I was going to make mention of Vertigo's Preacher, then I found this.
And then this.http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/index...ory=0&id=39072
Johnson Talks HBO's Preacher
Mark Steven Johnson, who has just signed a deal with HBO to adapt the popular Vertigo comic Preacher into an hourlong series, told SCI FI Wire that he plans to turn each issue of the comic into a single episode, which will be as close to the original source material as possible. "I gave [HBO] the comics, and I said, 'Every issue is an hour,'" Johnson said at a preview of his upcoming film Ghost Rider in Hollywood, Calif., on Nov. 30. "And it's exactly the book. ... I had my meeting yesterday, and [Preacher creator] Garth Ennis is on the phone, and we're all in the room, and Garth is like, 'You don't have to be so beholden to the comic.' And I'm like, 'No, no, no. It's got to be like the comic.' So that's what's so brilliant about it. It's just like, HBO, who else would do it but them? Nobody. ... HBO is just like, 'Bring it on.'"
Johnson is no stranger to comic-book adaptations, having written and directed Daredevil and Ghost Rider, both based on Marvel comics characters. In the case of Preacher, however, he felt that a feature film would not do the story justice. "Well, Preacher is 70-something issues," he said. "There was going to be a movie made of Preacher a while ago, and I read the script, and it broke my heart. Because I'm like, 'Oh, it's not a two-hour movie. Preacher's six years—six dedicated years of the most incredible stuff you've ever seen in your whole life. So I always thought HBO was the only way to do that."
Preacher centers on a Texas holy man named Jesse Custer, who is possessed by a supernatural entity that is half angel and half demon. Given immense powers, Jesse sets out on a journey to find God—who has fled from heaven—and hold him accountable for his actions.
"He can do whatever he wants with that power," Johnson said. "And instead he says, 'You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to find God. And I'm going to make him pay. I want God to answer for everything he's done to people.' I think that's really honorable. ... God gets scared, and he leaves heaven because Jesse's so powerful. Jesse says, 'You know what? I'm going to find God. And I don't care how long it takes. And I want to make God give an answer to everybody and say why you've deserted your people.' It's honorable."
Although the deal was just finalized this week, Johnson said he isn't wasting any time getting to work on the script. "I had my meeting yesterday, so I've go to get writing. ... Right now. Literally, when I get home." —Cindy White
TALKING PREACH WITH MARK STEVEN JOHNSON
by Daniel Robert Epstein
Did director Mark Steven Johnson not get enough abuse from the fan community for his film adaptation of Daredevil? Well hopefully he will always be wearing a raincoat and a hardhat from now on with his announcement that he will be adapting the hit Vertigo comic series Preacher, created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, for television. Luckily Johnson has bypassed a lot of the heartache by going to the place that everyone said would be perfect for the series, HBO.
Johnson has been building good buzz over the past couple of weeks with some previews of Ghost Rider he screened for the online genre press. Hopefully that buzz will help make Ghost Rider a big hit which will give Johnson the Hollywood clout to make the Preacher TV series every bit as good as the comic. I got a chance to chat with Johnson on the phone from the studio where he was still editing Ghost Rider.
Newsarama: What do you think of the reaction that the announcement of the Preacher HBO series has gotten?
Mark Steven Johnson: I haven't seen a lot of it, to be honest with you. But overall a lot of the comic books fans from message boards that I do frequent have been really nice and supportive in contacting me and asking me what I'll be doing. The fun thing for me is the people that'll just come up to me in a coffee shop or when I'm doing something else and they've got that look in their eye and I know they're going to talk about Preacher and it's so awesome. It's great because everybody is so excited about it. People have been waiting for it for a long time.
NRAMA: I love many of Howard Deutch's films, especially the John Hughes ones, but I think many fans were confused by the announcement of his involvement.
MSJ: First, it is not decided whether I'm going to direct it, if Howard's going to direct it or if we're going to have someone else direct it. That was a bit of jumping the gun. Howard and I were talking about that again this morning. We're not sure yet. We have to get that far. This is all still preliminary. I still have to write the pilot and if we go ahead and shoot it, there's a chance I might do it or Howie might do it or someone else might do it. People assumed that since Howie has done a lot of television. But that hasn't been decided yet. Again TV is different from film in so many different ways and Howie's experience with HBO is that he won an award doing a Tales From the Crypt for them, which a lot of people don't know.
NRAMA: I didn't know that.
MSJ: Yeah, he actually did a Tales From the Crypt that starred Demi Moore.
NRAMA: Oh! With Jeffrey Tambor. I love that one!
