UPN Enters Buffy Bidding War

By Amy
March 22, 2001 - 12:53 PM

'Frasier' may have successfully renegotiated for three more seasons on the NBC, but UPN is still in the running to snare 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' from rival netlet the WB.

While generally considered to be a long-shot to successfully purchase rights to the series, UPN, according to a Variety insider, has put a "a significant offer" on the table. The network was able to make this offer after the WB's exclusive negotiating window for the series ended with the WB's offer still half a million short of 20th Century Fox's asking price.

News of UPN's bid comes hard on the heels of more bad blood between the WB and 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' cast and crew - recent attempts by network founder and now CEO of Turner Broadcasting, Jamie Kellner, to downplay the show's importance have angered 'Buffy' creator Joss Whedon, apparently to the point where he'd be happy to take his show elsewhere.

Kellner, while talking to Entertainment Weekly, dismissed 'Buffy' as a teen show and commenting on its ratings, saying "it's not a show like 'ER' that stands above the pack." 'Buffy', while not the network's highest rating show, continues to be its most critically acclaimed series. "It makes me angry to see this show belittled," Whedon told the Daily News in response to Kellner's comments. "For Jamie Kellner to call it a teen show and dismiss his own product angers me. It doesn't breed love."

In the Entertainment Weekly article, Whedon also calls for the company to stop looking for excuses and put its money where its mouth it. "For [the WB] to be scrambling to explain why it's not cost efficient -- it's their second highest rated show," he remarked. "They need to step up and acknowledge that financially."

Though UPN is thought to be a long shot to score 'Buffy', it would be an invaluable boost to the struggling network, potentially giving it three flagship shows, alongside the 'WWF' and Star Trek Series V, for which the network is also in negotiations to purchase. The WB, however, is also still in active talks with Buffy's Producer, 20th Century Fox. The network is currently offering Fox $1.6 million an episode, $.4 million down from Fox's asking price. If talks between WB and 20th fail, the next most likely contender is seen as FOX, part of the same company as 20th Century Fox.

The original Variety report on the UPN/Fox negotiations by Josef Adalian and Michael Schneider can be found here, while more on the dispute between Kellner and Whedon can be found here at SciFi Wire.

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