CBS is expanding its line of original programming for its streaming service with a major Stephen King adaptation: The Stand. Today, Vanity Fair gave us our best look yet at the project, showing off a world ravaged by a deadly pandemic, and populated by people trying to rebuild society.
The network greenlit the project with a straight-to-series, 10-episode order in January 2019, with Josh Boone (The Fault in our Stars) set to produce and direct. The series has since cast Alexander Skarsgård (he’ll play Randall Flagg), Whoopi Goldberg (Mother Abagail), Jovan Adepo (Larry Underwood), Owen Teague (Harold Lauder), Brad William Henke (Tom Cullen), Daniel Sunjata (Cobb), and Greg Kinnear (Glen Bateman). Moreover, King is helping with the project, writing the final episode of the series, which will include a “new coda that won’t be found in the book.”
The Good, the Bad & the Otherworldly
New images from Stephen King's THE STAND @WhoopiGoldberg as Mother Abagail
Alexander Skarsgard as Randall Flagg
Jovan Adepo as Larry Underwood
Nat Wolff as Lloyd Henreid
Odessa Young as Frannie Goldsmith
— Anthony Breznican (@Breznican) May 20, 2020
Anthony Breznican at Vanity Fair provides an in-depth look at the project in its new article, along with a handful of images that shows off what the world will look like.
There still isn’t a release date. Breznican notes that CBS hasn’t come up with a premiere date just yet, but also that the project was largely completed when the Coronavirus swept across the world, prompting them to close down four days early. It appears as though the show is still slated for release this year “months from now.”
The series will jump around in time. The 1994 miniseries adaptation played out the story in a linear fashion. Instead, the new series will shuffle the events around, starting after the pandemic.
The first episode […] opens with survivors in masks and protective gear cleaning up a neighborhood full of the dead in Boulder, Colo. These men and women are among the last the remnants of humanity, trying to restart society again.
From there, Breznican writes, the show will provide flashbacks as we meet new major characters, showing how they experienced the plague.
The series will particularly focus on Fran. Fran, played by Odessa Young, will be a central figure in the series. Immune to the disease, she’s pregnant while the plague destroys society. Showrunner Taylor Elmore notes that they’ll focus on some relevant questions: “what are a modern woman’s motivations in this position, a 20-year-old kid who is pregnant when the world ends?” Indeed, her neighbor’s advances (Harold Lauder) look as though they’ll provide some astute commentary on gender relations today.
There are some parallels to the world of 2020. Breznican alludes to a connection between the charismatic Flagg and contemporary world leaders, noting that while he has supernatural powers, Flagg’s “true power” is bringing “out the worst in his followers”. Elmore further explains that Flagg thrives on their attention: “He needs to have them make a show all the time of how grateful they are to him.”
Whoopi Goldberg’s character is complicated. On the flip side of Flagg is Goldberg’s Mother Abagail, who she describes as “complicated.” She’s wanted to play her for decades, and wanted to make sure that her character wasn’t a stereotype. “I’ve been fighting with not making her the Magic Negro, because she’s complicated.”