February 27, 2003 11:00 AM

Whether she gets staked or axed, “Buffy” is on her way out.

After seven years, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” will be history come the end of this season, its star, Sarah Michelle Gellar, has announced, adding about the finale: “It’s going to be pretty spectacular.”

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly magazine (which, like PEOPLE, is part of AOL Time Warner), Gellar, 25, said, with tears welling in her eyes, “Buffy, in this incarnation, is over.”

The series, which was actually based on a 1992 movie flop, will apparently conclude with a five-part story that will include the return of bad-girl Faith (Eliza Dushku) and Buffy Summers’s first love, Angel (David Boreanaz).

“We’re gearing up to tell a fabulous, huge, great arc,” Gellar said.

As for the clue about the future — the word “incarnation” gave it away — EW reports that series creator Joss Whedon is planning a spinoff that could include some Buffy cast members.

(What network it might appear on is another matter. UPN is said to have first right of refusal, given that “Buffy” has aired there for the past two seasons, after its first five aired on the WB.)

Meanwhile, Gellar is reportedly hoping to focus on her home life and film career. Last week, PEOPLE.com reported that Gellar is in negotiations to be the leading lady in MGM’s “Romantic Comedy.” She’d play a United Nations translator being wooed by a guy named Max who likes to imitate romantic moments from movies.

The picture is to begin shooting in August, after Gellar finishes the sequel to “Scooby-Doo” with her husband, Freddie Prinze Jr., 26.

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