Winter TCA: ‘The Following’s’ Kevin Williamson quizzed on violence

Kevin Bacon, left, and Executive Producer/Creator Kevin Williamson from "The Following" attend the Fox Winter TCA Tour
(Todd Williamson/Invision/AP)

Once upon a midnight dreary, Kevin Williamson became weak and weary--fielding questions on the violence seen in Fox’s upcoming horror drama “The Following.”

The creator and executive producer, who is also behind the CW’s “The Vampire Diaries” and slasher flick “Scream,” was hit with questions Tuesday about the drama’s dark and brutal content during the Television Critics Assn. press tour—a topic he, surprisingly, didn’t seem quite prepared to discuss, trailing off or saying he couldn’t hear questions. (At one point, in what seemed a bid to distract from the weighty topic that had overrun the panel, its leads Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy gave each other a playful smooch after a reporter brought up their palpable chemistry. )

“The Following” centers on a former FBI agent Ryan Hardy, played by Kevin Bacon, who is enlisted to track down an Edgar Allan Poe-inspired serial-killer (James Purefoy) after he’s escaped prison and amassed a legion of murderous disciples.


VIDEO TIMELINE: Upcoming winter shows

“There are some moments that are squeamish,” Williamson said of the show’s amped up violence. “It’s not for the faint of heart. But it’s not the sum of the show.”

Minutes later, when asked about the aftermath of the recent Connecticut shootings and the role media may play in the violence, Williamson offered this:

“I think we all worry about it,” he said. “Who wasn’t affected by Sandy Hook? I’m still disturbed when I think of Aurora … We’re all traumatized by it. It just gets too real. But I’m writing fiction. I’m a storyteller.”

Williamson also asserted the wicked acts the writers drum up go beyond just shock value.

“You can stab them or you can stab them – so you have to think how can you change it up,” he said. “You have this madman who is inspiring people to challenge themselves and find their own story … We don’t sit around thinking of ways to kill people. I’m sitting around thinking of the drama. Yes, it’s a horrific, scary show, but you know …”

Williamson said the idea for the series had been percolating for more than a decade and, in some ways, was inspired by the Columbine tragedy and the Gainesville, Fla., murders, along with fictional stories such as “Silence of the Lambs”. He went on to say the show attempts to shine a light on what drives people to commit such deplorable deeds.

“Joe can sort of pinpoint what’s missing in their life, what the hole is, and he can fill it,” he said.

“The Following” premieres Jan. 21 at 9 p.m.


USA’s ‘Graceland’ tracks crime, not white jumpsuits

Will ‘Smash’ finally be a smash in Act Two?

Bob Greenblatt responds to violence on TV

Follow @villarrealy


GRAPHIC: Faces to watch in 2013

PHOTOS: 15 shocking moments from ‘South Park’

PHOTOS: Best TV of 2012