News From The Dead Zone #125

When’s the last time you got a say in what book Stephen King is going to write next? Never! But now King is asking for people to express their preferences between two possible novels. Voting is open at his official web site until Jan 1, 2010. Here is his message on the matter:

Hey, you guys–I saw a lot of you Constant Readers while I was touring for Under the Dome, and I must say you’re looking good. Thanks for turning out in such numbers, and thanks for all the nice things you’ve said about Under the Dome. There’ll be another book next year. It’s a good one, I think, but that’s not why I’m writing. I mentioned two potential projects while I was on the road, one a new Mid-World book (not directly about Roland Deschain, but yes, he and his friend Cuthbert are in it, hunting a skin-man, which are what werewolves are called in that lost kingdom) and a sequel to The Shining called Doctor Sleep. Are you interested in reading either of these? If so, which one turns your dials more? Ms. Mod will be counting your votes (and of course it all means nothing if the muse doesn’t speak). Meanwhile, thanks again for 2009.

According to Ms. Mod, this isn’t an either/or proposal–King may write both of these books. It’s more a matter of which one you’d like to see first.

The Torontoist has this summary of King’s discussion of Dr. Sleep: “Seems King was wondering whatever happened to Danny Torrance of The Shining, who when readers last saw him was recovering from his ordeal at the Overlook Hotel at a resort in Maine with fellow survivors Wendy Torrance and chef Dick Halloran (who dies in the Kubrick film version). King remarked that though he ended his 1977 novel on a positive note, the Overlook was bound to have left young Danny with a lifetime’s worth of emotional scars. What Danny made of those traumatic experiences, and with the psychic powers that saved him from his father at the Overlook, is a question that King believes might make a damn fine sequel. So what would a sequel to one of King’s most beloved novels look like? In King’s still tentative plan for the novel, Danny is now 40 years old and living in upstate New York, where he works as the equivalent of an orderly at a hospice for the terminally ill. Danny’s real job is to visit with patients who are just about to pass on to the other side, and to help them make that journey with the aid of his mysterious powers. Danny also has a sideline in betting on the horses, a trick he learned from his buddy Dick Hallorann.”

In the aftermath of that statement, numerous news sources assumed that King was committed to writing the novel, which caused him to issue a sort of retraction via Entertainment Weekly. “It’s a great idea, and I just can’t seem to get down to it,” says the author in an e-mail. “People shouldn’t hold their breath. I know it would be cool, though. I want to write it just for the title, Dr. Sleep. I even told them [at the book signing], ‘It will probably never happen.'” Still, King — whose most recent novel is this month’s Under the Dome — can’t quite shut the door on the Shining sequel, adding, “But ‘probably’ isn’t ‘positively,’ so maybe.” The poll appeared on his website a few days later.

Concerning the next book (before he tackles either of these two), he said this in Toronto: “I have one (story) that’s kind of like Under the Dome, that I tried to write when I was 22 or 23 years old and I’m going to try to go back to that after this tour. I’d like to write that one. Beyond that, I have things that bounce around in my head. Dome bounced around a long time. I don’t keep a writer’s notebook of ideas because I’ve felt all my life that if I get a really good idea, it will stick.”

King’s appearance on The Hour can be found on the CBC website. Here is a one-minute clip of King and Cronenberg on stage in Toronto. Here are three video snippets from Talking Volumes in Minneapolis:

King reviews Raymond Carver’s Life and Stories in the NY Times. His latest Entertainment Weekly column is My Ultimate Playlist.

SyFy has ordered 13 episodes of Haven, the weekly TV series inspired by The Colorado Kid. Haven centers on a spooky town in Maine where cursed folk live normal lives in exile. When those curses start returning, FBI agent Audrey Parker is brought in to keep those supernatural forces at bay — while trying to unravel the mysteries of Haven. Producer Lloyd Segan talks about the show in this interview.

Casting has commenced for the reboot of Carrie: The Musical. The cast will feature Sutton Foster as gym teacher Ms. Gardner, Marin Mazzie as Margaret White, Molly Ranson as Carrie and Jennifer Damiano as Sue. Also revealed in the cast are “American Idol” finalist Diana DeGarmo (Hairspray, The Toxic Avenger) as Chris, Matt Doyle as Tommy and John Arthur Greene as Billy. The Carrie ensemble includes Corey Boardman, Lilli Cooper, Katrina Rose Dideriksen, Benjamin Eakeley, Emily Ferranti, Kyle Harris, Philip Hoffman, Kaitlin Kiyan, Max Kumangai, Mackenzie Mauzy, Preston Sadleir, Jonathan Schwartz, Bud Weber and Sasha Weiss. Producer Seller has reunited composer Michael Gore, lyricist Dean Pitchford and book writer Lawrence D. Cohen, whom took a crack at the stage show back in 1988 to reprise their roles for this update.  You can actually check out an official Carrie: The Musical website with plenty of tid-bits on the original show, as well as info on the new one right here.

News From The Dead Zone #124

More Under the Dome reviews:

Here is the video of King’s appearance on Good Morning America. He will be on The View tomorrow, Friday the 13th, and in Atlanta in the evening for his signing appearance, which I will be attending.

Here are some photos of the Limited Edition and the last words of Under the Dome pictured in London. Here’s an interview with the winner of the UK contest for hiding snippets from the book. He won a limited edition printer’s proof. Also, an ABC reporter discovers he’s in Under the Dome.

Here’s a report on King’s appearance in NYC. The video should be available at King’s website in the coming days. King did a 10 minute Q&A before his signing in Dundalk, MD and YouTube has the video and the Baltimore Sun has this article: Attention, shoppers: Stephen King in Aisle 2.

Lilja’s Under the Dome week features the following fascinating interviews:

Among the news items arising from King’s public appearances this week:

  • Under the Dome may be an HBO miniseries. The rights to the novel were acquired by Steven Spielberg’s production company
  • King has written a screenplay for Cell, so he thinks that’s going to happen. He said that he had gotten so many complaints about the ending of the book that he changed everything.
  • He still plans to work on a sequel to Black House, though nothing is definite at this point
  • He wonders what became of Danny Torrance
  • He has an idea for a new Dark Tower book, the working title of which will be THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE. He has not yet started this book and anticipates that it will be a minimum of eight months before he is able to begin writing it.

King talks about his 10 longest novels in this combination print interview/podcast at Time.com. Note that the print section is shorter than what he actually says on the individual audio files.

The folks at McSweeney’s are producing a celebration of newsprint, a reimagined newspaper for their next issue. The 380-page San Francisco Panorama will be out in early December, and features an essay by King about the World Series. Check out the tease here.

