The Moviehunter

Pulp Culture
'Babylon 5' creator has
new TV show in the works


August 31, 2000
By Franklin Harris

J. Michael Straczynski, referred to as JMS by his fans and lazy typists, is back. The man who created "Babylon 5," arguably one of the best and most successful science-fiction TV series ever, told fans this week that he will serve as executive producer on a new SF series, which is scheduled to begin production in early 2001.

JMS made his announcement on a "Babylon 5" Internet discussion group, and the news spread quickly to Web sites like Cinescape.com and Fandom.com.

Straczynski didn't give away any details about the new show except to say that he was writing a two-hour pilot episode and that the script is due no later than December.

"What's nifty is that while there's a pilot required, as with any new series, in this case they're willing to go into production on the series based just on the script," JMS said, the "they" referring to an unnamed pay-cable TV channel. "We don't have to shoot a full pilot first."

And just in case you're worried JMS doesn't have enough to do, what with producing a TV series and all, he also is working on a script for MGM's feature-film version of his comic-book series, "Rising Stars."

  • Speaking of "Rising Stars," it is one of the better comic books around these days. It's well worth your attention, if you can get past the obscenely ugly artwork by Christian Zanier and Ken Lashley and focus on JMS's story, a "realistic" take on superheroes and supervillains. That said, however, if I hear one more media hack compare it to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' 1986 masterpiece, "Watchmen," I shall be driven to commit some brutal act of senseless violence.

    Sorry JMS fans, but JMS, while good, is no Alan Moore. Come to think of it, even Alan Moore isn't Alan Moore anymore. He's some shaggy weirdo who thinks he's a magician and writes soulless superhero comics like "Tom Strong" and "Promethea." (Of course, to be fair, his six-issue miniseries, "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," showed glimmers of the Moore of old, the chap who held us spellbound with his "Saga of the Swamp Thing.")

  • Elsewhere, "Sheena, Queen of the Jungle," the upcoming TV series starring former "Baywatch" set decoration Gena Lee Nolin, is getting unexpected competition.

    While the TV show is scheduled to enter syndication this fall, Galaxy Publishing, which holds the print rights to Sheena, is planning its own Web-based Sheena program at www.sheena.com.

    Sheena was the first and most popular of the scantily clad, jungle-girl heroines who appeared in comic books throughout the 1940s.

    Paul Aratow and Cy Bowers, the pair behind Sheena.com, complain that the Nolin TV show deviates too far from the comic-book version, and, of course, they're right. Nolin's Sheena, unlike her four-color counterpart, has the supernatural ability to transform into jungle animals, a power that will add to the TV show's special-effects budget without adding much of anything else.

    On the other hand, Aratow was the producer of the dreadful 1984 Sheena movie, which starred Tanya Roberts. So, it isn't like we should expect much from him, either. (Tanya Roberts? What were they thinking?)

    Anyway, Aratow and Sony, the producer of the TV series, are busy suing each other. So, it remains to be seen whether either Sheena will ever go anywhere.

  • Lastly, we may have to keep waiting for the next "Batman" movie, which, given how bad the last two were, isn't a bad thing. But the cartoon series, "Batman Beyond," appears ready to make the leap to live action.

    "Batman Beyond" takes place in the future, when a semi-retired, 80-something Bruce Wayne serves as mentor for the new, young, wisecracking Batman, Terry McGinnis.

    The show is one of the WB's most successful Saturday-morning cartoons, and a direct-to-video animated movie, "Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker," is due in October.

    According to Variety, Boaz Yakin ("Remember the Titans") has agreed to direct the live-action movie version.

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