Shooting the Shat

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This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 12th April 2011.

So you’re a controversial Hollywood actor, some would say a has-been, currently between jobs and looking for a gig. What do you do for a little income? You book yourself on a speaking tour and hope that your fans will shell out to see you do something you’ve never done before. That is, be yourself.

No, I’m not talking about Charlie Sheen. I’m referring to Captain James T. Kirk himself, William Shatner. The Shat premiered his William Shatner Live speaking tour in Sydney last week and over two thousand fans parted with $150 or more to pack the State Theatre just to be in the same room as the man also known as T.J. Hooker and Denny Crane.

In his introduction, Shatner acknowledged being nervous about his first ever speaking tour, especially after hearing the reports of walkouts and poor reviews for Charlie “Winning” Sheen’s similar enterprise the week prior. I’m pleased to report that Bill’s show did not disappoint and ended with a standing ovation.

I remember meeting Batman’s Adam West and being slightly underwhelmed. I have a dedicated and autographed picture which I’ll treasure forever but I certainly got the impression that West was just there for a payday and had better things to do. That certainly wasn’t the case with Shatner, who seemed genuinely pleased to be in Australia and meeting his fans.

I attended a private Q & A session prior to the show, where Shatner introduced us to his wife, Elizabeth Martin, who is 28 years his junior. Both previously widowed, the couple breed, ride and show horses. Being a little younger than her husband, Martin admitted meeting Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Captain Picard, Patrick Stewart and wondering how it was possible a spaceship could have two captains.

The main show consisted of an interview by host Jonathan Biggins, followed by questions from the audience sent via twitter. There was also the opportunity in the foyer for fans to submit questions. It was via this method that I managed to end up standing in front of a sold out State Theatre audience with a microphone talking to William Shatner.

In response to my question, Shatner confirmed that he will not be appearing in the new Star Trek film. He also added that he was disappointed to not have been included in the recent Star Trek reboot which featured Leonard Nimoy reprising his role as Spock.

Shatner was surprisingly candid throughout the show, explaining the events leading up to the tragic death by drowning of his 3rd wife, Nerine Kidd. He also discussed his close friendship with Nimoy and the animosity which still exists between himself and some of his Star Trek co-stars, particularly George Takei.

The Shat also revealed himself to be an environmentalist, making a passionate impromptu speech for saving Mother Earth. Heavily involved in environmental charities, he also told an amusing anecdote involving an amorous gorilla propositioning him during an appearance.

Infamous for his spoken word interpretations of pop classics such as Mr Tambourine Man and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Shatner ended the show with a special performance of Men at Work’s Down Under.

Having turned eighty this year (but looking sixty thanks to a little work I presume), William Shatner shows no signs of slowing down. With a successful live show on his hands and the second season of his new sitcom $#*! My Dad Says to record, The Shat looks set to continue going where no actor has gone before.