WB Shelves Violent 'Buffy' Episode
May. 25, 1999
NEW YORK (AP) _ Her fictional rivals may not get her, but a growing skittishness among some TV executives about violence has taken ``Buffy, the Vampire Slayer'' off the air for a second time in a month.
The WB network has shelved tonight's episode that depicts students attacking a monstrous mayor, even though it's the season finale and the second of a two-part series that began last week.
The decision will be explained to viewers on the air. A ``Buffy'' rerun will run instead, and the shelved episode will air this summer.
Networks are clearly becoming more concerned about violent content following the April 20 shooting at Colorado's Columbine High School that left 15 people dead.
Last week, CBS's president said he decided not to put a violent drama series about the mob on his fall schedule because of Columbine. Fox executives also said they would carefully monitor the content of two new dramas, one about a teen-aged police officer and the other about a violent ``virtual reality'' game.
With programs that heavily appeal to a teen-aged audience, the WB has a younger viewership than any other broadcast network. ``Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,'' starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, is about a teen-aged vampire hunter and is one of the WB's most popular shows, critically and commercially.
The week following the Columbine shooting, the WB pulled a ``Buffy'' episode where there was a fantasy sequence about high school carnage. That episode will be shown later this year, the network said.
In tonight's episode of ``Buffy,'' a solar eclipse occurs during a high school graduation ceremony and the town's mayor turns into a serpent. He attacks the students, who defend themselves with stakes, bows, arrows and other implements.
``Given the current climate, depicting acts of violence at a high school graduation ceremony, even fantasy acts against 60-foot serpents and vampires, we believe, is inappropriate to broadcast around the actual dates of these time-honored ceremonies,'' said Jamie Kellner, the network's president.
Kellner said the decision was made ``out of sympathy and compassion'' for families and communities affected by school violence and out of responsibility for the WB's young audience.