Joss Whedon, creator of such science fiction and fantasy-themes television series as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Dollhouse, has been named recipient of the Bradbury Award for excellence in screenwriting, as presented by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
SFWA President Russell Davis made the announcement Feb. 16. Whedon will be honored during the Nebula Awards® Weekend in Los Angeles, California, April 24-26, 2009.
"Like everyone who picks up a pen, I was a rabid Bradbury fan and as greatly influenced by him as any other writer I read," Whedon said. "To receive the award named for him is an honor I'd not dreamed of. In my defense, it didn't exist back then. What did exist were the very lovely, very twisted and very human stories that warped my impressionable mind, and that I have tried, in whatever medium they will let me, to measure up to."
Created in 1992 by then-President Ben Bova and named after famed author and screenwriter Ray Bradbury, the Bradbury Award is a special president's award presented for outstanding genre-themed work in a dramatic medium. Previous Bradbury Award winners are James Cameron for Terminator 2 (1992), J. Michael Straczynski for Babylon 5 (1999) and Yuri Rasovsky and Harlan Ellison for 2000X - Tales of the Next Millennia, a National Public Radio series (2001).
"I'm very excited to be giving this honor to Joss Whedon in recognition of his substantial and superior body of work, including Buffy, Angel, Firefly and the Serenity film, as well as Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog," said SFWA President Russell Davis. "His impact as a writer, producer and director on the science fiction and fantasy film and television landscape is undeniable, and he is more than deserving of this recognition from our organization."
As of 2010, the award will become the annual Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation for works including motion pictures, television, Internet, radio, audio and stage productions. The award will first be presented in 2010, for works released in 2009. Though not a Nebula, the award will be presented at the Nebula Awards Ceremony and will follow Nebula rules and procedures; the Script category of the Nebulas has been eliminated.
The 2009 Nebula Awards Weekend will be held in Los Angeles, Calif., April 24-26. Harry Harrison will be honored as the next Damon Knight Grand Master, while M.J. Engh will be honored as Author Emerita. Singer/songwriter/author Janis Ian will be on hand to serve as toastmistress. Victoria Strauss will be presented with the SFWA Service Award, while Kate Wilhelm, Martin H. Greenberg and the late Algis Budrys will be honored with the inaugural SFWA Solstice Award.
Founded in 1965 by the late Damon Knight, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America brings together the most successful and daring writers of speculative fiction throughout the world.
Posted February 16, 2009
Tuesday 17 February 2009, by Webmaster
Fox’s "Dollhouse" got off to a credible start in the ratings Friday, but the Joss Whedon drama could be hamstrung by lack of lead-in support.
The net’s decision to sked the high-profile skein on such a low-wattage night had raised some eyebrows, but Fox maintained it was the best place for it. The net was hoping to stake out a destination for young adults by pairing "Dollhouse" with "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," but the latter, second-year series opened meekly on its new night.
According to preliminary Nielsen nationals, "Dollhouse" opened Friday with a 2.0 rating/6 share in adults 18-49, ranking second in the demo to ABC’s "Supernanny" (prelim 2.2/7) and third in total viewers. The Fox entry maintained its demo rating from its first half-hour to its second and beat competing dramas on CBS ("Flashpoint") and NBC ("Friday Night Lights") in 18-49.
Fox has long struggled on Friday night, and "Dollhouse’s" preem repped a decent improvement over previous slot occupant "Don’t Forget the Lyrics," which had averaged a 1.5/5 in 18-49 in its final handful of airings.
Not helping "Dollhouse" was its "Terminator" lead-in, which averaged a prelim 1.3/5 in 18-49 and 3.7 million viewers overall (and a 4 share in the demo and 3.5 million viewers in its 8:30 half-hour), placing third in most demo categories for the hour.
The star of the night was ABC’s "20/20," as Diane Sawyer’s report on children living in poverty in Appalachia dominated at 10 o’clock with a prelim 3.4/11 in 18-49 and 10.9 million viewers overall — the largest aud for the newsmag since September 2004.
ABC also had good news on Thursday with its crossover episodes involving "Grey’s Anatomy" (5.9/15 in 18-49, 15.16m) and "Private Practice" (5.7/15, 14.10m), both of which led their hours in 18-49. "Private" hit a series high in demos and retained more of its firstrun "Grey’s Anatomy" lead-in than any show to date.
