In the first part of our exclusive interview with TNG star Wil Wheaton, we talked about his appearance at multiple events at this weekend’s Phoenix Comic Con, geeking out, voice acting and more. Now in Part 2 see what Wil had to say about his future writing plans, the early seasons of Next Generation, the changing of the guard from Gene Roddenberry to Michael Piller, and JJ Abrams new Star Trek movie
Interview: Wil Wheaton – Pt 2
TrekMovie.com: How are things going with your latest book, "Happiest Days of Our Lives," and is their a fourth book in your series of personal journals?
Wil Wheaton: Things are going really with "Happiest Days." I have sold out of two printings and there is a special expanded edition coming early this year from Subterranean Press. I am also going to do an audio versions of the expanded material that are going to be online for free released a little before the print book. We did an audio version of "Happiest Days" that is doing well and people seem to like it and I am really proud of it. I am not sure I am going to do another collection of narrative non-fiction stories. I have been wanting to write fiction for a long time. 2008 was supposed to be the year of writing fiction for me, but I had sinus surgery early in the year and it disrupted my rhythm so much to lose eight weeks to just recovery and then it was the summer with conventions and so by the time the Fall came and I started working on the stories I had planned to start in February, it was October. So it is very important for me to write fiction. I wanted to do it for a long time. I am really proud of "Happiest Days," and feel like I have done everything I want to do in the narrative non-fiction world, but obviously I will never say never, but my primary focus right now is working on a collection of science-fiction and other genre fiction short stories and novellas to be collected and will hopefully be out later this year.
The other book that’s coming out that will be interesting specifically to your readers is a collection of my Star Trek The Next Generation reviews/reminiscence/snark columns that I was doing for TVSquad. We are collecting them into a full season and releasing that as a book later this year, in time for summer.
TrekMovie.com: How many of those reviews have you done?
Wil Wheaton: I have done nineteen from the first season so far. I have two reviews from the forthcoming Star Trek reviews book that have never been seen anywhere that I am bringing with me to perform at the Phoenix Comic Con. People who have enjoyed my reviews will definitely want to come to the con to hear what I am bringing with me.
TrekMovie.com: The first season can be be brutal.
Wil Wheaton: Yeah. That is why the first season is kind of fun. Some of the episodes are really really bad and a few of the episodes are extremely good, even if you are not grading on a curve. For the most part — we are awkward — we are trying to figure out what our show is about. And you can see how we had so many different writers and creative power struggles while we figured out what we were going to be. We were really lucky we got a chance to do more than one season. If it wasn’t for the incredible cast and writers like Sandy Fries and Tracy Torme, we probably would not have gone past the second season.
TrekMovie.com: I am in the camp that thinks that Michael Piller, and writers like Ron Moore, really saved the show in the third season.
Wil Wheaton: They absolutely did.
TrekMovie.com: I know some don’t like to hear that Gene [Roddenberry] didn’t save the show. I love Gene Roddenberry, but for TNG I think the Michael was the best thing for the show.
Wil Wheaton: Gene had the presence of mind to know he was getting old and he knew that someone who loved Star Trek as much as he did could step in to take the reins. He hand picked Michael. He begged Michael at the end of season three to come back. Michael didn’t want to at first, but Gene said to him "I need you to make this show great, I can’t do it without you" and Michael agreed. And Michael had the open submissions policy, which is how Ron [Moore] came on, with "The Bonding." I don’t think it is inaccurate or unfair to give Michael a great deal of credit for making Next Generation great, but at the same time I think it is also fair and accurate to acknowledge that it was Gene Roddenberry who had the vision and presence of mind and the foresight to keep Michael Piller on and put him in a position to do what he did.
Wheaton as Wesley Crusher in 3rd season TNG episode "The Bonding"
TrekMovie.com: The last time we chatted we cross-posted a blog of yours about the new Star Trek movie. Since then have you been keeping up with the news, like the recent spoilers from Orci, did you see that?
Wil Wheaton: I have been working hard to avoid spoilers.
TrekMovie.com: But you have seen the trailer. What is your current geek level alert on the movie?
Wil Wheaton: I remain cautiously optimistic. Based on what I know, I am really excited to see it. I wasn’t crazy about the trailer, speaking strictly as a Star Trek fan. It felt like a sci-fi action movie, with Star Trek costumes. But I actually think that is a really good idea that they did the trailer that way. Guys like me are going to see the movie no matter what, they need to convince my kids to see it. And my kids are only going to see it if it is in a language they understand.
TrekMovie.com: So what did your kids think?
Wil Wheaton: They thought it was cool and exciting, so good job! They are not making the trailer for me — they are making it for this other audience and Star Trek fans should be really excited about that. They really need to get my kids and their friends, and a next generation, if you will pardon the pun, into the theater, so that Star Trek can keep going. If they are going to keep going, Star Trek has to be made relevant to the millennials.
Wheaton: cautiously optimistic about Star Trek 2009 – sees opportunity for another generation of fans
Trek stars this weekend at Phoenix Comic Con + Trek poster giveaway
Wheaton is one of four Trek celebs attending the excellent fan-run Phoenix Comic Con this weekend January 23-25th, being held the Mesa Convention Center in Mesa, AZ. On Saturday Wheaton will be on a panel with his TNG co-stars Marin Sirtis and Brent Spiner. Also attending the con is DS9’s Chase Masterson who will be showing her film Yesterday Was a Lie. Will has two other Phoenix panels planned: the Friday ‘geek out’ panel with Lowenthal and Douglas (mentioned above), a Saturday solo panel discussing his blogs and projects (probably where he will do his TNG review). Wil will also be joining with others in the ‘Rock Band Blowout’ playing the popular video game ‘Rock Band’ on stage Friday night. The Trek guests and panels are just a fraction of the sci-fi and genre programming for the weekend.
There will also be a special Star Trek poster give-away at the con, sponsored by Rodenberry Productions. They are giving away 10,000 vintage Trek posters from the 80s and 90s.
More info at www.phoenixcomicon.com
TrekMovie will be there
TrekMovie’s Kayla Iocovino will be reporting on happenings from Phoenix Comic Con this weekend, so check back for her reports.