One of the most dramatic moments from last month's three-week long Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif., was, ironically enough, also one of the quietest. During a poolside shindig thrown by the WB, network bigwig Jamie Kellner slithered over to Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon and egad! shook his hand.
To understand the significance of such an encounter, one has to be familiar with the bitter Kellner/Whedon feud of 2001. For those in the dark, here's a quick recap: During last spring's protracted contract negotiations over Buffy, the two combatants found themselves embroiled in a bitter and very public war of words over the value of the acclaimed dramedy. Kellner downplayed the show's importance, saying it was a niche program that appealed mainly to teens. A furious Whedon fired back, telling the New York Daily News that, "For Jamie Kellner to call it a teen show and dismiss his own product angers me. It doesn't breed love."
Well, Whedon took his hurt feelings as well as Buffy straight to UPN. (The show debuts on its new network on Oct. 2.) Of course, there's a twist: Whedon's other baby, Angel, was left behind on the WB meaning that Whedon and Kellner still remain in business together. (However, Kellner's recent promotion to sort-of-sister-cable-net TBS ensures that the gruesome twosome will rarely cross paths, not to mention each other.)
Back to the tense tête-á-tête: What exactly did Kellner say to Whedon? "He came up, shook my hand and walked away. That was my encounter with Jamie Kellner," Whedon cryptically tells TV Guide Online, adding that Kellner's overture was not solely for appearances. "I think it was more that he wanted to say, 'Let's put this behind us' because nobody was paying attention. It's not like he did it in front of a crowd or photographers or anything. He just came up and I think he wanted to say, 'We've been doing business, there's been acrimony, but it's not personal. It's business.'"
But is it? Asked if there are still hard feelings, Whedon pauses, then admits: "You know, I didn't like the way the business was handled. I don't like doing business because I tend to take things personally. I do agree that I still have a show on the WB and he's still a part of the WB. I don't work with him day-to-day. If I did, then he and I would have to sit down and really iron things out. But in terms of what our relationship is which is basically just peripheral to each other I think we're fine.
"Nobody's looking for payback," he adds. "Nobody's looking to beat the other guy down. Business just went poorly between us. We both learned something from that and now we move on."