ABC’s ‘Hospital’ ready to operate

King put project on hold to write every episode

ABC has greenlit production on the long-delayed Stephen King series “Kingdom Hospital,” which will premiere on the net next January.

Formerly known as “The Kingdom,” the 15-hour series was originally targeted for this season (Daily Variety, July 22, 2001). But King wanted to write every episode before the show moved forward.

Now that the author has turned in all 15 hours, casting is expected to begin in late May, after the nets return from their New York upfront presentations. “Kingdom Hospital” will premiere as a two-hour movie, followed by 13 weekly episodes.

Speaking to advertisers recently during the net’s development meetings, ABC Entertainment prexy Susan Lyne said “Kingdom Hospital” would likely air after “Monday Night Football,” given the male-targeted appeal for spooky fare. The show could also wind up on Thursday nights, where Stephen King miniseries have traditionally performed well for the web.

King’s most recent ABC mini, “Rose Red,” spawned a marketing tie-in with the bestselling book “The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red.” Although not penned by King, the book itself has now been turned into a telepic and airs this May sweeps.

“Kingdom Hospital,” a co-production between Touchstone TV and Sony Pictures Television, is based on the 1994 Danish miniseries “The Kingdom.” Project revolves around a haunted hospital built over an ancient graveyard.

As an indicator of how long “Kingdom Hospital” has been in development at ABC: When the net first announced the project — at its summer 2001 press tour — Lyne was still the Alphabet’s movies and minis topper.

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