Kevin Williamson, the creator of the WB teen ensemble drama "Dawson's Creek," hasn't been creatively involved with the series since the end of the second season. So when the network approached him to co-write the two-hour series finale, airing Wednesday, he was a little reluctant.
"I hadn't been on the show in so long, I didn't know if I was the guy to do it," says Williamson, who created the series after enjoying big-screen success with "Scream" and its sequel. The network, though, convinced him he was: "You started it," Williamson was told. "Now we want you to put the final bow on it."
And the final bow to the six seasons of teen love and angst is actually set five years in the future. The WB, says Williamson, thought it would be a good idea to give fans a glimpse into what is in store for the characters. "Whenever you watch a show that is about characters you love, when it ends you want to know what the rest of their lives are going to be like," says Williamson. "Put it five years in the future and we sort of get an answer to that."
Williamson hopes the series' fans are happy with the finale. "I put my heart into it, and I cried the whole time I was writing it."
The series' swan song finds the core regulars -- James Van Der Beek as Dawson, Katie Holmes as Joey, Joshua Jackson as Pacey and Michelle Williams as Jen -- reunited in the small coast town of Capeside for a special wedding. Dawson has been living in Los Angeles and working on the production of his autobiographical TV series "The Creek," and he still carries a torch for Joey, who is now a successful book editor living in the Big Apple with her boyfriend (Jeremy Sisto). Pacey is the owner of the new Ice House, and just as with Dawson, is still in love with Joey. And Jen is a single mom living with Grams (Mary Beth Peil) and managing an art gallery.
Van Der Beek says there were a lot of intense emotions filming the finale. "I couldn't be happier to move on, but it's always tough to leave a really good thing, and we are leaving a family.
"It's so rare to work with the same group of people for six years and get that close to them. The third emotion on top of it all is a real gratefulness for the entire experience."
Less than 24 hours after the last scene was filmed, Van Der Beek had already gone on to his next job, starring off-Broadway in Lanford Wilson's new play, "Rain Dance," which opens May 20. During the last month of "Dawson's Creek," Van Der Beek had been flying from the series' location in North Carolina to New York for rehearsals for the drama, which casts him as a young scientist on the Manhattan Project in 1945. He says that doing a play after "Dawson's Creek" is "the healthiest thing I could have done for myself."
"Dawson's Creek" executive producer Paul Stupin says he has bittersweet feelings about the series ending. "When I look back, I think of so many adventures and so many exciting things that have happened over the course of six years. For the last six years, I have breathed, eaten and slept 'Dawson's Creek.' It is a world that I loved living in. If it were up to me, I would keep doing the show for as long as I possibly could."
Stupin acknowledges that there are tremendous expectations for the finale from fans as well as the series' creative staff. "I think there are certain questions and issues that audiences will want to be resolved. We hope the ending will be fulfilling and hopefully generate some water cooler talk at the same time."
Williamson says there are several reasons why "Dawson's Creek" became one of the signature series for the WB. "I think it's a combination of the cast that was very appealing and a coming-of-age story. Also in particular, we always tried to infuse that insight into the human condition as it relates to a teenager but from the perspective of a much more mature mind."
The series' first goal, he says, was to "cement the relationship between Dawson and Joey. They were the anchors of the show, but we always knew there was fire between Joey and Pacey at the get-go.
"Originally, they were the two best friends of Dawson who sort of hated each other. We slowly realized that there was a relationship there to be had and we couldn't wait to get to it. So the triangle was something we were hoping to accomplish."
The finale of "Dawson's Creek" can be seen at 8 p.m. Wednesday on the WB. The network has rated the finale TV-14 (may be unsuitable for viewers younger than 14, with advisories for dialogue and language).
Cover photograph of
Kerr Smith, left, Katie Holmes, James Van Der Beek, Joshua Jackson and Michelle Williams by Andrew Eccles.