Bits and Pieces: The Stephen King Edition

I'm amazed at how many simultaneous projects the prolific Stephen King can juggle.  Here are some of the current news items about him that caught my eye:

1.  The on-again off-again ambitious adaptation of The Dark Tower seems to be on-again based on the bold statements of produce Brian Grazer.  Despite Universal Pictures' chickening out of the mega-bucks plans for a trilogy and two mini-series, Grazer promises it will be made with Ron Howard still involved to spearhead it all.  According to the producer, the television portion might run on HBO, which is good news for fans of the multiple-book-series, since we can hope that the content won't be watered down.  A new distribution deal for the movies still needs to be confirmed, it seems as if Grazer and Howard aren't backing down from their original vision.

2.  A lot of folks were buzzing when it was revealed the Warner Bros. wants Ben Affleck to direct the motion picture remake of The Stand.  Whether or not the gargantuan novel can be brought to life as a two-hour movie, and whether or not it can top the successful ABC mini-series, are questions for another day.  For now, we must ponder if the man who won an Oscar for co-writing Good Will Hunting and who has had an up-and-down acting career of hits and misses can do justice to King's apocalyptic classic.  Affleck has never directed a major studio tentpole before.  His direction of the small heist flick, The Town, received high praise, however, so I am cautiously optimistic.  He apparently is itching to direct another film first (a possible biopic about gangster Whitey Bulger), so we shall see if he actually gets the chance to reimagine the epic adventures of Stu Redman, Fran Goldsmith, Harold Lauder, Nick Andros, Tom Cullen, Larry Underwood, Nadine Cross, Judge Farris, Lloyd Henreid, The Trashcan Man, Mother Abagail, and of course Randall Flagg.

3.  Stephen King announced that he is writing a sequel to his highly acclaimed novel The Shining.  Called Dr. Sleep, it continues the story of Danny Torrance, now as an adult.  The original book was one of my favorites that always lingers in my memory, and the Stanley Kubrick movie is one of the best horror movies of all time (even though the filmmaker to some creative liberties with King's story that annoyed some people, including King himself who allowed a mini-series to be made, which received mixed reviews.)  King has written some fine sequels before, such as Black House which continued his collaboration with Peter Straub that began with the excellent The Talisman.  Fingers crossed.

4.  Entertainment Weekly published an excerpt of King's highly anticipated new book, 11/22/63, the time travel tale about a guy who tries to save John F. Kennedy.  I still haven't read it, even though I'm eagerly looking forward to the novel.  Spoilers stink, so I try to avoid them at all costs, but the magazine sits there, tempting me.  I must stay strong and wait for the full book to be released so I can read it from beginning to end, as it should be read, not as an out of context nugget to merely whet my appetite for more.  The excerpt is still a good marketing gimmick to encourage readers who might be on the fence about buying the book or those who had no intention in the first place of reading it -- it gives them a free peek and hopefully leaves them yearning for more.  Yet, for those of us who were already planning to get the book, it is a tease to be avoided until we get our hands on the real deal.

5.  I've previously written about how impressed I was with the zombie television series The Walking Dead.  It has been critically acclaimed across the board and has generated huge ratings.  There has been off-screen drama as director Frank Darabont left the show over creative/budgetary differences with the AMC network.  Stephen King and his son, bestselling author Joe Hill, were supposed to be involved in upcoming episodes, but apparently they backed out.  Too bad, because I was really looking forward to their take on the material.  Many of us feared that the quality of the series would deteriorate after Darabont's departure, but so far so good, and the horror drama has been picked up for a third season.  The comic book on which its based has been consistently excellent, so there is no reason why the television adaptation shouldn't follow suit.  But it would have been nice to see what King and Hill had to offer.

There are so many other Stephen King projects in the works (adaptations of Bag of Bones, Under the Dome, Cell; remakes of Firestarter, It, Pet Sematary, and more), but that should be plenty to talk about for now.