Grand Theft, drama!

 Posted on 9/15/1997 by J. Michael Straczynski <> to CIS

{original post had no questions}

You keep saying proof, but what sort of proof do you require?
The fact is that you say "proof" in such a way that no such proof can
be supplied outside of a courtroom. What constitutes proof? If you've
said this is what you want, then you must now define it otherwise it's
unfair. And it has to be reasonable proof...bearing in mind that there
are no smoking guns, no videotapes, no bloody gloves here.

What can be suggested, in the case of B5, is to provide certain
facts, which are next door neighbors to truth. It is a *fact* that
Paramount was given the B5 bible, treatment, sample screenplay, and
artwork. This is not open to dispute; we have the paperwork from the
Paramount development execs.

It is a *fact* that Paramount and WB were both trying to launch
networks at the same time, UPN and PTEN, and that there is a *fierce*
competition between them that has been well and widely documented,
enough so that Paramount would have a vested interest in attempting to
co-opt anything that Warner Bros. was doing. One way to do this (enter
supposition stage left) would be to put out their *own* space station
series, under the ST banner, which would hopefully undercut the other
show and drive it (and PTEN) out of the marketplace.

It is a *fact* that the development of ANY TV show for a studio
is guided by that studio's development execs.

It is a *fact* that the two pilots for DS9 and B5 are extremely
similar on major, non-generic points. It is also a fact that the two
diverge quite a bit therafter, showing that the writers there were
capable of doing their own stuff, putting us back again at the studio

It is a *fact* that I have never, at any time, implied, stated
or said that either of the individuals who created DS9 had ever seen
the B5 material, or consciously took it. I think that if asked to do
so, they would have declined. What I have always questioned, or
strongly suspected, was the degree to which the development or
inception of that show was guided by the Paramount development execs.
So I have NOT accused either of them of "ripping off" B5, and thus
don't fall prey to your accusation of being unfair, whereas Joel's
comment about Mindwar *was* a statement about a story being ripped
off, hence my reaction. There is not a contradiction there.

From day one, Paramount has done everything conceivable to
subvert, sabotage, and drive this show out of the market short of
firing a LAWS rocket into the middle of stage A. They hate us over
there, because they want to have the exclusive lock on space SF. So
yeah, I'm quite willing to believe that they could've decided to co-opt
our format...and it almost worked, too, when WB wondered if the market
could sustain two space station series, and we came within an inch of
losing the show before we'd even shot a frame of film...but I've never
accused either of the two folks who created DS9 of deliberately ripping
us off because I don't believe they did so. I have no reason to
believe they are anything other than honorable, stand-up men. My area
of concern has always been in the area of corporate influence and