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"I wanted to do a show about people who are not 'super,' just working-class people, the people history steps on. (Joss on Firefly)"
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January 25 2009

Where are they now: Fran Rubel Kuzui. FT.com interviews the director of the Buffy movie who was credited as executive producer along with husband Kaz on the TV Show.

How do you divide your time now?
One of the great pleasures of my life has been the opportunities to reinvent myself. Being able to live in different places gives me ever-changing perspectives. We’re winding down our film distribution activities but I’ve decided to direct one more film and have just finished the screenplay. We hope to shoot it later this year in Japan. I’m loving the EcoNikko work, arranging yoga weekends and introducing visitors to Nikko and Japanese culture .


[ edited by nyrk on 2009-01-25 17:10 ]

After making Tokyo Pop and then Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the spin-off TV series...

I thought they got name-only credits on the TV show. I never heard them being involved in it.
My understanding has always been that they weren't involved beyond selling the rights to Sandollar Television, where Gail Berman developed it and brought Joss back on-board.
I've never heard anything about either of them having a part in creating or running the series.
Buffy TV was such hard work for them... having their name appear in the credits every week... oh, the agony...
It must be fun for them to hear "The Buffy TV show is fantastic, much better than the terrible movie" over and over for the last ten years or so. To realise what you had in your hands and you blew it.
With the millions they made from the Buffy character? I doubt it.
On the Angel commentaries, some of the guys are furious that the Kuzuis get credit on every episode of THAT too.
That's true, Liam Mars. I seem to remember Jeffrey Bell drawing specific attention to it at the end of the Not Fade Away commentary.
Joss talked around this issue at the EIFF panel thing in 2005. I might be misquoting him here, but I believe he said they wanted to do a TV series, and legally had to go to Joss to get his okay. He said okay, but I want to do it, and they went... kinda... 'Huh?'. And the rest is history.
I gotta say... I enjoyed the movie. I saw it in the theatres in '92 and laughed my ass off. It was fun. And if the "Buffy" TV series had never gotten made, I still would have thought that the movie was... fun. Campy fun. It's only invalid, offensive, or "wrong" in the context of knowing what Joss wanted it to be and what he would later make it into as a show. But in 1992, I couldn't or wouldn't have cared less what the writer wanted the movie to be instead.

For that matter, since this movie seems to constantly be free on my OnDemand option, and I don't want to switch all the cords to watch a DVD, I actually put it on as white noise from time to time. It's *still* kinda fun.

I also don't care that they get a credit of some kind on the shows -- that's just business. I *do* care that they seem to think they have some real hand in what the show *was*, which is just crap. Pat yourselves on the back for the business acumen to say "let's make a show" and to just turn it over to Joss, but don't go hinting that the show is what it became in terms of quality because you were the one with the rights to it and not someone else.
Good lord. Much of that profile was deeply irritating. Few things make me as annoyed as people taking credit where it isn't due. The Kuzuis siimply did not have anything to do with the creative direction or planning of the TV series, period. Right? Ditto for "Angel." Perhaps stating this (or at least heavily suggesting it) was more a factor of the writer of this piece than anything Fran Rubel Kuzui actually said? I hope?

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2009-01-25 16:57 ]
I have to agree with KoC re: the business side of things vs. the TV show's success. I think I remember someone saying in one commentary that Fran Kuzui made an appearance twice through the entire run of the series. And didn't we have an article linked a couple of years back in which she was interviewed and said the show had gone in a direction she didn't like? I think she said then that she still wanted to remake the series into something campy like the movie. Yech. Thank gods we didn't get that experience.
Did we really have a link to such an article, palehorse? Egads. Despite my annoyance at this piece, I do agree with you and KoC that the credit thing is what it is - business.
Yeah, we had some link, as I know I didn't go looking for the article or interview on my own. And I remember being repulsed by the whole idea of what she wanted to do with the franchise.
Personally I'm glad they screwed up the movie so badly. What would you rather have? One very well-executed and most likely little-seen movie, or two amazing TV shows spanning over nearly a decade? If the existance of the show relied on Joss getting a second chance due to the bastardization of his original script and vision by Fran and company, then so be it. I'll take the Sunnydale story any day.
Yeah, how it worked out was amazingly lucky. In fact, think of all the almost moments along the way when the shows would never have been made but for Lady Luck. There were plenty of them. It makes me shudder sometimes to think how two of my favorite stories in any medium ever were almost never made.
Fran Rubel Kuzui, 64, a film director, producer and distributor, is best known for directing the feature film ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, a box office success that generated a hit television series.

