Joss Whedon

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Joss Whedon

Joss Whedon in 2005, at the premiere of Serenity.
Born Joseph Hill Whedon
June 23, 1964 (1964-06-23) (age 44)
New York City, United States
Occupation writer, director, executive producer
Spouse(s) Kai Cole[1]
Children Arden, Squire[2]

Joseph Hill "Joss" Whedon[3] (pronounced /ʍiːdən/;[4] born June 23, 1964) is an Academy Award-nominated and Hugo Award winning American writer, director, executive producer, occasional actor, and creator and head writer of the well-known television programs Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse. He has also written several film scripts and comic book series.


[edit] Early life

Whedon was born in New York City. He has been described as the world's first third-generation TV writer,[5] as he is the son of Tom Whedon, a successful screenwriter for The Electric Company in the 1970s and The Golden Girls in the 1980s, and the grandson of John Whedon, a writer for The Donna Reed Show in the 1950s.[6] His mother, Lee Stearns, was a high school teacher and novelist.[7] He is the older brother of Jed Whedon, a writer on Whedon's science fiction TV series, Dollhouse. Jed is engaged to his writing partner, Maurissa Tancharoen. He is also the older brother of "Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog" co-writer, Zack Whedon.[8]

[edit] Career

[edit] Television work

Following a move to Los Angeles, Whedon secured his first writing job on the television series Roseanne. After several years as a script doctor for films, he returned to television, where he created four TV shows.

Years after having his script for the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer produced – the interpretation by director Fran Rubel Kuzui having been poorly received by critics[9] and audiences[10] – Whedon revived the concept as a television series of the same name. Buffy the Vampire Slayer went on to become a critical and cult hit. Its episode "Hush," which was written and directed by Whedon, received an Emmy Award nomination for outstanding writing in a drama series in 2000. The show ran for five seasons on The WB Network before being relocated to the UPN Network for its final two seasons, after a bidding war for the broadcast rights. Though it premiered on Mondays at 9 pm, Buffy ran from the middle of the second season on Tuesdays at 8 pm.

Angel was a spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, featuring Buffy's vampire-with-a-soul boyfriend as the title character. It was created by Whedon with Buffy writer David Greenwalt. Tim Minear also contributed at essential key junctures. Debuting in September 1999 on the WB, the show was broadcast following Buffy on Tuesday evenings. After Buffy switched networks in 2001, Angel aired in a number of different time slots. Joss Whedon made a cameo appearance as the character Numfar near the middle of its run. The WB canceled the show in February 2004 while it was in its fifth season.

In 2002, FOX canceled Firefly, which Whedon produced with Tim Minear. Only 11 of 14 episodes were aired, many out of intended order — the original two-hour pilot ("Serenity") was aired last. After the cancellation, Whedon wrote the script for a Firefly movie, titled Serenity. Excellent DVD sales ensured the movie would be produced, and in early 2004 Whedon announced that it had been greenlit by Universal Studios. Shooting started in July 2004, and the film went into wide release in the United States on September 30, 2005. In the DVD release, Whedon discusses how Serenity would not have been made if not for the dedication of Browncoats, the fans of the series.

In August 2007, Eliza Dushku, with whom Whedon worked on Buffy and Angel, signed a development deal with FOX.[11] Shortly afterwards, Dushku and Whedon met over lunch to discuss possible ideas for a series for her. During the meal, he came up with an idea which excited both of them, and Whedon agreed then to write and oversee the pilot airing on FOX.[12] Whedon announced that he will be working with "a completely new bunch of people" who are "intelligent and supportive."[13] The show, Dollhouse, was announced by Fox in November 2008 to begin airing on February 13, 2009.[14] When asked about returning to Fox, Whedon stated, "These are different people [...] they didn't do to me what was done to Firefly." Since Firefly, Fox has come under new management and former NBC executive Kevin Reilly has taken over as President of Entertainment.[15]

Whedon is revered as one of the more influential figures in sci-fi and fantasy TV programming.[16][17] He has been described as "an object of worship for viewers who like their television smart and funny and transcendent."[18] J. J. Abrams states:

