By RODNEY HO/ email@example.com, originally filed Friday, February 26, 2016
The “Star Trek” franchise has lived long and prospered in the pop culture world over the past half century courtesy of multiple spinoffs, films, documentaries and conventions.
Yes, the conventions. “Star Trek” helped create the concept of a sci-fi convention, featuring actors (many who appreciate the extra cash), wonky panel discussions and crazy late-night parties. Atlanta has its fair share of such conventions, including DragonCon and Walker Stalker.
Creation Entertainment has now organized a special 50th anniversary Star Trek celebration at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in downtown Atlanta March 4-6 called the “50 Year Mission Tour.” The organizer’s biggest get by far? William Shatner AKA James T. Kirk, captain of the starship USS Enterprise. He is set to appear Saturday, March 5. (Tickets available here.)
I spoke with Shatner earlier this week about his newest book about the late great Leonard Nimoy, his long-running feud with George Takei and his love of horses.
Q: Congratulations on your newest book about your relationship with Leonard Nimoy (“Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship With a Remarkable Man,” Thomas Dunne Books, $25.99 retail)
Shatner: It’s a New York Times best seller!
Q: Great reviews, too.
Shatner: Reviews say how heartfelt and meaningful it is and how I sought to tell the truth. That apparently resonated with people.
Q: Was it difficult to write?
Shatner: It was difficult. When somebody you care about passes, it’s awful. Leonard and I shared so many adventures both on stage and off stage, in person dinners, stuff like that. We had such a common bond. In effect, it’s now lost. Now I have nobody to validate what transpired between us.
Q: I saw you and Leonard at DragonCon in 2009. You two clearly had a special relationship.
Shatner: I remember that. We’d make each other laugh. It became hysterical on stage. I learned as much about the man on stage as I did off.
Q: I read you two weren’t that close at the very end, though.
Shatner: That’s the mystery. I don’t know. It’s terribly tragic.
Q; What do you enjoy about the conventions?
Shatner: Talking to the fans. That’s the real kick. Getting on stage and hearing the questions and trying to respond. It’s both informative and great fun.
Q: It’s been 30 years since that “Saturday Night Live” skit where you tell Trekkies to “Get a life!” I presume people still bring it up to you all the time.
Shatner: Like you? Who would have guessed this SNL skit would remain alive in some people’s minds! I wrote a book called “Get a Life” and a did a documentary with the same name. I always make sure they’re laughing when I say it.
Q: If there was a TJ Hooker convention, how would that work?
Shatner: It would definitely be sponsored by the NRA!
Q: Do you think Denny Crane would be a fan of Star Trek?
Shatner: Oh yah. But he wouldn’t remember where the location of Comic-Con is. He’d end up at a barbecue.
Q: Have you resolved your issues with George Takei?
Shatner: George Takei is a really strange man. I really feel sorry for him. He carries such hatred, such antagonism. I don’t know what he’s doing or what he’s up to or who he is. It’s weird. It’s like, “Hey, whatever happened, forget about it. Get a life!”
Q: You’re active on Twitter. What do you like about the medium?
Shatner: The fact we can connect so quickly with fans. It’s great fun. And when something important to me like this book comes along, it’s become the modern method of contacting all 2.3 million of them.
Q: You’re still a busy actor. How do you decide what to do now?
Shatner: Something that doesn’t take me too far or takes too long. I’m so comfortable here in L.A. How’s the weather in Atlanta?
Q: Cold. Rainy.
Shatner: It’s sunny here. Not a cloud in the sky. 77. I’m going to ride a horse this evening. In truth, if it’s something decent outside of L.A. and I can put my talents to work on it, I’d consider it.
Q: Have you heard much about the newest Star Trek series on CBS? Would you like to get involved?
Shatner: No. I’ve heard nothing. You probably know more than I do.
Q: You mentioned a horse. Why do you like horses so much?
Shatner: As I begin to understand more and more thoroughly how interconnected all life is, I have learned how that works with the horse physically, mentally and emotionally… I compete with many horses and they are all dear to me.
Q: What type of competition?
Shatner; It’s called reining. It’s difficult to explain in a few sentence. It involves cowboy moves.
Q: Did I ask you any questions you haven’t already been asked before?
Shatner: I was hoping you’d ask me what my favorite role was. Nobody has ever asked that before!
“50 Year Mission Tour” celebrating “Star Trek
March 4-6, 2016
General admission weekend tickets $40, with VIP packages available at higher prices. Autographs and photo ops are additional. Meeting Shatner on Saturday, for instance, will set you back $100.
Westin Peachtree Plaza
210 Peachtree St. NW