'Dawson's Creek' ATX Writers' Room Recap: 10 Fun Facts

On Saturday, the ATX TV Festival brought together the writers from one of TV’s most memorable series, "Dawson’s Creek."

In the festival’s first-ever writers' room reunion, moderated by writer and close friend of Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec from "The Vampire Diaries," the seven panelists revealed some amazing details behind the process of developing the characters and storylines from the WB series, which originally ran from 1998 – 2003.

Panelists included creator and "Dawson's Creek" showrunner Kevin Williamson ("The Following"," The Vampire Diaries"), Paul Stupin ("Switched at Birth"), Jenny Bicks ("Sex and The City"), Rob Thomas ("Veronica Mars"), Gina Fattore ("Californication") and Anna Fricke ("Being Human").

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Here are 10 amazing tidbits Access Hollywood learned today during the "Dawson's Creek" writers' room reunion:

'I Was Winging It'

Kevin Williamson admitted that during the initial pitching process, he was making it up as he went along, noting “I was winging it.” The pilot was sold to Fox where it got dumped because they had been struggling with "Party of Five." Stupin said it was in a deep freeze for a few years before it got picked up by The WB, which had just launched. “They had some notes, but they loved it.”

Where's The Action?

 

Rob Thomas, who scored his first writing job on "Dawson’s," talked about being green and lacking experience. In fact, he wrote 110 pages of conversation and didn’t realize he had to include action sequences in his script. "Like Jon Snow, I knew nothing," Thomas cracked at the panel, with a "Game of Thrones" reference. He learned quickly that you can’t save the good stuff for later -- “Do not delay gratification too long… you have to deliver quickly” or risk getting pulled from air.

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Where's The Love?

Williamson said he wanted to defy other coming of age stories—he wanted to be different and give "Dawson’s" a unique twist. He noted that a lot of other shows kept the couples apart but he wanted to explore that emotional device of longing and he did that with Joey {Katie Holmes) longing for Dawson (James van der Beek).

The Many Sides Of Kevin

Jenny Bicks said one of the most exciting moments was when they started talking about a gay character. So much of "Dawson’s Creek" was influenced by the writers' personal experiences, most of which came from Williamson's life. “Every single character is one of my personalities,” Williamson explained, noting he was the poor kid from the wrong side of the creek and looked up to icons like Steven Spielberg. Joey was the jokester, while Jen (Michelle Williams) was the broken bird. At the time, the only thing that represented Williamson being gay was in naming Katie Holmes' character “Joey.” He admitted “I always knew Jack was going to come out of the closet,” but never told actor Kerr Smith until they wrote the script. "Dawson’s Creek" aired the first ever gay kiss on primetime TV and they claim they had to film it from across the street due to broadcast standards.

All About Eve

“Let’s talk about Eve,” Julie Plec said, as she asked the writers about some of the choices they had made that they were less proud of. "Who’s Eve?” Williamson joked of the character played by Brittany Daniel. Stupin remembered it “it seemed like a good idea at the time.” They talked about how broadcast standards made it tricky to film the oral sex boat scene between Dawson and Eve. Eve ended up disappearing but Fattore said, “All the other stuff was the filler we needed to make the core work,” since ultimately Joey and Pacey (Joshua Jackson) bonded that night on the pier.

Pacey On Wall Street

They also touched on how Pacey ends up as a stockbroker. Annie Fricke, who started as a PA on the series and worked her way up to a writer, said that everyone was really into the movie "Boiler Room" at the time and they were trying to figure out what was a fast and dirty way Pacey can make money since the other characters were in college.

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Picking The Theme Song

Producers wanted the theme song to be Alanis Morissette’s “Hand in my Pocket,” but they decided on Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Want to Wait” after The WB used the song in the promos. “WB made it a hit before it was even on the air," Stupin said.

Time To 'Walk The Dog'

The network wouldn’t let them use the word “masturbate” so writer Jon Harmon Feldman apparently came in with a full list of alternatives. That’s how they ended up with the phrase “walk the dog.”

Dawson & Joey Almost Ended Up Together!

Stupin asked Williamson to come back to do a special two hours for the series finale. Williamson wrote it with Dawson and Joey ending up together and then changed his mind once he got into writing the first hour. "I wanted it to be a twist on the teen genre but also wanted it to be surprising, honest and real and say something about soul mates and what soul mates can be. That's why we did it that way," he said. "When you left the show in that last moment, they're a family and everyone got what they wanted. There was fulfillment and they were all happy."

Killing Off Jen

Williamson also talked about why he decided to kill Jen. He said that it was a coming of age story and they had dealt with every issue under the sun except for the death of someone in their circle. “When you realize life is precious you make real decisions,” Williamson said, and he wanted them, especially Joey, to learn that lesson. "Until you deal with death, that's one more way of coming of age."

Now you know! Sunday is the last day of the ATX Festival and Kevin Williamson will be moderating a script reading of "Dawson’s Creek" with some surprise guests.

-- Niki Kazakos & Tricia Durrant

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