By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com April 13, 2011 at 1:48AM
Considering the lack of adventurous spirit shown across his entire directing career to date, it's still kind of staggering to think about the ambition of Ron Howard's next project. An adaptation of the seven books in Stephen King's dense, meta-textual, sometimes-just-plain-weird "The Dark Tower" series, planned to stretch across three films and two separate TV series, mostly using the same cast, it's truly something of a scope that's never really been attempted before. And somehow, despite our gut telling us that Howard would find it tricky to land an A-lister considering the scope of the project, he looks to have signed up the much-in-demand Oscar-winner Javier Bardem as the gunslinging hero of the series. Not too shabby so far, then.
The first movie is gearing up for production, and is already set for a summer 2013 release, and now work is moving forward on the TV section -- which will bridge the narrative gap between the first and second films. Deadline report that TV & comics veteran Mark Verheiden has come on board to co-write and co-executive produce the series, teaming with Howard's frequent collaborator Akiva Goldsman, who's also writing the movie scripts.
Verheiden's a familiar name to genre buffs, having started off his career as a writer for Dark Horse Comics, before going on to write for the likes of "Superman" and "The Evil Dead" comic series. He's had a few film credits, with work on "Timecop" and "My Name Is Bruce" among the ones that got made, but the bulk of his output has been in genre TV, including "Smallville" and the upcoming Steven Spielberg-produced "Falling Skies." On the plus side for sci-fi fans, he was a long-time writer and executive producer on the beloved "Battlestar Galactica" reboot, but on the downside, he was also involved in the final years of NBC's much-ridiculed "Heroes." Hopefully his work on "The Dark Tower" will be closer to the former than to the latter.
Most people will be pleased that Goldsman, writer on "Angels & Demons" and "Batman & Robin," will be balanced out by someone with a better track record in genre fare -- although, to be fair to him, Goldsman has done strong work recently on Fox's excellent "Fringe" The show, which Howard is expected to direct most if not all of, will film after the first movie, and will presumably begin to air in the fall of 2013 at the earliest, although 2014 seems more likely. You'll get your first look at the fruits of Howard & Goldsman's labor when "The Dark Tower" hits theaters on May 17th, 2013.