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Exclusive: Jonathan Demme Exits Stephen King Adaptation '11/22/63'

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist December 6, 2012 at 8:59AM

Moving easily and often between documentaries and feature film projects, Jonathan Demme has always got a few things on the go at any given time. This year alone has seen him direct theater legends Wallace Shawn and André Gregory in their re-teaming in "Wally And André Shoot Ibsen," hit the festival circuit with "Enzo Avitabile Music Life," get involved as a producer on "Song One" with Anne Hathaway set to star, and pick up a directing credit on "Old Fires." But it looks like one project has fallen off his slate.
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Jonathan Demme 11/22/63

Moving easily and often between documentaries and feature film projects, Jonathan Demme has always got a few things on the go at any given time. This year alone has seen him direct theater legends Wallace Shawn and André Gregory in their re-teaming in "Wally And André Shoot Ibsen," hit the festival circuit with "Enzo Avitabile Music Life," get involved as a producer on "Song One" with Anne Hathaway set to star, and pick up a directing credit on "Old Fires." But it looks like one project has fallen off his slate.

With the Marrakech Film Festival in full swing, Demme is one of the directors receiving a tribute, and our own Jessica Kiang got to quickly sit down with the filmmaker and chat about what he's working on, or in the case of Stephen King's "11/22/63," no longer working on. "That's off the table," he shared about the film that he was first attached to in 2011.

To be certain, it's an ambitious undertaking, with the nearly 900-page book centering on Jake Epping, who travels back in time from the present to try to stop the assassination of JFK, by going to 1958 and starting a new life that will, he hopes, allow him to change the course of history. But of course, that is just one thread in a dense novel, and over the summer Demme told us, "There’s a dozen movies in '11/22/63.' We’re finding the one that we think is kind of the best of all." But it seems the director and the author ultimately couldn't see eye to eye.

"This is a big book, with lots in it. And I loved certain parts of the book for the film more than Stephen did. We're friends, and I had a lot of fun working on the script, but we were too apart on what we felt should be in and what should be out of the script," Demme said, before confirming he was off the project. "I had an option and I let it go. But I hope it's moving forward, I really want to see that movie." 

Fans of King needn't be too worried, as you can't throw a rock without hitting something written by the author that is being brought to TV or the movies. In fact, just a few days ago THR reported that "The Walking Dead" and "Super 8" kids Chandler Riggs and Joel Courtney are starring in "Mercy," a film based on the King short story "Gramma." And "Under The Dome" also recently got a series order at CBS. So we're sure it won't be too long until "11/22/63" finds some new life. 

As for Demme, he too has a number of things brewing, so stayed tuned as we'll have more from our conversation with him in Marrakech soon.

This article is related to: Jonathan Demme, 11/22/63, Joel Courtney, Mercy, Stephen King


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