I haven't been able to get past this first line. Shouldn't it say "a box office bomb that generated a hit television series in spite of itself"?
Well, it wasn't a smash hit, but when you have a budget of $7,000,000 and you pull in $16,000,000 plus then somebody could well let you keep making films and call it a success. Just ask Kevin Smith, I guess (that's not a slam, this post was just a paraphrase of something he said when talking about Chasing Amy once, a film which only cost $250,000).
I believe the film's domestic pull was $16 mil but it fared better overseas, especially in the Asian markets.

As for them having something to do with it, I look at it as a crappy still photograph that somebody took and made into a tremendous mural.
I didn't read that as a slam against Kevin Smith He's made some of my favorite movies with surprisingly little money.
I was thinking more in terms of how its generally viewed when looking back at it now. The film's box office success was viewed as disappointing (though certainly not the worst in the history of film) on top of being a critical flop. Which is how I understood why the show was such a difficult sell. People kept looking skeptically at the pitch of a movie that SMG says "wasn't all that" with Joss agreeing at her side during the Paley Reunion.
I think Joss' "It was funny when I wrote it" comment says it all.

Though how scary is it that a off the cuff comment made to a friend during a party can become seen and discussed by millions of people fifteen years later? I'd be scared to say anything!
I don't really feel like reading this article, but I will say that I actually saw "Tokyo Pop" on its original release and, at least at the time I thought it wasn't bad. Nice little movie.

As for the original "Buffy" movie "not all that" kind of says it, though it does have more moments than most mediocre films.
Oh, Joss is very much on the record with problems with the movie. At least some of them are addressed on the Creative Screenwriting DVD "Joss Whedon: The Master at Play". I can't remember exactly how much he discusses the Kazuis on it, but I always recommend this disc to any fans of Joss, or people with interest in the writing process; Fillion-fans would probably enjoy his hilarious five-minute intro, too.
"At least two of the executive producers have never seen the set of Angel. A business deal signed at the outset of the Buffy film gave them a financial stake in all things Buffy. They've received credit and sizable checks for the duration of Buffy and Angel for doing absolutely nothing. (Names furnished upon request)"

- Dan Kearns, crew member on Angel, wrote in the essay, "Angel by the Numbers" from Five Seasons of Angel (2004), p25


Hmm. Could Kearns have been talking about the Kuzuis?
So I wonder if that means that the Kuzuis still get money from the comics for Buffy and Angel? They'd really REALLY have nothing to do with those.
Thinking about it, I think their contribution to the Buffyverse is considerable -- they didn't just sit on the property and do nothing with it at all, which was their right, and without which Joss doesn't get a chance to make one of the best couple shows ever on television.
There's a lot of negativity in this thread, yo? We need to remember that when the movie came out, Joss was still an untried buck, who'd only written a couple of episodes of 'Roseanne' and 'Parenthood'.

So the Kazuis literally rolled the dice and gave a young Mr Whedon the chance to have his screenplay made into a movie. I don't deny it became an early lesson for Joss in how his creative visions could be interfered with by others, and I for one am glad that the Kazuis never felt the need to assert their own 'stamp' on 'BTVS' or 'Angel' as EP's.

But Hollywood is, after all, a business, and kudos to them for recognizing that there was a viable franchise here and being clever enough to broker rights to something that went on to be so successful.

Because, after all, having the movie behind him allowed Joss to go on to produce the TV show he wanted, giving him a sound reputation and fanbase which then enabled his other projects (like Firefly!) to be greenlit.

[ edited by missb on 2009-01-26 07:24 ]
About the credits thing, I believe it's like "Lost" where JJ Abrahams is not very involveld in all series but still, have his name on it.
Oh, the Kuzuis distribuited a Brazilian movie - Orfeu. It's a terrible thing, however, it wasn't their fault ;)
I dunno. Abrams wrote/directed the pilot of LOST, and had a significant hand in the first season of the show at least, if I recall correctly. So it seems fair for his name to be on it, even if he's gone now. He has played a significant role in its development. I'm not sure if one could say the same about the Kazuis.
Wow, it sounds like she has a nice life, anyway! Living in New York, Tokyo and Nikko... lucky lady.
Brasilian Chaos Man, I think you're thinking of Jeffrey Lieber, who wrote a pilot script for the project (before it was even called Lost) but nothing from it was used. Abrams and Lindelof created a completely different show from Lloyd Braun's original premise.

The thing that really gets me is that due to the incredibly stupid system, Lieber takes a share of the creator royalties despite his work having nothing to do with what appears on screen, whereas Lloyd Braun not only gets nothing (when the basic idea was his to begin with), he got fired from the network for commissioning the show!!!

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