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BABYLON 5 Mastermind J. Michael Straczynski Developing Pandemic Series For ABC!!

I am – Hercules!!

J. Michael Straczynski, perhaps best known for masterminding the mid-1990s sci-fi epic “Babylon 5,” is developing a drama series about a pandemic for ABC.

If the project goes forward, it will be Straczynski’s second TV series about the survivors of a deadly virus. A decade ago he created the Showtime drama “Jeremiah,” about a disease that manages to kill everyone on the planet old enough to grow pubic hair.

The new series would apparently be some manner of procedural.

Straczynski, who wrote for animated series like “He-Man,” “She-Ra,” “Captain Power” and “The Real Ghostbusters” in the 1980s, has more recently co-written screenplays for 2009’s “Ninja Assassin” and this year’s “Underworld Awakening.” He also scripted Clint Eastwood’s 2008 big-screen drama “Changeling.”

Find all of Deadline’s story on the matter here.

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Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 24, 2012, 5:37 p.m. CST


    by Valenni

    And god bless you Michael, G'Kar forever!

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 5:54 p.m. CST

    I'll give the first episode a look-see

    by ATARI

    Like I did with Jeremiah, and then probably stop watching it after that.

  • SRSLY -Namaste-

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 6:44 p.m. CST

    And, you know, he wrote the story for that Thor movie...

    by GeneralKael

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 6:44 p.m. CST

    co-wrote I mean...

    by GeneralKael

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 6:49 p.m. CST

    Loved B5, Loved Jeremiah, BUT...

    by KazamaSmokers

    JMS seems to have burned out ages ago. "Lost Tales" was cringeworthy. The Eastwood flick was a blip. JMS has always been an excellent plotter - one of the very best, but his dialogue is jaw-droppingly awful. He couldn't write convincing dialogue is you held a gun to his head. And he has a habit of not playing well with others. And then blaming everyone else when it all blows up. And also - his greatest talent - is cultivating sycophants.

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 7:29 p.m. CST

    it's JMS he's legendary...

    by Norman Colson

    I'll give this show a shot, let it stand or fall based on it's own merits. B5 was great... I did like his run on spiderman before that horrible BND arc where he rewrote history after the marvel civil war. back in black was an awesome story...

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 7:35 p.m. CST


    by DuncanDisorderly

    JMS wrote One More Day, not Brand New Day. Yes, it was terrible. However, the blame for that lies squarely with Joe Quesada, not JMS. Back on topic, I'll give the show a look-see if it airs over here in Blighty.

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 7:36 p.m. CST

    Seasons 2, 3 and 4 of B5 were often some of the best TV I've seen

    by Queefer Sutherland

    Other than that, I haven't cared for anything J. Mike has done. Jeremiah was extremely tepid drama, especially considering it was a cable show. Very pedestrian. Crusade and seasons 1 and 5 of B5 were pretty awful. I'll forever love him for those three great seasons of Babylon 5, but I don't hold much hope for this new venture.

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 7:39 p.m. CST

    Give him whatever he wants. JMS is great.

    by Mahaloth

    When it comes to TV shows, just let JMS take over and do whatever he likes. It might be a failure, but it would be a bold and spectacular failure, and that's worth it on it anyway.

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 7:44 p.m. CST

    Man, I tried with Babylon 5, I really did......

    by I_Snake_Plissken

    Maybe I didn't make it far enough - I think I watched most of Season 1 on DVD - it was a slog to say the least. I kept waiting for the sci-fi goodness to kick in, but eventually gave up.

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 7:44 p.m. CST

    Procedural? Bummer.

    by Crow3711


  • Aug. 24, 2012, 7:52 p.m. CST

    I think JMS needs to get with Scifi and make a New Babylon 5 sci-fi

    by Brian_De_Man

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 7:57 p.m. CST

    JMS said he would return to B5

    by hadrion

    Only if the freedom and budget were there, because he wasn't happy with how Lost Tales turned out.

