Complemented by an author introduction and an eight-page photo insert, the original screenplay for a six-hour television miniseries follows the residents of Little Tall Island as they prepare to cope with both a dangerous storm and an unseen, mysteriously evil force.
|Edition description:||THIS EDITION IS INTENDED FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY|
|Product dimensions:||6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. Among his most recent are the Dark Tower novels, Cell, From a Buick 8, Everything's Eventual, Hearts in Atlantis, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Lisey's Story and Bag of Bones. His acclaimed nonfiction book, On Writing, was also a bestseller. He was the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Maine with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.
Date of Birth:September 21, 1947
Place of Birth:Portland, Maine
Education:B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970
Read an Excerpt
PART 1: Linoge
FADE IN ON:
1 EXTERIOR: MAIN STREET, LITTLE TALL ISLAND LATE AFTERNOON.
SNOW is flying past the lens of THE CAMERA, at first so fast and so hard we can't see anything at all. THE WIND IS SHRIEKING. THE CAMERA starts to MOVE FORWARD, and we see a STUTTERY ORANGE LIGHT. It's the blinker at the corner of Main Street and Atlantic Street Little Tall's only town intersection. The blinker is DANCING WILDLY in the wind. Both streets are deserted, and why not? This is a full-throated blizzard. We can see some dim lights in the buildings, but no human beings. The snow is drifted halfway up the shop windows.
MIKE ANDERSON speaks with a light Maine accent.
MIKE ANDERSON (voice-over)
My name is Michael Anderson, and I'm not what you'd call a Rhodes scholar. I don't have much in the way of philosophy, either, but I know one thing: in this world, you have to pay as you go. Usually a lot. Sometimes all you have. That's a lesson I thought I learned nine years ago, during what folks in these parts call the Storm of the Century.
The BLINKER LIGHT GOES DEAD. So do all the other brave little lights we saw in the storm. Now there's only the WIND and the BLOWING SNOW.
I was wrong. I only started learning during the big blow. I finished just last week.
2 EXTERIOR: MAINE WOODS, FROM THE AIR (HELICOPTER) DAY.
It's the cold season all the trees except the firs are bare, branches reaching up like fingers into the white sky. There's snow on the ground, but only in patches, like bundles of dirty laundry. The ground skims by below us, the woods broken by the occasional twisty line of two-lane blacktop or little New England town.
I grew up in Maine but in a way, I never really lived in Maine. I think anyone from my part of the world would say the same.
All at once we hit the seacoast, land's end, and what he's telling us maybe makes sense. Suddenly the woods are gone; we get a glimpse of gray-blue water surging and spurning against rocks and headlands...and then there's just water beneath us until we:
DISSOLVE TO: 3 EXTERIOR: LITTLE TALL ISLAND (HELICOPTER) DAY.
There's plenty of bustling activity on the docks as the lobster boats are either secured or boathoused. The smaller craft are being removed by way of the town's landing slip. People pull them away behind their four-wheel drives. On the dock, BOYS AND YOUNG MEN are carrying lobster traps into the long, weather-beaten building with GODSOE FISH AND LOBSTER printed on the side. There's laughter and excited talk; a few bottles of something warm are passed around. The storm is coming. It's always exciting when the storm is coming.
Near Godsoe's is a trim little volunteer fire department firehouse just big enough for two pumpers. LLOYD WISHMAN and FERD ANDREWS are out washing one of the trucks right now.
Atlantic Street runs uphill from the docks to town. The hill is lined with pretty little New England houses. South of the docks is a wooded headland, with a ramshackle flight of steps leading down, zigzag, to the water. North, along the beach, are the homes of the rich folks. At the far northern point of land is a squatty white lighthouse, maybe forty feet high. The automated light turns constantly, its glow pale but readable in the daylight. On top is a long radio antenna.
MIKE (voice-over) (continues)
Folks from Little Tall send their taxes to Augusta, same as other folks, and we got either a lobster or a loon on our license plates, same as other folks, and we root for the University of Maine's teams, especially the women's basketball team, same as other folks...
On the fishing boat Escape, SONNY BRAUTIGAN is stuffing nets into a hatch and battening down. Nearby, ALEX HABER is making Escape fast with some big-ass ropes.
JOHNNY HARRIMAN (voice)
Better double it, Sonny the weather guy says it's coming on.
JOHNNY comes around the pilothouse, looking at the sky. SONNY turns to him.
Seen'em come on every winter, Big John. They howl in, they howl out. July always comes.
SONNY gives the hatch a test and puts his foot up on the rail, watching ALEX finish. Behind them, LUCIEN FOURNIER joins JOHNNY. LUCIEN goes to the live well, flips it open, and looks in as:
Still...they say this one's gonna be somethin' special.
LUCIEN yanks out a lobster and holds it up.
Forgot one, Sonny.
One for the pot brings good luck.
LUCIEN FOURNIER (to the lobster)
Storm of the Century coming, mon frere so the radio say. (knocks on the shell) Good t'ing you got your coat on, hey?
He tosses Bob the lobster back into the live well SPLASH! The four men leave the boat, and THE CAMERA CONTINUES TO TRACK.
MIKE (voice-over) (continues)
But we ain't the same. Life out on the islands is different. We pull together when we have to.
SONNY, JOHNNY, ALEX, and LUCIEN are on the ramp now, maybe carrying gear.
We'll get through her.
Ayuh, like always.
When you mind the swell, you mind the boat.
What's a Frenchman like you know?
LUCIEN takes a mock swing at him. They all laugh and go on. We watch SONNY, LUCIEN, ALEX, and JOHNNY go into Godsoe's. THE CAMERA starts up Atlantic Street toward the blinker we saw earlier. It then SLIDES RIGHT, showing a piece of the business section and bustling traffic on the street.
MIKE (voice-over) (continues)
And we can keep back a secret when we have to. We kept our share back in 1989. (pause) And the people who live there keep them still.
We come to ANDERSON'S GENERAL STORE. People hurry in and out. Three WOMEN emerge: ANGELA CARVER, MRS. KINGSBURY, and ROBERTA COIGN.
MIKE (voice-over) (continues)
All right, I've got my canned goods. Let it come.
I just pray we don't lose the power. I can't cook on a woodstove. I'd burn water on that damned thing. A big storm's only good for one thing.
Ayuh, and my Jack knows what it is.
The other two look at her, surprised, and then they all GIGGLE LIKE GIRLS and head for their cars.
MIKE (voice-over) (continues)
I stay in touch.
3A EXTERIOR: THE SIDE OF A FIRE TRUCK.
A HAND polishes the gleaming red hide with a rag, then pulls away. LLOYD WISHMAN looks at his own face, pleased.
FERD ANDREWS (off-screen)
Radio says it's gonna snow a bitch.
LLOYD turns, and THE CAMERA HINGES to show us FERD, leaning in the door. His hands are plugged into the tops of half a dozen boots, which he begins to arrange by pairs below hooks holding slickers and helmets.
If we get in trouble...we're in trouble.
LLOYD grins at the younger man, then turns back to his polishing.
Easy, Ferd. It's just a cap of snow. Trouble don't cross the reach...ain't that why we live out here?
FERD isn't so sure. He goes to the door and looks up at:
4 EXTERIOR: APPROACHING STORM CLOUDS DAY.
We HOLD a moment, then PAN DOWN to a TRIM WHITE NEW ENGLAND HOME. This house is about halfway up Atlantic Street Hill that is, between the docks and the center of town. There's a picket fence surrounding a winter-dead lawn (but there's no snow at all, not out here on the island), and a gate that stands open, offering the concrete path to anyone who cares make the trip from the sidewalk to the steep porch steps and the front door. To one side of the gate is a mailbox, amusingly painted and accessorized to turn it into a pink cow. Written on the side is CLARENDON.
The first person on Little Tall to see Andre Linoge was Martha Clarendon.
In the extreme foreground of the shot, there now appears a SNARLING SILVER WOLF. It is the head of a cane.
