‘The Stand’ Boss on New Relevance, Changes to Stephen King’s Story
A limited series about a deadly virus that is decimating the majority of the population doesn't seem like a purely volatile one in a year when a very real pandemic devastated the globe and forced manufacturing and other companies to shut down and move events like Mipcom online Just to be entertainment.
However, it is precisely the combination of contemporary premise, immersive world and rich characters that makes Benjamin Cavell's nine-part adaptation of Stephen King's "The Stand" completely relevant.
“What a better moment for a show that imagines civilization to be brought to its knees, forcing our characters to ask themselves questions about the fundamentals of government, what society owes to individuals and, conversely, what we all as humans owe each other [and] what are we willing to sacrifice in terms of personal freedom in order to feel safe and secure? “Says Cavell.
"The Stand" was first published in 1978 as a more than 800-year-old novel and was later published in an uncut version with more than 1,150 pages. It follows an influenza weapon known as Captain Trips that wreaks havoc and leaves few, rare immune individuals. These people have different levels of darkness in them and begin to have dreams of mother Abagail (played here by Whoopi Goldberg) and Randall Flagg alias the Dark Man (Alexander Skarsgård), who accordingly focus on one of them. They come together in groups to recreate society accordingly, with Mother Abagail representing the peaceful path and Flagg operating a violent dictatorship.
ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group will premiere on December 17th on CBS All Access and bring "The Stand" to Mipcom to reach additional territories.
“When I got on board this project in early 2018, I [now program director at CBS All Access] told Julie McNamara how incredibly relevant I found this story even then - not because I had an idea that we would face our own, of course Pandemic, but because I felt like we were starting to question so many things that we all took for granted about the structure of human civilization, ”says Cavell.
"The Stand" had already been adapted before - for a four-part limited series in the mid-1990s, for which King adapted his book himself. This time around, however, there was a full writer's room that also included King's son Owen King (who also acts as the producer on the project), with the older King writing the final episode.
More screen space for this version of the adaptation allowed the restoration of certain elements from the novel that had been left out or condensed / combined in the previous limited series. This includes the characters of Rita Blakemoor (Heather Graham) and Joe (Gordon Cormier). In the novel, Rita is the wealthy New Yorker who escapes New York with musician Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo), and Joe is the little boy Nadine (Amber Heard) “adopted” after finding him alone and traumatized . In the previous series, Rita's character was combined with Nadine's, while Joe's was completely left out of the story.
"The Stand" features a wide range of characters: Others notable are James Marsden as leader Stu Redman; Owen Teague as the concerned Harold Lauder; Nat Wolff as former prisoner Lloyd Henreid; Odessa Young as Harold's obsession with Frannie Goldsmith; and Brad William Henke as Tom Cullen, who is intellectually different. To gain a glimpse into how these characters lived before the plague as they follow them on a complex and somewhat supernatural journey today, Cavell says the nonlinear narrative method was a must.
This wasn't because we were immediately different from the book or the original miniseries - though that was a nice side effect - but because I didn't want an audience to sit three episodes of the world dying before we got to it the flesh of our history, ”he explains. "For me," The Stand "was never about a pandemic, it was about the battle between good and evil for the soul of the remnants of humanity."
Cavell says he is "very grateful" to King for blessing the changes in this version of the story. Another key difference in this case, Cavell said, is that they specifically tied Flagg's power to "the worship of his followers."
In the book, Cavell emphasizes: “Neither Flagg nor Mother Abagail really know the origin or extent of their powers. It is a symbol of the difference between them that Mother [Abagail] willingly copes with it, while Flagg always goes to great lengths to keep things under control. "In this version, Cavell says," We still don't know who gave him his power, but we see it rise and fall because of the strength of his acolytes' trust in him. Flagg is terrifying not only because of the things that make him more than human, but also because of his typically human thirst for power and his evident willingness to do whatever it takes to acquire and maintain it. "
Monitoring corruption and abuse of power has been a particularly important topic in the media in all areas in recent years - both in scripts and in scripts. The relativity of this story is what Cavell says - at Mipcom and beyond.
“Our story imagines the collapse of all national borders,” he says. “We see people being reduced to their basic humanity and how different groups are approaching the task of rebuilding. That's a pretty universal lens. "
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