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Old April 1 2009, 05:28 AM   #1224
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Re: Niners Unite...around Babylon 5! - The Lost Threads

What's weird is that the "dispute" is all from the outside. O'Hare and Straczynski were all fine with it. Just the other day I found yet another O'Hare interview (from about 1996 I believe) where he was talking about the challenges of working on stage vs. television and he says he likes them both and it's interesting to build episode-on-episode on a character vs. playing the same lines on stage every night and he says specifically about B5: "after 22 episodes, I knew I was done with the character" and in a 1997 interview from DragonCon he says "The Sinclair character had reached its pinnacle of definition."
A slight correction. I wasn't using the term "dispute" to describe O'Hare's departure--by all accounts, unlike Claudia Christian's fuss, it was entirely amicable. I was using the term "dispute" to describe the exact reasons for O'Hare's departure. Even JMS has trouble explaining them, exactly, in the script books, his final conclusion is that the details will be only known to the people who were in the room when the decision was made.

It seems probable to me that (a) O'Hare wasn't keen on shooting a weekly television series, (b) the character's arc had proceeded much more rapidly than JMS had intended, resulting in his role mostly playing out by the end of the season, and (c) the studio wanting a more prominent actor playing a more traditional leading man in the role. But that's just speculation.

As for working out the kinks with Sheridan; interestingly enough, Sheridan's scenes for this episode were actually written and filmed after Bruce had been filmed in subsequent episodes. Filming for season 2 started mid-August, and the re-written scenes and re-filmed scenes plus some new scenes involving Sheridan for "Points of Departure" weren't done until mid-September, after several episodes had already been filmed. It was the only episode that involved re-shooting, and jms mentioned in the script books that it was done so that jms could first see how the character was going to fit in before expanding on the scenes in the first episode.
That's an interesting tidbit, and one I didn't remember. I still think some of his scenes in the episode are quite awkward, but it's been a while since I've seen "Points of Departure."

The reason Keffer didn't go right is because jms had another character in mind that he really wanted to do -- a 30 year-old Japanese fighter pilot. The network vetoed it, and told him they wanted "a han solo 25 year old" character -- so Keffer was born and jms didn't want to use him. The two episodes where he has a big presence (A Distant Star, GROPOS) were written by other writers.
I think he didn't even want to introduce Keffer until A Distant Star, but changed his mind (at the studio's insistence?) and introduced him in the opener instead. D.C. Fontana mentions having to re-write what would have been Keffer's introduction in her script because of changes made in the season two premiere. It IS a shame JMS couldn't have introduced his version of the character, though, because Keffer is pretty cookie cutter.

Just a comment on terms: Larry DiTillio and Harlan Ellison were the only two on staff; the other writer's scripts were commissioned.
Quite right. ElimParra used the term "writing staff" and it didn't dawn on me that most of those writers were freelancers, a point that's quite obvious in the "Other Voices" books. Thanks for the correction.
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