Gail Berman Remembers Getting “No After No” For ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ Before She Got A Yes; Producer Talks “Resilience” In Accepting PGA’s Norman Lear Award

Gail Berman Remembers Getting “No After No” For ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ Before She Got A Yes; Producer Talks “Resilience” In Accepting PGA’s Norman Lear Award
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Some producers will say it’s hard to be a producer in today’s world of streaming vs. theatrical — heck, even post-pandemic, but Gail Berman provided a lot of inspiration while accepting the Norman Lear Award at tonight’s PGA Awards.

At the aorta of her acceptance speech (watch it above) was how she got Buffy the Vampire Slayer off the ground, born out of a 1992 summer B-movie.

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“Not a single person was interested in buying that television show,” she said onstage. “I mean not a single person on this Earth was interested in buying that television show. I couldn’t ignore my gut. An empowerment story with a young woman at the center. We got ‘no’ after ‘no’ after ‘no.’ Then one day, we finally got a ‘yes.’ And I gotta say, it all comes down to resilience.”

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How does Berman do it? A Broadway producer in her early 20s, she blossomed into a TV studio head at Fox Entertainment and then eventually development boss at Paramount.

“Very early in my career — I was 24 years old — I was running around looking for financing for my show, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Berman said. “After a time, I didn’t accept the reality of a ‘no,’ and that was a really good thing. I just kept going; there was no other choice, there was no Plan B. We came to understand that a ‘no’ is real. No matter what side of the business you’re on, no matter how successful you appear, we always have to fight for that ‘yes.'”

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Berman’s sizzle reel showed off her greatest hits from series such as Angel, Roswell and American Idol to movies such as the recent Austin Butler-led Warner Bros pic Elvis.

“In watching that reel, I was struck by how many hurdles had to be jumped,” remarked Berman.

Providing advice to the producers in the room, she added: “We must take time to lick the wounds, but we must come bouncing back. You must ultimately find the strength to keep going.”

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Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar, delivered a heartfelt introduction for Berman. She described the honoree as a huge mentor in her career who taught the then-18-year-old actress how to balance the professional with the personal.

“Gail and Buffy are similar — strong, empowering, selfless women driven by goodness,” extoled Gellar about Berman.

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Berman’s notable talent as a producer. per Gellar?

“[She] creates space where you can be vulnerable,” she said, “and if you can’t be vulnerable, you can’t create art.”

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