It was announced at NY Comic-Con that Valiant Entertainment and Sean Daniel (The Mummy) will team with J. Michael Straczynski to adapt Valiant Comics’ Shadowman into a feature film, with JMS writing the script.
Shadowman has sold millions of comics and was adapted as “Shadow Man” for Acclaim’s video game franchise which likewise sold millions of copies, and follows (in the original story) the character who is one day attacked and barely escapes, but then discovers that at night he has supernatural abilities and a desire to rid the world of demons that stalk the night.
Overbrook Entertainment, the entertainment company set up by Will Smith and James Lassiter, and Georgiaville Television, which just made news with their Blake’s remake landing at Syfy, are teaming with Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski on a “pandemic” drama for ABC.
The project doesn’t currently have a title, but is described as a thriller that combines closed-ended procedural and serialized elements.
Lassiter and Jada Pinkett Smith will executive produce for Overbrook, with JMS writing the pilot and executive producing. Georgiaville is financing, and like the Blake’s 7 project, ABC has given this one a script-to-series commitment, which means if ABC likes the script it will be given a 13 episode order immediately.
I was just posting the previous article talking about the new STARZ series that were in development and what JMS has been teasing about for Comic-Con, and Deadline broke this news: he is announcing Studio JMS, a new multi-platform media company to handle all of his output under one roof. JMS develops and writes projects for all sorts of different platforms, including comic books, TV, and movies.
Studio JMS will be co-run by Patricia Tallman, who starred in JMS’s series Babylon 5 as telepath Lyta Alexander among many other acting and stunt roles, and also ran her own business, Talent To Go.
Among the things under development: The Flickering Light, to be directed by JMS, about Nazi propaganda director Leni Reifenstahl and the film she made using concentration camp prisoners; The Adventures Of Apocalypse Al, a web series for MTV.com; Living Dead The Musical, another web series; Epidemic for Overbrook Entertainment; Vlad Dracula for Starz; and a revival of his Joe’s Comics imprint with Image Comics.
J. Michael Straczynski has been teasing about some announcement Saturday at his spotlight session at SDCC on his Facebook page – he’s calling it a “meeting of the clans”, referring to the fans of his rather diverse work, from comics to Babylon 5 to movies, and this might not be what he is alluding to (will I have any spies at SDCC? Alas, I can’t attend yet again 🙁 ), but STARZ announced a couple of series in development, one of which he is involved with. [Edit: See the next article]
The first project, titled Incursion, comes from Spartacus creator Steven S. DeKnight and is described as “an epic science fiction action-thriller that follows a squad of soldiers caught in a war against a hostile alien race. Each season the battle will be fought on a new, exotic planet as humanity punches deeper into enemy territory. Grittily realistic combat, darkly complex characters and intrigue on a cosmic scale will permeate the tale of fighting men and women facing the pressures of war and an enemy unlike any ever seen.”
In the second, JMS is teaming with horror master Roy Lee (The Ring, The Strangers, The Woman in Black) and producer Rob Tapert (Spartacus, Xena: Warrior Princess, Evil Dead) to develop Vlad Dracula, a unique spin of the classic tale, blending the historical facts of the 15th century Prince of Wallachia, with the fictional Dracula whose story is known around the world and continues to fascinate audiences. “Vlad Dracula” traces his evolution from a revered ruler to the world’s most feared vampire, and his slow downfall as he struggles desperately to hang on to his humanity, his wife and his kingdom.
Carmi Zlotnik, Managing Director of STARZ, called all 4 of them “legendary talents, having created some of the most groundbreaking and iconic television series with incredibly passionate fan bases the world over.”
Is Paramount’s World War Z in serious trouble? The movie, which had already finished principle photography but recently announced that they were expecting 7 weeks of reshoots, reportedly had a third act that was so bad that Lost creator Damon Lindelof has been brought in to rewrite it.
World War Z, based on the novel by Max Brooks, was originally adapted by J. Michael Straczynski and then received rewrites by Matthew Michael Carnahan and stars Brad Pitt.
J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5 and prolific writer of comic books and movies now, watched the first part of the second series of Steven Moffat’s Sherlock, after which he took to Facebook and Twitter to give praise. On Facebook he said:
After watching tonight’s Sherlock episode the only thing keeping me from getting out of the writing business is knowing it would bring joy to too many people. Goddamn that may be some of the best television I’ve ever seen…I’m doomed.
