Vintage Video: Shatner On Kirk v Crane, Why He Did Trek and Kirk’s Death

Four years ago this month, the Museum of Television & Radio held a ‘Tribute to William Shatner’ at their annual Paley Festival. Video for this 2004 event is now online at Fancast, where you can see The Shat on subjects ranging from meeting Spencer Tracy to the death of Kirk. Plus in videos for a separate MTR event for Boston Legal, Shatner declares which role is bigger: Kirk or Crane…see below

Shatner on the beginning and end of Kirk and more
The seven available clips from the 2004 Museum of Television and Radio ‘Tribute to William Shatner’ are not embeddable, but can be found on the William Shatner page on Fancast mixed in with other clips (5 here and 2 here). Regarding why he took the job for the Star Trek series after turning down others, he said he attributed it to the success of Steve McQueen in the 1958-1961 series Wanted Dead or Alive, saying “Suddenly it was not just all right, it was almost a necessity to get a series to get those roles we wanted.” Regarding the death of Kirk scene in Generations, Shatner said:

I thought at the moment of death, Kirk would look up and see death, whatever it is, approaching and face death the way he faced all those aliens. Which was a mixture of awe and wonderment. And so I added the word “oh yah” and died, and it never sold…

Shatner goes in depth at the MTR, March 2004

Here are direct links to each of the videos from the 2004 event, by topic. Shatner on:

Shatner on who is bigger…Kirk or Crane?
A year later Shatner returned for the 2005 Paley Festival along with the cast (including DS9’s Rene Auberjonois) and producers for Boston Legal. Seven clips from this “Inside Boston Legal” event can be found here. In one clip, Shatner was specifically asked about the popularity of the show and he compared appeal of both Star Trek and Boston Legal, declaring that Boston Legal was “the most popular thing I have ever done, including Star Trek.” And when asked why Boston Legal is so popular, The Shat answered without a pause, but with a smile “it’s me.”

Shatner and his “Boston Legal” colleagues, March 2005

Lost and BSG at the Paley Fest too
The 2005 Boston Legal event is also available to purchase on DVD at the MTR site (unfortunately the 2004 Shatner-only event is not available). On the 2005 Paley Festival DVD page you will also see a DVD for an event with the cast and producers of Lost (including Trek producers JJ Abrams, Bryan Burk and Damon Lindelof). Clips of that event are also available at Fancast. The 2006 Paley Festival looked ‘Inside Battlestar Galactica’ with the stars and producers (including Ron Moore). That isn’t available on DVD either, but clips are at Fancast as well.

By the way, Fancast is one of the new sites in the ‘CBS Audience Network’ that is showing every episode of Star Trek The Original Series. Check em out here.

Paley Fest 2008
The 2008 Paley Fest kicks off this weekend. There are a couple of Trek celebs in attendance. Tomorrow night (Saturday) Voyager producer Bryan Fuller will be on hand for a panel for his new show Pushing Daisies. On March 17th, Star Trek (and Lost) producer Damon Lindelof will be moderating a discussion with the cast and crew of Chuck. Later in the month there is also a reunion for the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a talk with the producers of the X-Files. Tickets to events are still available, for more goto


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Shatner’s looking healthier these days!

I wish they would have given us that “oh yah” part in the bonus features, as well as the first death scene that was re-shot after test audience disappointment. No one wants to see Kirk shot in the back, but then again, we didn’t really want to see him go at all!

cranes bigger.
i can see that.

Boston Legal was “the most popular thing I have ever done, including Star Trek.” And when asked why Boston Legal is so popular, The Shat answered without a pause, but with a smile “it’s me.”

i love that answer
shats great

#1 I noticed the same thing too. He looks great!

1 and 4
yes shatner *did* look good, but the videos are from 2004…as noted.

The Shat is indeed looking young & fit these days, perhaps it’s for a role that has not been announced—-yet.

He looks four years younger!

