'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' Inclusive Reboot in the Works With Joss Whedon

Producer 20th Century Fox Television has hired Monica Owusu-Breen to pen the script for the new take on Joss Whedon's cult favorite. A network is not yet attached.
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Sarah Michelle Gellar of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'; (Inset: Monica Owusu-Breen)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is getting the reboot treatment.

20th Century Fox Television, who produced the original Joss Whedon drama, has offered a new take on the beloved Sarah Michelle Gellar drama in development. Writer Monica Owusu-Breen, who worked with Whedon on ABC's Agents of SHIELD, has been hired to pen the adaptation and serve as showrunner on the reboot.

Whedon will be an executive producer on the series and has been working with Owusu-Breen on the script, which features a black actress stepping into the role of Buffy made famous by Gellar. 

Gail Berman, Joe Earley, Fran Kazui and Kaz Kazui (who produced Whedon's original Buffy film that inspired the TV series) will also serve as exec producers on the potential series. A network is not yet attached for the new Buffy.

Producers Fox 21 TV Studios will pitch the Buffy redo to streaming and cable outlets later this summer in a package bound to ignite a bidding war. It's unclear if Whedon will have any additional role on the new Buffy due to his other commitments, which include HBO's recent straight-to-series order The Nevers.

Talks for a new Buffy began last fall. A decision to move forward was determined after Owusu-Breen was identified as the best writer for the reboot. A script or director has not yet been determined.

Casting for the central role of Buffy has also not yet been determined. The new version, sources say, will be contemporary and build on the mythology of the original. Like today's world, the new Buffy will be richly diverse, with some aspects of the series, like the flagship, seen as metaphors for issues currently facing society.  

Buffy the Vampire Slayer ran for seven seasons on The WB Network (which evolved to become The CW) and UPN. The series continued in comic book form after completing its run in 2003. Buffy was based on the feature film of the same name that was originally penned by Whedon and which starred Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry.

The cult-favorite series became a breakout and helped turn Whedon into a household name, while also launching the careers of the show's stars (including David Boreanaz and Alyson Hannigan) and writers (including Jane Espenson and Marti Noxon). Buffy has been ranked as one of the greatest TV series of all time and hailed for the way in which Whedon and the writers challenged gender norms and portrayed Buffy as a feminist hero.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in March 2017, pegged to the show's 20th anniversary, Whedon said he wouldn't rule out a Buffy reboot or reunion but also expressed his "fear" at the idea: "I see a little bit of what I call monkey's paw in these reboots. You bring something back, and even if it's exactly as good as it was, the experience can't be. You've already experienced it, and part of what was great was going through it for the first time. You have to meet expectations and adjust it for the climate, which is not easy. Luckily most of my actors still look wonderful, but I'm not worried about them being creaky. I'm more worried about me being creaky as a storyteller. You don't want that feeling that you should have left before the encore."

The decision to reboot Buffy comes a few months after Fox and 20th TV chairman and CEO Gary Newman hinted that the title could soon find itself in the studio's development pipeline. "[Buffy] is probably our most ripe show for a remake. It's something we talk about frequently," he said in March, noting that the choice to do so ultimately was up to Whedon.

For her part, Owusu-Breen recently created and showran NBC's Midnight, Texas. She left the series after season one. Her credits also include Revolution, Fringe, Brothers & Sisters, Alias, Lost and Charmed. She is repped by WME.

The Buffy reboot and HBO drama mark a return to television for Whedon, whose credits include Buffy spinoff Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse. The once-beloved showrunner has been criticized more recently after allegations of cheating from his ex-wife. Whedon is repped by CAA and Ziffren Brittenham.

Reboots and spinoffs continue to be in demand as broadcast, streaming and cable outlets alike look for proven IP in a bid to both monetize libraries and cut through a cluttered scripted landscape that features more than 500 scripted originals this year alone. For its part, 20th TV has revived 24 and Prison Break, among others, in recent years. The Buffy reboot is part of a larger effort by Fox 21 to expand its slate to streaming and cable.