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Matt Dillon and director M. Night Shyamalan discuss a scene during the filming of “Wayward Pines” in Agassiz, British Columbia. The small rural town has been transformed into Wayward Pines, Idaho, for the television series, and the set will remain in place until shooting wraps up in February. The show will star Dillon, Carla Gugino, Terrence Howard and Juliette Lewis. It is based on books by Durango author Blake Crouch.

By Ted Holteen Herald staff writer

Hollywood is a world of uncertainty, so when Durango author Blake Crouch got word earlier this year that Fox television had decided to make a TV series from his novels Pines and Wayward, he was understandably cautious.

“I was confident, but you never really know until it happens,” Crouch said earlier this week.

Well, it happened. Fox shot the pilot episode of “Wayward Pines,” a 10-episode event series, on Sept. 5 and 6 in Agassiz, British Columbia, Canada. The small town is standing in for an imaginary Idaho town in which the books and series are set.

Crouch missed filming last week, because he and his wife had just welcomed their third child, but he’s heading north in early October for the remaining episodes. Crouch is writing the scripts for two of the episodes, including the 10th and final episode which he is co-writing with accomplished screenwriter Chad Hodge (“The Playboy Club,” “Tru Calling,” “Runaway”). Crouch is finishing the final episode this week before leaving town.

Hollywood is filled with stories of disenchanted authors who cringe at the sight of the big-screen versions of their books – Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho), Stephen King (The Shining) and Winston Groom (Forrest Gump) are some of the most infamous – but Crouch’s first foray into the big time is a much happier story.

“I’ve been spoiled by this process. It’s been amazing,” he said. “It’s the opposite experience you hear about in Hollywood – a tremendous creative experience.”

Crouch did not envision Matt Dillon or anyone else when he created the character of FBI agent Ethan Burke in Pines. And he didn’t really care. Instead of harboring his own preconceptions of what the story should look like on screen, such as those authors mentioned above, he’s treating the process as two separate projects.

“I prefer the answer Elmore Leonard gave when a friend asked ‘What did they do to your book?’” Crouch said. “He said, ‘they didn’t do anything to my book – it’s sitting right there on the bookshelf.’ The audience of the show will be gigantic compared to the book. The books are still the books, and the show is the show. But it’s remarkably faithful to the book, so maybe that’s why I’m so happy with it.”

“Wayward Pines” has the kind of star power to sustain its relatively short run. Along with Dillon, the cast also includes Terence Howard (Lee Daniels’ “The Butler,” “Ironman”), (“Entourage,” “New Girl”), Melissa Leo (“Treme”) and Juliette Lewis (“Natural Born Killers”).

“I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen,” Crouch said. “I knew the level of talent I was working with, so I’m not really surprised. Of course, I would hate to see it butchered onscreen, but I just didn’t see that happening.”

“Wayward Pines” is scheduled to air early in 2014 on Fox.

ted@durangoherald.com

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