‘Mr. Mercedes’ gets more life at Peacock plus Rudolph for sale

Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes is easily one of his best and most compelling trilogies including Finders Keepers, and End of Watch. You knew upon reading them, they would make a great mini-series as long as the right team got behind it. The right team did, but then it seems to have just disappeared after two seasons.

Now, NBC’s Peacock has discovered that the creepy and tense stories were hiding in plain sight. Fans of HBO’s “The Outsider” will be surprised to see one huge change though. It’s with the character of Holly Gibney. In King’s trilogy, the character is Caucasian and thus is played by Justine Lupe. On the HBO series, she is played by Cynthia Erivo, who does a brilliant job with the very complicated character. As Season 2 of “The Outsider” has been reported to be coming, there will be two different Holly Gibney’s being played.

“Mr. Mercedes” started life in 2017 as a broadcast offering on the AT&T-owned, DirecTV-exclusive Audience Network, only to be left marooned with an uncertain future after the obscure channel was shut down. The crime series gets another life this month after NBC’s Peacock streaming service acquired it.

“Nobody could find it. And that was enormously frustrating,” says director Jack Bender. “Hopefully it’s going to get the audience it’s always deserved.”

The pitch-dark series — adapted by David E. Kelley and starring Brendan Gleeson — is based on Stephen King’s bestselling Bill Hodges trilogy and follows a retired, ornery detective tormented by a seriously troubled serial killer who announces himself by mowing down dozens of people in line for a job fair in a stolen Mercedes.

“My intention was always to do a character driven, scary show about the monster inside these people instead of the monster outside the people,” says Bender. “Even though they’re monstrous people doing monstrous things, they are not, quote-unquote, boogeyman monsters.”

The first two seasons of “Mr. Mercedes” will be bingeable on Peacock starting on Oct. 15. The show’s most recent outing, 2019’s Season 3, will arrive on a date to be announced.

In addition to Gleeson, the cast includes Harry Treadaway, Kelly Lynch, Jharrel Jerome, Mary-Louise Parker, Holland Taylor, Breeda Wool and Nancy Travis. The series was filmed in Charleston, South Carolina, which stood in for Ohio.

English actor Treadway, who has played a genius psychopath in “Penny Dreadful,” takes on the serial killer in “Mr. Mercedes” and calls him “a unique, brilliantly drawn, complicated character.” He calls the story “electric.”

Treadway says one of his most powerful memories is watching King’s “The Shining” with Jack Nicholson and called King’s trilogy “such a page-turner. I just binged it and, in a dark way, just fell in love with the character and the world.”

His serial killer is tightly wound, vindictive, awkward, clever, a victim of abuse, a loner and filled with rage. “As an actor, my part of the process was definitely not to judge him. It was to understand him and get into the skin of him.”

Even years after filming, Treadway seems rattled: “That as a process was fascinating, disturbing at times, lingered afterwards — I won’t forget.”

While faithful to the books, Kelley and Bender inserted their own ideas to the adaptation. Kelley added a next-door neighbor to the detective (played by Taylor) and Bender gave him an extensive vinyl record collection and a tortoise to look after.

The pet was inspired by a tortoise that Bender’s own daughter — Hannah Bender, the show’s costume designer — got when she was a child and the records give the series a quirky soundscape, from Donovan, Reagan Youth, Leonard Cohen and Radiohead to The Drifters, T-Bone Burnett and Juice Newton.

“I wanted the music to come from the characters in ‘Mr. Mercedes’ because I really don’t love just putting the record on and letting it be emotional or cool over a montage,” says Bender.

Bender was executive producer and lead director on the ABC series “Lost” but don’t expect many Easter eggs like that show in “Mr. Merecedes,” although there’s a nod to King with the inclusion of the Ramone’s song “Pet Sematary” — also the title of a novel by King — and the writer himself makes a cameo.

Bender says that’s only fitting: “All of his books, even if they are advertised and known to have a supernatural flair, have very rich characters. They all do.”

original santa rudolph red nosed reindeer on auction block 2020

Rudolph Ready For New Home

Want to have a childhood memory in time for the holiday season? Better yet, one that can be yours year round.

Rudolph and his still-shiny nose are getting a new home, and it’s bound to be a lot nicer than the Island of Misfit Toys.

The soaring reindeer and Santa Claus figures who starred in the perennially beloved stop-motion animation Christmas special “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” are going up for auction. You can download the Auction Catalog just below.

Rudolph Santa auction catalogueDownload

Auction house Profiles in History announced Thursday that a 6-inch-tall Rudolph and 11-inch-tall Santa used to animate the 1964 TV special are being sold together in the auction that starts Nov. 13 and are expected to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000.

Collector Peter Lutrario of Staten Island, New York, thought they might be the only items he would never sell, but when he recently turned 65 he thought about having something to leave for his children and grandchildren.

“I always said I would die with the dolls,” he told media outlets. “I’m just putting the family first.”

The figures were made by Japanese puppet maker Ichiro Komuro and used for the filming of the show at Tadaito Mochinaga’s MOM Productions in Tokyo.

They’re made of wood, wire, cloth and leather. Rudolph’s nose, after some minimal maintenance through the years, still lights up. The realistic bristles of Santa’s beard are made from yak hair.

Lutrario, who bought them about 15 years ago after seeing them appraised on “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS, says that even after well over five decades you can manipulate them as the original animators did.

“They’re still malleable,” he said, “and it’s very detailed. Not only can you move the arms, the legs, the head, you can move the fingers, the thumbs.

The show, produced by the company that would become Rankin/Bass Animated Entertainment, first aired Dec. 6, 1964 on NBC in the United States. It’s been a TV staple ever since with its tale, based on the 1939 song, of a year when Christmas was almost canceled, the misfit reindeer who saved it, an elf with dreams of being a dentist, and an island full of cast-away toys.

The figures would make their way to the New York offices of Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass. Rankin later gave them to his secretary, who gave them to her nephew, who owned them until Lutrario bought them in 2005.

The figures, among several used to make the special, are the first encountered by the auctioneers at Profiles in History, which specializes in selling rare and coveted Hollywood memorabilia.

The company said in a statement that the “rarity of these puppets cannot be overstated.”

The magic about collecting memorabilia is that when your eyes focus upon the object, you are taken back to a time during your youth when your senses were overwhelmed with amazement, wonder and joy as you were watching a favorite movie or television program. Those special moments captured by your mind are unlocked and brought forth with equal intensity as you gaze upon the actual artifact that created such a powerful memory.  

This very special offering embodies this very notion, as it happened to me when I first saw these original “Rudolph” and “Santa” stop motion puppets from my all-time favorite holiday classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Years ago, I visited the owner of these puppets during one of the episodes of Hollywood Treasure, and I was never able to shake them from my mind.  Finally, after all of these years, he has decided to pass ownership of these enormously famous characters to a new owner.  It is with great pride and enthusiasm that we make this special offering as we usher in the 2020 Holiday Season.