Boston Legal is popular because its him – its a combination of his “Kirk” and his previous dramatic work. Most of his ST stories did not allow for him to be anything other than “Captain Kirk”…other than the allotted ‘mourn Spock’ and ‘mourn son’ moments. Oh, and the ‘oh, darn, I’m gettin’ old’ moments.

The episode that came closest to really showing his range is The Enemy Within. If it wasn’t so rushed and a bit later on in the series, I’m sure his performance would have been even better.

I’m a huge huge HUGE fan of his work before ST. And I just *love* Boston Legal because its the best of both worlds. =D

In response to the video about the comic: Yes, Bill, yes you do :)

You’re a god, but yes … oh yes you do (and really, that’s part of why you’re a god).

Shatner simply played an icon… To paraphrase Carrie Fisher, Kirk, T. J. Hooker and whomever this Crane is, just happen to look like William Shatner. That said, It would be nice to eventually see the Shat/Kirk again in some capacity. Death isn’t final in such a fictional setting, and time travel/flashback/alternate universe story ideas abound!

If he’d not done the “Oh my” and refused to do the death scene…. things would have been far different.

#9 His ‘overuse’ of the dramatic pause isn’t anywhere near as present in his earlier work/stuff before ST. I read a quote by someone who said they thought it was just him trying to remember his lines due to the rigorous filming schedule and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if that’s how it started out and he just added it into the ‘Kirk persona’ and it just sort of kept happening.

Either that or he suffered a traumatic brain injury that causes those pauses right before he started filming ST.

It’s very odd watching his earlier/other stuff sometimes…there’s that whole “OMIGOSH! William Shatner just completed a sentence without a long dramatic pause! Two sentences! No way! THREE?!” (Probably the strangest performance – in light of his role on ST – is the Hitchcock Presents episode “Mother, May I Go Out to Swim?”)

Love him. =D

Are these videos avalaible only for those in the US? Because I can’t watch them, the page keeps saying they are unavalaible. :( I’m from Hungary.

The Trek 11 movie adds Tyler Perry to its list of actors… So now the Shat CAN be in the movie! Hear me out… We’ll take a nod from Perry’s playbook and cast Shats as a woman! Here she comes, Kirk’s long lost aunt/sister Barry…

Xai, I couldn’t agree more.


And another thing, Bruce Campbell rocks… He’d be killer in a Trek role! He’s got the look potential of a Kirk-level iconic captain or admiral.

Shatner is such a ham, hard to take him seriously.

Decloaking . . .

After watching the vids I feel like we saw the real Shat, more so than on his Vlogs which seem to be more of the Shat self-marketing.


Kirk has become such a great character because he perfectly combines Shatner’s personal expressiveness and mannerisms, but on the other hand because Shatner was able to breath life into Kirk by actually creating him, i.e. portraying him without smothering him.

In BL, Shatner in turn was able to realize different quirks of his own personage for the Denny Crane character – a most successful performance, as well.

Kudos to Shatner for his ability to show us credible characters.

Anthony, being this site is devote for the most current Trek news & updates you have to keep in mind people automatically assume postings are of current media.

Even if the video is from four years ago, in current appearences it’s clear time has stopped itself for The Shat (and may even have reversed itself) so this easily could have been recorded now.

#11: “If he’d not done the “Oh my” and refused to do the death scene…. things would have been far different”

Lets not forget the fact Kirk’s death was insisted upon by Rick Berman before the script was even written. When the preview with the original death tanked, Berman could have rewritten it for Kirk to live but still insisted on his morbid lust for burying the soul of TOS on Veridian III. Shat regrets now doing GEN & I for one forgive him. A rousing early birthday wish to The Shat!

Actually it was Paramount that wanted TOS out, Berman actually had to fight to get Kirk in the seventh film.

The sad thing about Kirk in Generations is that he was totally wrong. Berman and the TNG crew were not able to write Kirk the right way, so in my opinion we had a flat action man without soul, light years away from the captain we know and love.

@22 – Ron Moore has said that they were trying to be unconventional for the movie, and with hindsight went too far, so they were trying to make Kirk’s death less obvious, make Picard cry, make Data emotional and it really never worked for any of the cast.

