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Lambert Williamson

Lambert Williamson

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Bursting onto the scene with the screenplay for the genre-reviving horror movie "Scream" (1996), writer-producer Kevin Williamson became well-known for his insightful take on youth-focused entertainment, creating hits both in film and on the small screen. The self-aware "Scream," which referenced numerous classics of the genre throughout the story, became a huge box office hit and turned unknowns like Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich and Rose McGowan into stars. Williamson followed up with another smash horror hit, "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (1997). Though not as hailed or influential, the movie was nonetheless another big success at the box office. Williamson used his clout to create the hour-long drama, "Dawson's Creek (The WB, 1998-2003), a semi-autobiographical series that reveled in its realistic depiction of problems faced by teenagers. He made his directorial debut with the comedic thriller "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" (1999), while enjoying the continued success of the sequels "Scream 2" (1997) and "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" (1998). But after leaving the show following its second season, Williamson hit a career skid that saw him flail with critically maligned shows like "Wasteland"...

Bursting onto the scene with the screenplay for the genre-reviving horror movie "Scream" (1996), writer-producer Kevin Williamson became well-known for his insightful take on youth-focused entertainment, creating hits both in film and on the small screen. The self-aware "Scream," which referenced numerous classics of the genre throughout the story, became a huge box office hit and turned unknowns like Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich and Rose McGowan into stars. Williamson followed up with another smash horror hit, "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (1997). Though not as hailed or influential, the movie was nonetheless another big success at the box office. Williamson used his clout to create the hour-long drama, "Dawson's Creek (The WB, 1998-2003), a semi-autobiographical series that reveled in its realistic depiction of problems faced by teenagers. He made his directorial debut with the comedic thriller "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" (1999), while enjoying the continued success of the sequels "Scream 2" (1997) and "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" (1998). But after leaving the show following its second season, Williamson hit a career skid that saw him flail with critically maligned shows like "Wasteland" (ABC, 1999) and "Hidden Palms" (The CW, 2007), as well as forgettable features like "Cursed" (2005). Williamson returned to prominence with "Vampire Diaries" (The CW, 2009-17) and the long-awaited "Scream 4" (2011), proving that he was still the master of teen-driven horror.

Born on March 14, 1965 in New Bern, NC, Williamson was raised by his father, Wade, a fisherman and his mother, Faye, who raised their two children in nearby Oriental. After spending his formative years living in Texas, he returned to North Carolina for his high school and college years, attending East Carolina University in Greenville to study film and theater, even though he was accepted at New York University; inability to afford tuition forced him to stay in Carolina. At first, Williamson tried his hand at acting, moving to New York City to pursue a career in the field. He managed to secure extra work on the daytime soap "Another World" (NBC, 1964-1999), before moving to Los Angeles, where he landed small parts in "Major League" (1989) and on "In Living Color" (Fox, 1990-94). Eventually, Williamson switched to writing and began taking screenwriting classes at the University of California, Los Angeles, which resulted in his first script, "Killing Mrs. Tingle," being sold to Interscope Communications. While writing screenplays on the side, he took a job as an assistant video director and worked on such memorable videos as LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out" (1990).

A few years later, Williamson was inspired to write what became his breakout hit, "Scream" (1996), both a witty parody and celebration of the horror movie genre. Directed by horror maven, Wes Craven, and starring a cast primarily made up of new faces, including Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich and Rose McGowan, "Scream" breathed a hip, fresh life into the dying teen slasher genre. The movie proved to be a huge box office smash, while critics praised Williamsons' smart use of self-awareness among the characters while littering the movie with numerous references to other horror films, including Craven's own "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984). Williamson followed up with another horror flick, "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (1997), which he adapted from the Lois Duncan novel of the same name. While his screenplay was essentially a complete overhaul, the film maintained the original psycho-thriller tone. Seeking to create a new Michael Myers-esque villain, he made the antagonist a mysterious fisherman who terrorizes four teens (Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ryan Philippe and Freddie Prinze, Jr.) during the July 4th weekend. Despite mixed reviews, the movie was another smash hit at the box office.

