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"Scream"-writer Kevin Williamson went from writing scary movies to hit teenage TV series "Dawson's Creek"

Screenwriters finding fertile ground in TV land

Web posted on: Tuesday, October 13, 1998 4:34:44 PM EDT

From Correspondent Sherri Sylvester

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- These days, big-time Hollywood screenwriters no longer feel boxed in by the small screen.

In fact, writing for television is a job that allows writers to expand creatively, without feeling like some producer is lurking over their shoulder.

Just ask Kevin Williamson, the writer who penned the hit horror flicks "Scream" and "Scream 2." He says his work on the big screen opened the doors to television.

"'Scream' became a huge hit, and then everyone started calling, I started getting a lot of work, a lot of offers," Williamson says. One offer he accepted was to be executive producer of WB's "Dawson Creek."

'A cog in a huge machine'

J.J. Abrams road a similar road to TV. He helped write the scripts to "Regarding Henry" and "Armageddon," but now finds himself heading up his own WB show, "Felicity."

"You are a cog in a huge machine in film," he says. "In television, you're a writer, you're a cog in a huge machine, but somehow, the machine is yours."

The truth is Aaron Sorkin went from "A Few Good Men" to "Sportsnight"

Aaron Sorkin, who penned "A Few Good Men," but now works on ABC's "Sportsnight," says he has enjoys the long-term possibilities with television.

"Mostly what I wanted to do was to have an opportunity to just have a longer relationship with something I was writing than I ordinarily get to do," he says. "Usually I write it, we shoot it and next comes the party and you move on to something else. But here, every week I get to write a one-act play with these characters."

'Looking for a fresh voice'

Screenwriter John Ridley says working for film can be a humbling experience.

"If you've got chunks of dialogue that are yours, if you've got lines that are yours, that's a victory," he says. "With television you have a lot more control because the writers tend to be the producers."

And the networks are willing to give up control in hopes of a hit.

"You're looking for a fresh voice," says Jamie Tarses, president of ABC Entertainment. "The shows that seem to break out are the shows that have something new to say that isn't being said out there."

Garth Ancier, president of WB's Entertainment division, agrees.

"These are people who've not done five other television series," he says. "This is their first show. They want it to be great, they treat each one like a little precious feature film and I think the audience senses that."

And the writers sense that they are wanted in TV land, and that's fine by them.

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