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updated: 7/14/2014 8:50 AM

Robert Rodriguez unveils 'Matador' spy thriller

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  • Robert Rodriguez speaks onstage during the "Matodor" segment of the El Rey Network 2014 Summer TCA on Thursday, July 10, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

      Robert Rodriguez speaks onstage during the "Matodor" segment of the El Rey Network 2014 Summer TCA on Thursday, July 10, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif.
    Associated Press

 
By FRAZIER MOORE
AP Television Writer

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- The premiere of the new spy thriller "Matador" has a shocking moment early in the hour. It involves a human head and a sharp object. And it perfectly reflects the rawboned sensibility of Robert Rodriguez, whose network, El Rey, begins airing "Matador" Tuesday at 8 p.m.

But don't blame Rodriguez, even though he directed the episode.

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The prolific filmmaker and entertainment impresario was called on that scene by a reporter who dubbed it "the Robert Rodriguez touch" during Thursday's session of the TV critics' tour.

"I knew I was going to get the heat for that," Rodriguez chuckled. "I told the writers, 'You watch: (Viewers) are gonna think I thought of that.' But it was in the script!"

"Matador," created by Robert Orci and Alex Kurtman ("Sleepy Hollow," "Fringe"), stars Gabriel Luna as a globe-trotting soccer champ who, unbeknownst to his adoring public, is also a top-secret CIA operative.

In this narrative of a soccer player by day, a spy by night, the writers "wanted the story to be very unpredictable," said Rodriguez, pointing to the lethal scene in question. They wanted viewers to realize "at any point, something could erupt like that."

But it was left up to Rodriguez, as director, to come up with the proper instrument of pain. He said he spent a bit of time pondering the best one. A cleaver? Something serrated? Something computer-generated?

"I've done this a lot," he acknowledged, sparking laughter in the room.

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