It’s the end of an era. On June 30, 2020, the message board at Stephen King’s official website closed permanently. On the same day, his long-time personal/executive assistant, Marsha DeFilippo, retired.
Shortly after King launched his website in 1998, a guest book was added to the site. By 2003, this was converted to a “message board,” an unthreaded list of comments from fans that were occasionally answered by the staff.
There have been a couple different incarnations of a real message board over the years, starting with an ikonboard version in 2006. The final version had about 50,000 registered members, some 1830 of whom had visited the board in 2020. When it closed, it boasted over 15,000 threads and almost a million messages. Its content will remain online for people to read, but no new messages will be accepted.
I’ve known Marsha for over twenty years. Her first job for King was when she was hired in 1986 as a temp to type the manuscript of The Eyes of the Dragon into a computer prior to its submission to Viking for their trade edition. She did other temp work for King until she came on full time a couple of years later. She has been of great help to me over the years. Let’s all wish her well as she begins the next phase of her life!
So what else is going on in the Stephen King Universe? In his interview with John Grisham (see below), he mentioned a straight crime novel he was working on about an assassin. The COVID-19 crisis inspired him to move the book from its original 2020 time frame back to 2019, when it would be more credible that a couple of secondary characters would disappear from the story for a while because they were on a cruise. He also mentioned a medium-length novel, a suspense story with a supernatural twist, that might be published next year, perhaps as a paperback original.
Doctor Sleep recently launched on HBO Max, including the three-hour director’s cut. Now that people presumably have extra time on their hands, maybe the adaptation will find the audience it missed when it premiered in theaters. Theaters? What are those? I forget. Places where lots of people got together in the same place, right next to each other, looking at a movie all at the same time. What an odd concept. How 2019.
There was news of a variety of reboots, remakes and new adaptations earlier this year. However, all of that has ground to a halt, including the Apple TV adaptation of Lisey’s Story, which was only 24 days from completion after six months of filming in New York when Captain Trips took over. They were more fortunate with The Stand miniseries, which did manage to finish principle photography this past March, although they had to halt production four days early. An air date has not yet been announced. Vanity Fair had a detailed first look with some great photographs and TV Guide published this everything-we-know article in late June.
Speaking of The Stand, Jason Sechrest has assembled a panel consisting of Vanity Fair’s Anthony Breznican (formerly with Entertainment Weekly), director Mike Flanagan (Doctor Sleep, Gerald’s Game) and author Tananarive Due for a serial webcast series that revisits King’s novel that’s on everyone’s mind these days in the midst of pandemic. Check out The Stand Podcast. Special guests like Kate Siegel (The Haunting of Hill House) appear from time to time!
The one project completed during the pandemic shutdown was Kurt Wimmer’s reboot of Children of the Corn. The cast and crew all isolated together in Australia to finish the shoot. Some call it a reboot, but it sounds more like a prequel, following “the events leading up to the infamous massacre of the adults of a small town in Nebraska by their children.” One producer said it has almost nothing at all to do with the 1984 original movie adaptation.
Other than If It Bleeds, the only recent publication was his short story “The Fifth Step,” which you can read at Harper’s. The 10-part graphic novel adaptation of Sleeping Beauties from IDW debuted in June. Entertainment Weekly previewed the series, written by Rio Youers and illustrated by Alison Sampson.
Some recent appearances you might want to check out if you have time…and these days, who doesn’t? King read the first chapter of If It Bleeds in mid-April for Scribner’s YouTube channel. At the end of April, he was interviewed by the NY Times, and he and John Grisham interviewed each other in an hour-long Zoom session. Then King appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert for a 9-minute segment in early May.
As you may know by now, Amazon declined to proceed with their episodic adaptation of The Dark Tower after seeing the completed pilot. Showrunner Glen Mazzara recently discussed his overall vision for the series in detail on The Kingcast.
That’s all the news for now. I hope everyone is keeping safe during these unusual and difficult times. We’ll all get through this eventually—especially if everyone wears a mask!