The Hollywood Reporter recently revealed that David E. Kelley is finally ready to start filming a long-awaited screen adaptation of Stephen King’s hardboiled crime novel, Mr. Mercedes.
The series will consist of 10 episodes and will air in 2018 on AT&T’s Uverse streaming service in addition to DirecTV. It will mark the next high-profile scripted project to come to AT&T’s roster after huge hit shows like Kingdom.
King’s work seems to be in very good hands, too, what with David E. Kelley acting as showrunner and co-producer alongside Jack Bender, another huge name in the television world. The two men will both try their hands at directing the show, with Kelley helming the pilot episode.
Kelley is an Emmy winner and has has been a major part of several hugely successful TV shows including Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, and The Practice. He is currently hard at work on HBO’s Big Little Lies and Amazon’s The Trial.
Even though Kelley is a busy man, though, he has assured audiences that he is hugely honored to be heading a Stephen King adaptation and he will be happy to put his other obligations on the back burner in order to give Mr. Mercedes his all.
Kelley also made it clear that he is a big fan of the book, something that has proven very important for the director of a screen project adapting the literary works of Stephen King in particular – just ask JJ Abrams and James Franco, who worked together to create the recent and extremely well received King miniseries 11.22.63.
“This is an amazing opportunity to adapt a script from material penned by one of the world’s most acclaimed and accomplished authors,” Kelley told Variety in an interview he gave when he began developing the Mr. Mercedes screenplay last year.
“Mr. Mercedes is a great story that will translate beautifully to the screen if I don’t mess it up.”
Bender, who will direct some of the Mr. Mercedes episodes for which Kelley takes a back seat, has also been involved with some very famous TV ventures, including cultural phenomena like Lost and Game of Thrones. He has even worked on the television adaptation of a Stephen King work before with the 2013-2015 CBS series Under the Dome.
The Variety piece notes that Stephen King himself has recognized the great prowess of these two television giants, and he is very confident in their ability to do good by his work.
“I’ve admired Jack Bender’s work for years,” King said.
“Both as a director on Lost and, later, Under the Dome, where he really caught the suspense element. David Kelley is incredibly gifted. I’m excited to work with these amazing talents.”
The novel, which was released in 2014 as the first of three books in the Bill Hodges Trilogy, was King’s first foray into the literary realm of true crime fiction without even a touch of whimsy or supernatural occurrence involved.
The story revolves around Bill Hodges, a retired police detective, who one day begins to receive taunting and provocative messages from a current serial killer in which he brags about his crimes and seems to lure Hodges to pursue him. Hodges takes the bait, and the cat-and-mouse game that ensues is the basis of the plot.
The role of Hodges will be taken on by Brendan Gleeson, who has won an Emmy for his fantastic performance in HBO’s Into the Storm and is also well-known for playing Mad-Eye Moody in the Harry Potter film series.
Brady Hartsfield, the deranged killer who messages Hodges, will be played by Anton Yelchin, perhaps best known for portraying Chekov in JJ Abrams’ recent Star Trek reboot.
Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes quickly shot up to the No. 1 spot on the New York Times best-seller list and won an Edgar Award for Best Novel of 2014, and hopefully, Kelley can produce a faithful enough adaptation to duplicate Stephen King’s literary success with the work.
So far, the only difference between the plot of the book and the show is that, according to Indie Wire, the name of the main protagonist is changed from “Bill Hodges” to “Kermit Hodges.” Now, why might that be?
[Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images]