Also on the night, CBS reality vet "Survivor" kicked off its 18th season with solid numbers (4.4/13 in 18-49, 13.63m), easily winning the 8 o’clock hour and nearly on par with its recent openings. And Fox’s coverage of the NAACP Image Awards (1.4/4 in 18-49, 4.20m) was up slightly in several categories vs. last year.
On Sunday, TNT’s coverage of the NBA All-Star Game averaged a preliminary 6.9 million viewers, up 8% from last year (6.4 million). Its preliminary 3.1 rating in 18-49 (up slightly vs. last year) put it second on the night behind ABC, which was paced by "Desperate Housewives" (prelim 4.9/12 in 18-49, 13.9 million).
By ROGER CATLIN
The Hartford Courant
February 13, 2009
The idea for the newest TV series from Joss Whedon came out of a dinner with Eliza Dushku.
The actress had portrayed the antihero Faith Lehane in two of Whedon's popular series, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel."
"I was sitting, talking to her about her opportunities and her range and all of the things she can be, and the ways in which she could get constricted, and the ways in which she could be free," Whedon said, "and literally the show came from that."
The resulting "Dollhouse" premieres tonight on Fox, the first new series since "Firefly" from the Wesleyan graduate with a cult following.
"I really just described to him that in my career, I've had this pressure and this identity crisis every day where it is like: 'Who do people want me to be?'" Dushku said.
"I was just like, 'You can play so many people,'" Whedon said, "but there was certain things, she was saying, that people expect me to be, and then I went 'Oh, wait a minute ... that's the show.'"
So, said Dushku, "welcome to our 'Dollhouse'."
The two were making their comments while greeting reporters to their lavish main set, a large, circular wood-paneled, two-story space every bit as detailed as his spaceship set of "Firefly." With its dark wood and hanging yellow lights, it almost looked like a spa as devised by Starbucks. The most provocative elements were a circular shower and the sunken cot sleeping quarters of the "dolls," cut into the floor like little graves.
"They are basically like children in here," Whedon said of the dolls that populate the series. "Very enthusiastic, very optimistic, very slow. They eat fine food in the excellent dining area, and it is delicious spa fare. They have a crafts sort of meditation center, over here, where they do some finger painting and whatnot."
Each have had their personalities wiped clean so they can be injected with the knowledge and personalities they need to fulfill the needs of rich clients. Some of that is sexual, yes, but not all, Whedon said. "It could be kinky, it could be strange, it could be illegal, it could be very beautiful, or it could be all of those things."
Dushku's character, Echo, is alone among them to recognize her situation. She retrains fragments of memory that aren't wiped clean and tries to get out.
Echo, Whedon said, "eventually realizes that there is more to her than just existing, and she might want to figure out who she is or was."
As the season goes on, the random flaws in her character's programming are becoming more evident. "She's absolutely glitching and starting to become self-aware," Dushku said. "The memory wipes are not entirely working."
"What interests me about the human condition, the idea of this woman who is stripped of her personality and has to rebuild herself from scratch, and not only her character, but every character, is on some level dealing with their identity," Whedon said.
And the series itself had to be rebuilt, when the original pilot was bumped to make way for a new initial episode.
"The network felt very strongly that they wanted the audience to see not just the world of the show, but the structure of the show," Whedon told reporters at the TV writers' press tour last month. "In addition, there were certain things about the stakes and the motivations of the 'Dollhouse' itself and the kind of clients they would be servicing that they wanted to sort of focus on, and that was really the big shift."
Whedon said he wasn't particularly excited that the show is scheduled on Fridays, traditionally one of the lowest-rated nights on TV, where shows are often shunted before they die.
"I'd had a bad experience once on a Friday," he said, referring to "Firefly," which managed to air just 11 episodes. But, he added, "I'm very excited to be paired with 'Terminator'."
