LosCon '94 Report
LosCon '94 Report
Just attended LosCon today and the B5 presentation, so I thought I'd
give a simple report as to what happened. (I was the guy in the grey
slacks, long-sleeve shirt and blue sweater standing in back for most
Some spoilers are included in this, but I'll try and put them near
the end and ^L'd off....
I also picked up a (music) CD. A review of it will be posted
shortly (quick review: it's DAMN good. Get it, and crank it when
you play it :)
I arrived about 15 minutes late, so I missed out on the blooper
reel (ack) and any requests on what we could say and not. The
presentation consisted of Peter Jurasik (Londo without the makeup),
Harlan Ellison, Larry DiTillio (exec story editor) and JMS in that
order on stage fielding questions from the audience. They did show
about a minute from an upcoming episode (The Coming of Shadows, to be
aired mid-January or so); details later.
Most of the questions and resulting answers (sometimes off on a
random tangent) were fairly basic, but were generally very
entertaining. The following section is 100% from memory, no notes, so
I may be wrong on a few things. Some of the ones I remember:
Any comments/criticisms/ more info would be appreciated. Unless the
info has been corroborated by JMS elsewhere, the above is not to be
taken as canon or anything more than the products of my memory. In
all, it was a fun 2 hours. The above is copyright (c) by Nathan
Mates. Reprinting in a non-electronic medium is prohibited unless
prior consent from me is obtained.
- A bunch of guest stars will appear this season. I didn't
recognize most of the names, nor did I take notes.
- The B5 comic (from DC Comics) should be out next month. JMS wrote
(or at least outlined in great detail) the first 8 issues, as well as
the upcoming 3 books. He's trying to keep them canonical.
- Mr. Ellison has a comic series starting in January from Dark Horse,
I think. The lead-in to his spiel about them was quite hokey, but
probably part of the incentive to get him to come. It's not going to
be a series, but more based on short stories he's done. Since they
made such a point of mentioning the name, I'll just say it's got
his name in it. :)
- Background info on Delenn: she was born into the Religious caste,
and apparently selected for the Grey Council about 5 years before
the first contact with Earth. She was onboard the ship with Dukhat
when the Earth contacts opened fire, killing Dukhat. [So, we didn't
manage to toast the ship, just managed to damage it enough to
kill some of the occupants.]
- B5 is doing great in England, apparently doubling its audience share
from episode #4 to #8 over there, and was something like #18 of
Channel 4's programs. It starts in Australia real soon now, so no
ratings yet. It's in (or will be in rsn) Italy, Germany, Greece,
New Zealand, Japan, and the like.
- Harlon Ellison (who I'd never seen in person before, nor heard
much about him) is a great storyteller. His faith in British
youth's education was dashed by a recent trip to England. Apparently
a shop selling various objects had some bad examples of customers.
For example, scented, packaged, soap in boxes with "SOAP" written
over it prompted a customer to ask "like, what do we do with it?
Burn it?" Another pair of female teenagers commented on a crucifix:
"This is the men's model: it has a guy on it."
[My (unvoiced) comment was that the problems in the British Royal
family is only the tip of the iceberg... British society is going to
pot real fast]
- A suggestion to put Ellison in front of the camera received wide
applause, but unless there's a stand-up comedy routine ["take
my tentacle... Please!"] it'd be harder to fit him in.
- (Non-canonical; said in jest) Londo has a standard Centauri
accent; Vir's got the weird one. Someone in the audience classified
Londo's accent as 'pottsylvanian'
- G'Kar, Londo and Delenn each take about 2.5 hours to make up each
day. As the day goes on, Peter Jurasik takes on the persona of Londo
more and more until he talks to people in Londo's accent,
etc. Kastulas and others are 'more normal'
- Hollywood still doesn't get sci-fi, or how to think ahead. JMS
commented that other productions come up with a script, etc 2-3
days before filming, and so the sets, etc are put together at
the last minute and under a lot of pressure, wasting up to 1/3
of the budget. JMS knows what will be needed down the road, so
he can give plans to the crews, and say "I want this in 4 months".