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 8:04 p.m. CST

    re: Loved B5, Loved Jeremiah, BUT...

    by Have_Penis_Will_Travel

    he's all about the catch phrase they must reverb around in his head and when one escapes it triggers a new series

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 8:07 p.m. CST


    by Have_Penis_Will_Travel

    you have to hang in there until the balrog shows up ok, so it's not really a balrog it's a servant of the shadows but for all intents and purposes it was a balrog

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 8:57 p.m. CST

    Oh i know that BND was quesada's fault.

    by Norman Colson

    I think the whole world knew that he was the one that wanted spiderman single and turn back time. They should have just killed off aunt may, kept spiderman a fugitive on the run but at the end getting a presidential pardon clearing his name. I like angry spiderman.. He whipped kingpin's ass. made him his bitch. "You have no idea, ...what this suit represents" Wow....

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 10:06 p.m. CST

    So a rag tag group...

    by INWOsuxRED

    Will need to do something urgent and fairly similar every week. Who will be the real enemy? The pandemic...or each other???

  • Aug. 24, 2012, 10:40 p.m. CST

    Another end of the world show?

    by grfrog

    Why do they feel to need to throw away the little money they give to non-reality shows in this way.

  • Aug. 25, 2012, 12:44 a.m. CST

    lets forget all about rising stars

    by walt

    hollywood pretends it has, as it continuously rips stuff from it

  • a completely stupid reason i know, but entirely the truth.

  • Aug. 25, 2012, 4:34 a.m. CST

    For those who didn't get into Babylon 5...

    by tailhook p1 p2 oh.. and... --------- All of that was from a single season of the show 16 years ago. B5 was also one of the very first series to utilize CGI for all its special effects(all of it was absolutely bleeding edge for the time), back when a 486 or Pentium was considered hot stuff. They were so good at it that Star Trek finally cried uncle and simply hired away the company that did the F/X for the first 3 years of the show(Foundation Imaging). They went on to work on DS9, Voyager and Enterprise. People tend to forget what relatively crappy f/x both TNG and DS9 had in comparison. If it wasn't a static model with a tracking shot, planetary shot, or a cliffhanger/series ender that they could throw massive money at, they were largely baked when it came to massive battle sequences... which led to a lot of station/ship-bound stuff, even for the action. Fleet on Fleet? 3 dimensional space? Forget about it. B5 had all that, and more, with half the money.

  • Aug. 25, 2012, 4:37 a.m. CST

    @waltkovacs: Rising Stars

    by tailhook

    Because obviously nobody has ever done any type of franchise that consists of people with varying powers. Nope.. never been done before Rising Stars. Unless you include like... oh... X-Men.

  • Aug. 25, 2012, 4:51 a.m. CST

    One last thing about B5.

    by tailhook

    One of the very first true arcing shows of the modern era. People like to point to The Sopranos for starting it? No.. B5 is the one who really brought it to the fore and inspired a lot of people that came after. There was nobody doing that type of writing at the time in the US and a lot of people who thought it wouldn't work. Star Trek was and ended up being largely a collection of standalone episodes with the infamous 'reset button' and some minor developments here and there. Even DS9 tended to largely stick to the formula of standalones, while moving the story along every now and then but not really enacting major change to the show. Stuff would happen, but not so much that it would change the overall dynamic in any way, shape or form. In B5, you had entire civilizations get wiped out. You had wholesale changes to the command structure as Earth sided with the enemy, the command on B5 ended up breaking away, and then eventually leading a civil war all the way back to Earth. Shit happened. Stuff had real consequences. It made for a great show. I wholly expect we will not see its like again in my lifetime, but i've definately enjoyed the last decade of quality television that has sprung up in its wake.

  • Aug. 25, 2012, 7:13 a.m. CST

    So this would be like an American version of Survivors?

    by Smerdyakov

    "Cause I liked the last version of Survivors a whole lot.

  • Silver Surfer: Requiem, the rebirth of Thor, the number 1 selling TPB of last year in Superman Earth One, Spiderman, etc.

