Q: What does the term "West Brains" mean?
A: If refers to the former MST3K cast members who now work in L.A. Let's take a look at each of them, in order of their departure, beginning with the most recent:


Q: Why did Trace leave the show?
A: We'll let him tell you in his own words. Here is his farewell letter to his fans:

Date: 96-07-24
With a tear in our eye, we must post the following message from Trace Beaulieu:

To all my pals,

I will not be returning to the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000 for the new season with the Science Fiction Channel. MST3K has been a wonderful part of my life, and I will miss working with all of the talented people at Best Brains. I will also miss the show and playing Dr. Forrester and Crow. This is not a decision I make lightly,however, after eight years, 150 shows and a movie, it is time for me to move on.

I am confident that Mystery Science will continue to be a success at its new home. As for me, it's time to comb my hair, put down the puppet and step out into the universe. So if you hear me talking in the back of a movie theater somewhere, quietly tell me to shut up.You see, I'm not just a critic of bad movies, I'm also a customer.

Trace Beaulieu

We know you will join with us in wishing Trace all the best and extend a huge thank-you for all his years of fine work. We'll miss him!

Q: So what's Trace doing now?
A: He lives in the L.A. area. He works as a staff writer for the ABC series America's Funniest Home Videos. Trace contributed to on a DVD game called DarkstarTrace had a small part in a 1998 movie called With or Without You, and appeared in five episodes of the NBC series Freaks and Geeks

Q: Where can I find out more about Trace?
A: One place is in our interview with him.


Q: How did Frank's character leave the show?
A: Frank's departure took place in episode 624- Samson vs. The Vampire Women, the final episode of season six, which debuted in March, 1995. He was assumed into "second banana" heaven, a "beautiful place where lackeys, toadies and whipping boys are forever safe and free from their oppressors."

Q: Why did Frank decide to leave the show?
A: We'll let him tell you in his own words. Here is his farewell letter to his fans:

As of this January [1995] I'm leaving my job at "Mystery Science Theater 3000". Why? Because I've lost my mind. But there are also a few other reasons. I've discovered that after 5 seasons and 109 episodes, I have a need for change, even if change means losing the best job I've ever had and most likely will ever have. I have a need to grow and evolve and to find new challenges and adventures in my life. The hardest part about leaving MST3K will be having to say goodbye to everyone here at Best Brains.It is unlikely that I'll ever be able to find a group of people as intelligent, kind and down right fun as the BB staff. I will miss them all dearly. They will no longer be my co-workers but they will always be my friends.

This has been a hard decision for me to make, but everyone here has been extremely supportive. I'd like to thank all you fans for your love and support throughout the years. I hope all you Misties out there will be equally understanding. If any of you run into me in the future, I hope you'll be nice and tell me how much you enjoyed my work on MST3K and how much you admired me for taking that big risk in my life when I left the show. If you do, I promise I'll give you one of my patented TV's Frank smiles, look you straight in the eye and say, "would you like some fries with your order?"

Frank Conniff

Frank will be working on new projects including a humorous autobiographical book and has, as he describes it, grandiose plans for screenplays, TV shows, plays novels, etc.

I'm sure you all join us here at BBI in wishing Frank all the best albeit with a tear in our eye.

Jim Mallon

push the button frank

Q: What has Frank been doing since he left the show?
A: Since moving to the Los Angeles area, Frank has kept very busy. In 1996, he joined the writing staff for the ABC series Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, and eventually became Executive Story Editor for the series. He left the series when its run ended on ABC. He appeared in 1999 with fellow MST alumnus Josh Weinstein in an improv comedy show in L.A. called Bob's Office Party. He was briefly the head writer of Invader Zim, an animated series on Nickelodeon. He also spent some time punching up scripts for The Drew Carey Show. He also worked om "O2Be," a parody of lifestyle programming starring Liz Winstead, created for The Oxygen Network. He still makes regular stand-up comedy appearances in Los Angeles.

Q: Why was Frank known as "TV's" Frank?
A: Originally, it was just Frank. As time went on, however, Frank adopted the name "TV's Frank." It was a wry reference to the way a TV personality would sometimes be introduced as "TV's" so-and-so.

Q: Why did Frank sometimes call Dr. F. "Steve"?
A: This was the subject of much speculation over the years. Some fans assumed the comment was a movie reference, and pointed to movies such as To Have and Have Not and Silver Streak. But Conniff later confirmed what many other fans suspected -- it was just a Frankian non-sequitur and was not a reference to anything.

Q: Where can I find out more about Frank?
A: One place you certainly WON'T find it is in our interview with him.


