Monday, March 22, 2010

Shatnerfest '79

The greatest actor to ever li--nay, the greatest man to ever live, turns 79 today.

William Shatner.

I've only met the man a couple of times. The last time was on the set of "Boston Legal" at the Manhattan Beach studios, and it was interesting to watch him interact with the cast and crew. He has a larger-than-life presence, and a almost tangible need to be the center of attention. He flubbed a line and looked at the extras and said, "You see what I did there?" before continuing. When we were going back to holding, he was talking to one of the producers right by the door, so I gently touched his arm. He turned and put on a gracious host face. "Yes, sir?" he said, and the only interpretation to that in my mind was that he expected me to ask for an autograph or tell him how big a fan I was. "We need to get through," I said meekly (after all, I was facing Mister Bill Shatner, greatest man to walk the earth), and he chuckled falsely and said, "Of course," and moved out of the way so we lowlies could leave the stage.

It's crazy, but, I was so convinced that that was what he expected of me, that I grabbed a photo of Captain Kirk the next time I was booked on the show and put it in my backpack, in case the opportunity presented itself again.* It never did (or if it did, I hadn't the gumption to ask him to sign it), and the photo ended up getting bent and dogeared from the ride inside my pack.

But while I'm geeking out on Mr. Shatner's birthday, let me confess one other thing. Craig Kilborn had a show on the CBS lot that followed Letterman for a while in the Noughts, and it was so hard up for viewers that they'd pay people to come sit in the audience for tapings. Well, I had no money or job and didn't know quite how to get either, so I signed up and went a couple of times, clapping and pretending to know who D.L. Hughley or Brad Garrett were. But at the end of one show, Kilborn said, "Join me on Monday when my guest will be William Shatner and the black guy from Police Academy." Well, as soon as we were let out, I went back to the CBS ticket office and got a seat for Monday's show . . . on my own dime.

As far as I knew, that would be my only chance to see Shatner in person, so I went for it. I got to pick where I wanted to sit because I was a "paying customer" as opposed to the people who were bribed to be there. I don't remember any of the interview, and I only ever did that one other time (and I shan't say who that was for, because it's even more embarrassing than William Shatner).

I had no money in those days, and an almost continual fear of the future. Even so, I miss those days.

Maybe I'll live to see Bill Shatner again. And his sacred hairpiece.

Rish Tiberius Outfield

*I had gotten his autograph a couple years before at a signing he did with Leonard Nimoy in Universal City, but alas, the DVD they signed was stolen.

1 comment:

Abbie said...

This video clip is truly priceless.