A Stake in the Future
''Buffy'' may move
from the WB. When the show's contract ends, look for some hardball negotiations
by Lynette Rice
Coming up on Fox: a very
special episode of ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer''! It sounds odd now, but
TV insiders aren't ruling out the possibility that when ''Buffy'''s contract
with the WB expires in 2001, negotiations may get so heated that show and
network part ways. Right now the WB pays up to $1 million per episode for
''Buffy,'' making it one of the net's most expensive shows (along with
''7th Heaven'' and ''Dawson's Creek''), and although sources are hesitant
to guess ''Buffy'''s future asking price, you can be sure it won't come
What makes this deal especially
provocative are the players involved. ''Buffy'' is produced by Twentieth
Century Fox TV, whose chairman, Sandy Grushow, was just handed additional
responsibility for sister net Fox. Grushow could yank ''Buffy'' for his
own net if the WB doesn't pony up, a threat he made publicly at a gathering
of studio heads last January: ''Buffy'' may hit the road, he said, if WB
network CEO ''Jamie Kellner attempts to lowball and refuses to step up
to fair market value.''
Although no successful
series has ever abandoned one net for another, now that many major studios
are affiliated with particular networks (Paramount/UPN; Twentieth Century
Fox TV/Fox; Warner Bros. TV/the WB), the possibility gets ever more likely.
And while the WB can't afford to send the message that it won't fork over
the cash for its prize performers, execs have said privately they also
can't afford to let the ''Buffy'' deal get out of control -- especially
since there is some question about how much life is left in the series.
(Watch the Slayer get her Ph.D.!) The WB does have some bargaining power,
however; Fox produces two other shows for the net, ''Angel'' and ''Roswell,''
both of which need major TLC. Stay tuned to see if the bloodletting begins.