5 EXTERIOR: LINOGE, FROM BEHIND DAY.
Standing on the sidewalk, back to us and before the open CLARENDON gate, is a tall man dressed in jeans, boots, a pea jacket, and a black watch cap snugged down over his ears. And gloves yellow leather as bright as a sneer. One hand grips the head of his cane, which is black walnut below the silver wolfs head. LINOGE'S own head is lowered between his bulking shoulders. It is a thinking posture. There is something brooding about it, as well.
He raises the cane and taps one side of the gate with it. He pauses, then taps the other side of the gate. This has the feel of a ritual.
MIKE (voice-over) (continues)
He was the last person she ever saw.
LINOGE begins to walk slowly up the concrete path to the porch steps, idly swinging his cane as he goes. He whistles a tune: "I'm a little teapot."
6 INTERIOR: MARTHA CLARENDON'S LIVING ROOM.
It's neat in the cluttery way only fastidious folks who've lived their whole lives in one place can manage. The furniture is old and nice, not quite antique. The walls are crammed with pictures, most going back to the twenties. There's a piano with yellowing sheet music open on the stand. Seated in the room's most comfortable chair (perhaps its only comfortable chair) is MARTHA CLARENDON, a lady of perhaps eighty years. She has lovely white beauty-shop hair and is wearing a neat housedress. On the table beside her is a cup of tea and a plate of cookies. On her other side is a walker with bicycle-grip handholds jutting out of one side and a carry-tray jutting out from the other.
The only modern items in the room are the large color TV and the cable box on top of it. MARTHA is watching the Weather Network avidly and taking little birdie-sips of tea as she does. Onscreen is a pretty WEATHER LADY. Behind the WEATHER LADY is a map with two large red L's planted in the middle of two large storm systems. One of these is over Pennsylvania; the other is just off the coast of New York. The WEATHER LADY starts with the western storm.
This is the storm that's caused so much misery and fifteen deaths as it crossed the Great Plains and the Midwest. It's regathered all its original punch and more in crossing the Great Lakes, and you see its track
The track appears in BRIGHT YELLOW (the same color as LINOGE'S gloves), showing a future course that will carry it straight across New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
WEATHER LADY (continues)
before you in all its glory. Now look down here, because here comes trouble.
She focuses her attention on the coastal storm.
WEATHER LADY (continues)
This is a very atypical storm, almost a winter hurricane the sort of knuckle-duster that paralyzed most of the East Coast and buried Boston back in 1976. We haven't seen one of comparable power since then...until now. Will it give us a break and stay out to sea, as these storms sometimes do? Unfortunately, the Weather Network's Storm-Trak computer says no. So the states east of the Big Indian Waters are getting pounded from one direction
She taps the first storm.
WEATHER LADY (continues)
the mid-Atlantic coast is going to get pounded from another direction
She goes back to the coastal storm.
WEATHER LADY (continues)
and northern New England, if none of this changes, tonight you're going to win the booby prize. Look...at...this.
A second BRIGHT YELLOW STORM TRACK appears, this one hooking north from the blob of storm off New York. This track makes landfall around Cape Cod, then heads up the coast, where it intersects the first storm track. At the point of intersection, some Weather Network computer genius with too much time on his hands has added a bright red blotch, like an explosion graphic on a news broadcast.
WEATHER LADY (continues)
If neither of these two systems veer, they are going to collide and merge over the state of Maine. That's bad news for our friends in Yankee land, but not the worst news. The worst news is that they may temporarily cancel each other out.
MARTHA (sipping tea)
The result? A once-in-a-lifetime supersystem which may stall over central and coastal Maine for at least twenty-four hours and perhaps as long as forty-eight. We're talking hurricane-force winds and phenomenal amounts of snow, combining to create the sort of drifting you normally only see on the Arctic tundra. To this you can add region-wide blackouts.
No one wants to scare viewers, least of all me, but folks in the New England area, especially those on the Maine coast and the offshore islands, need to take this situation very seriously. You've had an almost completely brown winter up your way, but over the next two to three days, you're apt to be getting a whole winter's worth of snow.
MARTHA looks in that direction, then back at the TV. She'd like to stay and watch the WEATHER LADY, but nevertheless sets her teacup down, pulls over her walker, and struggles erect.
We sometimes overuse the phrase "storm of the century," but if these two storm tracks converge, as we now think they will, the phrase will be no exaggeration, believe me. Judd Parkin's in next to talk about storm preparations no panic, just practicalities. But first, this.
An ad comes on it's a mail-order disaster video called Punishments of God as MARTHA begins working her way across the living room toward the hall, clutching the bicycle-grip handles of her walker and clumping along.
When they tell you the world's ending, they want to sell cereal. When they tell you not to panic, it's serious.
I'm coming fast's I can!
7 INTERIOR: THE FRONT HALL OF MARTHA'S HOUSE DAY
She makes her way down the hall, holding tight to the walker. On the walls are quaint photographs and drawings of Little Tall as it was early in the twentieth century. At the corridor's end is a closed door with a graceful glass oval in its upper half. This has been covered by a sheer curtain, probably so the sun won't fade the carpet. On the sheer is the silhouette of LINOGE'S head and shoulders.
MARTHA (puffing a little)
Hold on...almost there...I broke my hip last summer and I'm still just as slow as cold molasses...
And the WEATHER LADY is continuing:
WEATHER LADY (voice-over)
Folks in Maine and the Maritimes saw one heck of a storm in January of 1987, but that was a freezing-rain event. This one is going to be a very different kettle of chowder. Don't even think about the snow shovel until the plows have come by.
MARTHA reaches the door, looks curiously at the shape of the man's head on the sheer curtain, then opens it. There stands LINOGE. His face is as handsome as that of a Greek statue, and a statue is sort of what he looks like. His eyes are closed. His hands are folded over the wolfs head at the top of his cane.
WEATHER LADY (voice-over) (continues)
As I've said before and will say again, there's no cause for panic; northern New Englanders have seen big storms before and will again. But even veteran weather forecasters are a little stunned by the sheer size of these converging systems.
MARTHA is puzzled of course by the appearance of this stranger but not really uneasy. This is the island, after all, and bad things don't happen on the island. Except for the occasional storm, of course. The other thing at work here is that the man is a stranger to her, and strangers on the island are rare once the fleeting summer is over.
Can I help you?
LINOGE (eyes closed)
Born in lust, turn to dust. Born in sin, come on in.
I beg pardon?
He opens his eyes...except there are no eyes there. The sockets are filled with BLACKNESS. His lips peel back from HUGE, CROOKED TEETH they look like teeth in a child's drawing of a monster.
WEATHER LADY (voice-over) (continues)
These are monster low-pressure areas. And are they really coming? Yes, I'm afraid they are.
MARTHA'S intrigued interest is replaced by stark terror. She opens her mouth to scream and staggers backward, losing hold of the walker's handles. She is going to fall.
LINOGE raises his cane, the SNARLING WOLF'S HEAD JUTTING FORWARD. He grabs the walker, which is between him and the old woman, and throws it out the door behind him, where it lands on the porch, near the steps.
8 INTERIOR: HALLWAY, WITH MARTHA.
She falls heavily and SCREAMS, raising her hands, looking up at:
9 INTERIOR: LINOGE, FROM MARTHA'S POINT OF VIEW.
A SNARLING MONSTER, hardly human, with the cane upraised. Behind him, we see the porch and the white sky that signals the oncoming storm.
10 INTERIOR: MARTHA, ON THE FLOOR.
Please don't hurt me!
11 INTERIOR: MARTHA'S LIVING ROOM.
On the TV now is JUDD PARKIN, standing in front of a table. On it are: a flashlight, batteries, candles, matches, prepared foods, stacks of warm clothing, portable radio, a cellular phone, other supplies. Beside him is the WEATHER LADY, looking bewitched by these goods.
But a storm doesn't need to be a disaster, Maura, and a disaster doesn't have to be a tragedy. Given that philosophy to start with, I think we can give our New England viewers some tips which will help them prepare for what, from all indications, is apt to be a pretty extraordinary weathermaker.
