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The Dark Tower TV series will adapt Stephen King's Wizard and Glass
  • Idris Elba will appear - and producers reveal a map of the territory the story explores.

    In honor of Stephen King’s birthday, the makers of The Dark Towerfilm are unwrapping their plans for the saga’s companion TV series.

    The movie — starring Idris Elba as the gunslinger Roland Deschain, and Matthew McConaughey as the menacing Man in Black — opens on Feb. 17 and explores the hero and villain’s opposing quests to reach an otherworldly tower that connects their apocalyptic realm with ours.

    Ever since the film project was first proposed, it came packaged with an unusual idea: a spin-off TV show that would fill in the fantasy epic’s prodigious backstory.

    Now, sources at production company MRC and the film’s executive producer and co-screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman, have revealed to EW exclusive details about what they have planned for that series.

    EVERYTHING’S EVENTUAL

    First off, it’s definitely happening.

    MRC has committed not just to making a pilot, but producing a full run of between 10 and 13 episodes, depending on how the scripts and story arcs develop. The Dark Tower show will begin shooting in 2017 with plans to premiere it in 2018, ideally around the time the film becomes available on cable or streaming services.

    What the producers don’t yet have is a distributor. The darkness of the story rivals that of Game of Thrones, so they will require either a cable or streaming platform (MRC also makes House of Cards for Netflix, so they have a history already.) But MRC is not going to wait for a partner to come aboard before moving forward.

    Elba has signed on to appear as older Roland alongside Tom Taylor, 15, who plays Jake Chambers in the film, a boy from present-day New York who harbors a secret, psychic power and is grappling with visions of the tower and the men (and other creatures) who are trying to reach it.

    That duo will serve as the framing device for the show’s central story, which takes place many years before the events depicted in the film. Since the series will be Roland’s origin story, a younger actor will be cast to play the aspiring gunslinger as a teenager, back before the realm of Mid-World “moved on” into chaos and bloodshed.

    Goldsman will serve as one of the executive producers, along with Jeff Pinkner and Imagine Entertainment’s Ron Howard and Brian Grazer (who inspired McConaughey’s spiky, crow-feathered hair in the movie.) The film’s director, Nikolaj Arcel, and co-writer, Anders Thomas Jensen, are working on the script for the show, but another showrunner will be hired to oversee day-to-day operations.

    McConaughey’s involvement is a possibility, but not locked in. His character, Walter, is a semi-immortal who wields powerful, ancient magic and is a major element of Roland’s origin as a six-shooting knight, but in King’s books this sorcerer often takes on different names and appearances.

    So, the character will be in the show, but he may be inhabiting the shape of another actor.

    NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES

    Back in Roland’s younger years, the Man in Black was known as Marten Broadcloak, an adviser to Roland’s father, Steven, the ruler of Gilead. (Yes, ironically, the father of Roland is… King Steven.) Even back then, Marten was a ruthless manipulator who, in a gambit to destroy young Roland, manuevers the hot-headed boy into prematurely taking his gunslinger trials against instructor Cort Andrus.

    That part of Roland’s tale was partially laid out in King’s original novel,The Gunslinger, and it will form part of the TV series while the bulk of the show will focus on the fourth book in the saga, Wizard and Glass, which told another tale of young Roland and his early tribulations.

    Although written in the middle of the series, Wizard and Glass is primarily a prequel that features Roland and his ka-tet of fate-forged allies, including the boy Jake, listening to the story of the gunslinger’s past while preparing for the next leg of their journey.

    In this framing device for the book, they are camped within reach of a “thinny,” which is a kind of aurora where reality has eroded and people who draw too close can be consumed like it’s a black hole. Roland tells his new friends of his first encounter with such a thing, unspooling a tale about being sent by his father on a mission to the Barony of Mejis, a distant seaside kingdom in the same dimension as his homeland of Gilead.

    As a tribute to King on his 69th anniversary in our world, MRC created this map, overlayed with a quote from the book, which was spoken by Cort to a young Roland.

    The map demarcates the various towns and landmarks within the territory of Mejis: the capital, Hambry, along the Clean Sea; Coos Hill, home of the witch, Rhea; Citgo, the oil fields that could help fuel an army; Bad Grass, the toxic meadowlands; and Eyebolt Canyon, where a different thinny cries out for victims.

    We won’t spoil the whole story-within-a-story of Wizard and Glass, but in brief, Roland reveals how he fell for the beautiful Susan Delgado, and later tested the faith of his original ka-tet — friends Alain Johns and Cuthbert Allgood. (None of these roles, including the young gunslinger, have been cast yet.)

    “In the movie, Roland is suffering tremendous loss. The most concrete, personal, existential heartbreak a character can have,” Goldsman says. “If the movie chronicles his final reach toward hope again, the TV show is the loss of that hope.”

