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Joss Whedon: The definitive EW interview

This is a Joss Whedon story.

Which means this is the story of an overlooked underdog who rises up, embraces destiny, and strives to make the world a better place as part of a powerful team. It means there will be heartfelt speeches, smart humor, frequent pop culture references, and tales of fighting bullies and sinister corporations. There is also darkness— or at least the fear of it. Whedon arrived as a blockbuster filmmaker with last year’s top-grossing superhero mash-up The Avengers, which he’s spinning off into an ABC series, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which premieres tonight. But as his devoted fan base knows, Whedon struggled to tell his wondrous stories in Hollywood’s trenches for years. A third-generation TV writer (his grandfather and father worked on shows ranging from Leave It to Beaver to The Golden Girls), Whedon created beloved culty TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Dollhouse, as well as the online musical smash Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog; he’s also directed other films including this year’s indie darling Much Ado About Nothing.

Whedon’s story opens on the run, which is how you find him nowadays. We accompanied the 49-year-old writer-producer-director as he trekked from an EW photo shoot, raced along a Los Angeles freeway to the Marvel offices (where he’s plotting The Avengers: Age of Ultron), and then took a much-deserved breather at a coffee shop. The instant our interview concluded, a fan asked, “Is your name Joss?” and his attention spun away again.

EW Did you spend a lot of time by yourself as a kid?
JOSS WHEDON I spent a ton of time alone. I was raised by a feminist, I had a terrifying father, and oppressively scary and mean brothers. We had a farm. The rule was between breakfast and lunch you weren’t allowed to make a sound. “Quiet time” is what we called it, because my mom was writing. So what are you doing? You’re either writing, or you’re eating, or you’re walking up and down your driveway creating giant science-fiction universes and various elaborate vengeance schemes upon your brothers. At our apartment in New York, I’d stay in my room and listen to [Star Wars composer] John Williams and make up stories. I was afraid because every time I went outside in Manhattan, I got mugged. I remember being in my room and going, “Oh, I’m alone, but not lonesome. I have a family. They are people. But I’m all alone.” For me, that’s a defining trait.

Were you beaten up?
Only once. The first time I got mugged. They kicked me around a lot.

How old were you?
Thirteen. A tiny 13-year-old. I was small for my age.

READ FULL STORY

'Torchwood' Exclusive: 'Dollhouse,' 'Greek, 'One Tree Hill' stars eye key roles

gjokaj-stevens-murrayImage Credit: Carla Van Wagoner/PR Photos; Tina Gill/PR Photos; Andy Mechammil/PR PhotosRemember way back in June, when I told you that when Torchwood makes its Starz debut this coming summer, there would be a couple of new characters on board? Well, now I can tell you not only who they are but also who’s likely to play them (hint: you know and like all three). READ FULL STORY

'Dollhouse' exclusive: Eliza Dushku's BF Rick Fox moves in!

I think it’s getting serious: Eliza Dushku and real-life boyfriend Rick Fox are playing Dollhouse together! READ FULL STORY

Ask Ausiello: Spoilers on 'NCIS,' 'Glee,' Bones,' 'HIMYM, 'Grey's,' and more!

Got a scoop request? An anonymous tip you’re dying to share? Just want to say hi? You can send any/all of the above to ausielloscoop@ew.com

Question: The latest we’ve heard about Tony and Ziva on NCIS is Shane Brennan stating that their relationship will remain status quo. Please tell me they’re not ending Tiva? —Jamie
Ausiello:
Strange. That seems to contradict what I’m hearing. According to my hairy NCIS mole, the Jan. 26 episode finds Tony and Ziva hopping a plane to the City of Love. That’s right, Tiva takes on Paris! And would you believe the hotel screws up their reservation and they end up sharing a room together? What are the odds?!

Question: Your Bones scoop last week was crap. The promos already gave away Booth’s nude scene. Got any legitimate scoop? —Barry
Ausiello:
When the show returns on Jan. 14, someone must contend with a positive pregnancy test. Legitimate enough for you?! READ FULL STORY

Ask Ausiello: Spoilers on 'Bones,' 'Glee,' 'Chuck,' 'Gossip Girl,' and more!

Got a scoop request? An anonymous tip you’re dying to share? Just want to say hi? You can send any/all of the above to ausielloscoop@ew.com

Question: Are you planning to do an Ask Ausiello this week given the whole Thanksgiving thing? —Jennifer
Ausiello:
I haven’t decided yet. Can I get back to you?

Question: There’s a clip making the rounds from the Christmas dinner scene on the Dec. 10 episode of Bones where people are talking about a kiss. What do you know about it? Is it a Booth/Brennan kiss? —Penelope
Ausiello:
That’s a really good question. It’s so good that I’m not even going to try to answer it myself. “The Christmas episode is special — it’s Christmas after all,” responds exec producer Stephen Nathan. “But a kiss? With all of the squints and family there? That seems a bit too forward for Brennan and Booth, doesn’t it?” Damn you and your trick questions, Nathan! READ FULL STORY

This just in: 'Dollhouse' axed

dollhouse-axed_lThis has been a busy week for cancellations. The latest addition to the TV graveyard: Dollhouse.

According to multiple insiders, Fox has informed Joss Whedon that it will not be ordering additional installments of his low-rated drama beyond the current 13-episode order. On the bright side, READ FULL STORY

Exclusive: Fox to bench 'Dollhouse' during sweeps

dollhouse_lThis isn’t a good sign: Sources confirm to me exclusively that Fox has decided to pull Dollhouse off the schedule during November sweeps. Joss Whedon’s ratings-challenged drama is expected to return in December and air back-to-back episodes on Friday night.

