‘The Stand’: What to Know About the Star-Studded Stephen King Series

Robert Falconer/CBS

In what’s either the best or the worst timing, The Stand — what CBS calls an “apocalyptic vision of a world decimated by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil” — drops on CBS All Access on December 17.

Before the premiere of the latest iteration of Stephen King’s epic fantasy, get up to speed with the primer below.

It’s Based on a Best-Selling Book

The Stand is based on King’s 1978 novel of the same name, which was released shortly after two other masterpieces by the master of horror: 1974’s Carrie and 1977’s The Shining.

The book tells the story of an influenza-like plague that kills off most of the world’s population after an outbreak at the U.S. Department of Defense lab where it was being developed as a bio-weapon. Those who survive the near-extinction flock to one of two leaders: the 108-year-old Mother Abagail, or the powerful Randall Flagg, aka the Dark Man.

King released a “complete and uncut” version of the story in 1990, and the 1,152-page tome still ranks as his longest book yet.

In a press release, CBS says its version of The Stand “will close with a new coda written by the famed author himself.”

It’s Not the Book’s First Adaptation

The King story also inspired the 1994 ABC miniseries The Stand, which starred Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, and Rob Lowe, and was nominated for six Emmys.

Years later, Riverdale executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa adapted the story into a 31-issue Marvel comic book series, which ran between 2008 and 2012.

Interestingly, the new project’s director and co-writer Josh Boone — who directed the X-Men spinoff of Stephen King’s epic fantasy.The New Mutants — signed on the dotted line in 2014 to make The Stand into a feature film for Warner Bros. and CBS Films. By early 2019, however, the project had been rerouted to the small screen.

“I read The Stand under my bed when I was 12, and my Baptist parents burned it in our fireplace upon discovery,” Boone told Deadline when the CBS All Access adaptation got the green light. “Incensed, I stole my Dad’s FedEx account number and mailed King a letter professing my love for his work. Several weeks later, I came home to find a box had arrived from Maine, and inside were several books, each inscribed with a beautiful note from god himself, who encouraged me in my writing and thanked me for being a fan.”

It Has an All-Star Cast

The series features Big Little Lies alum Alexander Skarsgård as Randall Flagg, Whoopi Goldberg as Mother Abigail, and other boldfaced names including James Marsden, Amber Heard, Greg Kinnear, Jovan Adepo, Daniel Sunjata, Katherine McNamara, Eion Bailey, Nat Wolff, and Heather Graham.

The Stand, Streaming Premiere, Thursday, December 17, CBS All Access