What have you got there, Judd?
Well, to begin with, warm clothing. That's number one. And you want to say to yourself, "How are my batteries? Have I got enough to keep a portable radio going? Possibly a small TV?" And if you've got a generator, the time to check your gasoline supplies or your diesel or your propane is before, not after. If you wait until it's too late...
During all this, THE CAMERA MOVES AWAY from the TV, as if losing interest. It is drawn back toward the hall. As we begin to lose the dialogue, we begin to hear far less pleasant SOUNDS: THE STEADY WHACK-WHACK-WHACK of LINOGE'S cane. At last it stops. There is SILENCE for a little bit, then FOOTSTEPS. Accompanying them is a CURIOUS DRAGGING SOUND, almost as if someone were pulling a chair or a stool slowly across a wood floor.
JUDD (voice-over) (continues)
...it'll be too late.
LINOGE comes into the doorway. His eyes aren't ordinary a distant and somehow unsettling blue but they aren't that HIDEOUS BLACK EMPTINESS that MARTHA saw, either. His cheeks, brow, and the bridge of his nose are covered with FINE STIPPLES OF BLOOD. He comes to EXTREME CLOSE-UP, eyes focused on something. A look of interest begins to warm his face up a little.
WEATHER LADY (voice-over)
Thanks, Judd. Words of wisdom our northern New England viewers have probably heard before, but when it comes to storms this size, some things bear repeating.
12 INTERIOR: THE LIVING ROOM, FROM OVER LINOGE'S SHOULDER.
It's the TV he's looking at.
Your local forecast is next, right after this.
She is replaced by an ad for Punishments of God 2 all the volcanoes, fires, and earthquakes you could ever want for $19.95. Slowly, back to us again, LINOGE crosses the room to MARTHA'S chair. The DRAGGING SOUND recommences, and as he approaches the chair and his lower half comes into the frame, we see it's the tip of his cane. It's leaving a thin trail of blood along the rug. More blood is oozing through the fingers of the fist clamped over the wolf's head. That's mostly what he hit her with, the head of that wolf, and we probably wouldn't want to see what it looks like now.
LINOGE stands, looking down at the TV, where a forest is going up in flames.
"I'm a little teapot, short and stout....Here is my handle, here is my spout."
He sits down in MARTHA'S chair. Grasps her teacup with a gory hand that smears the handle. Drinks. Then takes a cookie with his bloody hand and gobbles it down.
LINOGE settles back to watch JUDD and MAURA talk disaster on the Weather Network.
13 EXTERIOR: MIKE ANDERSON'S STORE DAY.
This is an old-fashioned general store with a long front porch. If it were summer, there would be rockers lined up out here and lots of oldtimers to fill them. As it is, there is a line of snowblowers and snow shovels, marked with a neat handmade sign: SUPERSTORM SPECIAL! LET'S TALK PRICE!
The steps are flanked by a couple of lobster traps, and more hang from the underside of the porch roof. We may also see a whimsical display of clamming gear. By the door stands a mannequin wearing galoshes, a yellow rain slicker, goggle eyes on springs, and a beanie with a propeller (the propeller now still) on his head. Someone has stuffed a pillow under the slicker, creating a fairly prominent potbelly. In one plastic hand is a blue University of Maine pennant. In the other is a can of beer. Around the dummy's neck is a sign: GENUINE "ROBBIE BEALS BRAND" LOBSTERIN' GEAH SOLD HEAH, DEAH.
In the windows are signs for meat specials, fish specials, videotape rentals (WE RENT OLD 'UNS THREE FOR $1), church suppers, a volunteer fire department blood drive. The biggest sign is on the door. It reads: STORM EMERGENCY POSSIBLE NEXT 3 DAYS! "TAKE SHELTER" SIGNAL is 2 SHORTS, 1 LONG. Above the display windows, now rolled up, are slatted wooden STORM SHUTTERS. Above the door is a lovely old-fashioned sign, black with gold gilt letters: ANDERSON'S MARKETISLAND POST OFFICEISLAND CONSTABLE'S OFFICE.
There are several WOMEN going in, and a couple more OCTAVIA GODSOE and JOANNA STANHOPE coming out. TAVIA (forty-five-ish) and JOANNA (late forties or early fifties) are clutching full grocery bags and chatting animatedly. TAVIA looks at the ROBBIE BEALS dummy and elbows JOANNA. They both laugh as they go down the steps.
14 INTERIOR: ANDERSON'S MARKET DAY.
This is a very well equipped grocery store, and in many ways a charming throwback to the groceries of the 1950s. The floors are wood and creak comfortably underfoot. The lights are globes hanging on chains. There's a tin ceiling. Yet there are signs of our modern age; two new cash registers with digital price-readers beside them, a radio scanner on a shelf behind the checkout counter, a wall of rental videos, and security cameras mounted high in the corners.
At the rear is a meat cooler running nearly the length of the store. To its left, below a convex mirror, is a door marked simply TOWN CONSTABLE.
The store is very crowded. Everybody is stocking up for the oncoming storm.
15 INTERIOR: MEAT COUNTER.
MIKE ANDERSON COMES out of the door leading to the meat locker (it is at the other end of the rear from the constable's office). He is a good-looking man of about thirty-five. Right now he also looks harried half to death...although the little smile never leaves his eyes and the corners of his mouth. This guy likes life, likes it a lot, and usually finds something in it to amuse him.
He's wearing butcher's whites right now and pushing a shopping cart filled with wrapped cuts of meat. Three WOMEN and one MAN converge on him almost at once. The MAN, dressed in a red sport coat and black shirt with turned-around collar, is first to reach him.
REV. BOB RIGGINS
Don't forget the bean supper next Wednesday-week, Michael I'm going to need every deacon I can lay my hands on.
I'll be there...if we get through the next three days, that is.
REV. BOB RIGGINS
I'm sure we will; God takes care of his own.
Off he goes. Behind him is a cute little muffin named JILL ROBICHAUX, and she apparently has less trust in God. She starts pawing over the packages and reading the labels before MIKE can even begin to distribute them.
Are there pork chops, Michael? I thought for sure you'd still have pork chops.
He gives her a wrapped package. JILL looks at it, then puts it in her heaped-up shopping cart. The other two women, CARLA BRIGHT and LINDA ST. PIERRE, are already going through the other wrapped cuts. CARLA looks at something, almost takes it, then drops it back into one of the trays of the meat-display cabinet.
Ground chuck's too dear! Don't you have plain old hamburger, Michael Anderson?
She snatches the package he's holding out before he can finish.
More folks now, picking the stuff over as fast as he can get it out of his cart. MIKE bears this for a moment, then decides to put on his constable's hat. Or try.
Folks, listen. It's a storm, that's all. We've gotten through plenty before this, and well get through plenty after. Calm down and stop acting like mainlanders!
That gets them a little. They stand back, and MIKE begins distributing the meat again.
Don't be smart, Michael Anderson.
She says it the way islanders do "sma'aat." And when CARLA says "dear," it comes out "deah."
No, Mrs. St. Pierre. I won't be smart.
Behind him, ALTON "HATCH" HATCHER comes out of the cold room pushing a second cart of wrapped meat. HATCH is about thirty, portly and pleasant. He's MIKE'S second-in-command at the market, and in the constabulary, as well. He is also wearing butcher's whites, and a white hard hat for good measure. Printed on the hard hat is "A. HATCHER."
CAT (over the market loudspeaker)
Mike! Hey, Mike! Got a phone call!
16 INTERIOR: THE COUNTER, WITH KATRINA "CAT" WITHERS.
She's about nineteen, very pretty, and handling one of the cash registers. She ignores the line of customers and holds the PA microphone in one hand. In the other is the receiver of the telephone hanging on the wall by the CB radio.
It's your wife. She says she's got a little problem down to the day care.
17 INTERIOR: RESUME MIKE, HATCH, SHOPPERS AT MEAT CABINET.
The customers are interested and diverted. Life on the island is like a soap opera where you know all the characters.
