BH: The story of King David is an iconic Old Testament story — were you raised in a very religious household?
MG: Not very religious. I was educated in a Jewish parochial school system. Known as yeshiva, but called by us — we called it Jew School. It’s very similar to (Catholic school) — the same as a lot of people on your site might know — but rabbis instead of nuns. My mom is Israeli, so she wanted me and my sibling to be conversant in the religion and culture.
BH: How long have you wanted to do this story?
MG: It’s a story that I’ve been interested in for a long time. The decision to pursue it came about two and a half years ago. I’d always thought it was something I’d have to do much later in life, when HBO would be willing to let me make it. I originally imagined it as a period piece, but then I thought, “Why wait?” — the TV audiences have grown so sophisticated in the last few years that with all the fantastic shows being done by HBO, by Showtime — you know, Lost, Alias, Heroes — all these shows have really brought up the level and audiences have grown so accustomed to, or so willing to, or so eager to dive into a story and to pick at its nuance. People treat The Wire like a novel, and it’s written like a novel and it rewards that deep viewing. And because of the great work done by all those shows, I felt like it was a fair time to try to tell this sort of novelistic story.
BH: I felt a kinship on some level between your show and HBO’s Rome . You get to do a modern re-telling of the story of King David. What made you decide not to do it as a period piece?
MG: Mostly, cost. It’s cost-prohibitive. It’s nearly impossible to do something accurately in a period piece. The reason Rome didn’t continue was because — it was absolutely brilliant, I thought it was a wonderful show — it was so costly that it couldn’t sustain itself, as I understand it. I could be guessing, but that’s what I’ve been told, that it never was able to gain the ratings required to justify its cost. And in order to do period in a way that isn’t silly, in a way that is authentic, it’s just incredibly costly. And plus, doing it period would have made it a much more accurate telling, and I was interested in taking the story and going further with it. You know, there’s a lot to draw from in the original text but not enough to sustain a hundred episodes of dialogue, let’s say. So by creating a ‘remove,’ and setting it in modern times, or with a modern aesthetic, anyway, we were free to continue interpreting. It was convenient. And the other thing was to make it really relatable to a modern America.