They completely nailed Kirk in the prologue though. That first 15 minutes or so are easily the best parts of the film in my opinion.

To be honest, if he never appeared in the Nexus or on Veridian III (or whatever number that place was) then he’s have had an acceptable sendoff. He was being heroic, saving the ship and being big enough not to take the Big Chair off Harriman.

Ah, it could’ve been epic, but they were just trying too hard.

Anthony — I wish you’d put more Clifford the Red Dog pictures in these articles. These words are so hard to understand.

Beyond that, Shatner’s definitely got ideas. The problem is that he doesn’t think visually. That is, he thinks of stuff to throw on the screen without considering whether that stuff is believable or something ridiculous that takes the audience out of the moment. It takes a strong director to rein him in and get a good performance.

Big Red Dog — dadnabbit, I wish I could go back and fix my own posts

Regardless of when the videos were made, Shatman still looks better today, as he appears to be trimming down some. He looks better at 77 than he did at 73 and could pass for a guy in his 50’s, no sweat. I should be so lucky when I’m pushing 80 to have his looks and energy.

I wouldn’t want his kidneystones, but If they could just package this guy’s genes…

26 jonboc

i too would like the shatners genes…then when i got to my 50s i could walk around with that uber thick sexy black fro – man i’d LOVE to have hair like that..




oh yeah..

Id grow it out a bit like Shats had it in TWOK….id probably look in the mirror to perfect my ‘KHHAAAN!!’ scream then do it on nights out in a nightclub into my mobile phone when i’m loaded up with booze.

80s Shat was the business…its like what was your fave Elvis? 50s Sun Studio Elvis ..Army Elvis…Movie elvis…68 Comeback Elvis…Vegas Elvis…

Same with the shat….Nightmare at 20,000 Shat…TOS shat….70s wilderness years Columbo Shat……TMP ‘comeback’ Shat…TWOK Shat …Hooker Shat….Denny Crane Shat…Priceline Shat etc etc

In addition to having a soft spot for TOS Shat, I very much like your etc etc Shat option…;-)


You are not alone.

Anthony#7- The information-rich articles you provide us are the best and most comprehensive Trek news out there – please don’t change a thing about this site. When a new column goes up it is usually accompanied by a subtle tingle of excitement in one’s gut, and I think perhaps this is the reason some of us jump right into discussion. We might not say it often enough, but the efforts of the Trekmovie team go beyond outstanding, and I am sure appreciated just as much by those coming here to see what’s up in Trekdom.

Don’t forget Ms. Congeniality Shat…

#7—Anthony, be assured that there are those of us who always read your work (and that of Mr. Trotter and the rest of the “crew” at before exercising the priviledge of posting a comment. Your efforts are always appreciated…

“Boston Legal was “the most popular thing I have ever done, including Star Trek.” And when asked why Boston Legal is so popular, The Shat answered without a pause, but with a smile ‘it’s me.’ “—-William Shatner, 2005

Imagine the backlash here in the comments section if this statement had been made by anyone but the Shat….I, for one, couldn’t disagree more with that statement. He is universally recognized for his portrayal of Captain Kirk. 40 years from now, few (if any at all) will remember who Denny Crane was. In fact, he is probably more well known now for doing Priceline commercials than being a supporting actor on that show.

I watched an episode of Boston Legal once (only because that episode was hyped by this site), and was unimpressed…However, I am glad he is finding success in his “golden years”.

As for Kirk’s death, the “blame game” is tired. He was offered the part, and accepted it. It is what it is. My personal opinion is that he has never had any personal affection for the character of Jim Kirk or Star Trek in general (he has never even watched the show). I think that, to him, it was really just a job. That is fine, of course. That is the way most actors approach their business. But anyone (IMO) who believes that he regrets killing off Kirk for any reasons other than the poor public reception of that performance, and the fact that it may be now costing him an opprotunity to get a paycheck, is kidding themselves.

