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THE SHINING Mini-Series Gets Encore on Sci-Fi, with TALISMAN on the Horizon

Writer-director Mick Garris talks about adapting King and the SHINING's long wait to rise again

By Anthony C. Ferrante     June 19, 2001


The paperback edition of The Talisman.
© 2001 Ballantine Books

It's been four years since ABC's THE SHINING mini-series has seen the light of day, but thanks to the Sci-Fi Channel the three-part adaptation of Stephen King's novel will finally get an encore presentation.


The three installments will air consecutively starting tonight and continuing tomorrow and Thursday at 9:00 pm and Midnight (Pacific Standard Time).


Adapt by King himself and directed by Mick Garris (THE STAND, SLEEPWALKERS), this mini-series was an attempt to faithfully adapt the King source material since the previous 1980 Stanley Kubrick feature film only skimmed the surface of the book. Steven Weber and Rebecca DeMornay portrayed the tortured Torrance family haunted by the ghosts of the Overlook Hotel where they're serving as caretakers during a harsh winter.


"I feel it's my best work as a filmmaker," Garris tells CINESCAPE. "I also appreciated the Kubrick film a lot, but as a Kubrick film not as the Stephen King book. And I think we did a great job of doing the book."


Many may have wondered why THE SHINING mini-series hasn't been rebroadcast until now (let alone getting a DVD release), but Garris suspects the ghost of Kubrick still lingers over this project.

"I have a feeling it had something to do with Kubrick," Garris admits. "There were a lot of strings attached for us to be able to make the mini-series. King wasn't allowed to talk about the feature film to the press; Kubrick got paid $1.5 million for us to be able to make it; and although the mini-series is on videotape in Asia and Europe, it hasn't hit the video market here in the states."


There were actually two conditions, at least one of which had to be met before the mini-series could see release on home video: It had to have a second televised run, or two years would have to pass.


"Two years went by and nothing happened; now it's about to have its second run, so we'll see," says Garris. "I haven't been contacted about the DVD, but I tried really hard to put together a lot of great behind-the scenes material. The Warner Home Video people were all very enthusiastic, but nothing's happened just yet."


Though THE SHINING received some of Garris' best press "it got better reviews than THE STAND," he recalls there were still some Kubrick loyalists who were gunning for the mini-series from the start.


"There was a Kubrick faction who tried to make it competitive, which it wasn't," says Garris. "Nobody was even thinking about remaking the Kubrick movie; we were trying to make the book into a movie. The people who love the original film resented us for daring to remake it. There was a controversy there, but it was a fairly small group."


Currently, Garris is hard at work on adapting the 1984 Stephen King and Peter Straub collaborative novel THE TALISMAN into a proposed four hour ABC mini-series for DreamWorks and Kennedy/Marshall's company. Garris is currently on page 61 of the adaption, which follows a 12-year-old boy who has to save his mother's life by crossing dimensions and using a magical talisman.


"What's unique about this is you cross from the real world to the magical world and back and forth," says Garris. "The key is trying to make them both believable. It's like jumping from King-land to Tolkien-land, but making them match. I endeavor to make them both very unique to one another, but they still have to live in the same movie."


Originally, Spielberg was going to direct THE TALISMAN as a feature from a script by Richard LaGravenese, but Garris isn't sure what happened.


"They developed it for years but once they decided to do it for television, I was lucky enough to be involved in those conversations," says Garris. "I had just done THE OTHERS TV show with Spielberg and DreamWorks, and I knew Frank [Marshall] and Kathy [Kennedy] from my AMAZING STORIES days. After all the King work I've done for television, maybe I became the obvious choice."


Garris will be distilling the book into a filmable tome, but as with many of his King adaptations he's honoring the source material as best he can.


"There will be a lot of distillation, but it's going to be very faithful if we make it the way I'm writing it now," says Garris. "There have been versions of the script where there is no Speedy Parker, who is a major character of the book, and in one script they made Jack's best friend into a girl. I've just gone back to the book."


The busy writer-director just received praises for his previous mini-series this Spring with STEVE MARTINI'S THE JUDGE one of his first non-genre efforts and he's hoping to making the Stephen King e-book THE BULLET into a low-budget feature after he's done with THE TALISMAN.


"THE BULLET would be a small film but it's a small story," says Garris. "I wrote it in a rush in two weeks. It's one of the favorite things I've written. It's about a college student who hitchhikes back home to see his mother, who has had a stroke. The problem arises when he's picked up by Death."


As for the coincidence of always working with Stephen King, Garris smiles and points out the connection is even more complex than that. "I only work with people named Steve," he laughs. "Spielberg, King and Martini."

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