One of the most beloved TV series of the past two decades, Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is making a comeback. A reboot of the supernatural drama is in development at Fox 21 TV Studios, the cable/streaming division of 20th Century Fox TV, the studios behind the original series, which ran for seven seasons, first on the WB and then on UPN.
Midnight, Texas creator Monica Owusu-Breen has been tapped as writer, executive producer and showrunner of the new Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with the original series’ creator and showrunner Whedon set to executive produce alongside original series’ exec producers Gail Berman, Fran Kazui and Kaz Kazui as well as Joe Earley from Berman’s Jackal Group.
The new version, which will be pitched to streaming and cable networks this summer, will be contemporary, building on the mythology of the original. Per the producers: “Like our world, it will be richly diverse, and like the original, some aspects of the series could be seen as metaphors for issues facing us all today.”
According to sources, the diversity in the show’s description reflects the producers’ intention for the new slayer to be African American. The sources cautioned that the project is still in nascent stages with no script, and many details are still in flux.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which Whedon adapted from the 1992 feature he had written, helped establish him as a creator, Berman as a TV producer, star Sarah Michelle Gellar as a household name and the WB as a TV network. (Berman at the time ran Sandollar Television, which also is getting credit on the potential reboot.)
It was a game-changing hit that put the fledgeling WB on the map and was a series that developed a devoted following only a few others have managed to achieve. Fifteen years after Buffy‘s end, it’s still going strong. That helped make Buffy into a lucrative property for producer 20th Century Fox TV, which used the series’ success to get a bigger license fee from UPN in the show’s controversial move from its original home in 2001.
Buffy also spawned a successful spinoff in Angel, toplined by David Boreanaz, which aired on the WB for five seasons.
20th TV has been at the forefront of the current wave of reboots and revivals with 24: Live Another Day and 24: Legacy — which also opted to shake things up with a black actor, Corey Hawkins, succeeding Kiefer Sutherland — and new installments of Prison Break and The X-Files. The studio also has a Last Man Standing revival on Fox this coming season.
20th TV and the original series’ producers started discussions last fall about rebooting Buffy. After much deliberation and a lengthy back-and-forth, everyone involved agreed the time was right contingent on finding the right writer with the right take. The attention focused on Owusu-Breen.
She and Whedon had worked together on ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which Whedon co-created and executive produced/directed and Owusu-Breen co-executive produced.
It is unclear whether Whedon will have any other role on the series due to his many other commitments, but he will be involved creatively and already is working with Owusu-Breen.
Whedon, who had been focused largely on features for the past few years, including writing and directing the first two movies in Marvel’s hugely successful The Avengers franchise, The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, is making a return to TV. He just signed on to write, executive produce and showrun The Nevers, picked up to series by HBO, and he also exec produces Pippa Smith: Grown-Up Detective, which is in development at Freeform. He is repped by CAA.
Owusu-Breen most recently created the NBC supernatural drama Midnight, Texas, based on the books by author Charlaine Harris, and served as executive producer and showrunner on the first season. She previously worked with J.J. Abrams on Alias, Lost and Fringe. Her series credits also include Revolution and Brothers and Sisters. She is repped by WME.