    While the big-screen film mixes and matches elements of King’s saga (it serves as a a sequel, for those who understand the meaning of that instrument on Elba’s hip, known as the Horn of Eld), Goldsman says The Dark Tower TV series will be a more straightforward adaptation. “This one has much more fidelity to the story as King wrote it,” Goldsman says.

    DIFFERENT SEASONS

    As for what lies beyond … ?

    Just as Arcel’s movie was developed with a door open to other films, a second season of TV is also a possibility if all goes according to plan. Although they will have exhausted King’s original narrative by that point, they could then explore the stories of Marvel’s Dark Towercomics, primarily plotted by Robin Furth, King’s in-house historian for the saga and author of The Dark Tower: The Complete Concordance.

    The comic book stories explore young Roland’s return to Gilead and the later Battle of Jericho Hill, where the fate of the gunslingers – and their  world –  is decided in brutal fashion.

    In addition to the source material in the comics, King could also choose to offer them tips on where to take the story in a future season, since he has been presiding over the film project from afar, weighing in on scripts and story changes. Or, he may sit back and decide to let them run with it on their own.

    What the King wants, he gets. Especially on his birthday.

  • If they are adapting Wizard & Glass first the timing of its release one year after the first movie is odd. W&G would be better served after the second movie. 

    But however you slice it, it's great to see the Dark Tower adaptation finally with traction.
  • “The first episode of a show has been written, and we hope to retain Ron’s original idea to mix platforms, something that seemed revolutionary 10 years ago but now is something that others have done,” Goldsman said. “Idris for sure is part of this, and if the movie is Roland Deschain the gunslinger, the show is his origin story, based on the fourth novel in the series, Wizard and Glass.” [Deadline]
  • 'The Dark Tower' TV Series Sets 'Walking Dead' Grad as Showrunner

    Glen Mazzara will take the reins of the project, which is in development through Media Rights Capital and Sony Pictures Television.
    As the long-awaited feature film take on The Dark Tower is poised to open at the box office, the potential TV series is taking a big step forward.

    Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead) has been tapped to serve as showrunner on the TV adaptation of the ambitious Stephen King series. The TV take, envisioned as a straight-to-series project, is currently in its early stages and tapping a showrunner is the key first step. A network is not yet attached. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that it is being eyed for a short-order (between 10 and 13 episodes) and a home on cable or streaming outlets by producers Media Rights Capital and Sony Pictures Television. Production is eyed to begin in 2018, though nothing is locked in given all the variables.

    "I’ve been a Stephen King fan for decades and the opportunity to adapt The Dark Tower as a TV series is a great honor," Mazzara tells THR. "The events of The Gunslinger, Wizard & Glass, The Wind Through the Keyhole, and other tales need a long format to capture the complexity of Roland's coming of age — how he became the Gunslinger, how Walter became the Man in Black, and how their rivalry cost Roland everything and everyone he ever loved. I could not be more excited to tell this story. It feels like being given the key to a treasure chest. And oh yeah, we’ll have billy-bumblers!"

    The feature film, which opens Friday and is already generating mixed reviews, is considered to be independent from the TV series — though there is some overlap. Slated to appear in the series are Idris Elba, who stars as Roland Deschain (aka the Gunslinger); Dennis Haysberg (as Roland's father, Steven Deschain); and young star Tom Taylor (Jake Chambers, the son-like figure to the Gunslinger). The potential TV series will revolve around a younger Roland and his group — with those roles currently uncast. The TV entry will be based on Wizard in Glass, the fourth book in The Dark Tower series. While insiders do not see the potential TV series as a prequel, an origin story is more appropriate to describe the vision for the project.

    Akiva Goldsman — who was originally slated to pen the script when the TV series was set up at Universal — is attached to exec produce alongside his Weed Road Pictures president of production Gregory Lessans. Imagine TV's Ron Howard and Brian Grazer as well as Jeff Pinkner (Fringe, Zoo) are also on board as exec producers. Feature film director Nikolaj Arcel as well as and co-writer Anders Thomas Jensen writing the script. Mazzara will oversee day-to-day operations on the ambitious project.

    Mazzara was The Walking Dead's second showrunner, coming in to replace Frank Darabont on the AMC zombie drama. His TV credits include A&E's Damien as well as Crash, The Shield and Life. He's repped by CAA.

    The Dark Tower is in theaters Friday.
  • Sure hope they go through with this.

  • Omega Underground is reporting that The Dark Tower TV show will begin production this summer in both the UK and Ireland. Like Game of Thrones, it’s likely the show will utilize some of the unique landscapes in the area to bring the world of King’s books to life. By doing so, it can create a more alien world without crossing over to ours like the movie.

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