Listen To George Takei On NPR’s ‘Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!’

Star Trek’s original Sulu, George Takei was a guest today on the National Public Radio game show Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me. Before playing, the actor had a light-hearted chat with the hosts talking about his time on and after Trek. You can listen to the segment below.


Listen to Takei on NPR
From today’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, George Takei plays "Push. Come on. Push!"

Takei isn’t the first TOS star to appear on the NPR show. If you missed it, Leonard Nimoy was on the show a year ago, go to NPR to listen to that.


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Cool to hear George on the radio! I’ll have to tune in after church tomorrow! And, I’m first! What a day! I know, lame.

I just had a thought about an easy and subtle, yet powerful way to satisfy the demands of the LGBT folks. Make Admiral Pike gay or bisexual in the next movie…
Wouldn’t be in-your-face but still it would be a character who is respected and who doesn’t have a lot of canon history to mess with.

Uh oh, Another Takei story. Hope this doesn’t get out of proportion.

Takei is at it again. Kool. He is a great speaker and a good actor. Way to go Mr Sulu.

#2–or, they could make the alternate Sulu gay…there were signs all around in prime Trek…Sulu started out in Botany, Sulu and Chekov’s camping trip in the beginning of Star Trek V, the way Sulu held his teacup in the beginning of Star Trek VI, and even the beginning of Generations could be explained away within primeTimeline by saying Demora (his daughter) might be adopted (she might even be a descendant of Hoshi Sato from Enterprise)… it would be a great nod to Takei to make nuSulu gay in the sequel to JJ’s film…

on the flipside, if they do make Pike gay or bi in nuTrek, that might explain where Gary Mitchell is in this timeline LOL maybe he’s Pike’s life partner? LOL

Looks like my comment got deleted again. But then again, I’m just a “cupcake” right Pascale?

Or, we could not bother with “making” a character gay. Unless it has any bearing on the plot, I don’t think it needs to be done, especially not if it’s sole purpose is to “appease” people. Same with “proving” someone’s heterosexuality–Kirk’s flirtations were a key aspect of his character, but we never needed Chekov to have a love interest.

More on topic, glad to have Takei on WWDTM. It always surprises me how fun the guests they get on the show are.

I’m not sure there is a large enough market wanting gay characters and i’m not sure if it would have a detrimental effect on the overall marketing of future films.

That is not a personal judgement on gays by me just that i am not sure where the market is across the board on that subject.

Any decision though it would never be stated would reflect what those in charge of marketing knew from their research in this regard.

We could argue the rights and wrongs of such thinking but any film made is a risky venture that will hopefully make money but could also lose lots of money and anything considered a risk to a film making money wont be an option.

If they were going to develop gay characters it would have best been done on screen with a weekly show where they could adjust to audience reaction without effecting the entire series.

A movie is an all in one package so decisions will be made around that.

Of course it may be they can and do develop a gay character in the next or upcoming movies but it will i believe be reflected by how marketing determine the impact will effect ticket sales.

Perhaps it will increase sales.

If they do develop a gay character, I think it should be a relatively minor character with maybe a couple of minutes of screen time. Just as a demonstration of tolerance in Star Trek. Maybe two guys or two women holding hands in the background. But you can’t overdo it since homosexuality is still an uncomfortable subject with some Trekkies and a lot of the general audience.

#2 I don’t know why you think Christopher Pike could/should/would be gay in the new timeline when in the prime timeline he fell in love with a woman. It just doesn’t make any sense at all. The biological nature of a person would remain the same in different timelines even if the events they experience are different.

Botany, camping and holding a cup… has nothing to do with sexuality.
Was he really in love with Vina? However, he could still be bisexual.

#5 – “the way Sulu held his teacup in the beginning of Star Trek VI”

Ah yes, the irrefutable give away of a homosexual.

#10: “But you can’t overdo it since homosexuality is still an uncomfortable subject with some Trekkies and a lot of the general audience.”

“Some Trekkies,” yes. “The general audience?” Child, gay characters have been common on television and in films for many years now. That Trekkies still freak out at the idea of them in Trek is a commentary on the personal limitations of fans, not the world in general.