MSJ: See? [laughs] Isn't it amazing how one episode can change your opinion on someone? A lot of people don't realize he did that and won a Cable Ace for it. He's done very different things as I have too. So I understand people's confusion at first thinking, "Is this going to be Preacher lite?" It's not. It's going to be exactly the comic book. We had our first meeting with Garth Ennis on the phone and Garth Ennis was the one saying, "You don't have to be so beholden to the comic. Some things we just did…because. There are other ways to go." It's funny to hear him say something like that. But that's usually the case. Creators say stuff like, you can add to it, you can take away from it, you can try something different. But I made it very clear to him and to HBO that this is a series based on one of the greatest comic series of all time. Therefore you don't want to stray from it, you want to make it exact and thank God for HBO, they're the only place I could think of that could do it.
NRAMA: People have always said either HBO or the BBC for things of that nature.
MSJ: Yeah but there's no way the BBC would really do the book. The stuff is so controversial, so violent, so sexy and so funny. Everything about it is spectacular. You can't do it in a movie because it would take so many movies combined to tell the whole story and you can't do it on any network television, just for all the obvious reasons. So it was really HBO or nothing. When I went in to pitch it to them I said "I hope you love this as much as I do because if you don't want to do it it's done." There's nowhere else to go.
NRAMA: What was the pitch?
MSJ: The book. I came in with the comics saying "Here it is." I said "I'm going to try to make it about an issue or so for each show. Some things will move around, some will be bigger than they are and some will have to come down." But basically that was my template. As I've said this is a five, six year show.
NRAMA: Did you have to get the rights to pitch Preacher?
MSJ: No. I just checked them out and realized that they were available again. It had gone in and out of development to be made as a film and I realized that the rights were now available. HBO and I had been talking about doing something together with Howie ever since he did Tales From the Crypt with them. So we went in and I said, "This is what I want to do." They said, "Great." Then they went about getting the rights after that.
NRAMA: Is it funny that it ends up at a Warner Bros company again?
MSJ: [laughs] That is just the nature of the business. There's not that many places really to go to. There are only a couple places and they swallow everything else up. But I'm just thrilled to work at HBO because I don't do television and if I ever did want to do it, it was going to be here at HBO. They're just so supportive and they love this project and they get it which is wonderful.
NRAMA: You've mentioned that you will definitely be adapting the 66 issues of Preacher and the Saint of Killers miniseries. Will you be doing the one shots like Good Ol' Boys and Tall in the Saddle?
MSJ: Oh yeah, absolutely. I want to be able to tell the story and fashion it exactly like the book and then be able to take an episode or so and dedicate it to one of those one shots. I'd like to tell the Saint of Killers story like they did so that's separate and runs over a couple episodes on its own. Hopefully, a couple years down the road.
I'm just writing up the outline right now. But the only way it'll all work is to picture it all happening. So in my mind I'm moving ahead with it being a five, six year plan for the show.
NRAMA: I remember when we spoke for the Daredevil DVD, I asked you about how cool was it basically recreating the Bullseye killing Elektra scene and you said that you literally ripped out pages from the comics and pasted them on the wall.
MSJ: That's right.
NRAMA: How close are we keeping to actual structure of the panels and the placement of the characters within those panels?
MSJ: Oh very close. Very, very, very close. Again this is what we talked about the other day in our first meeting. Down to the very small specifics with asking Garth, "Why did you or Steve [Dillon] choose this versus this? What does this mean?" Sometimes it was just an impulse and sometimes it had a much bigger repercussions to it. The great thing for me to is also I said to Garth, "Is there something you wanted to put in the series but couldn't for whatever reason? Maybe there was some subplot that you cut, please let me know. This is the time to get it out because we do have the opportunity to act out and flesh out all these characters." But absolutely, Steve's work and Glen Fabry's work are so arresting and powerful. They're very important to the look of this.
NRAMA: Will the color palette of the show have that western, dusty feel?
MSJ: Yeah, absolutely. But it will also be able to change and do things between the different worlds like when we're in heaven and then we're down with the Saint of Killers or whatever. You want to be able to really get that across. That's the great thing about the DI, the Digital Intermediate Process, you can really use that to affect your different looks and worlds. That's going to be an important thing for Preacher.
NRAMA: Out of the artists that have worked on Preacher, mostly Steve Dillon, Glen Fabry and Carlos Ezquerra, whose interpretations will you be following in terms of character sketches?
MSJ: Oh it'll be Steve and Glen's, not to take anything away from anyone but both are very important to me. I have the book of just the covers that Glen did. But Steve is the one that I keep going back to. The huge majority of that story is Steve Dillon's artwork. I think it's beautiful and it's simple, which makes it really strong. When I say simple I just mean that he doesn't overcomplicate it, he doesn't overdo it. He doesn't go overly in detail. He just keeps it in very strong, clear lines. That's what Preacher is.
When I think of Jesse [Custer] I think of someone who's strong, clear and very moral. For me the success of the series always was that it was so far out, so violent and that it had a lot of sex. It had all this controversy from the Bible and this reimagining of Christian mythology. It is so fantastic, but at the core of it was always Jesse Custer. Jesse really is the most moral guy in the world. He just wanted what was right. You treat women right, you stand by your friends, you don't take **** from anybody and when God himself decides to split heaven, Jesse just wants him to own up to what he did. I think that's such a noble cause. Sometimes that gets lost amid the controversy.
