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WB's 'Creek' Hits Fan Pay Dirt With Dawson's Desktop Web Site

May 12, 1999|MICHELE BOTWIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

First, "Dawson's Creek" antagonist Abby Morgan died in a dockside accident two weeks ago. Last week a passage of her diary was read during the WB's popular prime-time drama. But tonight, her damning disclosures will be made available only on the show's Internet version, Dawson's Desktop (http://www.dawsonscreek.com), with far-reaching consequences to "Dawson's" world. The Web site postings will provide fans with inside information about the TV teens--and will affect the story arc of next season's shows as the story line develops online over the summer.

The "Dawson's Creek" Web site, one of the few TV show sites to feature original story lines, has been extremely successful since its launch this season, receiving about 1.5 million page views per week. That figure jumps sharply after dramatic episodes or exclusive information, according to Chris Pike, manager of development for Columbia TriStar Interactive, which produces the site.

Indeed, "Dawson's," which has an estimated 5.4 million TV viewers per week and is the highest-rated TV show among female teens, has a rabid, net-savvy fan base eager to participate in the lives of Dawson, Joey, Pacey and Jenn, four teenagers from Capeside, a small, New England coastal town.

On Dawson's Desktop, in which users peruse Dawson's fictionalized personal computer screen, fans can sneak a look at Dawson's multimedia journal and homework files, surf his bookmarked Web sites and listen to his CDs. They can read characters' e-mails and chats and go through their trash bins. They can e-mail and chat in real-time with characters (whose input is supplied by writer Arika Mittman).

Web site drop-ins can even influence online story lines. For instance, as aspiring filmmaker Dawson's screenplay unfolded online earlier this season, fans e-mailed saying they wanted his characters to "consummate" their affection, so the screenplay was rewritten accordingly, Pike said.

Following tonight's episode, entries from Abby's diary will be posted daily for two weeks, revealing secrets about characters that will be referenced next season, according to Andrew Schneider, director of marketing for Columbia TriStar Interactive. In addition, the Web version of the show will carry on throughout the summer with the input of "Dawson's Creek" executive producer Paul Stupin and show writers, with more crossover between the show and its Internet counterpart next season, Schneider said.

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* "Dawson's Creek" airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the WB Network.

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