In fact, "Dollhouse" and "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" are being promoted together in stylish ads with Dushku side-by-side with that show's Summer Glau (who was in Whedon's "Firefly" previously). The promos recall Quentin Tarantino's brash, retro look of "Grindhouse," with super saturated colors, scratchy emulsion, corny music and announcer, and promises of things like "More Action! More Suspense! More Everything!" All this and "In Glorious Super Sound!"
Actually, the placement on Fridays "takes a lot of the pressure off of us," Whedon says. "And ultimately, I feel much more comfortable there than I did on Mondays."
•"Dollhouse" premieres tonight at 9 on Fox, locally on WTIC, Channel 61.
Copyright © 2009, The Hartford Courant
edcsLover9 | Cast&Crew | 18:06 CET | 4 comments
Eliza Dushku Likes Tattoos and Tough Guys
Monday, February 09, 2009
Eliza Dushku is the cover girl for the March 2009 issue of Maxim, on stands February 17.
Eliza Dushku notices something when she takes a shower.
"I love catching a glimpse of my tattoos when I strip down and take a shower," the actress tells Maxim in its upcoming March issue. "Kat Von D did a beautiful symbolic feather on my ribs."
Good thing she's not afraid of needles. The former Buffy star has a new Fox series coming out, Dollhouse, in which she plays a lab-created being who's implanted in each episode with a new personality.
In addition to her own tattoos, Dushku, 28, likes a good tat on her man, as well.
"I like guys who play hard and have calluses on their hands," she tells the magazine. "Any guy who's been raised in a bubble hasn't lived enough for me. Scars and broken body parts and tattoos are hot."
Dushku's Dollhouse premieres on FOX Friday, February 13.
The March issue of Maxim hits stands February 17.
Having grown up in Boston as the only girl in a family of three roughhousing brothers, it’s not hard to see where Eliza Dushku got her tough-as-nails demeanor.But any preconceived notions you have about Eliza are about to be eliminated thanks to her new show, Dollhouse, created by her old Buffy and Angel boss, geek god Joss Whedon.
You convinced Joss Whedon to come back to TV and do this show with you. How did you twist his arm?
I knew that if I went back to TV, I absolutely wanted it to be with him, so I invited him to lunch. He picked this fancy-schmancy restaurant, and we threw around ideas. Four hours later he came out of the bathroom and said, “The show’s going to be called Dollhouse.” That Gouda pizza I bought him was the best investment I ever made.
Your body looks amazing these days. Were you channeling any Hollywood icons during our shoot?
Ava Gardner, baby. And thanks, I feel good in my skin. I have two beefy trainers I work out with every day. I like working out with guys who tower over me with bulging muscles.
Joss Whedon Goes Where No TV Man Has Gone Before
The genius behind television’s "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" turns to the Web
In the current issue, Joss Whedon, the George Lucas of television, reveals why working on his triumphant return to the small screen, Dollhouse, has convinced him to abandon TV for good. His alternative medium: Web serials. He began making the sci-fi musical Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (which stars Neil Patrick Harris) during the writers’ strike, streamed a few episodes online for free, and struck it big when they went onsale at iTunes. Here Whedon discusses his early foray into Web shows and reveals his plans for the near future. Plus, check out five must-watch Web series — several of which are Whedon-approved.
What what was it about Internet series first appealed to you?
I had been very interested in the idea of making things on the cheap with the people that I love and trust — low risk, medium yield kind of stuff where you can just do what you think is right and not have to worry.
Your fans have created so much fiction online. To what degree was that on your radar? I’m aware of it and but most of the fan stuff is a continuation of something that already exists. The one that really got me was the Star Trek episode, the New Voyages, which was over an hour of film and extraordinarily artfully scripted entertainment that streamed perfectly. I’m not a trekker, and I was riveted. I was sitting on a stool in my kitchen, and I cannot move. I was like, this is amazing.
Amazing in what sense?
It was probably the best episode of the original Star Trek I’d ever seen. The only [bad] part of it was that the special effects were a little too good. Apart from that they really aped the camera work, the acting, the story structures and the over-quoting of Shakespeare. And it worked tremendously. And I had also been watching The Guild with Felicia [Day, actress in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dr. Horrible] and it was small, it was delightful and it was her. She wrote it, she produced it, it really was her and she is a massive gamer. So here was another really great example from a different mold of just somebody who got tired of not getting the gig, creating the gig. And Felicia and Eliza [Dushku, of Dollhouse] have that in common, both people are taking control of their careers, which for an ingénue is the hardest thing in the world.
