TV Article

School Daze

Fearing copycat violence, The WB yanked the graduation episode that was slated to finish out the season

Buffy may excel at kicking undead butt, but she's got a rotten sense of timing. Last month execs at The WB chose to pull the April 27 episode of ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer'' because of the eerie similarities between it and the April 20 massacre at Columbine High School.

Then the netlet decided to yank the conclusion of the two-episode ''graduation'' finale, which was slated to air Tuesday night. (The first part aired last week.) The reason: continued sensitivity to the Columbine and Heritage High shootings, along with a fear that a wave of copycat crimes could occur this month as thousands of high schoolers celebrate their real-life graduations. ''Although financially we'd have every reason to run the episode,'' a WB spokesman told EW Online, ''we think the timing is bad. We want everyone who'll be out wearing caps and gowns to remain safe.'' (The two-part episode will run sometime in July.)

Contacted in late April, ''Buffy'' star Seth Green said WB execs had made the right decision to postpone the earlier show in the wake of the Columbine shootings. ''It would have seemed really callous and inappropriate,'' said the 23-year-old star. ''But the actual episode has nothing to do with school violence. It's a red herring in the story.'' (In the final episode, a commencement ceremony turns violent when the mayor morphs into a 60-foot serpent and attacks the students.)

Still, Green is peeved some people have suggested that the controversial episodes would best be dumped altogether. ''The simple fact is, this is a topical issue,'' says Green, who admits that his character jokes that school shootings are ''bordering on trendy'' in the show. ''It's a growing problem, and Colorado isn't the only place it's happened. We just don't want to think these things happen, but they happen all the time.''

The actor, who recently starred in the blood-spattered gore comedy ''Idle Hands,'' is bothered that the Columbine shootings have focused criticism on violence in entertainment. ''Instead of focusing on the real issues and the fact that guns are so easily and readily available to kids and that people aren't watching their kids carefully enough or monitoring the emotions of their students, they'd rather say, 'Ooooh, that guy's got a Mohawk,' or 'That guy's got a leather jacket on, and ''Natural Born Killers'' is a film I don't like, and Marilyn Manson scares me,' so all that sh-- should be put on a funeral pyre. I think that's the wrong way to go. You can have 10,000 kids watch 'Natural Born Killers,' and only one or two is going to go shoot people, and you can guess they had mental problems to begin with.''

The WB will air a ''Buffy'' rerun in place of the season finale.

Originally posted May 25, 1999
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