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William Shatner talks great $#*! and wisdom at press tour

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So far, the smartest, most entertaining, loose, and funny press conference of the TV critics press tour has been the one led by William Shatner, promoting his fall sitcom $#*! My Dad Says.

“We’re all a-twitter!” proclaimed the 79 year-old Shatner, his voice booming. “This is a viral show; an electronic miracle; a show of the now!” This is a man who knows how to promote.

In conversation, CBS publicists have referred to the show’s title as Bleep My Dad Says; we’ll see if that catches on. (One TV critic thought it should be called Feces My Dad Says.)

Shatner, however, said without hesitation, “I really wish we called [the show] ‘S—.’ It’s a natural function. You all talk about how words that used to be forbidden are now heard on network TV. Why not use it in this context?” The great thing was, you could almost feel the cringing being done in the rear of the hall by nervous CBS execs after that answer.

Unlike so many celebs and would-be celebs who dribble out to give monosyllabic answers to plug their new shows while retaining their cool factor, Shatner was open and ebullient. He seemed elated to be starring in a 2010 show, after having worked in TV so long, “I can remember when the cameras were as big as this table; they had fans inside them that made a racket. I was there at the start, during live television.”

Shatner’s jolting appearance on the panel seemed to delight his fellow panelists, who included Justin Halpern (inventor of the title Twitter feed and current best-selling book) and former Will & Grace producers David Kohan and Matt Mutchnick.

Shatner said on this new show, he’s trying for something a little more “stilled, restrained, and sane but angry, as opposed to Danny Crane’s lurch into senility.” He gave thoughtful answers about his approach, and compared his character to his own father: “Shatner is Austrian and partly Germanic, and there was a Germanic reticence, somewhat taciturn… but with passion underneath. Maybe I’m channeling my father. It’s possible. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”

If Shatner can translate the energy and intelligence he brought to this press conference to $#*! My Dad Says, it’ll be a sitcom worth watching.

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