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Monday, December 7, 2015

The Stand

We've arrived, folks. The first of three largest beams that hold this blog up. And the second most important.

Fair warning, this is gonna be a long post. If you want to read it all at once, your best bet is to set some time aside, say an hour or so.

What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said? It's easily one of King's most popular books, and a running joke among "Constant Readers" is that it's both ultra-cliche and yet utterly required that everyone's favorite King book is The Stand. And there's a reason for that. Reading The Stand is an experience like no other. It almost doesn't qualify as just "reading a book" and becomes something closer to "experiencing another world". I talk a lot about books taking me to other worlds, but in this case, it's less like visiting one and more like really living there for a while. If I had to name a book that puts me straight into the characters' heads, that turns them into people rather than just characters, that transports me into their situation and makes me feel like I'm really there, living it, rather than just reading about it, that book is The Stand.

Describing it in a thumbnail sketch utterly fails to do it justice, so I'm not gonna try. Instead, I'm going to assume that you've read this book, possibly multiple times. If you're a Constant Reader and you haven't read this at least once, then you are not a Constant Reader. I personally read the original version, the one released in 1978, once, and this is my second time all the way through the unabridged version, which is one of the longest books I've ever read.

My copy was 1440 pages long. In mass market paperback. Yes, my wrist got strained here and there. If you're thinking "well, I'd rather just read the abridged version" then you better go scour some second-hand stores, because the unabridged version is the only one being sold in chain book stores today. Hint: if there's a Page 1100, you do not have the abridged version.

Personally, I much prefer the unabridged version. This is the one you can immerse yourself in, lose yourself and just live in this world for a while. The abridged version is a novel. A good one, but just a novel. The unabridged is an experience. It'll be the unabridged I'll be adapting, for that matter.

The Stand is also unique on this blog as it's not only another that's already been adapted, but it's also the first casting I'll be doing for a production that's currently being planned as we speak. Hollywood wants this to be made again, and it's been in Development Hell for the past five to ten years, as major directors like JJ Abrams, Ben Affleck and David Yates (Harry Potter franchise) have all been attached and then dropped out. Presently it's in the hands of up-and-comer Josh Boone (Stuck in Love, The Fault in Our Stars).

Now, I'll be honest; I don't think Boone's gonna stick around much longer, either. He's stuck with it longer than the directors who came before him, true, but it's been almost two years since he signed onto this project, and in that time we've heard next to nothing about casting, location scouting, principle photography start dates, or release dates. Boone can't even nail down how this is going to be done. First he said he was doing a three-hour theatrical version. This cannot be done. If you've read the book, you know that there is simply no way to whittle down such a sprawling, yet deeply human story and still have anything resembling something coherent. Then he said he was doing four films, but that was more reason for concern because Hollywood rarely approves multiple movies at once, preferring to release the first one, and if it finds an audience, going ahead with other sequels.

Consider this; The Stand, while loved, is not a recently-popular novel that everyone's talking about. It's almost as old as I am, and it's written by a man whose box-office appeal is decidedly hit-and-miss. So, The Stand, Part I is hardly a guaranteed blockbuster, especially considering that it would be threeish hours of setup only.

But Boone apparently understood that as well, and is now talking about it being an 8-part television series on Showtime, followed by a big-budget three-hour movie, and he stresses that he'll be delivering a cast of A-listers that will "blow peoples' minds". I don't care if it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Denzel Washington and Hugh Jackman if it sucks, which is looking unfortunately likely.

Apparently the studio is determined that this be a movie, and seem to be set on it being their big tentpole project of whatever year it's released in. More stupid short-sightedness from producers. The Stand is not a "summer-tentpole" type movie. It's a gigantic epic, and I'm not even sure it could be effectively communicated in four films. I understand execs are hemming and hawing about this plan as well, for that matter, since it would require everyone who saw the movie to also be familiar with the TV series, and there's no guarantee of that at all.

I mentioned we haven't heard much about casting, and we haven't, but Boone apparently has his requisite supporting man on board, Nat Wolff, as well as having extended an offer to Matthew McConaughey, some sources saying he's been offered the lead role of Stu Redman, and others saying he's actually been offered the role of the antagonist, Randall Flagg. This rumor has been circulating for months upon months now, and we still don't know if McConaughey is going to 'jine up with this project, which to my mind, means he likely isn't.

On a side note, though, it's kinda funny that Matthew McConaughey has apparently been offered both the role of Flagg in this production and the role of the Man in Black in the Dark Tower adaptation that will allegedly be released in just over a year (similar to how my dead grandmother will allegedly be present at my daughter's second birthday). Again, I assume you have read those books, and thus, you know that Flagg and Walter, the Man in Black's "real" name, are in fact, the same man. It's almost as if the producers, like, care and stuff.

I'm not on board the McConaughey train. He'd be great as Flagg, but would make a horrible Walter, and despite these guys being the same man, their personas are different. As Flagg, this being is folksy and very modern in the way he speaks, and even McConaughey's signature twang, which I've never seen him even try to mask, would be fine in that role. But I cannot, no matter how hard I try, picture Walter talking that way.

I don't think Boone is long for this project. I really don't. I think in the next few months, we'll hear that he's left it and that likely the entire thing has been shelved. I almost hope for it because then another writer/creator, my choice would be Frank Darabont again, can come along and take this project where it really belongs, and do it the only way it really can be done.

I think it needs to air on NetFlix as a one-season, 13-episode television series. I say NetFlix for two reasons; their release-all-the-episodes-at-once format encourages binge-watching and they've shown that they have no issue taking on TV series for one season alone. Each episode would be a full hour, and I think that 13 hours would be just long enough to really do this story justice. It's probably as close as any visual format will ever come to watching a novel.

As it's just one season, I think stars who are considered film actors might be more likely to hop aboard, but don't get me wrong, I'm not going for the "all-star cast" that Boone is promising. More like I'm choosing dependable actors that people recognize. As there are currently more cast lists for this thing going around than there are communicable diseases, I'm sure people are going to have issues with some of my choices, but in each case I was trying as much as I can to edge as close to King's depictions of these characters as it's possible to get.

I even have an idea for the opening sequence. Picture scenes of germs under a microscope being looked at, played with, modified, then images of people getting sick, falling over, armies lining people up and shooting them, people in hazmat suits looking through windows, and finally street littered with piled-up bodies and vehicles, and while all these images are playing past us in the very center of the screen, small enough at first that we don't even see it, but getting closer as the credits play on, is a man in denim with glowing red eyes walking inexorably toward the screen.

In the background, we hear a familiar tune...

Take a little walk to the edge of town
Go across the tracks
Where the viaduct looms
Like a bird of doom
As it shifts and cracks
Where secrets lie
In the border fires
And the humming wires
Hey man, you know you're never comin' back
Past the square, past the bridge
Past the mill, past the stacks...

