Buffy Library

"Media Talk: UPN Tries to Make 'Buffy' Feel Welcome"

by Jim Rutenberg ("New York Times," May 7, 2001)

Sarah Michelle Gellar was asked last winter what she thought about speculation that 20th Century Fox Television would sell "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," the WB program that has made her one of TV's biggest stars, to another network.

Ms. Gellar gave an answer that made studio executives, and those at other networks considering a bid for the show, cringe.

"I will stay on `Buffy,' " she told E! Online, "if, and only if, `Buffy' stays on the WB."

Those who know Ms. Gellar said they thought she made the comment out of loyalty to WB, which by all accounts gave strong promotional support to her and the show.

Of course, "Buffy" is moving to another network this fall, Viacom's UPN, and Ms. Gellar is going along.

Ms. Gellar, it turns out, is contractually bound to the program for another couple of years.

UPN is doing what it can to make her feel better about the move — which makes a lot of sense, considering that it is paying about $2.3 million an episode for the show and can ill afford an unhappy star.

So executives have sent high- priced welcoming gifts to Ms. Gellar, a diamond necklace and leather jacket from Gucci. So as not to leave the rest of the "Buffy" cast members feeling left out, UPN gave them gift baskets with beluga caviar, Cristal Champagne and Cartier watches valued at $4,000 each.

"These are welcome-to-the-neighborhood gifts," said Dean Valentine, UPN's chief executive. "They may be a little pricier than a chocolate cake, but the idea's the same."

As for Ms. Gellar, Mr. Valentine said, UPN wanted her to know that it thought she was a good fit with the network. "She's a star of the highest magnitude," he said, "and we couldn't be more thrilled or appreciative that all those people who tune in to see her each week will now tune in to UPN to see her."

Will diamonds make Ms. Gellar UPN's new best friend? Her spokeswoman, Leslie Sloane-Zelnik, could not say because Ms. Gellar has been out of the country and has not yet seen the gift package.