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The Stand: Josh Boone teases the Tolkien-esque miniseries as CBS All Access sets December premiere

By Josh Weiss
The Stand

We might as well just label 2020 as the "Year of the Pandemic." As if real life weren't scary enough right now, CBS All Access just announced the premiere date for its miniseries adaptation of The Stand. Based on Stephen King's apocalyptic and plague-centric 1978 novel of the same name, the project will arrive on the subscription streaming service on Dec. 17.

The miniseries is showrun and executive-produced by Benjamin Cavell, with Josh Boone (The New Mutants) also hopping aboard as director and EP for the series premiere and finale.

"It is weird," Boone said with a laugh during a recent interview with SYFY WIRE when we asked him about the uncanny parallels between the book and our current reality in the age of COVID-19. Clocking in at more than 1,000 pages, The Stand chronicles the tragic fall of civilization after a weaponized flu virus (dubbed "Captain Tripps") escapes from a secret government lab in the middle of the desert. After most of the world's population is wiped out by the ferocious disease, a small band of survivors starts to rebuild society the best they can.

"I got to bring a lot of amazing cast to the table and everything, but nobody thought a real pandemic was gonna happen," added Boone, who directed and executive produced the first and last episodes of the miniseries. "Obviously, what we’re living through is nowhere [near] what The Stand was, but the similarities are eerie in the same way that the kids in New Mutants [are] being quarantined and not able to get out."

The ensemble cast is indeed amazing: James Marsden ("Stu Redman"), Amber Heard ("Nadine Cross"), Greg Kinnear ("Glen Bateman"), Odessa Young ("Frannie Goldsmith"), Henry Zaga ("Nick Andros"), Whoopi Goldberg ("Mother Abigail"), Jovan Adepo ("Larry Underwood"), Owen Teague ("Harold Lauder"), Brad William Henke ("Tom Cullen"), Alexander Skarsgård ("Randall Flagg"), and Nat Wolff ("Lloyd Henreid").

In addition to directing duties, Boone also got to write the premiere episode with showrunner/executive producer Cavell. King himself penned the finale. Discussing the sacred source material, Boone touched on the grand fantasy works of J.R.R. Tolkien that directly inspired King to write The Stand in the first place. While one side of humanity starts to re-form civilized society around the clairvoyant and wizened Mother Abigail, another segment of immune survivors rally around the malicious and power-hungry Randall Flagg (who's also got supernatural abilities). What ensues is an epic struggle between good and evil.

"I think it’s one of the great American novels. I think it’s sort of The Lord of the Rings, but in America," Boone said. "I’ve loved it my whole life [and] I carried it for many years to get it made — from Warner Bros. to CBS. In this way, it’s like New Mutants: When you deal with a large IP that costs a lot of money to make, the time that it takes to do it is just exponentially longer. You’re asking for more money and you’re asking for a brand name."

The adaptation — which is also co-executive-produced by Taylor Elmore — costars Eion Bailey, Katherine McNamara, Hamish Linklater, Heather Graham, and Marilyn Manson. It wrapped production in Canada before the real pandemic hit.

This is the second miniseries to be based on The Stand. The first one came in 1994 from director Mick Garris, who worked from scripts written by King. It starred the likes of Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe, and Bill Fagerbakke. Check out some first look images from the new version (also executive produced by Taylor Elmore) in the media gallery below...