William Paley Festival of Television Salutes Buffy: Tribute to Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, March 4, 1998. Guests: David Boreanaz (Angel), Nicholas Brendon (Xander), Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy), Alyson Hannigan (Willow), Anthony Stewart Head (Giles). Executive Producer Gail Berman; Ex Producer, Sandy Gallin; Co-Ex Producer, David Greenwalt; Ex Producer, Fran Kuzui; Creator, Joss Whedon.
Transcript (by Ms. Calendar):
The Paley festival is now 15 years old and it is dedicated to the creative people who make television.
??Buffy is one of the few tv series that truly eclipses the movie that it came from.
William Paley Jr. Gave the opening address. Each year we find programs that capture the imagination of the audience by doing something new and different, perhaps pushing the envelope a bit while having fun. Buffy is a hybrid of fantasy, horror, comedy and drama and it uses the vampires and monsters that Buffy has to vanquish as a metaphor for the real life horrors of high school and adolesence.
Let me introduce the panel.
He plays the 200 year old vampire Angel, please welcome David Boreanaz, (big scream).
He portrays Buffy's friend Xander, Nicholas Brendon (more screaming)
She plays Cordelia, Charisma Carpenter (dressed in tight leopard dress, more screaming)
She plays Buffy, Sarah Michelle Gellar (in tight pants and tube top)
She portrays Willow, Alyson Hannigan.
He plays Rupert Giles, Anthony Stewart Head.
The people behind the scenes
Executive Producer Gail Berman
Ex Producer, Sandy Gallin
Co-Ex Producer, David Greenwalt
Ex Producer, Fran Kuzi
Creator Joss Whedon (standing ovation)
David Greenwalt is going to introduce the episode you're going to see.
David: Good evening all, we're very excited to be a part of the event tonight. The episode you're going to see is titled Innocence. It's too bad we don't have a prettier cast, but maybe next year. Enjoy the show and we'll look forward to talking with you afterward.
Cast goes to seats to watch the ep.
Airing of Episode (lots of audience reaction)
Back on stage. (Sarah sat in the wrong spot, they were wired with mics, then she realized, Alphabetical order, got up and switched, mics got confused, it was humorous)
(Laughter) Moderator to Sarah: You have no idea how you're fouling things up.
Before we take questions from the audience, I'd like to ask the creator how it got started.
Joss: Ummm, ummm, well, okay. Going way back, as I've said before, I was watching a lot of horror movies and seeing blondes going into dark alleys to get killed and I thought it would be interesting to see the blond go into the dark alley and be the one who kills instead. So that became Buffy the Vampire Slayer which I wrote and was promptly rejected by everyone in Hollywood. Till Fran came along and found it and produced and directed the movie. Then a couple of years later, Fran and Gail Berman came and asked if I'd be interested in doing a TV series of it. I thought about it awhile and said, okay. High school as a horror movie, pretty much sums up my life, I think there's a whole series there.
Moderator: Tell us a little bit about the casting.
Joss: (can't tell) It was extremely difficult to cast all the parts.
Nick: But also very easy.
Joss: Yes, easy once I saw you guys.
Joss: I think it's the best cast on tv.
Mod: Let's take questions from the audience.
Aud: Question about the makeup.
Joss: I'm wearing a little base......
Aud: What about the monsters?
Joss?: They always wear makeup.
Aud: David, how long does it take to put on the makeup?
David: I wear it everyday and enjoy it. It takes about an hour. I wear a small prosthetic piece......the difficult part is taking it off. You can't just rip it off cause you'll rip all your skin off. And that hurts. So it's difficult. But we have a great crew who do a wonderful job. It's exciting to see them create stuff. I'll look to my left and there's a Frankenstein monster....In one episode I was abducted by a demon so I had to wear a full prosthetic. It's tedious depending on what you're in.
Aud: How far in advance does the cast know what the story is going to be?
Greenwalt?: Sometimes a whole day ahead of when we're shooting.
Nick: How far in advance do we know? Like do we know what's going to happen next year? I know we've been picked up.
Huge cheer (Tony does a full fist, 'we rock' salute)
Nick: XANDER becomes evil. Lots of wild wacky evil stuff Xander does. And he wears a Speedo a lot.
Aud: Do they know at the beginning of the season that Angel was going to be evil.
Joss: I'm not sure I knew.
Mod: How far in advance do you work out a story line. How long does it take to do an episode.
Joss: Seems like forever. We spend a few days breaking a story, figuring out what to write. Then someone goes off and writes it and that takes a couple of weeks or a few hours if that's what we have. We shoot in eight days, then we have two days to edit. We try to figure out the story lines far in advance, but we also try to be flexible. Like something'll pop up and we'll go 'Jenny could be a gypsy'.