JJ Abrams reinforces an earlier statement that he and Damon Lindelof are not working on a Dark Tower movie adaptation.”The ‘Dark Tower’ thing is tricky,” he said. “It’s such an important piece of writing. The truth is that Damon and I are not looking at that right now.” [read more]

Feature Review: Under the Dome by Stephen King

Under the Dome by Stephen King
reviewed by Bev Vincent

Let’s get this out of the way: Under the Dome is not the second coming of The Stand. Both novels have impressive page counts and huge casts; however, there are fundamental differences between them.

Under the DomeKing used the entire continental US as his tableau in The Stand, whereas in Under the Dome he is confined to Chester’s Mill, Maine. The Stand was a chess game, with King taking months of story time to maneuver his characters into position.  Under the Dome is a rapid-paced game of checkers—with one piece in the back row already crowned before the start of play.

The books explore good and evil, but in The Stand these concepts were taken to an absolute level. God does not appear in the Dramatis Personae of Under the Dome. The most sincere “religious” character is a minister who doesn’t even believe in Him any more. The town leaders loudly proclaim their faith and “get knee-bound” in times of crisis, but are corrupt and decidedly un-Christian. Not Evil; merely evil.

The mysterious Dome that descends over Chester’s Mill on a sunny Saturday morning in mid-October somewhere between the years 2012 and 2016 is semi-permeable. People can communicate through it, but it is unmovable and, apparently, unbreakable. It isn’t really a dome; it has the same sock-shaped perimeter as the town’s borders with places like Castle Rock and TR-90, and extends upward over eight miles. There is limited air exchange, and a jet of water directed at the outside produces a fine mist inside. The electric lines are down but—thanks to the prevalence of generators in Western Maine—cell phones, cable TV and the Internet all work.

The world is aware of the town’s plight. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper report on the phenomenon from outside the Dome and, later, from Castle Rock after armed forces establish a perimeter.

Though the town’s residents feel like ants under a magnifying glass, they have more pressing worries, like how long will their food and propane last, how will the Dome affect their weather, and when will the air no longer be safe to breathe? Those trapped by the Dome aren’t so different from people stranded in New Orleans after Katrina or on Little Tall Island in Storm of the Century.

There’s price gouging for commodities and a storeowner sells his overstock of questionable, stale-dated frozen food to unsuspecting customers.

These badly behaved people are small potatoes, though, compared to Big Jim Rennie, used car dealer, town selectman and operator of one of the largest meth labs in the country. When (if) the Dome is breached, Chester’s Mills will fall under intense scrutiny. He needs to dismantle the drug lab and return the town’s reserve propane tanks, which he appropriated for his illicit purposes. Like Flagg in The Eyes of the Dragon, Rennie is the power behind the throne, allowing a weak man to take the leadership position on the town council, and forcing through a malleable replacement when the sheriff’s pacemaker explodes after he gets too close to the Dome. He surrounds himself with stupid people who won’t question his orders or motives.

The book’s hero, Dale “Barbie” Barbara, an Iraq war veteran employed at the town diner, was already persona non grata in Chester’s Mill after a run-in with Rennie’s son and other punks. Recognizing his situation as untenable, he was hitchhiking out of town when the Dome appeared. Colonel James Cox, his former commanding officer, reactivates him to duty, and they share intelligence about the situation in the town and external efforts to penetrate the Dome.

One of the book’s themes can be found in the lyrics of a James McMurtry song: Everyone in a small town is supposed to know his place, and everyone supports the home team. When the President declares martial law in Chester’s Mill and installs Barbie as the interim leader, Rennie’s diseased heart goes into palpitations. Outside forces can’t implement this directive, though, so Rennie starts discrediting Barbie while turning the town into a municipal dictatorship. To discourage resistance, he beefs up the police department with ruffians and thugs. He stages riots to demonstrate the necessity of his actions. He also seizes the opportunity to settle old grudges.

Tempers fray as days pass and efforts to break through the Dome fail. People commit suicide. Others die in accidents and altercations, or are murdered when they threaten Rennie’s plans.

A small group of rebels forms around Barbie, including Julia Shumway, owner/editor of the town newspaper. Not only did she not vote for Rennie, she editorialized against him during election campaigns. The previous sheriff’s widow and the Congregationalist minister are co-conspirators. As the situation degrades, other people begin to question their allegiance to Rennie.

King uses the metaphor of addiction to explain the townspeople’s behavior. Anyone can become a drug addict after an injury because the body and the brain conspire to create imaginary pain to rationalize taking more painkillers. Rennie is the town’s brain and most residents go along with his deception. This is the way people like Rennie are allowed to take power, King says. On a larger scale, he might have turned into another Pol Pot or Hitler.

The book is populated with fascinating, three-dimensional characters, including a trio of precocious and resourceful children, two out-of-towners forced to become surrogate parents, a physician’s assistant pressed into running the hospital when the town’s only doctor dies, the owner of a megastore that stocks everything imaginable, an unstable man suffering from a brain tumor, and a few dogs who offer more than comic relief.

Crossovers to other King novels are slight, except for a symbol that should inspire discussions about the true nature of the Dome. Children experience visions of the near future, but there are few other supernatural elements—beyond the Dome itself.

One character with literary ambitions muses about the risks involved in writing a novel. “What if you spent all that time, wrote a thousand-pager, and it sucked?”

King need have no such fears. This thousand-plus-pager most definitely does not suck. For such a massive book it is an incredibly fast and breezy read. It has the urgent pace of Cell without the wonky pseudoscience, and the insightful depiction of small town politics of Needful Things—except the characters in Under the Dome are sympathetic.

It’s not The Stand II, but people who liked that book—or Desperation or ‘Salem’s Lot—will love this one.

•••

Bev Vincent has been writing News from the Dead Zone since 2001. His first book, The Road to the Dark Tower, an au­thorized companion to Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, was published by NAL in 2004 and nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. He contributes a monthly essay to the Storytellers Unplugged, contributed to the serial novellas Looking Glass and The Crane House, and has published hundreds of book reviews and over 50 short stories, including appear­ances in Shivers (vols II and IV), Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Tesseracts Thirteen, Doctor Who: Destination Prague, and this magazine. His latest book is The Stephen King Illustrated Companion, available in November at Barnes & Noble. Visit him on the web at www.bevvincent.com

News From The Dead Zone #123

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

Just a few more days until Under the Dome arrives in stores. The signed, limited edition is already winging its way into the hands of buyers; some people have received their copies already. Next week will be a publicity-heavy week for King, with several televised and live appearances. He will be on Good Morning America on publication day (Tuesday, November 10), The Colbert Report (unschedules) and on The View (Friday, November 13) to help Whoopi Goldberg celebrate her birthday.

An excerpt from the novel is in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly. Here is his Barnes & Noble interview from last week. Check out the new Multimedia section at King’s website for other interviews, a 30-second promo commercial, and to see and hear King reading from the book.

The reviews are already starting to come out. Here are the ones I’ve noticed so far:

  • San Jose Mercury News
  • Bloomberg
  • Newsday
  • City a.m.
  • Financial Times
  • Telegraph
  • NY Times
  • Also, check out this opinion piece from Esquire: Why Stephen King Is the Most Underrated Literary Novelist of Our Time.

    The new short story, Premium Harmony, is now available at the New Yorker website.

    Celebrated short story writer Scott Snyder and artist Rafael  Albuquerque will launch a new monthly comic book series from Vertigo in March 2010 with a unique contribution from King. The new ongoing series, American Vampire, will introduce readers to a new breed of vampire-a more muscular and vicious species of vampire with distinctly American characteristics. The series’ first story arc, to be told over the course of five issues, will feature two different stories, one written by Snyder, the other by King. King’s story provides the origin of the very first American vampire:Skinner Sweet, a bank robbing, murdering cowboy of the 1880s. Skinner is stronger and faster than previous vampires; he has rattlesnake fangs and is powered by…. the sun? Check out this article about the project at Newsarama. Here’s an interview with the artist.

    Here’s a blog entry by Jay Franco, the editor of the 2010 Stephen King Library Desk Calendar, which contains contributions from a number of people that will be familiar to you. My essay is called “The Eyes Have It.”

    King will have an article about this year’s world series in the next McSweeney’s, which is designed to look like a newspaper. Here is a full, mouthwatering tease for the issue.

    Here’s an interview with Tony Shasteen: Young Artist Draws for a Literary “King” in THE TALISMAN

    Latest EW column: The Secret to Pop Culture Snacking.

    Special report on “The Three Kings” filed by Bev Vincent

    Special report on “The Three Kings” filed by Bev Vincent

    Stephen, Tabitha and Owen King read from their works at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington D.C. on April 4, 2008 as part of the PEN/Faulkner reading series. The event was originally scheduled to be held at the Folger Shakespeare Library, but due to demand it was moved to the larger venue across the street. I heard that over 500 tickets were sold.

    Earlier in the day, the three authors met with students from several area high schools at the Library of Congress as part of the PEN/Faulkner Writers in Schools program.


    Eager fans started gathering on the church steps early in the afternoon. The sign near the sidewalk announced “GOD RESCUES OUR LIVES FROM DEATH.” The steps grew crowded and the line extended down the sidewalk by the time the Will Call doors opened at 7 pm. Attendees were of all ages. Some were dressed in horror-themed t-shirts and a couple of guys looked like they just got off their motorbikes. People who had never met before but knew each other by screen names from message boards sought each other out. Precious books were tucked under arms or clutched to chests.


    The first person I recognized was Norman Prentiss, who’ve I know from NECON and Shocklines. He was there with a friend. Four Cemetery Dance employees showed up shortly thereafter and joined our little group. I had to leave my place in line to pick up my tickets from the Will Call table–if you saw me rejoining my friends, I wasn’t cutting in line. I swear!

    When the doors opened at 7:30, we found a pew with enough empty space on the right-hand side of the sanctuary. Three chairs were arranged on the left-hand side of the chancel where the authors would be seated. The first few rows of the sanctuary were blocked off for PEN/Faulkner members and affiliates. Attendees clustered around the center aisle so they could make a fast break for the Folger later to get in the queue for the book signing.

    The rules concerning the event were announced frequently, and reiterated from the pulpit before the Kings took the stage. A young woman took photographs of the audience and the event for PEN/Faulkner.

    After introductions, Tabitha King was the first to read. Each author was miked but, after a moment’s hesitation, she decided to read from the pulpit. She could barely see over the top (I was reminded of Queen Elizabeth’s visit to the White House several years ago), but she got a laugh when she said that her daughter, a minister, would be jealous. Her daughter’s congregation isn’t as large as the one seated before her, and the pulpit isn’t as nice, she said.

    She read from a novel in progress called The Potter’s Rib, explaining that a “rib” is a tool potters use. She skipped the prolog, which she said was about the death of a cat. “It’s sad,” she said, her Maine accent making the second word long and flat. A woman goes to visit her ex-husband, who wants to consult with her about some expensive porcelain his new wife purchased. He suspects it might be counterfeit. The main character is non-committal, but the new wife, bearing a box of the pottery in question, appears at her door later that evening when she is getting ready for bed. During the reading, Tabitha stopped from time to time to make editorial comments about the work. In the midst of a passage about the history of porcelain, she said, “Isn’t this riveting? Don’t worry. There’s exciting stuff ahead.”

    Owen followed his mother’s lead and stood behind the pulpit, looming over it. The story he selected was called “Nothing is in Bad Taste,” recently published in Subtropics 5. The editor who accepted the piece was in the audience. The story is about catch phrases that become part of a couple’s vocabulary. In this case, the phrase is “I just needed to park the car,” first uttered by a mental patient after he “parked ” on top of a homeless man after circling the hospital parking lot for a day and a half.

    The protagonists use this phrase in various situations and gradually pervert it from its original form–it degenerates in parallel with their relationship. She wants her husband to work less and to move out of the city and start a family; he’s happy with the status quo. The story was well received by the audience, although Tabitha put her hands over her ears for a couple of passages that contained words that aren’t normally uttered from a pulpit. Because of the story’s length, Owen abridged on the fly.

    Stephen high-fived Owen at the end of the reading. He remained in his chair and used the portable microphone rather than taking the pulpit. He read a passage from Duma Key, the section where Wireman tells Edgar about winning “la loteria”-the tragic story about what befell his daughter and wife.

    At the end of the reading, a brief Q&A session was held, though the questions were predictable and mostly focused on Stephen, who tried valiantly to encourage audience members to ask questions of his wife and son. Most questions seemed to presume the answer; for example, Owen was asked if his father ever read him bedtime stories. Owen answered, “Yes.” After a pause he said, “I’ve been asked that question a lot before, and I know what people expect me to say.” There ensued a brief discussion between Stephen and Tabitha about whether they had read certain potentially damaging stories to their son.


    The audience was released to join a queue across the street for a reception and book signing. Each author agreed to sign one book per attendee. Colored cards were distributed to prevent people from returning to the end of the line for a second pass. The line wound through the hall in the Folger where the reception was held and into the main library, past medieval manuscripts and tapestries. Quotes from Shakespeare were etched on the walls and mantles. (The library was one of the settings used by author Jennifer Lee Carrell in her novel Interred With Their Bones, which I like to call The Shakespeare Code.)

    The three authors were seated side by side at long tables, with PEN/Faulkner staff facilitating by making sure books were opened to the page to be signed. The line moved quickly and smoothly because no inscriptions were allowed and photographs were prohibited, two things that can interrupt the flow at a signing. In little more than an hour, everyone was through the line and grazing on the remains of the fruit and cheese in the reception area.

    Special report on The Mist filed by Bev Vincent

    Special report on The Mist filed by Bev Vincent

    Editor’s Warning: This special report contains the fates of several characters and several key plot points. Read at your own risk!

    Let’s spend a little time behind the scenes of the upcoming film The Mist. Rich Chizmar and I spent a couple of days on the set in late March.

    Interior filming took place at Stageworks in Shreveport, Louisiana’s casino district. Grocery store exteriors were shot at Tom’s Market in Vivian, LA and the lake house scenes were filmed at nearby Cross Lake.

    The MistInside the front door, we saw a sign pointing extras toward their staging area. I went upstairs to find the unit publicist, Tracey Zemitis, in the production offices. One wall featured an array of actor headshots with their character names underneath. Tracey gave me a working copy of the script-minus the last handful of pages. Apparently Thomas Jane was the only actor who had the whole thing, to prevent the ending from leaking out before the movie is released.

    The publicist took us to the grocery store set on Stage A. The first crewman we encountered was the sound mixer, sitting behind the stage flats in front of a bank of mixing switches. We could see Thomas Jane (David Drayton) on the video monitors. Through the wall we first heard the word that would become a mantra during our visit: Mrs. Carmody shouting “Expiation!”

    Once rehearsal was finished, we entered the set. Bags of pet food were stacked in front of the store windows. Through strategic gaps, we caught our first glimpse of the mist. A military jeep and a few cars were vaguely visible in the parking lot, as well as a kart korral like the one Dinky Earnshaw worked at. The mist was a vaguely cloying carbon dioxide-nitrogen mixture delivered on demand through large transparent plastic ducts. Some days the set needed to be cooled to get it to behave properly.

    Tracey led us by the cash registers-we had to step carefully around the cables strewn along the floors like tentacles-and past a book rack that featured only King novels. Around the corner at the last aisle, next to the butcher counter, we found Frank Darabont, sitting in front of a pair of monitors that displayed the views from the two cameras. He wore a pale green Hawaiian shirt, tan cargo pants, and a baseball cap.

    I was surprised by how far he was from the action. The actors were several aisles away, completely out of sight. To hear their dialog, Darabont and the script supervisor wore headsets while the cameras were rolling. Keeping “video village” around the corner meant it wouldn’t be accidentally captured during a shot. There were no false or missing walls, so the cameramen were free to shoot in any direction. The ceiling had built-in skylights to allow in ambient lighting from the outside world, a trick Darabont used in The Green Mile, which he said was “probably the only death row ever with a skylight.”

    A sign painted on the wall at one end of the store said “Serving Castle Rock since 1967.” The “fresh meat” on display was obviously fake, but the groceries in the aisles were real, mostly product placement. An extra brought a box of Arrowhead Mills crackers to Darabont’s attention-Arrowhead was the name of the military project that caused the mist. They joked about product placement but the script supervisor said, “I don’t think we should tie the product into an environmental catastrophe.”

    The attention to detail was amazing, down to “bad check” notices pinned to the cash registers. When Darabont asked someone to find dental floss after lunch one day, the assistant returned in seconds. “How did you get that so fast?” Darabont asked. “It was on aisle three,” the assistant answered. Darabont smacked his forehead. “Of course.”

    This was the fifth week of shooting, so some of the products were past their expiration dates. Enough mold covered the bread to cure several diseases. There had been some pillaging of chips and snacks, too. Besides the crew looting, the grocery store had been put through the wringer-the aftermath of a simulated earthquake. Groceries lay strewn in the aisles. Tiles and fluorescent light fixtures dangled from the ceiling.

    A few months earlier, Darabont spent a week directing an episode of The Shield as training for this fast-paced shoot, where he had only about half as long as he spent filming Shawshank Redemption and a third of The Green Mile shoot. He brought the cinematographer and cameramen from FX with him to The Mist. From directing the TV episode, Darabont learned to use the camera as a participant in the scenes, shooting sequences as long as five minutes in a single take. The experience also taught him to relinquish some of his rigid habits. For most takes, he had two cameras running simultaneously, one of them usually a handheld or Steadicam. Lighting was the most time-consuming part of the setup for each new shot-but even that was achieved more quickly than on a traditional shoot.

    To keep on schedule, they filmed up to nine script pages per day, a demanding pace. “I’d love to find a happy medium between a Green Mile schedule and this one,” Darabont told me. Because the film is set mostly inside the grocery store, he was able to film in chronological order, which helped the actors as the story built in intensity. “I’ve got a hell of a cast, and at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about.”

    Darabont said he’d get no reprieve after shooting finished because Dimension wants the film out on November 21. “I’ll be spending the summer in the editing room. It’s going to be a really intense year.” He continued, “Anything that’s not on the set is a vacation compared to this. It’s intense here.” He was aware of the toll filming was taking on him, though. “Don’t let me operate heavy machinery,” he said with a laugh.

    The MistBetween shots, the set was a beehive of activity. Extras filed back to their starting marks for the next take. Crewmen repositioned cables, cameras and lights. “Free dental work, watch your head,” yelled a man carrying a heavy light through the aisles. Carpenters returned sets to original condition. Production assistants dashed back and forth. Completed rolls of film were brought to the script supervisor for documentation and then delivered off-site for processing. Actors came to the director for costume consultations or to check up on their performance and discuss motivation. Darabont consulted with his cinematographer or assistant director about the previous shot or the coverage required for a scene. Thanks to modern technology, he could request immediate playback on his monitors, compare the shots on the two cameras or review earlier takes or scenes.

    There was little idle chatter. If the extras-especially a couple of teenagers-got a little rowdy, Darabont or the A.D. hushed them. During rehearsals, Darabont got into the mix to orchestrate the cast’s movements. Some of the mob scenes were especially complicated. When he returned to his monitors, he commented, “Directing is like squeezing an elephant through a keyhole.”

    Videographer Constantine Nasr roamed the set capturing material for the documentary features on the DVD. He recorded rehearsals, discussions between the director and crew, and occasionally stopped to interview Darabont about his impressions of the day’s work. So far, Darabont has released two behind-the-scenes webisodes from Constantine’s work—see NewsFromTheDeadZone.com for links.

    Darabont was clearly exhausted, working twelve-hour days with only Sundays off most weeks. His editor had spent the previous week on the set, cutting the film with Darabont during lunch breaks. Darabont occasionally escaped to the loading dock for brief glimpses of sunlight during setups. When the cameras were rolling, he smoked cigarillos and focused intently on the video monitors, nodding at things he liked or pointing out glares from lights or an out-of-place actor that required another take.

    We weren’t the only visitors on the set. Author David J. Schow (Kill Riff) was hanging out in Shreveport at Darabont’s invitation. Chris Hewitt from the British magazine Empire was another media visitor.

    Schow took us on a tour of the set on Stage B-King’s Sundries. Local artists were dressing the inside with gossamer-wrapped corpses. Unlike the grocery store, only a few items here were product placement. The rest came from a defunct pharmacy in East Texas. The property manager rented the entire contents of the store, down to the soda fountain, shelves and décor. Some items on the shelves revealed how long the place had been closed. When was the last time you saw flashcubes or flash bars?

