J. Michael Straczynski

Writer / Show Creator


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half hour Archive interview, J. Michael Straczynski talks about his early life and writing career. He discusses working as an assistant to Norman Corwin and having a chance meeting with Rod Serling at an early age. He recalls his journalism career and his book on screenwriting, and discusses his time writing for the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and for Ghostbusters. Straczynski recalls making the transition to live-action writing on the revival of The Twilight Zone, which led to a job on the writing staff of Jake and the Fatman and later on Murder, She Wrote. He outlines creating, writing and producing the cult-classic television show Babylon 5 and shares his "five year plan" for the series. He speaks of lead actor Michael O'Hare's mental illness in season one, which led to O'Hare leaving the show and being replaced by Bruce Boxleitner. He talks about the CGI, special effects and storylines of Babylon 5 and discusses working with the cast and directors. He recounts his post-Babylon 5 career, which has included the follow-up series Crusade as well as comic books and several successful feature films. Karen Herman conducted the interview on May 15, 2013 in Encino, CA.

"If I leave behind some good tales and inspire other writers to pick up where I left off and go to the next generation of what their stories are then it's all worthwhile. Norman Corwin spun my life around. If I can do that for somebody else, that's all I need."

Highlights
J. Michael Straczynski on being a teaching assistant to Norman Corwin
05:00
J. Michael Straczynski on the "rules" for writing He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
01:21
J. Michael Straczynski on Michael O'Hare as "Jeffrey Sinclair" on Babylon 5
01:54
J. Michael Straczynski on being a big believer in failure
03:43
J. Michael Straczynski on his legacy 
01:32
J. Michael Straczynski on the secret of his writing
02:47
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on television he watched growing up; on his early writing career
On working with Norman Corwin; on his journalism career; on his screenwriting book and his failed pilot
On writing for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe; on being story editor for the animated version of Ghostbusters; on making the transition to writing for live-action TV
On being story editor for the revival of The Twilight Zone; on meeting with Rod Serling; on writing for Jake and the Fatman

Chapter 2

On writing for Murder, She Wrote; on creating Babylon 5
On getting Babylon 5 on the air and his 5-year plan for the show; on the universe of Babylon 5; on the writing process for the show
On dealing with the actors on Babylon 5; on the technical aspects of producing Babylon 5; on working with the directors of Babylon 5
On the cast of Babylon 5; on actor Michael O'Hare's mental illness

Chapter 3

On the cast of Babylon 5; on the look of the characters on Babylon 5
On the cast and the title of Babylon 5; on the fans of the show
On season four of Babylon 5; on season five and the end of Babylon 5; on his favorite moments from the show
On creating the series Crusade; on the series Jeremiah; on his feature film career

Chapter 4

On the Netflix series Sense8; on then-current projects; on his self reliance and the secret of his writing
On writing for comic books; on his fans; on the then-future of television and his legacy
Shows

Babylon 5

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J. Michael Straczynski on creating Babylon 5
06:57
J. Michael Straczynski on the pilot of Babylon 5
01:26
J. Michael Straczynski on his "5-year plan" for Babylon 5 and his struggle to get the show on the air
03:15
J. Michael Straczynski on the technology and look of Babylon 5
01:59
J. Michael Straczynski on the universe of Babylon 5
02:04
J. Michael Straczynski on the most difficult part of making Babylon 5
02:44
J. Michael Straczynski on the process of writing Babylon 5 episodes 
03:40
J. Michael Straczynski on communicating what he wanted visually on Babylon 5
01:22
J. Michael Straczynski on dealing with the actors on Babylon 5
06:13
J. Michael Straczynski on working with CGI on Babylon 5
02:35
J. Michael Straczynski on thepost-production and editing of Babylon 5
01:16
J. Michael Straczynski on working with the directors of Babylon 5
01:58
J. Michael Straczynski on Michael O'Hare as "Jeffrey Sinclair" on Babylon 5
01:54
J. Michael Straczynski on Susan Ivanova as "Claudia Christian" on Babylon 5
01:50
J. Michael Straczynski on his initial vision of the character of "Jeffrey Sinclair" on Babylon 5 and on Michael O'Hare's mental illness
06:51
J. Michael Straczynski on Bruce Boxleitner as "John Sheridan" on Babylon 5
02:31
J. Michael Straczynski on Jerry Doyle as "Michael Garibaldi" on Babylon 5
02:13
J. Michael Straczynski on Richard Briggs as "Dr. Stephen Franklin" on Babylon 5
02:09
J. Michael Straczynski on Mira Furlan as "Ambassador Delenn" on Babylon 5
05:53
J. Michael Straczynski on Peter Jurasik as "Londo Mollari" on Babylon 5
03:04
J. Michael Straczynski on Andreas Katsulas as "G'Kar" on Babylon 5
02:23
J. Michael Straczynski on creating the Narn people and the look of the characters on Babylon 5
01:30
J. Michael Straczynski on Walter Koenig as "Alfred Bester" on Babylon 5
03:40
J. Michael Straczynski on Jeff Conaway as "Zack Allan" on Babylon 5
02:28
J. Michael Straczynski on Pat Tallman as "Lyta Alexander" on Babylon 5
02:24
J. Michael Straczynski on "Ambassador Kosh" and "Lorien" on Babylon 5
01:59
J. Michael Straczynski on the title Babylon 5 and the concept of the Rim
01:10
J. Michael Straczynski on the audience of Babylon 5 and interacting with fans on the internet
03:43
J. Michael Straczynski on dealing with the network while producing Babylon 5
02:31
J. Michael Straczynski on his favorite episodes of Babylon 5
01:11
J. Michael Straczynski on season four of Babylon 5
01:49
J. Michael Straczynski on Tracy Scoggins as "Elizabeth Lochley" on Babylon 5
02:23
J. Michael Straczynski on ending Babylon 5 in season five
00:41
J. Michael Straczynski on the merchandising of Babylon 5
00:53
J. Michael Straczynski on the greatest thing about having created and produced Babylon 5 and how it would be different creating it in 2013
02:07