  • Aug. 25, 2012, 7:39 a.m. CST

    "Crusade" was a great series.

    by Smerdyakov

    An intelligent, dark version of Star trek. Too bad Sci-Fi sabotaged it in favor of crap like LEXX.

  • Aug. 25, 2012, 7:49 a.m. CST

    Came for the Babylon 5

    by _Venkman

    Left with a limp dick. This show idea sounds boring.

  • LONDO rules!

  • Aug. 25, 2012, 12:18 p.m. CST

    If it hadn't been for G'Kar and Londo...

    by Queefer Sutherland

    The story arc of those two characters was epic and Shakespearian. The way both characters grew from buffoons serving only comic relief to the tragic subjects of epic personal and planetary devastation was magnificent. Londo and G'Kar became the heart and soul of B5. Without them the show would have lost my interest. Andreas Katsulas and Peter Jurasik deserved Emmys for their acting in that show. They were phenomenal.

  • Aug. 25, 2012, 12:21 p.m. CST

    tailhook - who points to Sopranos for starting arcs?

    by DoctorTom

    I've always heard people pointing to X-Files, which was long before the Sopranos. Of course, the pilot for B5 aired before X-Files, so that has a better claim. Still, Twin Peaks would probably be one of the earliest (I'm not counting The Prisoner here), or some seasons of Doctor Who having an arc (though that wasn't the show as a whole).

  • Aug. 25, 2012, 12:27 p.m. CST

    Fuck this just make Y THE LAST MAN !!!

    by kimbers

    no disrespect to michael j, B5 was awesome but if youre gonna make another post apocalypse series do one full of women and a faeces throwing monkey!

  • Aug. 25, 2012, 12:29 p.m. CST

    B5 still up there...

    by dj_bollocks

    Season 1 still has some great episodes, 2-4 are for the most part flawless... Season 5 for the most part padded, but have interesting ideas... Still one of the greatest Sci Fi shows ever in my opinion...

  • Aug. 25, 2012, 9:06 p.m. CST

    Make JMS' World War Z script into a TV show!

    by _V_

  • Aug. 25, 2012, 11:47 p.m. CST

    smerdyakov, it was TNT Atlanta that screwed Crusade

    by Nukemarine

    The first five eps filmed in association with TNT associates in California were amazing. It was TNT corporate suits from Atlanta that started wiping their shit stained ideas over the production where things went downhill. Seriously, these are the morons that wanted aliens to look "less alien" and for having a scene changed into a guy trying to rape a lady for purposes of blackmail. Sci-Fi wanted to buy Crusade, but TNT was refusing to sell since it looks bad if you sell a show and it does well. Man, what might have been.

  • Aug. 26, 2012, 12:27 a.m. CST

    I didnt watch crusade...

    by Norman Colson

    I think when they had the last episode where sheridan died. it was a mighty send off and farewell to the series... there was no reason for it to keep going.

  • Well from this guy's track record, it doesn't look very good.

  • Aug. 26, 2012, 1:28 a.m. CST

    B5 is the most overrated show in existence.

    by Legolars

    Sure JMS had the story all mapped out and it was maybe the first serialized show on telly, but it suffered from bad acting, direlogue and terrible special effects. While seasons 2 - 4 were very good indeed, the first and fifth season are truely the worst tv seasons I have sat through.

  • Aug. 26, 2012, 5:17 a.m. CST


    by Legolars

    Go watch Star Trek TNG on Blu Ray and then tell me how crappy Trek's visual effects were. And those effects were made 6 years prior to B5. Then go watch DS9 episodes like Way of The Warrior and Call to Arms which looked a thousand times better than anything on B5. Telling people to watch some random FX heavy scenes without any context to them isn't going to convince anyone to watch this show.

  • Aug. 26, 2012, 8 a.m. CST

    Contagion, the TV series. Which actually sounds pretty cool.

    by technosnob

    Check the movie out, it's awesome.

  • Aug. 26, 2012, 11:49 a.m. CST

    smerdyakov, "Lexx" had Eva Habermann's fine ass.

    by kabong

    For that alone, I loved that series.