    Another set featured David Drayton’s loft, where he painted movie posters for a living. The work on display depicted a gunslinger, a rose and a tower, painted by movie poster artist Drew Struzan. Hmmm. Wonder what movie that was for.

    Schow then took us upstairs to the local headquarters of KNB EFX Group, where foam rubber and latex articulated monsters were being created. Gregory Nicotero (the ‘N’ of KNB) gave us the grand tour. The first thing I saw was a life-sized model of Andre Braugher with his back ripped open. Nicotero said they had “ripping flesh and biting people down to a science.”

    Everywhere we looked, there were long, articulated tentacles. They looked like octopus tentacles, except the undersides were designed to open up to reveal suckers that had teeth, surrounded by spiny quills. Cables extend from them so they could be made to writhe and curl.

    Among their other creations were the flying bug creatures and the pterodactyls that attack the market, some designed by Bernie Wrightson. The fly-creature had six eyes and its back was lined with porcupine quills. It had sixteen legs, eight large outer ones and eight smaller ones tucked up inside. The body was reminiscent of a wasp, the legs of a spider. Fingerlike organs encircled its mouth. The designers wanted to keep human aspects to their “faces” but make them much more skull-like.

    The pterodactyl had two sets of wings. It could flap the back ones or tuck them in and glide on the front wings. Nicotero showed us green-screen footage of the articulated bird being set on fire with the mop torch. Strands of human meat hung from its mouth. Six people operated the puppet, which was also hooked to a boom so it could leap or fly up and down. The green-screen shots may be used as is, or may be used as cues for CafeFX to do in CGI. The final product will likely be a blend of live action and CGI.

    A loading dock scene featuring the demise of Norm the stock boy was shot early in production so CaféFX could start working on computer effects.

    The movie features some interesting deaths, but not gallons of blood like many horror films. There’s a stabbing and a shooting, and a man is set on fire. The warehouse door amputates some limbs, and a number of people are swept away by the monsters in the mist. A few days before we arrived, actress Alexa Davalos was stung by one of the creatures. Her punctured neck swelled up rapidly, oozing pus.

    Dead bodies were stacked carelessly on the floor in one corner of the room, along with the charred remains of the pterodactyl. An oven had a sign posted “Special Effects: Not to be used for cooking.” Cardboard boxes on shelves were hand-labeled “pus and bladders” and “spare eyes.”

    The MistBack on the set, I watched Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden (Mrs. Carmody) whip her followers into a frenzy time and time again. Darabont encouraged her to ad-lib so long as her rants included required information. After many of her scenes, she was rewarded with a round of applause. At one point she want off on a tangent, which the script supervisor brought to Darabont’s attention. “Gives me more to work with,” he responded.

    On the second day, David and his friends decided to escape from the store. Thomas Jane wandered the aisles looking for Private Jessup to find out what he knew about the mist. A puff of cigarette smoke emerged from the aisle between two checkouts, revealing the private’s location. Ollie (Toby Jones) and Amanda (Laurie Holden) were searching other aisles, so coordinating the action to get the actors to arrive at one location at the same time required several takes.

    Later, Mrs. Carmody’s followers accused Jessup of being responsible for the mist. Thomas Jane was knocked down by a punch delivered by Darabont regular William Sadler, followed by some delicate knife work. Jessup was then lifted over the shoulders of several extras and carried to the front of the store, where he was to be cast into the parking lot as a sacrifice.

    Sadler came back to video village to review the scene. He was pumped up by the scene’s energy. “It’s moments like these when you’re fully engaged. There’s no acting involved. It can’t help but be genuine.” The punch was “the money shot” according to the cast and crew. The cameramen and Jane rushed to the monitors after each take to see how convincing it looked. The intensity was so high on one take that Francis Sternhagen (Misery, The Golden Years), who was sitting next to the director, retreated from the set. “I don’t want to watch any more,” she said.

    “We’re fucking going to kick ass on this scene,” Darabont said after a few takes. “I love it when they lift Jessup up.” The shot was filmed from various angles. “Here’s the place where we don’t rush through it,” he said. “Even if we fall a day behind.” After the low-angle shots were complete, the crew moved shelves of groceries out of the way and brought in a boom crane for a camera that tracked the mob’s progress from above.

    While they coordinated the actors’ movement through the aisles with the crane camera-which was computerized to “learn” its motions-they used a naked life-sized dummy of Greg Nicotero as a stand-in for Jessup. During one rehearsal, the boom crane collided with a light fixture, so time was spent removing others that might get in the way. When the mob reached the door, the dummy’s arms extend against the doorframe. “Even the dummy doesn’t want to be thrown out into the parking lot,” the script supervisor said. I didn’t get to stay long enough to see the shot with the real actor-choreographing action and cameras was a long and tedious process that took them well into the evening.

    During an afternoon break in filming, the publicist took Chris Hewitt and me out to the “circus” where the actors’ trailers were set up so we could get some interviews. First, we encountered Marcia Gay Harden playing in the parking lot with her children. After that, Toby Jones (Ollie Weeks) invited us into his trailer for a chat. Finally, Thomas Jane appeared at his trailer for his daily cigar and invited us in out of the sun.

    * * *

    Marcia Gay Harden

    While they were planning the look for Mrs. Carmody, Harden presented five different looks to the hair and makeup crew. “There was the nun, the preacher’s daughter, Tammy Faye Baker, the town snoop and the hippie. [Darabont] preferred the nun with the thick eyebrows, but we picked the preacher’s daughter. The prop people gave me this scarf and I put it up on my head, and then props put white gloves in my purse so I’m wearing those. She came in lovely and perfect and very buttoned down and it seems like the character [degenerates]. The hair is down and she’s actually a much more sensual person in her power and in her preaching than she was at the beginning.”

    About her dialog: “The language is religious, almost poetic, which makes it difficult to seem natural. Very declamatory. Dialog that typically one would turn off to. I wanted you to be able to listen to her and even wonder if she’s not right, because I think it is the end of the world. If someone said there are monsters and scorpions and man-eating bugs and a mist and everybody is fighting and no one is surviving, I would say it’s the end of the world. It’s apocalyptic. I don’t know how the movie ends-it’s not in our scripts . . . I did ask [Frank] if he would not really kill me off so I could come back [for a sequel]. I love working with Frank. He’s given me freedom-it was wonderful. He came up to me at the end [of a take] and said, ‘You’re fearless.’ I hope he meant fearless and not shameless.”

    On ad-libbing: “There were moments when I would lose the thread and make up dialog based on what I know. I did buy a book that’s called The Idiot’s Guide to Revelations and I was reading that so that when he would let me go on I would know what to say and there is a lot of dialog about the Seventh Seal and the Whore of Babylon that’s quite interesting.”