Question: Now that Jenny and Angel are not allies, will there be any more additions to the team?
??: There's Oz. He's in the audience. Seth, stand up (Wild cheering)
Question: I have a question for David Boreanaz?
David: It's all right, I get it all the time. It's very difficult.
Question: Do you like playing good Angel or bad Angel?
David: It's a mix. I enjoy being evil, I must say. There are some parts to Angel's good side that I miss. It's a balance. The beauty of it is that Joss and everybody on the crew give us an opportunity to experience that, to create that, and it's hard to let go. I'm going through withdrawal myself.
Question: Hi, I'm a proffessor at USC and tomorrow we're going to be talking about Buffy in my women in media class and Xena too. Can you talk a little bit, the women on stage, how you see the show creating interesting role models for teen and other women viewers.
Sarah: For a long time I think there was a lack of strong female characters on televsion especially for young people and it's so hard cause that's the age you really want to identify with someone. You want to have a hero and the thing I like about Buffy, and Willow as well, sorry Cordelia, is that they are okay with who they are. They're not the most popular, or the most beautiful at school. Willow is the smartest but they're okay with who they are and there's a comfort in their individuality and I think it's important to stress that at that age.
Gail: One of the things we did when we went to see Joss, Fran and I, was to talk about this character and see that we were sympatico about her being a young empowered woman. Probably the most important thing we went to talk about originally. There weren't any young empowered women on television and it struck us that this was a real vacumn that could be filled. Not only creatively but it was important for woman to see someone empowered on television.
Joss: The reason that I wanted to show this episode tonight was becasue in that episode it all came together for me. I think that show heightened and everything really fell into place with Buffy going through a hero's mythic journey, being couched in the terms of losing your virginity and your boyfriend doesn't call. It really felt like we hit both levels at once, it speaks to people about their experience and elevates it to something bigger so.....that's the end of my sentence.
Sarah: I studied a martial arts form called Tae Kwon Do and I was about to get my brown belt when I stopped because I couldn't juggle school and work and all those things. And now on the show I get to learn Kickboxing, street fighting, some really nasty street fighting. So in that sense, I'm learning more now then I did then.
Nick: And she takes it out on me all the time.
(Unheard question about not getting her black belt)Sarah: Not neccessarily.
Nick: You colored your brown belt black though.
Sarah: I don't think martial arts is to get a certain degree or reach a certain level. For a lot of reasons, it's a form of meditation, it's an art form and what I studdied was a defensive form not an offensive form.
Question: I see a lot of teen books with vampire cheerleaders and stuff..was that influenced by Buffy?
Joss: It's part of a stream I think. I saw old videos like Revenge of the Bimbos and silly things like that, and I can put a twist on that by giving it a feminist twist and make it not incredibly stupid.. I respond to it because it's kind of sophomoric and because of the high school thing. Those things are coming back and we respond to them. And it's successful because people are into that now. Buffy is just part of the progression, and I hope is moving things along. But there was stuff before and there will be stuff after. But right now we've hit a good cycle.
Question: Are you all going to be doing any movies?
Sarah: I'm starting a new one in about a month. A modern version of Dangerous Liasons with Brian Phillippe.
Nick: And my girlfriend, we do this home video thing. NEXT WEEK ( he jumps to his feet and points to her in the audience) Home videos baby, me and you.
Sarah: Alyson's movie will be opening, Dead Man on Campus.
Aly: Some day.
Question: Are you going to do an episode about the origin of the slayer, the original slayer?
Joss: Um, might. Someday when we run out of ideas.
Question: Is Buffy ever going to be in like armor or....
Joss?: You're thinking leather. (Could be Greenwalt) She does have to stay Buffy, she can't be like the Terminator.
Moderator: Thank you, next question.
Question: Great article in Entertainment Weekly. Obviously the show is really taking off, on the internet is always talking about it. How do the performers feel about being on a cult show. (He goes on and on) Articles about Sarah saying that Buffy is going to leave the show? I read that you're really tired of the show.
Sarah: First you have to understand that not everything you read is true. (Big applause) There was an article published in a magazine recently saying that I was overheard at a cigar bar, and I can't even stand it when David and Nick smoke cigarettes, I love the show and I'm not going anywhere. I will be here as long as the show is going on. Any show is a long time and obviously you do want to do other things while you're doing the show. I love the show, I would not leave.
Nick: I'm going to be used in a tobacco campaign, so I'll be leaving next year.
Sarah: You realize that one article takes something from another article and it gets recycled.