NRAMA: Do you want to try and bring in comic book creators, besides Garth and Steve, to either work on the writing and storyboards?
MSJ: Potentially, yeah. Again that's too preliminary for me right now. I'm just thinking about the pilot and making sure it stays faithful and that it's as successful as it can be.
NRAMA: How much will someone need to be a fan of the Preacher comic to get into and enjoy the series?
MSJ: You can't ever think that way because even though there is a big fan base, like I'm one of them and you're one of them, but as far as the population goes it's still quite small. You don't do it and say "This is just going to be for the fans" This has got to be for everybody. But the fans are the ones who have to give it their stamp of approval. They have to be the ones to say, "Yeah you nailed it. It's fantastic." I believe that if it works for the fans it will work for the general population. But you always have to have your eye on the bigger picture. This is being made for HBO. You want as many people as possible to see it.
NRAMA: HBO usually does about eight to 12 episodes of their original series a season. What are you shooting for?
MSJ: I'm hoping to do about 12.
NRAMA: Jesse Custer is supposed to be about 22 years old in the series. But sometimes people cast older and then make them look younger. What age range are you looking for?
MSJ: It's going to all depend on the character. I'm sure he'll be 20's. 30's feels too old for Jesse and you certainly don't want to go any younger. So I'm certainly thinking 20's is where we're going to end up.
NRAMA: I heard Carnivale was an expensive show, maybe over one million dollars an episode or something. Does Preacher need a big budget like that?
MSJ: I haven't written it so I can't talk about it generally like that. But it's not something you make on the cheap, put it that way. It has scope so it deserves everything it can get. My goal is to make a psychological movie every week.
NRAMA: Will the Preacher episodes be rated MA?
MSJ: I think so. If there's a higher one we don't know about, it will be that.
NRAMA: Please treat me like I'm stupid for the next couple of questions. So Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon sold the television rights therefore they don't own them anymore, right?
MSJ: That's right.
NRAMA: So now if Garth or Steve don't like something in a Preacher TV script, will it be changed?
MSJ: I'm not sure. I really don't know, that has to do with Garth's deal on the project. But trust me, I'm emailing Garth and I'm going to be calling Garth and he's going to be part of this process, probably more than he'll want to be. He'll probably change his number and get a restraining order because I want to consult him on everything. Why wouldn't you? In my opinion he's the greatest writer in comics.
NRAMA: Will this be a fully staffed show with a team of writers and all that?
MSJ: Oh sure. HBO is serious about this. They love this project. That's rare when something comes on and you can honestly say there's never been anything like it before and Preacher is one of them.
NRAMA: Will HBO be making "**** Communism" Zippo Lighters?
MSJ: [laughs] Let me get the pilot written first. I like your energy though. I would love to be thinking about things like that. But it would be great though. Just sell collars to people. It will be the hip new accessory for next fall.
NRAMA: As for Ghost Rider, obviously PG-13 is an important thing for these movies to be able to make the amount of money it needs to. But was making it PG-13 a major decision?
MSJ: It was a take it or leave it choice, so yes. But I also don't subscribe to the idea that you have to have a lot of blood and gore and such to make a really cool, hardcore, and faithful Ghost Rider. There are so many films out there that have all the blood and guts with the hard R and they're terrible. You have to be more creative sometimes. That being said, Ghost Rider is super intense. I was very happy and very pleased to get the PG-13. I thought we were going to have to make a lot of cuts to get it, but I think because we're in more of a fantasy element with the flaming skull and what not, we were able to get by. But it's intense and I'm very proud of the look of it.
NRAMA: Again talking about the Daredevil interview we did. I asked you about the fact that there were no "created by" credits for Stan Lee and Bill Everett so that's why you put in the Lee cameo, named a character Father Everett and things like that. For Ghost Rider, did you try and put in credits for the creators Roy Thomas, Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog?
MSJ: Well again I try to put names in for the creators in the way I did for Daredevil. It is something that I've gone up against there. But it's a Marvel issue. It's a corporate issue that I haven't been able to break through.
NRAMA: What are their fears?
MSJ: This is all speculation on my part. It's all about business. It's all about precedent. Once they give that credit to someone on screen, it opens the door with them trying to get more of the money involved in the movie.
NRAMA: It always comes down to money.
MSJ: It's unfortunate because there are a lot of the artists and writers who haven't been treated right and haven't been given the credit that's due to them. So I try to give it to them when we're doing press or something like that because at least I can do that.
NRAMA: Is there Father Everett type stuff in Ghost Rider? MSJ: Yeah there is. Some of cops are named after creators but then they ended up getting cut from the film but there are still some in there. There's Officer Mackie [for Howard Mackie] and a few others to watch for.