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'Buffy' Moves to UPN

by Vanessa Shibald

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) - It's official: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is moving to UPN. The network closed a 44-episode deal for the series late Friday (April 20), according to 20th Century Fox Television Presidents Dana Walden and Gary Newman, as well as UPN President and CEO Dean Valentine. The series, created and executive produced by Joss Whedon, will begin airing on UPN's schedule in the fall.

"We are incredibly pleased to have 'Buffy, the Vampire Slayer' on UPN, not just because it is one of the best shows on the air and represents a new era in UPN's life and direction, but more importantly because Joss Whedon is one of the finest writers and producers in television," said Valentine.

"Our main motivation for pursuing 'Buffy' so aggressively was to be in business with Joss and with 20th, one of the most successful and professional studios in the industry, and we're very pleased to have that opportunity."

Although the media considered UPN a longshot for the series, Newman said the network was "passionate about the series" and "invested in its long-term success."

The deciding factor, however, may have come down to dollars and cents. According to media reports, 20th Century Fox was seeking approximately $2.3-$2.4 million per episode for the vampire drama, while The WB's last offer was $1.8 million per show. A recent report said that UPN ponied up $2.3 million per episode.

In an interview earlier this week with "Buffy" regular Nicholas Brendon, the actor told Zap2it that UPN was first in line for the series.

"UPN is the front runner, cause apparently money talks," he said.

Asked if the move would affect the show, Brendon said he didn't think it would.

"We would still be shooting the show in the same place; we'd have more money to work with."

In a statement to the press, Newman says that one of the reasons behind the deal was UPN's "aggressive offer that will allow Joss Whedon to produce the show the way we believe he's earned the right to after five years of incredible work."

On the other hand, the 20th Century president stressed creative differences between The WB and the studio.

"Creatively, we've had a great partnership with The WB on 'Buffy, the Vampire Slayer' over the past five years and we are grateful for their contributions to making this show a hit. Unfortunately, The WB did not share our vision or passion for the show's future, and quite simply UPN did," said Walden.

Brendon also revealed that, due the network's uncertainty about the future location of the 20th Century Fox show, both "Buffy" and spin-off "Angel" did not participate in The WB's yearly Faces promotional campaign.

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" premiered on March 10, 1997 to widespread critical acclaim and immediately established itself as The WB's first breakout hit. The series has consistently ranked as one of the network's top shows as well as its No. 1 show among key male demographics.

The series has earned nine Emmy nominations, including a 2000 nomination for Joss Whedon for Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series for the acclaimed "Hush" episode.

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