Stephen King’s Cell Heads to TV in Mini-Series Form

The last time we got an update on Stephen King’s “Cell”, his story about a strange cellphone signal that turns people into mindless psychopaths (though I’m told they’re not technically zombies, more like Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” crossed with the “Children of the Damned”), it was way back in 2007, when would-be director Eli Roth announced that the movie adaptation was on temporary hiatus. Fangoria has news that “Cell” will indeed get adapted into a movie — except it won’t be a theatrical film, but instead a 4-hour mini-series from director John Harrison.

More about the 2006 novel from

What if a pulse sent out through cell phones turned every person using one of them into a zombie-like killing machine? That’s what happens on page six of King’s latest, a glib, technophobic but compelling look at the end of civilization—or at what may turn into a new, extreme, telepathically enforced fascism. Those who are not on a call at the time of the pulse (and who don’t reach for their phones to find out what is going on) remain “normies.” One such is Clayton Riddell, an illustrator from Kent Pond, Maine, who has just sold some work in Boston when the pulse hits. Clay’s single-minded attempt to get back to Maine, where his estranged wife, Sharon, and young son, Johnny-Gee, may or may not have been turned into “phoners” (as those who have had their brains wiped by the pulse come to be called) comprises the rest of the plot. King’s imagining of what is more or less post-Armageddon Boston is rich, and the sociological asides made by his characters along the way—Clay travels at first with two other refugees—are jaunty and witty.

According to director John Harrison (Clive Barker’s “Book of Blood”), he’s currently writing the 4-hour mini-series while The Weinstein Company is shopping the movie to networks. Considering King’s name, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a network to bite. Since this is a post-apocalyptic tale, the budget should be up there for a TV production, but if you ask me, it might be better for the filmmakers to try to get a basic cable network like the FX Channel or TNT instead of the big networks, if just to get more creative freedom.

In the meantime, when you hear strange signals coming from your cellphone, just do what I do and run and hide in your closet.

Below: Look! Cellphones are turning girls into mindless zombies already! Dear God, run before they force you to overhear their conversation about that cute guy at the mall who totally checked them out!