    On the mob mentality: “The thing that was interesting to me about it was The Lord of the Flies aspect. This is society in an extremely tough situation where it is a world unknown outside your door. Do you hold together? Do you pull apart? What part of people’s personalities pull apart? Where do people crack? It’s like all the stories about post-traumatic stress disorder. In [Mrs. Caromdy’s] case she certainly does crack, but part of what makes her crack is power.”

    On her character: “She was written to be sort of a hefty, overweight woman, not an attractive woman in any way, but we felt that you’d walk in the door and you’d go: she’s bad. So you’re setting up a script that is a creature feature-and it does have good and evil, as is necessary in almost any drama-but so obvious. So we’ve given her these moments and episodes: Please God, let me speak through you, let me be your ambassador in prayer, let me be the voice for you. Fill me with the spirit. The personal is always what makes things, your destination or the personal journey, and that’s what we’ve been building. We’re the raw material, and [Darabont] will cook it. I hope some of that stays and doesn’t end up on the editing room floor, but you never know. The more responsibility I have for telling the story, the better. I [usually] don’t mind if they cut scenes I’m in, but there’s other times where I think, ‘Ah, you cut the people story to make it a plot.’”

    On her throne: “Frank and I walked through the set and I said, ‘Where is my area?’ He said, ‘You’re probably going to be over here in the produce aisle.’ I said, ‘I want a chair unlike anybody else’s chair.’ And he said ‘We’ve got all these lawn chairs,’ and I was like, ‘anybody can have a lawn chair. I want a throne.’ They found this throne for me and built a little platform and equipped the thing. And I said, ‘I bet I have a shopping cart and scoop things into it, and I was the first one to get a rice bag for my pillow and the first one to get my sleeping bag and I have curtains for my privacy and no one else has curtains.’ So she went from being a fat ugly lady in a yellow pant suit to really being a diva.”

    * * *

    Toby Jones

    British actor Toby Jones played Truman Capote in Infamous, so this wasn’t his first time doing an American accent. However, between takes he reverted to his normal speaking voice. “Playing Capote, it was impossible to not stay in his voice the whole time, because it was a totally different mouth shape. I’d take about an hour and a half to get my jaw in the right place to do it at the beginning of the day.” For The Mist, he said he didn’t want to wear the accent too heavily. Too often, he said, actors are overly proud of their accents. Like the best CGI, accents shouldn’t draw attention to themselves.

    On how he was cast: I think [Darabont] saw The Painted Veil, and he really liked that. As an English actor you’re not quite sure how it did happen because of what happens in L.A. You actually hear about it quite late on. I was one of the last people to come on board, which created huge problems with the visa.

    “I was very aware of Frank, obviously and The Shawshank Redemption. It’s in my top ten. Frank said I’m sending you a script, I hope you enjoy it. I can’t say that Stephen King is someone I’ve read-I am aware of his stuff on film. To me it’s a fantastic character to play. The unlikely hero.

    “I’ve never done what you might call a genre picture before. It requires a special thing in a way because you’re operating in the area of action over character. Anything [the audience] learns about character happens because of the way you respond to extraordinary circumstances. The audience is constantly in the present. They’re not too worried about what happened ten, fifteen minutes ago. The momentum of the thing is moving forward, and as an actor you’re concerned with trying to create a certain consistency. You have to show up and do what the action requires you to do.”

    On doing a special effects movie: “We are making a special effects movie in six or seven weeks. I was going, ‘This will be interesting to see how this is going to work.’ I’ve been involved in special effects movies before, but they normally luxuriate in months of prep. Here you’re working with puppeteers and CGI people who are able to do their stuff at such speed it doesn’t really ruin the momentum of the take.

    “Often as an actor you just get bogged down in-and there must be doing some weird mental name for this-if I’m doing a play and we rehearse a scene, I’ll have done it once and I’ll be able to remember a whole complicated series of physical activity. Here, you’ll be studying ‘If you could just place it there . . . not there.’ [uses a TV remote to demonstrate two positions an inch apart] I’ll begin to get a kind of amnesia as to whether it was there or there. The minutia overwhelms the big picture.”

    On his character’s fate: “I just get zapped, I think. He won’t tell me how I’ve died. I think I won’t find out until I’ve seen the picture. But I have an idea that I’ll play it kind of very, very optimistic-the moment where I make a break for the car [beams optimistically and beckons] ‘Come on, come on . . . ‘” [smile transforms into a look of abject horror]

    * * *

    Thomas Jane

    We spent a surreal forty-five minutes inhaling second-hand smoke as Jane discussed past films (re: Dreamcatcher: “Yeah, some people liked that.”), his graphic novels (a mockup of Bad Planet with a Bernie Wrightson cover is on the rack in the pharmacy when his character grabs comics to take to his son) and future works (re: a sequel to Punisher: “If we can get a fucking director and a script that makes half a fucking sense. The problem is that all the scripts come in like a bad fucking Steven Segal film. I want a fucking dirty, mean, bloody New York story. I want cops and robbers. Good guys and bad guys. I want Serpico. I want fucking Dog Day Afternoon. I want Taxi Driver. I don’t want Under Siege. ”)

    On the schedule: “It’s pretty tight, so they’ve been working us really hard. In order to get everything we need, it’s just nonstop. We’ll go a few days over just because the schedule was way too ambitious to get everything we need. But the good news is, we’re not leaving anything behind. Most movies with tight schedules you’re always missing stuff and you don’t have time to do certain shots. Not so here. The way they’ve designed the shoot, we’re never waiting around more than ten minutes for them to flip the lights around.”

    On how he became involved in The Mist: “Frank called me and said, ‘I want to send you a script. I’m not going to tell you anything about it. I want you to read it.’ He sent it over and it’s one of the best scripts I’ve ever read. That happens maybe once or twice in a career. The part is fantastic and it happens to mix the two things I love the most, genre movies-the horror/sci-fi type stuff-with action. I feel like I was invited into something very special. So I really gave it my all. I’ve worked really fucking hard on this film. I had an offer to do another movie in between the one I just finished and I turned it down because I wanted to dedicate the time that I knew I would need to prepare for this one. Most of the time you can walk through a genre film. There’s not a lot of prep that you need. Scream. Look scared. This one really requires some acting.”

    On working with Frank Darabont: “He has a great eye. It’s pace and it’s tone. He knows how to set a tone that’s believable. And he has great taste. He has an ear for the truth, he knows what’s real, and he also lets everybody do their job. He hires really good people, he lets them do their job. He doesn’t get in their way. He expects you to bring it, and everyone feels that and they do it. Some directors try to get too controlling and they try to micromanage everything and then everybody starts doubting themselves and the work falls apart. He listens, takes advice from everybody and anybody. He’s got a clear sense of the story that he wants to tell, so you can ask him a question and he’ll have a very clear answer. ‘No, and this is why’-or ‘that’s a good idea, and this is why.’ He knows the story that he wants to tell in each moment of the film. He makes it a joy to work for him. You feel that everybody wants to do their best.”