And the whole time the Walkin Dude keeps coming, finally close enough that we can see his red eyes and evil, grinning mouth.

On a gatherin' storm
Comes a tall handsome man
In a dusty black coat

BOOM! Credits end as Flagg's face fills the screen and all goes black, almost as if he's walked out of your TV and left emptiness behind.

Now, some of you are probably saying that there's no need to make this a full thirteen hours, as there's quite a bit of material that shouldn't, and won't, make it to the screen, such as the many times King gives us backstory that's not really needed to tell his tale. Here's the thing, though. I'd like this series to improve upon the only two areas that I felt the novel was a bit weak with. The first is that he doesn't give us more than a couple of glimpses into what's going on in Vegas before the final fourth of the book, and at that point it's too little, too late. We barely know anyone there, aside from Lloyd Henried and the Trashcan Man, and once we do get to know them, we find out that they're not one-and-all bad people, that in fact most of them only went to Vegas because it seemed like that was where the real progress was being made.

I'd like to see the TV series give us more scenes in Vegas, letting us see Lloyd's doubts growing and Trashy's mad devotion to Flagg erasing whatever vestiges of sanity he might have had left, while also letting us get to know some of the other characters, like Bobby Terry, Ace High, Whitey Horgan, Barry Dorgan (one of those last names is going to have to be changed) and Jenny Engstrom.

Another weakness is how in the last fourth or so, everyone starts more or less counting on divine intervention to do their work for them. God even is ultimately the one to step in and save the day, while our heroes do little but watch. A more active role and fewer scenes of "I just know we're supposed to do this!" might be called for. Mother Abigail receiving divine word is one thing. Frannie Goldsmith suddenly realizing they all need to leave the house right now is another.

See my last post about acceptable changes.

Then there's the question, to update or not to update? I'm going with update, because one of the ways this is powerful is how it feels like it could actually happen in our own future. King set the first version in 1980, and the updated one in 1990. As I read, I determined in each scene whether it would be impossible to move this ahead to a time frame we'd think of as modern, and honestly, there isn't.

Updating it would mean acknowledging social media, but that won't be too hard. Just replace the posted signs on campus with conspiracy theory websites and Twitter, replace the independent news rags with blogs, replace the radio host with a podcaster and give Nick Andros a tablet PC in his earlier scenes. You could even have Ray Holt break it when he beats Nick up, and now in a world with no electrical outlets to charge any new tablet he might pick up, he's forced to handwritten notes.

Aside from the obvious reference updates, fewer people using words like the N-word to describe Larry's singing style and Glen's theory about disasters taking place near the end of centuries (seeing as we're at the beginning of one instead), there's not much post-flu that needs changing, seeing as how it knocks everyone back to the stone age, or at least, the 30's. I see no reason that a version of this story released in, say, 2017, couldn't update the setting to 2020.

As I already said, Frank Darabont, the Kevin Feige of the King Cinematic Universe, is my choice to run this show and direct most episodes. He can bring along whatever writers and crew-members he wants from his time on The Walking Dead, which is such a Stand-like show. I didn't cast it with anyone he's known for working with, though. None of them really seemed to gel with the roles.

So, after all that, it's time to start casting. As this is going to be a TV series, I've divided the cast into three tiers; regulars, whose names will appear in the title sequence, recurring cast members, who will appear in multiple episodes but without being named in the title sequence, and guest stars, who will likely only appear in one or two episodes.

And now, without further ado...

