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Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy Paperback – April 10, 2003


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Writers, actors, and fans often call Joss Whedon a genius. It's easy to see why. Whedon, who got his start writing for Roseanne, dreamed of writing movie screenplays. He got his shot when he sold his script for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but the movie fell far short of his hopes for it. After a few years of working as a script doctor, Whedon got the chance to do Buffy again, this time as a TV show. Few expected it to succeed, but Whedon's humor and intelligence shone through in the scripts, and viewers quickly became attached to the engaging, witty characters. Buffy kept getting better: each season of the show featured a complex story arc possessed of a real sense of danger and further developed the characters. The last few years have brought the Buffy spinoff Angel, the lamentably cancelled Firefly (a space western), and the comic book Fray. Engaging and filled with fun quotes, this is a must-read for Whedon's many fans. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

"A fabulous service to the millions of fans of Joss Whedon, one of the most original writers working today." -- Mike McDaniel, Houston Chronicle

"Joss is a genius." -- Gail Berman, president, Fox Broadcasting

"Possibly the finest book of the century; It's exactly like A Tale of Two Cities, but with 30% more me." -- Joss Whedon

"Smart, surprising and vastly entertaining—just like "Buffy" itself. Even Sunnydale know-it-alls will adore this book." -- Michael Logan, TV Guide
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: BenBella Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (April 10, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932100008
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932100006
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,948,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bestselling author Candace Havens has written multiple novels for Berkley, Entangled and Harlequin. She is also in the anthology Spirited, the proceeds of which help a literacy organization. Her books have received nominations for the RITA's, Holt Medallion and Write Touch Reader Awards. She is the author of the biography Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation's leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities including Tom Hanks, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, George Clooney and many more. Her entertainment columns can be read in more than 600 newspapers across the country. Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 2000 writers, and teaches comprehensive writing class. She does film reviews with the Dorsey Gang on New Country 96.3, and is a former President of the Television Critics Association.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 21, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is interesting to read "Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy" at the same time I am working my way through the essays in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale." The tone of this tribute volume by Candace Havens to the creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel," and "Firefly," is informal rather than scholarly. More importantly, the goal of this volume is primarily to supply behind the scenes information for fans of these shows, although there is some critical insights offered in the chapter devoted to "Secrets of Success," which enumerates the seven elements that make "BtVS" a cult television series. Havens is working from various articles and websites about Whedon and his creations, and although it does not explicitly say so I assume she conducted interviews with various people quoted in this book. Since she shares with us impressions about her tours of the sets for Whedon's three television series I assume she took time to talk to some of these people; however, there are few references to specific interview (e.g., with Whedon's film professor, Jeanine Basinger) as to how much access she had to the cast and crew and I am rather curious as to how much of the material here is from primary sources (without going through all the secondary sources and doing a process of elimination).
"Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy" is called a biography, but the focus is clearly more on his career than his life. The first chapter looks at his life through college while the second covers his work early work in television writing episodes of "Roseanne" and as a "script doctor" on films like "The Quick and the Dead," "Speed," "Waterworld," and "Toy Story.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Tevis Fen-Kortiay on October 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
Don't be fooled by the intentionally deceptive marketing used to peddle this book as a biography - this is actually a handful of Whedon interviews, readily available on the Internet, copy-and-pasted in roughly chronological order. A few quotes from the actors are thrown in for some faux-breadth. There are NO first-hand interviews behind this book, NO input from Whedon himself, and NO new information that even casual Buffy fans haven't heard before. The entire thing has the feel of something thrown together in a single day for a quick buck.

Please learn from my mistake and save yourself $16; to get all the useful information in this book, type +"Joss Whedon" +interview into Google and you can read the very same interviews Havens worked from first-hand, without having to waste money and time slogging through this distasteful mess.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jacqueline VINE VOICE on August 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is not a biography, it's not a "making of" and it's not about the facts of the television production industry.
This is a book like none other I've ever read.
Candace Haven has given us a glimpse of the man who created Buffy, of where inside him this concept came from -- but even more she's given us a glimpse of what it takes to be the sort of person who can succeed in breaking all the taboos in the television industry.
What taboos did he break? Well, Buffy is a strong story-arc show like Babylon 5 and Dallas -- but without the (perceived) broad audience appeal of those shows. Buffy is about a young girl who kicks [butt]-- like Nikkita -- but going for a major network. Buffy is a series about vampires -- but it has a teen protagonist. Parents don't want their kids watching "that kind of thing." (or so they believed) The list of taboos is almost endless.
The genius that Havens refers to is, I think, Whedon's deliberate, pre-meditated integration of 4 distinct genres, horror, action, comedy and drama, into a single cohesive and coherent story and then finding a way to sell this package to Hollywood despite violating all those taboos.
Candace Haven writes in Joss Whedon The Genius Behind Buffy: "This integration lies at the core of Buffy's appeal, but it made the show almost impossible to desribe in a way that movie and network executives understood. How do you sell a show that doesn't fall into a clear genre? For this reason, the movie version of Buffy was turned into a comedy, much to Joss's dismay. As a television show, Buffy was rejected by the major networks. Ultimately, the fledgling WB accepted Buffy as a cross-genre show. This acceptance was either a result of WB's vision or of its executives' inexperience.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "celes1" on June 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Read this one in an afternoon and it kept me entertained throughout. It has a lot of highly amusing Joss quotes. The guy is genuinely funny. It was nice to learn about his movie career because I didn't know too much about it. It has a lot of great Buffy information but it could have used more on Angel. It has a section on Firefly even though it was written before the show aired. The section on Joss' Fray comic convinced me that I need to go buy it now. My only major complaints are that the writer misspelled a character's name and the lack of Angel information. Despite those flaws, any fan of Joss Whedon will enjoy this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 22, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anyone who has seen or noticed many of my reviews probably knows at least one thing: I love BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, ANGEL, and FIREFLY/SERENITY. I'm about as big a fan of the work of Joss Whedon as you are likely to find. And I'm awaiting the start of his new series DOLLHOUSE more than one can easily imagine.

Nonetheless, this book is basically a puff piece. It is not a critical study, a critical analysis, or anything other than a fan raving about someone they admire. That being said, it is not a bad book for that. I merely point it out that this book is not there to dish the dirt, if dirt there is to be dished. And there is some, if not much. For instance, the book passes over a few unpleasantries, such as the inelegant dismissal of Charisma Carpenter from ANGEL (accounts vary, but one very prevalent rumor is that she was written out of the show because of a spur of the moment leave of absence she took during a few late Season Three episodes, only to return for filming the next season pregnant, something she had not apprised them of, resulting in the need for significant rewriting). Nor does the author delve into the botched attempt to have Amber Benson return in Season Seven (again, two rumors persist, one that she would have been the person that Willow saw in the otherwise wonderful episode "Conversations with Dead People," and the other that she might have returned to the show as the result of a wish that Buffy would have been granted -- after struggling with whether to remove Angel's curse or bring her mother back to life, the word is that she would have brought Tara back). Now, these are rumors. Perhaps there is truth to them. Perhaps there is none. But this is not the book that would dare deal with them.
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