William Shatner knows his Twitter … or so he thinks.
“I know it’s 148 characters,” he tells the Television Critics Association during the Wednesday (July 28) press tour session for his new CBS comedy “$#*! My Dad Says.”
Of course, Twitter only uses 140 characters, but Shatner can be forgiven since he doesn’t personally deal with his own account.
“I don’t Twitter,” he admits, mangling the terminology. “I can’t even remember my password. I have problems with electronics. I’ve hired a young man right out of college. He does the mechanics, but I very carefully modulate what I say. It’s been an exploration in the immediate language and being short-termed and pithy. I’ve had a growing and glowing experience with Twitter.”
On “$#*!” (pronounced “bleep”) Shatner stars as Ed Goodson, who rather caustic and politically incorrect observations on life inspire his son Henry (Jonathan Sadowski) to tweet his dad’s sayings. The show was inspired by the actually Twitter account of writer Justin Halpern, who attracted more than a million followers with the formula.
At 79, Shatner is actually older than Helpern’s real dad, who’s 74, but the actor is still keeping up with modern technology. He even owns his own iPad. And even though he doesn’t get all the jargon correct, he does know which word not to use.
Instead of using the word “tweet” as the correct verb, he often uses “Twitter” or “twit.”
“I know it isn’t ‘tw*t,'” he observes, referring to one of the show producer’s previous faux pas (and Kathy Griffin’s deliberate malapropism).
Shatner is hoping for the best with this show, but isn’t certain if Twitter success will necessarily lead to sitcom success.
“This show was born in a Twitter. We’re all a-twitter,” he says. “the show is a viral show. In my limited imagination, to me it is an electronic miracle. It stems from the culture of now. This is a show that is in front of the curve.
“I was aware of the precarious nature of the Twitter,” he continues. “I knew the nature of the people who twit. The peculiar quality of the people who do this can’t be led. You can’t force them to do something. You have to suggest it.”
The show won’t have the son actively tweeting throughout the show though. The show will begin with a spotlight tweet out of context and then the action in the episode will eventually lead to Ed Goodson actually saying the line. Despite the show’s title, the producers assure us that the show isn’t profanity-laced but that the character will instead only be very creatively biting in his insults and observations.
Shatner is used to playing outrageous and lovably offensive characters, such as “Boston Legal’s” Denny Crane, who he says could possibly be related to Ed Goodson.
“Third cousin by his mother’s marriage,” Shatner jokes, but then points out the difference in the way the characters speak. “Denny fumbled for thoughts as he lurched into the scene. The way [this] is written is much more precise. This guy, there’s a snap to the way he speaks. That’s the way the jokes work.”
The actor has embraced the character, the concept of the show and even Twitter, but there’s one aspect of the show he’d like to change.
“You know what I wish? I wish they would call it s***. Why are we pussyfooting?”
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