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March 21, 2008

VIDEO: 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' reunion

By Lesley Goldberg

With fans who stood in line for more than 24 hours to get a seat for Thursday's Paley Center reunion event,"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is the show that fans refuse to give up, and creator Joss Whedon is right
there with them.

Whedon was the patriarch during Thursday's sold-out Scooby reunion, and despite some notable absences, the "Buffy" family did what all great families do: laugh, talk about their feelings, fears and future. 

After the Paley Center pulled out its photo album and kicked off the evening with a scene featuring Sarah Michelle Gellar on "All My Children," feelings took center stage when a screening of Season 6's musical episode "Once More, With Feeling" got some of the "Buffyologists" at the sold-out event singing along as if they were along for the ride on a family road trip. 

 Following the screening, moderator Matt Roush from TV Guide said almost all the names everyone was
waiting to hear: exec producer David Greenwalt, Amber Benson (Tara), Seth Green (Oz), Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia), exec producer Marti Noxon, Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn), Emma Caulfield (Anya), James Marsters (Spike), Nicholas Brendon (Xander), Gellar (Buffy) and Whedon. Alyson Hannigan (Willow) and Eliza Dushku (Faith), despite being billed in the program as participants, were no-shows; no reason was given for their absence.

Marsters was first to share his feelings, noting the"total terror" he felt when the cast was filming
the musical because "we weren't professional singers. But we had a great script and had a great time. It
took a lot of courage for the cast to do, especially Sarah."

Sarah_seth That's how much of Thursday went, with the cast tipping their stakes to one another, and laughing at one-liners from Brendon and "famous song and dance man" Green, who joked that he "wept by myself after seeing the musical." (Seth Green, left, and Gellar. Photo courtesy of Kevin Parry/The Paley Center for Media)

Whedon, who noted that he's got lots of Sondheim on his iPod, said he "would love to take a 'Buffy' to Broadway, but not 'Once More, With Feeling.' I've spent time daydreaming about it, but I couldn't hand it off to someone else to do," Whedon said when asked about the possibilities of doing another "Buffy" project. "So many stars would have to align, but I think it'd be really cool. Obviously from the comics, I just can't let go."

Whedon, who's writing "Buffy's" Season 8 comics, said "hypothetically, if the stars can align, it would be
lovely to make a comic tie-in, but if I had to lose the comic mythology because we were doing a project
with these actual people, I wouldn't lose a lot of sleep over it."         

Coming to Gellar's quick rescue to the Angel or Spike question, Brendon voted for "Pillow, she looks just
like Willow!" in a nod to Buffy's female conquest Satsu in the comics.   

Charisma_whedon Benson, who recently signed a three-book deal with Penguin Books, recalled how Whedon pulled her aside after three episodes and noted the chemistry she had onscreen with Hannigan. "I had no idea we'd become lovers (on the show)," she said.

Noting the gay story line, Whedon recalled a phone call he received from the WB Network asking if he had to have Tara and Willow kiss. "It was the only time I threatened to pack up my office," he said.

"(Tara and Willow) had the best relationship on the show. I'm really pleased Joss kept Willow as a
lesbian," said Benson, who later joked that she's now sleeping with Willow and Giles at the same time in some of the online fan fiction stories. (Charisma Carpenter, left, and Whedon. Photo courtesy of Kevin Parry/The Paley Center for Media)

Gellar noted that the show was "constantly breaking rules and challenging audiences" citing Season 5's
"The Body" episode in which Buffy and Dawn's mother Joyce suddenly dies of natural causes. Gellar said the four-act episode was shot in real time, and the pivotal scene in which Buffy discovers Joyce's body
took a half-day to prepare for and was shot in one three-minute Stedicam shot. "It felt like doing a live
stage play."

Whedon said a comment Gellar made about knowing when the music would come in during a specific scene inspired him to do things differently for "Body." "I felt like I was phoning it in, using music as a crutch when she said that," he added.       

Trachtenberg praised Whedon's "brilliant idea" to cut the dialogue from that scene, which originally
featured a long conversation between Buffy and Dawn about Joyce's death.

"Kristine Sutherland (Joyce) is one of the most underrated people from that show," Whedon said, noting
how she had to lay still for hours during filming for "Body."

Buffygals It's been nearly five years since "Buffy" ended its seven-season run on the WB and UPN, and whether it's
the comics (Oz is "a definite yes" for Season 8, Whedon says), a "Ripper" movie based on Anthony Stewart Head's Giles or even a Brendon's pitch for a "Xander the one-eyed monster"story, it's still all
about the fans for Whedon and his "Buffy" family.

"You don't put 'Buffy' on the WB and think, 'I'm getting Emmys,'" Whedon joked.

Added Gellar, "We won fan awards and that was more important." (Michelle Trachtenberg, left, Emma Caulfield, Amber Benson, Gellar and Carpenter. Photo courtesy of Kevin Parry/The Paley Center for Media)


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Seth? Are you listening? You, and that snappy suit of yours, were positively the highlight of this night.

We live in hope, the series and characters, and the talent assembled in those few years were hard to forget or replace. I am really really old, and just finished watching the collection from season one to the end of season seven. I want MORE!
Thanks for this.

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