  • Aug. 26, 2012, 12:33 p.m. CST

    It's called TV PROGRAMMING for a reason

    by Abdul_Alhazred

    You are being acclimated to accepting the scenario of a worldwide pandemic, one of the strategies publicly stated by the globalist, eugenics control freaks as a method of culling the human population. Not say that MJS is in league with them, but this meme has permeated the society, be design, so much so that a lot of people accept it as an eventuality. If it does happen it will be like the impending financial collapse: engineered, on purpose, in the name of worldwide slavery.

  • Aug. 26, 2012, 2:43 p.m. CST

    IF JMS had known TNT was going to do S5 of Bab5 in advance.

    by DougMcKenzie

    It would have changed everything for the better. The Vorlon/Shadow war would have been all S4, and S5 would have been all about the Earth Civil War. Since he thought S4 was the last, he cut both arcs in half and shoe horned them into one season. Pretty frenetic, non-stop season, but the plotting suffered. The fifth season, although featuring the dreary Psi-Corp war, did feature a nice arc with Londo and G'Kar.

  • Aug. 26, 2012, 3:10 p.m. CST

    @legolars: Star Trek

    by tailhook

    I'm well aware of the limitations of both. Lets take a look at a tale of two clips. Way of the Warrior: Shadow Dancing: ------------------ Roughly seperated in release date by 1 year, although its more like 6-8 months in actual production dates. In the first, you have an attack by a fleet on a static station. Notice first and foremost what isn't there. Stars. You have models on a black screen, and the Klingon ship is all the same model. They are attacking a static target, and the target is attacking with stock 'my guns shoot you' footage. Now compare this against Shadow Dancing, one of the prime examples of a fleet vs fleet battle that Star Trek *COULD NOT DO*. The difference is literally night and day, in fact actual color and not the monotone gray is now being used. Ships attacking from different angles, multiple types of different ships. Viewing the battles from behind the main characters. Oh, and actual starfields. On like half the budget. But you don't need to take my word for it. By the time Shadow Dancing aired, the entire company that did the F/X for B5 (Foundation Imaging), was hired away and working for Paramount and brought in specifically to create the CGI F/X for Star Trek. Even they knew their stuff was shit and subpar compared to what was being done and could be done. Dominion War? Voyager? Enterprise? A good amount of those advanced effects came directly from the guys at FI.

  • Aug. 26, 2012, 3:22 p.m. CST

    As per the Joke that was The Next Generation effects.

    by tailhook People can do that shit in their garage. People forget just how primitive those effects were because by and large there weren't anything like them at the time. But they were very primitive and largely consisted of: a) Static pictures (Hi innards of Borg on the view screen). b) Tracking shots (Here's my model, I shall move the camera! See.. ship is MOVING!) c) Lasers striking either one model or the other, with an explosion as able. (Note again: Complete lack of all starfields) That tended to be the standard effects of TNG, when you got effects. Good for the time, but seriously? B5 is like calculus in comparison to TNG's basic arithmatic. DS9, pre-FI I would classify as Algebra on its best day.. and often simply basic arithmatic.

  • Aug. 26, 2012, 6:59 p.m. CST


    by Queefer Sutherland

    If as you say, seasond 2-4" were very good indeed" then how can the show be the "the most overrated show in existence"? Three good seasons is more than most shows ever have. You're starting to seem like quite the ignorant prick. Perhaps you're just a little troll who's insecure about his Star Trek. It's OK, you mewling infant. I thought TNG, DS9 AND B5 were all good shows. They all had about the same percentage of good/bad episodes. In the end, there was nothing better than Londo and G'Kar's story, however. Nothing in Star Trek ever approached that.