"Joss’ storytelling is always that perfect storm of wit, deep emotion and passion for genre. His brilliant characters make familiar territory brand spanking new—and damn if he can’t write a catchy song, too."[19]

Whedon finds that television offers greater storytelling opportunities than online media and movies:

"The fact is, network TV has something to offer the other mediums don’t. ...[With] a TV show, you get to examine a story, if you’re lucky, for a really long time. And that in some ways is the most rewarding kind of storytelling—when you turn something over in your palm and look at it again and again and find new things to say about it. I love that structure … that opportunity to play with (characters) for so long."[19]

However, he has also had a number of planned television projects that have become stuck in development or terminally stalled. Among these was a Buffy animated series, a set of made-for-television movies for The WB based on Angel and Buffy characters, and Ripper, a proposed BBC pilot about Rupert Giles. Ripper was announced to be in development at the San Diego Comic-Con 2007. The development process was set to begin in 2008 and Ripper to be shown that summer.[20]

He directed the 2007 episodes of The Office entitled "Business School" and "Branch Wars".[21] He appeared as an overbearing rental-car service manager in a second season episode of Veronica Mars called "Rat Saw God".

He voiced himself in two episodes of Robot Chicken entitled "Rabbits on a Roller Coaster" (2007) and "Help Me" (2008).

[edit] Feature films and video

Whedon wrote or co-wrote several films, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Toy Story, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Alien: Resurrection and Titan A.E.. He was nominated (along with three other writers) for an Academy Award for Toy Story's screenplay.

He also wrote uncredited drafts or rewrites of Speed, Waterworld, Twister and X-Men, although in interviews, Whedon disowned the latter three films. He claimed that he had a good script for Alien: Resurrection, which he felt was spoiled by its director Jean-Pierre Jeunet.[22] His Waterworld script was thrown out, and only two of his lines were kept in the final script of X-Men.[23] Even the Buffy movie bore little resemblance to his original screenplay.[24] According to Graham Yost, the credited writer of Speed, Whedon wrote most of its dialogue (see examples of credit conflicts in the WGA credit system).

He wrote and directed 2005's Serenity, based on his television series Firefly. Serenity won the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. Beginning in January 2006, fans (with Universal's blessing) began organizing worldwide charity screenings of Serenity[25] to benefit Equality Now, a human rights organization supported by Joss Whedon. Over $250,000 has been raised for Equality Now since 2006. 2009's goal is to raise $155,000.[26]

Whedon had been signed to write and direct Warner Bros.' adaptation of Wonder Woman but on February 3, 2007, Whedon announced that he would no longer be involved with the project. "We just saw different movies, and at the price range this kind of movie hangs in, that's never gonna work. Non-sympatico. It happens all the time."[27]

One aspect of the storyline of the film X-Men: The Last Stand bears a strong similarity to a plotline in Whedon's comic book Astonishing X-Men: the notion of a cure for mutation. The scientist who discovers the cure in the movie is named Dr. Kavita Rao, as is the scientist in the comic book storyline, though the characters are quite different. Whedon's story in turn bears a striking resemblance to a 1993 episode of the X-Men animated series, entitled "The Cure", written by Mark Edward Edens.[28] In both Whedon's and Edens' stories, the scientist who claims to have discovered the cure is secretly working with a superpowered enemy of the team (Apocalypse on the TV show, Ord in the comic book), a plot device that doesn't occur in the film script. According to Simon Kinberg, a studio executive who had read Whedon's comics asked him and Zak Penn to incorporate some version of the mutant cure idea into their script.[29]

In a 2005 interview with Empire Online, Whedon expressed an interest in directing a Harry Potter movie, being a fan of the book series.[30] He has written several Harry Potter-related jokes in his stories.