The Regulars
While this is mainly an ensemble cast, most feel that Stu Redman is the lead character. He's an East Texan factory worker, described as "old-time tough" and is somewhere around 35 years old. He was played by Gary Sinise in the mini-series, who was so good in the role that some are saying he should be re-used for a future adaptation. I don't like re-using old cast members in the same roles, plus Sinise is too old now, so while he was great, we're gonna go with someone else. Casting Stue was tough, because it seemed like everyone was either too old or too young, and Matthew McConaughey is a bit smirky for this character, who is more of a strong silent type. I'm not saying he couldn't do it, but he's far from my first choice. In fact, Stephen King's first choice, Jake Gyllenhaal, doesn't in any way suggest "old time tough" to me. Stu is a handsome guy, but I don't want a "pretty" actor in this role, which causes problems because it seems like a lot of leading men these days are just "pretty." This led me a bit afield, and I found our Texan in Australia. Joel Edgerton can do any accent you need him to, and with a bit of stubble, maybe a soul patch and sideburns, bicep tats and flannel shirts (hey, Stu is a Texan, y'all), I think he'd be great. He's a bit older than Stu is in the novels, but he can still believably play 35.
Then there's our leading lady, Frannie Goldsmith. A native of Ogunquit, Maine (hey, it's King, you know Maine's gonna figure in somewhere), she's a college student, 21, with a plan for her future that gets derailed when she learns she's pregnant by a boyfriend she's no longer even sure she's in love with. The plague takes care of that, and all her other plans, and makes her worry the most about what the future will hold for the next generation, her baby foremost. She's innocent, idealistic and still young enough to think with her heart rather than her head. If this does not sound like a good role for Molly Ringwald to you, don't worry, you're not alone, but she is the one who played her in the mini-series and the one in most dire need of being replaced. I'm not the first to make this suggestion, but I do like the idea of Shailene Woodley in this role. Something about her definitely says "Fran".
Our third lead is Nick Andros, who was played by Rob Lowe in the mini-series, and Lowe was another well-loved element of that series. Nick is a young drifter in his mid-twenties, handsome and resourceful, and incredibly smart, but also totally deaf and mute. As in, born without eardrums or vocal cords. Despite his handicap, he becomes one of the leaders of the straggling survivors left over after the plague. While some have called Rob Lowe irreplaceable, I don't think there's such a thing as irreplaceable, and like I said, I hate reusing actors in the same role. This is likely the role that Josh Boone secured Nat Wolff for, and while Wolff would be okay, this role is a fantastic opportunity to cast one of the best young actors Hollywood has to offer right now, one Anton Yelchin. King fans will remember him as Bobby Garfield in Hearts in Atlantis, but he's grown up since then and turned into a damn fine actor. Could he communicate the character of Nick, the heart of the Boulder Free Zone, with nothing more than actions and facial expressions? Absolutely he could, and win as many hearts, if not more, than Lowe did.
If Stu is Frodo, Fran Sam and Nick Aragorn, we need a Gandalf in the bunch, and that would be Glen Bateman, who prior to the flu outbreak was a Sociology professor with a way of thinking that allows for almost any possibility. Ray Walston played him in the mini-series and did an okay job, but was perhaps a bit too old. Glen is one of those guys who will even accept that something he doesn't believe in might still exist, seeing as how his belief in it is not required for its continued existence. Glen's a wise man with a lot of lines and we'll need a dependable character actor who everyone recognizes and likes. Also, Glen is about 60, bald and...wait...sounds a lot like JK Simmons, doesn't it?
Now let's check in on the other side, with a plague survivor that began on the wrong side and ended up there. Lloyd Henried is a criminal, and not a likable one either. When we meet him, he and his partner in crime Poke have just murdered a man, stole some guns and drugs and are on the run from the cops. Despite that, Lloyd does end up eliciting some sympathy; he's a bad guy with layers. He might be among the more tragic characters in this story. Miguel Ferrer played him in the mini-series and I wasn't happy with that casting, because Ferrer is known for playing boo-hiss bad guys, and I'd like someone there who's a bit more rounded. I know I'm not the first to suggest Sam Rockwell, who also played Billy Wharton in the film version of The Green Mile but here would be given an opportunity to be a bit more relateable.
Continuing our trip to the dark side, we now come to Harold Lauder, the only other plague survivor from Ogunquit, and as Frannie's luck would have it, someone she was never very fond of. In fact, much time is given explaining all the reasons Harold is something of a neighborhood pariah. He might be at least as smart as Nick, if not much smarter, and as much of an abstract thinker as Glen Bateman, but he's also very self-important and physically unattractive; very overweight with bad skin, greasy hair and other hygiene issues I'd rather not go into. And he's in love with Fran, which comes off as a little kid's crush on the only woman left in town. Having been made fun of or ignored by nearly everyone his entire life, Harold lets his seething hatred fester and becomes a tool for the Dark Man, even as he starts shedding all the things that made him unlikable before. While traveling to Boulder, and especially once he gets there, his weight begins to drop and he starts taking better care of his appearance. By the time things come to a head he's one of the more respected members of the Free Zone. This role will require a physical transformation, and by that I do not mean put an attractive actor like Corin Nemec (who played him in the mini-series) in bad pimple make-up and even worse baggy clothes and try to pretend people think he's hideous. I mean take an actor and Nutty Professor-ize him, then gradually take it down several notches until he looks like himself. I chose Will Poulter, who was recently hired to play Pennywise in Cary Fukunaga's It. But since it's not Cary Fukunaga's It anymore, I don't think Poulter's still attached there. If Fukunaga thought he could be evil enough to be Pennywise, he will nock people's socks off as Harold. He has this ability to radiate cold hatred. 
On a similar journey of self-discovery as Harold, but with decidedly different destinations, is Larry Underwood, a young, self-absorbed musician who's just hit the big time right as the flu breaks out. Larry starts off, if anything, worse than Harold, willing to use people, even his own mother, as long as he gets what he wants, but all he wants is to be a major recording star. His first hit, Baby Can You Dig Your Man?, has just hit the radio, and looks like it will be the sort of chart-topper that will give him the predictable Justin-Beiberesque fleeting popularity, but he wishes to be something more. Larry's better nature is gradually revealed as the book goes on. He's many people's favorite character. An actor named Adam Storke, who's done little else anyone would remember, played Larry in the mini-series, and while he wasn't awful he came off more like a slick Hollywood actor than a struggling musician who just hit big. The way he's written makes me think of a young handsome man with longish hair, and a smug expression that gradually softens. Apparently his look and supposed sound was based on Bruce Springsteen, so all these suggestions I hear that Justin Timberlake should play him sound nightmarish to me, and I think they would to Stephen King as well. Larry shows his appreciation for classic rock and blues, which is why he's so disappointed in how his career is going despite his recent success. I don't know how this guy's name came to me, but I went looking for pictures of actor Toby Sebastian, who I have only ever seen in two other places; the lame-as-fuck movie Barely Lethal and as a recurring actor on Game of Thrones. He plays a Larry-like character in the first one, and the second one proves he can act. So he's my choice for portraying Larry. My choice for Larry's singing voice is Johnny Lang, who, if I were in charge, I would also hire to flesh out and provide the music for Baby Can You Dig Your Man? and the only other song Larry wrote that we're told about, Pocket Savior, which I picture being about the kind of man Larry sees himself as; someone pretending to be a hero when inside he's riddled with self-loathing. Lang really is a white singer who sounds black, and once upon a time I thought he should just go ahead and play Larry himself, but I don't think he acts, plus he's getting a bit too old.
Toby Sebastian

Johnny Lang
Back to the bad side for a moment; Donald Merwin Elbert is another tragic character. A damaged burgeoning psychopath who nonetheless elicits much sympathy. He did from me, anyway. He's a pyromaniac who is referred to as the Trashcan Man, due to how in his youth he spent most of his time lighting fires in people's garbage cans. He was played by Matt Frewer in the mini-series, who portrayed him as an almost comic-relief nutcase from his first scene onward. Trashy has to start out being just a bit "buggy" and get worse as he goes. Trust me, one of the most memorable sequences in the entire book happens with this character, and it won't work if he's all bug-eyes and gibbering laughter. One actor who plays mentally unbalanced characters very well is Jackie Earle Haley, who also has that look of a person who makes people uncomfortable on sight. I think he'd play this role amazingly.
One role that was hard to cast was that of Nadine Cross, a woman Larry meets after some tragic circumstances and dedicates himself to protecting while on the road. There's an attraction there, too, but Nadine is strangely stand-offish, and there's a darkness to her that Larry can't figure out. With her is a feral child named Joe, who I will not be casting as he is a preteen, but "Joe", which is the name Nadine gave him because he refuses to speak, is a very important character and thus, great care will be needed that we don't end up with another Maitland Ward. Nadine is very beautiful, with a distinctive streak of white hair (obviously this can be added) who seems both innocent and sexy in an almost unplayable way. The mini-series is no help here, because they merged her character with another and had her played by Laura San Giacomo as a substance abuser with a braying laugh. I went with Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery, because she's very good at looking vulnerable and innocent, but can turn on the sexiness when she has to.