Then on Twitter, he addressed Steven Moffat directly:
straczynski: @steven_moffat I bow to a superior mind. You do stunning work. If I quit the business for fear of inadequacy it’s entirely your fault.
After which a bit of back-and-forth took place:
stevan_moffat: @straczynski Oh hello! How nice to meet you! Very kind – far TOO kind.
straczynski: @steven_moffat Not at all. Series 1 was amazing but tonight I paused it every half hour to digest just how stunningly great it was bravo.
stevan_moffat: @straczynski No pressure for series 3 then! Cake walk! Hope you keep enjoying.
straczynski: @steven_moffat Honestly one of the best things I’ve seen on TV. I’m in awe. You should be most proud.
This of course ignited a lot of tweets about getting JMS to write an episode of Sherlock, or even Doctor Who. Moffat didn’t respond to any of that, but when asked by another person if he’d write an episode of Who if asked by Moffat, JMS replied, “Totally.”
I feel like I’m being teased (I wrote the Babylon 5 Encyclopedia in the 90s as one of my first personal web projects), but Walter Koenig, who played the Psi-Cop Bester on the show (and is better know for his role of Pavel Chekov on the original Star Trek) was at the big Las Vegas Star Trek convention earlier this week, and he told TrekMovie.com that JMS is negotiating the rights back for Babylon 5.
Now, recently JMS posted on Facebook that there were some plans for Babylon 5 with Warner Bros (who own the rights), but that it didn’t seem to be moving. But, “At this point, I’ve told the studio that if this isn’t going to move ahead, there’s something else they need to consider and there’s a very informal negotiation going on now in that regard. We’ll see where it goes from there.” That seems like he might be asking for them to sell the rights to him so that he might be able to take it in a new direction. Seems like an unusual move, but we’re certainly not against more B5 in any form…
Well, JMS tweeted in the wee hours (well, probably late hours for him), and it’s not happening: “Walter misspoke: I am not in negotiations with WB to develop more Babylon 5.” So perhaps the “something else” fell through.
Found this buried in a discussion on Facebook from JMS himself:
Re: B5…the studio offered a full season of a new and rebooted B5 as part of a new distribution venue they were creating (us and several other shows from the same studio were part of the same deal). We’d have a full season, a big budget, and total creative control. The negotiations (not between us but between the participants of the venue) dragged on for over a year, we were told repeatedly this is going to happen, but finally, the participants couldn’t make the math work. So we and the other three shows that they were hoping to put out there got set aside.
At this point, I’ve told the studio that if this isn’t going to move ahead, there’s something else they need to consider and there’s a very informal negotiation going on now in that regard. We’ll see where it goes from there.
But again, B5 was never created to be a Deep Space Franchise, we wanted to do our 5 years and get out clean. That was my intent going into this, and if that’s where this ends up, I’m happy to stick with that. There are other film and TV projects I’m doing, including a deal we just concluded to write a pilot for Will Smith’s company on a show that’s been pretty much pre-sold for a full season overseas (two bidders want it badly for Europe, and now they’re just looking for a US partner).
So it sounds like we were VERY close to a “new and rebooted B5” (not sure what that meant exactly) via a new distribution venue (also not sure…web-based? iTunes?), but it isn’t happening – but something else could still happen.
Babylon 5 creator and Changeling scribe J. Michael Straczynski has been teasing us for a few days about a big announcement, and we finally know what it is. DreamWorks has picked up an original screenplay from him which is a thriller set in the real-life relationship between escape artist/magician Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the Sherlock Holmes stories. The script is titled Voices From the Dead, and is a fictional account of the two teaming up with a psychic to solve a set of murders in 1920’s New York. It looks like DreamWorks is fasttracking the production, with a search on for a director and stars with the idea of getting it in front of the cameras as soon as possible.
This was floating around the Twitterverse, but JMS confirmed it a short time ago on Facebook:
As reported: with the huge success of the Superman GN, DC wants to fast-track the next one. This will require a great deal of care, requiring me to step back from scripting the monthlies to focus on this. Those stories will continue to their conclusion, based on my outlines. I’m also taking this opportunity to take a 1-5 year sabbatical from writing comics to concentrate on GNs and miniseries.
And he followed up: