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Jonathan Demme Adapting Stephen King’s Upcoming Novel ‘11/22/63’

Written by on August 11, 2011 

This has been a good week for Stephen King fans. Last night, the news broke that the Harry Potter writing and directing team of Steve Kloves and David Yates would be collaborating on the author’s beloved novel, The Stand, and tonight brings an announcement that’s also pretty intriguing.

As Variety reports, Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme will be writing, producing, and directing an adaptation of the author’s upcoming book, 11/22/63. The title instantly lets you know that this is dealing with the Kennedy assassination, but because Stephen King wrote the book, you probably also know that it’s dealing with the event in an unusual fashion. No distributor or financing has been set for the film, but the combination of one of the best-selling writers of all time and an Oscar-winning director should make those easy things to land. Also produced by Rachel Getting Married‘s Ilona Herzberg and executive produced by King, shooting is slated to begin in the fall of 2012; if that happens, this could open on the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination.

You can read a description of the plot below, which comes from King‘s website:

Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

I love the idea of both King and Demme telling a story centered on the event, but is anybody else bothered by that description? Specifically, read the first paragraph: It’s totally unconnected to the second one, but when the two are read together, a major twist becomes way too apparent. It’s too early to judge how the book will turn out — they say don’t judge a book by its cover, even though I happen to like the cover for this one — but knowing this author, I feel safe in saying that he has a tendency to let stories… slip out of his control, to put it kindly. There seems to be plenty of room for that to happen here, and some of that feeling comes from what we know right now.

But I really don’t want to sound negative; the idea of this director adapting this author’s work is something that makes me very excited, as a fan of both of them. All I’m hoping, right now, is that the story works well enough for Demme to make a good movie. He recently expressed his distaste for working with big budgets, but it seems like something about this material really pulled him in. We might have some idea when the book comes out on November 8th.

Are you excited about the prospect of this film? Do you have any plans to read the book?

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