Whedon wrote a horror film entitled The Cabin in the Woods with Drew Goddard which has been greenlighted by MGM for production, with Goddard set to direct. He called it "The horror movie to end all horror movies... literally."[31]

In November 2008, Whedon guest starred in the premiere episode of The Write Environment, a direct to DVD series featuring in-depth, candid one-on-one interviews with some of TV's most prolific and well known series creator/writers.[32]

[edit] Comic books

Whedon, a lifelong comic book fan, is the author of the Dark Horse Comics miniseries Fray which takes place in the far future of the Buffyverse. Whedon returned to the world of Fray during the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight arc, "Time of Your Life".[33]

Like many other authors from the Buffy TV show, he also contributed to the show's comic book version: he wrote three stories in the anthology Tales of the Slayers (including one featuring Melaka Fray from Fray) and also the main storyline of the five-issue miniseries Tales of the Vampires.

The three-issue miniseries Serenity: Those Left Behind, based on the Firefly series and leading up to the film Serenity, was released June through August 2005. Co-written with Brett Matthews and pencilled by Will Conrad, the first issue featured covers drawn by John Cassaday, J.G. Jones, and Bryan Hitch, as well as other artists for the second and third issues. The first two issues went to a second printing. The trade paperback featured a new cover by acclaimed painter Adam Hughes.

A second three-issue Serenity miniseries Serenity: Better Days, was released in March, April, and May 2008. "Better Days" reunites Whedon, Matthews, Conrad, and Adam Hughes, who will provide all three covers. The three covers form a larger panorama of the ship's crew. "Better Days" is set before "Those Left Behind", and features the full crew of Serenity. A trade paperback featuring a cover by Jo Chen is scheduled for release in October.

Whedon and others have mentioned that more Serenity comics are planned for the near future, and will be based in the Firefly continuation of the series, including one about Shepherd Book.[34][35][36] Likewise, Whedon and other former Buffy writers have released a new ongoing Buffy which takes place after the series finale "Chosen", which he officially recognizes as the canonical "Season 8". The first issue was released on March 14, 2007 by Dark Horse Comics. Following the success of issue one of Buffy season eight, IDW Publishing approached Whedon about similarly producing a canonical Angel Season 6.[37] Angel: After the Fall has 14 issues published as of November 19, 2008 with 3 more to come following the adventures of Angel and his team after the TV series ended, where the title of the series will then change to Angel: Aftermath. [38] Although Whedon has not had the time to write the series, he has served as executive producer with Brian Lynch, writing the season 6 story.[39]

Whedon wrote Astonishing X-Men in Marvel Comics' popular line of comics about the X-Men but finished his 24 issue run in 2008 and handed over the writing reins to Warren Ellis. The title, recreated specifically for Whedon, has been one of Marvel's best-selling comics as of 2006 and was nominated for several Eisner Awards including Best Serialized Story, Best Continuing Series, Best New Series and Best Writer, winning the Best Continuing Series award in 2006. One storyline from this comic, the notion of a cure for mutation being found, was also an element in the third X-Men film, X-Men: The Last Stand. Whedon also introduced several new characters into the Marvel Universe such as the villainous Ord, new Xavier's Institute students Ruth "Blindfold" Aldine and Hisako "Armor" Ichiki , and Special Agent Abigail Brand, along with S.W.O.R.D., the organization she commands.

Whedon is the second writer of the critically acclaimed and fan-favorite Marvel comic Runaways, taking over after series creator Brian K. Vaughan completed his run.[40] Whedon had been a fan of the series for some time, and had a letter published in the first volume, which was included in the Volume 1 hardcover.

Whedon's other comic-related work includes writing the introduction to Identity Crisis trade paperback and a contribution to the "jam issue" Superman/Batman #26 (to date his only published work for DC Comics), writing short pieces for Marvel's Stan Lee Meets Spider-Man and Giant-Size X-Men #3 and also being the subject of an issue of Marvel Spotlight (alongside artist Michael Lark).