    On the set: “The first week everybody’s getting to know each other. The second week everybody knows each other so they’re joking, and they’re having fun and they’re killing time and one morning [Darabont] came in and he goes ‘Chit chat’s over.’ You respect the guy. When he has something to say, he says it very firmly and that’s the way it’s going to be. He sets that tone on purpose. He focuses everyone, and then everyone sees the work that’s being done and that makes them want to be focused.”

    On the story: “Shooting chronologically helps a lot for this movie. It’s a cumulative experience-the disaster that everyone’s going through. Another great thing about this movie is that you could replace the monsters with terrorists or poison gas or a burning building or an earthquake and you’d have very much the same kind of film. That makes it relatable in a human, very real way. I think the best horror movies allow us to believe in the horror. Human beings are reacting in a very truthful manner to the given circumstances. In this case it’s monsters from another dimension.”

    News From The Dead Zone #122

    Breaking News from the Dead Zone

    StephenKing.com and Metro DMA released the opening credits for the upcoming Dark Tower project. The streaming video is now available in three classes of connection speed at www.stephenking.com

    King’s new poem, The Bone Church, from the current issue of Playboy, is now online.

    On Tuesday, October 27th, AOL’s PopEater entertainment site will feature an interview with King about Under the Dome.

    Paramount has dug up an old film license and used it to create a mobile application game “inspired by” Pet Sematary. The $1 app is a top-down shooter, in which you have to rapidly tap on resurrected pets and small boys to shoot them, while saving the adults who charge around the levels seeking safety. [more info]

    Last week, a new feature was added to the Under the Dome Widget. The widget features a link to an interactive book cover, allowing you to explore the book a little more in depth prior to its release. Scarecrow Joe is also twittering from under the dome.

    King is quoted in this EW.com article about selling Under the Dome for $9 and the decision not to release the e-book version until 12/24. He also released this statement on his web site: “Please don’t believe the press reports that the e-book reader price for Under the Dome will be $35. This was the result of confusion from a press release from the publisher, what Big Jim Rennie would call a clustermug. It is true that you cannot order the book as an e-download until December 24th but the physical book, which is a beautiful thing, you can pre-order for less than $9—so who’s better than us?”

    Stephen King & Peter Straub Talk Comics Books and MTV has an exclusive first look at issue #1 of The Talisman adaptation.

    The current issue of EW has the new column: The Secret to Pop Culture Snacking.

    News From The Dead Zone #121

    Breaking News from the Dead Zone

    Hodder & Stoughton, King’s UK publisher, has an online/offline promotion where people are sent on a treasure hunt to find the more than 5000 snippets of Under the Dome that are being hidden by other participants all across the web. Facebook and Twitter feeds are being used to distribute clues to the location. You just never know where one of these snippets might turn up.

    There’s a short interview with King at the Science Fiction Book Club (may contain mild spoilers) and a letter from King to readers at the same site. Look for an excerpt from the book in the issue of Entertainment Weekly that will be on news stands next week.

    A second set of 60 pages from The Cannibals is now up at King’s website. We won’t see any more of the book online this year, if ever.

    Marvel announced a new chapter in the Dark Tower graphic fiction adaptation-Dark Tower: The Gunslinger. Beginning in 2010, the creative team of Peter David, Robin Furth and Richard Isanove return for a new 30-issue arc exploring the life of Roland Deschain, revealing how and why he began his pursuit of the man in black across Mid-World’s Mohaine Desert! “We are extremely excited to continue our epic journey into the DARK TOWER universe with THE GUNSLINGER,” says Ruwan Jayatilleke, Senior Vice President, Strategic Development-Acquisitions & Licensing. “And we are equally ecstatic to continue our collaboration with Stephen King as well as keeping comic book fans on their toes!” A look back at key points along the road to DARK TOWER: THE FALL OF GILEAD #6 and the cataclysmic events to come

    King has submitted an exclusive, all-new article for publication in Fangoria magazine. The 7,500-plus-word essay, entitled “What’s Scary,” will be published in two parts, beginning with #289, on sale in December, and concluding in #290, arriving in January 2010. “I’ve wanted to be a Fango contributor ever since I purchased my first issue,” King says. “For me, this is a nightmare come true.”

    NBC Universal and E1 Entertainment are co-financing a 13-episode TV series called Haven that is based in part on The Colorado Kid. The project “centers on a spooky town in Maine where cursed folk live normal lives in exile. When those curses start returning, FBI agent Audrey Parker is brought in to keep those supernatural forces at bay — while trying to unravel the mysteries of Haven.” Scott Shepherd will serve as showrunner and exec produce with Lloyd Segan and Shawn Piller, all three of whom were exec producers on USA Network’s version of The Dead Zone. Two more The Dead Zone alumni, Sam Ernst and Jim Dunn, are writing the pilot and will also serve as exec producers.

    On October 20, Del Rey Comics will release the first issue of The Talisman: The Road of Trials . It’s being adapted by writer Robin Furth and artist Tony Shasteen . Here are 12 exclusive images and a Robin Furth interview: Stephen King Gets Serious About Comic Books.

    Entertainment Weekly columns: What’s Next for Pop Culture? and The One That Got Away

    News From The Dead Zone #120

    Breaking News from the Dead Zone

    Couldn’t let such an auspicious date pass without supplying an update. Besides there are things happening worth reporting.

    First off, Scribner has launched a dedicated web site to promote Under the Dome. The URL is StephenKingUnderTheDome.com and it is here that we will get the first sneak peeks at the cover art. The first element is supposed to come out today so, keep checking back. There’s also an excerpt from the book, wallpapers, a PDF map of the town of Chester’s Mill, a link to the town’s web page, character bios (including a link to a blog being kept by one of the book’s characters, Scarecrow Joe) and a widget you can add to your web site. The limited edition of the book sold out in just a few hours last week.

    More information about King’s appearances this fall is now available at his message board.

    For the first time ever, you can to read an excerpt from The Cannibals.  This is the 1980s novel that originally inspired Under the Dome.

    Children of the Corn debuts on SyFy this Saturday evening. Here’s an article about an advance screening in Iowa. King, who is credited as a co-writer, has seen this movie, producer, director and writer Donald Borchers said. Writers Guild of America regulations state that he could keep his name in the credits, be listed under a pseudonym or take his name off completely. He elected to keep his name in the credits, Borchers proudly said.

    The November issue of Playboy will contain a narrative poem called “The Bone Church.” It is described as being “in the tradition of Coleridge and Kipling” and “filled with madness and mayhem.” Should be on news stands in early October.

