In this week’s CelebWatch we got lots of George Takei, including talking about his first meetings with Roddenberry to his recent resurgent career. Plus Patrick Stewart converts Trekkies to theater lovers, Avery Brooks celebrates Abraham Lincoln, Nichelle Nichols talks Spock, Wil Wheaton goes to the dark side, Leonard Nimoy gets grilled by Stephen Colbert (we got the video) and much more!
A Lot of Takei… Oh, my!
Cinefantastique has part 1 of a 3-part interview with George Takei (Sulu) in which the actor talked Star Trek. Takei described his first meeting with Trek creator Gene Roddenberry thusly:
…my career changed when I met Gene in 1965. He was an extraordinary and unusual man. When you do interviews for a role, you usually sit in front of a lot of people but when I walked into his office, he was the only man behind the desk.
Takei noted that Roddenberry did not ask him about his work, but rather began a conversation, discussing the movies and the headlines of the time.
I later found out that he interviews everyone that way. He does his homework, and knows the people he wants and their acting abilities. He just wanted to know our thoughts, who we were, our passions and interests. We were all into the issues of the time. And that was important to Gene because that is what he wanted to talk about on STAR TREK, as well as put together a crew of what he saw was the construction of America in the future.
On the original Trek being canceled, Takei jokingly reflected, “We battled aliens and everything, yet in the end the real Klingons were the NBC executives.” Takei recognizes that Gene’s message exists in our world today, particularly with a diverse group of people working together on the international space station. He summed this up by saying, “We have STAR TREK in reality today.” Head over to Cinefantastique for more; Part 2 of the interview will be posted this Sunday.
The LA Daily News also has an interview with Takei, with the actor discussing his sexual orientation and the reason why he is popular again… and no, it’s not because of Heroes.
There are more people coming up to me all the time and asking me about Howard and my participation in his show. I do a week every quarter on the ‘Howard Stern Show’ and more people seem to connect me with that show than from `Heroes,’ it seems. It’s amazing.
And in even more Takei news, the actor will appear along with TNG’s Brent Spiner (Data) at the Ricoh Arena for Collectormania Midlands in Coventry, England, this March.
Takei expresses his elation in being this week’s headliner
Stewart’s Macbeth in New York
The critically-acclaimed production of Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart began its run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as reported by Playbill. Performances runs through March 22nd, but don’t bother trying to get tickets… the engagement is sold out. So you will have to make due with the interview posted at TheaterMania in which he discussed his role in Macbeth… and the Trekkies who came to see Captain Picard on stage.
I have succeeded in sort of dissuading people from coming to a show dressed in Star Trek uniforms. I have tried to put it out there that I don’t look on that as a compliment. Still, I have to say since then, people I meet at the stage door or write to me often say, “We came to see this to see Captain Picard. I’ve never seen a Shakespeare play in my life or I’ve never been in a theater in my life before, and I loved it and I can’t wait to come see it again.” It’s so deep and satisfying to find that people are being converted from watching science fiction television to not just live theater, but classical live theater.
A similar interview can be read at BBC.
Author and TrekMovie.com reader Marty Beckerman sends in this mini-review:
One word: intense. Set against a bleak Soviet milieu with the original Shakespearean language, the director is clearly comparing Macbeth’s treachery to Stalinist politburo machinations. Patrick Stewart has even grown a mustache for the role, which he inhabits with increasing comfort and ferocity as the play progresses. Stewart’s reciting of Ye Olde English was easy to understand, especially compared to some of the other actors in the production. It’s clear where the gravitas that Stewart brought to Captain Picard originated, and at one point Stewart even whipped out the “Picard maneuver” and tugged the bottom of his jacket downward. No idea if this was a coincidence or an Easter egg to the TNG obsessives in the audience. Overall a terrific performance but don’t expect a happy ending.
If Stewart sees another audience member in Trek uniform…oh yes…there will be blood
Is The Force with Wheaton?
TheForce.net has a new interview with Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) in which the actor/author expressed his geekdom and his love/hate relationship with both Star Trek and Star Wars. After proclaiming himself as “a huge, huge, huge, epic, screaming, geeky, owning all the toys Star Wars fan, Wheaton expressed his love for Trek:
I liked the Original Star Trek too. I remember playing “Star Trek” on the playground with friends. I always wanted to be Mr. Spock. But the real hardcore sci-fi nerd really didn’t start until I was on Star Trek:TNG because it exposed me to a LOT of science fiction. I was going to conventions, I was meeting authors, other fans, and I was being exposed to a lot of sci-fi things I never would have seen otherwise. It was reading Ringworld that finally pushed me into the hardcore, complete never-to-return-to-normalcy sci-fi fandom.