  • Aug. 26, 2012, 9:02 p.m. CST

    Severed Dreams and other clips...

    by InMyTARDIS

    tailhook Thank you for posting some great clips from B5 While I eagerly await series 7 (which is really 33, right?) of Doctor Who to start next Saturday, you reminded me of why Babylon 5 is still my favorite Tee Vee show of all time. Severed Dreams was the one episode I showed friends that I wanted to view the series. I guess I should get out my B5 DVDs and re-watch the greatest show never seen. Here's a couple of other favorites. ...and I will give JMS' new series a fair shot, for all the enjoyment he gave me, I owe him that. Thanks again!

  • Aug. 26, 2012, 11:39 p.m. CST

    Queefer Sutherland

    by Legolars

    Thank you for your kind words. For a movie or a tv show to be overrated doesn't mean it has to be shit. I finally watched B5 in its entirety a couple of years ago. I thought seasons 2-4 were quite good, meaning it was quite good overal with some standout moments but also some very bad episodes. However in my opinion the first and fifth season were uniformly shit. Everything was bad about it, almost hilariously so. And I'm only comparing the visuals of Star Trek with those of B5, in response to tailhook's post. We all know Trek was qualitywise a very uneven show at times, but I do prefer DS9 to B5. The show is overrated because fans like tailhook seem to be unable to find any faults with it.

  • Aug. 26, 2012, 11:52 p.m. CST


    by Legolars

    I guess it comes down to your preference. There is a reason why Peter Jackson used miniatures instead of CGI for many of the locations in LOTR. Models just look more realistic. You know it's a model of course, a bit of moviemagic, but models convey a sense of realism and scale that CGI just can't. You're probably right that TNG's effects weren't that difficult to create. They certainly weren't very ambitious, especially in seasons 5 through 7. But when I saw the Enterprise I believed that starships like that could perhaps one day exist. When I look at B5 i just see primitive CGI. I dislike CGI in general. I for one prefer DS9 episodes like Way of the Warrior and Call to Arms to Sacrifice of Angels for the very same reasons. My point all along actually is, if you want to give people who haven't watched B5 a reason to start watching, you shouldn't use the effects as a selling point. Nor should you spoil key moments by posting clips of them. The effects just look dated, especially compared to show that are made nowadays.

  • Aug. 27, 2012, 12:04 a.m. CST

    @dougmckenzie: btw

    by tailhook

    You're wrong in your assessment. The original plan was for Intersections in Real Time to be the cliffhanger for season 4, with the first 6 episodes of season 5 mirroring the first six of season 4, except with the resolution of the Civil War and the forming of the ISA, rather than the resolution of the Shadow War. What ended up happening is that the resolution to the Shadow War got stuffed into one episode rather than two, and the 6 episodes to start season 5 got compressed into 3, a couple filler got dropped out of season 4, and they ended season 4. The last episode of that season would simply have been the finale rather than the filler of Deconstruction of Falling Stars. So what ended up happening is that there was too little content for early season 5 and you got a lot of filler at the start of the season with Byron and the Technicolor Telepaths horseshit dragging on longer than it should have. But all the trouble in initial formation of the ISA and dealing with the aftermath of the two wars and the fates and prices exacted on the characters as a result of being the main drivers of this story? All planned.

  • Aug. 27, 2012, 12:25 a.m. CST

    Nice to see the B5 love again

    by ComputerGuy68

    Watching those clips reminded me that it's time to dust off those DVD's and share with my just turned 11 year old. A life long Trek fan, have no interest in ever watching the TNG, DS9, etc ever again. The USS Political Correct is not my Trek. Classic Trek I can watch again and again. JMS has a free pass with me. So I'll give this new show a look...

  • Aug. 27, 2012, 12:57 a.m. CST

    @legolars: unable to find faults in it?

    by tailhook

    Season 1 suffered from the fact that they were just trying to get their footing. That said, there were *extremely* good episodes in season 1 and it definately showed the promise of what was to come. Uniformly shit? Hardly. Believers, Mind War, And the Sky Full of Stars, Signs and Portents, Babylon Squared, A Voice in the Wilderness, and Chrysalis were all top flight episodes of the series. I'm with you in that there was some pretty tepid stuff in there... 'By Any Means Necessary', 'Infection', 'Eyes', or 'TKO' come to mind. Season 5 had filler due to the issues on if they were even going to get a Season 5 and suffered because of it, but also had some very good episodes throughout the season. Anything in the universe post Babylon 5 that has sat outside the original arc has sucked donkey balls. I include Crusade in that. And i'd put season 3 of B5 up against any other season of any other show in terms of overall quality. About the only thing that even comes close for me would be season 1 of Lost.

