In the works for several years, the adaptation of Lars Von Trier’s Danish miniseries “The Kingdom” is ready to begin filming in August. With an 8-month shooting schedule in Vancouver, the American version of this haunted hospital tale, dubbed “Kingdom Hospital,” will be 15 hours long and has the potential to become a weekly series for ABC. Even better is that the Americanized version is written by Stephen King, who is clearly not retired.
Describing itself as ““E.R.” on acid,” Attempting to emulate the casting of the original closely and the series will take place at a haunted hospital built on the site of a tragic mill fire and, later, a hospital fire. King will also be narrating the series, giving viewers the chilling background on the land where Kingdom Hospital now stands. King knows that something unsettling is going on at the hospital, something evil and eerie that cannot be explained away by modern science.
Among the characters, all of who will be seen throughout the run of the miniseries, are:
- Dr. Hook: A neurosurgeon at Kingdom Hospital, in his 30 to early 40s, Hook is good looking and self-confident. The viewers will see him doing everything from teaching to brain surgery to forensics. Brilliant in all sorts of ways, as well as unflappable and knowing with a unique approach to medicine, Hook actually stops to ponder with awe the brain’s amazing capabilities before tackling the actual surgery. Possessed of a cynical good humor (although sometimes an angry, despairing man inside peeks out), he lives in a basement apartment that is stuffed with all manner of hospital equipment he has salvaged or acquired by swapping and dealing on the side. Despite his quirks, he’s got a good bedside manner, is forthright and honest with his patients and their families. This is the lead of the miniseries and the actor must be willing to sign a series option to take on the role.
- Dr. “Steg” Stegman: In his fifties or sixties, Steg (he has no given first forename, just the nickname) is the head Neurosurgeon at Kingdom Hospital. He is described as being “arrogant and overbearing, pompous and superior…and an incompetent brain surgeon.” For his past transgressions, Steg had been forced to leave a prestigious hospital in Boston. As time passes, viewers see his evil nature emerge and he soon becomes the antagonist of the piece. Like Dr. Hook, he would carry over to a series if it were to happen.
- Mrs. Sally Druse: This 65-years-old is something of a fixture at Kingdom Hospital. Sally has been admitted for the tenth time and viewers soon learn this is where her son works. Nimble and most likely completely healthy, she clearly enjoys her stays at the hospital. A professional psychic, she gets herself admitted for various ailments in order to carry out her seances with the terminally ill. Sally is the first one to speak of the fact that Kingdom Hospital is haunted. Appearing flaky at first, we see her strength and conviction grow over time – viewers soon learn she is the key to the Kingdom. Again, she would carry over to the regular series if were to occur.
- Dr. Christine Draper: In her mid-30s, this neurosurgeon at Kingdom Hospital is a capable and levelheaded woman, as well as a friend and colleague of Dr. Hook. Patient, with a dry sense of humor, she keeps her cool when questioned regarding her authority about ordering an MRI.
- Dr. Jesse James: The Chief Hospital Administrator at Kingdom Hospital is a distinguished looking man wearing a designer suit. Always smiling and warm (even when the situation doesn’t warrant it), he is utterly incompetent as a doctor, but when it comes to fund-raising and dealing with big insurance companies, he’s got game. Desperately charming when the badly injured Peter Rickman is brought to the hospital, James knows that how the famous artist is cared for could have a huge impact on the hospital’s financial future. He is pegged as somewhere between his late 40s to late 50s.
- Elmer Traff: A bespectacled resident at Kingdom Hospital in his mid-20s, Traff is the assisting surgeon when Peter Rickman is brought to the hospital in bad shape. Shocked by how horribly Peter has been injured, this young doctor clearly does not really want to be a doctor, and doesn’t appear eager to watch a live-action craniotomy. He remains squeamish throughout the entire surgery. Elmer has a reputation for being a practical joker and later volunteers to help at the sleep lab because he is obsessed with the woman doctor who runs it.
- Dr. Brenda Abelson: Abelson is a pragmatic, humorless woman called a “prickly pear” by others and who has no time for Dr. James’ silliness. About 45, she is Steg’s ally and confidante at the hospital and is outraged when Dr. Hook opts to begin a meeting without the Head Neurosurgeon. In fact, she keeps tabs on the various doctors’ comments, taking mental attendance for Steg, of whom she has a terrible crush.
- Bobby Drese: Sally’s doting son, he is a large and rather sloppy orderly at Kingdom Hospital in his early 30s to mid 40s. While his mother irritates the hell out of him, he still loves her. He begrudgingly assists her cause at the risk of jeopardizing his job.
- Abel and Christa: Both are in their 20s to 30s, and have Down Syndrome. Kitchen workers at the hospital, they are an upbeat, seemingly child-like pair, usually seen laughing their heads off about something. However, they are acutely aware of what is really going on and offer us keen insight into the truth about Kingdom Hospital. The casting agents are looking only for actors who have Down Syndrome.
Sounds interesting. The show is slated to begin sometime in 2004.
Executive Producers: Stephen King and Mark Carliner
Writer: Stephen King
Director: Craig R. Baxley
Casting Directors: Meg Liberman, Cami Patton and Irene Cagen
Casting Assistants: Margaret Pearson and Elizabeth Barnes
Shoots: August 11, 2003 – March, 2004
Production Companies: Sony and Touchstone