'Rose Red' miniseries is first Stephen King tale completed since his serious injury

Ernest A. Jasmin; The News Tribune

"Rose Red" - a forthcoming ABC miniseries that began taping in Seattle in August - proves horror writer Stephen King still has it after a serious accident that hospitalized him last year.

"If anything (the accident) sharpened his focus; it made him even more intense," said producer Mark Carliner, who also worked with King on the miniseries "Storm of the Century." "(King is) one of the really genuine geniuses I have known," Carliner said. "And I've lived with Steven Spielberg, so I know what I'm talking about."

For King, the $30 million series - which is scheduled to air on ABC in February 2002 - may have represented a crossroads of sorts.

After getting hit by a van while jogging in June 1999, King was not so sure he could continue writing. The novelist - known for best-selling stories such as "It," "The Stand" and "The Green Mile" - underwent multiple surgeries and an extensive rehabilitation. He began writing part time a month after the accident but had trouble rekindling his creative fire.

"There was this one awful minute when I sat there and I thought, 'I can't do this. I don't know how to do this anymore,'" he said in an interview with NBC's Katie Couric that aired last year.

The return to writing was tenuous, to say the least. "At first it was as if I'd never done this in my life. It was like starting over again from square one," he told Couric.

The script for "Rose Red" - which King agreed to write the week before the accident - is the first work he completed upon recovery, Carliner said.

"Rose Red" is a variation of the age-old haunted house tale, with Lakewood's Thornewood Castle serving as the ghoulish dwelling. Well, Thornewood provides the exterior, at least. A $3 million set built inside a hangar at the former Sand Point Naval Station in Seattle - complete with cobwebs, spooky animal-head trophies and moving walls - serves as the interior of Rose Red, the fictional haunted house.

"This is really a novel for television," Carliner said. "In movies you have to take a 500-, 600-page Stephen King novel and make it into a 100-page script. The reason he loves television miniseries is ... it is like sitting down and reading an original Stephen King book, which doesn't have to be abridged."

Earlier this month, King - known for making cameo appearances in his movies - spent a few days at Sand Point portraying a pizza delivery man who shows up at a crucial point in the miniseries. He also visited the set in October.

The cast also includes Nancy Travis, Matt Keesler, Judith Ivey, Julian Sands and Kevin Tighe. Veteran actor David Dukes - who died of an apparent heart attack after a game of tennis toward the end of the crew's taping at Thornewood Castle in October - will appear in the final version of the film.

He had completed most of his appearances, but had not yet filmed spots during which he reappears as a ghost.

The latter will be added tastefully, Carliner said.

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Staff writer Ernest Jasmin covers pop culture. Reach him at 253-274-7389 or ernest.jasmin@mail.tribnet.com.

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