Tony: In answer to your question about the casting. An actor dreams of finding something like this to do. And I've been in it for quite awhile and it's hard to find something of this caliber. The story arcs they grow and they're amazing and (????).
Mod: Could the actors talk about what they like about their characters.
Sarah: I get to kiss Angel.
Nick: So do I (David puts hand on Nick's knee, they eye each other, then David throws himself on him for a Passionate embrace.)
Nick: I'll start, a water? I think Xander is one of the best characters on TV cause he's the funny guy and he gets to do drama, so he's kind of the dramedy guy. Not like Mr. Wheedles over there. I love going to work and I love saying what he has to say. This is the first thing I've done so I can't compare it to anything else I haven't done. And I feel very lucky and my cast mates keep telling me how lucky I am.
Charisma: I really like that I'm the truth woman. There's also another word for that, one of my favorite lines was something that takes place, where Giles says to Cordelia, after she says something rude to Buffy, "Do you actually have any tact?" And my response is tact is just not saying true stuff. So forget it. And I enjoy that very much that I can be vulnerable and at the same time, express myself.
Tony: (giggles in the silence, until the audience rolls)
Sarah: I think the main part of it is the empowered girl, as well as the stuff I get to do as an actor. Usually, you're doing one thing, you're funny, it's action, and there are few shows on television where all of us get to do all of it. We're funny, we're sad, we get to fight. As an actor that's your dream to get to do all these amazing things.
Tony: And the fact that the characters....(Aly makes a face, he skipped her, the audience starts to laugh. Tony picks up on this and assumes a very effimente 'Hollywood actor' voice) I'm so sorry. I didn't know we were taking turns. I feel so gauche now.
Aly: I like Willow cause she's so nice. (Big applause) (Tony hams more) I truly love Willow cause she's someone everyone knew in high school. The letters I receive are, I'm just like Willow or my best friend is, it's just amazing to get that response. She's fun to play. Okay, it's your turn now. (To Tony)
Tony: I can't remember what I was going to say. Basically, I wanted to say, it's great how the characters evolve. And no one quite knows what the hell Joss is about.
Sarah: We all know you're a pedophile (don't know if that was directed at Joss or Tony).
Tony: There was a letter on the internet I caught sight of in the office, it said say hi to Buffy, and Xander and Cordelia, and Willow, and that Weird guy. Uh, Giles, (can't hear...) (lots of stuff I can't hear.)
David: I get to wear really cool yellow contact lenses.
Nick: And thousand dollar pair of pants.
David: And two thousand dollar suit.
Sarah: Well, he only has that one outfit.
David: I enjoy the fact that this guy is 240 years old, (can't get it) It's given us all oppourtunities to create (fades off)
Nick: Next question.
Question: Why did you think the show would work at this time. And what do you think of the direction it's moving in.
Joss: I think we sort of felt it was time for the show cause the network bought it. And they wanted to do the exact kind of show we wanted to make. And they were interested in making it with us, which is good. I sort of figured they would say, make it stupid, make it stupid. It was a spoof, but it could be something bigger. It's gone pretty much the way we planned except it's dug down a lot deeper. And we just didn't know we could put so much pain up on the screen and how good it would make us feel. (Sarah gives him a look)
Gail: I think you can't underestimate what Joss is saying about the WB. It's a new network and we couldn't have a better group of people working with us.
Greenwalt: And we're not just saying that cause they're sitting here.
Joss: I don't think we would have existed anywhere else. No one else would let us do it, they wouldn't have been there with us, they'd try to micro manage it into something they understood.
Charisma: I've worked with other networks, on a show (she looks at Nick and says Don't) Malibu Shores. The difference here is that they trust, they are willing to trust Joss. I think it's nice to be an actor in an environment where you're allowed to be creative, no one is putting pressure on you, in the trailer saying I don't want her hair like that or her makeup like that. For the most part they do it at a very long distance and mostly through Gail. I know what it's like to be a part of something that's being stifled. So I enjoy being on the WB.
Sarah: It's also nice being on a network where you can actually talk to the executives not just behind doors. Faceless.
David: And they're good golfers.
Nick: Hey, you guys really know these people? You play golf with these people?
Question: Giles, Who's stupid idea was it, killing your girlfriend?
Tony: I'm bereft!
Question: And how come we never see any students in your library?
Tony: Joss, has a great answer for that.
Joss: It's because it's based on a real school.
Tony: When I first got the gig, I went to a school to see what it was like, because I'd never been in an American high school. I went to see the librarian. And she said, Thank god, there's actually somebody who can speak for us librarians. So, that's what I'm doing. She said, there are more libraries in prisons than in schools. Oh dear. So, I'm a spokesperson for librarians.
