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Musical 'Buffy' Finally Lands in Stores

September 23, 2002|Randy Lewis

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fans will have double reason to celebrate Tuesday. The series not only launches its seventh season at 8 p.m. on UPN, the soundtrack from last year's Emmy-nominated musical episode "Once More, With Feeling" finally arrives in record stores.

The album includes all the songs from the episode, in which all residents of the fictional town of Sunnydale find themselves under a spell that causes them to frequently break out in song.

Series creator Joss Whedon, who composed the music and lyrics, says he'd long harbored the fantasy of telling a story almost entirely in song. Star Sarah Michelle Gellar and her co-stars did all their own singing. Whedon, series regular Amber Benson and others from the show will be at Tower Records in West Hollywood on Saturday for a record release party.

It took nearly a year, however, for Whedon to work out the release of the soundtrack for the episode, which first aired last October and received an Emmy nomination for best musical direction.

"When you have a huge bunch of actors and a bunch of companies, you run into all sorts of legal foofaraw," Whedon says. "But everyone came through eventually, and the album is coming out, although it's a little bit later than the [episode's] premiere."

The 38-year-old creator of "Buffy," its spinoff, "Angel," and the new "Firefly" is a lifelong musical-theater junkie who took part in high school productions of such musicals as "West Side Story" and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," and said he "listened to 'Hair' all the time when I was a tiny baby."

In the album's liner notes, which Whedon also wrote, he calls the "Once More, With Feeling" episode and album "the hardest and most rewarding work I've ever done."

"I'm a big fan of the show," says John Virant, president and chief executive of Rounder Records, which is handling the soundtrack's release in North America. "I remember watching the episode when it aired last October, and after it was over, I said to my wife, 'That's the best hour of TV I've ever seen. Someone should put that [soundtrack] out.' I inquired at Fox, just following up, and they said, 'Well, we tried, it didn't happen. If you want to take a run at it, feel free.' "

Rounder is initially shipping 100,000 copies. How it will fare at retail "is a tough call," says Wherehouse senior rock buyer Bob Bell, especially in a week that brings new albums by Beck, Peter Gabriel and the Elvis Presley compilation "30 No. 1 Hits."

"The show's hard-core fans are going to buy it no matter what," Bell says. "That dedication is going to guarantee a certain level of support. The good thing about it is that the music was really involved in the show, as opposed to lot of TV soundtracks where the music is not that prominent, or maybe was heard briefly in the background."

Whedon says he'll be paying attention to the album's sales figures, but they won't make or break his day.

"It would be lovely if hundreds and thousands of people buy it," he says. "But my expectations are pretty simple. I'm just glad that people now have access to it. It if happens to sell lots and lots ... well, nothing would surprise me at this point."

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