Bottom line: Barring a ratings miracle, Dollhouse will be shut down for good after it completes its current 13-episode order.

'Glee' exclusive: Joss Whedon to direct!

glee-whedon_lIf I hadn’t been warming to Glee already, this for sure would’ve begun defrosting me: Dollhouse-keeper Joss Whedon has agreed to direct one of the back nine episodes that Fox just ordered.

Turns out, the genius who gave us not only the “Once More, With Feeling” musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer but also Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is a big fan of Ryan Murphy’s new phenom. So when Twentieth (the studio behind Glee) approached him about the gig, pretty much his only reservation was scheduling. READ FULL STORY

'Dollhouse' and 'FNL' scoop: Look who's returning!

I like to think of myself as a fairly plugged-in individual, but I have to admit I had no clue Friday Night Lights‘ Adrianne Palicki and Dollhouse‘s Alan Tudyk were a couple. At least I had no clue until they strolled into Entertainment Weekly‘s pre-Emmy party last night hand-in-hand. Well, good for them. And good for me since it meant I got two spoilery interviews for the price of one! Speaking of which, if you want to know when Tyra and Alpha are returning to FNL and Dollhouse respectively, there’s some embedded video with your name on it after the jump… READ FULL STORY

Ask Ausiello: Spoilers on 'House,' 'True Blood,' 'Grey's,' 'Lost,' and more!

ausiello-house-scoop_lGot a scoop request? An anonymous tip you’re dying to share? Just want to say hi? You can send any/all of the above to ausielloscoop@ew.com

Question: Has it dawned on anyone that Taub and Thirteen’s three-year fellowships are about to end on House? Do you know if the show plans to follow through on that? And, if so, does this mean Peter Jacobson and Olivia Wilde are leaving? —Mindy
Ausiello:
It certainly dawned on me. And it dawned on series creator David Shore — at least it did when I reminded him recently. He says he hasn’t figured out what will happen to Taub and Thirteen after their fellowships expire. Luckily, time is on his side. “It won’t be until the end of the season,” he says, adding that it’s not in his nature to gloss over such plot points. “I don’t like those things to be fake-outs.” What do you think? Do you want Taub and Thirteen to stay on? Or are you hoping they opt to seek greener pastures? Cast your votes in the comments section!

Question: Will Cuddy find out that House had real sex with that woman (a.k.a. Franka Potente) while in the asylum? —Gregory
Ausiello:
Not anytime soon, according to Lisa Edelstein. “She doesn’t know about the real girl or the real sex he has in the season premiere,” she says. “So far in scripts I have read she has not acknowledged that she knows. They certainly haven’t discussed it. It might break her heart.” Regardless, Edelstein says the House-Cuddy dynamic “continues to have its ups and downs” this season. “She has to eventually deal with him coming back [to work] and what his role will be and how will she handle him and what kind of state is he coming back in. They have feelings for each other — deeper than colleagues. But who knows if they will ever be right for each other? They never seem to be coming at each other at the same time. We are having fun no matter how we play it. Being at odds and playing off Hugh is great fun. If we ever get together I just don’t want it to seems false or forced, but I trust Katie and David to make the right moves.” READ FULL STORY

Exclusive: Ray Wise moves into 'Dollhouse'

Ray-Wise_lIt’s not James Marsters but this will do nicely…

Dollhouse has tapped spooky-cool Ray Wise to join the cast in the potentially recurring role of Howard, an intelligent higher-up in the Dollhouse who has huge presence and humor.

Wise is coming off of a two-year stint as Lucifer on The CW’s Reaper. Of course, to me, he’ll forever be the dude who offed Laura Palmer.

Dollhouse, which kicks off season 2 a week from Friday, is amassing quite the impressive talent roster this season. In addition to Wise, upcoming guest stars include Jamie Bamber, Keith Carradine, Alexis Denisoff, and Summer Glau.

Thoughts on Wise’s casting? Sound off below!

Armchair Casting Director: 'Dollhouse'

Where’s this guy been hiding? Joss Whedon is looking for an actor in his 30s or 40s to play…

Howard Lipman: An intelligent higher-up in the Dollhouse, Howard has huge presence and humor. Possible recurring.

ACD recommends: James Marsters.

Got a casting tip of your own? Let’s hear it!

Ask Ausiello: Spoilers on 'Grey's,' 'House,' 'Greek,' 'Mentalist,' 'Gossip Girl,' and more!

ask-ausiello_lGot a scoop request? An anonymous tip you’re dying to share? Just want to say hi? You can send any/all of the above to ausielloscoop@ew.com

Question: Grey’s Anatomy scoop on Owen and Cristina, please! —Jenilee
Ausiello:
They’re headed for a dry spell. In the season premiere, Amy Madigan’s shrink advises Owen against making any further sexy time with Cristina until he can get the voices in his head to shut the hell up. Relax, they’re not breaking up. Just taking things slooooow.

Question: No Grey’s Anatomy scoop in the last Ask Ausiello? Forget trying to get Mark-Lexie scoop, I’ll take anything on Grey’s at this point! —Maddy
Ausiello:
Too bad, because Mark-Lexie scoop is what you’re getting. “They’ve got a lot of challenges coming down the pike,” concedes exec producer Krista Vernoff. “The most consistent challenge is the one that’s built into the fabric of their relationship: He’s pushing 40, she’s in her early 20s.”

Question: What will happen to Patrick Dempsey on Grey’s when Ellen Pompeo heads off on maternity leave? —Jacob
Ausiello:
He’ll get some much-needed alone time. As exec producer Krista Vernoff explains, READ FULL STORY

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