“If they do develop a gay character, I think it should be a relatively minor character with maybe a couple of minutes of screen time. Just as a demonstration of tolerance in Star Trek. Maybe two guys or two women holding hands in the background. But you can’t overdo it since homosexuality is still an uncomfortable subject with some Trekkies and a lot of the general audience.”

I’m one of those older farts who doesn’t particularly care for having a gay crew member, but i don’t want a bullshit hand holding scene either.

When TNG became a hit Trek lost its balls when it comes to pushing social commentary, instead it caved to the demands of ratings. If this new Trek is a return to TOS then it needs to show a little testicular fortitude and put itself out there, not with a hand holding or staring contests, or freakin tea cups, but something meaningful and obvious.

I have a whole list of prejudices and anti this or that stands, because Life teaches you to be an ass, but at the end of the day the little kid inside me still believes that someday someone will build a starship and god willing I hope they have a place for everyone , even gays on that ship.

Back to the homosexuality question. If it’s in the script, please have it make sense. Blood and Fire was just overdone. Plus, you had Peter fall in love (essentially) with Ensign Ricky. If you’re gonna go gay, have a quick glance, even a kiss or better yet, a nice light moment… AND MOVE ON.

Anyway, George sounds like he’s having great fun. Go down flaming, man!

It has ALWAYS amazed me the Trekker’s and their stance on gay. Some(that ARE gay Trekkers) fight for it. Those that are totally straight and threatened by the mere thought of two men together(but applaud two women doing it)…would somehow feel there manhood in jeopardy if a gay scene was shown on the big screen. The logic behind, well, keep it brief, make it subtle. But if Kirk is bopping an alien babe, let’s come close to PG-13 or beyond, no problem.
I don’t see the need to “make” any of the principle established characters gay, but including a guest star or minor role player shouldn’t cause severe reprecussions to the extent, Trekker’s boycott the next film because of it.
JJ isn’t gonna film Brokeback Spaceman…ala Kahn’s offspring and David Hyde Pierce. It should be natural, non-stereotypical, but clever and not in your face.
Producers aren’t particularly inovative in portrayals of gays. They go right to the lisp, walk, flipping wrists and other such comedic fodder.
It could be a scene where a guy is walking w/ his partner who happens to serve on the Enterprise too, and says:”Have good day, see ya when ya get off shift,” and gives him a kiss, and walks down the corridor.
Then later perhaps one of them gets killed in line of duty, and you see the grief he feels, and maybe other crewmen or principle characters console him.

13 – I think you’re missing the true nature of the objection.

Personally, I don’t care of a crewman os Gay or Straight. I simply don’t want to be preached to on the subject.

15 – That’s the way to do it. It just is, and is not a big deal. Done.

Good for George!

So, what you are saying # 17 is….Kirk’s blatant womanizing and portrayal of a hetereosexual with out morals is the mainstream america we all hold so dear?
So as for being preached too…since 1966 Kirk has beeb kicking his boots in our face since the 60’s.

Considering best estimates are that the gay population consists of between 6-10 percent, maybe 12 percent at the most liberal estimation, I still don’t quite understand the demand to see an openly gay character in Star Trek, especially when the quality that makes one gay is a quality that is mostly get behind closed doors, gay OR straight.

The only way I can see a gay character being useful in Star Trek is if the crew of the Enterprise being forced to negotiate with a uni-sex society or something. TNG tried that already with mixed results. DS9 tried with with Dax reuniting with an old spouse from a previous host.

The whole problem with the gay factor and Trek from a purely objective and logical point of view, is that being gay does not make biological sense from an evolutionary point of view, so it’s going to be a perplexing problem whenever Trek tries to introduce gender issues through an alien race or by tackling it by introducing an openly gay character into a starship crew.

By the 24th century, reproduction screening processes could possibly purify human DNA, (not improve it, that was banned after the Eugenics Wars) which may do away with birth defects and the like, including the suspected genetic disposition to becoming gay by some groups. This theory would negate the existence of gay humans in the future.

Pure, unbiased speculation, just thinking out loud.

