So, here's the story.
A few years back, Amazon decided they wanted to get into the DARK TOWER business, and they hired former THE WALKING DEAD showrunner Glen Mazzara (also of FX's THE SHIELD and A&E's DAMIEN) to make it happen. Scripts were written, a cast was hired, sets were built, and everyone flew overseas to put together a pilot. That pilot, which has never seen the light of day, was turned over to Amazon execs last year. For one reason or another, Amazon opted not to bring THE DARK TOWER to series, and since then we've learned almost nothing about what Mazzara and company were up to. We knew who was in it, of course, and we knew it began as something of a WIZARD AND GLASS adaptation, but no promotional materials for this pilot were ever officially released. For fans of Stephen King's sprawling series, Amazon's DARK TOWER has remained a gigantic question mark, one most of us assumed we'd never learn much about.
Until now! I am both honored and thrilled to reveal that my KINGCAST co-host, Eric Vespe, and I were given a look at Mazzara's pilot (it was good!), and were able to secure him for an exclusive interview (also good!) about all things pertaining to Amazon's jettisoned DARK TOWER series. How many seasons would it have run? Would it end in the same fashion the books did? What was the plan in terms of starting the series with a young Roland (Sam Strike), when most of the books in the series dealt with a much older, far more wisened Roland? We talked to Glen about all of this and more for well over an hour, and it is with great respect and excitement that we present our findings to you today.
We'll get to the episode in a second. But first, a warning: because this is an all-inclusive interview, one that covers King's DARK TOWER series (and Mazzara's plans for a series-wide adaptation) from top to bottom, this episode is overflowing with spoilers for King's DARK TOWER books, up to and including the series' divisive ending. If you have not already read every DARK TOWER book, be aware that this episode will spoil them for you, in sometimes granular detail.
Secondly, I'd like to throw out a few pull-quotes from the episode, just to give you an idea what you're getting into here. For example, here's Mazzara talking about his plans for the show's first few seasons:
"Season One ended with the death of Susan ... In WIZARD AND GLASS very quickly you go from the death of Susan to the death of Gabrielle, [Roland's] mother. I felt that I needed a season to give me real estate so that Gabrielle's death didn't step on Susan's, and that it felt like an escalation. Roland fails to save Susan, but he actually shoots and kills his mother. In the book, Gabrielle is not really a detailed character in a way that, say, Susan is, or even Rhea is. Gabrielle is really not fleshed out. She just doesn't have as many pages attributed to her. I love that character. The actress we had for her was Elaine Cassidy, a fantastic Irish actress, and she did a really great job.
So for Season 2, the war with Farson was building. I was maybe going to use the shapeshifter story [from WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE] as part of season 2, and get to the death of Gabrielle and either the fall of Gilead there or the fall of Gilead would be the season three premiere. Very quickly, there would be a last stand at Jericho Hill and by episode 3.03 or 3.04 I was going to have Roland stumble out into the desert, follow him into the desert and then I was going to do a time-lapse so that maybe you actually age Roland and switch actors. Then you have a new Roland reset the show at the top of season three, then go into THE GUNSLINGER and by the end of that season go into THE DRAWING OF THE THREE."
And here's Mazzara on what he was most looking forward to adapting for the screen:
"I was really looking forward to Blaine. I had ideas for that. I was really looking forward to Callahan. In fact, I was hoping to take Callahan's backstory from the time that he leaves 'Salem's Lot to the time he ends up in Mid-World, I wanted to do that as its own mini-series. I didn't think you could fit that into THE DARK TOWER proper, so I wanted to split that off. I had plans to hire the best joke writers in Hollywood to write when Roland and Susannah meet Dandelo. I really wanted that to be laugh out loud funny. There were all these things I was jonesing to do."
See what I mean? This guy absolutely knew his stuff. It is, quite frankly, heartbreaking that we're not gonna get to see this version of THE DARK TOWER realized onscreen, but hopefully what follows will take a little bit of the sting out of that disappointment. With another huge round of applause and a giant thank you to Glen Mazzara, here's our exclusive interview with him re: THE DARK TOWER:
Next week: we're going alllll the way back to King's humble beginnings, tackling the novel (and adaptation) that kicked off his career in earnest - CARRIE. Our guest on this episode is a director whose work will surely be familiar to the BMD readership, and she delivers some of the most thoughtful, compelling commentary we've heard on this show yet.
That'll be live next Wednesday. Until then, enjoy this week's episode, and yet another climb to the top of THE DARK TOWER.