No change to grisly serial killer drama after shootings

Kevin Bacon with the cast of The Following. Photo/AP
Kevin Bacon with the cast of The Following. Photo/AP

Fox TV is refusing to change the content or promotion of grisly serial killer drama The Following after the Connecticut school shooting or other real-life acts of violence.

The drama featuring Kevin Bacon chasing a killer who recruits murderous disciples is among the most anticipated new dramas scheduled to debut on US television this year.

The Kevin Williamson-created series opens by depicting the bloody aftermath of a knifing in a prison.

It also has a woman commit suicide by gouging her eye and piercing her skull with an ice pick and shows a man set on fire at a coffee stand.

Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly said the show was intense, but that was needed to compete with modern thrillers.

Williamson, creator of the Scream movie franchise, said he was traumatized by the events of December 14, when 20 first graders and six educators were gunned down in a Newton, Connecticut, elementary school.

"I know it affected me," Williamson said. "I know what happens in the real world affects me. So when I take pen to paper, there is a reaction to it and it sort of finds its way into what I do."

He doesn't know how the latest attack will affect his work.

"It just happened," he said. "We'll see."

But Williamson said The Following is partly inspired by the Columbine school shootings of a decade ago.

He said he wonders how people like the Columbine killers are attracted to evil as a way of filling a void in their lives.

The serial killer in The Following is a charismatic figure who attracts followers by trying to provide them with something they are missing.

Violence in movies, video games and television has received attention since the Newtown shootings, along with the availability of guns and mental health services.

Reilly said people "can't be reactionary and you can't draw a direct linkage."

Reilly said he believed there have been more violent shows than The Following on broadcast television that haven't been noticed, partly because they were bad. Fox is trying to provide escapist entertainment, which include moments that can make you laugh or be your worst nightmare, he said.

"Of course, these things are on my mind," Reilly said. "But the question is a complex one and a broad one."

The question is also a touchy one for Reilly, who snapped at a reporter who asked about Newtown and said he'd take no more questions on the topic.


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