This role is somewhat minor, but has a lot of page-time and thus, will be one of the major on-screen roles, and I think a skilled actor could bring something to it. Ralph Brentner is an aging hick who is the first friendly person who can read that Nick encounters on the road. Ralph is present for much of the more memorable scenes, but his personality doesn't really climb out of the "friendly hick" type role. In the mini-series, he was played by an actor named Peter Van Norden, who did little with the part and few people remember this character's even around, which is a shame because I really liked him. I thought Tim Blake Nelson could bring this part out of its shell and make people feel the same way about this character that I did.
Then there's Tom Cullen. Ah, Tom Cullen, a part that could go so, so wrong so easily. Tom is a big, friendly, child-like mentally handicapped man, and the first man that Nick meets once the plague hits, who, as luck would have it, can't read anything, including hand-written notes, which is, of course, the only way Nick can communicate. Tom remains one of the most favorite characters in the entire book because he's just so pure and innocent and he has so many scenes that make one tear up...uh, I mean, smile warmly at. Men don't cry at novels, laws no. In the mini-series, Tom was played by Bill Faggerbakke, who was so good in the part that most people want to see him brought back, but he looks like an old man now, and that would be a bit awkward. Tom is of average height but a large, sturdy build (maybe even a bit tubby) and has blonde hair. He has a wide open, friendly face that makes him look like he's in his twenties when he's probably more like 45. So...why don't we cast an actor who has a large, sturdy build (maybe even a bit tubby, could be believably blonde, has a wide open, friendly face that makes him look like he's in his twenties when he actually is 45? Such as Zak Orth. M-O-O-N, that spells Zak Orth. He looks just like Tom Cullen, doesn't he just? Laws, yes.
We're nearing the end of the regulars now, and the last two roles are among the most important. I figure these two will be listed at the end of the credits as "with" and "and", if you catch my drift. The first is Mother Abigail Freemantle, a 108-year-old devout black woman from Hemingford Home, Nebraska, who is the sort that regularly receives messages from God and does not question His divine will. She's the "Big Good" of this story, a woman who the "good" side rallies around in the Boulder Free Zone. Strangely enough, she doesn't come off as the "magical negro" nor a walking plot device, as she might in other, less talented hands. The only thing I wondered about, as far as her character is concerned, was whether or not she should be kept at 108 or perhaps aged up to 138, so that her roots, having lived through a time when black people were barely better than slaves as an adult can be kept. After all, it could be hinted that there's something mystical about her longevity, couldn't there? But then, that might strain credibility past the breaking point and besides, a birth year of 1912 instead of 1882 might mean that her father might not be the first black land owner in their community, but it still means she would have experienced Jim Crow, having no civil rights, and etc., etc. But what actress can play her now that Ruby Dee, who played her very well in the mini-series, has died? Why not Cicely Tyson, who is 90 and still in very good health, and still acting? Hollywood, make this beast before she dies!
Then finally, there's the Walkin Dude, Old Creeping Judas, the Hardcase, the Dark Man, Randall Flagg himself. Jamey Sheridan played him in the mini-series, and honestly, his portrayal is probably why people got excited about the possibility of Matthew McConaughey taking it this time around. Sheridan played him with a bit of a southern accent and a mullet the size of Mount Everest. Now, like I said, I'm not going with Matthew McConaughey, but I am going with a chameleonic actor who seems able to play almost anything. I only recently learned he was American, because he does accents in nearly everything, and I know there's a bright future ahead for this actor, who is still up-and-coming enough to take a role like this one and not demand extended screen time or too much money. He's handsome but in an off-kilter sort of way, he can make his voice go hard and deep and frightening, or soft and kind as needed. He's got a face that can go from sweet to pure evil in seconds. And yes, this man is also going to be my choice to play all of the Dark Man's other incarnations. I'm talking about Lee Pace, of course.
That's it for the regulars, but as this is a one-season television show, there's a ton of supporting players, and I couldn't help but cast them all. So, here are:

The Recurring Cast
I'm listing these roles alphabetically by actor, as I figure they'll probably all have equal-ish screen time on the show. The first is the Rat Man, one of the more highly-placed members of the Dark Man's crew, a black man who dresses like a pirate and is apparently creepy enough to creep out all the crooks and creepers the Dark Man has gathered. This was tough, but I went with an actor named David Ajala, a Brit who most people probably will recognize best as one of the Joker's creepier henchmen in The Dark Knight. As I said, we're going to be seeing more of him and the other Vegas people, so his role will be beefed up a bit, as will others.
 Next up is a role that's a sort of one-scene wonder in the book, but ripe material to get a bit more development in the series. Bobby Terry is a stupid guy who figures out firsthand what happens when you don't follow Flagg's orders to the letter. I see him as being one of the people Trashy hangs around and jokes with, at some point telling Trashy that he's been picked for guard duty at a picket up in Oregon. He'd be played by Ike Barinholtz.
Susan Stern is one of the more prominent female character in the Boulder Free Zone. I'd like to see her character beefed up as a strident liberal who sees the plague and the Boulder Free Zone as an opportunity to correct many of the mistakes she feels America has made. I'd also like to see her friendship with Dayna Jurgens beefed up so that their goodbye is more touching. For whatever reason, I see Jennifer Carpenter in that role. 
Lucy Swann is another character who could use some beefing up. In the book she's just Larry's girlfriend, and most of her time is devoted to wondering if Larry loves her or secretly still wants Nadine. I wanted people to instantly feel for her, and be on her side, so I made her a tad younger than she's described in the books, and honestly, it still fits the character, since Lucy is very much still a girl in her mindset. I went with Kaitlyn Dever.
The next role is problematic because it will be so easy to get her wrong. Julie Lawry is a young girl that Nick and Tom meet on their journey. She almost immediately wants to have sex with Nick, and he finds himself too weak to resist, but afterward, she reveals herself to be vapid, airheaded and with a volatile temper. When Nick refuses a second round of sex, she turns hostile, even trying to turn Tom against him, and Nick begins to realize that she's insane. It's the insanity part that I'd like to play up with this character, rather than the slut part, because as Nick correctly surmises, her brazen sexuality is just a symptom of a deeper problem. I went with Kerris Dorsey because she's shown herself unafraid to take on sexually precocious characters and there's something a little crazy about her eyes.
Ace High is another of Flagg's cohorts, apparently somewhat highly placed. He's the subject of a memorable joke, but otherwise has little to do in the book, so he's ripe for playing up on the show. He's described as young and skinny with a patchy beard, and for some reason that reminded me of The Bastard Executioner's Darren Evans.
Whitey Horgan is the principle cook among Flagg's cohorts, and becomes something of a close friend and confidant to Lloyd. The image of Matt Jones in this role rose up and wouldn't leave. I think he works quite well.
Then there's a role that often gets overlooked, that of Brad Kitchner, who is the man that gets the Free Zone's power going again. I grew to really like Brad this time, and saw him as a more major character than he probably is. He is also kinda funny, because while he knows what he's doing at the power station, any time he's called upon to give a formal report on the progress, he becomes jittery and nervous like a junior high student giving an oral report. I saw him as this chubby, jolly black man (and really, there aren't many characters in this book written as black, which causes problems these days). He'd be played by Faizon Love.

Missy Peregrym will play Dayna Jurgens. There's not much to this character in the story except that she is sent as a spy to the Dark Man's camp in Vegas and has a confrontation with Flagg himself. Honestly this role could be played by any actress.
Over in Vegas, Dayna makes friends with a woman named Jenny Engstrom, and comes to like Jenny so much that she wonders what drew her to Flagg's camp instead of the Free Zone. This is a wonderful opportunity to explore that character and find out just why, other than "he's the strongest". Emilie Ullerup can play her.
And last of the recurring roles is Barry Dorgan, who in the book doesn't appear until near the end but is one of the first to openly state why he's on Flagg's side; he makes the trains run on time. Well, okay, no, but the sentiment is the same. Flagg's more organized and has more real progress happening, so Barry figures he's gonna win. He's a retired cop, and that made me think of Robert Wisdom.

