A television adaptation of Stephen King's novel Under the Dome has been gestating for years, and initially the project from producer Steven Spielberg and writer Brian K. Vaughan was set up at Showtime, but that's no longer the case.
Spielberg and his Amblin Television banner felt the project was not moving forward at Showtime, and now Under the Dome will be adapted at CBS, who has decided to bypass the creation of a pilot in favor of a 13-episode series order.
For those who aren't familiar with the bestselling 2009 novel, here's the official synopsis from Stephen King's website
“On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester’s Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when — or if — it will go away.
Dale Barbara, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens – the town newspaper owner, a physician’s assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing to hold on to the reins of power, and his son. Because time isn’t just short… It’s running out.”
Deadline reports that Spielberg and Vaughan (who has written comic books like Y: The Last Man and TV series like Lost) are still in place for Under the Dome, which aims to debut next summer, but it won't be exactly what fans remember from the novel. When adapting the book, Vaughan kept the basic story and many of the main characters (with some tweaked details and backstories), but there will also be some new characters who will serve as series regulars. However, fans should know that King has approved all of these changes.
But one element that fans might be curious about is the ending. We won't spoil it here, but the novel does give Under the Dome a somewhat limited timeline - one that could easily be completed in 13 hour-long episodes. However, Deadline says CBS isn't going to use the book's ending, because they want another season of the series if it's successful.
Niels Arden Oplev is directing the first episode of Under the Dome
The move to CBS isn't really a loss for Showtime since it was the cable network's president, David Nevins, who recommended it to their primetime sister network. However, we hope the jump from cable to network television doesn't dilute the quality and drama of the series. CBS is also keeping things in the family on the directing side of things, as they've set up Niels Arden Oplev, director of the original adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the network's Unfortgettable pilot, to helm the first episode of Under the Dome.
There's quite an awesome assembly of talent behind this series adaptation of King's novel, and each name involved has plenty of TV success. Spielberg produced Falling Skies for TNT, and King's novel The Colorado Kid served as the inspiration for the SyFy series Haven, which was just renewed for a fourth season last month. Finally, Vaughan served as a writer, story editor and producer on Lost, and we haven't seen a series replicate the success and popularity of that ABC sci-fi drama yet.
Under the Dome is expected to debut on CBS in the summer of 2013. Stay tuned for more updates.