It’s one of the most familiar stories in the Bible, a symbol of someone beating incredible odds. But could it help NBC create a ratings miracle in 2009?
That’s what the network is hoping with Kings, a retelling of the story of King David. It was one of the first TV panels at Comic-Con this year and already has a fan in Heroes’ Greg Grunberg. Grunberg said that he was very excited about this show after seeing the pilot. It takes place in a kingdom that could be an alternate version of America. It’s been at war for sometime. A young man named David Shepherd makes a daring rescue of some hostages, which includes taking out a deadly tank known as "Goliath"
Yes, it’s the David vs. Goliath story in war. It turns out one of the hostages is the Jack, the King’s son. This thrusts David into a new world filled with excitement, wonder…and maybe some deadly intrigue.
Executive Producer Michael Green came up with the show because he wanted something different that the usual crime drama and he came up with, as he put it, "the weirdest idea I had."
Francis Lawrence, who directed the recent hit I Am Legend, said he became interested when he got the script. "Creating worlds is something I enjoy," he said. "I like making those that have a bit of magic in them that can affect you in many levels."
The producers worked very quickly to get the show off the ground in time for the new season. The cast had to audition via video-conferencing. One cast member described it as talking to the astronauts in outer space.
Christopher Egan, an Australian actor, will play the title role. This newcomer says he’s been inspired by the story of David ever since Sunday school. "He goes out into the battlefield and makes a choice that changes the rest of his life," he says. In the show David comes from a small town but will soon be swept into the whirlwind life of a hero at the royal capital of Shiloh, and this will affect David in many ways. "I am going to handle it as simple and real as I can," Egan says.
Playing King Silas’ son will be Sebastian Stan, who appeared last year in Gossip Girl. He had considered playing David, but preferred playing Jack Benjamin instead. "I was really attracted to the complexity of the role," he says. "He is someone like Prince Harry. He balances it out by being a lieutenant in the Army." After David saves Jack, these two will have a close relationship.
Another thing the two will have in common is Jack’s sister, Michelle Benjamin, played by Alison Miller. "She struck me as a strong person," she says, "even though she’s been treated with kid gloves. She is seen as fragile, but is coming into her own." She, like much of the cast, was also attracted by the script. She says there have been few scripts that made her, in her words, "go ‘ooo’" when something happens.
At the center, of course, is King Silas Benjamin, played by Ian McShane. A familiar face on TV and the movies for years, McShane looks, as the old saying goes, every inch a King, but also as a politician. In this Kingdom, there are no crowns or robes, but you get the sense he is still royal. McShane couldn’t make it to the panel, but co-star Susannah Thompson, who plays Queen Rose Benjamin, called McShane "a force of nature."
As for the show itself, Thompson says the show is special because "you’re power and greed, and bravery and courage, but it’s also about family."
Though the show has its roots in the familiar biblical story, Green says it’s really a hero’s journey. However, the themes of religion and faith will be part of the overall story, especially in the form of the Reverend Hanson Samuels, who will have a fateful meeting with David early in the pilot.
The crowd was very interested in the first few minutes of the pilot, but they were also very interested in seeing Grunberg just days before the massive Heroes panel. He stayed afterwards to pose with fans and sign autographs. It may be the closest most of them will get close to him, until the panel appears at Hall H.
It will be a while before Kings will air on NBC. Lawrence says it’s scheduled for February of 2009, although a time slot hasn’t been chosen yet.