The Director discusses working with the comic's creator, following the story exactly as it's written, and possible guest directors!

During a recent event at Hollywood Forever Cemetery for Sony's upcoming film Ghost Rider, the movie's director talked about his new project with HBO titled Preacher.

Preacher was a comic from 1995-2000, and it told the tale "of a down-and-out Texas preacher possessed by Genesis, a supernatural entity conceived by the unnatural coupling of an angel and a demon. Given immense powers, the preacher teamed with an old girlfriend and a hard-drinking Irish vampire and set out on a journey across America to find God -- who apparently had abandoned his duties in heaven -- and hold him accountable for his negligence."

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The story was created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion who will be executive producers.

Johnson, who is going to be writing the pilot and producing the show, talked at length about this new venture.

Did the research you did for Ghost Rider prep you for Preacher?

Mark Steven Johnson: Well, Preacher I've always wanted to do. It's the greatest but it's so difficult. I love it more than anybody. I remember reading a script that was going to go to film and wondering, "How do you make a two hour movie out of Preacher?" You can't do it, you know? So when I went into HBO, I said, very simply, "Here's the comic, there's 75 issues... every issue is an hour. It's a 6 year show." And HBO, God bless them, went "Cool."

Are you staying loyal to the storyline?

Mark Steven Johnson: Not loyal, exact. We had our first meeting the other day and it was like I kept waiting for them to go, "We're not doing this!" (Laughs) It's just so out there. I'm like, "HBO's got balls!" Today, I emailed Kevin Smith and I said, "Dude, I just got Preacher, I know you you love it, if it goes... would you please direct an episode?" I want to go to Kevin, I want to go to Robert Rodriguez, I want to go to all these people and do guest directors. That would be really cool. I want it to be a prestige thing. You love Preacher? Come do a show? We'll keep the spirit of it, keep the vibe of it but also know that there will be a different imprint every time.

My job is to help write the shows. I'm working with Garth everyday; he's a big part of it. Make sure it's exactly what we want then let the director put his imprint on it, but it's got to be the book.

Do you know where you're shooting...

Mark Steven Johnson: I haven't even written it yet. Literally, my meeting was yesterday. They've been trying to make Preacher for years and years.

As the series kicks in is Garth going to be there everyday?

Mark Steven Johnson: If he wants to be. My first meeting was yesterday so Garth, he was in New York, he was on the speakerphone. He was like, "Don't be beholden to the source material, I just did that because A, B or C..." He's like, do whatever you want, I'm like, "No, no, no, it's gotta be exactly that." I also said to Garth, "Also, tell me are there any stories you wanted to tell but weren't able to? Was there something you wanted to do but didn't have the time?" I want to hear that, too! Because we want to fill it out. We want to make it a 6 year show. With a definite ending, ending the way it does, which is obviously incredibly controversial.

Ghost Rider opens February 16, 2007 from Columbia Pictures.

Cinemark Movie Club
Evan Jacobs