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'Buffy's' Gotta Sing!

by Kate O'Hare

Buffy's dead, but work goes on as usual in the halls of Mutant Enemy Productions.

"Feeling different? Not really," says Marti Noxon, the co-executive producer of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." "Nothing in our world has changed, still down the road from the hazardous-waste facility, still in the exact same location, still breaking stories the exact same way."

"Basically UPN has been fabulous about saying, 'Look, we're not going to try to fix something we don't think is broken.' They didn't buy us to change us."

With the show on its way to UPN from The WB this fall, with a two-hour premiere currently set for Oct. 9, Noxon, series creator Joss Whedon and the rest of the staff are fleshing out the sixth season, which reportedly was planned out before the fifth-season finale and 100th episode in May.

Recently, Web site Ain't It Cool News (www.aint-it-cool-news.com) broke what it claims are storylines for the first eight new episodes. While Noxon will neither confirm nor deny the spoilers (although she admits the site got at least some things right), it is widely known that series regular Anthony Stewart Head will have limited participation, and that there will be an all-singing episode for November sweeps.

"They're all really musical," says Noxon of the "Buffy" cast. "It's amazing. And Tony (Head) can sing like an angel - a hot, sexy angel."

On the Head front, the British actor expressed a desire to spend more time with his family, which is still based in England, and Whedon has accommodated. Head's character, Rupert Giles, slayer Buffy's (Sarah Michelle Gellar) "Watcher" and surrogate father, appears in a few episodes before returning to his native England.

This works out, since the governing body for Slayers, the Council of Watchers, has long been said in the show to be U.K.-based (Whedon being a bit of an Anglophile after having gone to school in England).

Also in motion is a "Buffy" spin-off, starring Head, in development by the BBC. Recent news reports in the U.K. and U.S. have discussed the series, tentatively titled "The Watcher," in which Giles investigates supernatural threats, with a darker, more adult tone.

In a BBC interview, Whedon said, "I want to make a show that's very quiet, very adult, dealing with ghost stories and family metaphors that represent what's wrong with us. It's the same way as in 'Buffy,' but without the kickboxing demons."

"Isn't that cool?" says Noxon. "Won't that be fun?"

There's no word where the show would air here - the BBC does have a cable channel, BBC America - but Noxon feels PBS is a possibility. "That would be the coolness," she says. "On UPN, you'd have 'Buffy,' and on PBS, it would be like a British BBC series. You never know, it might show up there. There certainly would be a lot of interest in it."

There are, after all, a million stories in the "Buffy" -verse. "That's right!" says Noxon. "God, there surely are, quite a few more spin-offs."

Speaking of Brits, there's one in particular that Noxon would love to see on "Buffy." "Oh gosh, yes, Eddie Izzard. Please, Eddie! Come do our show! He's dangerous. I have just tremendous respect for him, and he's just amazing. If he ever would deign to visit our universe, we would be glad."

"We have lists of people (we'd like to have on), and the problem is, many times you think, 'Well, now, I work on a hit show, and I'll go up and tell them that I work on a hit show, and maybe they'll be a fan or something.' Nine times out of 10, they're like, 'Oh, is that animated?' They're lovely, but they have no idea what we're talking about."

Apparently first contact has been made with Izzard, an actor, comedian and occasional transvestite. "I think he actually knows of us," says Noxon. "He sat next to Anthony Stewart Head on a plane. Tony, he's a personable guy, and I think Tony did say, 'You should come and be on the show!' We all wish that would happen."

Since there are so many British elements on the show (including vampire Spike, a Britpunk in the peroxide-blond Billy Idol mode, played by Californian James Marsters), would the show ever make a road trip to Old Blighty? "Uh, actually take 'Buffy' to Britain?" says Noxon. "You know, probably somewhere, the hair just stood up on the back of someone's neck ... no. This has not been discussed, but who knows?"

"It would be just wonderful if we could do it. It would be amazing. We'll just take one country at a time."

What's the goal for season six? "To not suck," says Noxon. "That's our goal. We don't want to jump the shark. I was on the 'Jump the Shark' website the other day, because someone told me about it, and you know, we still have a tremendous number of people who feel that we haven't jumped. We have far many more who think we haven't than people who think we have."

"So that's pretty cool. If we can just not jump the shark for another couple of years, I'd be a happy girl. I'm really excited about this coming season. It's good, old-style 'Buffy.' "

Noxon reveals that there's plenty planned for fast-track student witch Willow (Alyson Hannigan), and that the passing of Buffy's mom, Joyce, has set up all the characters (including the somehow-resurrected Buffy) for more adult responsibilities.

Well, maybe not all the characters. "Except Spike. He's not about responsibility."

The Usual
The Usual

Random Quotage:

Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping... waiting... And though unwanted... unbidden... it will stir... open its jaws, and howl. It speaks to us... guides us... Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have?
-Angelus (Passion)

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