Turner Network Television (TNT) is putting the summer on ice with its chilling all-star television event NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES: FROM THE STORIES OF STEPHEN KING. This four-week collection of eight mind-bending tales from the master of horror, set to premiere Wednesday, July 12th at 9:00pm (ET/PT), features an all-star cast of Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe winners and nominees. The first installment, BATTLEGROUND (which is one of the best adaptations), starring William Hurt, will be presented uninterrupted and commercial-free. NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES is produced from Bill Haber's Ostar Enterprises, with Haber (The Uprising, Jack and the Beanstalk: The True Story, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) serving as executive producer. The series is produced by Mike Robe, Jeffrey Hayes and John McMahon.
Here is a brief interview with Bill Haber, Jeffrey Hayes, Mike Robe and John McMahon.
Q: What is the concept behind NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES?
HABER: It's a group of widely different and unexpected experiencces from the most prolific and clever mind in American writing, Stephen King. There are eight entirely different individual movies. Each has different writers, directors and casts, the only common thread being Stephen King's genius. Each story must stand alone and be engrossing and engaging by themselves. Each must be as successful, clever and unique as the others.
HAYES: Stephen King's short stories are extremely unique tales that lend themselves to an anthology type series, which hasn't been done for many years. It's a massive undertaking in the sense that there is not a regular series set or leads. We are shooting eight shows that are basically each a stand-alone mini-movie. Our biggest challenge is to ensure each one has its own distinct look and feel.
ROBE: We are really excited because it's a fresh look at Stephen King's stories. I think he's the acknowledged master of horror in America. It hasn't been done in this way in a long time, and it's never been done with the strength of a writer like Stephen King. In the eight stories, we have a nice cross section of suspense, human drama, mainline horror and psychological insight. It's a nice mixed salad of Stephen King moods.
MCMAHON: It is very exciting and I think the variety is why an audience will tune in. Stephen King has such a fertile mind. I think shorter is better in a lot of ways. In an hour, we can create something tighter, scarier, dirtier and stranger, which is really what makes his stories special.
Q: How did you select the eight stories to adapt, and do you think they are representative of King's vast body of work? Is there a common thread?
HABER: We selected these short stories from Stephen King's anthologies, one of which was titled NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES. We picked eight that we thought we could adapt most successfully. We had to pick the ones that were available because some had already been adapted into motion pictures. The stories we selected are not horror stories. We are creating a group of never-before-seen adventures out of the mind of Stephen King. Some of the stories are more worldly, and some are like STAND BY ME, which is straight dramatic King brilliance. We have been successful in the eight movies in ranging the full scope of Stephen King's short story work.
HAYES: Diversity is an important element in all of Stephen King's short stories. Each one is different in the sense that they utilize different styles; some use humor, some use horror and some use extreme drama. They all have twists and turns; some are more straight forward with a twist at the end while others start right off with the twist and carry us further into the world of his imagination. We tried to pick and choose the ones that will give the series the most diversity and the best tasting of the extraordinary canvas of short stories Stephen King has written.
MCMAHON: The common threat is Stephen King, so the audience already knows it will not be any ordinary kind of storytelling. I hope we are able to express the main title, NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES, as where the world of imagination and reality cross. It is a blurred line.
Q: How did you the select the directors and casts?
HABER: We found the best actors for each part, which is why we have a great deal of movie stars attached to the project. We also found the best directors available using previous relationships from the producers and TNT.
HAYES: The directors we chosen first and foremost because they've got talent. They're the A list directors in the movie and television business. We also tried to marry the right script with the director's style and shooting capacity to make things come to life.
MCMAHON: A good director can tell a good story. Some directors tend to gravitate towards a certain kind of material, but it doesn't mean they can't do something else. We went out to good, experienced, creative directors who are good shooters that we thought were the top of the field. The camera work in this genre is very important in order to tell the story and create tension and fear.
Q: How do you define drama, and where is the drama in NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES?
HABER: Drama is the ability to access the inner workings of other people's lives and experiences. Drama is the decision to delve into the psychology of each viewer's past. Stephen King, more than any other writer, has always been able to touch us, scare us, move us and make us weep and laugh more than anyone else.
HAYES: The true test of good drama is caring about the characters that are put forth. One of the things that ties them all together is really interesting character relationships and situations in which the characters find themselves. In reading the short stories, you find yourself involved very quickly with the characters' dilemmas, predicaments and relationships.
MCMAHON: The drama comes from the storytelling and the tensions and conflict that Stephen King creates within these one-hour segments.
ROBE: I think Stephen King, unlike any other author in the world, makes us contemplate our mortality. He unsettles us and tickles us all at the same time in a way that is wholly unique to Stephen King. He works from a unique imagination, and he sees the world through a prism that is his alone. All of these stories come from his view of what disturbs him and what keeps him awake at night.