When in Dome: Producers Reveal New Details on Stephen King's 'Under the Dome' Adaptation
Whatever you do, do not call "Under the Dome" a miniseries.
"It is a 13-part series that merges a really incredible incident, character, and mystery. This is just the beginning," executive producer Neal Baer ("Law & Order: SVU," "ER") promised a handful of journalists who were lucky enough to see the pilot episode Thursday morning of the new CBS summer show, based on Stephen King's best-selling 2009 novel, that starts June 24. "I just heard that 'SVU' just got picked up for its 15th season, and 'ER' was on for 15 years, so I hope it's a trend."
Get a first look of the "Under the Dome" poster art:
The action of the book, about a small town that finds itself suddenly trapped under a giant dome, takes place in the span of a week. The team behind the TV adaptation extended the timeline and tweaked several plot points, including the ending. Executive producer/pilot writer Brian K. Vaughan explained, "When we first started talking with Stephen, he said that when he first came up with the idea, [he] envisioned a town potentially being trapped for years, and that's something [we] could do that he couldn't and that might necessitate a different ending. We pitched Stephen a far-out big-swing idea if we are lucky enough for this to go several years."
And was the master of the macabre supportive of the new ending or ready to go full Annie Wilkes? "He was excited by it. He was so generous to say, 'I wish I'd thought of that. That's killer.' He's been so supportive and given us plenty of creative freedom," Vaughan told us. "He knows the book is his own thing and that it would be boring to just translate the book exactly to the screen. [But the] themes and heart of the book are in it. He said, 'To quote Elvis, this is your baby. You rock it now.' And I think he likes the way we've been rocking it."
Baer added, "We're on Episode 10 now; we've already passed where the book goes, and we're just beginning to explore all the ramifications of being caught under the dome."
That's not to say that King's touch isn't all over the series, from the quirky characters and spot-on snapshot of small-town politics and mind-sets to the gross-out moments, like a cow being dissected down the middle when it finds itself in the wrong part of the pasture when the dome appears. Fans will also be excited to hear that King might increase his involvement should the show get picked up. Vaughan disclosed a discussion they had after King viewed a few episodes. "He said, 'If this comes back for a second season, can I write one for it?' You can write 13 if you want to. We should be so lucky."
And never fear, fans of the project's other legendary Steve. Steven Spielberg's brand is also represented. "I feel like I was raised by two men — Steven Spielberg [also an executive producer] and Stephen King — so it is totally surreal to get to work with both of them," Vaughan gushed. "Spielberg sees the best in humanity and King has always seen the worst. But they both love people so much and love throwing them in extraordinary situations and seeing what happens."