Could Harlan Ellison finally be warming up to the idea of a big screen movie of one of his stories? It appears so, but it wasn’t easy, even for J. Michael Straczynski, who successfully optioned the story for a film based on Ellison’s Hugo and Nebula Award-winning story Repent, Harlequin! Said The Ticktock Man.
Even though they’ve worked together before (Ellison was an advisor on Babylon 5), Ellison wasn’t just going to let JMS have it – in fact, he required JMS to write the entire screenplay first, and then based on that, granted the option. JMS can now shop the screenplay for producers and directors, and plans to hit up Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro first.
Ellison and Hollywood have generally not gotten along. Known for being very litigious over anything that even resembled one of his stories, he most recently had filed suit but later dropped against the movie In Time for similarities to Repent Harlequin!. He settled out of court against the makers of The Terminator for similarities to his Outer Limits episodes “Soldier” and “Demon With A Glass Hand”. He fought with Gene Roddenberry over rewrites to his Star Trek script “City on the Edge of Forever”, and had his name taken off the series The Starlost which he create after the producers kept changing things, opting for his pseudonym “Cordwainer Bird”, which he attaches to anything he does that he feels is not quality, even his own stories. So it will be interesting to finally see a big production made from one of his top stories.