With that said, I love the Shat in Trek from 1966-1986. But, like an athlete who plays one more season than he should—just to get another big paycheck, he should have been shown the door after the poor outing in STV. I’m not a big fan of TUC, but it was at least proof that it did not have to be THAT bad. Casting him at all in Generations was too much, and it showed.
In retrospect, it would have been much better (again, IMO) to have seen he and the rest of the original cast ride off into the Sunset after the success of TVH, once again having saved the Earth and its people, and having sent a real Trek-like message to the audience.

Personally, I wanted to see a recast of the original characters long ago, especially after my disappointment in the bland TNG characters. However, I have to admit to being anxious and excited to see Leonard Nimoy strap on the ears one more time as Spock, especially since the role they have for him is such an intregal one. I don’t need any more gratuitous Shat…

It’s a tough argument, Boston legal(hilarious) or Star Trek(supercoolio).
I’m split down the middle on this one!!!!!!!!!

Closettrekker Britanica uber long anti-Shat post reads like war and peace. Go back in the closet, sorry couldn’t resist!!!

Hey Ballzio’s back !!!!!! So how was the Hanoi Hilton????

#34—If all you got was an “anti-Shat post”, you didn’t read it anyway…And you apparently have never read War And Peace either…I love him in his heyday as James T. Kirk. Do I have to be a TJ Hooker or a Boston Legal fan, or more importantly, agree with everything the man says and does to not be labeled “anti-Shat”? Give me a break, Garth.

Well, since White Apache Shat is the same as Season 1-2 Shat, I’ll go with that shat. Although, Barbary Coast Shat and Margerine Shat are cool, too.

i can’t watch the videos either……… (I’m in the UK) anyone else having problems?

I’ve always been a Shat fan. I remember when he was pretty much considered a joke. When did that end? Maybe with The Practice/Boston Legal–somewhere in there. But I stayed with him during the “joke” years…

Those who posted about the Shat’s appearance on the four year old video, don’t feel bad. He really IS looking pretty good, based on pics from the Alzheimer’s benefit.

Although I do agree that the Shat has a tendency to over-do things acting-wise, and I do agree it takes a good director to rein him in, I would not have wanted him retired after V, VI, or Generations. He’s awesome, looks great, why retire him at the end of IV?

Settle down sonny I was teasing you for your thesis like post. Don’t be a Mr. poopey face!!! And don’t be so childish

“Lets not forget the fact Kirk’s death was insisted upon by Rick Berman before the script was even written. When the preview with the original death tanked, Berman could have rewritten it for Kirk to live but still insisted on his morbid lust for burying the soul of TOS on Veridian III.”

Uh…sorry, no. Shatner could’ve just said “no” and prevented EVERYTHING that came after in regards to the Kirk controversy. Period. Shatner fans can rationalize it to themselves all they want but that will alter the fact not one whit. In the end it was Shatner who had the final say, indeed it was he who had the ONLY say.

It’s not like they would’ve recast Kirk to get Kirk in the movie. No, the story would’ve been re-written Kirk-less or it would’ve been about something different altogether. It’s really that simple and it’s a damn shame that their are people so bizarrely in love with the man that they will attempt blame everyone but the one person who had the ultimate say so.

So, one more time……if Shatner had said no….the last we would’ve seen of Kirk is ST6, which while the movie wasn’t that great, had the PERFECT ending for the original cast. One Shatner f@#cked up because he couldn’t bring himself to say a simple two letter word.

I bet JJ said. Dude I want you in my film but Kirk would never let himself go physically and I need you to lose some weight man. Do this and well revisit it Shat.

He does look like hes trimming up. Still probably not in the film though.

#39—I’m just not a fan of the polarization phrases like “Pro-Shat” and “Anti-Shat”, that’s all. No worries.

“Mr. Poopey face”? Ironically, that’s what I call my 11 year old from time to time, in reference to the occasion about 10 years ago when I discovered him in my closet having removed his dirty diaper and proceeded to….well, you get the picture. That was quite a mess (one I remedied like any good Dad left alone with the children—outside with a garden hose!), and great ammunition when I feel the need to humble him.