That way, they can work on things during lulls, etc.
The odds of Hollywood learning about good production values,
cheap toasterized efx, and most of all, a well-plotted series is
pretty much nil. But, lots of independent filmmakers, etc are
noticing B5 and learning.
- With the huge amount of backplanning involved, some fun stuff
can be done. Apparently, episode #209, we'll learn something
about random people that have been around the station, so JMS
told the casting director "we want these people, and we want
them seen in the backgrounds on episodes 204-208", etc.
- VCR tapes should be out shortly (January at the latest), with
Laserdiscs next spring (April?). [Don't bother with VCR tapes;
get the LDs :) ]
- JMS said that the cast & crew are quite committed to B5, and love
what they're doing. He repeated the story about how after the
Northridge quake, he told people they didn't have to come in that day,
but they did anyhow. (Picket Fences was apparently the only other show
to do this). They were filming Signs & Portents at the time, and had
someone assigned to cut Ivanova out of the Starfury had a big one hit.
- The B5 CDRom (for computers) is somewhat on hold as Compton's
undergoes some internal reorganization. Phooey.
- As to merchandising, JMS wants to keep it under control so it
doesn't develop into a case of "the tail wagging the dog." All that
was really confirmed was the soundtrack, comic books, novels, and
a series of Galoob micromachines due out in time for Christmas.
- Like what he's said before, JMS enjoys writing for strong female
characters (Ivonava), etc.
- Larry DiTillio apparently needs a raise, as he joked that he'd
give away the arc for $15 afterwards. He said that he likes to
write for the supporting characters, not the captain (Sinclair or
Sheridan). Just his preference.
- [This was asked twice, and answered the same way twice.] There
is no official Season 3 title yet. [Background: Season 1 was
"Signs & Portents", 2 is "The Coming of Shadows". About 2-3 weeks
ago, JMS posted here that his favorite choice so far was "I am
become death, the destroyer of worlds"]
- Efx are getting much better this season. Lots more virtual sets. For
example, the interior of the Narn cruiser in Revelations was 3 guys
sitting behind boxes and filled in later. [In my opinion, it still
looks blocky and too cgi-ish, like Doom real close to the walls]
- Star Trek was brought up. JMS favors healthy competition in the
marketplace for Sci-Fi (and he wants to see more). He cited one
example [Not sure if this was for real, or something he'd like to see]
of the efx crews of B5 and DS9 trying to top each other. With the
marketplace for independent stations shrinking rapidly [B5 will move
to Thursday nights in a lot of markets early next year], B5's getting
crunched. Write your local stations in support of B5!
- Sinclair's leaving was brought up again. Despite answering this so
many times before, JMS was quite polite in his usual story. Sinclair's
part of the arc was pretty small, and almost not worth it during the
first part of Season 2. Therefore, a temporary parting was arranged.
[O'Hare's apparently got some guest starring somewhere that JMS
can't talk about yet].
- JMS also brought up this further analogy. With so many main characters
(Delenn, G'Kar, Londo, Ivonava, Sheridan, Garibaldi, Franklin, Vir,
Na'Toth, etc), if everyone was in each episode, they'd all have bit
parts. Therefore, in some episodes [like G'Kar and the second
half of season 1], some characters just won't appear. Sinclair's
doing this for a season.
- "Sometime", Ellison will finish his sequel to "Demon with a glass
hand". [He's got 3.5 years left]
Now comes the section with some Season 2 spoilers. You have been warned!
Again... Spoiler guards
- JMS commented that Sheridan needed to have a direct connection to
the arc of this season, namely the shadows. He pretty much confirmed
that Sheridan's wife was killed (or at least the ship was destroyed)
by the Shadows.
- In the preview of the episode "The coming of Shadows", we got to see
the sick Centauri Emperor. I won't say much, but JMS's old analogy of
the Centauri Empire being sorta like the Roman Empire touches in a few
places... everyone's scrambing for position. Vir actually shows
some backbone to Londo, and Londo seems to recognize what path he's
going to be taking.
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