Wednesday, August 15, 2012

News from the Kingdom: August 15, 2012

It's been close to three weeks since I vomited up one of these news-roundup columns, and the reason for that is simple: not much news happening lately in the world of Stephen King.

The most notable event in that time has almost certainly been the much-reported-upon "news" that Javier Bardem is out and Russell Crowe is potentially in as Roland in the Ron Howard Dark Tower movies that may or may not ever get made.

Russell Crowe in 3:10 to Yuma

The reactions I've seen to this potential news has been mostly negative, and I'm not sure I understand exactly why.  My guess is that many fans hold Roland SO lose to their hearts that they are simply hung up on whatever their own personal mental image of Roland is.  I guess I can get that.  Me, I'm thoroughly bummed out that Javier Bardem has dropped out; I thought he would have been close to perfect in the role.

To be honest, the role of Roland isn't a terribly difficult one to fill.  It requires a male actor who can convincingly portray a gunslinger, which is the description of probably 75% of all age-appropriate A-list movie stars, and quite a few of the B-list ones as well.

I don't necessarily have a preconceived idea of what a cinematic Roland should be.  Frankly, I don't even need him to be a white guy; if you told me that Denzel Washington had landed the role, I'd be thrilled.  Denzel has gotten a bit too fat for the role, but he could probably slim down if needs be.  Idris Elba?  Even better (although based on Prometheus, I think he might be best to avoid southern American accents when possible).  All I need is for the actor to be a great actor who is able to play badass and haunted and obsessed and ruthless on screen, and for him to be a relatively mature actor (i.e., not some fresh-faced fellow like Taylor Kitsch or Aaron Paul -- both of whom I love, but are way too young for the role).  

Similarly, I don't want the actor to be too old.  Good lord, people, knock it off with the Clint Eastwood suggestions.  Eastwood circa 1985 would have been perfect; literally perfect.  Eastwood circa 1995 might have been able to squeak by, but probably not.  Eastwood circa 2012 looks like somebody's great-grandfather; he would be as wrong as it would be possible to get short of casting Jonah Hill or Miley Cyrus or Pat Sajak.

So, in the broad sense, Russell Crowe absolutely fits my parameters.  So would half a dozen other guys I can think of off the top of my head: Christian Bale, Viggo Mortensen, Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Karl Urban, Jon Hamm, Anson Mount, Kyle Chandler, et cetera.  Given carte blanche, I'm not sure who I'd pick.  But then, I'm not Ron Howard; I don't know what he sees in his head, and minus that knowledge, I'd be a fool to try to pick anyone.

Crowe, though, is just fine in my book.  I'll give you a few reasons: L.A. Confidential, The Insider, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Master and Commander, Cinderella Man, 3:10 to Yuma, and American Gangster.  He would bring talent, he would bring marketability, he would bring experience.

According to the reports, Warner Bros. had about two weeks to make up their minds one way or another.  We're approaching that rumored deadline, so the next couple of days could prove to be highly interesting for Towerphiles.  Or (more likely), they could provide yet another setback for the films.

We shall see.


Here's a link to a Forbes list which ranks the earnings of authors in 2011.  King came in second, waaaaaaaaay behind James Patterson.

King's high ranking is probably due to the major success of 11/22/63, and that novel has been nominated for a World Fantasy Award.  Additionally, the Stephen Jones-edited anthology A Book of Horrors (in which King's story "The Little Green God of Agony" first appeared) received a nomination.
Don't believe me?  Here's a link to the full list of nominees.  Also, you may have trust issues.


One of my favorite King movies nobody ever talks about is Mark Pavia's The Night Flier.  Pavia has been spending the past few months writing a screenplay for an anthology film called The Reaper's Image, which will adapt several King short stories.  While we're waiting for news that it has received a greenlight, hop over to YouTube and check out Mark's short film Drag.  This is apparently the work that brought Pavia to King's attention and led to his making The Night Flier.

Not gonna lie to you: I haven't watched it yet.  But I intend to soon, oh yes, I do.
Part 1 is here; Part 2 is here; Part 3 is here.  Check it out!