42 – Closettrekker — Yep, Trek Dads are resourceful. I’m just waiting to use the duct tape and WD-40.

I still don’t get the backlash against Shatner or even against Berman for killing Kirk. Remember when this was happening. Hollywood was enamored with telling us the genesis and demise of every character, including most of our childhood friends. Personally, I found Scotty’s fate far less dignified than Kirk’s. (If you agree that he should have gotten more than a shuttle and a ticket to the galactic old fart’s home, then read “Ship of the Line.” spoiler: Scotty’s back!)

Paramount was making movies to make money. Um, they’re still doing that. Generations missed the mark. I think a little more money and a lot more commitment to excellence could have turned the death sequence into something meaningful, rather than another example of why Starfleet DOT should be investigated for faulty bridge construction. Again — Shatner (and probably Berman) have ideas. Neither is the best at ‘showing us’ on the screen what’s in their heads. I hope, and do believe, that JJ has much much more of that talent.

Ha now that’s a funny story!!!! That doesn’t beat my friend’s doopey kid whom he caught eating doggy waste!!!

Agree with the Scotty stuff I thought that and the Voyager Sulu episode were both Berman-Braga not so thinly veiled backhand slaps at TOS and hence quite lame

“Boston Legal” is more popular than “Star Trek” – today. In five years the opposite will be the case.

I remember “The Practice” – real good show. So was “Chicago Hope.” So was “Boston Public.” Nonetheless, the sell-through on DVDs of such shows five, ten, fifteen years after their cancellation is minimal.

The first sentence of Shatner’s obituary will be along the lines of “William Shatner, popular stage and television actor, best known as ‘Captain Kirk’ of ‘Star Trek’…”

Both “Relics” and “Flashback” treated TOS with extravagant reverence and portrayed Scotty and Sulu with far more respect and with more importance than the characters had actually earned.

#43—There is no question that Scotty’s demise in that god-awful TNG episode was despicable. I didn’t like the treatment of his character in general, particularly by the Enterprise-D’s chief engineer of all people! That episode was poorly written, disrespectful of a character with 100 times the iconic status of all TNG characters combined, and never should have aired.

As for killing Kirk, my issue is more to the point of thinking that he shouldn’t have been in the film, period. I can hardly blame Berman for wanting to add more appeal to his project by bridging the two series with a familiar character, but I didn’t need to see Shatner’s Kirk in another geriatric fistfight with an alien, or being lectured by Jean-Luc “I’m French, but I drink Earl-Grey and speak with an English accent” Picard.

Having recently been convinced by my kids to start watching “Lost” (I purchased the first season dvd’s), I am confident that JJ is a good storyteller. He must have liked what Orci and Kurtzman wrote, and I’m sure he’ll bring his own rather effective storytelling style to the project. I look forward to it. We definitely have “more money and more committment” to this project.

#44—I’m not as bothered by VOY, “Flashback”. It’s actually the only VOY episode I bothered to see more than once. As for the rest of that series…

Re: #31. Kras

“Don’t forget the ‘Ms. Congeniality’ Shat…”

I loved him in that movie. Well done. Not too over-the-top.

Re: #42. Closet-Trekker

Mr. Poopey-Face? LOL! Priceless. Wonderful anecdote for his wedding… (Don’t tell him I told you that!)


I for one could not watch Bl over and over like ST TOS, my conclusion is in 40 years shat will be will be remembered as Capt. James T Kirk mostly. Does anyone think that anything from BL will be in the Smithsonian Institution?

I was a little disappointed in the “Relics” episode, but darned if I know how to improve it. I’m only an artist in the areas of music (singing, guitar) and photography. The art of writing a good story is not one of my gifts. Wish it were. I revere and envy the contributors to Star Trek. Stories, planets, races/cultures, languages, wardrobe, space ships, special effects – even music just blow me away. All I can do is enjoy what they’ve created.