So I started going to all these meetings. People were like, "Let’s get $200 million from this hedge fund and make TV on the Internet and then sell it back to TV!" And I was like, "I don’t think that’s my mission statement." And at the end of the day I basically made a deal or agreed to a deal with a company, a Silicon Valley company who shall remain nameless because that deal is still being made.
For Dr. Horrible?
No, it was for something else. The idea was possibly creating a portal and using this as the first thing. And possibly creating a real relationship. Which, by the way, could still happen. But before Christmas I sat down with this very, very sort of profitable maverick company and said, "Look, I want to do this and I will do it for you cheaper than anybody in this town and make it look good. I don’t care." They were talking about doing a genre portal and they talked to me and I said, "I have three ideas." The third was Dr. Horrible, I knew they wouldn’t go for that.
Could you tell me what the other ones were?
No, because I might still do them. In fact, I plan to do them.
Air Date: Thursday, February 19, 2009
Time Slot: 10:01 PM-11:00 PM EST on ABC
Episode Title: (#217) "Wait and See"
ARCHER AND NAOMI GROW ROMANTICALLY CLOSER, WHILE ADDISON SUSPECTS HER BROTHER IS UP TO HIS OLD TRICKS, ON ABC’S "PRIVATE PRACTICE"
Guest starring Grant Show ("Melrose Place," "Swingtown") as Archer Montgomery
"Wait and See" As Naomi and Archer grow closer as a couple, Addison suspects that her brother may have returned to his old, bachelor ways. Meanwhile, Dell, Addison and Naomi heatedly debate the pros and cons of gender reassignment surgery when their patients’ newborn child is born with both male and female sex organs, and Violet and Sheldon settle some of their own issues when they co-lead a couples’ therapy group, on "Private Practice," THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 19 (10:02-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
"Private Practice" stars Kate Walsh as Dr. Addison Forbes Montgomery, Tim Daly as Dr. Pete Wilder, Audra McDonald as Dr. Naomi Bennett, Paul Adelstein as Dr. Cooper Freedman, KaDee Strickland as Dr. Charlotte King, Chris Lowell as William Dell Parker, with Taye Diggs as Dr. Sam Bennett and Amy Brenneman as Dr. Violet Turner.
Guest starring Brian Benben as Sheldon, Sharon Leal as Sonya, Marin Hinkle as Beverly, Erik Palladino as Mitch, Emma Caulfield as Leanne, Leonard Roberts as Ryan, Alexandra Lydon as Eleanor with Grant Show as Archer.
"Wait and See" was written by Steve Blackman and directed by Michael Zinberg.
"Private Practice" is broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC’s selected HDTV format, with 5.1-channel surround sound and Spanish audio via SAP. A TV parental guideline will be posted closer to airdate.
This episode of "Private Practice" will be available on ABC.com the day after airing on the network for users to watch online.
Is it grindhouse camp? Extreme inflatable-girl fantasy? Latter-day Moses narrative? Or another case of a fickle network playing Lucy and the football with one of TV’s best-loved creators?
Whatever your take on Joss Whedon’s new series, "Dollhouse," after you see the debut at 8 p.m. next Friday on Fox 4, you’re not likely to say it’s short on ambition.
The year’s most anticipated new series, at least among Internet fandom, "Dollhouse" stars Eliza Dushku ("Buffy," "Angel," "Tru Calling") as Echo, an eye-popping shebot who can be programmed with almost any personality her employer desires, whether a gun-toting rock climber or a dressed-to-the-nines hostage negotiator fluent in Spanish.
Echo is employed by is a super-secret organization — run by a queen bee with a British accent (Olivia Williams) — whose mad software genius, a dude named Topher (Fran Kranz), rewrites Echo and scores of her fellow "actives" before each of their sexy-slash-dangerous missions, for which the firm is handsomely compensated by clients.
Throw in some nefarious government investigation (or is it a cover-up?). Add a dash of intrigue in the form of Echo’s protector, Boyd (Harry Lennix), a shadowy ex-cop with a heart of gold. And then stir in the possibility that Topher may not be completely erasing Echo’s remembrances of things past, so that eventually she may figure out what’s being done to her.
