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2013 flashback: William Shatner interview

By RODNEY HO/, originally filed January 4, 2013

Before we start the interview, here’s a quiz about William Shatner:

1. Shatner appeared as a Simon Cowell-like judge in what music video? A) Brad Paisley’s “Celebrity” B) Big & Rich’s “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” C) Rascal Flatts’ “Why Wait” D) Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup”

2. Which cast member of “Star Trek” has criticized Shatner for being arrogant? A) Jimmy Doohan 2) Nichelle Nichols 3) George Takei 4) all of the above

3. How did Priceline kill off long-time spokesman Shatner in an ad last year – only to bring him back to life later? A) Perished in a bus that fell off a cliff and exploded B) Hit by a UFO C) Shot by a man dressed like James Kirk D) Drowned by James Spader

4. What was an annoying habit of his “Boston Legal” character Denny Crane? A) He’d sneeze loudly if he felt people were getting bored with what he was saying B) He’d frequently bring up basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar C) He’d purposely pretend not to know people’s names D) He’d say his name out loud at odd times to ensure people knew he was a legend

5) Which of the following is a song Shatner did not record? A) “Major Tom (Coming Home)” B) “Bohemian Rhapsody” C) “Rapture” D) “Rocket Man”

6) What’s the name of the constructed “international” language Shatner used in 1966 horror film “Incubus”? A) Flexione B) Esperanto C) Interlingua D) Loglan

Answers are at the bottom of this entry.

William Shatner built a reputation on “Star Trek” in the late 1960s as an egotist who loved to hog the spotlight.

He has since spent the past four decades deconstructing and mocking his aggrandizing public persona in TV ads, talk shows, documentaries and now, a one-man show. Shatner stops by the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre Sunday, providing fans a two-hour trek through his life – from his early acting days doing Shakespeare through the “Star Trek” phenomenon to his more recent successes on TV, including “The Practice” and “Boston Legal.”

The energetic 81 year old talked to the Atlanta Journal Constitution recently to promote his show and, of course, himself:

Q: What should we expect when we see the show?

A: It’s great entertainment. I’ve gotten wonderful reviews both in New York, where it opened, and on the road. People are laughing. They’re crying.

Q: Do you want them to cry?

A: There are places where I hopefully touch them. Tears and laughter. It’s two sides of the same coin.

Q: How did you format the show?

A: I had a number of stories I’ve told before or still want to tell about meaningful things that have happened to me. The concept is saying yes to life, yes to opportunity, instead of being negative. That was my core thought.

Q: Does the show change much from night to night?

A: It’s a tight 95 to 100 minutes. There are a lot of verbal cues for visual things. But in between, I have opportunities to change it somewhat.

Q: Do you ever get tired of talking about yourself?

A: I’m doing six interviews today. You do get tired of it. In the one-man show, in effect, I’m playing a character that resembles me. No matter what an actor does, he’s playing a slight variation of himself.

Q: Will you sing?

A: I sing the last number. It’s a song I did with Brad Paisley.

Q: If you were on the old ‘American Idol,’ how would Simon Cowell critique your singing?

A: ‘You’ve got a lot of hutzpah, Shatner!’

Q: How’s your relationship with George Takei at the moment? It seems like you guys are always arguing about something.

A: He’s got closed ideas that unfortunately for him I can’t seem to break through in a lifetime. I haven’t seen him for major lengths of time. I don’t know what he’s holding on to. You think that he could just let it go. We’re close to dying as it is!

Q: What did you think of the last “Star Trek” film?

A: J.J. Abrams did a wonderful job opening “Star Trek” to a new generation.

Q: I saw you at DragonCon in Atlanta in 2009 with Leonard Nimoy. How does DragonCon compare to the other sci-fi conventions?

A: It’s the best. The fans seem more joyful there than in San Diego [where Comic-Con is held]. I’ve been there a couple of times and I hope to do it again.

Photo gallery of William Shatner through the years.

Concert preview

“Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It”

7 p.m. Sunday January 13. $36-$123. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 770-916-2800,

Quiz answers: 1) A 2) D 3) A 4) D 5) C 6) B

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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.