In February 2009, Astonishing X-Men #6, which depicted the return of Colossus to the title, and concluded Whedon's first story arc on that title, was named by Marvel Comics readers the #65 in Marvel's Top 70 Comics of all time.[41]

[edit] Online media

Whedon has ventured into the world of online entertainment, explaining that he wants to "keep exploring the idea of the independent producer on the Internet," as he feels that non-aligned producers have been largely "drummed out of TV."[19] In 2005 he released a series of online shorts titled the R. Tam sessions, starring himself and Summer Glau, which served as a form of viral marketing for Serenity. In 2007, he launched a free webcomic, titled Sugarshock! hosted on Dark Horse comic's Myspace page.[42]

In March 2008, Whedon teamed up with his brothers Zack Whedon and Jed Whedon, along with Jed's fiance Maurissa Tancharoen to write, compose and produce the musical superhero spoof, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. The musical stars Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day. Whedon conceived of Dr. Horrible over the year before and production took place over seven days during the Writers Guild strike. The project was freely available online from July 15 until July 20. It is currently viewable for free (USA only and with brief commercials), on Hulu. It is also available on iTunes, and for DVD purchase.[43] In August, Whedon released a new Serenity/Firefly comic free online Serenity: The Other Half.[44] In September, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog Soundtrack, made the top 40 Album list despite being a digital exclusive only available on iTunes.[45] The Soundtrack was successful enough to pays its crew and all its bills.[46][47] In November 2008, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along blog DVD became available for pre-ordering,[48] with Tubefilter reported that pre-orders of Dr. Horrible DVD are "booming".[49]

Whedon is a regular guest at, which New York Magazine describes as one of the Net's most powerful online fan communities.[50] In February 2009, he stated that after his series Dollhouse is over, whether by cancellation or reaching its end, that he plans on putting his efforts purely into on-line content like Dr. Horrible.[51]

[edit] Common themes and motifs in Whedon's works

[edit] Feminism

Whedon identifies himself as a feminist, and feminist themes are common in his work. For his part, Whedon credits his mother, Lee Stearns, as the inspiration for his feminist worldview. When Roseanne Barr asked him how he could write so well for women, he replied, "If you met my mom, you wouldn't ask."[52]

The character Kitty Pryde from the X-Men comics was an early model for Whedon's strong teenage girl characters: "If there's a bigger influence on Buffy than Kitty, I don’t know what it was. She was an adolescent girl finding out she has great power and dealing with it."[53]

Whedon was honored at an Equality Now benefit in 2006: "Honoring Men on the Front Lines",[54] and his fans raised a considerable amount of money in support of the organization.[55]

[edit] Dialogue

The dialogue in Joss Whedon's shows and movies usually involves pop culture references both notable and obscure, and the turning of nouns into adjectives by adding a "y" at the end of the word ("listy"). According to one of the Buffy writers, "It's just the way that Joss actually talks."[56]

Whedon also heavily favors the suffix -age (Linkage, Lurkage, Poofage, Postage, Scrollage, Slayage).[57] Also, phrasal verbs usually ending with "out" are changed into direct verbs, for example "freak" rather than "freak out", "bail" rather than "bail out", or "hang" rather than "hang out". Whedon also tends to change adjectives into nouns such as "happy" (positive thing), "bad" (mistake), "funny" (joke). So many of Whedon's altered usages, new words, and heavily popularized words have entered the common usage that PBS in their article series "Do You Speak American" included an entire section on "Slayer Slang".[58]

[edit] Spiritual and philosophical beliefs

Whedon has identified himself as an atheist on multiple occasions. When interviewed by The AV Club on October 9, 2002, Whedon answered the question "Is there a God?" with one word: "No." The interviewer followed up with: "That's it, end of story, no?" Whedon answered: "Absolutely not. That's a very important and necessary thing to learn."[59] In one of the Buffy DVD commentaries, Whedon comments that "I don't believe in the 'sky bully'", referring to God.[60] In addition, during a question and answer session found on the Serenity DVD with fans of the Firefly series at Fox Studios in Sydney, he identifies himself as an atheist and absurdist.

