A note from Kings creator, Michael Green
To the fantastic fans of Kings --
The incredible response to Kings on Hulu, iTunes and other alternative outlets has been outstanding and humbling. The airing of our final episode seemed the right occasion to thank those who have come to check us out, and to answer some of the questions/guesses/misconceptions prevalent on the message boards.
In no particular order:
-- Yes, the show is canceled. Definitively. Has been for some time. The sets taken down, the writers and actors have all disbanded and moved on. I'm told CBS's promising new series, "The Good Wife," has taken over our old offices.
-- Kings was originally picked up for 13 hours of content, 12 episodes with the two-hour pilot. It was not a mini-series, but a full series with a full series' ambitions to last for much longer.
-- The show had completed its filming entirely before the airing of the pilot. No creative choices were made to the scripts based on ratings. We crafted the season to be a full "chapter" in the book of David and Silas's lives, to make it the best possible season we could, sparing nothing. After our disappointing premiere, some editing choices were made to the finale to eliminate a few moments that created more intrigue that we would not be able to pursue. Some of those scenes will be put on the DVD, scheduled for release this September.
-- To those who thought Saturday nights was a terrible time slot, you are correct. That move was the first step of cancellation. Once that decision was made, no attempts would be made to "save" or promote the show in any way. It was already over then.
-- The reasons for its cancellation were nothing more than the low ratings.
-- Some have speculated that the cost of the show was prohibitive. While it is true that the episode budget was high for a first season show, that number was reduced by the outstanding aggregate 30% tax benefit New York provided (which we all hope will remain in effect), thus bringing the cost down to rates comparable to other prime time dramas. And, of course, plans were already made to bring the costs down to whatever number the studio required of us in the future.
-- The network had no negative reaction at any stage to religious content within the show. In fact, they encouraged it and found it hopeful.
-- It was only when time came to market the show that a decision was made not to promote the show as a biblically inspired tale. Fear of reprisal from the religious audience was the described cause. Something NBC has had bad experiences with before. As such, any references to "King David" were actively avoided, in favor of the limited marketing campaign that many of you saw and have commented on with derision.
-- Some of that promotion gave the misleading impression that the nation of Gilboa was somehow tied to American history. This was never part of the show's premise or execution in any way.
-- There was no "religious agenda" among the writers. The writing staff was deliberately comprised of a diverse group of geniuses. Including believers and non-believers, lapsed and actives, people who are atheist, Jewish, Christian, Muslim. All had done their homework. All their perspectives were invaluable.
-- Most religious viewers actually quite liked the show. Understanding that our creative task was not transcription.
* * * *
This has already gotten to be a much longer note than I intended. I suppose I'm indulging myself because it is difficult to say goodbye to the people -- real and imagined -- I came to love in making Kings. But it's time.
The outcome of Kings was heartbreaking to all of us who worked so hard and had such a wonderful time making it. Every moment on screen represents stories, conversations, arguments, decisions by dozens -- hundreds -- of blazingly talented, always impassioned people.
It was a difficult show to make. We had to fight for every choice, so we thought each one through.
Many involved with the show felt wronged by our network, or at least scuttled. I personally don't feel I have enough information to know precisely what led to our failure to achieve ratings success -- though I believe that had the show been given a better launch, the outcome would have been something to celebrate.
Your interest in show here is, to me, evidence enough of this. (As an interesting aside, Kings was #1 on iTunes on the day we were cancelled.)
Even if it is tempting to trash NBC, we do owe them gratitude. Writing, acting, filming is about the work, not the reward, and NBC allowed us to make the best possible show we could. They let us film in New York. They let us assemble a cast without equal on the network landscape. A group of actors who came ready every day to spin the broken-meter mouthfuls we wrote for them into song. Ian McShane, Chris Egan, Susanna Thompson, Sebastian Stan, Allison Miller, Dylan Baker, Eamonn Walker, Marlyne Afflack, Becky Ann Baker... Every one of them suffered long hours, cold nights, and still came prepared, passionate, elevating every piece of material put to them. They made us look better than we deserve.
On our first day of working together I told my writing staff that we'd been outfitted with a set of golden Legos, and it falls to us to build. They sat down and built a whole country... with an eye on building a world.
Creatively, we worked closely and well and without controversy with our network and studio, through several regimes.
We had the privilege of working with our biggest fan of all, the incomparably warm, kind, thoughtful, and missed Nora O'Brien.
The fans we have are the greatest I've ever seen, willing to play along with our most arcane of games and follow our meagerest breadcrumb trail.
We thank you all for your time, and hope we honored your attention.
Some have asked, what can they do to "Save the show." We are, sadly, well past that point.
If there is anything to do at all, it's to find your voice and let the networks know that if they covet your attention at all -- and yes yes yes they do -- they can have it by programming and standing by shows with substance.
Write a letter. Mail it to any network. Stick a butterfly on the envelope if you'd like.
We'd be honored.
Sunday, July 26, 2009