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No Music for Buffy Fans

Oct 14 2007 06:25 am   #1Scarlet Ibis


The Day the Buffy Music Died

By Natalie Finn Today at 3:07 am

Fox's legal department saw the light and now the Buffy the Vampire Slayer sing-along has turned to dust.

After learning that fans of the canceled cult favorite have been, horror of horrors, demonstrating their undying love for the show by attending theatrical screenings of the Emmy-nominated musical episode "Once More, with Feeling" for the past year, 20th Century Fox's attorneys started sharpening their stakes.

The studio, which owns the rights to the former WB (then UPN) dramedy red-lighted the dress-up and sing-along tour this week, canceling all future screenings—including a three-night run scheduled to kick off tonight in St. Louis at the Tivoli theater, which had already sold out for Friday's show.

Instead, the Landmark-owned spot will host three free screenings of Serenity, the feature-film spawn of another beloved Joss Whedon creation, the short-lived sci-fi drama Firefly.

"Notice for this was very sudden and unexpected, and I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience it will cause," event founder Clinton McClung announced on the Buffy Musical Website.

"Basically, the idea of presenting television shows in a theatre is so new that there are a lot of details that still need to be resolved around payments of residuals, deals with the guilds and unions, etc (I don't know any specifics, but these are some of the issues that usually come up). Both Fox and Criterion [Pictures] need to fix some of these issues before they can continue to do any theatrical screenings."

20th Century Fox spokesman Chris Alexander said that "significant payments" would be owed to the unions to compensate for the screenings, adding that TV shows rarely are shown on the big screen anyway except under special circumstances, like charity events.

"We have to protect our interests, and that's what we're doing," Alexander said. "There are plenty of legal ways for fans to enjoy Buffy, but this particular event is not going to be possible at this time."

Criterion is the theatrical distributor for Fox's back catalog of television shows and the outfit with which McClung says he made the appropriate licensing deal, to make the venture "completely legit." (20th Century Fox, however, has informed Criterion that it overstepped the bounds of the show's licensing agreements by signing off on the deal.)

The Brooklyn-based film programmer told New York Magazine's Website on Thursday that he hadn't yet received anything in writing from Fox or Criterion, but that the studio is apparently laying down the law with regards to all screenings of their TV material.

But the hardcore Buffy fans out there who are all dressed up like the Slayer, Giles, Xander, Willow and Spike and now have nowhere to sing their hearts out surely aren't going to go quietly into that good night.

In fact, the scorned fans' feelings might be summed up by this one message board post, on "Please don't take our joy," wrote Jessa Boudreaux.

An online petition to save the Buffy Musical posted by McClung on Wednesday currently has 1,534 signatures.

The last show was Sunday in San Diego. In 2007, "Once More, with Feeling," a sixth-season episode in which a demon has turned Sunnydale into a musically emoting machine, touched down in U.S. cities ranging from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Bangor, Maine. Hawaii and returns to L.A. and New York were in the works.

Once the ticket has been bought and the makeup applied, attendees are handed a goody bag replete with bubble soap, champagne bottle-shaped party poppers, vampire teeth and a list of rules—namely, sing.

"We might be a victim of our own success," McClung told NY Magazine. "We've toured around the country for a year and gotten a lot of press. I think the issue is something to do with the back-end— someone who is supposed to get paid when these things get screened wasn't, and they heard about my show, and got upset."

In the meantime, fans can sink their fangs into Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8, Whedon's U.K.-set comic book series that picks up about a year and a half after Sunnydale turned into a large smoking crater.

The first issue debuted in March and immediately sold out. Whedon, who penned the first five issues and then picked up again with number 10, originally planned a 22-episode/issue run, but kept coming up with new plot devices and now might produce as many as 50.

Or more.

"Joss will write something in one panel that will suggest a new direction and we're able to go with it. That will keep the story fresh," series editor Scott Allie told the comics Website Newsarama in March.

"He has a planned ending, and certain beats he needs to hit along the series, but it will be flexible.The series has lots of wiggle room. Still, there is a threat that will build throughout the series that will come to a climax at the end."

Issue number eight, "No Future for You, Part 3," is scheduled to start flying off the shelves Nov. 7.

Copyright © 2006 E! Online, Inc. All rights reserved.

"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly."
Oct 14 2007 04:47 pm   #2Guest

Isn't it sad!  And so unfair.  It sounds like the organizers had done everything right - gotten the nec. permits and everything, until as the organizer said, it started to be successful, and Fox decided that they weren't getting a big enough piece of the pie.  And just when it was scheduled to play nearby too!  My daughter had planned to go with some friends, and volunteeered me to drive.  Her take on it was that is was embarassing enough to actually go, that the added embarassment of having me drive (and stay for the show of course) was next to nothing.  It really sounds like it would have been a good time, and I don't know any other Buffy fans ITRW.

Oct 14 2007 05:54 pm   #3Eowyn315

It doesn't sound quite like Fox is being greedy here. When a TV show is shown in syndication, everyone involved in the show gets some sort of residuals every time a show airs on TV that they worked on. It sounds like, from the references to guilds and unions, that it is these people - not the corporation - who are not getting the appropriate compensation for theatrical airings of their work. And since these are the creative people who actually gave us the show, I think they deserve something for making something that is so good, it's still be played years later and filling movie theaters around the country.

