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AngelAngel Producer Talks to IGN FilmForce
Tuesday 2 March 2004, by Webmaster
Exclusive: Angel Producer Talks to IGN FilmForce
Will efforts to save the show be for naught?
March 01, 2004 - The WB may have made the decision to put a stake through the heart of Angel but the fans and some WB affiliates aren’t letting the series go without a fight. The online petition has now risen above 60,000 signatures and WB affiliates owned by Tribune Broadcasting (including KTLA in Los Angeles and WGN in Chicago) have protested the cancellation. Fans have already started raising money for the renewal effort, something that has Joss Whedon and series co-executive producer Jeff Bell a little worried.
"We had a big fan party," Bell told IGN FilmForce staffer Ken Plume late Friday. "We told people there to please save their hard earned money. We’re just telling people, ’Thanks for all your support but please don’t spend your money.’"
That’s not to say that Bell and others at the Angel production offices aren’t supportive of efforts to save the series, such as the packets of hair gel some fans are sending to executives at the WB. "Hair gel... If people want to do what they’re doing because it’s fun and it makes them feel like they’re participating, I’m for it. It’s just we’re hearing about people raising a lot of money. It’s telling that the fans are willing to spend more money saving the show that the WB is willing to spend to have it."
There’s a resignation to Bell’s voice that immediately tells you he doesn’t believe the outlook for the show’s future is good. "If there’s any shot at all, it’s at UPN. That’s going to happen strictly on financial reasons for them." If UPN wants the series, the clock is ticking, according to Bell. "I believe there was a ten-day window to the offer and I think that’s coming up but I don’t know the end date to that. It seems like a long shot. I think we all took it as we are cancelled for next year and if something else happens, fantastic but we’ve been ’bubble boys’ for so many years now so to actually have some knowledge that it’s ending and sort of treat it as such is in some ways ... at least we know. It was really difficult last year not knowing and as a show runner trying to keep all my great writers from taking a job that pays them more money on other shows, saying, ’I really think we’re coming back, I really think we’re coming back.’ Luckily we did and I got all those wonderful people to come back.
"I love the show and I love the people we work with. It’s been great. They’ve told us we are cancelled and we’re going under that assumption until we hear otherwise. It’s just too hard not to.
"We took a big budget hit to come back this year and we really struggled to keep our show as cool as we felt it really could be with less money. I don’t see it coming back, if anyone else picks it up, with more money. It’s probably less again. And I would really hate to keep some sort of corpse alive that was a shadow of what it was just to keep it going. I’d much rather go out on top, with a bang with it being every bit as cool as we can make it. Right now I’m just figuring that episode 22 of this year will be our big finale.
"I don’t see how we can make it for a lower price. It would become some other show. I think there are so many factors for the show to come back and to succeed and all those would have to be weighed at the time. So we’re really not focusing on that right now, we’re just focusing on making the last handful of episodes really cool."
Rumors began cirulating almost immediately about some potential guest stars helping to make those episodes even more cool but, according to Bell, nothing has been finalized in the guest star department just yet. He reports that the cast and crew are keeping their spirits up while still facing the inevitable fate of anyone that works in Hollywood: someday you’ll have to look for a new job. "Like everyone else, my agent’s out putting my name in the hats around town. Most of us are pretty busy here just trying to keep the ship afloat." So is there any chance that Bell would take a staff writer position at, say, Dark Shadows? Bell laughed at the obvious joke. "You know, I’m thinking I’ve been on a really great vampire show for three years. And I hear it’s not funny."
Meanwhile, there’s still work to be done for this season. Regardless of what happens, everyone is under contract to stick around until episode 22 wraps, which will be in mid-April. "There’s still mourning but there’s a feeling of ’We have to get back to work.’ The nice thing is that, by the time we get to the wrap party, it’s going to be a really fun party as opposed to finding out a few weeks before we wrap that it’s over and there’s a sort of dark cloud hanging over it. I think the wrap party’s going to be a celebration of five years of a really great TV show.
"We knew we were doing really good shows this year and our [Nielsen] numbers were up. I think what [the WB] said at the 100th [episode] was true in terms of their love for the show and what we’ve contributed to WB. At the end of the day it really is all about their bottom line and if we don’t make [financial] sense to them, they’re not going to keep us hanging around. We all appreciate knowing. It’s like someone finding out they only have six months to live so every one of those days is going to be precious. For all of us here, we’re really enjoying one another and just loving the time we have here. We’re just making the most of that."
The WB had mentioned the possibility of television movies in their initial announcement. Does Bell think that is a genuine offer or just a way to deflect criticism? "I do think the WB creatively appreciates Angel and they feel it’s one of their best written shows. I think it’s a money thing. I think if it makes sense financially they’ll do it. And if it doesn’t, they won’t. I really do think it’s as cut and dried as that. There’s very little romance left in television."
Angel continues to air on Wednesdays at 9pm / 8pm Central on the WB.