The sales space EPs on why the present’s fictional plague would not add to the distress of the COVID pandemic in actual life
The creative team behind CBS All Access’ adaptation of The Stand knows that you may be wary of seeing a show that focuses on a deadly virus. After all, the premiere of the miniseries falls familiar words like “quarantine” and “tested positive”, and there is a lot of coughing – we saw and heard all of these quite a lot during the real coronavirus pandemic.
But for those unfamiliar with the Stephen King novel The Stand is based on, executive producers Benjamin Cavell and Taylor Elmore can assure you that the show is more than just an eerie mirror of our contemporary world. In fact, “It’s really not about a pandemic,” suggests Cavell. “It’s about the next fight.”
The booth takes place during and after the spread of Captain Trips, a highly contagious influenza that wipes out most of the world’s population. On the trail, remains a group of survivors – including Stu Redman (James Marsden of Dead to Me), Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo of Watchmen), and Nadine Cross (Amber Heard of Aquaman) – who try to build a new society as they go fend off a threat from the sinister and supernatural villain Randall Flagg, played by Alexander Skarsgard of True Blood.
Though the show’s premiere ends on Thursday, December 17, this version of The Stand – the second TV adaptation after a 1994 miniseries starring Gary Sinise and Molly Ringwald – has been in the works since 2017, as CBS All Access program director Julie McNamara reached out to Cavell about a new project based on King’s novel.
“Just three years ago, there was a moment when The Stand was already receiving a tremendous amount of feedback,” says Cavell. “We all came to question so many things that I had taken for granted – the structure of human society, human civilization, American democracy. Those are the questions at the heart of The Stand. What would you do if you had the chance to hit humanity’s reset button? How would you rebuild? That’s what made me do it. “
And while Cavell acknowledges that “real world events have given it a different kind of resonance,” he and Elmore hope viewers will not be put off by the incidence of a global health crisis. (“We’re very faithful to the portrayal of the disease in the book,” adds Cavell. “Captain Trips doesn’t feel like COVID. It doesn’t look like COVID.”)
“This is a terrible time for the world right now and you don’t want to add to the misery,” admits Elmore. “But while this story is similar, at least initially, it becomes something very different over time. It’s about who we are as humans. “