He’s written 58 novels, six non-fiction books and about 200 short stories, but of all of them, few have been as epic as Stephen King’s horror novel The Stand. Previously adapted to television in the form of a 1994 ABC miniseries, it’s being brought to life again on the CBS All Access streaming service event series that will span 10 episodes, the last of which will be written by King himself, providing a conclusion that does not come from the novel.

The Stand,” describes CBS All Access, “is Stephen King’s apocalyptic vision of a world decimated by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil. The fate of mankind rests on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old other Mother Abagail and a handful of survivors. Their worst nightmares are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the Dark Man.”

At the current TCA (Television Critics Association) gathering, the following cast members for the series have been announced: “James Marsden (Dead to Me, Westworld) will portray Stu Redman, an ordinary working-class factory man in an extraordinary situation with a damaged quality to him that belies his exterior. Amber Heard (Aquaman, The Danish Girl, Pineapple Express) will play Nadine Cross, a deeply conflicted woman who feels the consequences of her actions, but is still compelled by her allegiance to Randall Flagg, the Dark Man. Odessa Young (Assassination Nation, A Million Little Pieces) will play Frannie Goldsmith, a pregnant young woman navigating a strange new world, who also has the foresight to recognize that there is evil lurking beyond the Dark Man. Henry Zaga (13 Reasons Why, the forthcoming Trinkets and X-Men: New Mutants) will portray Nick Andros, a young deaf and mute man who finds himself in a position of authority when the unthinkable happens. He has a habit of risking his own well-being for the safety of others.

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CBS All Access

On his official website, King offers his inspiration for The Stand: “For a long time — ten years, at least — I had wanted to write a fantasy epic like The Lord of the Rings, only with an American setting. I just couldn’t figure out how to do it. Then, slowly after my wife and kids and I moved to Boulder, Colorado, I saw a 60 Minutes segment on CBW (chemical-biological warfare). I never forgot the gruesome footage of the test mice shuddering, convulsing, and dying, all in twenty seconds or less. That got me remembering a chemical spill in Utah that killed a bunch of sheep (these were canisters on their way to some burial ground; they fell off the truck and ruptured). I remembered a news reporter saying, ‘If the winds had been blowing the other way, there was Salt Lake City.’ This incident later served as the basis of a movie called Rage, starring George C. Scott, but before it was released, I was deep into The Stand, finally writing my American fantasy epic, set in a plague-decimated USA. Only instead of a hobbit, my hero was a Texan named Stu Redman, and instead of a Dark Lord, my villain was a ruthless drifter and supernatural madman named Randall Flagg. The land of Mordor (‘where the shadows lie,’ according to Tolkien) was played by Las Vegas.”

Expect The Stand to stream sometime next year on CBS All Access.

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