I would imagine it works differently for feature films (which are intended to be shown in theaters), so that may be why screenings of Serenity are still allowed. It doesn't really sound as if they are targeting Buffy specifically - they said ALL Fox shows would be subject to the same rule regarding theatrical airing of TV material. I don't know of any other shows that currently get theater screenings besides Buffy and Firefly, but that doesn't mean there aren't any, maybe not on as large of a scale.

Writing should feel easy, like a monkey driving a speed boat.
Oct 15 2007 02:07 am   #4Guest

^ Really? I thought that the network just bought the syndication rights for X amount of money... but if everyone gets compensation every time the show is on, they must be raking in the money... could you imagine for shows like Charmed, which are aired twice a day and sometimes marathoned one day a week? o.O

Either way, it's rather cruel to quell something like this.

Oct 15 2007 03:23 am   #5FetchingMadScientist

There's nothing stopping you, or your friends from gathering together to watch the show and dress up and sing along.  You just can't *charge admission.*

So, cheer up, and sing...once more, with feeling.

"Never a fetching mad scientist about when you need one." -Spike
Oct 15 2007 03:28 am   #6Eowyn315

The networks may buy the rights to air it for a certain amount of money from the production company, but I think the actors, directors, writers, etc. all get something whenever the show airs. It's not a LOT of money, but you're right, it does add up when a show is aired often. 

And FMS has a point - there wouldn't have been a problem if they'd done these showings for free. Of course, they charge admission to pay for the cost of renting the theater and buying all the props.

Writing should feel easy, like a monkey driving a speed boat.
Oct 15 2007 04:26 am   #7Immortal Beloved

I don't know how all of that legal crap works, and I personally don't care to know.  Somewhere in the process someone must have dropped the ball where the money was concerned since they aren't used to bringing TV to the big screen.  I used to go to Rocky Horror screenings, but again, that was originally a movie.  I was hoping that OMWF would catch on like that did, but alas and alack, it's now caught up in corporate red tape.  It did get to happen in Ann Arbor, but I don't live there anymore

Give me Spuffy, or give me death.
Oct 16 2007 07:23 pm   #8Eowyn315

Looks like it's SAG that caused the kibosh on the sing-alongs. I know Buffy had an ensemble cast, but I find it hard to believe that residuals from the OMWF showings would rack up a six-figure bill. I guess Criterion (the distributor) overstepped their authority in licensing the theatrical airings, but Fox wasn't paying attention until the bill came in and made them sit up straight and take another look. Makes me wonder if one of the actors complained that they weren't getting residuals, or if SAG was just being proactive in demanding the appropriate compensation.

Writing should feel easy, like a monkey driving a speed boat.
Oct 17 2007 06:54 pm   #9Guest

I hope nothing happens to fanfics, I mean Joss did give fans permision for that.

Oct 18 2007 02:20 am   #10Eowyn315

Fanfic falls under a completely different set of copyright laws than this, and we've discussed it on another thread.

Writing should feel easy, like a monkey driving a speed boat.
Oct 20 2007 11:30 am   #11Guest

I was well and truly bummed...apparently I missed a showing in my city by something like a week! By word of mouth, or rather a friend driving past the theater and telling my fiance somewhat sketchy details, they'd assumed, a' la Rocky Horror Picture Show (of which, yes, I was a 25+ yrs post-participation participant (and actually probably one of few in a cast that got paid by their local theater chain)  tho' mistakenly that shows would be weekly (weekend-ly?). They were gonna snag me and take me as a surprise without telling me what we were going to see til we got there.  I'd briefly heard something about sing-a-longs, but the info I'd seen was for shows in California, and I never in a million years figured it would reach Fla.  Before attempting to go tho', they broke down and told me, and we called to check w/ the theater to make sure, mgr. told us that we'd missed it, it wasn't a local thing done weekly like RHPS (which co-incidently started and was mainly shown here at the same theater), but that the next show was expected in late Nov or thereabouts...GUESS I won't have to be keeping that time slot free now! I am SOOOO bummed.

I grew up around local actors and musicians, and even did some local acting & singing myself when much, much younger.  Some of the folks I knew were members of either the actors (guild? union?) or musician's union. There were pro's and con's to it. Sometimes they got more money for jobs; on the other hand some jobs wouldn't hire or couldn't afford to hire union musicians. It was my understanding it was pretty much either/or. I'm not sure about the acting, whether or not they could do local theater for fun/craft and professional/dinner theater/etc for union/guild bucks. I know those that did belong usually looked at it seriously; it wasn't always just about the money, but also the craft and professionalism. I would imagine, that SAG etc would not look at these types of screenings that we fans dearly love with much thought of a professional venture, but then again, since I haven't seen the travelling show, I don't really know how well it was put together.

Hey, everybody wants their penny or pound of flesh...residuals add's my understanding that it depends on individual actors contracts whether or not they get residuals, or other manner of potential dividends in the small & large screen biz.  I bet if somebody asked James M. if he wanted his residuals for showings, he'd have to worry about his kid's college and say, hell yeah.