Even William Shatner thinks calling his show Bleep My Dad Says is a bad idea.
"You know what I wish? I wish they'd call it 'Sh--,'" Shatner said of his upcoming CBS sitcom $#*! My Dad Says during Wednesday's fall TV previews. The network is referring to the show with the more family-friendly moniker "Bleep My Dad Says."
"The word sh-- is all around us," he continued. "It isn't a terrible term. Why are we pussy-footing?" Alas, the "bleep" appears to be permanent.
$#*! tells the story of Henry, a struggling writer who moves in with his outspoken father Ed (Shatner). The show is based on Justin Halpern's popular Twitter account, a collection of humorous, crabby — and often offensive — quips Halpern credits to his real-life 74-year-old dad, Samuel Halpern. (Sample tweet from June 28: "Don't focus on the one guy who hates you. You don't go to the park and set your picnic down next to the only pile of dog shit.") It has amassed nearly 1.5 million followers.
On the way to its fall premiere (Thursday, Sept. 23, 8:30/7:30c), the series has undergone a creative overhaul. Since the original pilot was shot, Jonathan Sadowski has been cast to replace Ryan Devlin as Henry, and producers today said a romantic story line for Henry has been nixed.
Executive producers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick (Will & Grace) said they were inspired by Halpern's Twitter feed and the very clear relationship between the father and the son.
"This show is an electronic miracle!" Shatner said. "It's a show that stems from the culture of now." Just don't expect any tweeting to take place on the show. "It's something we talked about. I would desperately not like to become the next Carrie Bradshaw," said Halpern, who serves as co-executive producer. "You don't want it to be too meta," Mutchnick added.
Halpern said his real-life dad — who has conspicuously turned down all media requests to be interviewed — hasn't changed much since his son made his words famous. "He doesn't have the Internet on his computer. He doesn't like it," he said. "Ever since he saw the Sandra Bullock movie The Net, it's, like, scarred him for life. The only way to get to him is if it [the news] came in the newspaper, in our local newspaper. He's not that aware of [his celebrity]."
Well, almost. "The only thing that's changed is sometimes he'll say something and then [he'll pause] and say, 'Don't put that on your page.'"
Samuel Halpern, otherwise, remains an enigma. Even Shatner's own meeting with him was brief. "It was tough to get my father to the taping of the pilot," Halpern recalled. "He was like, 'Can I just stand in the back and come later? He came and in the end everyone wanted him to meet Mr. Shatner... I was terrified." The pair said hello, took a picture and parted ways.