Trek has delt with this best when the actual issue of gender has never been the issue- Dax in a same sex relationship was never actually the issue with anyone in that episode – it was the fact she was breaking trill law by continuing a relationship from a previous host – that paticular point, that a same sex relationship raised no eyebrows at all and was not the subject of the story showed that no one cared in the 24th crentury and was not a problem – if trek was going to do that again – thats how it should be done – it should not be dwelled on in any way because it would not be an issue.

Ok, guess I’ll stop making comments on any Takei story, as I usually say something about homosexuality and then my comment gets deleted. Anyone else have that problem?

Takei has had to deal with a lot in his career – the prejudice against Asians in American Cinema and Television, and the stigma of having been in a science fiction show during the 60s and the subsequent. These two things alone severely limited his choices in a field he obviously has loved. Pile on being gay in a homophobic world and I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for him.

Bravo, George. You have my respect.

As for the issue of being gay, I want every hetero male in this forum to try an experiment for me. Tomorrow, I want every one of you to become sexually attracted to your best male friend. Just for the day, choose to be gay. You don’t even have to engage in coitus with your friend, you just have to want to do it with him.

Can’t do that, you say? OK, how about some good-looking guy at the gym? Or any other place? Just for a day, crave another guy.

Still can’t do it, you say? Hm, I guess it’s not a choice you can make.

Being gay isn’t a choice anybody makes. It’s the biological structure of the brain. Gay people are wired that way. It’s not a defect, it’s not a disease, and it sure isn’t a choice.

So stop being prejudiced and shake away the tired, old, hateful dogma of your church and think for yourself for once. Research the issue, and not just on those sights that support your view. Educate yourself before you make a moral judgment.

Being gay may not be a choice, but hating them is.

^15. Blood and Fire was constrained, as a vehicle to introduce gay characters into Star Trek, by the fact that it’s a continuation of the original series and none of the regular characters are gay. To include homosexuality in a more integral way would require the creation of a Star Trek series with a regular, or at least recurring, character who is gay. Otherwise all that can be done, structurally, is to show gay relationships between guest stars and background characters. The more such detours are played up, the more off-course the show seems because the show is supposed to be about its main characters.

Toward the end of having an integral portrayal, it might have seemed like an obvious opportunity in the new Star Trek movie to retcon the character of Sulu as being gay, but that could have backfired a couple ways. One, saying the character of Sulu should have been gay because George Takei is gay is kind of insulting to what actors do. Two, and worse, the alternate timeline scenario of the movie could have been interpreted as making a statement about nature vs. nurture in gay identity: it would have been saying that different circumstances in the alternate universe somehow made Sulu gay when he was straight in the prime universe. That would be opening a can of worms to say the least.

“The audience can’t handle it” is, at least, partially correct.

That is, the Star Trek audience can’t handle it.

We’re talking about a decade where practically every other show on network television – not to mention every HBO and Showtime offering – has dealt with sexual orientation in some way. Far from being controversial, having a character come out has become an all too common sweeps week publicity stunt.

Everybody does it.

So, what makes the Star Trek “audience” different?

Well, I think the answer is fairly obvious to anyone who looks at this issue honestly. It is the same reason why T’Pol, Seven of Nine, and Counselor Troi have to run around the ship in those ridiculous cat suits.

To #2, uh, yeah, it would be in my face. I’ll pass on that suggestion.

Good observation # 24.

@ 21 Eli: Homosexuality is not a birth defect, because it is not a desease.
24 has understood the whole thing ;)

For a great example of how to reflect the reality of LGBT people in the universe, sfi-fi or otherwise, look to Doctor Who in recent years. Whether it’s the bi relationships of Captain Jack Harkness, the scene in The Waters of Mars when a character shares a story about his brother’s husband back on Earth, or numerous other similar examples, Russell Davies has intregrated LGBT folk by simply allowing us to be open about our lives and loves in the same ways we routinely see and hear straight people do. It’s not about advancing a “message” or the “plot” – it just is.

As much as I love Star Trek, it saddens me that its’ producers have never managed to muster the same courage or subtlety.