Show to shutter, bowed to the net's highest-ever ratings

“Dawson’s Creek” — the show that turned the WB into a bona fide network — will sail into the sunset this May after five angst-filled years. The WB plans to air a two-hour “Dawson’s” finale May 14. The Sony Pictures Television series has been a Frog staple since it debuted in January 1998.

While other young-skewing skeins came before it, “Dawson’s” came to define the WB’s programming strategy, along with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Felicity.” The show bowed to the WB’s highest-ever ratings and immediately became its No. 1 show in key demos.

Created by Kevin Williamson, “Dawson’s” also became the WB’s first out-of-the-box hit among critics, who began to look at the network (which was still seen as the home for trashy sitcoms a la “Unhappily Ever After”) in a much more positive light.

‘Emotional attachment’

“We will always carry an emotional attachment to ‘Dawson’s Creek,’ for without it the WB would not exist,” WB entertainment prexy Jordan Levin said. “The show defined who we are and reflected the aspirational voice of the next generation of television viewers. The WB has grown up alongside the cast and in the process the series became a defining and life-altering experience for all involved.”

“Dawson’s Creek” also made stars out of its original cast, including James Van Der Beek (Dawson), Katie Holmes (Joey), Michelle Williams (Jen) and Joshua Jackson (Pacey). With their contracts on the show up, all involved agreed it was time to focus on their burgeoning film careers.

Season to date, “Dawson’s Creek” is still the WB’s No. 2 program among adults 18-34 (3.3 rating/10 share, up 6% from last year) and is its 4th-highest rated series in the persons 12-34 demo (3.0/9). “Dawson’s” still holds the Frog’s record for best-ever rating among the 12-34 crowd (6.3/17). In its heyday, the show dominated especially with female teens, where it once pulled an astounding 19.3 rating and 48 share.

Location change

The show, which originally took place in a sleepy New England hamlet, now mostly centers in Boston, as the characters grow up and attend college. Paul Stupin, Greg Prange and Tom Kapinos now executive produce “Dawson’s Creek.”

“‘Dawson’s Creek’ opened the door to a whole new genre of television and had a tremendous impact on a generation of viewers, on the WB and on the creative community,” Sony Pictures TV programming prexy Russ Krasnoff said.

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