J. Michael Straczynski’s newest show?

Hailing frequencies open… Forums Science Fiction Sci-Fi On The Screen J. Michael Straczynski’s newest show?

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    Steve WSteve W
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    According to an article in Variety, Straczynski is going to plot out a new TV series with the Wachowskis (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas) for HBO. Is there much hope for this, considering the Wachowskis and Straczynski have both lost their edges since their heydays in the ’90s? There’s no information about the show it seems, the name Sense8 makes it sound like science fiction but that’s literally all we seem to know right now. So… hopes? Fears? Do you think they’ve emptied their brains of their best creative ideas and now are coasting on their reputations?



    @Steve W wrote:

    Do you think they’ve emptied their brains of their best creative ideas and now are coasting on their reputations?

    ^^^ This. ^^^

    Although Variety’s review of the new Wachowskis movie Cloud Atlas actually seemed to show promise. I have a feeling the Wachowskis may be better pursuing the ideas that come out of their own heads rather than what’s foisted on them by a studio (i.e. Matrix sequels, Speed Racer). As for Joe… I keep sampling his recent work hoping for a glimpse of what got me hooked on his work in the first place, and I keep finding retreads or uninspiring stuff. I have more faith in the Wachowskis than the Straczynski, sadly.


    It looks like we’ll get to find out for ourselves. From the man himself:

    Sense8, the series developed by myself and the Wachowskis, has been picked up to series. I can’t give specifics, but I can relay this from the website for Georgeville Television: “We are delighted that the new series ‘Sense8’ with the Wachowski’s and Studio JMS has found a home. The deal is being papered right now, but suffice to say, this is another straight series order for Georgeville Television!”


    In the meantime, look out – Joe’s gonna direct a movie (and it’s not even SF, but a true story). [LINK]

    Reliance Entertainment’s Motion Picture Capital has come on board to produce and finance J. Michael Straczynski’s World War II drama “The Flickering Light,” with lensing starting in November.

    “The Flickering Light” is set in 1942 and centers on a group of prisoners from the Marzahn Concentration Camp — exclusively for Gypsies — who were pressed into work as actors, bit players and extras during the filming of Tiefland, a movie directed by and starring Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl. In addition to Riefenstahl, the main characters are prisoners who meet during filming and whose love awakens on the film set.

    Casting is currently underway in Los Angeles, London and Berlin.

    Straczynski is directing from his own script and producing through his Studio JMS banner alongside Grant Hill and Norman Golightly. Exec producers are Leon Clarance and Deepak Nayar together with creative collaboration from their Georgeville colleague and exec producer Marc Rosen; Patricia Tallman will also exec produce.

    “‘The Flickering Light’ is based on one of the most surreal and little known chapters of film history and the Second World War itself,” Straczynski said. “During the day, the prisoners were escorted to the studio by armed guard and corralled onto movie sets. They were cleaned up by the largely sympathetic Aryan crew, feasted on food unimaginable to prisoners, then dressed in period Spanish wardrobe as Riefenstahl required ‘authenticity’ on camera. Then after filming each day, returned, once more in rags, to the horror of the camp.”

    The movies marks the feature film directorial debut of Straczynski, whose credits include Clint Eastwood’s “Changeling,” Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor” and “Underworld Awakening.” He also directed, created and produced “Babylon 5.”

    To be fair, he directed exactly two installments of B5 – the series finale and the looked-like-a-promising-beginning-but-went-nowhere direct-to-DVD movie The Lost Tales. Thought he did a nifty job on the former, and went crazyballs on the latter, constantly tilting the camera at funky angles until you were apparently looking up Satan’s nostrils (no, really). It probably didn’t help that it was shot in Canada for about $5 ($8 CDN).

    Good luck, JMS, and try not to give away the homeworld!

    Steve WSteve W
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    I bought Babylon 5: The Lost Tales, and I’ve yet to actually watch it. Something stopped me from viewing it – maybe it was yet another B5 story that I knew wouldn’t amount to anything, or possibly that it might not be all that good. I have no clue whatever happened to my copy of the DVD.

