| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Jan 8 The makers of a grisly new
serial killer TV series, "The Following," defended the show on
Tuesday in the wake of outrage over the shootings last month of
young children at a school in Connecticut and a rising debate
over violence in the entertainment industry.
The series, which premieres on Fox television on Jan. 21,
stars Kevin Bacon and centers on an imprisoned serial killer
(played by James Purefoy), who inspires his cult-like following
to commit murders and acts of suicide.
The pilot includes a scene in which a young woman stabs
herself in the eye. Trailers for the drama were modified
following the gun rampage in Newtown, Connecticut on Dec. 13,
which killed 20 young children and six teachers at Sandy Hook
"There are some moments that are squeamish. It's not for the
faint of heart, but it's not the sum of the show," Kevin
Williamson, creator of "The Following," told television
reporters on Tuesday.
Asked whether the Connecticut shootings and other recent gun
rampages in the United States had given him pause for thought,
"Who wasn't affected by Sandy Hook? I'm still disturbed when
I think of (last year's movie theater shooting) in Aurora
(Colorado). We sat in the writers room after that happened and
we were all traumatized by it."
But Williamson dismissed suggestions that "The Following"
was mostly about violence, saying it was as much about the
cat-and-mouse relationship between Bacon's former FBI agent and
Purefoy's charismatic cult leader character.
"It's meant to be a thriller with a provocative story at its
root. On one hand, there is an heroic, amazing do-gooder paired
up with the most evil, crazed psychopath I could come up with,
and that, to me, is the heart of the show," Williamson said.
Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly also faced tough
questioning about the show at a time when makers of television,
movies and videogames are under scrutiny.
"We all worry about it. We are happy to engage and be a part
of any dialogue and any study that can further a constructive
dialogue. ... But the conversation is a complex one and a broad
one," he said.
"Not to be defensive about it, but we are putting on an
excellent thriller," Reilly said. "We are not glorifying a
killer. I think its going to be a very successful and
entertaining (show) for an adult audience."
A task force set up after the Connecticut shooting and
headed by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is due to meet with
representatives of the entertainment and videogame industry and
the National Rifle Association, the White House said on Tuesday.
(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; editing by Christopher Wilson)