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Jonathan Demme To Write & Direct Stephen King's Time Travel JFK Assassination Tale '11/22/63'

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist August 12, 2011 at 2:40AM

A time traveling account of the JFK assassination? Are you fucking kidding? Nope, guess not.
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A time traveling account of the JFK assassination? Are you fucking kidding? Nope, guess not.

Yes, believe it or not, Stephen King has tackled one of the most seminal moments in American history and turned into sci-fi tale and Variety reports that Jonathan Demme is going to produce, write and direct the adaptation of the author's forthcoming "11/22/63" (the date JFK was shot, in case you were sleeping in history class). The story revolves around Jake Epping, a teacher whose friend Al reveals that in the storeroom of his diner, there is a portal to 1958. So what does Jake decide to do? Why, try and stop JFK from getting killed of course! So begins a journey that takes him fifty years back in time and allows him to live a new life and possibly change the course the history. Oof. There's high concept and then there is plain ridiculous and this seems more the latter than the former.

It has been three years since Demme's last feature film -- "Rachel Getting Married" -- but he certainly has been very busy. He's knocked out two documentaries -- "Neil Young Trunk Show" and "I'm Carolyn Parker" (which premieres at TIFF next month) -- and he's had a few projects fall apart in that time as well. He was working with Arcade Fire on a documentary in Haiti before the devastating earthquake that rocked the country put that film out of commission; there was also the "Marley" documentary that he was removed from and replaced by Kevin Macdonald and there was "Honeymoon With Harry," that reteamed him with "Rachel Getting Married" writer Jenny Lumet but that project crumbled when Robert De Niro walked away from it this spring. And if that's not enough, Demme also did some TV work this year too, directing a pilot for a CBS supernatural medical drama. Phew.

Well Demme will have some to rest, as "11/22/63" isn't set to shoot until fall 2012; no distributor is attached yet either. But knowing Demme's work ethic he'll probably knock out another documentary or two in that time. Can't say we love the premise of this one at all, but Demme is like an American Michael Winterbottom, eager to try his hand at a wide variety of projects and this is certainly some new territory, so we remain intrigued. Check out the full book synopsis below from Amazon:

On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? Stephen King’s heart-stoppingly dramatic new novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination—a thousand page tour de force.

Following his massively successful novel Under the Dome, King sweeps readers back in time to another moment—a real life moment—when everything went wrong: the JFK assassination. And he introduces readers to a character who has the power to change the course of history.

Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

A tribute to a simpler era and a devastating exercise in escalating suspense, 11/22/63 is Stephen King at his epic best.

This article is related to: Films, Jonathan Demme, 11/22/63


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