Kevin Williamson (screenwriter)

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Kevin Williamson
Williamson in 2012
Williamson in 2012
BornKevin Meade Williamson
(1965-03-14) March 14, 1965 (age 57)[1]
New Bern, North Carolina, U.S.
  • Screenwriter
  • director
  • producer
Notable works
Years active1990–present

Kevin Meade Williamson (born March 14, 1965) is an American screenwriter, director, and producer. He is known for developing and writing the screenplay for slasher film Scream (1996)—which launched the Scream franchise—along with those for Scream 2 (1997) and Scream 4 (2011). He is also known for creating the WB teen drama series Dawson's Creek (1998–2003), the CW supernatural drama series The Vampire Diaries (2009–2017), the Fox crime thriller series The Following (2013–2015), the CBS crime drama series Stalker (2014–2015), and the CBS All Access thriller series Tell Me a Story (2018–2020).

Williamson also wrote the screenplays for the films I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), The Faculty (1998), and Cursed (2005). He made his directorial debut with the black comedy film Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999).

Early life[edit]

Williamson was born in New Bern, North Carolina, the younger son of Faye and Wade Williamson, a fisherman. He spent his early years in Aransas Pass, Texas, near Corpus Christi, Texas. Williamson's family returned to North Carolina for his high school years. He then attended East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, where he received a BFA in Theatre Arts.

He told Entertainment Weekly interviewer Melissa Maerz, "When I was growing up, my mom and dad took me to the Poe museum in Richmond, Virginia. It was a little house downtown, and The Raven was written on the walls. You had to move from room to room to read the whole story. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world."[2]


Early career (1990–1994)[edit]

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 following year where he had small parts in 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 (later retitled Teaching Mrs. Tingle) which was bought by a production company in 1995 and put on the shelf.

Mainstream breakthrough (1995–1998)[edit]


Inspired by the March 9, 1994, episode of the newsmagazine Turning Point on Danny Rolling, a serial killer in Gainesville, Florida, who preyed on college students, Williamson wrote a horror movie script, originally titled Scary Movie. Its characters had seen many classic horror movies (e.g. Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street) and knew all the clichés. Miramax bought the script for $400,000 for their new Dimension Films label in the spring of 1995. Directed by Wes Craven, the film was renamed Scream, and released in The United States on December 20, 1996. It became a commercial blockbuster and critical success—ultimately drawing $173 million in ticket sales worldwide.

Kevin Williamson earned the Saturn Award for Best Writing in 1996 for his work on Scream.

In 1997, Dimension Films released Scream 2, also written by Williamson. It, too, was a critical and box office hit and paved the way for two more installments, Scream 3 (2000) and Scream 4 (2011). The latter was written by Williamson.

Dawson's Creek[edit]

Paul Stupin, an executive at Columbia TriStar 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 hopeless romantic who is obsessed with movies—especially those of Steven Spielberg. Joey Potter, the platonic girl-next-door, was based on a real life friend of Williamson's when he was young.

In December 1995, the show was pitched to the Fox Network, where Stupin had been an executive, but it was rejected. Then in 1996, Stupin and Williamson went to, and struck a deal with, The WB. 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." Dawson's Creek premiered on The WB on January 20, 1998, and was an immediate hit that helped launch the newly created television network.

In 1999, Williamson left the show to focus on other endeavors, among them ABC's Wasteland, which failed to attract a sizable audience and was canceled after its thirteen-episode first season. He later returned to Dawson's Creek to pen the two-part series finale in 2003.

I Know What You Did Last Summer[edit]

In 1997, Williamson penned his next film, I Know What You Did Last Summer, based on a 1973 novel of the same name by Lois Duncan. Centered on four high school friends who accidentally run over a man and dump his body in an attempt to go on with their lives, the plot focuses on the four friends a year after the accident when they become the victims of a serial stalker. Despite receiving negative reviews from critics, the film was a box office success and helped launch the careers of actors Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Ryan Phillippe, going on to spawn two sequels, neither of which Williamson was involved with.

Later work (1999–2008)[edit]

Williamson gave up the job of writing the full script for Scream 3 in order to direct his first penned script, originally titled Killing Mrs. Tingle and inspired by Lois Duncan's novel Killing Mr. Griffin. 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) followed a group of students getting even with their vindictive teacher. The film was neither a critical nor box office success.

In 1999, Williamson created Wasteland, starring Rebecca Gayheart. A late night, sexualized version of his earlier show, Dawson's Creek, it aired for just 3 episodes in October 1999 before being canceled. The remaining 10 episodes were aired on Showtime's ShowNext channel in 2001.