    Speaking of Babylon 5, I found it odd that the executive producer is Patricia Tallman. The last time I saw her was as a corpse on an episode of Castle. I know she was a stuntwoman in her earlier career along with being an actress, it’s good that she doesn’t pursue a career where she gets smacked around on camera and the glory goes to some other actress who wouldn’t do the stunts because she might break a nail.


    She’s been running “Studio JMS” with Straczynski since that venture started, so maybe she’s been knocked around enough to know the business side of things pretty well.

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    I don’t know about “knocked around” but she has one kid so she’s been “knocked up” at least once.



    Is this mic on? I know you’re there, I can hear you breathing.


    @Steve W wrote:

    According to an article in Variety, Straczynski is going to plot out a new TV series with the Wachowskis (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas) for HBO.

    Apparently HBO passed and it’s going straight to Netflix. [LINK]

    Continuing its quest to sate subscribers’ appetites with a flow of original content, Netflix has announced a new original series, Sense8. Due in late 2014, it’s being developed by the Wachowskis of The Matrix, V for Vendetta, Cloud Atlas and Speed Racer fame, as well as J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5. Details are thin, but the press release promises a gripping global tale of minds linked and souls hunted with a ten episode run for its first season.

    The press release has this to say:

    Netflix will bring Georgeville Television’s Sense8, a gripping global tale of minds linked and souls hunted, exclusively to its members to watch instantly in late 2014.

    “We’re excited to work with Netflix and Georgeville Television on this project, and we’ve wanted to work with Joe Straczynski for years, chiefly due to the fact his name is harder to pronounce than ours, but also because we share a love of genre and all things nerdy,” said Andy and Lana Wachowski. “Several years ago, we had a late night conversation about the ways technology simultaneously unites and divides us, and out of that paradox Sense8 was born.”

    “We are proud to be working with Netflix on this new series,” said Straczynski. “Lana, Andy, and I are fans of each other’s creations, and have been looking for something to do together for nearly a decade.”

    I hope this’ll be a creative revival for all involved.


    Finally, something… kinda vague… about the plot. [LINK]

    The show will follow eight people from across the planet who simultaneously develop telepathic abilities. The series will delve into their journey, as well as the reaction from the world. Think a smarter (and hopefully better) version of The Tomorrow People, basically. With Straczynski and the Wachowskis all involved, this really could be a gem.

    Here’s how Straczynski described the series, which sounds like a great high-concept think piece:

    “We started out at one point talking about how evolution involves creating ever greater circles of empathy: You belong to your family, then you belong to your tribe, then two tribes link up and now you have empathy for your people on this side of the river, and you’re against the people on the other side of the river… on and on through villages, cities, states and nations. One day we’ll hit the planetary level but we’re not there yet. So what if a more literal form of empathy could be triggered in eight individuals around the planet, in India, the U.S., London, Mumbai, Nairobi and elsewhere, who suddenly became mentally aware of each other, able to communicate as directly as if they were in the same room.

    How would they react? What would they do? To what degree could they accept each other? What does it mean? And what would the world think about people with this ability? Would they embrace it, or hunt them down as threats to our own evolution? How would they survive? It would give us a perfect platform to do a show that was loaded with action, big ideas, some amazing stunts that no one’s done before, and play to a planetary audience.”

    As for how the series actually came together, Straczynski says Netflix was the first and only distributor they met with. The streaming service snatched up the project before they could even make it to anyone else for pitch meetings.

    He also noted that, even though this is a Netflix production, we shouldn’t take that to mean it’ll have a low-ish sci-fi budget. In fact, they’ll be shooting on location for most of those globetrotting scenes:

    “We plan to block shoot this as a 10-hour movie, and the best part is that we’re going to be shooting in the very same locations we describe, meaning we don’t fake Mumbai, we go to Mumbai, we go to Nairobi, we go to London. The plan is to shoot as much as we can on stages in Chicago, then the Wachowskis, I and two or three other directors will blitz out and shoot simultaneously in seven different countries, taking along the appropriate cast.”