She hot under the collar?
18 INTERIOR: RESUME COUNTER, WITH CAT.
How do I know where she's hot? She's your wife.
Smiles and chuckles from the CUSTOMERS. In island parlance, that was "a good 'un." A man of about forty grins at MIKE.
You better go see about that, Mike.
19 INTERIOR: RESUME MIKE AND HATCH AT MEAT CABINET.
Can you take over here a bit?
Can I borrow your whip and chair?
MIKE laughs, knocks on the top of HATCH'S hard hat, and hurries on down front to see what his wife wants.
20 INTERIOR: AT THE COUNTER.
MIKE arrives and takes the phone from CAT. He speaks to his wife, oblivious of the watching, interested audience.
Hey, Moll, what's up?
MOLLY (phone voice)
I've got a little problem here can you come?
MIKE eyes his store, which is full of pre-storm shoppers.
I've got a few little problems of my own, hon. What's yours?
21 INTERIOR: PIPPA HATCHER, CLOSE-UP.
PIPPA is a child of about three years old. Right now she fills the whole screen with her SCREAMING, TERRIFIED FACE. There are RED SMEARS AND BLOTCHES all over it. Maybe we at first take these for blood.
THE CAMERA DRAWS BACK and we see the problem. PIPPA is halfway up a flight of stairs, and has poked her head between two of the posts supporting the banister. Now she can't get it back through. She's still holding on to a piece of bread and jam, though, and we see that what we first took for blood is actually strawberry preserves.
Standing at the foot of the stairs below her, looking solemn, is a group of SEVEN SMALL CHILDREN, ranging in age from three to five. One of the four-year-olds is RALPH ANDERSON, son of MIKE and MOLLY. Although we may not notice it at once (right now we're more interested in PIPPA'S plight), RALPHIE has a birthmark on the bridge of his nose. It's not hugely disfiguring or anything, but it's there, like a tiny saddle.
Pippa, can I have your bread, if you're not going to eat it?
She begins to yank backward, trying to free herself, still holding on to her snack. It's disappearing into her chubby little fist now, and she appears to be sweating strawberry jam.
22 INTERIOR: THE HALLWAY AND STAIRWELL OF THE ANDERSON HOUSE.
The phone is here, placed on a hallway table halfway between the stairs and the door. Using it is MOLLY ANDERSON, MIKE'S wife. She's about thirty, pretty, and right now vacillating between amusement and fright.
Pippa, don't do that, honey...just hold still...
MIKE (phone voice)
Pippa? What about Pippa?
23 INTERIOR: BEHIND THE MEAT COUNTER, FEATURING HATCH.
His head snaps up in a hurry.
LINDA ST. PIERRE
Something about Pippa?
HATCH starts around the counter.
24 INTERIOR: RESUME HALLWAY, WITH MOLLY.
Be quiet! The last thing in the world I want is Alton Hatcher down on me.
25 INTERIOR: RESUME MARKET.
Steaming down Aisle 3, still wearing his hard hat, comes HATCH. All the smiling good humor has gone out of his face. He's completely intent, a father back to front and top to bottom.
Too late, babe. What's up?
26 INTERIOR: THE HALLWAY, WITH MOLLY.
She closes her eyes and GROANS.
Pippa's got her head stuck in the stairs. It's not serious I don't think but I can't deal with a big storm and a crazed daddy all on the same day. If Hatch comes, you be with him.
She hangs up the phone and heads back to the stairs.
Pippa...honey...don't pull that way. It'll hurt your ears.
27 INTERIOR: THE STORE COUNTER, WITH MIKE, HATCH, CUSTOMERS.
MIKE looks at the phone, bemused, then hangs it up again. As he does, HATCH comes shouldering through the CUSTOMERS, looking worried.
Pippa! What about Pippa?
Got a little stuck-itis, I hear. Why don't we go see?
28 EXTERIOR: MAIN STREET, IN FRONT OF THE STORE.
There's slant parking here. The vehicle in the slot handiest to the store is a forest-green four-wheel drive with ISLAND SERVICES painted on the doors, and a police flasher-bar on the roof.
MIKE and HATCH come out of the store and hurry down the steps. As they approach:
How upset did she sound, Mike?
Molly? Point five on a scale of one to ten. Don't worry.
A gust of wind strikes them, rocking them back on their heels. They look toward the ocean. We can't see it, but we can hear the POUNDING WAVES.
This is going to be one bad mother of a storm, isn't it?
MIKE doesn't answer. He doesn't have to. They get into the Island Services truck and drive off.
29 EXTERIOR: THE MANNEQUIN ON THE STORE'S PORCH.
There's another GUST OF WIND. The hanging lobster traps click together...and the beanie propeller on "ROBBIE BEALS'S" head slowly BEGINS TO TURN.
30 INTERIOR: THE STAIRWELL OF THE ANDERSON HOUSE.
PIPPA is still stuck with her head through the posts, but MOLLY is sitting beside her on the stairs and has her calmed down quite a bit.
The CHILDREN still cluster around, watching her. MOLLY strokes PIPPA'S hair with one hand. In her other, MOLLY is holding PIPPA'S bread and jam.
You're okay, Pippa. Mike and your daddy will be here in another minute. Mike will get you out.
How can he
I don't know. He's just magic that way.
MOLLY gets her arm through the bars and maneuvers the bread to PIPPA'S mouth. PIPPA eats. The other KIDS watch this with fascination. One, a boy of five, is JILL ROBICHAUX'S son.
Can I feed her, Missus Anderson? I fed a monkey once, at the Bangor Fair.
The other kids laugh. PIPPA is not amused.
I'm not a monkey, Harry! I'm a child, not a monkey!
Look, you guys, I'm a monkey!
He starts leaping around at the foot of the stairs, scratching under his armpits and being foolish as only a four-year-old can be. At once, the others start imitating him.
I am not a monkey!
And begins to cry. MOLLY strokes her hair, but can't talk her out of this one. Getting your head stuck between the bars is bad; being called a monkey is even worse.
You kids, stop that! Stop it right now! It's not nice, and it's making Pippa sad!
Most of them stop, but DON BEALS, a little booger of the purest ray serene, goes on prancing and scratching.
Don, you stop. It's mean.
Momma says it's mean.
He tries to grab hold of DON. DON shakes him off.
I'm bein' a monkey!
DON does the monkey thing twice as hard, just to spite RALPHIE...and RALPHIE'S mother, of course. The hall door opens. MIKE and HATCH come in. HATCH sees the problem at once and reacts with a mixture of fright and relief.
She starts yanking backward again, trying to free herself.
Pippa! Hold still! You want to yank your ears right off your head?
RALPHIE (runs to MIKE)
Daddy! Pippa got her head stuck and Don won't stop being a monkey!
RALPHIE leaps into his father's arms. HATCH climbs to where his daughter has been caughtby the incredible girl-eating stairs and kneels by her. MOLLY looks over her back at her husband and sends a message with her eyes: "Please fix this!"
A CUTE LITTLE BLONDE GIRL with pigtails pulls at the pocket of MIKE'S white butcher's pants. She is wearing most of her own strawberry jam treat on the front of her shirt.
Mr. Anderson? I stopped being a monkey. As soon as she said.
SALLY points to MOLLY. MIKE gently disengages her. SALLY, another four-year-old, promptly pops her thumb into her mouth.
That's good, Sally. Ralphie, got to put you down now.
He puts RALPHIE down. DON BEALS promptly pushes him.
Ow, hey! Why'd you do that?
For acting smart!
It comes out "sma'aat." MIKE picks DON BEALS up and raises him to eye level. DON isn't afraid a bit, the little craphead.
I ain't afraid of you! My dad's town manager! He pays your salary!
He sticks out his tongue and BLOWS A RASPBERRY right in MIKE'S face. MIKE isn't the slightest put out of countenance.
Pushers get pushed, Donnie Beals. You want to remember that, because it's a true fact of this sad life. Pushers get pushed.