In 2001, Williamson created Glory Days as a mid-season replacement for The WB. The series followed a novelist returning to his hometown, a coastal community within Washington state, which was experiencing strange occurrences—seeming to mirror the plot ABC's Twin Peaks. Debuting in January 2002, the series was canceled after the airing of nine episodes.

Williamson penned another script which Wes Craven would go on to direct called Cursed, after a failed first shoot starring an almost entirely different cast before re-writes and re-shoots turned the project into something new, it was finally released in 2005 and starred Christina Ricci, Jesse Eisenberg, Joshua Jackson, and Shannon Elizabeth. Due to the many script changes, delays in production and low promotional budget due to all the re-shoots, the film failed to perform at the box office.

Later that same year, Dimension Films released Williamson's horror film, Venom, about a group of teens stalked by a crazed killer in the bayous of Louisiana. Williamson is listed as a producer of the film, but not as a writer. The film opened to negative reviews and suffered at the box office, taking in less than $900,000 in gross revenue.

In 2006, Williamson began production on a new teen drama, tentatively titled Palm Springs, for The CW, the successor to the WB network. Later retitled Hidden Palms, the series was a coming-of-age drama about a troubled teen who moves with his mother and new stepfather to a gated community in Palm Springs, California, where he uncovers dark secrets about his neighbors and his home's previous tenants. Hidden Palms was originally intended to be a midseason replacement set to air in March but its timeslot was filled by Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll instead. The pilot eventually premiered on May 30, 2007, to favorable reviews. However, after eight episodes, the series was canceled due to low viewership ratings. The final episode aired on July 4, 2007.

Return and newfound success (2009–present)[edit]

Williamson developed a new TV series for The CW entitled The Vampire Diaries, which was adapted from a novel series of the same name by L. J. Smith.[3] The series follows the life of Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), who falls in love with vampire Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley), and soon finds herself caught in a love triangle between Stefan and his older brother, Damon (Ian Somerhalder), while the brothers are also being haunted by the past they've had with Katherine Pierce (also played by Dobrev). The series also focuses on the lives of Elena's friends and other inhabitants of the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia. The Vampire Diaries premiered on September 10, 2009, and has become a domestic and international hit.

Williamson developed a new TV series for The CW entitled The Secret Circle, which was from another book series of Vampire Diaries writer, L. J. Smith.[4] The series revolves around six teenage witches who form a Circle coven on the fictional town of Chance Harbor, Washington.

The Secret Circle premiered on September 15, 2011, just after the third-season premiere of The Vampire Diaries. It was pickup for a full-season on October 12, 2011.[5] It was eventually cancelled.

Williamson was the writer and producer for Scream 4, which began shooting in June 2010 and was released in theaters on April 15, 2011.[6]

Williamson created the TV series The Following, which began airing on Fox in the 2012–13 television season. Starring critically acclaimed actor Kevin Bacon, the series follows an ex-FBI agent who finds himself in the middle of a network of serial killers. The series was cancelled by Fox on May 8, 2015, however it was reported the series was being shopped to Hulu for a possible fourth season.[7]

Williamson also created Stalker, a psychological thriller centered on a pair of detectives who handle stalking incidents for the Threat Management Unit of the LAPD. The pilot was directed by Liz Friedlander and starred Dylan McDermott and Maggie Q. The series was cancelled on May 11, 2015, after one season. It was reported Warner Bros. would possibly shop the series around.[8]

In 2017, Williamson developed Time After Time, based on the novel of the same name, with the plot reset in 2017 New York City. It ran for only 3 of its produced 12 episodes before being cancelled.

In 2018, Williamson created Tell Me a Story, a psychological thriller based on the Mexican television series Érase una vez, who takes "the world's most beloved fairy tales and reimagines them as a dark and twisted psychological thriller". The pilot was also directed by Friedlander (who also directed episodes of The Vampire Diaries, The Following and Stalker for Williamson) and starred James Wolk, Billy Magnussen, Dania Ramirez, Kim Cattrall, Danielle Campbell and Paul Wesley. The latter was one of the main actors in Williamson's previous show, The Vampire Diaires. The show began airing on CBS All Access in October 31, 2018.[9][10]

In March 2020, it was announced that Williamson would serve as executive producer for the fifth installment of the Scream franchise, which was directed by Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin.[11] The film was released on January 14, 2022.[12][13]

In January 2022, it was announced that Williamson would reunite with Julie Plec for an adaptation of the comic Dead Day for Peacock.[14]

In February 2022, it was announced that a sequel to Scream (2022) had been greenlit, with a planned release date of March 31, 2023, with Williamson on board as an executive producer.[15][16]

In June 2022, Julie Plec, who co-created The Vampire Diaries with Williamson, announced that she, Williamson, and another TVDU executive producer, Brett Matthews, were working on a fourth show in the universe together.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Williamson is openly gay. He came out to his friends and family in 1992.[18][19]