All those ingredients make for a stew that, initially anyway, needs salt. The dialogue is conspicuously missing Whedon’s trademark snappy patter — unlike, say, the memorable pilot of his series "Firefly." Hardcore Whedonists are well aware that this is actually the second pilot that Fox ordered of the show, and that "Firefly" was also scheduled on Friday nights in 2002, and quickly died there as well.
On the other hand, Fox is giving "Dollhouse" a potentially potent lead-in with "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," another power-grrl show, at 7 p.m. And the network has come up with an irresistible on-air ad campaign for the two shows in the spirit of the Quentin Tarantino-Richard Rodriguez "Grindhouse" flicks.
Having seen two more promising later episodes, I say give "Dollhouse" time. And in the meantime, enjoy the set.
I first laid eyes on it last summer, during a visit to the Fox lot: an expensively wood-paneled, 100-foot-wide, two-story nerve center for the "actives," where they spend their down time between assignments getting backrubs, taking showers, going for dips — basically anything that involves disrobing.
"There’s not a person who’s gone on that set who hasn’t said, ’I want to live here,’" observed Sarah Fain, the show’s co-executive producer, as we walked through the "Dollhouse" stage last month.
"Every single person, from the extras to our cast to the studio execs," echoed Liz Craft, her longtime writing partner, the show’s other co-executive producer and, way before that, Fain’s classmate at Pembroke Hill.
Craft and Fain got their first co-writing credit with Whedon on the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" spinoff "Angel." They’ve risen steadily as a tandem to co-showrunner status, most recently with the short-lived adaptation of James Patterson’s "Women’s Murder Club" books for ABC.
Everyone agrees that the likable, enigmatic Whedon is the captain of the ship, but it’s a big ship. That’s why they’re here.
"No one person can run the show," Craft said. "You have to be able to delegate." And in this case, he has two lieutenants to carry out his ideas.
"We can interpret what he says: ’What do you think he meant?’ ’Well, I think he meant this.’ That’s nice, to have another set of ears," said Craft. "And we’re very comfortable with collaboration."
I ask if that’s because they’re women — still a distinct minority in Hollywood’s writing ranks.
"I think it’s more being Midwestern than being women. There is a definite team-player, work-ethic, ’I don’t want to disappoint you’ ..."
"We’re the ’whatever you need’ people," said Fain, finishing the thought.
The day I visited the "Dollhouse" stage in January, the fabulous zombie spa was mostly under tarp, so we retired to a homey-looking room with books and child-sized furniture and a piano in the corner. As we sat and talked, a multiracial group of preteen actors assembled in the corner, joined by crew members starting to set up. Somebody started to play "Stand By Me."
Fain explained the scene that Dushku would soon be shooting here. "She’s going to come in and read a fairy tale to these kids. Last week, she was kicking somebody’s ass. I mean, she can be anyone. We have everything from nice sweet emotions to huge action and stunning twists."
While Echo is out terrorizing and/or romancing, an FBI agent named Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett) will be doggedly pursuing rumors about this mystery outfit that has figured out how to turn smokin’ men and women into pleasure slaves. Everyone around Ballard treats him as though he’s asked the agency to re-open its UFO files.
But in the end, said Craft, it’s neither Echo nor Ballard "but the workings of the dollhouse that we think is what everyone’s going to be interested in."
"Dollhouse," said Fain, is a parable "about a people struggling to be free. Echo is our heroine, and she’s a fighter." Like Moses.
"Whether she knows it or not," added Craft.
At this, both women laugh knowingly — after all, they’re talking about a character who has her hard drive reformatted every three days.
"Well," said Fain, "that just makes her more interesting and more heroic."
Joss Whedon is an icon among geeks. To some, he is the man who can do no wrong. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is landmark in television history and "Firefly" is one of the most tragically short-lived series ever. The airwaves have been Whedon-less since the cancellation of "Angel" in 2004 but now he returns with "Dollhouse". It’s a fascinating concept and the following interview will probably give you as much insight into the show as possible with very minor spoilers.
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