DON doesn't understand, but reacts to the tone. He'll get up to more dickens eventually, but he's been put in his place for the time being. MIKE puts DON down and goes to the side of the stairs. Behind him we see a half-open door marked WEE FOLKS. In the room beyond the door are little tables and chairs. Happy, colorful mobiles hang from the ceiling. It's the classroom of MOLLY'S day-care center.
HATCH is pushing at the top of his daughter's head. This isn't accomplishing anything, and she's consequently growing panicky again, thinking she'll be stuck forever.
Honey, why did you do this?
Heidi St. Pierre dared me.
MIKE puts his hands over HATCH'S and moves HATCH aside. HATCH looks at MIKE hopefully.
31 INTERIOR: THE CHILDREN AT THE FOOT OF THE STAIRS.
HEIDI ST. PIERRE, the five-year-old daughter of LINDA ST. PIERRE, is a carrottop wearing thick glasses.
HEIDI ST. PIERRE
Liar, liar, pants on fire!
Stop it, both of you.
PIPPA (to MIKE)
It was easy going out, but now I can't get back in. I think my head must be bigger on this side.
It is...but I'm going to make it smaller. Do you know how?
I'm just going to push the smaller button. And when I do, your head will get smaller and you'll slide right back where you were. Just as easy as you slid in. Do you understand, Pippa?
He speaks in slow, soothing tones. He's engaged in something that's almost hypnosis.
HATCH What kind of
Are you ready for me to push the button?
MIKE reaches up and pushes the end of her nose with the tip of his finger.
Beep! There it goes! Smaller! Quick, Pippa, before it gets big again!
PIPPA pulls her head out easily from between the posts. The kids clap and cheer. DON BEALS hops around like a monkey. One of the other boys, FRANK BRIGHT, hops around a little, too, then sees RALPHIE giving him a disgusted look and quits it.
HATCH gathers his daughter in for a hug. PIPPA hugs back, but eats her bread and jam at the same time. She stopped being scared when MIKE started talking to her. MOLLY smiles at MIKE gratefully and puts her hand through the stairwell posts where PIPPA was stuck. MIKE takes it on his side and kisses each finger extravagantly. The KIDS GIGGLE. One of them, BUSTER CARVER (BUSTER, the last of MOLLY'S day-care pupils, is about five), puts his hands over his eyes.
Finger-kissin'! Oh, no!
MOLLY laughs and pulls her hand back.
Thank you. Really.
Yeah thanks, boss.
Dad, is my head still little? I felt it get little when Mr. Anderson said. Is it still little?
No, honey, just the right size.
MIKE walks to the foot of the stairs. MOLLY meets him. RALPHIE is there, too; MIKE picks him up and kisses the red mark on the bridge of the little boy's nose. MOLLY kisses MIKE'S cheek.
I'm sorry if I pulled you away at a bad time. I saw her head that way and when I couldn't get it to come out on my own, I just...freaked.
It's okay. I needed a break, anyway.
Is it bad down at the store?
Bad enough. You know how it is when there's a storm coming...and this is no ordinary storm. (to PIPPA) Got to go back, sweet girl. You be good.
DON BLOWS ANOTHER RASPBERRY.
Gee, I love Robbie's kid.
MOLLY says nothing, but rolls her eyes in agreement.
What do you say, Hatch?
Let's roll while we still can. If they're light, we're all apt to be cooped up for the next three days. (pause) Like Pippa, with her head caught in the stairs.
None of them laugh. There's too much truth in what he says.
32 EXTERIOR: THE ANDERSON HOUSE ON LOWER MAIN STREET DAY.
The Island Services four-wheel drive is parked at the curb. In the foreground, by the walk, is a sign reading WEE FOLKS DAY-CARE CENTER. It's on a chain, and swinging back and forth in the wind. The sky overhead is grayer than ever. The ocean, visible here in the background, is full of gray chop.
The door opens. MIKE and HATCH come out, pulling down their hats to keep the wind from tearing them off, raising the collars of their jackets. As they approach the car, MIKE stops and looks up at the sky. It's coming, all right. A big one. MIKE'S anxious face says he knows that. Or thinks he does. No one knows how big this baby is going to be.
He gets into the car behind the wheel, waving to MOLLY, who stands on the porch with her sweater over her shoulders. HATCH waves, too. She waves back. The four-wheel drive pulls around in a U-turn, headed back to the market.
33 INTERIOR: THE ISLAND SERVICES VEHICLE, WITH MIKE AND HATCH.
HATCH (quite amused)
The "smaller button," huh?
Everyone's got one. You gonna tell Melinda?
No but Pippa will. Did you notice, through the whole thing, she never lost sight of her bread.
The two men look at each other and grin.
34 EXTERIOR: ATLANTIC STREET DAY.
Coming up the center of the street, oblivious of the impending storm and rising wind, is a boy of about fourteen DAVEY HOPEWELL. He's dressed in a heavy coat and gloves with the fingers cut off. This makes it easier to handle a basketball. He weaves from side to side, dribbling and talking to himself. Doing play-by-play, in fact.
Davey Hopewell in transition...he avoids the press...Stockton tries to steal the ball, but he doesn't have a chance...It's Davey Hopewell at the top of the key...clock running out...Davey Hopewell's the Celtics' only hope...he shakes and bakes...he
DAVEY HOPEWELL stops. Holds the ball and looks at:
35 EXTERIOR: MARTHA CLARENDON'S HOUSE, FROM DAVEY'S POINT OF VIEW.
The door is open in spite of the cold, and the overturned walker is lying by the porch steps, where LINOGE threw it.
36 EXTERIOR: RESUME DAVEY.
He tucks his basketball under his arm and goes slowly to MARTHA'S gate. He stands there for a moment, then sees something black on the white paint. There are CHAR MARKS where LINOGE tapped his cane. DAVEY touches one with a couple of bare fingers (cutoff gloves, remember) and then snatches them away.
Still hot, those marks. But he loses interest in them as he looks at the overturned walker and the open door that door shouldn't be open, not in this weather. He starts up the path; climbs the steps. He bends, moves the walker aside.
WEATHER LADY (voice)
What part does global warming play in such storms? The fact is, we just don't know...
Mrs. Clarendon? You all right?
37 INTERIOR: MARTHA'S LIVING ROOM, WITH LINOGE.
The weather is still playing. The storm graphics have moved closer toward their eventual point of impact. LINOGE sits in MARTHA'S chair, with his bloody cane drawn across his lap. His eyes are closed. His face has that look of meditation.
One thing we do know is that the jet stream has taken on a pattern which is very typical for this time of year, although the upper flow is even stronger than usual, helping to account for the terrific strength of this western storm.
DAVEY (off-screen) (calls)
Mrs. Clarendon? It's Davey! Davey Hopewell! Are you all right?
LINOGE opens his eyes. Once again they are BLACK...but now the black is shot through with TWISTS OF RED...like FIRE. HE GRINS, showing those AWFUL TEETH. We hold on this, then:
FADE OUT. THIS ENDS ACT 1.
In most cases three or four out of every five, let's say I know where I was when I got the idea for a certain story, what combination of events (usually mundane) set that story off. The genesis of It, for example, was my crossing a wooden bridge, listening to the hollow thump of my bootheels, and thinking of "The Three Billy Goats Gruff." In the case of Cujo it was an actual encounter with an ill-tempered Saint Bernard. Pet Sematary arose from my daughter's grief when her beloved pet cat, Smucky, was run over on the highway near our house.
