It’s always fun to hear about a new Stephen King adaptation in the works, as it perpetually gets the imagination cranking with big questions. Who will star? How will key scenes come to life? How will the new medium influence changes? It’s always exciting, and this week’s edition of The King Beat is happy to deliver a dose of it with word about a TV adaptation of Holly, King’s latest novel.
That story comes paired with a fun reflection on a dark King treat, and a sweet celebration of Constant Readership making news out of Tennessee. Without further ado, let’s dig in!
Mr. Mercedes Producer Jack Bender Is Developing A TV Show Based On Stephen King’s Holly
Though his filmmaking career stretches back to the late 1970s, producer Jack Bender has had a lot of experience in recent years adapting Stephen King stories for television. He got his first taste of it a little over a decade ago with the launch of the CBS series Under The Dome, and he has since helped make the excellent Mr. Mercedes and produced two episodes of HBO’s The Outsider (two of the best small screen King projects). In the time since both of those shows ended, he has kept busy in the King world by developing a film adaptation of the mini-book Elevation along with a limited series version of The Institute, and he has also taken on a new project: making a TV show based on the 2023 novel Holly.
Bender said as much when he participated in a Q&A as part of Chicago’s 2023 Printers Row Lit Fest (via Archive.org), which ran from September 9-10, 2023. There to promote his book I Am Sorry: Art and Apologies, Bender at one point spoke about his long appreciation for storytelling and the collaboration aspect of making television, which led him to talk about his time working with Stephen King:
When the interviewer asked if she and the crowd had just been privy to a “scoop,” Jack Bender replied,
Given Jack Bender’s previous Stephen King experience, Holly is a book that makes a lot of sense in his hands. With all due respect to Cynthia Erivo’s terrific work on The Outsider (and that’s a lot), Justine Lupe’s performance as Holly Gibney in the series Mr. Mercedes is a perfect incarnation of the character that exists on the page, and Bender had a key role in its creation as the director of 27 of the show’s 30 episodes. If he is now developing an adaptation of the latest story featuring the oddball detective, it makes all the sense in the world that Lupe would come back to reprise the role, and that’s certainly something that would inspire celebration among Constant Readers (if you don’t already know, Lupe recorded the audiobook for Holly, and it’s terrific).
Unfortunately, if we’re actually going to see Jack Bender produce a TV show based on Holly, we may have to be patient for it. The filmmaker is presently a producer on the horror series From (which will air its third season later this year), and the adaptation of The Institute is evidently next on his list of priorities. Bender told the crowd at 2023 Printers Row Lit Fest,
We can add it to the list of Stephen King-related things we’re keeping our fingers crossed for – right behind writer/director Mike Flanagan’s dream adaptation of The Dark Tower. For now, you raise your excitement level for Jack Bender’s potential adaptation of Holly by streaming all three seasons of Mr. Mercedes with a Peacock subscription.
As Stephen King Reflects On The Weirdness Of The Weekly World News, I’ll Once Again Implore Everyone To Check Out The Night Flier
Everyone is familiar with the all-time great Stephen King movies – including Brian De Palma’s Carrie, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Rob Reiner’s Misery and more – but one title that doesn’t get enough love and attention from pop culture is 1997’s The Night Flier starring Miguel Ferrer. It’s a deliciously mean and nasty piece of work based on the short story of the same name, which also happens to be a spinoff from The Dead Zone. I previously wrote about it in The King Beat as a Recommendation Of The Week when the adaptation celebrated its 26th anniversary, and I bring it back into the conversation for his edition thanks to a King Tweet from a couple days ago.
Evidently feeling a bit nostalgic, Stephen King took to his personal social media page this week to reminiscence about the wild newspaper-esque tabloid that once was a staple at supermarket checkout counters. He couldn’t quite remember the name of the Weekly World News, but he has fond memories:
Hey, do you guys remember that supermarket tabloid that used to have stories about Bat Boy? Man, I loved that shit.February 6, 2024
I could have told you Stephen King had an appreciation for this publication before this Tweet, and it’s all because of “The Night Flier.” The protagonist of the short story, Richard Dees, is a reporter who works for a Weekly World News-esque publication called Inside View. The real paper is best known for running stories about a monster called “Bat Boy” (as noted by King), and Dees hunts a similar creature in King’s fiction: a vampire that pilots a Cessna and leaves a trail of bodies in his wake as he flies from airport to airport.
The Weekly World News continues to exist in digital form, though it’s not quite as fun to visit a website as it is to stumble upon the audacious headlines and images while competing a mission to restock your refrigerator. “The Night Flier” can most easily be read by picking up a copy of the 1993 collection Nightmares & Dreamscapes, and while the adaptation is not available to stream/watch digitally, it is available on DVD (Both the book and the movie are musts for any Stephen King collection).
There’s A Book-Centric Baker In Tennessee Making Sweet Treats Based On Stephen King Classics
Constant Readers find many ways to express their fanhood. A couple weeks ago, I highlighted writer/director/producer Julia Marchese’s Dollar Baby I Know What You Need, and the wide variety of crafts available on Etsy via a simple “Stephen King” search is impressive. In Tennessee, one woman has married her love of King’s books with her love of baking to produce some delicious-looking treats.
This week, News Channel 5 in Nashville has run a story about Lebanon, Tennessee resident Crystal Mether, who locally sells book-inspired treats via her home-run business Literary Flour. She doesn’t exclusively bake Stephen King-related cookies and cakes, as she also has an “Edgar Allan Poe collection” and did a run she calls “Scary Cakelets to Eat in the Dark,” but the King-related offerings look wonderful.
Mether says that it was finding a copy of Misery at a yard sale that first sparked her love for Stephen King’s books, and she has a cake appropriately titled Number One Fan that has an edible ax on top (obviously a reference to the novel, not the movie). She makes Shining-based cookies called Red Rums, and a riff on Carrie, Prom Queens, come with an extra splash of red icing.
Most of you reading this column won’t have the chance to taste Literary Flour’s creations, but perhaps this story will inspire you to express your own love for Stephen King’s books in a unique and special way.
Recommendation Of The Week: “Jerusalem’s Lot”
It was in February of 1978 that Stephen King published Night Shift – his first short story collection. I figure that makes a Recommendation of the Week from that book appropriate, and I don’t see any reason not to highlight the very first tale: “Jerusalem’s Lot.”
The story stands out for a number of reasons – including the fact that it’s exists as a Salem’s Lot prequel, and that it’s a rare King story to be set outside the 20th or 21st centuries. “Jerusalem’s Lot” unfolds as a series of letters that protagonist Charles Boone sends to a friend after moving into his family’s ancestral estate in the town of Preacher’s Corners, Maine. The neighbors treat the home as though it is cursed, and Charles begins to understand why when he discovers a local deserted town that is teeming with eldritch energy.
That wraps up this week’s edition of The King Beat, but I’ll have a new roundup for you here on CinemaBlend next Thursday, and if you’re still hungry for more King-related reading, you can always peruse my Adapting Stephen King column between now and then.