Guest Stars

These characters won't be around for long, but they make a big impact on the series.

First up, again, alphabetical by actor, is Douglas Bennett, who will play "Poke" Freeman, Lloyd's partner who causes all kinds of trouble.
Andy Buckley was who I kept picturing as Len Creighton, the second in command of Project Blue, which is what was working on the superflu plague in the first place. His face stuck with me and wouldn't shake, so he's my choice.
Dr. Denninger is the young, nervous physician at the CDC who's assigned to get samples from Stu Redman early in the story, and isn't able to due to Stu having bigger balls than he does. The nervousness made me think of Adam Busch.
While still in New York, Larry runs into an older woman, a former socialite with a drug problem who proves to be completely unprepared for life after the fallout. He takes her under his wing but fails to protect her from herself. This haunts him and helps him change. The mini-series merged her character with Nadine and quite frankly, I think taking away the beginning of Larry's catharsis hurts. In a full season, there's room for a guest star to play her, and I chose Lauren Graham, who is now the right age but still pretty enough to turn the head of a younger man.

This is a role I initially wasn't going to bother casting, but when I read the conversation between Frannie and her father Peter about her pregnancy, I couldn't help but see Battlestar Galactica's Michael Hogan in the role. He fits it like a glove.

The role of Judge Richard Ferris was kind of a nothing role that any older actor could have played, but since he was played by Ossie Davis in the mini-series, plenty of people now see this role as black. There's no reason it can't be. The Judge, who is almost never called by his name, is 70 but "hale and hearty", and one of the three who acts as a spy (or is supposed to). And yes, Constant Readers, his initials made me do a double-take the first time I saw them, as all of the aliases Randall Flagg uses on this plane of existence use the initials "RF", but no, the Judge is not a guise of Flagg. I picked hale, hearty, nearly-70-years-old Ernie Hudson for this brief but memorable part.
When the CDC officers working with Project Blue aren't getting anywhere with Stu, they send in Dick Dietz to talk to him and reason with him. Dietz is a small role, but memorable. I picked Jay Karnes to play him.
Ray Booth, another small but memorable role, is the man who beats up Nick in tiny Shoyo, Arkansas, just before the plague hits. He made me think of True Blood's Todd Lowe, and so that's who I picked.
The man that starts it all is Charles Campion, a guard at Project Blue who sees that something has gone wrong, but has no idea what, and realizes it's time to put rubber to road. As a direct result, the plague spreads beyond the walls of Project Blue. For whatever reason I pictured him as Jerry Minor.
The role of the Bakers, Sheriff John Baker and his wife Jane, take in Nick and are kind to him right as the plague starts to hit, robbing him of his only friends. I pictured them as being played by Nick Searcey and Kellie Overbey, the latter of whom played Dayna in the mini-series, and I thought having one actor come back for a different, more minor role, would actually not be a bad thing.
Nick Searcey

Kellie Overbey

I could picture no other actor than Robert Patrick in the role of General William Starkey, commander of Project Blue who memorably oversees the project as the world goes to Hell.
I saved the best for last. The Kid is a character that's never seen on screen, and honestly would be one of the first elements to be written out of any big-screen or mini-series adaptation, should it go that route. He's not essential to the plot, and he seems to just sort of pop in out of nowhere and then disappear back into nowhere almost as fast. But damn, does he make an impression while he's there. How do you make the Trashcan Man truly sympathetic? Introduce a character that makes ol' Trashy look sane. In fact, the best scene ol' Trashy has is when he and the Kid part company. The Kid is a killer, a wild, thoroughly unpredictable personality who's too crazy for Flagg. He's described as being very short and having "a doll's face", topped by an Elvis pompadour and elevator boots. Seeing him on screen would be an unmissable treat, and the episodic nature of this planned series would allow for him to show up for an episode, get Trashy far enough that he can walk to Vegas on his own, and then go out in a bang. Ed Skrein, a rising actor who definitely has that "doll's face", is my choice to play him. You believe that happy crappy? Don't tell me, I'll tell you.
Man, I tell you, it feels good to have this post up. This is one of the big reasons I even started this blog; wanting to see this story done on screen and done right. It's also one of the more hotly debated topics among Constant Readers, so I hope you all like this one. Like I said, I tried very hard to make this as true to the book as I could.

And now I sale into purely uncharted waters. In my early days reading King, for some reason I skipped a large portion of his late 70's and early 80's output, so the next several weeks will be spent with books and stories I've literally never read before. I'm not sure how many of them I'll be blogging about, but I can, for the first time in quite a while, include this:

Next up: The Long Walk!


  1. "If you're a Constant Reader and you haven't read this at least once, then you are not a Constant Reader." -- Not only do I agree with this wholeheartedly, but it's the kind of judgmental assertion that I myself might make, unconcerned with the possibility of it annoying some readers. I doff my hat in your direction!

    I do wonder sometimes, though, if it's still AS much a given that a King fan would have read this novel. There are so many more novels in his canon than there were in, say, 1990 (when I first read it) that there is a bit of room to question whether it's so.

    But can you be a Constant Reader and not have read it? I say no way.

    1. Thanks. I don't think there will ever come a time when a person can describe themselves as a devoted King fan and still have not read this one. It's like saying you're a Walt Whitman devotee and never cracking open Leaves of Grass.

    2. "I love Twain, but I just can't get into those Tom Sawyer books..."

  2. I'll disagree with you on the subject of a 13-episode series being able to do it justice. I don't think it could. For example, you'd need an entire episode simply to do an adequate job of telling the story of how and by whom Frannie became pregnant. You COULD cram the bare bones of that into five minutes, but why would you? Frannie is an interesting character; her family dynamic is compelling, and it deserves to be given room to breathe.

    That's just one character in a cast of dozens. So in my mind, shoehorning "The Stand" into 13 episodes would be a brutal act of abridgment, and it wouldn't be worth doing. I think you'd need an entire season simply to let Captain Trips run its course.

    1. When you devote a full hour without commercials to an episode of TV, you can fit a surprising amount in. Frannie's pregnancy is covered in three big scenes; her telling Jess, her telling her father and her mother finding out. Could those be done in just one hour with other side-plots? I think so. The actual conversations, without all the back-story about her mother's parlor, her feelings about Jess and her dad's workshop, aren't really all that long.

      How many episodes do you think would do it? Remember, there's a shit-ton of backstory given even to background characters (for example, I see no real need to include Kit Bradenton at all) that is not necessary for us to understand their characters, and an ending that goes on far longer than it really needs to (yeah, by the end I was feeling a tad impatient, yet once I put it down I was strangely reluctant to move on; I was still in this novel's world).

