Mystery-by-mail: Stephen King switches genre


The mail, it seems, is still quite important. Now it has led to a new mini-series linking two masters, Stephen King and David E. Kelley.
"Mr. Mercedes" debuts Wednesday; here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

LOS ANGELES --
Imagine that a thick package arrives unexpectedly. Inside is a
not-yet-published Stephen King novel.

What do you do then?
“I instantly Xeroxed and sold every copy I could,” Jack Bender
said.

He's joking about
that. What he did was to read it and then call King; the result is
“Mr. Mercedes,” a 10-week mini-series on the DirectTV/AT&T
Audience Network.

Bender, a
producer-director, had previously linked with King on the “Under
the Dome” series. Now the author had sent his new book, involving a
retired cop's search for a serial killer.

“Stephen King was
writing in the detective genre,” Bender said, “which he never had
before .... It was a story about the monster inside of us, as opposed
to the monster outside.”

David E. Kelley,
whose scripts – from “L.A. Law” and “Ally McBeal” to “The
Practice” and “Goliath” -- often focus on lawyers, wrote the
mini-series. Some of the actors were King buffs, some were not.

Brendan Gleeson, who
plays the cop, admits he's not much of a book-reader. “The movies
are where I found my Stephen King.”

Kelly Lynch, who
co-stars, has a different view. “I've read everything,” she said.
“I love him. 'Carrie' changed my life, as a nerdy high school girl”
in suburban Minneapolis. “When (King) showed up on our set to do a
cameo, all 6-foot-4 of him, I didn't know what to say.”

She plays someone
lost in liquor and bitterness. “It was a very hard character to
shake .... I'm not a method actor, (but) she did stay with me, the
darkness and the sadness.”

Harry Treadway plays
her son, the deceptive killer. The result, he said, is a “cul-de-sac
nightmare, that sort of suburban psychopath.”

Which is not
something you'd expect to suddenly arrive in a package from Stephen
King.

-- “Mr. Mercedes,”
Audience Network, via DirecTV and AT&T

-- 8 p.m. on
Wednesdays, rerunning at 11; debuts Aug. 9