    Hey, while you’re in Nairobi, can you check for missing Doctor Who episodes? kthx.

    My one worry is that this sounds an awful lot like the shape Heroes took early on, which isn’t a bad thing, but please, please, do what Tim Kring didn’t do, and have a game plan beyond the first season.

    Steve WSteve W
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    I still maintain that Heroes wasn’t written for a full season, the way the early episodes seemed to be written it seemed like the plot zipped along because they had a feeling that something so intelligent wouldn’t find an audience and they would be cancelled at 13 episodes. When it inexplicably took off right out of the gate, they had to stretch things out. That’s why it seems like the first season moved at a strong pace for the first half and then slowed down the second half. Introducing Christopher Eccleston’s character who pretty much made no impact and bowed out after a few episodes for example. A couple late episodes were clearly written as filler. I have to wonder what could have been if Heroes actually did get cancelled after 13 episodes, we could have had a really tightly written, fast paced show that nobody but us geeks ever watched, and for years afterward we’d gripe on the internet about how fantastic it would have been if it had gone on for a few seasons. Sometimes it’s best to not get what we want.

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    Thats why I hate network television. You are only given a few episodes to get going, or *zip* you are cancelled. Take a look at the early cancellations… after four episodes. I’ve stopped watching the “new” shows in their first season because of this.

    “All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can’t get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer.” —IBM Manual, 1925


    Basic cable, at least, seems willing to entrust a show with a time slot, promote the hell out of it being in that time slot, and allows it to either gain an audience or run its course. And cable is where the creative leeway is – I can’t imagine a broadcast network putting something like Walking Dead or Breaking Bad or even the Galactica remake on the schedule. They sure scramble to copycat, though, don’t they? (I’m looking at you, ABC’s quickly-cancelled Pan Am, aka “Mad Men on a plane.”)

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    And then they wonder why NBC is the #5 network behind Telemundo…..

    Look, we had this discussion before about all the reasons television is eating itself alive. No need to repeat them here. There are also issues that are higher on the totem pole than television at the moment. For Earl, it’s little E and getting a g-d job. Thats more important that what happened on last night’s episode of Two-and-a-half big bang theory.

    “All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can’t get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer.” —IBM Manual, 1925


    June 5th, Netflix. Be there. Or be somewhere else. (Sorry, kinda channeling Delenn there.) [LINK]

    “Sense8,” the sci fi thriller from J. Michael Straczynski and Andy and Lana Wachowski, will make its Netflix debut on June 5.

    The Wachowskis’ first television venture, the series is touted as “a gripping global tale of minds linked and souls hunted.”

    Brian J. Smith (SGU Stargate Universe), Tuppence Middleton (Jupiter Ascending), Aml Ameen (The Maze Runner), Doona Bae (Cloud Atlas), Miguel Silvestre (Velvet), Tena Desae (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Max Riemelt (Amnesia) and Jamie Clayton (Dirty Work) play eight characters who are both emphatically linked — which gives them the ability to access each other’s thoughts, feelings and deepest secrets — and hunted by an organization that wants to learn more about this power through any means possible.

    Daryl Hannah (Kill Bill), Naveen Andrews (Lost), Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who), Alfonso Herrera, Erendira Ibarra and Terrence Mann (The Dresden Files) also star.

    Um…you guys mean empathically, right?

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    Two thoughts:

    1. The storyline is familiar and somewhat cliched: Psi-powered individuals hunted by big-government. That was a big theme in Babylon 5. Didn’t the latest incarnation of the Tomorrow people do the same thing? (I only watched the pilot). So this theme is a little old.

    2. Andy and Lana Wachowski are involved. Debatable point but I think they’ve gone downhill since the first Matrix movie (in terms of quality not box office monies). Their latest movie, Jupiter Ascending, is considered a box office bomb. Based on the reviews I read, the movie was bankrupt of ideas and depended too much on FX.

    So, based on those, I’m not optimistic.

    On the up side, J. Michael Straczynski is involved. Not sure if that is good enough to counter the negatives, however.

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