April 22, 2001 -- During five years of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sarah Michelle Gellar has faced zombies, demons, vampire suitors, and the death of her mom, but the Slayer never could have predicted this: a move to UPN.
Snapping up the WB's prized series is a major coup for UPN, whose only hits have been WWF SmackDown! and Star Trek: Voyager. The two-year licensing deal, which is good for 44 more episodes of Buffy, was reported late Friday by Variety.
As soon as Buffy came up for contract negotiations, other networks began bidding on the hit show. Industry speculation was high that the Fox network would end up with the Fox-produced series.
The WB was reportedly unwilling to pay more than $1.8 million per episode to the show's producer, 20th Century Fox, while UPN stepped up with a reported offer of $2.35 million per episode.
"Creatively, we've had a great partnership with the WB on Buffy the Vampire Slayer over the past five years, and we are grateful for their contributions in making the show a hit," Fox Television President Dana Walden said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the WB did not share our vision or passion for the show's future and, quite simply, UPN did."
Gellar had originally spoken of leaving the show that launched her as a star if it switched networks but quickly thereafter issued a declaration of her loyalty to Buffy, regardless of its place on the TV dial.
Angel, the Buffy spinoff that stars her brooding ex-beau of a vampire (played by David Boreanaz), will stay on the WB. However, the UPN deal promises to resurrect the vamp-with-a-soul series for a minimum of two years if the WB should cancel it.
Reuters contributed to this story.