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Mark Verheiden joins the Dark Tower Ranks

Together with Akiva Goldsman, the ex-_Battlestar Galactic_ writer and co-executive producer, Mark Verheiden, has been brought in to co-write the Dark Tower TV series. Along with his writing duties, Verheiden will also take the helm as executive producer on the TV series (two seasons expected). Ron Howard will be directing the first movie and TV season, yet has still to confirm if he will also direct the second and third movies.

The move to bring in Verheiden seems promising especially as Battlestar Galactica was a dark, gritty and very real experience…even if the last season labored on somewhat. As well as being a script writer and producer, Verheiden has written a number of stories for DC Comics, which includes works such as The American, Aliens and Superman.

All this lends great depth to Verheiden, which I hope will transfer well to the Dark Tower universe.

Everything is now starting to fall into place for the DT movies and it’s great to finally see things moving along more quickly.

Source: Deadline

Javier Bardem: Gunslinger – deal almost done

After a couple of month’s uncertainty it’s looking more and more likely that we finally have our Gunslinger. The reports are coming in that the WME Agency (William Morris Endeavor) are “putting the finishing touches on the deal” for Javier Bardem to take the lead role in the 3-movie + TV series Dark Tower adaptation. They’re so close to finalizing that Ron Howard has now started courting other actors for the remaining lead roles – alas, no word yet on who they might be.

Since the announcement back in January we’ve had hundreds of comments from DT fans and there’s a split between those who think Bardem is right for the role Roland Deschain and those who think he’s not. One common reason for peoples’ dislike is due to his Hispanic looks, stating that Stephen King always portrayed the gunslinger as a Clint Eastwood type figure. Perhaps so, but many of the illustrations that have accompanied the Dark Tower books and those of the comics have imagined the gunslinger in several different ways, and these are official illustrations. We must also remember that King, as with all authors, has to describe how his lead characters look – this is good story telling – but how Roland looks it not actually central to the story.

For what it’s worth, I’d rather have a good actor who will do justice to the part, than one who gets it just because of his looks, and I think Bardem will give an outstanding performance.

With Ron Howard at the helm and a lead of Bardem’s capabilities, I have confidence that the Dark Tower movies will be a solid effort, perhaps even a classic and on a par with Lord of the Rings.

New Dark Tower Book due for 2012 Release

A few months back Stephen King announced he was embarking on a new Dark Tower novel, but that he’d probably only start writing in summer 2010. Well, it looks like he’s been a busy guy as an announcement was made on his official website yesterday that he’d now finished writing the book!

In a letter to fans, King writes that the story takes place between the time when Roland Deschain and his ka-tet leave the Emerald City (Wizard and Glass) and when we pick them up again on the outskirts of Calla Bryn Sturgis, at the beginning of Wolves of the Calla. This new story won’t add anything major to the story arc we already know, but will provide us with more depth and knowledge of past and present Mid-World.

I, like any ardent DT fan, am eager to hear more about the Gunslinger’s journey, especially anything related to his past life and the world he lives in – of course, all this extra detail won’t hurt Ron Howard’s filmic journey to the Dark Tower.

King’s original working title was The Wind through the Keyhole, and this has been retained for the final release. Dark Tower 4.5 is  due in 2012.

A little history on Ron Howard

We’ve written previously that Ron Howard will be directing the forthcoming film version of Steven King’s Dark Tower series, but for this post I want to give a little taste of who he is and talk about his previous projects.

Ron Howard was born on 1 March 1954 to a family of actors. He began his career as a child actor, starring in the Andy Griffith Show , Happy Days, and in films such as The Music Man. Today, Howard is known as the director of numerous Hollywood blockbusters, among them Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind, for which Howard won the 2001 Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director.

Unlike many actors and directors, Howard received his “big break” when he was only six years old. Since his break-through role on the Andy Griffith Show, Howard has continuously been involved with the film and television industry. His personal life is also dissimilar to the notorious lives of many Hollywood stars. He was married at the age of 21 to his wife, Cheryl, and has led the life of a family man ever since. In a 2006 interview, Howard described his “greatest achievement” as follows: “48 consecutive years of steady employment in television and film, while preserving a rich family life.”

Javier Bardem Offered Role of Gunslinger

Spanish actor Javier Bardem has been offered the pivotal role of the gunslinger Roland Deschain in the upcoming movie version of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” series. Director Ron Howard plans to condense the seven novels into three feature-length films. Universal Pictures and NBC also plan a television series to accompany the films, although it’s not yet known if Bardem will portray Roland on television as well.

Born in 1969, the actor has been in films since childhood in his native Spain. He didn’t receive international acclaim until his nomination for an Academy award for 2000’s Before Night Falls in which he played Cuban novelist and dissident Reinaldo Arenas. In 2007, he won an Academy award for his role in the film adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel No Country for Old Men. His most recent Oscar for his starring role in the Spanish-language film Biutiful in 2010.

