There’s always something scary about a Kevin Williamson project, be it a rash of sliced-up teens, a meat-hook-wielding fisherman, or a hyper-verbal film geek named Dawson. But right now the scariest thing about Glory Days, the Scream creator’s newest series for The WB (premiering Jan. 16), is the abominable weather. We’re on the set in the dead of a Vancouver winter; raindrops keep falling on the actors’ heads, and oh look, the space heater caught that gal’s nylon parka on fire mishaps abound, but the cameras continue to roll.
”I’ve never been so consistently cold for so long in my life,” complains costar Poppy Montgomery (best known for her acclaimed turn as Marilyn Monroe in last year’s CBS miniseries Blonde). Adds frost-nipped costar Jay R. Ferguson (The In Crowd): ”They get rain, wind, and snow all at the same time. I’ve never been in anything like this before.”
Funny, neither has The WB. Eager to stave off a bitter ratings chill — UPN’s now ahead of the Frog net as the fifth most-watched network — the home of angsty sudsers like Felicity and Dawson’s Creek is looking to heat things up with Glory, a Northern Exposure-cum-X-Files murder mystery for the MTV crowd. The story unfolds when washed-up novelist Mike Dolan (Friends’ Eddie Cahill) returns home to Glory, a place where ”weird’s gone on overtime” thanks to a disturbing rash of pranks, break-ins, and bizarre murders. Eager to find the truth behind his dad’s ”accidental” death, Mike teams with comely coroner Ellie (Montgomery) and inexperienced sheriff Rudy (Ferguson) to solve the many mysteries of his eerie island — and, The WB hopes, to create a franchise that young men will actually watch.
”Look at the success of CSI and how it skews younger,” says WB Entertainment president Jordan Levin. ”We definitely want to play an edge.”
And who better to help The WB than Williamson, who gave the netlet instant success with Dawson’s in 1998 and who single-handedly created the slasher-satire genre with films like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Williamson took a stormy chapter from his own life to tell the story of Dolan, whose so-called fictitious book about Glory Island (which, among other things, suggests that Papa Dolan was offed and that Sheriff Rudy is gay) hits too close to home for family and friends.
”Dawson’s was autobiographical, and I exposed things in the story lines that I got flak for — things about my family that people saw,” Williamson recalls. ”I’d change the names and sometimes the outcomes, but you still hear about it. If I were dating someone and we got into a big fight, Dawson and Joey would get into a fight in the same manner.”
Dealing with ticked-off family and friends is definitely scary, but Williamson did not envision Glory as a thriller when he pitched it to The WB last spring. Still, after filming the original pilot — a dramedy about Dolan’s struggle to reconcile with Glory’s townsfolk (featuring a cameo by Kirstie Alley as his agent) — WB execs decided Glory needed less young-adult agita and more fear factor.