Well, Desperation went over like a lead balloon, in terms of both ratings and popular opinion. I was surprised by how poorly it was received in general, not only by the critics but by the fan base. I enjoyed it. Watched it twice in fact. If you missed it, the DVD release is scheduled for August 29th, and will feature an on-camera interview with King and commentary track by Mick Garris.
Coming up next is the Nightmares and Dreamscapes series. You have two chances to see parts of it early. CHUD is offering a a sneak peek of two episodes for people in the Atlanta area. Details here. A special presentation will take place at the next FANGORIA’s Weekend of Horrors convention, presented by Anchor Bay Entertainment, to be held June 2-4, 2006 at LA’s Burbank Airport Hilton. Guest speakers previewing the eight-part TNT series event will be directors Brian (Farscape) Henson, Rob (The X Files) Bowman and Mikael (‘Salem’s Lot) Salomon; scripters Richard Christian Matheson and PeterFilardi and Crouch End actress Claire Forlani. In addition, two episodes will make their world premieres at the con: Battleground and You Know They Got a Hell of a Band. The King-sized panel and BATTLEGROUND screening will close the convention late Sunday.
It’s been a while since my last update , primarily because there hasn’t been much news to report. With May fast approaching, and bringing with it the sweeps season, some reviews and previews of Desperation are starting to emerge. The first review I’ve seen comes from the San Antonio Express News. Their bottom line: “The movie has a little of everything: heart, spirituality, incredibly crafted flashback sequences, wonderful acting and shiver-under-the-covers shocks, a combo that should get ABC big audience numbers.”
Ron Perlman (Collie Entragian/Tak) told SCI FI Wire that his character is particularly unpleasant. “He commits some very, very gruesome acts that are very cold-blooded, very sudden and very unpredictable, and they’re without compunction, which is really the scariest part of it all. There’s no censoring.There’s no value judgment to this guy’s bloodlust. And he’s smart. Because he’s a Stephen King character, his turn of a phrase and his theatrical point of view is really, really smart. So there’s an added perverseness to all of it that make it incredibly compelling to watch, … I hope. I’m just giving you the sense I had of him from reading the script and playing the role.”
The Tucson Film Office and Fox Tucson Theatre are presenting an exclusive prescreening of Desperation on Saturday, May 6. Desperation was filmed in and around Tucson and Bisbee in the fall of 2004. Several cast and production members are scheduled to appear and get a red-carpet welcome, including director Mick Garris, producer Mark Sennet and actors Steven Weber, Annabeth Gish and Ron Perlman. The red-carpet opening event starts at 6:30 p.m., followed by opening comments by the director and producer at 7:15, and the film screens at 7:30. Tickets are available for $25 at the Fox Tucson Theatre box office at 17 W. Congress St.
“The Things They Left Behind” from Transgressions was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. Winners will be announced at the HWA Annual Conference and Stoker Banquet in in Newark, NJ, June 16-18 at the Hilton Newark Airport. As with Legends, the paperback of this anthology (to be released in late August) is split into multiple volumes. King’s story is in Volume 2 along with “The Ransome Women” by John Farris.
The Seattle Arts & Lectures announced that King will appear as part of its Literary Lecture Series on November 1st. Information: www.lectures.org or call 206-621-2230. Other authors appearing include New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Rich and author Frank McCourt. King’s appearance is only a week or so after the publication of Lisey’s Story. The moderator of his message board quotes the book jacket copy: “Lisey’s Story is about the wellsprings of creativity, the temptations of madness, and the secret language of love,” and continues, “Translated, that means a woman is regaining memories of the dark side of her husband triggered when she is going through his belongings after his death.”
John Mellencamp reports that he and King are still looking for a director for their musical The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. “What we will do is take it to Chicago or the equivalent and workshop it — get the kinks out before we try to take it to Broadway,” Mellencamp told the Bloomington Herald-Times. “Elton John opened his musical in San Francisco, and it lasted all of seven days before they closed it down and decided to rework it. When we hit Broadway, we want it ready from day one.”
Trisha McFarland is over her ordeal of being lost in the woods. However, according to an interview in the Philadelphia Daily News, “I had to go into counseling right around Christmas in 2003, when I was 14,” she said. “That’s when Tom Gordon signed as a free agent with the [censored] Yankees.” According to the parody, “She used a scatological modifier commonly used by all Red Sox fans over age 6 to describe their mortal baseball enemy.” For the record, Trish can breath easier now that Gordon plays for the Phillies.
Here is Scribner’s copy for Lisey’s Story. Read at your own peril!
Lisey Debusher Landon lost her husband Scott two years ago, after a twenty five year marriage of the most profound and sometimes frightening intimacy. Lisey knew there was a place Scott went—a place that both terrified and healed him, could eat him alive or give him the ideas he needed in order to live. Now it’s Lisey’s turn to face Scott’s demons, Lisey’s turn to go to Boo’ya Moon. What begins as a widow’s effort to sort through the papers of her celebrated husband becomes a nearly fatal journey into the darkness he inhabited.Perhaps King’s most personal and powerful novel ever, Lisey’s Story is about the wellspings of creativity, the temptations of madness, and the secret language of love.
Mick Garris talks to MovieHole about upcoming projects, including Desperation. I watched the movie last weekend and boy did Garris ever nail this one. It will be very interesting to see how it is received by the general public, because it doesn’t shy away at all from the religiousness of the novel, the debate between David Carver’s unflinching faith and Johnny Marinville’s lack thereof.
If there’s a star in the movie, it’s Tom Skerritt as Johnny. A terrific performance. The rest of the cast is decent: Charles Durning as the town drunk is another notable. Steven Weber is okay–he gets better as the movie progressess, Kelly Overton makes a good Cynthia Smith though she doesn’t match my visualization of the character, and Ron Perlman is a hoot as Collie Entragian, vacillating between lucidity and insanity. Matt Frewer is uncharacteristically restrained as David’s father. The actress who plays his mother is bitchy and strident and I wasn’t sorry when things didn’t work out so well for her.
The film doesn’t flinch from violence, either. There are shocking scenes and real gross out moments the likes of which I don’t think I’ve ever seen on broadcast TV. I’ll have more to say about Desperation in the near future, but let me close by saying it had me glued to the screen. Commercials will abound of course, which might dilute the impact (my screener DVD had brief blank gaps to show where they will come), but hold on for a heckuva ride.
The countdown to Desperation (ABC, May 18) has begun. A few people have reported seeing a trailer on television. The current issue of TV Guide (Without a Trace cover) has a small paragraph about the three-hour movie with accompanying photos.
King discusses his depiction of Malden, Massachusetts in Cell in this interview.
Sci Fi Channel will run Kingdom Hospital in four-hour blocks on Tuesday nights starting April 11. The network has also purchased the replay rights to ‘Salem’s Lot (miniseries), The Langoliers, Rose Red and Storm of the Century.
Check out several batches of photos from the upcoming Nightmares and Dreamscapes series at Lilja’s Library.
Charles Wilson was the first to alert me to this movie news, hot on the heels of yesterday’s Cell announcement. John Cusack has been cast as Mike Enslin in the big screen adaptation of 1408, to be directed by Mikael Hafstrom for Dimension Films. As you may recall, Enslin is the author of a series of haunted location travelogues. He checks into the notorious Room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel in New York. Filming is scheduled to begin this summer. “This film is so much a one-man show,” Hafstrom told Daily Variety. “It’s quite a contained drama. It is a horror film if you want to put a label on it, but the way I see it, it’s much more an inner-journey of this character.” The story originally appeared as part of the Blood and Smoke audio trilogy and was later collected in Everything’s Eventual.
Dimension Films has acquired the movie rights to Cell and has chosen Eli (Hostel) Roth to direct. Mike Fleiss and Chris Briggs will produce. Roth wants to write or co-write, depending on the time constraints created by work on the Hostel sequel, which shoots in Prague. He said King is his favorite writer and accepted the offer to direct right after reading the book. “I couldn’t put it down. It was such a balls-out horror movie with a smart take on the zombie genre,” he said. Dimension also has the rights to 1408, adapted by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, which will be directed by Mikael Hafstrom and is in the casting stage.
Dark Tower Concordance author Robin Furth sat down for a lengthy interview with Lilja for his website. Among her revelations is the fact that she’s working on a single-volume version of the Concordances, which Scribner will release this year or next year in paperback, with a limited hardcover edition from Cemetery Dance. She also discusses the Marvel Dark Tower series in detail. The first series of seven comics will retell the Hambry section of Wizard and Glass. The rest of the comics (there will be thirty in all) cover the time period between Roland leaving Hambry and the fall of Gilead.
Cell is holding on to its #1 position on the main bestseller lists. This is the best performance by a King book that I can recall for a while.
According to this news report, King read another new short story at FSU last weekend. It’s called “Memory,” a “first-person narrative about a wealthy building contractor who is almost crushed to death when he’s run over by a construction crane on a job site. The builder grapples regaining speech, thoughts of suicide, a deep hatred for a song by Reba McEntire and exactly what he may have done to his wife while recovering from his coma.”
Cell continues to do well, retaining its #1 position on the main bestseller lists.
People in Florida will have another chance to see King at a public event. He is filling in at the Seven Days of Opening Nights arts festival on February 26th at Florida State University after Richard Russo had to cancel because of a family medical crisis. Tickets purchased already for the Russo event will be honored. To purchase tickets, see this page. King has also agreed to conduct an informal masters class with graduate students from FSU’s film school and Creative Writing Program.
Locus magazine announced that King will edit The Best American Short Stories: 2007 for new series editor Heidi Pitlor at Houghton Mifflin. He will also write an introduction for a new edition of Dandelion Wine from PS Publishing.
According to several online TV listings, King will be on Late Night With Conan O’Brien tonight. Other guests include Ricky Gervais and Nickel Creek. I’m not sure if this is a new episode or a rerun of a previous appearance. Check your local listing for time and station.
Nicholas Sparks has this to say about King’s upcoming novel: “Lisey’s Story is a wondrous novel of marriage, a love story steeped in strength and tenderness, and cast with the most vivid, touching and believable characters in recent literature. I came to adore Lisey Landon and her sisters, I ached for Scott and all he’d been through, and when I finally reached the bittersweet and heartfelt conclusion, my first thought was that I wanted to start over again from the beginning, for it felt as if were saying good-bye to old friends. This is Stephen King at his finest and most generous, a dazzling novel that you’ll thank yourself for reading long after the final page is turned.”
The Amazon Fishbowl episode where Bill Maher interviews King is now online. One blogster wondered aloud how the folks at Amazon feel about the drug and booze discussion that was part of their 10-minute set. “Now, it’s one thing when you’re hearing this type of thing on late night TV, but on the front page of an e-tailer’s Web site? In broad daylight? While at work? It’s kind of a different brand resonance for Amazon than I expected. Will we be seeing more of this type of disconnect as programming becomes increasingly un-hitched from time-of-day (and expected place of consumption)?”
For all his apparent disdain of cell phones, don’t think for a minute that King is reactionary against all technology. He is quoted in a NY Times article as saying, “It wounds me to be called a technophobe” in a statement sent – as if to prove his point – by e-mail.
King surprised people at his St. Petersburg appearance on Saturday by reading a new 7500-word short story called “Willa,” which was described by one attendee as being about a group of people waiting for a train to come pick them up after theirs was derailed. Here’s a report on the event. He hinted that one of his future books may have a Florida setting.
Stephen King’s official web site has a page dedicated to Cell. Among the news: Entertainment Weekly will be running the first two chapters of Cell in their issue on stands January 20, 2006, as a first serial excerpt. This is the first time in the history of the magazine that they have run a fiction excerpt. Here’s Scribner’s press release about their campaign. Scribner publisher Susan Moldow says, ““For Annie Proulx or Don DeLillo, this might not be a good fit,” citing two of her authors with a more purely literary and less tech-oriented following than Mr. King. “For an author that has the kind of fan base Steve has, there’s a lot of potential.”
Lilja has an ongoing contest at his website where the daily prizes involve audio and hardcover copies of Cell.
King will be one of the first participants in a new webcast program Amazon is launching this summer, to be hosted by Bill Maher, featuring performers and authors touting new releases. The company plans to record the first show of Amazon Fishbowl at the Sundance Film Festival this weekend, with guests including authors Stephen King and Armistead Maupin, musician Rob Thomas and actress Toni Collette. It will then preview tidbits of that show beginning Tuesday and leading up to the June 1 launch. Read the press release here.
Cell fever is building! Kirkus’s review is now online (may contain spoilers). The official Cell web page is active. If you sign up your cell phone number you’ll receive text message alerts in the coming days (standard charges will apply) and be entered in a contest to win cool signed stuff. Here’s a Wall Street Journal article about the marketing campaign.
See these articles for news about Creepshow 3, which involves neither King nor original director George Romero. The first, at MoviesOnline, shows the campy movie poster and the second at Hollywood News, lists the five new stories featuring unknown actors being adapted for this direct-to-DVD release.
William Hurt is currently in Australia filming “Battleground” for the TNT Nightmares and Dreamscapes series that will start airing in June.