Whedon has also spoken about existentialism. On the Firefly DVD set, Whedon explains in detail how existentialism, and more specifically the book Nausea, by Jean-Paul Sartre, was used as a basis for the episode Objects in Space.[61] On this commentary he claimed interest in existential ideas and described the impact of Nausea on his early life.

Whedon also identifies himself as a humanist. In February 2009, the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard announced that he will receive the 2009 Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism. Whedon will give a short speech at the ceremony which will take place on April 10.[62]

[edit] Awards

[edit] Awards won

Nebula Awards:

Hugo Awards:

Eisner Awards:

Prometheus Award

Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard:

  • Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism (2009)[62]

[edit] Awards nominated

Academy Awards:

Emmy Awards:

Hugo Awards:

Nebula Awards:

Saturn Awards:

Streamy Awards:

[edit] References

  1. ^ "Musical CD Details". BBC. Retrieved on 2007-01-29. 
  2. ^ "Hang on in there". Timesonline.,,2774-1729034,00.html. Retrieved on 2006-11-28. 
  3. ^ *"Joss Whedon: A to Z". Retrieved on May 5 2007. 
  4. ^ YouTube — Joss Whedon Serenity Intro
  5. ^ "Joss Whedon – Biography". IMDB. Retrieved on 2008-08-01. 
  6. ^ Joss Whedon Biography (1964?-)
  7. ^ Must-See Metaphysics
  8. ^ Rochell D. Thomas. "Is Dollhouse a family affair?" TV Guide March 16, 2009; Page19
  9. ^ "Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on February 29 2008. 
  10. ^ "Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) Weekend Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2008-02-29. 
  11. ^ Michael Schneider (2007-08-26). "Fox, Dushku stake project". Variety. Retrieved on 2007-05-17. 
  12. ^ Maria Elena Fernandez (2008-05-15). "Q & A with Joss Whedon, writer, producer and director". Los Angeles Times.,0,7939261.story. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. 
  13. ^ "James Hibberd - Joss Whedon Returns to Fox With New Series 'Dollhouse' - TVWeek - Blogs". TV Week. 2007-10-31. Retrieved on 2007-11-02. 
  14. ^ FOX (2008-11-06). "Jab & Feb Premiere Dates". FOX. Retrieved on 2008-11-26. 
  15. ^ Lee, Patrick (2008-07-15). "Dollhouse's Whedon OK with Fox". Sci Fi Wire. Retrieved on 2008-08-18. 
  16. ^ David Kushner (2009-02-06). "Joss Whedon Goes Where No TV Man Has Gone Before". Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2009-02-08. 
  17. ^ Sergio Ibarra (2008-09-28). "Master of Sci-Fi: Joss Whedon". TV Week. Retrieved on 2009-02-08. 
  18. ^ Ellen Gray (2009-02-12). "Ellen Gray: Josh Whedon's 'Dollhouse' debuts on Fox". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved on 2009-01-02. 
  19. ^ a b c Josef Adalian (2009-01-01). "Joss Whedon Returns to TV After 'Dr. Horrible'". TV Week. Retrieved on 2009-01-02. 
  20. ^ IGN Staff. "IGN: SDCC 07: Whedon Says Buffy Spinoff Ripper Still Planned". Retrieved on 2008-10-20. 
  21. ^ *"Joss Whedon to Direct Another Episode of The Office.". Retrieved on July 17 2007. 
  22. ^ Interview for SFX magazine[issue # needed]
  23. ^ "In Focus | August/September 2005 | Serenity Now! Uncut". Retrieved on 2008-10-20. 
  24. ^ "Joss Whedon - Web Exclusive | The A.V. Club". Retrieved on 2008-10-20. 
  25. ^ "Can't Stop The Serenity". 
  26. ^ "Can't Stop the Serenity". Retrieved on 2008-11-29. 
  27. ^ "Whedonesque : Comments on 12385 : SATIN TIGHTS NO LONGER". Retrieved on 2008-10-20. 
