City of Angel
Buffy bloodsucker David Boreanaz splits Sunnydale for L.A. - and gives EW an exclusive first look at his WB spin-off
By Bruce Fretts Entertainment Weekly
On a blindingly bright Saturday afternoon in seedy downtown L.A., David
Boreanaz pulls up outside a dilapidated office
building in a jet-black Mercedes. His automotive choice is apt - right down to dark-tinted windows - given that heís here to
shoot his title role as a sun-averse prince of darkness in a pilot presentation for Angel, The WBís hotly anticipated spin-off of
its occult hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
"Itís a darker show," the actor says of his new TV vehicle, set to debut
this fall. "Weíre moving from Sunnydale to Los
Angeles, so that lends itself to more adult themes." Boreanazís 240something-year-old vampire leaves Buffyís suburbia to
help tormented souls battle their personal demons in the grittier City of (appropriately enough) Angels. "Itís more of an
anthology show than Buffy," explains Joss Whedon, creator of both series. "Thereís not a soap opera at the center of it."
How about a sense of humor? The premise sounds sort of grim, and without
trademark biting wit, Angel could go
the way of this seasonís moody casualty Brimstone. "We want to find the humor in Angel and not have it be some dark
dull-athon," says Whedon. The fact that Angel has a sense of humor may come as a big shock to Buffy fans. "Weíve played
him very brooding, and weíve seen his evil side, but his humor is starting to come out," says Boreanaz, 28. "Itís dry and
sarcastic, very subtle. Itís not a way-out kind of humor."
More comic relief will come in the form of Doyle (Glenn Quinn, 28, who
played Beckyís husband on Roseanne), an undead
dude who serves as Angelís spiritual mentor at a low-rent detective agency. "The higher powers have called Doyle to be
Angelís guide, and heís the last person in the world who wants to - or should - be doing this," says Whedon. "He really just
wants to play the ponies and drink a lot. But he has unexpected wisdom in the midst of his extreme foibles."
Angel will also receive assistance from a familiar Buffy face, Cordelia
(Charisma Carpenter, 28), who comes to Hollywood
to pursue her dreams of stardom and ends up working at the agency. While Whedon promises "sheíll still be somewhat
self-involved and in her Cordelia bubble - which is her charm," the bratty ex-cheerleader will be forced to grow up when she
loses her familyís financial support. Sudden poverty "brings her a little more down to earth, both fashion-wise and
reality-wise," says Carpenter.
With his old sweetheart Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) still staked out
in Sunnydale, will Angel be necking with Cordy? "We
donít have that in the works," says Whedon. "Itís not like Angel is ever going to get over Buffy, but he wonít be whining
about her every episode. Sheíll just be the spectre of his one true love."
Donít expect to see Boreanaz and Gellar crossing over to each otherís shows
too often, either. "Production-wise, itís difficult
because theyíre in so much of each show," says Whedon, who doesnít rule out the possibility of supporting characters
shuffling between series "when the story suggests an opportunity. Itíll really be a question of, ĎHey, you know who would be
great in this Angel - Willow [Alyson Hannigan].í Or ĎWe really need Cordelia back in this Buffy.í "
Such stunts would seem seamless if Buffy and Angel aired back-to-back. But The WB wonít decide that until its fall lineup
is announced May 18. Whedon isnít afraid to say heís dying to see a Buffy - Angel block: "Theyíre companion pieces, alike
enough that they would draw the same audience and different enough that they wouldnít feel like two hours of the same thing."
WB entertainment president Susanne Daniels says she hopes Angel "will continue to grow on Buffy," holding on to the
showís core teens while also attracting a slightly older crowd.
Chances are the persistent and persuasive Whedon will get his scheduling
wish. "Susanne said it looked good, but it wasnít
written in stone," he says. "So I actually sent her a stone that it was carved into: ĎAngel, Tuesdays at 9.í " Says Daniels of the
gift: "Thatís so Joss, itís hilarious. Itís in my office right next to my desk."
The only serious concern is whether Whedon - whoís also a successful screenwriter
with credits ranging from Toy Story to
Alien Resurrection - will have the energy to keep two series running. "Oh, God, please kill me now," he moans at the
prospect. Buffy executive producer David Greenwalt will take charge of day-to-day operations on Angel but Whedon will
oversee the project. "The worst thing about working for Joss is that Iíve become a much slower writer because it has to be
much better," says Greenwalt, whose TV resume includes The X-Files and Profit. "You canít just crank it out."
As Angelís skeleton crew scurries around them, Greenwalt and Whedon
gaze into the monitor at a smoky two-shot of Buffy
alums Boreanaz and Carpenter. "Itís like we never left," says Greenwalt. Sighs Whedon: "Thatís because we never did." -
Additional reporting by Dan Snierson