We have now entered the portion of the post wherein I try to talk you into spending money.  Not on me!  On Stephen King stuff!  Although, hey, if you are wealthy and want to finance this blog, I would be glad to take a meeting with you to discuss options.

Here is a link to a pre-order page on Amazon for the Premiere Cast Recording of Carrie the Musical, which comes out on September 25.

Yeah, sure, I'll buy of those; why not?

Here is a link to the two-disc audiobook of A Face in the Crowd, the upcoming novella King co-wrote with Stewart O'Nan.  It's currently a mere $9.99, which is quite reasonable for a two-disc audiobook.  It's performed by Craig Wasson, who also narrated Blockade Billy and 11/22/63.  This hits on August 21, the same day the e-book is released.  You know you want one, so just give in and go ahead and pre-order it.

Here is a link to another King audiobook collaboration coming up soon: "In the Tall Grass," the novella he co-wrote with Joe Hill for Esquire this summer.  It's a nasty little horror story, and a damn good one, too.  The two-disc audiobook comes out on October 9, just in time for Halloween; no word yet on who the narrator is.

Have I mentioned this next one before?  I can't remember.  Let's assume I haven't.  Here is a link to Amazon's pre-order page for Marvel's The Stand Omnibus, a sure-to-be-gorgeous collection of the entire graphic adaptation. It's a two-volume set, housed in a slipcase, and if it's anything like Marvel's first Dark Tower omnibus, it'll be well worth having.  The list price is a whopping $150, but Amazon has it for about $98 right now.  It comes out on September 19.  Here are a few photos, which I stole from the Captain Comics site:

Looks cool to me.


Finally, here is a link to the latest post over at my other blog, You Only Blog Twice.  It's a review of the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service, which is one of my favorites.  Give it a look, if'n you're so inclined.

That's all for this time.  See you again in a few days with the latest comics column, which will contain a review of the new issue of The Dark Tower.


  1. I'm a big Russel Crowe fan. He'll humanize Roland perfectly, I think. Bardem could still get cast as the Man in Black, though I kind of hope they go with Viggo. Or Tim Allen.

    (Galaxy Quest redeemed TA for me, somewhat, but no, I'm not being serious.)

    Will they update Charlie the Choo Choo to be Thomas the Tank Engine, I wonder?

    Can't wait to see the Dark Towers on the screen.

    Damn, James Paterson made a lot of money last year... considering Uncle Sam took at least half of it, too, I always wonder how the govt can be as broke as it is. Corruption and graft and overspending, most likely, but damn! People loves them some James Paterson.

    For the record and switching back to Dark Tower stuff, I hope they don't cast Denzel. I'd hate to see the Gunslinger spend the whole movie yelling into his cellphone, which I think is in Denzel's contract; somehow, someway, he has to spend at least thirty minutes of screen time yelling into a cellphone... Idris can do no wrong, though (although I haven't seen Prometheus yet, so can't comment on the accent thing. Bad accents are annoying as hell, though. I think the Southern, new England, and Russian accents are the most mangled onscreen, I wonder why that is.)

    1. Whew... for a second there, I thought you were serious about Tim Allen. I was trying to figure out a way to tactfully tell you how I felt about that casting idea!

      Denzel, if he played the role the way he plays most of his roles, would indeed be dead wrong; way too contemporary. But he's a great actor (when he chooses to stretch), so I have no doubt he could do it. And frankly, I'd kinda love to see it happen if for no better reason than to hear some of my King peeps twist themselves into knots trying to rationalize their need for Roland to be a white guy.

      I had no idea -- NONE! -- that James Patterson was that popular. Or that prolific. I'm very knowledgeable in a general sense about the movie business, but I get occasional reminders (like this one) that in the broad sense of things, I'm a rube on the subject of modern literature.

      I'd love not to be, but I think at this point I'm doomed to be highly knowledgeable only within very narrow fields. I'll just have to be okay with that, I guess.