It almost seems to be the actor’s ka to play the role. He’s no stranger either to film adaptations of literature or to the arid western landscape that predominates throughout King’s novels. His craggy, slightly asymmetrical good looks are right for the part, although the actor’s brown eyes are quite different from the piercing blue ones that King has set in Roland Deschain’s weathered face. He has the physical presence that the part requires.

The Gunslinger's boots will be worn by...

As we fast approach the beginning’s end in the realization of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower as a live action movie, we find that the first card has been turned.

In an exclusive story, Deadline is reporting that Ron Howard has named the actor he wants to take on the role of Gunslinger – Javier Bardem.

Fantastic news for all Dark Tower fans.

Don’t get too excited just yet though as it seems Howard has only made Bardem an offer and they are yet to enter formal negotiations. Still, if all goes well, Bardem will be the one to follow the man in black across the desert.

This choice will certainly be a surprise to some as plenty of fans we’re hoping it would be Viggo Mortessen who’d take on that role. Not to worry, Bardem is a highly regarded actor and Oscar winner (winning Best Supporting Actor in No Country For Old Men) so I’m sure we’ll be in good hands.

It’s great to see the Dark Tower movies finally taking form, but I do have one question I’d like to ask.

After many years of visualizing Roland in some form of Clint Eastwood character, will we get used to him as a Spaniard?

Ron Howard Interviewed by Howard Stern

Earlier this week Ron Howard joined Howard Stern on his morning show (Sirius XM) and gave us a few more juicy Dark Tower morsels to chew on. Although the focus of the interview was to promote Howard’s latest comedy The Dilemma, he said that his plan for the Dark Tower TV series, to take place between the first two movies, was to run it as a 6 hour mini-series – a lot can be said in six hours of TV so this is great to hear.

Howard also expanded on his previous comments that Viggo Mortensen and Javier Bardem are front runners to take on the role of Roland Deschain but also that, “there are other names on the list.”

According to the interview transcript (see below), Howard speculated that the names were leaked possibly through the actor’s agents.

“They [Mortensen and Bardem] are both artists, and so are some of the other people we’re thinking of. But this is the situation. They have to see, in this case, that we’re using both mediums to really tell a story and [commit for years]”

As I wasn’t able to catch the show myself, I’ve copied a (partial) transcript of the Ron Howard interview below.

Ron's Movie and Casting Thoughts

A recent article on the LA Times site, had Ron Howard giving his thoughts on the getting Stephen King’s The Dark Tower to the big screen. There’s a couple of very interesting points in this interview which are worth noting here.

Ron Howard and his team fully understand the story lines complexity and are currently “finding the shape of it” but what’s interesting is that they were actually working on this a full year before they even approached King.

“It was all about putting something together that was good enough and getting such an understanding of the material that Stephen King would say, ‘Yes, that’s the way into this story.’”

When I’d heard the movie rights had moved away from Abrams, it looked like Howard was coming into the game quite late, almost as a backup, but after reading this quote that seems not to be the case.

If Howard was working on this one year prior to contacting King, then what was the true situation with Abrams and Lindelof? This quote from King also adds some intrigue, “I’ve been waiting for the right team to bring the characters and stories in these books to film and TV viewers around the world.”

It’ll be interesting to see if the back story of this ever comes out.

Which actor will play the Gunslinger?

Howard is fully aware of what’s being talked about on the fansites and knows that his casting decisions will be scrutinized in minute detail, especially when it comes to who will be cast in the role of Roland Deschain.

Universal sets date for Dark Tower movie release

Universal Pictures has announced a number of movie release dates and tucked away among films such as Larry Crowne and Safe House they have set the release date of the first movie from the Dark Tower trilogy.  They expect DT to be in theaters on Friday, May 17, 2013.

For a typical movie I would say that’s a fairly safe date but for such a production as The Dark Tower–encompassing a trilogy of movies and a couple of seasons of TV series–I’d say this was a little optimistic. Let’s hope I’m proven wrong!

This Universal list comes from Deadline.com, although there is no confirmation on the accuracy of that information.

Stephen King on Howards Dark Tower Adaptation

With the fate of the Dark Tower movie adaptation settled we can now start to let ourselves get excited on what will be happening over the coming months and years. But what does Stephen King himself think about Ron Howard and his ideas for the Movie Trilogy and multiple season TV series?

Entertainment Weekly managed to get a response from King, who answered positively, stating that “once it [the idea for a Movie/TV adaptation] was raised, I thought at once it was the solution”.

King also likes that Howard will be directing and even compares his directing style as being similar to the way he works as a writer, “we both tell honest stories that have … style and substance but not a lot of show-offy frills”. Certainly King wouldn’t say anything bad against Howard, but considering his excitement when J.J.Abrams bought the rights for an adaptation (King is a huge LOST fan), you have to feel that initially he would have been a little disappointed.

When asked about casting King didn’t give any preferences, saying that he’d be certain Ron Howard would find “good people” for the parts.

One thing which I found amusing was King’s response when asked what part he would like to play, giving “Blaine the Mono” as his choice. I guess you would need to have a somewhat unhinged mind to come up with the things that King writes about….just joking…I hope!

You can read the full EW article by following this link.