"Captain James T. Kirk"
Welcome to our live chat with Mr. William Shatner. This event is extra special as it is the first live STARTREK.COM chat in nearly two years. Who better to get the mouse ball rolling than the man who brought the character of Captain James T. Kirk to life, William Shatner. No stranger to the online world, Bill is a virtual pioneer in embracing new technology and the internet. So, without further ado ...
William Shatner: Hello to you all.
Question: Mr. Shatner, whose idea was it to do Mind Meld?
WS: Since I'm the only one here I'll take full credit.
Q: Will you be doing any more videos along the line of "Mind Meld"?
WS: I'd like to think that I could do a series of "Mind Melds". I think I'd like the next one to be with Patrick Stewart.
Q: Do you fear going up against Anne Robinson in "The Weakest Link"?
WS: I can't reveal the results, but I have everything to fear.
Q: How did you get involved in Iron Chef [USA]? Do you have that extensive a culinary background?
WS: They asked me to be in Iron Chef, and I have a long history of eating.
Q: You're soon to host an American/International Iron Chef program. The most interesting part of the Japanese show is the view into that culture through the selection of, and comments by, the judges. How will that translate in your version of the program?
WS: The American version is totally American and it's certainly time a television show like this in America would get an overall view of the totality of what goes on in America today, from sports commentary on how the cooking is going to stand-up comedy of how the cooking went, to philosophy of life as the show goes on and commercial breaks to show how the engine of economics works in America today. We're hoping the President will come on as one of the tasters but he unfortunately turned us down. We then asked General Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, but he had other things to do, so we settled for a Playboy girl.
Q: What did you think of being one of the few people mentioned in FIGHT CLUB that would be cool to fight?
WS: I got very aggressive, and I put on my kickboxing outfit and tried to find a ninety-year-old man to fight, or should I say somebody older than me to fight … and they are very hard to find.
Q: Tell us how you feel about the first movie ["Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director's Edition"] being re-released? Do you find that exciting … a chance to revisit your work in a new and improved form?
WS: It's difficult to look at something that is more than twenty years old, but it is an interesting new version of it. I saw it in the company of Leonard Nimoy and we both had some good laughs and, by the way, you should be able to get a copy of that DVD and "Mind Meld" on my website: www.williamshatner.com.
Q: Mr. Shatner, I just read that you will be providing commentary for future releases of "Star Trek" movie DVDs. Any one in particular that you are looking forward to?
WS: To me, obviously, the most interesting, most fascinating, best director, best actor, most elegantly written and directed is Star Trek V.
Q: How has being James T. Kirk influenced your personal life?
WS: It's provided me with some pocket change that I go around on the street jiggling and therefore people look at me and point at me as the man with the jingling change.
Q: What did you think of Galaxy Quest?
WS: I thought it was very funny, and I thought the audience that they portrayed was totally real, but the actors that they were pretending to be were totally unrecognizable. Certainly I don't know what Tim Allen was doing. He seemed to be the head of a group of actors and for the life of me I was trying to understand who he was imitating. The only one I recognized was the girl playing Nichelle Nichols.
Q: Will there be a director's cut for Star Trek V, like what's happening with the first film?
WS: No, I don't think any of the other movies will be touched. But I'm going from house to house trying to get people to buy the DVD of Star Trek V and giving out individual explanations so please call.
Q: Hello Mr. Shatner. What was your experience on Twilight Zone like and how did that affect your choices of future work?
WS: My experience on The Twilight Zone was frightening.
I was alone on camera most of the time and when I wasn't alone on camera, I thought I was. It was, of course, done a long time ago so that whatever residual feelings I had then have long since been forgotten. But all experience is cumulative.
Q: Mr. Shatner, did you clinch the part of Kirk when you first auditioned, or did somebody almost beat you for the part?
WS: No, I clinched it. It was in the fifth round and I hung on for the clinch. I was fighting Gene Roddenberry so it was a cinch of a clinch. The truth of the matter is they asked me to be in it.
