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Paley Fest 2008: Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Written by: The CinCitizens

ImageIt was the hot ticket in town. For geeks, anyway.

The 2008 Paley Festival reassembled all of the major players from the legendary series Buffy The Vampire Slayer for an energetic, ego-driven, chatty, irreverent and very, very reverent discussion.

The Paley Fest gathers such high-profile casts all the time, but the confluence of all but two of Buffy's major players – including Sarah Michelle Gellar – instantly crashed Paley's servers when the tickets went on sale and drew a capacity crowd at the landmark Cinerama Dome on Sunset.

Hundreds of happy geeks waited in line, some camped out since the previous evening, and all of them grinning like idiots to have scored entrance to an evening that would include millions of precious photons reflected off the form of a Mr. Joss Whedon.

Around me in line I met geeks with cherry-red hair or steel-tipped platform boots, some of them having traveled across the country for the show. All of them traded stories about how they discovered Buffy, often breaking into heated debates over what was the show's best season – seasons two, three and five received the most votes that I heard, though I myself remain an ardent apologist for season four. One girl had brought a poster from the Buffy musical singalongs in hopes of an autograph, and everyone, everyone shared the same disbelief that Gellar was going to be there.

But a show like Buffy attracts more than just hardcore geeks (like me). I saw a teenage girl who looked like she walked out of a Hannah Montana concert, and a kid who couldn't have been more than 12 would later pose a question to Whedon during the Q&A. One guy wore a plain blue T-shirt with the inscription "It could be bunnies." Two girls showed up in cocktail dresses and high heels, while another clutched a pink motorcycle helmet in her fist.

And I couldn't swear to this, but I think I saw fucking Cancer Man from The X-Files. Not the actor – the actual dude.

TV Guide's Matt Roush moderated a hectic, lively discussion, though he often looked like he was trying to herd cats. The panel included just about everyone from the show, which meant the stage was filled with a lot of people who are used to being the center of attention – Nicholas Brendon is still a wiseacre, James Marsters remains intelligent and self-effacing and Seth Green spent the night chiming in with dirty jokes worthy of the best cigar-chomping Catskills comics. Gellar spoke the most of any of the women (naturally), while Amber Benson deflected a question about her absence from the show's final season.

Oddly enough, leggy knockout Charisma Carpenter said less than 10 words all night – but more on that later.

The evening began with a clip of Sarah Michelle Gellar facing off against soap opera legend Susan Lucci in a clip from All My Children. Joyous laughter ensued, and the joy only increased with a screening of one of the best-loved Buffy episodes: "Once More With Feeling."

The discussion covered the series, the comics and possible future Buffyverse projects. Here's a breakdown of the important stuff:

Oz will return. Whedon revealed that Oz would definitely make a comeback in the Buffy season eight comics series.

The cast is barely aware of the comics, and they're not canonical anyway. When discussion of the season eight comics series came up, very few of the cast knew about them. Gellar didn't know that Buffy was having a lesbian relationship in the comics, but more important, Whedon commented on the comics when he spoke about …

A possible future Buffyverse project. Whedon conceded that many stars "would have to align" for a future Buffyverse movie or TV show to happen, but he said he would love to do it – even if it conflicted with the story happening in the comics.

"I'd be happy to shoot down the mythology in the comics to do another project with these people," Whedon said.

Amber Benson mostly deflected a question about why she didn't return in season seven as Tara – "It was a question of availability" – but she did say that she thought Tara and Willow's relationship was the strongest on the show and that she was very pleased that Willow remained a lesbian after Tara's death.

Everyone revealed what they were currently working on:

Whedon: A new indie short called Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, which will star Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion.

Gellar: Charity work in Africa, plus a new adaptation of Veronica Decides to Die.

Brendon: "I'm writing and acting."

Marsters: Acting in the new movie Dragonball as Piccolo.

Emma Caulfield (Anya): She's also doing charity work in Africa, as well as working on two movies.

Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn): The movie 17 Again and an appearance on the show Gossip Girl.

Marti Noxon (all-purpose writer, director, producer): She's working on a lot of shows, including Private Practice.

Charisma Carpenter and Seth Green: I actually don't think Carpenter is up to anything, and I think Green made up a wacky story about the two of them collaborating on a series of fitness videos to prevent her from having to answer the question. Pretty nice.

Amber Benson: She just sold a series of chick-lit fantasy novels to Penguin Books.

David Greenwalt (co-creator of Angel): He's out of the entertainment biz – "But if the phone rings, and it's Mr. Whedon, I'll be back."

A fan asked everyone to reveal their favorite movies and what was currently on their iPods. Here are (most of) their answers:

Whedon: The Matrix; Stephen Sondheim.

Gellar: South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. The soundtrack for that was on her iPod, too.

Brendon: "Did they make a Kojack movie?" He's currently listening to a lot of classical music and jazz.

Marsters: Apocalypse Now, and he's currently rebuilding his iPod library. Recent additions include Beck and Robert Johnson.

Caulfield: Silence of the Lambs and Pulp Fiction. She also loves Battlestar Galactica, and she's obsessed with Radiohead's In Rainbows.

Trachtenberg: Labyrinth and Rain Man; Madonna and Kanye West.

Noxon: Poltergeist, Goodfellas and Out of Sight; Her brother is the music supervisor on Weeds, so she listens to a lot of music from that show.

Charisma Carpenter: Anchorman; The Killers.

Seth Green: Raising Arizona, There Will Be Blood; "And I have 25,000 songs on my iPod." He's been listening to a lot of Albert Hammond Jr. and Beck's Midnight Vultures.

Amber Benson: Sullivan's Travels; Steve Earl.

Greenwalt: The Godfather and Serenity; Talking Heads.

• The biggest absences from the panel were Anthony Stewart Head, Alyson Hannigan and David Boreanaz.