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TCA 2014: 'The Knick' solves Steven Soderbergh's 'ego problem'

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How much does Steven Soderbergh like 'The Knick'? Well, he's directing all of it despite saying he'd retire
'I knew that if I said no, the second person who read it would say yes,' Steven Soderbergh says of 'The Knick'
'The Knick' is set in a New York hospital in 1900 and stars Clive Owen

With all the success that filmmaker Steven Soderbergh has had, from his Oscar win for "Traffic" to his Emmy victory with "Behind the Candelabra," it's a bit odd to hear him refer to having "an ego problem."

But that's how the acclaimed director described his decision to have his new series "The Knick" on Cinemax, the sister network of HBO, rather than on HBO.

Cinemax is mostly known for its racy late-night programming, and although some of its original shows such as "Strike Back" and "Banshee" have attracted a following, none have achieved the huge popularity of HBO shows such as "Game of Thrones" and "True Blood."

But Cinemax executives are making an aggressive move into more prestigious dramatic fare, and "The Knick" is one of the first series to plant that flag. Soderbergh said he wanted to be a part of that strategy.

Describing his "ego problem," Soderbergh said he wanted to be "the big kid in a small school."

"The Knick," which premieres Aug. 8, is about the Knickerbocker Hospital, home to groundbreaking and raw medicine in New York in 1900. The doctors and surgeons push the boundaries of medicine during a time of high mortality rates and zero antibiotics. The 10-part series stars Clive Owen as the brilliant and arrogant Dr. John Thackery, whose addiction to cocaine and opium does not stop his ambition and dedicaton.

Soderbergh will direct all episdoes of the series, which is created by executive producers Jack Amiel and Michael Begler.

The filmmaker said he was compelled to get involved with the project even though he announced almost a year ago that he was retiring. But he said he was so engaged and excited by the first script that he couldn't resist.

"I knew that if I said no, the second person who read it would say yes," he said. "It's unfortunate that people have to listen to me talk about continuing to work. But I'm glad I did."

The series has already been renewed for a second season.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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