It's not. she says, that the younger set is looking for something fantasy driven like, say, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." But they do want something that treats younger folks like real people. A show that's "intelligent and interesting."
"I know growing up I always watched adult shows," says the 20-year- old actress. "Children's shows were boring."
Still, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Gellar believes the aforementioned "Buffy" fits the bill - she plays Buffy Summers, the central character of The WB Network's heavily- hyped new drama, airing Monday nights at 9.
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is loosely based on the 1992 big-screen film of the same name that starred Kristy Swanson and "Beverly Hills, 90210" graduate Luke Perry. The film was "cuter and campier" while the TV series is "darker," according to Gellar.
Buffy - a high school student by day, vampire fighter by night - is a reluctant hero of sorts. She's begun to accept that it's her birthright to use her martial arts expertise to dispose of blood-sucking vampires and other evil beings, but still gets annoyed when her duties interfere with her extracurricular activities. School librarian and resident expert on all things evil Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) helps Buffy in her cause.
The series is one of a handful of prime-time shows - from ABC's "Clueless" to the long-running "Family Matters" - that was designed to draw the teen and young adult audiences. Then, there are shows like ABC's "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch," which has pulled in adult viewers while programming for a younger crowd.
If Neilsen ratings and reviews are any indication, "Buffy could follow suit. In its debut outing, "Buffy" drew over 4 1/2 million viewers. While that's a low number for the major networks, it was a strong start for The WB, which doesn't have as wide a reach.
Despite it's multi-generational appeal, though, Buffy is in no danger of alienating its core teen audience.
"These are situations [in the storylines] that children can relate to," Gellar said. "the themes throughout the show are common: loving a friend; being at an age when you're having problems with Mom, and wanting to be an adult and wanting to be a child at the same time.
"The scariest horror exists in reality," Gellar said. "It's feeling so invisible, date rape, these are situations teenagers understand and can relate to because it's happening to them."
"Buffy" marks Gellar's prime-time series debut in a starring role, although she's no stranger to TV.
A Manhattan native, Gellar three years ago won an Emmy as Kendall Hart, the devious secret daughter of Erica Kane (played by Susan Lucci) on ABC's "All My Children." Soon after winning the award, Gellar quit the series - to the surprise of many.
She then landed a few miniseries and TV movies. But most of the offers she got were for soapy roles similar to the one she played on "AMC," she says. "I was really waiting for the role that was going to be special," Gellar says.
In March of last year, The WB put "Buffy" into development for the 1996-97 season. Gellar's excitement, though, had to be shelved when network brass passed on the show for fall. Eventually, it was picked up as a mid-season replacement.
"It wasn't ready," Gellar admits now. "This time in between really gave us a chance to fully develop and flesh out the show. It's stronger now."
Gellar says being the lead character didn't add any stress to the role - she's now featured in ads on billboards and bus stops all over town - because the pilot and 10 additional hours were completed before the program aired.
Now her future, and the future of "Buffy," is squarely in the hands of the Neilsen gods. If the show does well, of course, The WB will bring it back next season. For Gellar, now is a time of waiting and wondering what's next.
"I wouldn't mind just relaxing for a little bit," she says.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer,