News From the Dead Zone #126

News from the Dead Zone

The schedule for the graphic novel adaptation of N. has finally been announced. Issue 1 (of 4) goes on sale in March. The creative team of Marc Guggenheim and Alex Maleev, also responsible for the Motion Comic version, tell the story of something terrifying hidden in Ackerman’s Field. “It’s absolutely thrilling for Marvel to be working on ‘N.’ again and having the honor to publish it as a comic book miniseries,” said said Ruwan Jayatilleke, Marvel Senior Vice President, Development & Planning, Print, Animation and Digital Media. “Both as a fan of the story and a producer on the ‘N.’ motion comic, I am absolutely psyched for the terrifying ride that Marc, Alex, and the editors have planned for readers!”

John Mellencamp has virtually completed recording and “assembling” the Ghost Brothers of Darkland County musical theater collaboration with King. They have edited the initial three-hour program down to two hours and 10 minutes—with a bit more editing still to come before producer T-Bone Burnett completes the tracks. When finished, the recording will be available in a novel book package containing the full text, two discs featuring the entire production of the spoken word script and songs performed by the cast, and a third CD of the songs only. The cast is led by Kris Kristofferson, in the role of Joe, the father, and Elvis Costello, as the satanic character The Shape. Rosanne Cash plays Monique, the mother, with the sons enacted by Will Daily (Frank), Dave Alvin (Jack), Alvin’s real-life brother Phil Alvin (Andy) and John (Drake). Sheryl Crow stars as Jenna and Neko Case is Anna, with boxing legend Joe Frazier playing caretaker Dan Coker and King himself in the role of Uncle Steve. The narrator is “24” star Glenn Morshower. Mellencamp stressed that the three-disc package is not a traditional audio book, but offers an experience more akin to listening to an old radio show with music; he further emphasized the challenge inherent in making such a project work. See Mellencamp’s official web site for more.

Twitter update: From Peter Straub “In about a year SK and I will begin planning a new book.”

The jig is up — I was Scarecrow Joe in the ARG promotion for Under the Dome. Read more about my experience here.

The March issue of Playboy will contain King’s poem “Tommy,” an eerie yet touching reminiscence of childhood friendships and the ways innocence and experience intertwine.

According to Producer Dan Lin, writer Dave Kajganich is expected to turn in a draft of his script for the planned remake of It over Christmas.

Here is streaming audio of King’s appearance in Portsmouth, NH, featuring a reading from Under the Dome followed by a discussion. A couple of articles relating to his appearance in Manchester, VT here and here. And check out this great local news report on NECN about King’s visit to Bridgton and the connections between that town and Chester’s Mill. Finally, here is the episode of the Colbert Report on which King was a guest.

Gauntlet Press is releasing Stephen King’s Battleground in 2010. The volume contains King’s short story, Richard Christian Matheson’s script for the TNT adaptation, storyboards and other material.

Entertainment Weekly: King’s top 10 books of 2009.

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 #20

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

Talk of an It remake are surfacing again. Peter Filardi, who scripted the ‘Salem’s Lot remake for TNT as well as The Road Virus Heads North for Nightmares and Dreamscapes, told attendees of Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors that he’s developing a new “televisualization” of It. The project has the attention of the Sci Fi channel and might end up as a four-hour broadcast event, perhaps told from the point of view of Beverly Marsh.

TNT has a new official web site for the Nightmares & Dreamscapes series with galleries, information and games. I’ve also posted the full broadcast schedule, production trivia and interviews on my message board.

TNT sent me screener DVDs of seven of the eight episodes (all except Autopsy Room Four), and I had the opportunity to watch them over the past several days. The first thing I noticed is the high production qualities, which was also true of their ‘Salem’s Lot remake. However, unlike that adaptation, these stories are incredibly faithful to the source material. Where they’ve had to change things (because of length, for deeper characterization or for context), everything seems loyal to the original story’s intent. The acting is top notch, too.

William Hurt is on screen for almost every second of Battleground and never utters a word. A few grunts of pain, but he acts with his face and his body to convey his character’s hard-as-nails pathology. When the impossible starts to happen, he doesn’t talk to himself or utter words of disbelief. He simply reacts as an assassin might. Slowly, though, his hard shell splinters. It’s a tour-de-force performance and sets the tone for the series. The animation and other effects are convincing—as might be expected since the episode is directed by Jim Henson’s son Brian. Screenplay by Richard Christian Matheson, son of the legendary Richard Matheson.

Crouch End is a daring adaptation, since it strays into the surreal world of Lovecraftian mythos. It represents the first time I’ve ever heard some of the bizarre names from Lovecraft pronounced. It also contains the first ever cinematic depiction of what can only be described as a “thinny.” Claire Forlani is the heart of this episode, the pretty, vivacious newlywed on honeymoon who tolerates her husband’s need to network while on vacation, only to find an innocent trip out to dinner turn into madness. The question in this kind of tale is: how much to show and how much to leave to viewer’s imagination. I think this adaptation strikes the right balance.

Umney’s Last Case is the episode I was looking forward to most, and it doesn’t disappoint. William H. Macy is stellar as both Clyde Umney and his creator, Sam Landry. He comes off as stiffly stereotypical in the opening moments, until you realize that’s exactly what he is. One of my favorite moments takes place when Sam steps into the detective’s shoes, starts hearing awkward dialog coming out of his mouth and checks himself. A few seconds later he lets loose some purple prose straight out of Chandler, and he stops to admire it. The ending is a little abrupt, which dilutes the episode’s impact, but these screeners aren’t 100% complete, so they may do something in the production version that softens this nebulous finale.

I saved The End of the Whole Mess until the end because it was the story I had the least interest in, but it turns out to be a strong episode. I really like the emotional arc of this one. It makes use of the dreaded voice-over technique, but in a clever way that makes sense, given what the main character does for a living.

Tom Berringer. Wow. What more can I say? In The Road Virus Heads North, he plays  Richard Kinnell, a horror writer who has just received disturbing news. On the way home from a lecture—which is a horror show in its own right—he picks up a creepy painting and things start getting strange. Marsha Mason has a nice cameo as his Aunt Trudy. This is the other episode that has a less-than-satisfying conclusion, but everything up to that moment is pure terror. Unlike William Hurt’s character, Berringer does talk to himself, expressing shock, amazement and disbelief. Both approaches work because they reflect character.

The Fifth Quarter is probably the story readers will be least familiar with. It’s a straight crime drama, with no supernatural elements. It’s about dishonor among thieves, and their other associates, too. It’s a brutal episode, with lots of realistic violence. Samantha Mathis, though she isn’t the primary focus of the story, carries the show from beginning to end. Jeremy Sisto turns in a strong performance, too, as the guy who can never quite get it right, who has spent all but eighteen months of his seven-year marriage behind bars.

The series ends with You Know They Got A Hell of a Band, which is the lightest, most whimsical episode, and probably the weakest entry. It stars Steven Weber, who impresses me less each time I see him, and Kim Delaney. I didn’t buy into their relationship, which weakens the story. Delaney looked odd and Weber’s delivery isn’t convincing. The episode also has the most outright grue (maggots, empty eye sockets, etc.) but is tongue-in-cheek throughout. It’s sort of fun, but the tone feels completely different from the other episodes.

The series debuts a month from today. Check it out! I look forward to hearing viewer feedback about the individual episodes, and I especially want to discuss the last couple of minutes of Crouch End!