Monday, January 13, 2003

'Angel,' 'Buffy,' 'Dawson' may end

By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LOS ANGELES - TV viewers soon could be up a creek without a Dawson, Buffy or Angel.

Contracts expire this spring for UPN's Buffy the Vampire Slayer and WB's Dawson's Creek and Angel. Network executives told the Television Critics Association meeting here that they aren't optimistic the popular dramas will be back this fall.

Dawson's fate rests in the hands of its cast, which must decide by March if the creek has run dry on WB's signature coming-of-age drama completing its sixth season, says Jordan Levin, WB Entertainment president.

"I think they've thrown themselves into this season with the view that it's the final season," Mr. Levin says about stars James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson and Michelle Williams.

"They now have tremendous opportunities in their lives to do whatever they want, be it film work, theatre, continue television, or going to school, which some of them want to do," he says.

UPN has been talking to Buffy creator Joss Whedon "about a wide range of possibilities" because Sarah Michelle Gellar's contract expires this spring after eight seasons.

UPN, which acquired Buffy from WB two years ago, has been preparing four options, says Les Moonves, president and CEOof CBS, which owns UPN.

Contingencies include Ms. Gellar returning full-time or part-time to the show; doing a spin-off; or canceling it. "All of them right now are possible," he says.

Angel has moved from Monday to 9 p.m. Wednesday this month to bolster ratings before contract renewal talks start for the Buffy spin-off starring David Boreanaz.

Regardless of Angel's fate, Mr. Levin says he's given Mr. Whedon permission to reunite Buffy and Angel on UPN for Ms. Gellar's finale, if she's quitting the role.

"I told Joss that if it was creatively justified, and in the best interest of the show's storytelling, and something he feels is necessary, I certainly wouldn't stand in the way," Mr. Levin says.

Survivor cast: Survivor fans get their first peek at the Survivor: Amazon cast and location today on The Early Show (7-9 a.m., Channel 12). Usually the Survivor promotion airs after 8 a.m.

The sixth Survivor will debut in February.

Cincinnati has been CBS' top-rated Survivor market since the second (Australia) episode with Grant County's Rodger Bingham two years ago.

Super, man: Former Superman movie star Christopher Reeve will appear this year on Smallville, WB's series about teen-age Clark Kent/Superman.

He'll play Dr. Swan, who gives young Clark (Tom Welling) "a big piece of information about his origin," says Al Gough, executive producer of the WB drama (9 p.m. Tuesday, Channels 64, 26).

Dr. Swan could be a recurring character for Mr. Reeve, 50, paralyzed in a 1995 horse-riding accident.

"Every hero needs a wiseman," Mr. Gough says. "It's sort of a passing of the torch from one generation of Superman to the next."

Bachelorette back: Did you miss the premiere of ABC's The Bachelorette? The first episode, with a 24-year-old Cincinnatian named "Mike" as one of 25 suitors, repeats at 7 and 8 p.m. on ABC Family. A new episode airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday (Channel 9).

School daze: High school was never like this! MTV's new cartoon Clone High (10:30 p.m. today), thanks to DNA, features a Class of 2003 with young Abe Lincoln, Cleopatra and John F. Kennedy.

For its second season, The It Factor has moved from New York to Los Angeles to follow struggling young actors looking for their big break (9:30 p.m. today).

PBS' American Experience looks at rapid growth of Chicago in the 1800s with Chicago: City of the Century (9 p.m. today-Wednesday, Channels 48, 16).


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