The Stephen King multimedia renaissance shows no signs of letting up. We’ve seen plenty of film, television, and comic book adaptations of King’s novels and short stories, not to mention audiobooks read by notable acting alumni from some of those adaptations. Now, Audio Up Media, iHeartMedia, and producer Lee Metzger are about to fill your ears with a new podcast based on “Strawberry Spring,” one of the chilling tales from King’s classic 1978 collection, Night Shift.
The Wrap reports that “Metzger will write and direct the podcast series, with a cast that includes Garrett Hedlund, Milo Ventimiglia, Herizen F. Guardiola, Sydney Sweeney, Ken Marino and Al Madrigal.” It’s worth noting that EPIX also has a television series, Chapelwaite, soon coming, based on “Jerusalem’s Lot,” the first story in Night Shift.
“Strawberry Spring” takes its title from a phrase that old-timers in New England supposedly use to refer to the premature onset of spring-like conditions in late winter (rather like an Indian summer in autumn). As King writes in the story, it’s “an evil, lying time that only comes once every eight or ten years.” This is the season when the mist rolls in, “putting fairy haloes around the street lamps.”
Against this backdrop, we learn of Springheel Jack, a Ripper-like killer who once stalked the campus where the unnamed narrator went to college. Twists naturally ensue.
Podcasts, Short Stories Herald Future Screen Tales and Talent
One fiction podcast that comes to mind when reading the cast list for Strawberry Spring is the similarly stacked Homecoming, Gimlet Media’s thriller starring Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, and David Schwimmer. That podcast has since made the leap to Amazon Prime, where, across two seasons, it has come to life as a television series with an even more stacked cast, including Julia Roberts, Bobby Canavale, Shea Wigham, Sissy Spacek, Janelle Monáe, Hong Chau, Chris Cooper, and Joan Cusack.
The idea of podcasts as a breeding ground for future screen adaptations isn’t the only reason to sit up and take notice here. Recently, we’ve been banging the drum for audiobooks here on /Film. As someone who has consumed a fair number of Stephen King audiobooks — read by movie and TV actors like Steven Weber, Mare Winningham, Sissy Spacek, Will Patton, and Michael C. Hall — I couldn’t be more excited about the possibility of hearing more King stories performed in the podcast medium.
Podcasts, like audiobooks, are a great way to keep yourself entertained while you’re embroiled in mundane tasks like driving or taking your morning constitutional (before disappearing into your pandemic cave of self-isolation). What’s interesting about Night Shift is that King made a deal back in the day where student filmmakers could adapt stories from it for the price of one dollar. Frank Darabont was one of those filmmakers: he adapted “The Woman in the Room,” and would, of course, later go on to helm feature-length adaptations of The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist, all King novellas or novels.
I would kill (figuratively speaking, not like Springhill Jack) to hear a podcast adaptation of “The Boogeyman,” one of the other stories from Night Shift and my personal favorite King short story. At one point, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, the co-writers of A Quiet Place, were attached to a film adaptation of “The Boogeyman,” but the Disney-Fox merger has thrown into doubt whether that project will ever come to fruition.
Another great contender for at least a single podcast episode would be a story like “The Man in Black,” King’s O. Henry Award-winning short from Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales. As the recent Apple TV+ adaptation of Lisey’s Story has shown, King can be hit-or-miss, so maybe someone out there should consider adapting one of his short story collections as an anthology podcast. That way, if the listener hits a “miss,” they can move on to the next “hit” without losing hours of precious time that might otherwise be spent smelling the spring flowers.
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