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

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J. Michael Straczynski on writing for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
03:47
J. Michael Straczynski on the "rules" for writing He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
01:21

Jake and the Fatman

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J. Michael Straczynski on writing for Jake and the Fatman
01:51

Murder, She Wrote

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J. Michael Straczynski on writing for Murder, She Wrote
04:01
J. Michael Straczynski on his favorite Murder, She Wrote episode
01:07
J. Michael Straczynski on being made a producer on Murder, She Wrote
01:22

Twilight Zone, The

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J. Michael Straczynski on becoming story editor for The Twilight Zone
05:20
J. Michael Straczynski on the differences between the original Twilight Zone and the revival, and meeting Rod Serling
03:47
J. Michael Straczynski on his favorite episodes of The Twilight Zone that he wrote
03:04
Topics

9/11

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J. Michael Straczynski on addressing 9/11 in the "Spiderman" comics
02:49

Characters & Catchphrases

View Topic
J. Michael Straczynski on Michael O'Hare as "Jeffrey Sinclair" on Babylon 5
01:54
J. Michael Straczynski on Susan Ivanova as "Claudia Christian" on Babylon 5
01:50
J. Michael Straczynski on Bruce Boxleitner as "John Sheridan" on Babylon 5
02:31
J. Michael Straczynski on Jerry Doyle as "Michael Garibaldi" on Babylon 5
02:13

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
J. Michael Straczynski on being a teaching assistant to Norman Corwin
05:00
J. Michael Straczynski on the differences between the original Twilight Zone  and the revival, and meeting Rod Serling
03:47
J. Michael Straczynski on Harlan Ellison
02:50

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
J. Michael Straczynski on addressing 9/11 in the "Spiderman" comics
02:49

New Media

View Topic
J. Michael Straczynski on the audience of Babylon 5 and interacting with fans on the internet
03:43
J. Michael Straczynski on the series Sense8 for Netflix
05:16

Overcoming Adversity

View Topic
J. Michael Straczynski on being a big believer in failure
03:43

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
J. Michael Straczynski on being a teaching assistant to Norman Corwin
05:00
J. Michael Straczynski on the differences between the original Twilight Zone  and the revival, and meeting Rod Serling
03:47
J. Michael Straczynski on Harlan Ellison
02:50
J. Michael Straczynski on being a big believer in failure
03:43

Pop Culture

View Topic
J. Michael Straczynski on Michael O'Hare as "Jeffrey Sinclair" on Babylon 5
01:54
J. Michael Straczynski on Susan Ivanova as "Claudia Christian" on Babylon 5
01:50
J. Michael Straczynski on Bruce Boxleitner as "John Sheridan" on Babylon 5
02:31
J. Michael Straczynski on Jerry Doyle as "Michael Garibaldi" on Babylon 5
02:13
J. Michael Straczynski on the title Babylon 5 and the concept of the Rim
01:08

Television Industry

View Topic
J. Michael Straczynski on the audience of Babylon 5 and interacting with fans on the internet
03:41
J. Michael Straczynski on the series Sense8 for Netflix
05:16
Professions

Show Creators

View Profession
J. Michael Straczynski on the process of writing Babylon 5 episodes 
03:40
J. Michael Straczynski on dealing with the network while producing Babylon 5
02:31

Writers

View Profession
J. Michael Straczynski on the secret of his writing
02:47
Genres

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

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J. Michael Straczynski on Babylon 5 (Part One)
52:57
J. Michael Straczynski on Babylon 5 (Part Two)
39:50
People

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry

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J. Michael Straczynski on his "5-year plan" for Babylon 5 and his struggle to get it on the air
03:15

Bruce Boxleitner

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J. Michael Straczynski on Bruce Boxleitner as "John Sheridan" on Babylon 5
02:31

Norman Corwin

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J. Michael Straczynski on being a teaching assistant to Norman Corwin
05:00

Harlan Ellison

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J. Michael Straczynski on Harlan Ellison
02:50

Walter Koenig

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J. Michael Straczynski on Walter Koenig as "Alfred Bester" on Babylon 5
03:40

Rod Serling

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J. Michael Straczynski on the differences between the original Twilight Zone and the revival, and meeting Rod Serling
03:47

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