Sometimes, however, I just can't remember how I arrived at a particular novel or story. In these cases the seed of the story seems to be an image rather than an idea, a mental snapshot so powerful it eventually calls characters and incidents the way some ultrasonic whistles supposedly call every dog in the neighborhood. These are, to me, at least, the true creative mysteries: stories that have no real antecedents, that come on their own. The Green Mile began with an image of a huge black man standing in his jail cell and watching the approach of a trusty selling candy and cigarettes from an old metal cart with a squeaky wheel. Storm of the Century also started with a jailhouse image: that of a man (white, not black) sitting on the bunk in his cell, heels drawn up, arms resting on knees, eyes unblinking. This was not a gentle man or a good man, as John Coffey in The Green Mile turned out to be; this was an extremely evil man. Maybe not a man at all. Every time my mind turned back to him while driving, while sitting in the optometrist's office and waiting to get my eyes dilated, or worst of all while lying awake in bed at night with the lights out he looked a little scarier. Still just sitting there on his bunk and not moving, but a little scarier. A little less like a man and a little more like...well, a little more like what was underneath.
Gradually, the story started to spin out from the man...or whatever he was. The man sat on a bunk. The bunk was in a cell. The cell was in the back of the general store on Little Tall Island, which I sometimes think of as "Dolores Claiborne's island." Why in the back of the general store? Because a community as small as the one on Little Tall wouldn't need a police station, only a part-time constable to take care of the occasional bit of ugliness an obstreperous drunk, let us say, or a bad-tempered fisherman who sometimes puts his fists on his wife. Who would that constable be? Why, Mike Anderson, of course, owner and operator of the Anderson's General Store. A nice enough guy, and good with the drunks and the bad-tempered fishermen...but suppose something really bad came along? Something as bad, perhaps, as the malignant demon that invaded Regan in The Exorcist? Something that would just sit there in Mike Anderson's home-welded cell, looking out, waiting...
Waiting for what?
Why, the storm of course. The storm of the century. A storm big enough to cut Little Tall Island off from the mainland, to throw it entirely upon its own resources. Snow is beautiful; snow is deadly; snow is also a veil, like the one the magician uses to hide his sleight of hand. Cut off from the world, hidden by the snow, my boogeyman in the jail cell (by then I was already thinking of him by his stated name, Andre Linoge) could do great damage. The worst of it, perhaps, without ever leaving that bunk where he sat with his heels up and his arms on his knees.
I had reached this point in my thinking by October or November of 1996; a bad man (or perhaps a monster masquerading as a man) in a jail cell, a storm even bigger than the one that totally paralyzed the northeast corridor in the mid-1970s, a community cast on its own resources. I was daunted by the prospect of creating an entire community (I had done such a thing in two novels, 'Salem's Lot and Needful Things, and it's an enormous challenge), but enticed by the possibilities. I also knew I had reached the point where I must write or lose my chance. Ideas that are more complete the majority of them, in other words will keep a fair length of time, but a story that rises from a single image, one that exists mostly as potential, seems to be a much more perishable item.
I thought the chances that Storm of the Century would collapse of its own weight were fairly high, but in December of 1996 I began to write, anyway. The final impetus was provided by the realization that if I set my story on Little Tall Island, I had a chance to say some interesting and provocative things about the very nature of community...because there is no community in America as tightly knit as the island communities off the coast of Maine. The people in them are bound together by situation, tradition, common interests, common religious practices, and work that is difficult and sometimes dangerous. They are also blood-bound and clannish, the populations of most islands composed of half a dozen old families that overlap at the cousins and nephews and inlaws like patchwork quilts. If you're a tourist (or one of the "summah people"), they will be friendly to you, but you mustn't expect to see inside their lives. You can come back to your cottage on the headland overlooking the reach for sixty years, and you will still be an outsider. Because life on the island is different.
I write about small towns because I'm a small-town boy (although not an island boy, I hasten to add; when I write about Little Tall, I write as an outsider), and most of my small-town tales those of Jerusalem's Lot, those of Castle Rock, those of Little Tall Island owe a debt to Mark Twain ("The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg") and Nathaniel Hawthorne ("Young Goodman Brown"). Yet all of them, it seemed to me, had a certain unexamined postulate at their center: that a malevolent encroachment must always shatter the community, driving the individuals apart and turning them into enemies. But that has been my experience more as a reader than as a community member; as a community member, I've seen towns pull together every time disaster strikes.
Still the question remains: is the result of pulling together always the common good? Does the idea of "community" always warm the cockles of the heart, or does it on occasion chill the blood? It was at that point that I imagined Mike Anderson's wife hugging him, and at the same moment whispering, "Make [Linoge] have an accident" in his ear. Man, what a chill that gave me! And I knew I would have to at least try to write the story.
The question of form remained to be answered. I don't worry about it, ever no more than I worry about the question of voice. The voice of a story (usually third person, sometimes first person) always comes with the package. So does the form an idea will take. I feel most comfortable writing novels, but I also write short stories, screenplays, and the occasional poem. The idea always dictates the form. You can't make a novel be a short story, you can't make a short story be a poem, and you can't stop a short story that decides it wants to be a novel instead (unless you want to kill it, that is).
I assumed that if I wrote Storm of the Century, it would be a novel. Yet as I prepared to sit down to it, the idea kept insisting that it was a movie. Every image of the story seemed to be a movie image rather than a book image: the killer's yellow gloves, Davey Hopewell's bloodstained basketball, the kids flying with Mr. Linoge, Molly Anderson whispering "Make him have an accident" in her husband's ear, and most of all, Linoge in the cell, heels up, hands dangling, orchestrating it all.
It would be too long for a theatrical movie, but I thought I saw a way around that. I had developed a wonderful working relationship with ABC over the years, providing material (and sometimes teleplays) for half a dozen so-called miniseries that had done quite well in the ratings. I got in touch with Mark Carliner (who produced the new version of The Shining) and Maura Dunbar (who has been my creative contact at ABC since the early nineties). Would either of them, I asked, be interested in a real novel for television, one that existed as its own thing rather than being based on a preexisting novel?
Both of them said yes with hardly a pause, and when I finished the three two-hour scripts that follow, the project went into preproduction and then to film with no creative dithering or executive megrims at all. It is fashionable to shit on television if you're an intellectual (and for God's sake, never admit that you watch Frasier, let alone Jerry Springer), but I have worked as a writer in both TV and the movies, and I subscribe to the adage that in Hollywood, TV people want to make shows and movie people want to make lunch reservations. This isn't sour grapes; the movies have been pretty good to me, by and large (let's just ignore such films as Graveyard Shift and Silver Bullet). But in television, they let you work...plus if you have a history of some success with multipart dramas, they let you spread a little, too. And I like to spread. It's a beautiful thing. ABC committed thirty-three million dollars to this project on the basis of three first-draft scripts, which were never significantly changed. That was also a beautiful thing.
I wrote Storm of the Century exactly as I would a novel, keeping a list of characters but no other notes, working a set schedule of three or four hours every day, hauling along my Mac PowerBook and working in hotel rooms when my wife and I went on our regular expeditions to watch the Maine women's basketball team play their away games in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. The only real difference was that I used a Final Draft screenwriting program rather than the Word 6 program I use for ordinary prose (and every now and then the damned program would crash and the screen would freeze the new Final Draft program is blessedly bug-free). And I would argue that what follows (and what you'll see on your TV screen (if you watch Storm when it airs) isn't really a "TV drama" or a "miniseries" at all. It is a genuine novel, one that exists in a different medium.
The work was not without its problems. The main drawback to doing network TV is the censorship question (ABC is the one major network that still maintains an actual Standards and Practices arm; they read scripts and tell you what you absolutely cannot show in the living rooms of America). I had struggled mightily with this issue in the course of developing The Stand (the world's population strangles to death on its own snot) and The Shining (talented but clearly troubled young writer beats wife within an inch of her life with a croquet mallet, then attempts to bludgeon son to death with the same implement), and it was the absolute worst part of the process, the creative equivalent of Chinese foot-binding.
Happily for me (the self-appointed guardians of America's morality are probably a lot less happy about it), network television has broadened its spectrum of acceptability quite a bit since the days when the producers of The Dick Van Dyke Show were forbidden to show a double bed in the master bedroom (dear God, what if the youth of America began indulging fantasies of Dick and Mary lying there at night with their legs touching?). In the last ten years the changes have been even more sweeping. A good deal of this has been in response to the cable-TV revolution, but much of it is the result of general viewer attrition, particularly in the coveted eighteen to twenty-five age group.