Question: How does the writing process get done?
Greenwalt: We come in in the morning, and Joss scares the bejeezus out of us by saying how deep he wants the characters to be. That episode we aired had every human emotion except ennui. We'll do that next week.
Joss: David and I work on all the stories together. We come in and try this and try that. We know generally where we're heading. But beyond that, we fill in the blanks and once we figure out a story, okay, Xander's going to be a hyena, we spent anywhere between a couple of days and a week, just breaking down the story and figuring out each scene and what everybody is doing. That's the hard part. The writing is a little easier, cause it's all set up for you, but it's figuring out how to move the story, how to keep in character, not make every episode Mulder's dead sister. We repeat ourselves, all though we try not to, and not one story on the show has ever been figured out without this man (David Greenwalt) he is incredible. When we were working on The Witch, it was David who said, okay the mother switches places with her. And he figured out the very real, very ugly twist that set the tone for the whole series. The man is a creator!
Question: I would like to see more of Dru and Spike (clapping)
Joss: And so you shall
David: Yeah, it's bizarre. (Nick does something weird) See what I have to work with everyday.
Sarah: Yeah, I don't like hearing myself speak.
Aly: I used to feel that way, but with this show, I get so involved and occasionally I go, ewwww (shiver). But mostly I'm watching the show for the show. I love watching the show.
Tony: It's never got any easier for me, I always feel a bit odd looking at meself, but if I didn't I'd miss the show, so you know.
Sarah: It's very hard to watch yourself. For me it's hard to watch and not pick apart what I did. I could have done that better, and I should have done that different.
Nick: This was weird tonight cause this is a BIG screen. Big screen. I know too much about myself now.
Aly: If it gets a little too weird you can always watch the other characters.
Greenwalt: I loved seeing the show with an audience. I wish we could do it every week. The feedback was great (very minimal applause)
Nick: Yeah, great Dave, they really got behind you on that.
Greenwalt: Well, next year, Xander disapears. (Crowd goes wild)
Nick: Hey, I thought you guys were on my side. Come on, you like me. I'll dance for you. That was a joke. I'll drink water for you.
Question: I heard a rumor that you did some interesting parts before Buffy. Like you were in Rocky Horror.*
?: Tell them who you played.
Nick: And tell them what you were wearing.
Tony: Uh yes, I was, I did the Rocky Horror Show, the live production, it's you've never seen anything like that. It's very fun and yes I played Frank N Furter. (Big cheer)
Sarah: He was just a Sweet Transvestite.
Charisma: One day, Joss and Giles and , um..Tony? I get confused with my character all the time. I walked up and everyone was surrounding Tony's trailer. Joss had a cd cover from the show in his hand. I remember I looked at it and said something, that was pretty funny like, is this a joke? His face was made up like Kiss but with colors. And Tony says 'actually no, it's not a joke.' And I just wanted to go away.
Tony: I was very flattered that you didn't expect it of me.
Charisma: I...I...didn't expect a lot of things. He's very hip, very cool. (She's digging herself out from under here) I know the first time I ever saw him, it was funny. We were in the casting office and he had earrings in and he was dressed in baggy pants and Converse high tops and he's nothing like his character.
Sarah: He is the farthest from his character.
Charisma: I was kind of hoping I would be. (Biggest laugh of the night)
Question: Were you worried about the move to Tuesday night in the earlier time slot?
Joss: It worked out great. I wasn't worried, but come to think of it I probably should have been. But it seemed like a good thing. Paired with Dawson's was a much more natural pairing...(small applause) Or not (could be Nick)
Question: Does doing the show make you feel like your back in high school? And do you guys ever go to class?
Aly: Now I teach class. It's kind of nice though cause you don't have the hormones you had in high school. So you can actually think straight. At least, that's my opinion.
Nick: I didn't go to class in high school either so no big change for me.
Question: Alyson, you got to dress very differently in the Halloween episode, would you like Willow to go more that way.
Aly: No! No! Cause in between each take I'd be like, okay, and put on a shirt. I don't think so. I like my clothes. Fuzzy sweaters. I get the comfortable wear.
Question: I just want to confirm, when Cordelia talks about that thing on Buffy's face, there is no thing on Buffy's face.
Charisma: That was just me.
Joss: It was just a joke. It just seemed funny.
Question: What was your reaction when you found out you got the job.
Aly: I was in a 7-11 parking lot and I was so relieved. It was 13 days after the final audition. I was going crazy. I just went into the 7-11 and started telling people.