Year Title Credited as Director Distributor Notes
Screenwriter Producer
1996 Scream Yes No Wes Craven Dimension Films
1997 I Know What You Did Last Summer Yes No Jim Gillespie Columbia Pictures
Scream 2 Yes Executive Wes Craven Dimension Films
1998 Halloween H20: 20 Years Later No Executive Steve Miner Also uncredited writer
The Faculty Yes No Robert Rodriguez
1999 Teaching Mrs. Tingle Yes No Himself Directorial debut
2000 Scream 3 No Yes Wes Craven
2005 Cursed Yes Yes
Venom No Yes Jim Gillespie
2011 Scream 4 Yes Yes Wes Craven
2022 Scream No Executive Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett Paramount Pictures
2023 Untitled Scream sequel No Executive Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett Paramount Pictures
TBA The Georgetown Project No Yes Joshua John Miller & M. A. Fortin Miramax


Year Title Credited as Network Notes
Writer Creator Executive producer
1998–2003 Dawson's Creek Yes Yes Yes The WB
1999 Wasteland Yes Yes Yes ABC
2002 Glory Days Yes Yes Yes The WB
2007 Hidden Palms Yes Yes Yes The CW
2009–2017 The Vampire Diaries Yes Yes Yes The CW
2011–2012 The Secret Circle Yes No Yes The CW
2013–2015 The Following Yes Yes Yes Fox
2014–2015 Stalker Yes Yes Yes CBS
2015 Scream Story No No MTV Episode: "Pilot"
2017 Time After Time Yes Yes Yes ABC
2018–2020 Tell Me a Story Yes Yes Yes CBS All Access
TBA Dead Day Yes Yes Yes Peacock

Further reading[edit]

  • 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


  1. ^ LoBrutto, Vincent (2002). The Encyclopedia of American Independent Filmmaking. Greenwood Press. p. 445. ISBN 978-0-313-30199-5. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  2. ^ Maerz, Melissa (January 11, 2013). "9 Hot New Shows: The Following". Entertainment Weekly. New York: Time Inc. pp. 54–55.
  3. ^ "Kevin Williamson Talks Scream 4". DreadCentral. June 5, 2012.
  4. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 9, 2011). "CW Picks Up Drama Pilot 'Secret Circle'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 16, 2011.
  5. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (October 12, 2011). "CW Gives Full-Season Orders To 'Hart Of Dixie' & 'Secret Circle', Goes 3-For-3". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 12, 2011.
  6. ^ "'Scream IV' Writer Talks Sidney Prescott's Fate, Death Scenes and Comedy". BloodyDisgusting. November 11, 2009.
  7. ^ "The Following Cancelled at Fox". May 8, 2015.
  8. ^ "'Stalker', 'The McCarthys' Cancelled by CBS". May 11, 2015.
  9. ^ Turchiano, Danielle (October 30, 2018). "Kevin Williamson Talks 'World of Unrest' as Inspiration for 'Tell Me a Story'".
  10. ^ "Tell Me A Story: See opening credits for Paul Wesley, Kim Cattrall's CBS All Access series". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on October 29, 2018.
  11. ^ Gemmill, Allie (March 12, 2020). "'Scream 5' Scores 'Ready or Not' Team Radio Silence to Direct (& Scare Us Silly)". Collider. Archived from the original on April 29, 2020. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  12. ^ Miska, Brad (August 28, 2020). "Relaunch of 'Scream' Slashing Into Theaters on January 14, 2022!". BloodyDisgusting. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  13. ^ Kroll, Justin (June 24, 2020). "New Scream Movie From Spyglass Media Will Be Released by Paramount (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  14. ^ White, Peter (January 27, 2022). "Julie Plec & Kevin Williamson Land Straight-To-Series Order For 'Dead Day' Comic Adaptation At Peacock". Deadline. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  15. ^ Kroll, Justin (February 3, 2022). "'Scream' Sequel Moving Forward At Paramount And Spyglass". Deadline. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  16. ^ Squires, John (March 31, 2022). "'Scream 6' Will Be Released in Theaters Exactly One Year from Today!". Bloody Disgusting!. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  17. ^ "The Vampire Diaries Universe Will Continue Beyond Legacies: The Next Show is 'Just a Matter of When'". June 17, 2022.
  18. ^ Epstein, Jeffrey (August 31, 1999). "Kevin Williamson Unbound". The Advocate. p. 44. Archived at Google Books. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  19. ^ Summers, Claude J. (December 23, 2005). The Queer Encyclopedia of Film & Television. Cleis Press. p. 259. Archived at Google Books. Retrieved August 31, 2015.

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