      A criminal act of abridgement was the mini-series. Even more criminal would have been the three-hour version the studio apparently demanded at first. Yes, stuff's going to be left out, but not much. Say, about 1200 pages could be safely excised without losing really that much, and maybe the equivalent of 100 pages added to beef up the Vegas group. If one episode equals 100 pages, that's plenty.

    2. Yeah, the proposed three-hour version just . . . I mean, I can't even imagine a scenario in which that would work.

      My thoughts would be four seasons:

      #1 -- Captain Trips
      #2 -- the journey(s) to Boulder and Las Vegas
      #3 -- the rebuilding and sabotage of Boulder
      #4 -- the journey from Boulder to Vegas and back

      I think the ending -- by which I mean everything from the four pilgrims setting out for Vegas onward -- actually needs more room. I'm not a huge fan of the way the Vegas story ends, at least vis a vis its cinematic potential. It COULD work, with a bit of tweaking (and I've got a perfect tweak in mind), though.

      Frannie's lack of involvement in the final section is a massive problem, and would have to be changed. Not sure how, but I think you've got to. Maybe something in which a raiding party is sent from Vegas to Boulder and has to be fought off? Or a political coup inside Boulder? I dunno. SOMETHING, though.

      All of this could probably be condensed into three seasons, though, to be honest. Or two, or even one. But I'm a putter-inner and not a taker-outer.

    3. Wow, that's...ambitious.

      I think there's MAYBE enough material for two seasons, 10 episodes each, and if that's the case, send it to HBO rather than NetFlix. At four seasons, I wonder if people would get irritated with it, like what's happening with Under the Dumb. I mean Dome.

      It would also preclude that its cast could not have some of the names I picked. That's not all that bad, but I have genuinely grown attached to some of them.

  3. I could not agree with you more about having more scenes set in Vegas. In fact, I'd love to see more of the villains prior to their arrival in Vegas. Do they consider going to Colorado instead? Do they have nightmares about Mother Abagail? One idea I had was for there to be a couple -- could be a romantic couple, or maybe just friends, or relatives -- that is torn: one wants to go to Boulder, the other wants to go to Vegas. What do they do?

    That's straying from King, obviously; but I think it would be in the right spirit.

    1. Damn, that's a good idea. No, that's a great idea. Maybe the couple could be people King invented, made into a couple for the show. Say, Dick Vollman and Angelina Hirschfeld.

    2. What if they were a gay couple? I think I remember something about Flagg crucifying homosexuals in Vegas -- wouldn't it be cool if a gay man was aware of that but felt drawn to Vegas anyways? If somebody of quality (i.e., not me) was writing it, that subplot could be great.

    3. I don't remember that. In fact, I would think something like that would stand out, so unless it was in the original version and I've forgotten (I haven't read the original in years; like the LOTR movies, I feel like the extended version is the real version).

      But sure, they could be a gay couple. I caught a couple of undertones about the odd character(s) from the book anyway (none of the major characters, though).

  4. Some of these casting picks are flat-out genius:

    Lee Pace = god damn right
    Ed Skrein = god damn right
    JK Simmons = god DAMN right

    I've got a few carps with some of the others, but not to any interesting degree. Overall, I think you've done a great job with this. I've not heard of some of your choices, such as Zak Orth (who really does look a lot like Tom) and Kerris Orsey (who I find to be rather difficult to look at). Good stuff!

    Final thought, and I apologize in advance for the self-promotion: I had a BLAST writing a partial teleplay for the first episode of a hypothetical series based on "The Stand" a few years ago. It was mainly just an excuse to talk about some of my concerns, and is essentially a version of the sort of thing your blog is doing so well.

    I have to admit, I still hope to this day that some studio exec will stumble across that post, read it, spit coffee out of her mouth, and task an intern with hiring me to do it all for realsies.

    Hey, a fella can dream, right?

    1. Thanks!

      If Kerris Dorsey is hard to look at, that means I picked correctly. I tried to find a pick where her crazy eyes are really evident. That means I passed by a lot of pics of her where she was dressed more like Julie tends to, but since her craziness is the real problem, I decided for a pic that communicated insanity rather than brazen sexuality.

      Now I'm a tad curious, though. Which choices would you disagree with? And do you have alternates in mind? If so, maybe they're better and I might even alter the list.

      I did read part of the teleplay, and it seems pretty good. I'll have to devote some time to it later (I'm presently at work) but I'd hire you to write this, definitely.

      Speaking of teleplays, what did you think of my idea for an opening sequence?

    2. I hope you didn't have an issue with my plan for Larry. He's a favorite choice, both the acting and singing part.

    3. I wasn't sold on your choices for Larry, to be honest. Sebastian does look the part, though; and he's good on "Game of Thrones." I'd prefer to do it with one person and not two.

      However, if I personally were put in charge, and if the story were updated, my Larry would be an up-and-coming hip-hop artist. The rock-troubadour thing is close to not working at all in 2015. However, if you made Larry a rapper, that genre carries such inherent bad-boy cred that I think it would work like a charm for the character.

      Also, frankly, SOMEBODY who makes that trip on foot from Boulder to Vegas has to be a non-caucasian. I think the lack of diversity in King's novel is both understandable and acceptable from a 1978 -- or even 1990 -- point of view, but I don't think it works in 2015. And it would be very easy to change Larry's race, because it's utterly inconsequential to the story.

      As for the opening scene, you had me at Nick Cave. I'd intended to comment on that last night, but distracted myself and forgot it! You're one microscopic cog in his catastrophic plan, and so am I.


    4. As for disagreements, I didn't really have any. I'll make a few notes, though:

      Anton Yelchin -- that's a great pick, but I'd love to try to get an actual deaf actor for the role if possible. That would obviously make some of the dream sequences different, but I think it'd be cool to try something different with the casting, and that would certainly do it. But otherwise, yeah, Yelchin is a great call.

      Will Poulter -- I haven't seen him in enough. If you want to see my pick for Harold, do a Google Images search for "lincoln castellanos fear the walking dead." That's him right there, assuming he could chunk down a bit during filming. But I would definitely want my Harold to begin plump and gross and eventually become lean and mean.

      Jackie Earle Haley -- Hmm. Interesting. I think he's too old for Trashy, though, isn't he? Not that that matters much. Trash Can Man is such an iffy character that I'd be tempted to write him out altogether. If I had to hear "bumpty-bumpty-bump" one single time, I'd shit.

    5. I, like King, am an old school rock fan. I won't say I hate hip hop, just that there's more bad about it than there is good.

      Rock is the work horse that keeps on going. Nothing will stop it. Slow it down, maybe, but rock will last forever.

      I say that to say that I don't agree with turning Eddie into a black hip hop star, especially since it would remove the joke, which I actually liked, that people who have only heard his voice assume he's black.

      I'd be okay with a black Glen or even a black Stu.

