SFX Magazine, JMS and Double Standards
b5jms-owner at shekel.mcl.cs.columbia.edu
Sun Nov 28 04:58:35 EST 1999
From: paul at harper.net (Paul Harper)
Date: 27 Nov 1999 19:26:04 -0700
"Mark Alexander Bertenshaw" <Mark.Bertenshaw at virgin.net> said to JMS :
>Personally, I have always wondered about the change of heart that SFX took.
>It seems to me that it must have occurred in the Wolf 359 convention in
>Blackpool. If you remember, the coverage of that event was highly promoted
>and reported in the magazine, and if I'm not mistaken, you were given two
>awards by SFX at the con. Then a couple of months later, I heard about your
>criticisms of the organiser. And with Ms. Christian's departure from the
>series, this is where relations seemed to break down.
>Does this seem a fair summary?
The awards were given by the *readers* of SFX. Not the magazine itself.
As for the rest, as usual, it's a lot more complicated than that. My
understanding of it is this (if anyone knows differently, or knows more,
please feel free to correct any misunderstanding on my part) :
The "problem" actually stems from a certain con organiser - part (and only
*part*) of the Wolf organisation. Way back when B5 was young, said
organiser started importing US taped copies of B5 episodes and started
showing them at public meetings. This is illegal here in the UK for both
copyright and certification reasons, and quiet words were had between the
B5 production office and this individual, who basically said he's stop the
He didn't. He carried on, just tried to be more sneaky about it. Since he's
not the sharpest pencil in the drawer, he failed miserably in his attempts
at subterfuge, and was taken to task once again, and issued assurances that
it wouldn't happen again. This is the reason Warner's despatches F.A.C.T.
people to conventions in the UK to make sure no Warner's stuff is shown.
Say thanks to this guy anyone who's ever been disapointed that there's no
B5 or Crusade shown at B5 cons over here.
Then came the first of the Blackpool cons, and questions arose concerning
the ultimate destination of money donated for charity. Assurances were
given that all was above board, and there were no issues. Stars were
photographed handing over cheques to Great Ormond Street children's
hospital etc. and all seemed well.
Another Blackpool con was set up, and the organisers promised that the
accounts would be made available at the end of the con to JMS and other
guests. Once again, questions arose over the charity auction funds. JMS and
others asked to see the promised accounts, which were not (and never have
been) forthcoming. This was the con where the Claudia Christian bombshell
hit, and JMS' notes for a lot of season 5 were destroyed by the hotel he
was staying at, so he understandably wasn't in the best of moods for
dealing with corruption issues.
Then came the Warner Bros. debacle over the public showing of "In The
Beginning" at the Warner's West End cinema. Warner's in their infinite
wisdom decided to use the Wolf organisation to contact fans who might want
to attend this event, which was a promotion for the forthcoming UK video
release of the TV movie. Unfortunately, it was decided to charge for the
tickets, which is against all sorts of US Actors Guild rules ("cinematic
presentation" or somesuch). So once again, Wolf is in the middle of a
controversy concerning cash and its ultimate destination. JMS stepped in,
and as a direct result of his intervention, fans were given refunds and the
event became what it was always supposed to be - a free one as a "thank
you" to the UK fans for their long-time support of the show.
Then comes the VOR con in the States, run by the same organiser, but
totally independent of Wolf. The budgeted 5,000 attendees turned out to be
around 1,500 for a wide variety of reasons - location and cost being the
main two. Given that the majority of the B5 cast were attending, the end
result was that some 90% of the speakers ended up either not getting paid
in full, or not getting paid at all. Nothing. Zip. In short, because of the
ineptitude of the organisers of VOR, most of the B5 cast were not paid what
they'd been promised. Quite why this failure was *their* fault, I have
never understood. As is his wont, JMS spoke up for the short-changed
actors, and was vociferous in his demands that they be paid what they'd
Now in the middle of all of this, sits SFX magazine. Run by people who are
also not the sharpest pencils in the drawer, and who get taken in hook line
and sinker by the organiser's line that he's being victimised by these
nasty people (JMS in particular, but also the UK B5 group) and how unfair
it all is. They start to use this organiser and his lackeys as their main
story feed for B5 and JMS items. As a consequence, accuracy falls straight
through the floor, as does SFX's small remaining credibility with B5 fans.
SFX despatches an "independent journalist" to uncover the fuss over the In
The Beginning showing, and produces an article that manages to slate JMS
and the UK group without actually having dug *too* hard into the underlying
bad feeling. That a rabid defence of the organiser was posted to the UK
newsgroup a few months afterwards from the same PC used by the journalist
rather laid low any claim to impartiality from that quarter. She has denied
posting the message, but the computer's IP address is fixed, so it must
have been someone else using her PC then.
Around this point in time, the B5 production office decide they've had
enough of the stuff put out by SFX, and cut them off from any and all
communication. No press releases, promotional material, set visits, photos,
nothing. SFX comes to rely more and more on their "unofficial" sources of
information with an additional drop in quality.
SFX have never got over the fact that it seems to have been easy for the B5
production office to "cut them off", and this has coloured their reporting
ever since - despite the fact that they now seem to have severed their own
relationship with the con organiser. I don't know why they've done this. I
am curious, however!
I *think* this covers most of the events, in roughly the right order. I
have deliberately missed a few items out that are not directly relevant to
the JMS / SFX debate, but this is the broad overview from my perspective.
As I said at the top - feel free to correct any mistakes or omissions I've
(c) Paul Harper 1999 - This article may not be reproduced in any form
without the author's permission. Permission is granted to the "JMS Digest"
A .sig is all well and good, but it's no substitute for a personality
" . . . SFX is a fairly useless publication on just
about every imaginable front. Never have so many jumped-up fanboys done so
little, with so much, for so long." JMS.
From: jmsatb5 at aol.com (Jms at B5)
Date: 27 Nov 1999 21:46:31 -0700
Re: your synopsis.
(jmsatb5 at aol.com)
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