A handful of television’s most successful writers, producers and showrunners got their first start in the Dawson’s Creek writers’ room. Twelve year after the iconic show’s end, six of those creative forces including creator Kevin Williamson, Paul Stupin, Gina Fattore, Anna Fricke, Jenny Bicks and Rob Thomas came together for an ATX Festival panel moderated by Williamson’s longtime collaborator and friend Julie Plec to share stories, words of wisdom, groundbreaking moments and a few story regrets (ahem, Eve and stockbroker Pacey), giving an inside look for a theater full of passionate fans.
1. Pacey was conceived as a Jim Belushi-type character. “Kevin had such a great vision of Dawson and Joey and that relationship and world … was amazing,” executive producer Paul Stupin said. “And as we sat and talked more it seemed like Dawson should have another friend. We should have three of them. Out of our conversation … we started talking about a Jim Belushi character. Out of that came Pacey.”
2. Williamson had no doubts about Joey and Dawson kissing in Season 1. “I always felt like [other shows] kept the couple apart,” he said. “I thought why don’t we just bring them together and then we can pull them apart again? I don’t remember having a debate at all; it was just a kiss. It’s not like they fell in love and got married! It’s just a kiss.”
3. Jen’s granddad was supposed to stay alive. “Through most of the first season he was on a ventilator off in the other room unconscious,” Stupin said. “Around Episode 10 he was going to come back to life, we were going to get to know him … then he was going to die and Jen would be emotionally distraught and that would push her towards Dawson. As the episodes went on we couldn’t figure out a way to revive granddad.”
4. The “Joey” name was born out of Williamson wanting to express being gay. “In every single character is one side of my personality,” he said. “I was the poor kid growing up on the wrong side of the creek. I was a wannabe Spielberg. I was also Pacey the jokester who never got anything right. I was Jen who was this broken bird who just wanted more, and better and to change all my wrongs. There was no one to express the gay side. The two leads were Dawson and Joey, two male names so in my own little way when I wrote the pilot I could express that.”
5. Standards and practices almost hindered Jack’s landmark gay kiss. “I remember being on set and was told we got to do coverage across the street, really far back,” Gina Fattore said. “On the phone was Greg [Berlanti] saying, ‘This has to be a real kiss, I want this to mean something.'”
6. The character of Eve [Brittany Daniel] was a major misstep. “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” Stupin said. “Flash-forward to the premiere of Season 3 where Dawson and Eve are fooling around on the boat and she was doing something to him, which causes him to crash into a dock and that’s where I think we started to go wrong.”
7. And so was stockbroker Pacey. “I have deep regrets about [this],” Anna Fricke said. “We were really into that movie Boiler Room. The feeling was Pacey wouldn’t go to college … and it felt so right for his character in terms of being so incredibly intelligent, but not bookish.”
8. The penultimate episode was intended to be the series finale.“The thought came up… that it would be fantastic to get Kevin back to do a spectacular two-hour that wrapped things up,” Stupin said. Added Williamson, “I was like, how am I going to do this I don’t know the ins and outs of every character? [Williamson left the show after two seasons.] By jumping ahead five years gave me freedom to go back to my characters.”
9. Why Jen had to die. “It was a coming-of-age story,” Williamson said. “They had dealt with every issue under the sun… but they hadn’t dealt with the death of someone in their circle. Until you deal with death, that’s one more way of coming of age. What would be it be like if they lost one of their own? I wanted to see what that would look like. It was also an opportunity to push people [together]. When you realize life is so precious you truly make real decisions and that’s what it forced Joey to do.”
10. Joey was supposed to end up with Dawson. Seriously.“Originally when Kevin and I started talking, it was pretty clear to both of us that it would be she and Dawson that would end up [together],” Stupin said. “So the first half of that two-hour we wrote with the understanding that it was going to be those two who ended up together. Halfway through Kevin calls me and said, ‘You know what? I changed my mind.'” Added Williamson, “I kept [saying] this isn’t what the show set out to be, maybe that’s where it started, but it’s evolved and turned into something else. [But] I wanted to say something about soulmates and what I believe soulmates can be, and that’s why I ultimately did it both ways. We find our soulmates in our best friends. We find our soulmates in our partners. It’s not always a romantic love. Pacey and Joey are soulmates. Dawson and Joey are soulmates. Pacey and Dawson are soulmates… Everyone got their fulfillment.”
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