Q: Did you ever have any idea that 30 years later, people would still be into Star Trek? With all of the movies, spin-offs and new series, are you amazed at its popularity and consistency?
WS: No, I knew from the moment I signed on that we would last forty-two years. So we have seven more years to go.
Q: What new things did you learn about your co-stars during your directing experience on Star Trek V?
WS: I learned how extraordinarily talented they are. What incredible senses of humors they had. How beautiful they looked when backlit and how earnestly they wanted to write books.
Q: Out of all the lines of dialog you've had to say, what was the absolute worst?
WS: *laughs* Oh the choices are so many! That is impossible to tell. Sometimes even "Hello" is ugly.
Q: I have always wanted to know if you and Leonard Nimoy ad-libbed the Fizzbin game or was that part of the script? It always makes me laugh.
WS: Leonard Nimoy and I ad-libbed most of our dialogue and we had to cut down on the number of writers we hired because we did so much of it. In fact I offered to write dialog for other characters but they turned me down.
Q: Mr. Shatner, how hard was it to get back into the character of Kirk while making ST: TMP?
WS: It was difficult, yes. I had forgotten what I had done on the series. I also needed to get myself into physical shape so I was running uphill a lot.
Note: ST: TMP was released 10 years after The Original Series finished.
Q: Have you any further plans to direct?
WS: In January, a movie that I'm directing and doing post-production on now will be playing somewhere. It's called "Groom Lake" and I think you'll enjoy seeing it. Another movie that I'm in that will be out in the beginning of the year is called "Shoot or Be Shot." I'm currently trying to sell a documentary series called "Lunatic Fringe" and we're working very hard on things that will be entertaining for my Web site. To stay mainstream I'm in a movie with Robert DeNiro called "Showtime."
I'm also getting ready to publish a book called "I'm Workin'" and I'm also workin' on the next Star Trek novel. So as you can see I'm keeping busy.
Q: I understand you did a movie with Robert DeNiro and Eddie Murphy. What was that experience like?
WS: It was hilarious. They are the best in their field and I never saw so much money spent for so much before. The catering fee alone was the amount I spent on several movies.
Q: Can you talk about your charity work?
WS: I support many charities, but a couple are very dear to me. The Hollywood Charity Horse Show, which disburses money to children in need. The Nerine Shatner Foundation helps women with addiction.
Q: What do you think of the new series Enterprise? How do you like Scott Bakula's performance as captain?
WS: I haven't seen the show, but I'm sure his performance is wonderful. All of the captains were wonderful.
Q: What's your favorite part of your recent discussion with Leonard Nimoy?
WS: The whole "Mind Meld" experience was joyful. To speak with such honesty and to have Leonard be vulnerable and yet feel safe gave me a real sense of accomplishment.
Q: How has the death of DeForest Kelley affected you?
WS: Well, I always felt that the three of us were a team and now one third of the team is gone, so it's affected me very deeply. I loved DeForest and think about him often.
Q: Who was your favorite female guest star?
WS: I think I have to say my wife. It seems to be the safest thing to do. I had seen her on occasion at horse shows and, some months after my wife Nerine [died], I began to open notes of condolences and one of them was from Elizabeth, and we began to speak on the phone for quite a while and then we met.
Q: Where were you on the morning of September 11th?
WS: I was watching television in my home and was pinned to the set for days thereafter.
Thanks everyone for joining us today. We had thousands of great questions. Thanks to Mr. Shatner too for taking time out of his very busy schedule. Please join us for the next chat to be announced soon. Any final words, Mr. Shatner?
WS: "Mind Meld" is an act of love by Leonard and myself and for the next six months you can get it on my Web site: www.williamshatner.com.. Iron Chef [USA] is an act of fun and you can see it on UPN on November 16th. Keep your eyes and ears open for many appearances I'll be making as I promote both of those things. Rosie O'Donnell, Howard Stern, Conan O'Brien are where I'll be appearing. I look forward to chatting with you all in the near future.