      Is Trashy's age actually given? I have pictured him as middle-aged every time I've read the book (and this was well before seeing the mini-series). I guess it's possible that he's a young man, but I don't think it hurts his character to age him up.

      As for the "bumpty-bump", yeah, it's in the book, but only for one scene, rather than the catchphrase it became in the mini-series, and I wouldn't mind if it was left out entirely. Maybe instead he can sing Rush's "Seven Cities of Gold" when he comes upon Vegas.

      The first time I heard "Red Right Hand", I thought "That song's about Randall Flagg." I pictured him walking along the road at night, red eyes blazing, as the song plays in the background. It fits him so perfectly.

    6. If it isn't about Flagg, it may as well be!

      I hear what you're saying about Larry. My thoughts there is that if you were updating the story to current times, it would carry more weight in terms of how pop culture works. I also kind of just like the idea of a bad-boy rapper going on the journey Larry goes on; that'd be pretty cool.

    7. Think of Larry as the guy trying to bring about the rebirth of rock, but keeps being pidgeon-holed by short-sighted producers who, as the book says, are planning a short, radio-friendly career for him. They want him to be the next John Mayer, but he wants to be the next Springsteen.

      Now that it's been brought up I've been sitting around thinking of black actors to play Stu or Glen. David Oyelowo would be a good Stu. Maybe Charles S. Dutton or Laurence Fishburne could play Glen.

    8. Yeah, I could obviously roll with that version of Larry.

      Fishburne would be a great Bateman. If he slimmed down a bit, he might be a really good Flagg, too.

  5. Bryant, I love your writing, but saying that you need 40 episodes of television to cover one (long) novel is crazy. 40 x 50 = 2000 minutes. That is the equivalent of over SIXTEEN two hour movies. Nope. Lord of the Rings was 540 minutes (roughly) of movies. That's a quarter of the length, and only Tolkien devotees were complaining about the omission of Tom Bombadil.

    Being granted excessive length often encourages flabby writing. Two episodes of (HBO length) movie is a movie. The original miniseries went for 366 minutes. That is half the length of ONE series on HBO.

    1. Yes, and the miniseries is a paltry representation of the novel at best. It is a Cliffs Notes of the Cliffs Notes. Virtually none of the characters are developed in any meaningful way as regards their backstories, and some of that material is very compelling.

      It's all there in the novel, either explicitly or implicitly. If you want to merely cover the plot, then yeah, sure: you could do it in a much-abbreviated format. But television is about character, and character needs development. So if you're going to the plot justice AND do the characters justice at the same time, you will never be able to do so without being a bit expansive with it. You might be able to do so in fewer than four seasons, but if you had the opportunity to tell a dramatically satisfying story in an expansive format, why wouldn't you aim high? Not doing that seems weird to me. It's like you're admitting defeat up front and saying, "Well, this story is okay, but in all honesty, the sooner it's over the better."

      Why do that?

    2. Oh, and by the way, I'd say "The Lord of the Rings" would be great material for a "Game of Thrones" style series that could run for several seasons. Not as many of GoT, though, simply because the Frodo/Ring plotline is too urgent to stretch out for too terribly long.

      Speaking of "Rings," you've lowballed the runtime of that trilogy! The extended editions -- the ONLY editions to watch, in my opinion -- run 726 minutes. That's slightly more than 12 HBO episodes. And, again, a Cliffs Notes of the Cliffs Notes, though a considerably better one than the Mick Garris "Stand."

      Not sure I'd put Bombadil in at ANY length, though...

    3. I lean more toward Aussiesmurf's opinion here, but yeah, I agree that the mini-series was more like watching actors pantomiming a recap of the book than actually watching an adaptation of the material.

      Back in the 90's, the idea of adapting a novel as one season of television did not exist. If you were making a mini-series that mean AT BEST, there would be maybe six episodes.

      Now, could the story be stretched out to two ten-episode seasons? I suppose it probably could, though I, like Aussiesmurf, worry about flabby writing. Even Game of Thrones has had some weak points and they've got five monster books to work with (none as long as The Stand, however).

      As for LOTR; yeah, Bryant is very right that the only versions worth watching are the extended editions. They're the only version I have, and I have watched them several times. That said, yes, Tom Bombadil is one of Tolkien's great missteps, and while I have heard arguments from Tolkienites (my term for people who essentially rank Tolkien about a half-step down from God Himself) about why Bombadil should be left in, and it mostly boils down to "But I really want him left in!"

  6. Tons of thoughts on this one, simply because it's such an undertaking to cast a project that big, and it's the only one of the three King works that are revered as his magnum opus. (I assume the others are It and The Dark Tower?)

    Anyway, I love the Searcy, Hudson, and Buckley choices, as well as the Mother Abigail. Dean Norris I'm used to seeing in hardass cop roles, but in Breaking Bad he had some subtle and softer moments, so I can go with that. Kaitlyn Dever I know only from Justified, and I thought from the very beginning that she was a very talented young lady, and she's old enough that she could be a good Lucy. I wasn't familiar with Kerris Dorsey, but after looking up some Google images, I'm pretty convinced she's perfect. At the risk of sounding like a pig, I agree with Bryant that I don't find her appealing, but she's just attractive enough (and presumably young and shapely enough) to be catnip to drifters and other riffraff. I don't know how she is as an actress, but she certainly looks like she could play batshit crazy. Lauren Graham might be genius. I would never have thought of her in that role, and I pictured someone like Mary Steenburgen, but that may be a function of picturing everyone as younger than they are (myself included). Steenburgen is almost 63, so she's probably less MILFy than how I picture her, even though I watch Last Man on Earth. But it's probably a problem that she was playing a MILF twenty years ago in What's Eating Gilbert Grape.

    On to suggestions, for some reason I distinctly pictured Anna Paquin as Nadine. She's been in some stuff that would be considered fluff, or at least not an actor's showcase (X-Men and True Blood), but she's been a pretty good actress in other things. Hell, she's won an Oscar (although I'm generally not a fan of giving those to child actors).

    Trashcan Man I picture as looking something like Mickey Rourke with long hair like in The Wrestler. I'm not remembering anything about his age. Jackie Earle Haley is always a good go-to guy for creepy men with a few screws loose, and Trashy might be better as a wiry little guy, but sometimes I think he's been typecast and could do more if Hollywood would let him. Whatever you do, don't write him out. I disagree strongly with Bryant on that one.

    I also must strongly protest the idea to make Larry a rapper. I'm with you. Rock and roll will never die. It may be on hiatus, and they could (should?) do something stronger than "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man," but I cannot stress this enough.

    1. Anna would make an excellent Nadine. I'd never thought of her as being old enough, but I guess she is. Despite that, she's kinda been letting herself go lately.

      I didn't include Dean Norris on this list, so I'm not sure what you're referring to there. I do like the guy though.

      Mary Steenbergen should have been Rita in the mini-series...if Rita had been included.

