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Shatner: '$#*! My Dad Says' is an "Electronic Miracle" - TCA Report

by Joel Keller, posted Jul 28th 2010 10:07PM
David Kohan and William Shatner on the 'Bleep My Dad Says' TCA panel
You've got to hand it to William Shatner; despite being 79 and being on TV for well over fifty years, he's still gets a thrill out of doing new things and learning his craft.

How many actors who were around during the live TV era would be doing a sitcom in 2010 that's based on a Twitter feed? Only Shatner. Which is why he seemed to be more in a philosophical mood when he hit the TCA stage to sit on the last CBS panel of the day, for '$#*! My Dad Says.'

First things first: While Shatner has had a "glowing and growing" experience with Twitter, he doesn't actually type the tweets on his popular feed himself. "I can't even remember my password. I've hired a young man out of college whose very fingers are the very extension of computer keys, so he does the mechanics. But i carefully modulate what i say."

OK, so Shatner was pontificating a bit, but seemingly humbled by how this show, based on Justin Halpern's popular Twitter feed -- or as producer Max Mutchnick called it, "Justin's beautiful twats" -- an "electronic miracle."

"I started in live television, "said Shatner. "I was there when the camera were as big as this table. I was there. Now we're talking about green screens and putting us in places we'll never visit. It's amazing. It's beyond irony. The tragedy of our lives has been our inventiveness."

Heavy stuff from the Shat; the press conference was chock fill of these simultaneously grandiose and humbling declarations.

Maybe Shatner was doing a heavy sell job on the show; the original pilot that circulated after upfronts was beyond bad, and the entire pilot will be reshot with Jonathan Sadowski replacing Ryan Devlin in Halpern's role. Also, a possible love interest for Sadowski's character of Henry will be dropped.

"It came down to a question of: we feel we have a great concept, great brand, great star, and we wanted it to be perfect," said producer David Kohan. Translation: We had Shatner, James Burrows, and the two guys who created 'Will & Grace,' and still, no one laughed. So it's the star's fault.

Either way, the first pilot was such a bust that CBS didn't even show a second of it during the pre-panel clip reel. Hopefully, the Halpern and the KoMut guys will sit down and rewrite the pilot before they reshoot it, and make it look less like a pilot they threw together in three weeks.

More tidbits:

-- Halpern "desperately didn't want to become the next Carrie Bradshaw," so Henry won't be actively Tweeting during the show. However, each episode will kick off with one of Halpern's tweets, either something already on the feed or something new his dad has said.

-- Halpern's dad doesn't have the internet on his computer. "He saw the Sandra Bullock movie 'The Net' and it scarred him, in a different way than it scarred the rest of us."

-- Shatner lobbied that CBS stop pussyfooting around and just use the word "Sh-t" in the title. "When you're little, it's poop, then it becomes sh-t." I'm with him on both counts.

-- Finally, Shatner on doing a multi-camera sitcom for the first time, talking about shooting day in front of a live audience and crew: "We're doing the circus up here. It was stunning. the fourth wall was gone. The audience is aware of the process. It was stunning. It was enthralling it was chaotic. I never experienced anything like that before as an actor. I was part minstrel part actor."

Ok, so now that I've thought about it, Shatner was definitely in spin mode there. But at least he was fun to listen to.

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I must admit that I'm curious about the show solely to see him as the cranky dad.

July 29 2010 at 4:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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