By Jeffrey Epstein
Had the WB known it would end up losing the show to UPN, 'they would have probably said, 'We're taking it out!' ' jokes Whedon, referring to the show's move to the rival network in the fall, after the WB (where Buffy was one of the network's top-rated shows) failed to cough up the show's requested renewal fees.
'We think that the money spent on Buffy is not only reasonable but a very good investment,' says Dean Valentine, president and CEO of UPN. 'Buffy is one of the best, if not the best, shows on television.'
As for Willow and Tara, Valentine says, 'the lesbian story line has not been discussed with us yet. However, it is a non-issue in terms of UPN's purchase of the show.'
Adds Whedon: 'They haven't said anything except 'Make the show like you make it.''
And he's planning to make it better than ever, even though the title character, uh, died in the latest season's finale. But have no fear: Gellar is returning. 'Buffy is going to come back,' reveals Whedon, who also brought Buffy's true love, Angel, back to life a few seasons ago -- and even gave him his own series. 'Yes, it's going to be as difficult and strange as it can be. And Willow's going to have something to do with that.' Whedon also says we can expect to see Willow's magical powers grow even stronger next season.
'Next year...shit's gonna go down,' he says. 'We're going to see more strength in Willow than we have before. Her relationship with Tara will continue -- but the course of true love is never easy.'
'I just hope the spells are in English, because, man, those foreign languages kill me!' exclaims Hannigan. Also look for a musical (yes, you read that right) episode of the show that will include a love song from Tara to Willow.
The show is also being turned into a cartoon for Fox, but because that series will take place back in high school, expect to see a young Willow still doting on her first crush, Xander. 'Every now and then we're like, 'Willow says, 'I'll have the tuna platter,' ' and we laugh,' cracks Whedon. 'There may be some hidden subtextual joke that keeps us amused, but it's a show for younger kids, and we're keeping it simple.'
That's how Hannigan likes to keep her life too. As we leave the restaurant and make our way to the Santa Monica Pier, Hannigan puts on sunglasses (not out of pretension; it's bright). Walking toward the renowned tourist-trap amusement area, I realize that I may be bringing the poor girl into the pits of hell. 'No,' she says with a laugh. 'If you don't want to get noticed, you don't get noticed.'
Hannigan did turn the head of her boyfriend of a year and a half, Alexis Denisof, whom she met when he guest-starred on Buffy before his landing on the show's sister series, Angel. 'He wouldn't date me at first,' she notes. 'Professionalism or whatever. So we became really good friends. But it was sort of inevitable; we'd had such a flirtatious friendship.'
The pair just got back from Fiji, where Hannigan had a chance to relax after filming Buffy and American Pie 2 simultaneously. 'When I was in Fiji,' the actress says, 'I started to miss everybody and wonder what was going to happen this year.'
One thing she won't have to wonder about is the strong effect her character is having on people's lives. 'I was at the grocery store, and this woman came up to me,' Hannigan recalls. 'She was with her two kids, and she said, 'I just want to tell you, I'm a lesbian, and your show has done so much.' You can't ask for anything nicer than that.'