      I'll just come out and say this: I don't like Mickey Rourke. There's something about him that rubs me entirely the wrong way. The only movie I've seen him in that I liked was Sin City. Still, you're probably right that he could play Trashy.

    2. I haven't seen Anna Paquin lately. When you say she's let herself go, do you mean she's blimped out? What has she been in where I can see that? She is pushing up on the right age for Nadine.

      Did you not originally put Dean Norris as Frannie's dad? I have no idea how that could have happened. I took notes as I read this a couple of weeks ago, and I thought I was reading it thoroughly. Now I'm worried I'm losing my marbles at age 36.

      I haven't seen a ton of Mickey Rourke, largely because he was in a lot of trashy movies with hard R ratings in the eighties, before I was of age, then disappeared for a long time. But I thought he was spectacular in The Wrestler, and should have won the Oscar.

    3. Anna Paquin is a mom and, well, has the body of a recent mom. She's not huge, but she doesn't look like Sookie Stackhouse (or Rogue) anymore.

      No, I didn't even consider Dean Norris for a role that small. It was Michael Hogan from the start. (I lost my marbles much earlier than 36. I just turned 38 yesterday, and I don't even have the bag anymore).

      I don't know what it is about Rourke that rubs me the wrong way. He's not a bad actor at all, but when I hear he's got a prominent part in a movie, that's generally my cue to skip it. I ignored that with Sin City and was glad I did. After I saw The Expendables, I wasn't impressed, and didn't shed any tears that he was left out of the others.

  7. Part 2: I must be getting pretty long-winded, because I wasn't able to publish all I had to say. Just a few more ideas (I think):

    I must have considered Dayna Jurgens a more important character than you did. Maybe it's because she goes out like a badass, but I thought of her almost as important as the main characters. She's supposed to be beautiful, but in tip-top shape, and with a definite edge to her. I'm tempted to say Hilary Swank because of Million Dollar Baby and the acting chops, but of course you'd probably have to beef up the role a bit, and the fact that her looks can be very hit-and-miss for me personally. Lake Bell might be a possibility, although Bell could also be a good Susan.

    For Charles, who is essentially Patient Zero, I thought having a well-known borderline A-lister would be kind of cool. To give the audience an immediate gut-punch that reveals that this is not going to be your garden-variety thriller. I pictured Chris Pratt from Jurassic World/Guardians of the Galaxy.

    The Tom Cullen role is problematic. I was hoping to come up with something brilliant, but have failed so far. I've only seen a little of the miniseries, but because I knew it was played by Fagerbakke, and it was such inspired casting, I have a hard time imagining anyone but a very tall towhead who talks a little like Patrick Starfish/Dauber for some reason.

    For Harold, I really like the look of the kid Bryant picked. Again, I don't know him as an actor, but if he's willing to do the weight gain and loss the role would require, he looks perfect.

    Finally, a couple of the smaller roles: I would love to see a miniseries that includes both Rat Man and The Kid. I have no idea who could be THAT unsavory, though. In fact, reading this blog has given me a little bit of a complex. I'm a lifelong movie buff, subscribe to EW and read a lot of IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, and I have brothers who will often tease me for knowing the names of all the great character actors and tons of other random trivia, but I feel like a novice compared to you. There are a ton of your actors who I've never heard of. Seemingly, you're a productive member of society, so it's not as if you're a shut-in who does nothing but stream every movie and TV series all day every day, so my hat's off to you. Hopefully some of my input will be useful. I think that's it for the time being on The Stand, but I may add something later if I remember something I'd forgotten.

  8. Dayna is an important character, but only toward the end. Prior to that she gets rescued from the rapists and then sorta disappears until she goes to Vegas. Still, I picked an actress for her that I know can do a good job.

    The problem with the kid Bryant picked is that he actually is fat. Harold's transition from fat kid to slender, muscular young man is an important one for me. I would strongly prefer hiring an actor with a big frame and putting him in the same kind of latex fat suits that successfully turned Eddie Murphy into a grossly fat person(s), then gradually lessening that throughout until the actor looks like what he is.

    For Tom, well, I think you'd have to see this guy in Wet Hot American Summer to know why I think he'd make a great Tom. No, his character doesn't act like Tom, but he's got the looks and the talent. My memory had suggested that Tom was huge, and to that end I wanted Ned Rolsma, who had a recurring role on How I Met Your Mother, but has dark black hair. Rolsma would be fine, too, but Tom isn't gigantic, so I went with a man of normal height who fits even better.

    As for being a productive member of society, well, I'd have to ask my boss's opinion but considering I am gainfully employed and providing for a family of four, I'd say I count. I just pay attention to actors, even smaller ones. I tend to scour IMDB looking for the names of actors who had smaller roles in films or TV series that I've watched, and I do watch quite a bit (thanks, NetFlix). I'm a giant nerd, so that helps, lol.

    1. So, does that mean you're not liking the Lake Bell idea? I kinda dig her ever since seeing In a World.

      As long as we don't end up with Norbit, I guess a fat suit would be fine.

    2. I'd forgot to comment on that. Lake Bell could do it, no question. I do think she's becoming a big-enough name I'd kinda like to save her for a bigger role down the line. One of my rules is that unless the characters are known twinners of each other, or are implicitly the same character, I'm not re-using actors at all.

    3. The fat effects in Norbit were actually not bad. The movie was, but the make-up was grossly realistic.

    4. Grossly being the key word. Did you know it actually got an Oscar nomination for makeup? I remember Jon Stewart hosting that year and joking that "too often, the academy ignores movies that aren't good". What I meant is that hopefully they'd show some restraint with Harold. He's a fatty, but that's easy to overdo, and with him, it's a combination of his looks AND being an insufferable asshole that made people in the pre-Captain Trips era hate him.

    5. Yeah, I knew. I actually am a bit of an Oscar-handicapper (armchair, of course), and make a game each year out of predicting the major categories (nominees and winners for Picture, Director and all four acting categories; don't really care about the others). I've been doing that for about 20 years now (holy crap). I usually watch the ceremony to see how right or wrong I was, and I caught that joke. It was right on the money.

  9. Wow! Some fantastic picks here. Awesome job!

    I'm in the camp that 13 hours would be enough to do this book justice. There is something about the pacing and rhythms of TV that works well with that number of episodes. Anything more than that and audience interest will wane as will the pace!

  10. Wow! Some fantastic picks here. Awesome job!

    I'm in the camp that 13 hours would be enough to do this book justice. There is something about the pacing and rhythms of TV that works well with that number of episodes. Anything more than that and audience interest will wane as will the pace!

    1. Thanks. This was one of the ones I was most looking forward to posting. I have been working on this cast literally for years.

      I think it's possible to do two ten-episode seasons, or better, two 8-episode seasons, but anything beyond that and we risk running into Under the Dome territory.