Cult TV fans, set your emotions to thrilled: Joss Whedon is finally returning to the tube. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer
mastermind has just signed a deal with Fox to create a drama series called Dollhouse
. Better yet, he's chosen a very familiar face to inhabit it: she of Faith fame, Eliza Dushku.
The show, which boasts a seven-episode commitment for 2008 and a hefty license fee between $1.5 million and $2 million per ep, will chronicle the exploits of a group of individuals who are "imprinted with personality packages" — meaning that they can assume a variety of indentities (language skills, physical talents, memories, etc.) to be used for all types of tasks. When these missions are over, the individuals have their memories erased and reside in a guarded laboratory known as the Dollhouse; Dushku's Echo, however, is slowly coming of consciousness. "We call it a suspense-drama-mythology-comedy-action-horror musical," Whedon half-jokes of the show, which will bend and blend genres in typical Joss fashion. "The main thrust is the thruline of Echo as a sort of newly born character who goes, 'Wait a minute — I exist. Wow. So who would I be? And how dangerous is it for me to let anybody know that I know that I exist?' Not unlike the Frankenstein myth, it's, 'Who made me, who am I, and why am I?'"
Sounds like Dushku has already bonded with her alter ego. "She's fierce and she's hot, but she's also so complex, and she's going to be so tripped out because she's in this world, which I can identify with, where there are people who can click a button and succeed in making you be what they want you to be. It's this whole mindtrip of objectification," she says. "It's going to have sex and heartbreak and violence and hilarity. That, to me, is a hot show."
So when did construction on Dollhouse
begin? The two were having a friendly meal last month — Dushku was seeking some project guidance after signing a deal with Fox — when inspiration hit the pair. "In the middle of the lunch, I said, 'Oh, s---, I made up a show, and I have a title,'" recalls Whedon. "And that's when you know you're dead, when there's a title."
Dushku, who'll also serve as a producer on this 20th Century Fox TV series, was more than thrilled to reteam with her mentor. "I've always said from the Buffy
days, 'I'll follow that guy anywhere,'" she notes. "I just had to find him and pluck him out of his supposed retirement from television."
The timing of this project is somewhat fortuitous for Whedon. (Except, of course, for that whole impending strike mess.) The latest rewrite of his supernatural triller Goners
for Universal "was not incredibly well-received," he says. "Nothing's happening with it right now. It's not good news, but one door closes, and then there's a draft, and another one opens."