There’s been so much news lately, I hardly know where to begin. What merits top billing? Let’s start with that trailer for It. First we had a teaser for the trailer, that stirred up interest. And then we got the 2-½ minute trailer itself, and boy what a beauty that was. In its first 24 hours, it racked up an astonishing 197 million views around the world, smashing all previous records. That speaks a lot to anticipation for this movie.
There is a bit of lore that exists around the origins of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. It was a novel he never intended to publish, the one he felt was “too dark” to unleash upon us Constant Readers. That is somewhat difficult to believe, considering it was only two years before Pet Sematary’s publication in 1983 that King picked up his typewriter and hit us over the head with Cujo, wherein five-year-old Tad Trenton dies by the novel’s final pages. King has said on numerous occasions that he received a lot of flack for that one, to be sure. One of the most popular questions he would get asked at the time is: Why, Steve, why? Why did you have to go and kill the kid?
Not long now until End of Watch comes out, the final installment in the Mr. Mercedes trilogy. King is doing a major tour for this book, with twelve stops between June 7 and June 18. The June 16 event in Albuquerque is of particular interest because George R.R. Martin will be interviewing King. Most of the events have already sold out (some in almost record time), but you can find the list of venues here.
After years of saying “no news yet” with reference to the Dark Tower movie, things are finally moving forward. The current release date is set at February 17, 2017, and the following people have been cast: Idris Elba (Roland), Matthew McConaughey (Man in Black), Jackie Earle Haley (Richard Sayre), Fran Kranz (Pimli Prentiss), Tom Taylor (Jake), Abby Lee (Tirana) and Katheryn Winnick (unknown). Some early photos from the set appeared a few days ago, and some of them disappeared soon after!
Next week will be busy for Stephen King. On September 9, he will be appearing in Cambridge, MA in conversation with Lee Child to promote the new Jack Reacher novel, Make Me. The next day, he will be among the eleven individuals receiving the National Medal of Arts from President Obama in the East Wing of the White House. The citation says, “One of the most popular and prolific writers of our time, Mr. King combines his remarkable storytelling with his sharp analysis of human nature. ” Then, on the following day, September 11, he will be a guest on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show during its inaugural week.
If you read back over my previous several posts here, you’ll see that they’ve all been leading up today, the launch of Season 5 of Haven, the Syfy TV series loosely based on The Colorado Kid. This season will consist of 26 episodes, spread over the fall and spring in two 13-episode blocks. I visited the set at the end of June, when they were working on the 7th and 8th episodes. This morning, I had the chance to see tonight’s episode, “See No Evil,” which starts immediately after the final moments of Season 4, at which point William had been tossed through the portal under the lighthouse and Audrey had become her original form of herself, Mara, a trouble-maker in the most literal form.
In the first episode, something destroys the lighthouse and the cavern beneath and, presumably, the portal. The main characters are scattered far and wide before the blast, so for a while no one knows where anyone else is, and some time is spent in getting everyone back together. Nathan is the first one to encounter “Audrey,” but she’s not the woman he loves. Not on the surface, anyway. Mara (and kudos to Emily Rose for creating such a different personality, someone who is as gleefully malign as William) has an agenda, and she’s not going to let anyone stand in her way. She wants to get William back, something she can only achieve by a doorway or, rather, via a thinny, which will be a familiar concept to Dark Tower fans. However, something vexes her plans. And Nathan hasn’t given up hope that Audrey is still inside somewhere and he can bring her back.
On another front, Duke is trying to find Jennifer, who is the only lighthouse person unaccounted for. And, of course, there’s a Trouble, which manifests itself in people having their eyes and/or mouths sewn shut with a leather cord that defies all efforts to remove it. Though everyone tries to impress on Dwight the importance of reining in Mara, he knows this Trouble has the potential to be deadly, so that’s his #1 priority. The repercussions of Audrey giving Duke back his Trouble in the penultimate episode last season also start to come to light, and it’s a doozy. And, based on the previews for the season I’ve seen so far, there are going to be callbacks to a lot of past Troubles. Mara made ’em, so she could potentially use them as weapons to achieve her nefarious goals.
And I’m very worried about Dave Teagues. Is he having morphine-induced nightmares or terrifying memories?
Interested in learning more about the origins of the Troubles? There’s a 16-page mini-comic in the Season 4 DVD, and a web series called Haven Origins coming on September 12. Here’s a trailer for it.
King will embark on a six-city book tour to promote the release of Revival. He will appear in New York City (Nov 11), Washington, DC (Nov 12), Kansas City, MO (Nov 13), Wichita, KS (Nov 14), Austin, TX (Nov 15) and South Portland, ME (Nov 17). Further details regarding the itinerary will be posted on King’s official website on September 15th.
Issue 1 of The Prisoner, the first cycle adapting The Drawing of the Three from Marvel, came out this week. For the first time, these comics are being offered digitally as well as in print.
In case you missed it, King’s latest short story “That Bus Is Another World” appeared in the August issue of Esquire. Also, here is King’s response to the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS. And here is an interview with King about how he teaches writing, from the Atlantic.
The PBS series Finding Your Roots will feature King in its first episode of the new season on September 23. In this promo, King is shown a photo of his father and in this one, he learns more about his distant ancestors.
Encore is running King movies every day during September, with a special selection scheduled for King’s birthday.
There’s lots of news on the movie/TV front. Let’s hit the high spots:
- A Good Marriage will be in cinemas and available via Video On Demand on October 3. ‘We went in fearlessly’: Stephen King on adapting A Good Marriage for film.
- Big Driver will premiere on Lifetime on Saturday, October 18 at 8pm ET/PT. The movie stars Maria Bello, Olympia Dukakis, Joan Jett, Will Harris and Ann Dowd (from The Leftovers). The script is by Richard Christian Matheson, with Mikael Salomon directing. Here is a teaser video.
- Mercy, the film adaptation of “Gramma,” will be “dumped to digital” in October. I assume this means it’s going straight to Video On Demand.
- Mr. Mercedes will be a 10-episode TV series. Jack Bender will be on the production team.
- CBS has ordered a “put pilot” (a serious commitment) from Warner Bros. TV for a series based on “The Things They Left Behind.” It is described as a supernatural procedural drama in which an unlikely pair of investigators carry out the unfinished business of the dead.
- Mark Romanek will direct Overlook Hotel, the prequel to The Shining.
- In this video, King discusses his involvement with the second season of Under the Dome, which is nearing the end of its second season. There are also a couple of good interviews with him: Stephen King Isn’t Afraid Of The Big Bad Adaptation and Written by — and tweaked for TV by — Stephen King
- Now that Cell has wrapped, King teased what he could about the film. “The movie is not totally close to the original screenplay that I wrote,” he said. “But I’ll tell you what, the end of it is so goddamn dark and scary. It’s really kind of a benchmark there.”
- Writer Jeff Buhler has come aboard director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s Pet Sematary reboot for Paramount. He discusses the project with Dread Central.
- The Stand director Josh Boone says: I finished writing the script maybe a month ago. Stephen [King] absolutely loved it. It’s, I think, the first script ever approved by him. [It’ll be] a single version movie. Three hours. It hews very closely to the novel…I don’t imagine we would shoot the movie until next Spring at the earliest. His full comments are available at Collider.
Scribner has released their description of Mr. Mercedes, King’s next novel, which will be out on June 3, 2014.
In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.
In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.
Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.
Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.
This is just one of two novels we’ll see next year, the other being Revival. There’s a new King short story, “Summer Thunder,” in the CD anthology Turn Down the Lights. Editor Rich Chizmar says it “might be one of the most heartbreaking post-apocalyptic tales we’ve ever read.”
King joined Twitter late last week. Within minutes he had 30,000 followers and the number has since climbed to nearly 200,000. You don’t need to join Twitter to see his feed, though. Just click here.
Samuel L. Jackson will play Tom McCourt in the movie adaptation of Cell, joining John Cusack for the second time (1408). There were some amusing follow-up articles in which Jackson confessed that he didn’t know that his character was gay in the novel. The film will be directed by Tod “Kip” Williams (Paranormal Activity 2). Production is scheduled to begin in January.
Long-time King fan Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) plans to adapt Lisey’s Story. King had a cameo in Boone’s debut, Stuck in Love. Boone talks about how King responded when he sent some books to be autographed when he was 12 in this article.
Add another title to the list of remakes or reworkings. Bob Weinstein is developing a proposed 10-part series with Frank Darabont, based on Dimension’s film version of The Mist. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) is in talks to direct Pet Sematary. The day after it was announced that Scott Cooper was considering Christian Bale for the theatrical version of The Stand, the director left the project. Paul Greengrass is now being courted to help the film. Cary Fukunaga is currently attached to the remake of It.
Doctor Sleep link roll:
- Robin Furth discusses the book on Bloomberg TV
- King’s playlist for Doctor Sleep (via Powell’s bookstore)
- Spooky Digital Campaign Lets You ‘Shine’
- Stephen King and son Owen King on fiction and family (CBC)
- Interview: Stephen King and Owen King in Studio Q
- The Shining boy never left my mind
- Paris press conference
- At Le Grand Rex in Paris
- Stars and Stripes Q&A at Ramstein Air Base, Germany (Plus here are some photos from the event)
- King on German TV (his segment starts at about 36 minutes)
- King’s Munich appearance (Part 1, Part 2)
In closing, here is my review of the campy horror film You Can’t Kill Stephen King, which should get US distribution in 2014.
Next week is going to be busy in the Stephen King universe. Joyland and the all-star soundtrack for Ghost Brothers of Darkland County both come out on June 4. My review of Joyland can be seen here. It will also appear in issue 70 of Cemetery Dance magazine, together with an interview with Charles Ardai, Hard Case Crime’s publisher.
Here are the media appearances that are slated for next week to promote the two releases. Mellencamp and T Bone Burnett will be involved with some of them.
- Monday, June 3rd: The Today Show and Meet the Creators (a live event at Apple’s NY Soho store that will be broadcast later in the week)
- Tuesday, June 4th: Morning Joe and Charlie Rose
- Wednesday, June 5th: All Things Considered and Late Show with David Letterman
- Thursday, June 6th: The Colbert Report
- Friday, June 7th: SiriusXM Live Conversation with Mojo Nixon
King has already done a few interviews about Joyland. Last weekend he was on the cover of Parade magazine (there’s a cool behind-the-scenes video online) and a couple of days ago he did a long interview with Terry Gross on NPR (On Growing Up, Believing in God and Getting Scared). Some people have been complaining about the lack of an eBook edition of Joyland (for now at least). Charles Ardai wrote an essay that explained their rationale: Why Cling to the Past? Exclusive essay by Stephen King’s publisher about Joyland. There’s a 15-second teaser trailer for the book on YouTube.
Concord Music group has announced that Ghost Brothers of Darkland County will be released as an illustrated digital book for iBooks on June 3rd. The comprehensive multimedia edition fuses the production’s story, soundtrack, artwork and video extras into a complete interactive experience. The soundtrack is streaming live at The Wall Street Journal.
That’s not all that’s new. “Afterlife,” the story King read in its entirety at UMass Lowell last December, is in the “summer reading” issue of Tin House magazine. You can get it from the various online bookstores, but it’s only $15 straight from the publisher, with free media mail shipping.
Then, on June 17, Coliloquy is publishing the eBook Hard Listening, which has a collection of essays and e-mail exchanges from members of the Rock Bottom Remainders. The iPad/iBooks version is enhanced and interactive, with videos and audio files embedded in the text. There’s a great video of everyone in the green room getting a laught out of Mitch Albom’s Elvis wig. Steve is rolling on the floor with laughter. It’s a funny and fun book. Also of note, there’s a new King short story. However, I won’t reveal the title because three other authors were tasked with writing a story in King’s style and readers get a chance to vote on which one they think is the real King. After you vote, you can see how other readers voted and, separately, how other Rock Bottom Remainders voted. All author proceeds from the sales of Hard Listening will be donated to offset the late Kathi Kamen Goldmark’s medical bills. You can read an excerpt here.
PS Publishing has added two more 30th anniversary King editions to their roster, in addition to the already announced Christine and Pet Sematary. In 2014 they will issue Thinner and Skeleton Crew. There’s a strong Cemetery Dance angle here, too. Rich Chizmar has written the afterword for Christine, and I wrote one for Pet Sematary.
Chris Evans (Captain America) has been cast as the lead in Tom Holland’s adaptation of “The Ten O’Clock People.” Filming is expected to begin in Atlanta this fall. The John Cusack film Cell is also scheduled to begin filming in September. Tod “Kip” Williams (Paranormal Activity 2) is directing.
I attended the Dollar Baby Film Festival that was held in conjunction with Comicpalooza in Houston last weekend. Here’s my report on the event at FEARnet.
The official Stephen King Facebook page debuted today. Be sure to click on the banner when you get there to see a clever mosaic.
Once upon a time, not so terribly long ago, I pretended to be Scarecrow Joe as part of the promotion leading up to the hardcover release of Under the Dome. I wrote the kid’s blog entries and ran his twitter feed. Colin Ford (We Bought a Zoo) will play him in the CBS TV series that debuts on June 24th. That’s the first casting news to be announced. There’ll be a promotional ad for the series during the Super Bowl. Neal Baer serves as showrunner. DreamWorks’ Stacey Snider is executive producing with Spielberg, King, Baer, Brian K. Vaughan (who wrote the pilot), Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank. Here’s an interview with King and Vaughan about the adaptation. Filming starts in Wilmington, NC in February. The thirteenth and final episode will reveal a vital piece of information about the town’s situation, but will be open-ended, the hope being that the series will be renewed and there will be more adventures in Chester’s Mill.
The third season of Haven ended with a series of bangs last night as the final two episodes were aired. What a cliffhanger it was, too. We learned some new information (who’s the Colorado Kid’s father? Who’s in charge of the guard?) but now we have to wait months and months to find out what will become of Audrey and Nathan and company. Turning Duke into a teenager, albeit briefly, was a stroke of brilliance.
The signed, limited edition of The Shining from Subterranean Press will go on sale at approximately 12:00 PM, EST, on Wednesday, January 23. The artist for this edition is Gabriel Rodriguez (of the comic series Locke & Key).
There’s a three page interview with King in the January 11 issue of Entertainment Weekly about Doctor Sleep. “6 Books We Can’t Wait For — Stephen King on His Shining Sequel” I haven’t found it online yet, though.
PS Publishing is going to do two 30th anniversary editions of King’s books this year. Their plan is to get the books out as close to the original publication dates as possible: Christine (with an introduction by Michael Marshall Smith) in late April and Pet Sematary (with an introduction by Ramsey Campbell) in mid-November. The books will have wraparound covers, two-page endpapers back and front (each one different) and full color wraparound artwork on a special slipcase plus six interior b&w illustrations. The artists will be signing the tip sheets and they’re hoping to include King’s signature as a facsimile. Print run should be 300-400 numbered copies.
Part 1 of the two-part Sheemie’s Story is now out from Marvel, with the concluding section coming out in February. After that, another two-part series called Evil Ground launches in April. It’s described as a prequel to “The Little Sisters of Eluria.” Here’s the blurb: “While traveling through the Desatoya Mountains towards Eluria, Roland comes across a haunted camp. While there, he relives one of his past adventures, in which he and his ka-tet fought Farson’s forces, only to be trapped by supernatural enemies”
Sony Pictures announced recently that the Carrie remake has been pushed back from its March 15 release to October 18.
The Facebook page Blumhouse Productions has released two behind the scenes photos for the movie Mercy, based on King’s short story “Gramma.” Dylan McDermott joined the cast recently, along with Frances O’Connor, Chandler Riggs and Joel Courtney. Peter Cornwell is directing. See more here.
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?”
The current issue of EW has the new column: The Secret to Pop Culture Snacking.
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.
Joe Camillieri reports that King’s official web site now has information about upcoming events related to Lisey’s Story. The SF event is showing sold out, but since it was just announced I’d recommend checking back to see if this is real or not. More events will be announced, so check that page (and this one) often.
There has been a spate of rumors alleging that George Clooney will be starring in Paramount Pictures’ remake of Pet Sematary announced recently. The report originated with Bloody Disgusting, where a follow-up stated that Clooney’s publicist denied the report.
I was at the August 1 Harry, Carrie and Garp event, which featured readings by King (“The Revenge of Lardass Hogan”), John Irving (the Christmas pageant scene from A Prayer for Owen Meany) and JK Rowling (a scene from the sixth Harry Potter novel). Special guests on Tuesday included Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Bates, Andre Braugher, Jon Stewart and CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, who moderated the Q&A. King and Irving declared themselves the “support act” for Rowling, who definitely had younger and more vocal fans in the audience. The two men had the advantage of reading hilarious passages, which resulted in more audience feedback during their respective readings. Irving and Rowling, however, were asked the more intelligent questions. There are a few user-posted photos from the event at my message board. Reports appeared many places, but the two best I’ve seen so far are here and here. The event was filmed for a webcast on MSN later this month.
Subterranean Press announced today that they are issuing a 10th Anniversary Edition of The Green Mile. Mark Geyer, whose art graced the original paperback releases, will provide more than 60 original sketches for this edition. This exclusive publication will consist of six individual illustrated hardcover volumes, contained in a cloth slipcase. King will be signing one of the six volumes in each limited set. The book comes in three editions:
- Gift: 2000 unsigned cloth bound sets, in slipcase
- Limited: 148 signed numbered sets, bound in leather and cloth, in slipcase
- Lettered: 52 signed sets, with one of the original sketches matted in the traycase
Some of the usual bookstores are getting gift editions to resell, but the Limited and Lettered editions must be ordered directly from Subterranean. These are bound to go fast!
Kirkus Review has a starred review of Lisey’s Story.
Paramount has set a September 26th release date for The Stephen King Collection, which will include the new collector’s edition DVDs of Pet Sematary and The Dead Zone as well as re-packaged versions of Silver Bullet and Graveyard Shift. The discs will also be available on the same day separately.
Speaking of The Dead Zone, Anthony Michael Hall returns Sunday (9 p.m. on USA) for a fifth season as Johnny Smith. Here’s a review of the Season 4 boxed set.