SDCC '08 - NBC's 'Kings' Sneak Peek Panel
Cast and creators of the upcoming NBC series 'Kings'. Left to right are Susanna Thompson, Sebastian Stan, Christopher Egan, Greg Grunberg, Francis Lawrence, Erwin Stof, and creator Michael Green.
Among the many television shows that are being hyped at San Diego Comic-Con is one with a connection to comic books themselves -- and another little book called the Bible.
"Kings," a modern ongoing drama loosely based on the King David story from the Bible, is written by Michael Green, co-writer of the Superman/Batman comic for DC, who is also a third of the writing team working on the script for the upcoming Green Lantern film along with screenwriters Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim. The show, which will premiere on NBC in February, also landed Francis Lawrence as director, the man who brought the comics character Constantine to film as well as directing the recent I Am Legend.
At a panel Thursday morning at Comic-Con, NBC showed part of the two-hour pilot for Kings, revealing that the giant in this retelling is a "Goliath tank" that guards the location of hostages that a young soldier named David Shepherd decides to rescue. When the father of one of the hostages turns out to be the king, things get interesting for David, setting off a story that will loosely follow the biblical tale, but throws in some unexpected twists for modern audiences.
Greg Grunberg, who plays Matt Parkman on the TV show Heroes, for which Green was also a writer, introduced the show's premier to the audience, singing the praises of the pilot and calling it the type of thing that he "just couldn't stop watching" and saying that the cliffhanger at the end of the pilot will "blow you away."
"The tone of this, or me, is so consistent and sucks you in. It doesn't let up. The acting throughout the whole thing is so real. Usually when something like this happens, it takes the caliber of a creative team like this to keep that consistent," Grunberg said.
With Green and Lawrence on the panel beside executive producer Erwin Stoff, Grunberg asked Green about how he first came up with the idea for the story.
"After doing Heroes, I just thought TV -- you don't just have to do the 'cop finds body, figures out who killed him' kind of thing," Green said of his pitch to NBC, which led to the television show being picked up. "I gave them the weirdest idea I had. And they strangely said, 'Sure! Let's do that.'"
Also on the panel were the young stars of the TV show, including Christopher Egan (Aragon) who plays David, Sebastian Stan (The Covenant) as the king's son Jack, Susanna Thompson (Star Trek: Voyager) who plays Queen Rose, and relative newcomer Allison Miller (Lucy's Piano), the princess/love interest for David. Probably the biggest name attached to the series, Ian McShane (The Golden Compass, We Are Marshall) as the king, was held up by traffic and couldn't attend the panel.
Lawrence said the budget for the pilot, which features an elaborate war scene, was about $10-11 million, much lower than what he is used to with big-budget movies. However, he said he was able to be creative to pull off the elaborate locations creatively.
"Budgets to me are just sort of the parameter type thing. You can do a lot within those parameters," he said. "Michael had created this great world, and decided to approach it in a location-based way, so we weren't building a lot.... and we just went out and found these fantastic places that help give it the scope."
A native of Sydney who obviously dropped his accent for the role, Egan said he was in Australia when he got the script for the show. "You get a whole bunch of pilots, and pilot season is always crazy, but this one just stood out to me as a very good story. The story of David has always been interesting to me, so I was very excited about it," said Egan, who will likely be the young heartthrob arising from the show because of his role as David.
When asked about the timing of the TV show, all NBC would confirm is "February," although Grunberg said he'd love to see Kings be packaged on the same night as Heroes.
"An exhausting night of television!" Green joked.