Inside The Music Of Stephen King’s ‘Under The Dome’ Miniseries
Stephen King is a big fan of music, and musicians seem to reciprocate. In 1986, AC/DC’s Who Made Who, featuring some of the band’s biggest hits and a few brand new songs (including the title track), served as the soundtrack to Maximum Overdrive, a film directed by King and based on his short story “Trucks.” The Ramones wrote the theme song to the 1989 film adaptation of his book Pet Sematary, while the 1994 TV miniseries adaptation of his novel The Stand used Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear The Reaper” while showing the effects of a deadly disease that wiped out 99 percent of the world’s population.
So, almost needless to say, the upcoming CBS miniseries adaptation of his 2009 novel, Under The Dome, will have some great music moments as well. Radio.com spoke to Dome Music Supervisor Ann Kline, who has worked on The West Wing, Third Watch and ER, about how music will be used on the 13-part series, which premieres June 24 and follows the story of a small Maine town that has mysteriously been cut off from the rest of the world by a impenetrable but invisible dome.
King’s tastes generally fall within punk rock, heavy rock and Americana (see the “Ultimate Playlist” he wrote for his now-retired Entertainment Weekly column, The Pop Of King). However, the first song to be mentioned in the novel itself is LCD Soundsystem’s “North American Scum,” an electronic anthem from Brooklyn’s most tried and true trendsetters.
“We really did want to use that,” Kline said of “North American Scum.” “We just couldn’t afford it! We put it in the scene, it worked great! Hopefully you’ll like what we put in instead. It would have been cool to use.”
She says that, for a number of reasons be it cost or otherwise, the music mentioned in the novel won’t always make it to the miniseries.
“We can’t always use exactly what’s in the book, but the producers, directors and writers are totally cool and open-minded about using new and independent bands. It’s great to hear music that you know, but it’s also exciting to discover something new. But the story comes first.”
She’s hesitant to reveal specific songs, but one she will say that makes the series is Skeeter Davis’ 1962 hit “End Of The World,” which has been covered by Loretta Lynn, Best Coast and John Mellencamp, among others). “[Executive Producer] Neal Baer brought up the song in a music meeting and everyone in the room thought it would be a cool song for the show,” she said, referencing the shared theme of the apocalypse.
The miniseries is set in present time, and Kline points out that it features newly released music from the likes of Portugal. The Man and Fitz & The Tantrums.
“Some of the more fun music we use is for the kids who live in the town,” Kline said. “Some of them are left with no parents, or one parent, there’s no school, so they have this new freedom.”
After the initial meetings about the show, Kline says her job really starts when a script is delivered to her. “If there’s a song that they need on camera, that they need to shoot to, I work on that immediately,” she explains. But more frequently, a song is used as background music, or to enhance a scene in some way, so more of her work entails figuring out what songs to put into a scene after it has been shot.
As previously mentioned, much of Kline’s background is in TV dramas; she cites her time spent working with writer/director Aaron Sorkin on The West Wing as one highlight due to his specific process.
“The way Aaron would write music into shows was so thoughtful and cool,” she explained. “There were episodes that were about a song, I loved that. Plus I got to work with so many cool artists, from Yo-Yo Ma to the Foo Fighters.”
Her work hasn’t been limited to television, though, working on films such as Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.
“It was such a different experience,” Kline said of working with Tarantino. “He wrote every song into the script and every single song worked beautifully. Usually you get a script, and some songs are written in and some work, and some don’t, some are placeholders. In the Jackie Brown script, we didn’t change anything. I still listen to the soundtrack all the time, and I love all the dialogue clips in it!”
Under The Dome premieres June 24 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS and runs for 13 weeks.