Q: Why did Joel leave MST3K?
A: Hodgson, who had created the series and labored on it ceaselessly for five years, asked off the show, pleading burnout. In the press release announcing his departure, Hodgson summed it up by saying:

"It's time for me to hang up my red jump suit and move behind the camera. Besides, there's an old show business adage I once heard Adam West say: 'Stay in the same costume and before you know it, you end up signing pictures at an R.V. show.' Maybe it was Clayton Moore, now that I think of it."

Q: When he left the show, didn't they say that Joel was going to continue working behind the scenes? But that never happened. Why?
A: Yes, the press release about Joel's departure did say that Joel would "remain a member of the MST3K writing team and...also direct several episodes." Best Brains staffers later said that was the intention, but, as they tell it, almost immediately Joel got an opportunity to work on some other projects in Los Angeles, and he plunged into work on them. He soon was working full-time there on these other projects, and found there was no time to return to Minneapolis. Eventually, Joel had only a financial stake in the series, but no longer offered creative input.

Q: I've heard rumors that Joel was fired and that there was bad blood between him and the rest of the cast and crew.
A: Joel could not be fired. He was the show's creator. No one could have made him leave if he hadn't wanted to go.
Although he covered as best he could during his time on the show, those that know him well say Joel is a shy person who was very uncomfortable in front of the camera, and was even more uncomfortable with his growing fame. Joel also reportedly prefers creating concepts to the day-to-day work of maintaining them. Once a project is up and running, those close to him say, he likes to move on to a new creation. "I want to become a behind-the-camera guy," Joel explained when he left. "I want to get on to the NEXT weird show. I want to be an idea man."
Jim Mallon, however, resisted Joel's attempts to step away from the series, and felt it was Joel's responsibility, as host, to devote himself to the MST3K franchise. Ultimately the two parted ways. In retrospect, we think all sides now realize it was a healthy change for the series. All the former cast members are on good terms with one another. That was certainly apparent during Joel's 1998 visit to the BBI studios to shoot his appearances in episode 1001
- SOULTAKER. The authors of this FAQ were present at the taping, and Joel and the current cast got along comfortably and there was no tension at all during the taping.

Q: What is Joel doing now?
A: After he left MST3K, Joel moved to Los Angeles and now lives there full-time. He owns a production company, Visual Story Tools, with brother Jim. Joel has also done some script doctoring with his partner Nell Scovelle (executive producer at "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch") punching up scripts for several big-name features, including the hit George of the Jungle. The duo also wrote the direct-to-video Disney flick, Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves. He was listed as one of the writers for the comedy gameshow You Don't Know Jack. He appeared in a theatrical production in L.A. called "Up Your Giggy"--something mysteriously described as "A New Comedy Play-Thing." He spent some time on the writing staff of ABC's The Jimmy Kimmel Show.

Q: Didn't Joel win some kind of TV award?
A: On January 9th, 1997, the Dallas Video Festival presented its first-ever "Ernie Kovacs Innovation in Television Award" to Joel. The award was named for the early television comic whose pioneering visual experiments pushed TV to its limits.

Q: Is Joel left-handed?
A: Yes, Joel is a southpaw (which leads to being weird, which results in creativity).

Q: Where can I find out more about what Joel's been up to?
A: One place is in our interview with him.


Q: I understand there was another cast departure besides the three above. What was the change, and when did it happen?
A: The other major change came when Josh Weinstein left the show after the end of the first season on national TV. Weinstein's Dr.Erhardt character was written out of the show and a new resident of Deep 13 was introduced: Frank -- later to be known as TV's Frank.Asked by Joel of Dr. Erhardt's whereabouts, Frank simply held up a milk carton with Weinstein's picture on it and announced: "He's missing."

Q: What is Weinstein doing now?
A: Josh lives in the Los Angeles area. He became a producer for ABC's America's Funniest Home Videos, where one of his first acts was to hire Trace Beaulieu as a writer. Josh was a producer on the NBC series Freaks and Geeks. He then moved to the short-lived WB series Dead Last, then the equally short-lived A Young Person's Guide to Being a Rock Star. He has his own humor website at stinkburger.com.
Josh is married to blues-rock singer
Allison MacLeod; he performs with her as part of a backup band that also includes actors Dave Allen and Paul Fieg, both of whom were also involved in Freaks and Geeks.

Q: Is he the same guy I see in the credits of "The Simpsons"?
A: No, that's a different Josh Weinstein. He is also not the Josh Weinstein who appeared in the movie "Mars Attacks." Because of the confusion concerning his name, Josh now uses the name J. Elvis Weinstein professionally.

Q: Where can I find out more about what Josh has been up to?
A: One place is in our interview with him.