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July 22, 2008

Ian McShane of 'Kings' spars with 'ignorant' TV critic

TCA -- Former "Deadwood" star Ian McShane cannot tolerate hooplehead critics who don't understand that his upcoming NBC project that recasts the story of King David in modern times is simply set in a world that's exactly like our own ... except that it's totally different.

The wonderfully contentious exchange from Monday afternoon's press tour panel for "Kings" is after the jump.

Critic: "You say you're creating an alternate world and so obviously you can't have it filled with recognizable celebrities and pop culture from this world. But I just wonder are you going to deal with that at all in that world? What do people do when they're not deciding what to do next as king or when they aren't involved in some action of import to the plot in the arc of the story?"

Executive producer Erwin Stoff: "A very sort of simple way to think of it that the show takes place absolutely today in a country which you haven't heard of. And any of the things available to us are available in the world that the show takes place in."

Ian McShane at TCA McShane: "There's no apocalyptic voice coming on, saying, 'It's the year 2025. The world is in disarray. These people are' -- we don't wear an overall or some kind of strange one-piece."

Critic: So there's a United States, there's a China, there's a Russia. So it's this world. It's just not a country we know?"

Creator Michael Green: "Not necessarily, no."

Director/executive producer Frances Lawrence: "It's a familiar world."

Critic: "OK. Now you're not making any sense at all."

McShane: "We're not making any sense? Is that what drama's about? Isn't drama -- excuse me – for your ignorant remark. Isn't drama -- based on the fact -- we're not making any sense? What the hell kind of question? You ask a question. You want an answer or not? The world -- drama is built on the greatest novel written by 50 people ever. If you can't get a good story from that, you can't. What do you expect, it all spelled out for you now? That you should know what kind of pop culture of we're going to refer to Britney Spears' new child?"

Critic: "No, no, no. But the answer to the question was that it's a country I've never heard of, but it's going to be filled with all the things that are available to me in this world. So I naturally followed up by making sure I understood in saying is it this world?"

McShane: "It is this world, yes. It's what he said. He never said-"

Lawrence: "The difference is -- the difference is that you don't have Starbucks. You have a coffee. It's not a Starbucks. You don't have a BlackBerry, but there's phones and cell phone. There's no Britney Spears, but people sing songs.

Star Susanne Thompson: "But just to answer his question, there's not necessarily China.

Green: "Not necessarily, no. But if you want to attack further..."

...

Having read the so-crazy-it-just-might-work “Kings” script, it's easy to see both sides of this altercation. Stoff tried to make the show's setting easily understandable ... then Green tried to be a bit more accurate, and they ended up contradicting each other.

More seriously, the flap speaks to the fact that NBC is going to have be pretty careful how they market this show so that audiences don't feel annoyed and alienated. One suggestion: Perhaps send somebody other than McShane to clear up any confusion in the future.

Getty Images photo

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