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Originally posted by Joseph DeMartino A Call to ArmsSome of you may have heard the recent rumors about the upcoming B5 feature film, “The Memory of Shadow” – how the money people are talking about recasting many of the roles from the original series with “name” actors,I am here to tell you that this rumor is true and that unless the powers that be are convinced that tinkering with the cast will hurt them in the pocketbook, they will do what they want to do, without regard to JMS’s wish or ours. The only people in a position to convince them that there’s money on the line are US.WE are the ones who watched the show in great enough numbers to keep it on the air for 5 years. WE are the ones who made the reruns and B5 S5 such a success on TNT that they spent millions of dollars on two extra TV movies and a half season of Crusade before they pulled the plug on that show for reasons of network politics as much as anything else. WE are the ones who lobbied and wheedled and threatened until a very skeptical Warner Bros. finally released the series, the movies and ultimately Crusade on DVD – and then bought the DVDs in such numbers that the studio decided to make this feature film in the first place.WE are the ones who will provide the all-important opening weekend opening box office and the initial word-of-mouth. It is perfectly true that a feature film like this can’t succeed if only the hardcore fans go to see it. It will have to attract non-fans, folks who have never even heard of the series. But if WE don’t make sure the film “opens” it won’t stay in theaters long enough for non-fans to discover the film. If WE don’t provide the positive word-of-mouth the film won’t succeed. I’ve heard that some fans don’t believe the rumor, that recasting the roles seems so obviously stupid and counter-productive that they don’t think Warner Bros. would ever do such a thing. I was skeptical myself when I first plugged into the ‘net after an absence of several month (hurricanes are such a bother) But I’ve since checked with a few individuals whom I trust implicitly and who are in a position to know about such things. They assure me the rumors are true. The studio is pressing for this, and since they write the checks, there isn’t a lot the production office can do about it. I’ve also heard that other fans are so upset about the reported story line or indications that a given actor or character may not be in the film that they’re not interested in the project at all. Big mistake. Some have even suggested that the story line and the cast changes are part and parcel of the same thing – that the studio dictated a story that prominently featured new characters and reduced the old ones to cameos that could be cast with “name” actors as part of some deep, dark plot to remake B5 in some new image of their choosing. WrongI don’t know the story line for the new film. But I DO know that it is the story that JMS chose to pitch to the studio for the first B5 film.Did I just say “First B5 film”? Yes, I did.Everybody wants this film to succeed. If it succeeds, WB will want a sequel, the studios always do. If they do a sequel JMS can do a story that uses the original characters more. Everybody signing up to do the sequel to a successful movie will get a bigger payday than they did on the first. Maybe it makes more sense to do something that ties up some of the threads from Crusade and Rangers in movie #1, with the original cast in supporting roles. Then do the Teep War or some other story in movie #2. But this only works if the original cast plays the original characters in movie #1. And that’s where you all come in. We need you to write letters – real, snail-mail, printed and hand-signed letters, to get the attention of the folks holding the purse strings. We need to remind them that ultimately we, too, hold the purse strings. We buy the tickets at the box office. An ad hoc committee of fans has been working on ways to get the studio’s attention, including press releases and getting stories into the mainstream press. You can help by participating in a letter writing campaign with a bit of a gimmick to help it stand out from similar campaigns. Go to http://www.keepb5alive.com. Download one of the “B5 Bucks” designs on the site. Print them out, cut them out, and include them with your letter. We’ve also provided form letters that you can hand-write your own address and comments on, but I have to tell you – the studios pay a lot more attention to individuals who took the time to compose a letter of their own than those who merely signed a form letter that somebody else wrote. Just don’t forget to include the “ B5 Bucks” whichever you do. This may seem like a silly gimmick. So were the Budweiser frogs. Silly gimmicks are memorable, they get attention. They WORK. So can this if Warner Bros. gets socked with thousands and thousands of letters containing these novelty items. And that’s the key – make them realize that this isn’t an issue that concerns only a few fanatical fans of particular actors but something the vast majority of the fan community cares deeply about and that we will have to consider whether or not the B5 movie WB eventually puts in theaters is really B5 or some pale imitation that we, as loyal fans, can and will rightly ignore. Go to the site, download the materials, join the fight. The casting decisions are being made right now The countdown to the start of shooting has begun. The window during which we can make our voices heard is closing, but it hasn’t closed yet. Don’t let it close until you’ve added your voice to the chorus. Print out a letter, preferably one you’ve written yourself, today. Sign it, add a hand-written note and your address if necessary. Print out an envelope, stuff it, with some B5 Bucks, seal it, put it on the counter with your car keys. Make sure you mail it tomorrow. We’ve been here before folks. Our backs against the wall, no chance in hell of getting what we want. We’ve been here every single season, we were here at the end of S4 most of all. We were here trying to get the show released on some form of home video and ultimately on DVD. We were here trying to get a feature film off the ground at all. We’ve always tried to do the impossible and we’ve always been told that we never could. (One SF entertainment news web site won’t run a story on this controversy because they haven’t seen an official announcement of the film from WB and they don’t believe that anybody is ever going to make a feature film based on a “little” cult show like B5) We’ve always succeeded in the long run.Faith manages. Start writing. Joe
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