Later that same year, Williamson reunited with Wes Craven to write and executive produce the action-packed sequel, "Scream 2" (1997). The movie focused on the original's hero, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), who goes to college two years after the events of the first movie, only to find herself pursued by a killer inspired by the first murders, while sleazy journalist, Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), exploits the killings for all they are worth. Not disappointing like most sequels, the second in the trilogy lived up to the precedent set by the first. While carrying on a fruitful and acclaimed film career, Williamson turned to the small screen to create "Dawson's Creek" (The WB, 1998-2003), a sensitive and intelligent coming-of-age drama populated with realistic, albeit unusually eloquent characters. "Dawson's Creek" introduced an ensemble of uniquely talented and watchable new faces like James Van Der Beek, Michelle Williams, Joshua Jackson and Katie Holmes, and proved to be an instant success. A semi-autobiographical program, Williamson said that each character in the series distinctly represented various aspects of himself, and were placed in fictional Capeside, MA; not unlike his native Oriental, NC.

Though he had vowed to stay with "Dawson's Creek" until the very end, Williamson left following the second season to focus on making his feature directorial debut and to create another television series. After writing the sci-fi thriller, "The Faculty" (1998), directed by Robert Rodriguez, he made his directing debut with "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" (1999), which was based on the script "Killing Mrs. Tingle," that he had sold nearly a decade earlier. The comedic thriller focused on high school honor roll student Leigh Ann (Katie Holmes) who is accused by the sadistic Mrs. Tingle (Helen Mirren) of cheating, leading Leigh Ann and her two friends (Barry Watson and Marisa Coughlan) to kidnap and blackmail their teacher. Despite positive reviews and a relatively low budget, "Tingle" failed to capture much attention at the box office. Meanwhile, Williamson tried his hand again with television, creating the drama "Wasteland," which chronicled six young college graduates and their exploits in New York. Blasted by critics for being self-indulgent, it failed to find an audience and was canceled after 13 episodes.

While receiving credit for characters created on "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" (1998) and producing, but not writing, the third installment, "Scream 3" (2000), Williamson returned to series television with the well-reviewed, but also short-lived "Glory Days" (The WB, 2002), a drama centering on a mystery novelist (Eddie Cahill) who returns to his home town in the Pacific Northwest to discover the natives are mysteriously unnerved by his use of their community in his work. After a lengthy absence from the big screen while developing television projects, Williamson reteamed with Craven for the werewolf thriller "Cursed" (2005), which followed two siblings (Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg) who battle a lycanthrope on the loose in Los Angeles. The movie was roundly panned by critics and failed at the box office, but received new life on the DVD shelf. He next created the short-lived teen drama "Hidden Palms" (The CW, 2007), which portrayed a group of rich-kid teens living in Palm Springs. Most critics felt the show was ridden with clich├ęs and derivative characters, which helped explain why the show failed to attract an audience and was canceled after eight episodes.

Following a long string of failures that stretched back to his ill-advised departure from "Dawson's Creek," Williamson finally returned to some degree of prominence with his next television show, "Vampire Diaries" (The CW, 2009-17). Once again exploring the goings-on of teenagers coming of age, the show focused on a young girl, Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) who happens to fall in love with a brooding vampire (Paul Wesley), Stefan Salvatore, only to find herself trapped between him and his more vicious brother, Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder). Though initially ill-received by some critics, "Vampire Diaries" increasingly became more appreciated while developing a small, but loyal audience. Meanwhile, Williamson returned to the well once more for "Scream 4" (2011), which again followed the continuing tales of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and her unfortunate knack for attracting psychopathic killers. Williamson's return to the small screen came with "The Following" (Fox 2013-15), a dark procedural drama starring Kevin Bacon as a detective battling an imprisoned serial killer whose obsessed fans have turned to copycat crimes. This was followed by the even darker "Stalker" (CBS 2014-15), starring Dylan McDermott and Maggie Q as detectives following stalkers and their victims.

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