M-O-O-N spells The Stand. Stephen King’s epic, end of days tome, detailing the final battle between good and evil and going down in the Midwest of all places, is set for another reboot. Envisioning the apocalypse and post-apocalypse all in one fell swoop, The Stand is King’s fourth novel, written more than thirty years ago. But the story still holds up and the scope of the book could make for great television and has made for a great The Stand miniseries in the past.
This time, CBS All-Access, the company’s answer to the streaming revolution of content across platforms, has announced they’ll again put The Stand in miniseries form. Back in the mid-90’s The Stand also got the miniseries treatment starring the likes of Molly Ringwold, Rob Lowe, Gary Sinise and even Ed Harris to name just a few. I know because I taped that bad boy on the old VHS and watched the first episode of it about 50 times humming along to “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House during one of the opening sequences. It was a macabre scene but it stuck with you.
CBS will go with a ten-episode miniseries route here, the same number of episodes the first miniseries got. There’s quite a bit we know already about how things will unfold with this new version of The Stand miniseries.
Making The Stand Miniseries R-Rated
Unlike the previous Stand miniseries, this one won’t have to follow the rules of Network television. It’s a streaming only event, which means CBS can make Stephen King’s story as R-rated as they want. And The Stand miniseries director Josh Boone confirms that’s exactly what they plan to do.
Talking to Slashfilm about the show’s inherent darkness, Boone says: “[We] thought about like Close Encounters and the way those Spielberg movies felt in the ‘70s, and crazy Oliver Stone movies in the ‘90s. Kind of merging those things to tell this epic, dark fantasy. I think it’ll be really cool. The main thing we have going for us that the original didn’t have going for it is that we can really do it at a really high level in terms of the R-rated content and things like that which just weren’t possible then.”
Promoting The Stand Miniseries
CBS just gave us our first ever look at the new Stand miniseries in the form of these images showing off key characters. Click on each to see the full image…
THE STORY OF THE STAND
The Stand details the end-of-days, in a world where a government-engineered flu strain wipes out 99% of the world’s population. The survivors are drawn (through dreams) to one of two places: either rural Nebraska to the farm of Mother Abigail or to Las Vegas to meet up with Randall Flagg. Without looking, which side do you think are the good guys and which are the bad? It’s not so subtle.
While the original miniseries had something of a one-to-one retelling of the novel, this latest adaptation will have some different aspects, most notably, a new ending. Stephen King wrote the final episode of the series and it’s reported it will differ from the original novel. I love this idea. In the new world of books coming to life on the screen, we’ve seen many creative liberties taken with adaptations. Think how HBO handled Game of Thrones with George R.R. Martin on as a consultant in what could ultimately be the true ending to the books. King rewriting the ending, possibly making it more palatable for this generation, is perfect use of creative license.
THE MINDS BEHIND THE MINISERIES
Josh Boone will act as show-runner on The Stand miniseries after helming The Fault in our Stars, an adaptation of the John Green young adult novel. He’s also wrapping up directing New Mutants, set to hit the big screen this year.
According to his IMDB page, Boone directs all ten installments of The Stand miniseries. In the world of television, this is somewhat unprecedented. Often the lead creatives tend to direct the first couple of installments (at most) and then hand things off to other directors and visions.
Ben Cavell is the other half of the creative team, co-writing the episodes and acting as executive producer. Cavell’s other work is mostly in television with shows like SEAL Team, Amazon’s Sneaky Pete, Showtime’s Homeland and FX’s Justified. This is a pretty robust, and well-received resume lending confidence to the idea that The Stand miniseries is in incredibly good hands.
THE STAND MINISERIES CAST
The mid-90’s version of The Stand was a star-studded television event and this current iteration looks very much the same way. The list of “stars” or at minimum “names you know” is pretty damn long.
The story’s characters are sectioned into two pretty decisive (and divisive) groups who rarely overlap over the course of the narrative arc. This could make for some interesting production pieces and means we have almost two separate casts.
James Marsden will star as Stu Redman, one of the de facto leaders of the group who lands in Colorado.
Meanwhile, Whoopi Goldberg will play Mother Abigail, the blind woman who acts as something of a beacon for the good. The casting on this one appears perfect down to the raspy voice and heavily-shaded glasses.
Amber Heard will play Nadine Cross in The Stand miniseries. She’s a conflicted character who straddles the line between good and evil, constantly tempted and swayed by Randall Flagg, who we’ll get to in a second.
Fresh off of HBO’s Watchmen, Jovan Adepo will play Larry Underwood, one of the leaders of the Colorado contingent.
In a devilishly good turn, Alexander Skarsgard will play the aforementioned Randall Flagg. This casting lines up well with what he’s become of late, a handsome yet malicious villain in shows like Big Little Lies and True Blood. As of right now, IMDB only lists Flagg’s character in one episode, which is in line with many of the characters in the Las Vegas contingent. My guess is this changes as more information comes out.
Owen Teague will play Harold Lauder in The Stand. Harold is an awkward teen with a brilliant intellect and a dark future.
Heather Graham plays Rita Blakemoor. Rita is a wealthy, middle-aged woman who escapes New York with Larry Underwood.
Frannie Goldsmith is a key supporting character in The Stand and she’s played by Odessa Young. She’s an expectant mother who ends up on the road with Harold Lauder.
And in what could be a truly terrifying role, Marilyn Manson will play the Trashcan Man, a dude almost too crazy for words (and he speaks very few of them). Without getting too far into it, Trashcan Man is about the last guy you’d want to be staring down the end of the world with, not unlike Manson himself maybe.
WHERE YOU’LL WATCH IT
CBS All Access is the broadcast company’s streaming service. They are still relatively new to producing original content, up until now falling back on their extensive catalog of shows and even live programming. But some of the upcoming CBS All-Access original content includes the much-anticipated Star Trek: Picard which will come out later in the year as well as an updated version of The Twilight Zone.
Commercial free streaming on CBS All Access will run you $9.99/month and it will be interesting to see how they fare in what’s quickly becoming a crowded (even possible saturated) market. High profile miniseries and productions like The Stand seem like musts for the services even those with the name recognition of CBS mostly because they are asking for regular cable box folks to also sign up for All Access. That could be a tough sell. But all signs point to this being very much worth the watch. Between the story, creative team and cast, The Stand miniseries looks like quite the streaming television event.
Stephen King’s The Stand is the story of a pandemic wiping out most of Earth’s population. And it’s filming right in the middle of the Coronavirus scare, a pandemic in the making that has a lot of people feeling nervous.
The experience of being involved in a project like The Stand when real world events seem to be running parallel to your script’s terrifying story is a unique experience.
James Marsden plays Stu Redmond in the new Stand and here’s what he says about the experience: “There are scenes in the beginning of The Stand where as soon as you see someone who looks normal sneeze or cough into their arm, everyone’s eyes in the room darts towards them. I see that in public now, and everyone kind of takes a few steps away from the person. It’s crazy. We’re in full panic mode right now.“
But it sounds like Marsden is trying to keep from thinking about it while he’s actually filming on the miniseries. He says, “Obviously, no one would ever want to capitalize on something as horrible as this, but it certainly makes it relevant. I just don’t think about it and just keep chugging away.“
Meanwhile, Stephen King has been adamant that his book about a weaponized flu strain wiping out the world’s population is not like the Coronavirus at all. He’s been tweeting sensible reminders like this…