Kevin Meade Williamson (born March 14 1965) is an American screenwriter known for his screen works of Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Dawson's Creek.
Williamson was born in New Bern, North Carolina
, the younger son of Lillie Faye (née
Pittman), a storyteller, and Ottis Wade Williamson, a fisherman. He lived in the neighboring coastal community of Oriental
, but before he started school his family moved to Aransas Pass, Texas
, later relocating to Fulton, Texas
, both near Corpus Christi
. Williamson's family returned to Oriental before Kevin's high school years. Obsessed from a young age with movies, especially those of Steven Spielberg
, he applied to New York University
's film school and was accepted but because he could not afford the tuition, he attended a school closer to home, East Carolina University
in Greenville, North Carolina
, where he took a B.A.
in theatre arts and was a member of the Society of the Seven.
Career in television
After graduation, he moved to New York City
to pursue an acting career. Though he landed a part on the soap opera Another World
in 1990, he moved to Los Angeles
the next year where he had small parts on In Living Color
, a Roger Corman
film, Hard Run
, and in music videos. While taking classes on screenwriting at UCLA
he wrote his first script, Killing Mrs. Tingle
which was bought by a production company in 1995 and put on the shelf.
The genesis of Scream
Inspired by the March 9 1994
episode of the newsmagazine Turning Point
on a serial killer in Gainesville, Florida
, who murdered college students, Williamson wrote a horror movie script, originally titled "Scary Movie". Its characters had seen many classic horror movies (e.g. A Nightmare on Elm Street
) and knew all the clichés. Miramax
bought it for their new Dimension Films
label in the spring of 1995. Directed by Wes Craven
, the film, renamed Scream
, was a smash with critics, who praised its intelligent and witty script which would win Williamson the Saturn Award
. Costing only $15.3 million to make, it sold $103 million in tickets in the U.S.
More high school peril
Williamson's next film was also about high schoolers in peril. I Know What You Did Last Summer
, based on a 1973 novel by Lois Duncan
, had four friends accidentally running over a man, panicking, dumping the body, and going on with their lives, only to be punished one year later. Duncan was appalled at her novel being turned into a horror film and making sport of murder. The film's producers, Columbia Pictures
, also annoyed Miramax by advertising it as "from the creator of Scream
" so Miramax rushed into production Scream 2
, also written by Williamson, and filed a lawsuit against Columbia. Scream 2
would also be a hit and would spawn a third film,Scream 3
, as the end part of the Scream trilogy
. Williamson wrote another in this genre, The Faculty
, characterized as "Invasion of the Body Snatchers
meets The Breakfast Club
Asked to do a series
, an executive at Columbia Tri-Star Television
, read Scream
after the bidding war for the script and was convinced Williamson was just the man to create a television series for his company. The result was Dawson's Creek
, a semi-autobiographical tale set in a small coastal community not unlike Oriental. Williamson was the model for the title character, Dawson Leery
, a dreamy romantic obsessed with movies--especially Spielberg's. Joey Potter
, the girl who platonically shares Dawson's bed was based on a friend of his who had shared his bed. In December 1995, the show was pitched to the Fox Network
, where Stupin had been an executive, but it was rejected. Stupin and Williamson then went to The WB in 1996, which bought the show. Williamson said "I pitched it as Some Kind of Wonderful
, meets Pump Up the Volume
, meets James at 15
, meets My So-Called Life
, meets Little House on the Prairie
Leaving Dawson's Creek
premiered on The WB January 20 1998
, and was an immediate hit with its intended audience. Despite this (and his having told Entertainment Weekly
that "I ain't never leaving Dawson's Creek
"), Williamson left the show at the end of its second season to create a show for Miramax
to air on ABC
. The result, Wasteland
, about twentysomethings in New York City was savaged by critics. The Hollywood Reporter
said it was about "the most attractively vacuous, self-indulgent, and pretentious group ever assembled in prime-time." It aired only three episodes in October 1999 before ABC cancelled it. (Williamson would return to Dawson's Creek
to write the two-part series finale in 2003.)
Teaching Mrs. Tingle
Williamson's first script was only produced when Williamson himself got behind the camera to direct. Starring Dawson's Creek
's Katie Holmes
, Barry Watson
, and Helen Mirren
, Teaching Mrs. Tingle
(as it was renamed after the Columbine High School Massacre
), had two students getting even with their vindictive teacher. Despite the cast, which also included Molly Ringwald
and Jeffrey Tambor
, it was panned by critics and audiences alike. Entertainment Weekly
said it was like Misery
scripted by a witless John Hughes
imitator" and the film, which cost $14 million to make, sold only $8.8 million in tickets in America.
Williamson created a mid-season replacement for The WB network
called Glory Days,
set in a coastal community in Washington state
, where very weird things were happening--shades of Twin Peaks
, it seemed. It debuted as a mid-season replacement in January 2002; only ten episodes were produced.
Williamson has written another script for Wes Craven, Cursed, which was released in 2005 and starred Christina Ricci, Joshua Jackson, and Shannon Elizabeth. The film suffered much script and scheduling difficulties during production. Consequently, it did not perform well at the box office.
Cursed, like some other Williamson works, includes a gay sub-plot. However, while the issue was handled with integrity and intelligence in Dawson's Creek, the subject is skipped over within the film. In-fact, the implication of a romance between 2 male characters appears to be forgotten by the end.
2005 saw the release of his newest horror film, Venom, about a group of teens stalked by a crazed killer in the bayous of Louisiana.
Williamson wrote and produced this show for The CW
. It was a coming-of-age drama about a troubled teen who moves with his mother and new stepfather to the gated community of Palm Springs where he uncovers some dark secrets. Hidden Palms was originally intended to be a midseason replacement set to air in March but Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll
aired in its timeslot instead. The Pilot eventually premeried on May 30, 2007. Eight episodes were ordered by the network but due to low ratings the series was cancelled. The final episode aired on July 4, 2007.
- Darren Crosdale. Dawson's Creek: The Official Companion. Kansas City, Missouri: Andrews McMeel, 1999. ISBN 0-7407-0725-6
- Jeffrey Epstein. "Unbound". The Advocate. August 31, 1999. 34+.
- Andy Mangels. From Scream to Dawson's Creek: An Unauthorized Take on the Phenomenal Career of Kevin Williamson. Los Angeles: Renaissance Books, 2000. ISBN 1-58063-122-3
- Charlie Palmer. "Kevin Williamson". In The Wallflower Critical Guide to Contemporary North American Directors. Edited by Yoram Allon, Del Cullen and Hannah Patterson. London: Wallflower, 2000. ISBN 1-903364-09-4