  28. ^ "X-Men: The Cure Recap -". Retrieved on 2008-10-20. 
  29. ^ "IFMagazine". Retrieved on 2008-10-20. 
  30. ^ Posted by: Melissa. "Joss Whedon on Directing Harry Potter - The Leaky Cauldron". Retrieved on 2008-10-20. 
  31. ^ Travis Fickett. "IGN: SDCC 07: Joss Whedon Heads To The ''Cabin in the Woods''". Retrieved on 2008-10-20. 
  32. ^ []
  33. ^ "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8: #16 Time of your Life". Retrieved on 2008-08-22. 
  34. ^ "Ron Glass announces “A Shepherd’s Tale” comic, reveals (some) secrets". - News blog. December 12 2007. Retrieved on April 13, 2008. 
  35. ^ Allie, Scott (March 2008). Transmissions from the Cortex. In Whedon, Joss & Matthews, Brett, Serenity: Better Days #1. Milwaukie: Dark Horse Comics.
  36. ^ Allie, Scott. Interview with Ullrich, Chris. Interview: Scott Allie on Shepherd Book's 'Serenity' Spin-Off and 'Solomon Kane' (Transcript). June 13, 2008. Retrieved on August 12, 2008.
  37. ^ DiLullo, Tara, "Pieces of Eight", from The Official Buffy & Angel Magazine #93 (UK, April/May 2007), page 23-24.
  38. ^ Kelley Armstrong - "Angel : Aftermath" Comic Book - Q&A
  39. ^ "SDCC '07: BRIAN LYNCH ON ANGEL: AFTER THE FALL". Retrieved on 2007-07-30. 
  40. ^ "Joss Whedon To Take Over Runaways". 9-12-2006. 
  41. ^ "Marvel Top 70 Comics Countdown". 2-25-2009. 
  42. ^ " - MySpace Dark Horse Presents Free Online Comics & Comic Books on MySpace". Retrieved on 2008-10-20. 
  43. ^ "And somewhat later, we will put the complete short epic out on DVD..."
  44. ^ Serenity: The Other Half on Dark Horse comic's Myspace page
  45. ^ Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog Soundtrack makes top 40 Album list despite being a digital exclusive only available on iTunes.
  46. ^ [1]
  47. ^ [2]
  48. ^ Order Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog DVD
  49. ^
  50. ^ "A Fanboy Field Guide". New York Magazine. 2009-01-01. Retrieved on 2009-01-02. 
  51. ^ Slice of SciFi #201: Interview With Gord McWatters
  52. ^ "The ladies' man - TV & Radio - Entertainment -". Retrieved on 2008-10-20. 
  53. ^ "Joss Whedon Goes Back To The Drawing Board". Retrieved on 2008-10-20. 
  54. ^ [3][dead link]
  55. ^ "Serenity". Retrieved on 2008-10-20. 
  56. ^ Buffy Season 4 DVD Commentary, Season 3 DVD featurette.
  57. ^ "". 
  58. ^ "Do You Speak American . Words That Shouldn't Be? . Sez Who? . Buffy | PBS". Retrieved on 2008-10-20. 
  59. ^ Is There A God?
  60. ^ Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVD series, episode 5.16 (The Body), commentary by Whedon.
  61. ^ Firefly DVD series, episode 14 (Objects in Space), commentary by Whedon.
  62. ^ a b "2009 Cultural Humanism Awardee: Joss Whedon". 2009-02-09. Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  63. ^ a b "2009 Hugo Award Nominations". 2009-03-20. Retrieved on 2009-03-20. 

[edit] External links

Preceded by
Astonishing X-Men writer
Succeeded by
Warren Ellis
Preceded by
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight writer
Succeeded by
Brian K. Vaughan
Preceded by
Brian K. Vaughan
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight writer
Succeeded by
Drew Goddard
Preceded by
Jane Espenson
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight writer
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Brian K. Vaughan
Runaways writer
Succeeded by
Terry Moore
NAME Whedon, Joss
SHORT DESCRIPTION Actor, Director, Producer, Writer
DATE OF BIRTH June 23, 1964
PLACE OF BIRTH New York City, U.S.
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