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Eliza Dushku Lures Joss Whedon Back to TV with "Dollhouse" Tv Series

Saturday 3 November 2007, by Webmaster

Short of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer reunion movie, this is just about the best news you could ask for: Eliza Dushku and Joss Whedon are reteaming for a new series! (Told ya it would be worth tearing yourself away from the candy corn to drop by The Ausiello Report.) Here are the five things you have to know about the show, and I mean now:

1. It’s a one-hour drama produced by Twentieth Century Fox to air on Fox. The first of the seven episodes to which the network has committed could premiere as early as spring.

2. It’s called Dollhouse because that’s the nickname of the high-tech lab where a group of human chalkboards are kept between assignments.

3. Human chalkboards?! Yes! What else would you call characters like Dushku’s Echo who can be given new memories, skills and even personalities, then stripped of them just as quickly, leaving them virtual children?

4. Whedon is the creator, head writer and executive producer, and perhaps in part because Dushku convinced him to do the show, she’s getting a producer credit. (Fellow Buffyverse alum Tim Minear is also on board.)

5. I just got off the phone with both of them!

First things first: How in the hellmouth did Dushku get her Buffy and Angel boss to do it? In a word, food. Shortly after she signed a development deal with Fox in August, "I called the one man that I knew I wanted to do [a series] with and had to have [in order to] to have the best show possible" and invited him to lunch, she says. "And he was seduced!"

Actually, hypnotized, Whedon counters. "Eliza was wearing a hat with a big spiraling wheel on it, and she kept saying, ’Look into the wheel. You want to make television. You want it to be about me….’ It sounds hokey, but it really worked."

And how. Not only did Dushku get Whedon to agree to work on the project, but what she calls their "contagious, freaky, awesome energy" at that very get-together inspired him to create it. "I came up with [the concept] at lunch completely spontaneously, based on my conversation with Eliza," he insists. "It wasn’t [an idea] that I was nurturing or that I tailored or I tried to retro-fit to her."

So what is the concept, exactly? Explains Whedon: "Dollhouse is a suspense drama about a girl who can have any personality except her own." So it’s part Alias and part Quantum Leap, "because Echo is literally changing who she is," he continues. "She gets into people’s lives a little bit."

Even Dushku’s. "I relate so much to this character," she marvels. "Echo is essentially the story of my life. I’ve lived a crazy life the past 16 years, traveling around the world and then tripping and falling into this business. Everyone wants you to transform and be a different person every week."

Great chemistry and intriguing premise notwithstanding, you’d think that after Fox snuffed Whedon’s Firefly and hung up on Dushku’s Tru Calling, one or both of them would have been more than a little hesitant to get back into bed with the network. "Honestly? Walking back into that building was pretty damn strange," Whedon admits. But "I always had a good relationship with [Twentieth Century Fox], and on the network end, it’s a completely new bunch of people, and from what I’ve seen, a fairly impressive bunch."

Dushku seconds that emotion. "I really get the sense that they’re committed to [this show]… It feels right."

Besides, as Whedon notes, "I told them I was interested in writing a pilot, and they gave me seven episodes. They’ve already shown more support for it than I have."

Now it’s your turn to show the comeback kids some love. And, like Dushku, I don’t think you’ll let them down. "We have the best fans in the business [in the] the Buffy and Whedon universe," she says. "It’s going to be pandemonium when this [news] hits." And it’s only just begun.