Wheaton also discussed the epic battle between Trekkies and Star Wars fans:
I’ve never been around Star Wars and Star Trek fans that have decided to have it out and throw down. My opinion is that Fandom Wars are the dumbest f—ing thing in the world. It’s so unbelievably stupid. At our core, we’re all geeks. We were all the total nerds that were picked on in school, and most of us have gone on to bigger and better things, and very nice paying jobs… just because this one likes Star Wars and that one likes Star Trek… I just don’t get why they have to fight over which one is better. They’re just different, big deal guys.
In the meantime, the actor revealed on his blog that he has undergone “major sinus surgery.” The actor is recovering, but must take it easy for a while, otherwise he could start bleeding… a lot. That’s not a good thing.
Nichols’ Bold Move
Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) discussed her role and experiences on Star Trek with the Daily Echo/Dorset Echo. Describing the background she created for Uhura, Nichols explains that she and Spock had a closer relationship than was ever evident on screen:
I created a relationship between Uhura and Spock as being her mentor and the person she looked up to. Uhura was the only one who could play the Vulcan lyre and the only one who had the audacity to sing a song teasing Spock.
She also recounted the flack which Gene Roddenberry endured when he cast a black female as part of the bridge crew:
…they told him he couldn’t do that. Gene said ‘I’ve already done it.’ They said ‘That’s not what you said. You said you were going to make a little change on the bridge because you were going to add a bit of color…we thought you were talking about the costumes!’
Nichelle Nichols still loves wearing red.
Burton’s Shippensburg Address
LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge) will deliver an address entitled “Our Journey Toward Enlightenment: From Dr. King to the Present” at the Shippensburg University’s Gifted Minority Scholarship Fund program. The program, which commemorates the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, will be held at the University’s Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center on February 21st… following a dinner! See The Sentinel for more details.
Brooks Talks Lincoln
Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko) performed at the celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s 199th birthday at the Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC on February 10th. According to The Courier-Journal, Brooks recited the story of Lincoln’s opposition to slavery and his determination to end it.
Brooks: “Lincoln was REEEEEAL!!!”
Nimoy v Colbert
We already know that Stephen Colbert has taken vital time away from his work defending America to give the proper respect to Trek (examples: here, here, and here). Last night Stephen brought on Leonard Nimoy to get to the truthiness behind Leonard Nimoy’s photography book “The Full Body Project.”
Luck o’ the Irish
Colm Meaney (Miles O’Brien) received the “Oscar Wilde: Honoring the Irish” award today at a pre-Academy Awards party in Los Angeles, according to News Ireland. The award is given to Irish actors and filmmakers for their representations of the Irish in their work.
Shimerman on Union Banishment
Former DS9 star Armin Shimerman (Quark) gave his input on the reported banning of actor Randy Quaid from the Actors’ Equity Association. Regarding whether or not Quaid’s alleged inappropriate conduct should get him banished from a union, Shimerman tells Back Stage:
People are regularly not given membership if they don’t meet those qualifications. I would opine that if those qualifications are not maintained, there might be a right there to remove the no-longer-eligible member. But if a member is vocal about a union’s actions and finds those actions to be unjust or misguided, I would hope no union has the right to kick a member out for being a dissenter.
Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway) will be attending the Chairman’s Awards Gala honoring actress Angela Lansbury on April 14th, according to Playbill. Why, you ask? Because Mulgrew is part of the committee of the National Corporate Theatre Fund, which runs the annual Gala. The event will be hosted by Michael McKean, who co-starred with Mulgrew as The Clown in the VOY episode “The Thaw.”
- Mass Effect, the hit video game featuring the voice of Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi), will be available for the PC this May, as reported by BusinessWire.
- PennLive.com would like to see a romance between Jolene Blalock (T’Pol) and Pirates of the Caribbean star Orlando Bloom.
- Christopher Lloyd (Star Trek III) is currently shooting a movie based on Jack London’s short story Call of the Wild in Montana, reports The Missoulian.
- Anthony Zerbe (Admiral Dougherty, Insurrection) will be bringing his one-man show, It’s All Done with Mirrors, to the Hayes Center on March 21st, according to The Mountain Times Online.
- Michelle Forbes is currently starring in the HBO series In Treatment… which debuted on January 28th. Yeah, probably should have gotten that to you sooner…
Last Friday Zach Quinto (the new Spock) was spotted walking the red carpet on his way into a pre-Grammy weekend party from People Magazine and Verizon honoring the rapper/producer Timbaland.
Spock’s got a beard! (Wire Image)
- Maggie Ostroff (73), assistant sound editor on Star Trek VI, died February 4th. Her other films include Patriot Games, Crimson Tide, and Armageddon.
- John Alvin (59), designer and artist for the Star Trek VI movie posters, died February 6th. He created posters for over 135 movies.
- Steve Gerber (60), co-writer of the TNG episode “Contagion,” died February 10th. As a comic book writer, he is most famous for creating Howard the Duck.
Star Trek VI posters deisgned by John Alvin
No celebrities were harmed in the writing of this column. At least, I don’t think they were…