For four decades, J. Michael Straczynski has been one of the most successful writers in Hollywood, one of the few to forge multiple careers in movies, television, and comics. Yet there's one story he's never told before: his own. Straczynski joined Ian Punnett (Twitter) to discuss how he overcame his troubled childhood to become a successful writer. "Virtually none of the folks who happen to follow my work for the last forty years had any idea about any of this, and the shock factor has been substantial," Straczynski said.
He recounted growing up in a house with an abusive alcoholic father who admired Nazi philosophy and participated in terrible things. Straczynski was molested by his grandmother (who did the same thing to his father), and the family moved every six to eight months so no one knew what was happening to him at home. He explained how he decided to escape victimhood and end the cycle of violence he had experienced at the hands of his dysfunctional family.
Straczynski instead channeled his energy into creating worlds with words and soon submitted a script to the show runners of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe who eventually hired him to be a staff writer on the show. He delved into his work on She-Ra and The Real Ghostbusters, and why he left after so-called consultants wanted him to change the strong female leads into more kid-relatable mom-type characters. According to Straczynski, growing up in environment with no ethical center and always moving led him to write about communities with ethical structures, and ultimately to the work for which he is perhaps best known, Babylon 5.
Shooting in El Paso / Manson Trial
In the first hour, president of the newly formed Crime Prevention Research Center John Lott provided his insights into the deadly shooting in El Paso, Texas. "I think the vast majority of these killers have no political views other than maybe being a racist in many cases," he said, noting the attack was planned in advance and the killer may have wanted to commit suicide in a grand way. Author Deborah Herman followed and briefly spoke about her book, Inside the Manson Jury, which she co-wrote with Herman Tubick, who was jury foreman on the Manson trial. "The book is like this time capsule as if your sitting in the trial and hearing what's important for each witness," she said.