feature film. (Owing to a quirk of the original contracts, JMS ended up owning the feature film rights to B5 - and only the feature film rights. That's why the abortive The Memory of Shadows project was and indy project and why WB didn't become involved.) But the loss of Andreas Kastsulas and Richard Biggs is too fresh for JMS to even think about how to write around them to do an original cast feature. (Which has always been his plan for a B5 theatrical film.) He's been adamant that he will never recast either role. Maybe he'll feel up to it in a year or two. I hope so, and I hope WB is still as interested in the ida. I just wish they'd warmed to it couple of years ago when Andreas and Rick were still alive.

Anyway, since WB was still interested in doing something and since they were launching a new line of direct-to-DVD projects (and B5 having done extraordinarily well on DVD, far beyond WB's expectations) JMS proposed doing some DVD originals.

A slight digression: As many of you know, JMS has been publishing all of his B5 scripts through the print-on-demand house Cafe Press. In addition to the scripts themselves (usually final shooting drafts, sometimes other versions) each volume includes a new introduction for each script, personal photos, memos to the production staff, the studio and the network, notes and drawings. In going through his personal archives and rewatching the episodes for the intros, JMS rediscovered a lot of notes, one or two line descriptions and short paragraphs for possible story ideas. Generally they were for "B" and "C" stories, subplots that could be plugged in to fill out longer "A" story ideas to full episode length. For one reason or another a lot of these were never used, and JMS thought it would be fun to go back and explore these little nooks and crannies of the B5 universe, the little stories that would have taken place around the margins of the great epic.

Thus was born Babylon 5: The Lost Tales. JMS proposed a series of stories told in semi-anthology format, all connected to the places, characters and events of the original series, but each self-contained. He suggested doing the tales in groups of 3, each about 30 minutes long, and connected thematically, but not in terms of plot or character. Each mini-movie will focus on one regular or recurring actor/character from the series.

Based on the original series DVDs WB came up with a sales estimate on which to base a budget, and committed to producing at least the first batch and distributing it as a DVD original. In this case a TV sale, if it comes, would be gravy. The studio doesn't need a network to go into production, a network doesn't have to commit money up front to get an approved script filmed. WB can shop the finished film around for a broadcast or cable pick-up later.

Three 30 minute films would add up to around 90 minutes, which would come out to a 2 hour TV movie on commercial television.

So, WB gave the greenlight, JMS wrote the first three scripts and they went into pre-production. There isn't a lot left of the old B5 anymore. WB lost and/or destroyed (apparently by accident) all of the original CGI files, including the 3D models and background plates. Some of the uniforms and hand props are still around, but the sets are long gone. So to do the first three scripts, an awful lot of stuff had to be recreated from scratch, which is going to take time and money.

The show is being shot in hi-def video and widescreen, with JMS directing in order to set the look of the new episodes, and that involves a learning curve.

So he decided focus the first three scripts on Human characters, to reduce the make-up and prosthetics required. His three scripts featured Sheridan, Lochley, Garibaldi and Galen (from A Call to Arms and Crusade.) I'm assuming Galen will be more of a guest star in someone else's story, but JMS doesn't indicate whose. (He's met Lochley and Sheridan and shares an interest in certain EarthForce "black projects" and the darker side of Psi Corps with Garibaldi.) The initial trio was given the over-all name "Voices in the Darkness" and I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that the unifying theme was "command".

The stories are set on Mars, B5, Minbar, and Earth, and cover the distant past, the future and the "present" from the point of view of original series.

Yesterday JMS revealed that the Garibaldi segment is being dropped from the first production run and moved to the second trilogy. The remaining two segments are being expanded to fill the original time allotment.


The Garibaldi segment would have, at a minimum, required lots of CGI exteriors, probably more virtual sets and added to costume and prop requirements. In addition, most of this stuff would have been Mars-specific, not readily transferable to other stories, since there is simply less reason to set stories on Mars than on the station itself or on Minbar. So it makes sense to hold off on this episode and expand the other two, where the sets, CGI props etc. can be built once and then banked for future use.

Peter Jurassik retired from acting and now teaches the subject in either North or South Carolina. After his meeting with WB JMS touched base with Peter to find out if he'd be interested in reprising the role of Londo in a future Lost Tale. When Peter said, "Yes", JMS tentatively sketched out a plan for the second trilogy which would focus on alien characters. Presumably this is where Peter heard about his Londo and the possible Vir segment. The studio certainly won't commit to the second batch of stories until the first is shot, maybe not until they've seen the sales figures sometime next summer, so at this point there can't be any contracts or scripts, and everything beyond the first two segments is necessarily very tentative.

The good news is that Christopher Franke is signed up to do the music, a deal has been struck with make up and FX houses in Vancouver, and production offices are open and pre-production is proceeding apace. Target date for release remains 2nd quarter 2007.

And that's about all I know at this point.

Regards,

Joe
 

Tony Whalen

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This is just awesome friggin' news!!! New B5?! Never thought I'd see the day...
 

Jonathan Kaye

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Any new B5 from JMS has to be a good thing. Looking forward to it already, and this will be one of the few things I'll buy on DVD these days which can be replaced by an eventual hi-def version.
 

TheLongshot

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Good to hear some movement.

Just curious, but has there been talks with Claudia Christian about working on something? I know they had a big falling out with contract talks, but it would be nice to see her reprise her role in some form. Course, that would require JMS actually having a story for her at this point.

Jason
 

TheLongshot

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Good to hear some movement.

Just curious, but has there been talks with Claudia Christian about working on something? I know they had a big falling out with contract talks, but it would be nice to see her reprise her role in some form. Course, that would require JMS actually having a story for her at this point.

Jason
 

Joseph DeMartino

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Apparently not. I'm told that she was asked about this on the B5 podcast but said she hadn't been contacted about the project. She still sounded somewhat bitter about the S5 situation, but said she'd consider reprising the role. Certainly she came back and contributed to the extras on the DVDs (after sitting out season one) and JMS was very complimentary about her work in his commentary tracks. He's also mentioned Ivanova as a possible candidate for a future story, but so far they've only got the budget to do the first two stories for DVD #1. It isn't like a series going into production with a regular schedule. I'm confident the discs will do well, and that if they do some TV partner will be found. At that point they might want to do a series of TV movies, say three or four a year, and that can be done on a more regular schedule and planned a little further in advance. There wouldn't be much point in talking to Claudia (or Jerry Doyle, whose planned segment has been postponed) until they know that there is going to be a second or third batch and when such a thing might be produced.

There's plenty of time for all of that later. They still need to shoot disc 1.


Regards,

Joe
 

PatW

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This is such awesome news. I'm just starting to re-watch my B5 dvd's again, so that will satisfy me somewhat until the Lost Tales are released.
Great report, Joe.
 

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