McShane, who earned an Emmy nomination and won a Golden Globe for playing saloonkeeper Al Swearengen on "Deadwood," will play the monarch who welcomes a young man (Christopher Egan, "Eragon") into his inner circle in "Kings," a present-day take on the biblical story of King David.
Though the project has yet to shoot a pilot, the casting of McShane makes "Kings" a good bet to find a place on the schedule NBC will announce Wednesday, the showbiz trade papers report. The network is foregoing the traditional May upfront in favor of a news conference to lay out its plans for the coming year, including as many original hours of programming as it can make.
Michael Green ("Heroes") is writing and executive producing the "Kings" pilot, which is loosely based on the story of David but takes place in the present day. McShane's character will be modeled on King Saul, who welcomed David into his court but later became jealous of him and tried to kill him.
"Kings" is one of a handful of new shows with a good chance of making NBC's scheduled this week. The Tom Fontana-Barry Levinson show "The Philanthropist," an adaptation of "Robinson Crusoe" have already earned series orders, as has the comedy "Kath & Kim." A new "Knight Rider" -- following the success of February's movie/back-door pilot -- and the Christian Slater-starring drama "My Worst Enemy" are other possibilities.
In addition to "Deadwood," McShane's recent credits include "We Are Marshall," "Scoop" and "Hot Rod." He's also done voiceover work on "The Golden Compass," "Shrek the Third" and the upcoming "Kung Fu Panda."