I have been asked why bother with network TV at all when there are cable outlets like Home Box Office and Showtime, where the censorship issue is negligible. There are two reasons. The first is that, for all the critical sound and fury surrounding such original cable shows as Oz and The Real World, the potential cable-TV audience is still pretty small. Doing a mini on HBO would be like publishing a major novel with a small press. I have nothing at all against either small presses or cable TV, but if I work hard over a long period of time, I'd like a shot at the largest possible audience. Part of that audience may elect to switch away on Thursday night to watch ER, but that's the chance you take. If I do my job and people want to see how matters turn out, they'll tape ER and hang in there with me. "The exciting part is when you've got some competish," my mother used to say.
The second reason to stick with a major network is that a little footbinding can be good for you. When you know your story is going under the gaze of people who are watching for dead folks with open eyes (a no-no on network TV), children who utter bad words (another no-no), or large amounts of spilled blood (a gigantic no-no), you begin to think of alternative ways of getting your point across. In the horror and the suspense genres, laziness almost always translates into some graphic crudity: the popped eyeball, the slashed throat, the decaying zombie. When the TV censor takes those easy scares away it becomes necessary to think of other routes to the same goal. The filmmaker becomes subversive, and sometimes the filmmaker becomes actually elegant, as Val (Cat People) Lewton's films are often elegant.
The above probably sounds like a justification, but it's not. I am, after all, the guy who once said I wanted to terrify my audience, but would horrify it if I couldn't achieve terror...and if I couldn't achieve horror, I'd go for the gross-out. What the fuck, I'd say, I'm not proud. Network TV has, in a manner of speaking, taken away that ultimate fallback position.
There are some visceral moments in Storm of the Century Lloyd Wishman with the axe and Peter Godsoe with his rope are just two examples but we had to fight for every one of them, and some (where five-year-old Pippa scratches her mother's face and screams "Let me go, you bitch!" for example) are still under strenuous discussion. I'm not the most popular person at Standards and Practices these days I keep calling people and whining, threatening to tell my big brother if they don't stop teasing me (in this case the part of my big brother is most frequently played by Bob Iger, who is ABC's top guy). Working with Standards and Practices on such a level is okay, I think; to get along really well with them would make me feel like Tokyo Rose. If you want to know who ends up winning most of the battles, compare the original teleplay (which is what I'm publishing here), with the finished TV program (which is in edit as I write this).
And remember, please, that not all the changes which take place between original script and final film are made to satisfy Standards and Practices. Them you can argue with; TV timing is beyond argument. Each finished segment must run ninety-one minutes, give or take a few seconds, and be divided into seven "acts," in order to allow all those wonderful commercials which pay the bills. There are tricks that can get you a little extra time in that time one is a form of electronic compression I don't understand but mostly you just whittle your stick until it fits in the hole. It's a pain in the ass but not a gigantic one; no worse, say, than having to wear a school uniform or a tie to work.
Struggling with network TV's arbitrary rules was often annoying and sometimes dispiriting with The Stand and The Shining (and what the producers of It must have gone through I shudder to think of, since one stringent Standards and Practices rule is that TV dramas must not be built upon the premise of children in mortal jeopardy, let alone dying), but both of those shows were based on novels that were written with no regard for network TV's rules of propriety. And that's the way novels should be written, of course. When people ask me if I write books with the movies in mind, I always feel a little irritated...even insulted. It's not quite like asking a girl "Do you ever do it for money?" although I used to think so; it's the assumption of calculation which is unpleasant. That kind of ledger-sheet thinking has no business in the writing of stories. Writing stories is only about writing stories. Business and ledger-sheet thinking comes after, and is best left to people who understand how to do it.
This was the sort of attitude I adopted while working on Storm of the Century. I wrote it as a TV script because that's how the story wanted to be written...but with no actual belief that it would ever be on TV. I knew enough about filmmaking by December of 1996 to know I would be writing a special-effects nightmare into my script a snowstorm bigger than any that had been previously attempted on television. I was also creating an enormous cast of characters only, once the writing is done and the business of actually making a show begins, the writer's characters become the casting director's speaking parts. I went ahead with the script anyway, because you don't do the budget while you're writing the book. The budget is someone else's problem. Plus, if the script is good enough, love will find a way. It always does. And because Storm was written as a TV miniseries, I found myself able to push the envelope without tearing it. I think it's the most frightening story I've ever written for film, and in most cases I was able to build in the scares without allowing Standards and Practices cause to scream at me too much!
I have worked with director Mick Garris three times first on the theatrical film Sleepwalkers, then on the miniseries of The Stand and The Shining. I sometimes joke that we're in danger of becoming the Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond of the horror genre. He was my first choice to direct Storm of the Century, because I like him, respect him, and know what he can do. Mick had other fish to fry, however (the world would be a much simpler place if people would just drop everything and come running when I need them), and so Mark Carliner and I went hunting for a director.
Around this time I had snagged a direct-to-video film called The Twilight Man from the rental place down the street from my house. I'd never heard of it, but it looked atmospheric and starred the always reliable Dean Stockwell. It seemed like the perfect Tuesday evening time-passer, in other words. I also grabbed Rambo, a proven commodity, in case The Twilight Man should prove to be a lemon, but Rambo never got out of the box that night. Twilight Man was low-budget (it was an original made for the Starz cable network, I found out later), but it was nifty as hell just the same. Tim Matheson also starred, and he projected some of the qualities I hoped to see in Storm's Mike Anderson: goodness and decency, yes...but with a sense of latent violence twisting through the character like a streak of iron. Even better, Dean Stockwell played a wonderfully quirky villain: a soft-spoken, courtly southerner who uses his computer savvy to ruin a stranger's life...all because the stranger has asked him to put out his cigar!
The lighting was moody and blue, the computer gimmickry was smartly executed, the pace was deftly maintained, and the performance levels were very high. I reran the credits and made a note of the director's name, Craig R. Baxley. I knew it from two other things: a good cable-TV movie about Brigham Young starring Charlton Heston as Young, and a not-so-good SF movie, I Come in Peace, starring Dolph Lundgren. (The most memorable thing about that film was the protagonist's final line to the cyborg: "You go in pieces.")
I talked with Mark Carliner, who looked at The Twilight Man, liked it, and discovered Baxley was available. I followed up with a call of my own and sent Craig the three hundred-page script of Storm. Craig called back, excited and full of ideas. I liked his ideas and I liked his enthusiasm; what I liked most of all was that the sheer size of the project didn't seem to faze him. The three of us met in Portland, Maine, in February of 1997, had dinner at my daughter's restaurant, and pretty much closed the deal.
Craig Baxley is a tall, broad-shouldered man, handsome, prone to Hawaiian shirts, and probably a few years older than he looks (at a glance you'd guess he was about forty, but his first theatrical work was Action Jackson, starring Carl Weathers, and so he's got to be older than that). He has the laid-back, "no problem, man" attitude of a California surfer (which he once was; he has also worked as a Hollywood stunt-player) and a sense of humor drier than an Errol Flynn foreign legion flick. The low-key attitude and the nah, I'm just fuckin' with you sense of humor tend to obscure the real Craig Baxley, who is focused, dedicated, imaginative, and a touch autocratic (show me a director without at least a dash of Stalin and I'll show you a bad director). What impressed me most about the dailies as Storm of the Century began its long march in February of 1998 was where Craig called "Cut!" At first it's unsettling, and then you realize he's doing what only the most visually gifted directors are capable of: cutting in the camera. As I write this I have begun to see the first "outputs" sequences of cut footage on videotape and thanks to Craig's direction, the show seems almost to be assembling itself. It's risky to assume too much too soon (remember the old newspaper headline "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN"), but based on early returns, I'd say that what you're about to read bears an eerie resemblance to what you will see when ABC telecasts Storm of the Century. My fingers are still crossed, but I think it works. I think it may even be extraordinary. I hope so, but it's best to be realistic. Huge amounts of work go into the making of most films, including those made for television, and very few are extraordinary; given the number of people involved, I suppose it's amazing that any of them work at all. Still, you can't shoot me for hoping, can you?