  • Aug. 27, 2012, 12:59 a.m. CST

    oh... forgot BSG...

    by tailhook

    Season 4.5 of BSG i'd also put up there. If it has to be a whole season then maybe season 1

  • Aug. 27, 2012, 4:36 a.m. CST

    Herc, how could leave out JMS's contribution to Thor?

    by Stalkeye

    Too much TV Viewing perhaps?

  • Aug. 27, 2012, 4:38 a.m. CST

    I'd only be interested if the pandemic was man-made and deliberate

    by tangcameo

    That someone had started something of Spanish Flu or Black Death proportions not to destroy the world but to save it as energy sources and food sources dwindle, shrinking the global population to save it.

  • Aug. 27, 2012, 5:10 a.m. CST

    JMS is still amazing.

    by Norman Colson

    Gotta give credit where it's due. whether it's hit or miss, joss whedon is the same way. Like alot of people liked firefly and sereniy. I didnt watch it, but i did watch buffy and angel... which i thought it was the stronger shows, strange i know. but to each his own.

  • That fucker knocked the ball outta the park on this one. And it's his way for making up for past travestys like say,Buffy and Alien Ressurection. Then again, after watching the digi comic of astonishing X-men (Via Netflix streaming) I somewhat noticed his potentual for Comic based films. Congrats, Josh. You made it so.

  • Aug. 27, 2012, 8:46 a.m. CST

    @tailhook: I stand corrected

    by Legolars

    A very thorough reply you just gave there. I do not however agree with the list of extremely good episodes from season 1, but let's just agree to disagree. My final thoughts are that B5 wasn't consistent enough for my liking. I enjoyed and at times loved seasons 2-4. JMS spend years thinking of that tremendous arc and it shows. But seasons 1 and 5 are abysmally bad IMHO. I'm not of the opinion that a show can be a classic when there are only 3 worthwhile seasons of a five year show. My good friend Queefer mentioned that three out of five ain't bad and that it's more than most shows have. That is undoubtedly true, but there have been plenty of shows that managed a much longer streak of brilliance. You already mentioned BSG and Lost and I would add non genre shows like The Shield, The Wire, The West Wing and ER to that list as well.

  • Aug. 27, 2012, 12:20 p.m. CST

    JMS + procedural? Say what?

    by FrodoFraggins

    Color me confused.

  • Aug. 27, 2012, 12:26 p.m. CST

    New viewers should watch all of Season 1.

    by FrodoFraggins

    Just stick to the core episodes like the pilot(weak), Signs and Portents, Babylon Squared, Voice in the wilderness and Chrysalis. That's where the main canon episodes are and you can always go back and watch the ones you skipped. Even season 2 has a lot of clunkers.

  • Aug. 27, 2012, 12:34 p.m. CST

    B5 didn't introduce story arcs - Wise Guy was earlier

    by FrodoFraggins

    Blakes 7 in the UK as well.

  • Aug. 27, 2012, 4:38 p.m. CST

    JMS, go back to sci-fi ... aliens, spaceships, lasers

    by radii

    here is the best fanfic of a B-5 movie

  • Aug. 27, 2012, 10:58 p.m. CST

    So if we want to really tie this to B5 and JMS

    by tailhook

    The Contagion shall deal the future efforts of an intrepid few with advanced technology to combat the effects of a virus of unknown alien origin. All indications point to the entire race being wiped out within 5 years. Bwahahah. Oh, and regardless of any B5 tie-in, the series takes place in San Diego, or deals with the aftereffects of a major breakout wiping out th e majority of the population of San Diego(even better!)... or no deal. I say this being a native of SD lol.