    News From The Dead Zone #116

    Breaking News from the Dead Zone

    According to Camelot Books, these are the features of the Collectors Edition of Under the Dome:

    • Belly band
    • Jacket (will be the same jacket as on the trade state)
    • Housed in a stamped case
    • 4 color printed endpapers
    • Ribbon marker
    • Deck of cards (apparently this relates to the book)
    • Shrinkwrapped
    • 25,000 copies

    News From The Dead Zone #114

    Breaking News from the Dead Zone

    Scribner has issued this plot synopsis of the upcoming 1120-page novel Under the Dome:

    On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester’s Mills, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener’s hand is severed as “the dome” comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when—or if—it will go away.

    Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens—town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician’s assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing—even murder—to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn’t just short. It’s running out.

    It looks like It will be remade as a feature film. Warner Bros. has hired Dave Kajganich to adapt the novel, with Dan Lin and Vertigo’s Roy Lee and Doug Davison producing. Though it’s hard to take stories seriously at this point, when the script hasn’t even been written, the rumor is that it will focus on the adult Losers rather than flipping back and forth between the two eras. Kajganich is also attached to a remake of Pet Sematary.

    News From The Dead Zone #113

    Breaking News from the Dead Zone

    This weekend’s issue of USA Weekend magazine features a King cover story, 35 Scary Years with Stephen King. The article is also online at the USA Weekend website. To find out what newspapers carry the insert in your area, go here.

    Here’s an article where King’s agent, Ralph Vicinanza, discusses “Ur.” The story is now available for iPhone users, too, but not for general audiences yet.

    Director Mick Garris and producer Mark Sennet met with Maine Governor John Baldacci last week to discuss the possibility of filming Bag of Bones in Maine and to explore financial incentives for the film. Bag of Bones has a $20 million budget, and Sennet expects to spend $10 million wherever the film is made. Filming could begin as early as this summer.

    Here’s a new website for the film adaptation of Dolan’s Cadillac.

    Here are interviews with Robin Furth and Tony Shasteen from New York Comic Con, discussing the Del Ray graphic adaptation of The Talisman. There have been reports of an Issue 0 installment featuring an episode that does not appear in the book itself, but serves as a prequel to the whole story.

    In Entertainment Weekly: Torture and “24” and I love Breaking Bad

    News From The Dead Zone #112

    Breaking News from the Dead Zone

    February 10, 2009: A brief update about yesterday’s announcement concerning King’s new novella, “Ur,” which features the Amazon Kindle. An Amazon official estimates that “Ur” would run about 100 traditional print pages. There’s a video of King reading from “Ur” on YouTube and an interview here.

    News From The Dead Zone #111

    Breaking News from the Dead Zone

    King’s next novella, “Ur,” was inspired by the Amazon Kindle book reader. At today’s launch of the Kindle2, Amazon announced that “Ur” would be available on the newest version of the device. Early indications were that it was to be an exclusive release, but there may be a non-Kindle version available for purchase as well. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.

    Here’s a description of the story: “Following a nasty break-up, lovelorn college English instructor Wesley Smith can’t seem to get his ex-girlfriend’s parting shot out of his head: ‘Why can’t you just read off the computer like the rest of us?’ Egged on by her question and piqued by a student’s suggestion, Wesley places an order for Amazon.com’s Kindle eReader. The [pink?] device that arrives in a box stamped with the smile logo – via one-day delivery that he hadn’t requested – unlocks a literary world that even the most avid of book lovers could never imagine. But once the door is open, there are those things that one hopes we’ll never read or live through.”

    King appeared at the Kindle2 launch and read from “Ur.” There are pictures of him reading from his Kindle here (images 4 & 5 of the slideshow) and a Q&A with King at USA Today.

    News From The Dead Zone #110

    Breaking News from the Dead Zone

    USA Weekend will have a cover story on Stephen King in its March 6-8 issue. Lorrie Lynch flew up to Maine to talk to him in December. “We got into a discussion of popular authors vs. the academic elite, a subject he has strong opinions about, and I asked him if his mainstream success over the past 35 years paved the way for the massive careers of Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling and Twilight author Stephenie Meyer.” Click read more for King’s feelings about those two as well as some other best-selling authors.

    There’s a new video interview with King at Borders to promote the release of Stephen King Goes to the Movies.

    Captain Trips, the first series of graphic novels adapting The Stand, will be released in a hardcover omnibus edition on March 10th.

    Dark Tower: Guide to Gilead will be out this month. Since the Golden Age of Eld — when Gilead was first named the capital of the fledgling Kingdom of All-World — the city has served as Mid-World’s most influential urban center. In the latest DARK TOWER handbook, explore Gilead’s seedy Lower Town and its affluent West End corridor! Learn about the religions of Buffalo Star and the Queen o’ Green Days! Marvel at the legend of Lord Perth! Beware the threats posed by the Blue-Faced Barbarians and Kuvian Night Soldiers! The Guide to Gilead is the only way to navigate the past, present and future of this magnificent metropolis!

    This will be followed on March 11th by a single-issue installment Dark Tower: Sorcerer, “probing deeply into the incredible life of Marten Broadcloak. We learn his deadly secret agenda and true goal is not to serve the Crimson King, but to climb to the top of the Dark Tower itself and become the overlord of all existence!”

    There’s a new Dark Tower critique out: Inside the Dark Tower Series: Art, Evil and Intertextuality in the Stephen King Novels by Patrick McAleer. “Stephen King is no stranger to the realm of literary criticism, but his most fantastic, far-reaching work has aroused little academic scrutiny. This study of King’s epic Dark Tower series encompasses the career of one of the world’s best-selling authors and frames him as more than a “horror writer.” Four categories of analysis–genre, art, evil, and intertextuality–provide a focused look at the center of King’s fictional universe. This book reaches beyond popular culture treatments of the series and examines it against King’s horror work, audience expectations, and the larger literary landscape.”

    A new stage version of Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption will have its world premiere at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin on May 19 with previews starting on May 14. Adapted by Owen O’Neill and Dave Johns and directed by Peter Sheridan.

    According to an article an earlier article in USA Weekend: Stephen King has gone multimedia. “N.,” one of the tales in the best-selling author’s latest short story collection, Just After Sunset, was turned into an original Web video series in conjunction with Marvel Comics. The collaboration has inspired King, 61; he’s thinking about doing a YouTube video for his novel Under the Dome, out later this year. Such projects are definitely fun, King says. “But with all these multimedia things, the story is the story still, the book is the book, and that’s the source material. As J.R.R. Tolkien might say, ‘That’s the one ring.’ It rules the other one.”

    Del Rey announced the adaptor and artist on the comic book and graphic novel versions of The Talisman which debuts early this fall. The book will be penciled and inked by Tony Shasteen, and will be scripted by Robin Furth. Lettering and project management will be handled by Dabel Brothers Publishing.

    King’s best of 2008 columns:

    And two other recent EW columns:

    Have you visited the virtual office at King’s official web site yet? The Cafe Press storefront is also open.