The teleplay of Storm was written between December of 1996 and February of 1997. By March of 1997, Mark and Craig and I were sitting at dinner in my daughter Naomi's restaurant (closed now, alas; she's studying for the ministry). By June I was looking at sketches of Andre Linoge's wolf's head cane, and by July I was looking at storyboards. See what I mean about TV people wanting to make shows instead of lunch reservations?
Exteriors were filmed in Southwest Harbor, Maine, and in San Francisco. Exteriors were also filmed in Canada, about twenty miles north of Toronto, where Little Tall island's main street was recreated inside an abandoned sugar-refining factory. For a month or two that factory in the town of Oshawa became one of the world's largest soundstages. Little Tall's studio main street went through three carefully designed stages of snow-dressing, from a few inches to total burial. When a group of Southwest Harbor natives on a bus trip visited the Oshawa stage, they were visibly staggered by what they saw when they were escorted through the defunct factory's tall metal doors. It must have been like going home again in the blink of an eye. There are days when making movies has all the glamour of bolting together the rides at a county fair...but there are other days when the magic is so rich it dazzles you. The day the people from Southwest Harbor visited the set was one of those days.
Filming commenced in late February of 1998, on a snowy day in Down East Maine. It finished in San Francisco about eighty shooting days later. As I write this in mid-July, the cutting and editing processes what's known as postproduction has just begun. Optical effects and CGI (computer graphic imaging) effects are being built up one layer at a time. I'm looking at footage with temporary music tracks (many of them lifted from Frank Darabont's film The Shawshank Redemption), and so is composer Gary Chang, who will do the show's actual score. Mark Carliner is jousting with ABC in the matter of telecast dates February of 1999, a sweeps period, seems the most probable and I'm watching the cut footage with a contentment that is very rare for me.
The script that follows makes a complete story, one that's been overlaid with marks we call them "scenes" and "fades" and "inserts" showing the director where to cut the whole into pieces...because, unless you're Alfred Hitchcock filming Rope, films are always piecework. Between March and June of this year, Craig Baxley filmed the script as scripts are usually filmed out of sequence, often with tired actors working in the middle of the night, always under pressure and finished up with a box of pieces called "the dailies." I can turn from where I'm sitting and look at my own set of those dailies roughly sixty cassettes in red cardboard cases. But here is the odd thing: putting the dailies back together again to create the finished show isn't like putting a jigsaw puzzle back together. It should be, but it isn't...because, like most books, most movies are living things with breath and a heartbeat. Usually the putting together results in something less than the sum of the parts. In rare and wonderful cases it results in more. This time it might be more. I hope it will be.
One final matter: what about people who say movies (especially TV movies) are a lesser medium than books, as instantly disposable as Kleenex? Well, that's no longer exactly true, is it? The script, thanks to the good people at Pocket Books, is here anytime you want to take it down and look at it. And the show itself, I'd guess, will eventually be available on videotape or videodisc, just as many hardcover books are eventually available in paperback. You'll be able to buy it or rent it when (and if) you choose. And, as with a book, you will be able to leaf back to check on things you may have missed or to savor something you particularly enjoyed; you will use the REWIND button on your remote control instead of your finger, that's all. (And if you're one of those awful people who have to peek ahead to the end, there is always FAST FORWARD or SEARCH, I suppose...although I tell you, you will be damned for doing such a thing).
I won't argue, either pro or con, that a novel for television is the equal of a novel in a book; I will just say that, once you subtract the distractions (ads for Tampax, ads for Ford cars and trucks, local newsbreaks, and so on), I myself think that is possible. And I would remind you that the man most students of literature believe to be the greatest of English writers worked in an oral and visual medium, and not (at least primarily) in the medium of print. I'm not trying to compare myself to Shakespeare that would be bizarre but I think it entirely possible that he would be writing for the movies or for television as well as for Off Broadway if he were alive today. Even possibly calling up Standards and Practices at ABC to try to persuade them that the violence in Act V of Julius Caesar is necessary...not to mention tastefully done.
In addition to the folks at Pocket Books who undertook to publish this project, I'd like to thank Chuck Verrill, who agented the deal and served as liaison between Pocket Books and ABC-TV. At ABC I'd like to thank Bob Iger, who put such amazing trust in me; also Maura Dunbar, Judd Parkin, and Mark Pedowitz. Also the folks at Standards and Practices, who really aren't that bad (in fact I think it would be fair to say they did one mother of a job on this).
Thanks are due to Craig Baxley for taking on one of the largest film projects ever attempted for network TV; also to Mark Carliner and Tom Brodek, who put it all together. Mark, who won just about all the TV awards there are for Wallace, is a great guy to have on your team. I'd also like to thank my wife, Tabby, who has been so supportive over the years. As a writer herself, she understands my foolishness pretty well.
Bangor, Maine 04401
July 18, 1998
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It has been a long, long time since I read any Stephen King novels, but consider myself to be a fan ¿ Carrie, Salem¿s Lot, Pet Semetary¿some of his books have been turned into movies, some successfully (Carrie, Christine, Shawshank Redemption, Green Mile, Stand By Me), and some not such as Pet Semetary and Cujo.Any way you look at it, King is the `king¿ of horror and story telling, and this book was no exception¿but this was no ordinary novel, it was in fact a screenplay for an ABC mini-series or made-for-TV movie, and there were bits in it which were typically TV, but the story, suspense, and images conjured into the mind were great. In saying that, this book had stills from the series which unfortunately ruined what I had in my head ¿ some people won¿t mind this, but for me I like to get my own impression of what towns, people, and suspense exists.For anyone after a good horror/thriller, this is pretty good, but the book itself might be a better read (if in fact it exists as a novel), and for me it has restarted my want to read some more of his books, the last of which was Pet Semetary back at school (trust me, that was long enough ago!).
This was great. I liked reading it as a screenplay.
It's interesting to read a story in a slightly different form. I didn't watch the miniseries, so I had to imagine the settings as described.Without the opportunity to wax lengthily, King has to get to the point pretty quickly. Sometimes his verbosity can be annoying, so it's a nice change of pace when he's required to write sparsely.
Few characters have ever earned the right to my "hall of fame" so to speak. But Linoge (the antagonist) is definatly one of them. Stephen King weaves an exciting and trilling story with this amazing character. The book is a screenplay so it adds in camera angles and leaves out unimportant details while accenting important ones. This book is fast paced and gives you a real feel for what's going on. As the reader no secrets are kept from you and you see all things as they unfold chronologically.
This book had all of Stephen King's good qualities in it: suspense, horror, good plot, and good message 'like shawshank redemption'. The Ending is so good and will knock you off your seat.
I picked this off the shelf because i was in the mood for a suspensful horror and thats wat i got. i fully enjoyed every second of this book and reccomend it to everyone. the suspense of who would die next kept me interested from start to finish.
From the moment I heard the tittle(Storm of the Centure)& in the same breath,a Steven King Novel / television series, I knew that I was Instored for a story that has never been told before.Supense,Action,Drama & Horror.Just in a few hours,This Screenplay/novel will take you where you have never been before,I fully enjoyed it.
This is my favorite book of all time. I loved it! Everything about this book was absolutely perfect. I wouldn't change a thing. I beliee the movie was okay, but could hav been better. Thy shoudl remake it. Anyway the book is gripping, and will keep you guessing what Andre Linoge wants, as he says 'Give me what I want, and i will go away.'
Awesome! Bone-chilling! It really makes your hair stand-up on end
The play/book is one of the most horrifying thing I have ever read. It had me turning page after page in the story, I was hooked, I couldn't eat, I didn't sleep, it was gripping. Stephen King knows Horro and that wa
This book starts off slow, but works up to a chilling and creative ending. An excellent cast of characters. your at the edge of your seat till the very end. One of stephen Kings best!!! A must read