Star Trek Memories

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-04-19
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications
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Beginning in 1966 as something a little out of the ordinary for prime-time TV, and suffering from shaky ratings throughout its entire run, Star Trek went on to spend the better part of the next three decades exploding into a worldwide, billion-dollar industry. How did this happen? What made the show so unique that it spawned a devoted global following? A living pop culture legend and one of American film and television's most enduring stars, William Shatner will forever be associated with the role of James T. Kirk, captain of the starship Enterprise. STAR TREK MEMORIES is Shatner's own behind-the-scenes look at the legendary series that continues to put forth movies, books, and series spin-offs decades after the last episode aired. Avid Trekkers are sure to be delighted with this first-hand account from Captain Kirk himself. And fans of the later Star Trek incarnations will get to see where it all began. Originally written in 1993 and now in trade paperback for the first time, William Shatner's STAR TREK MEMORIES is the definitive reminiscence of the show that has become a true cultural phenomenon.


Star Trek Memories

Chapter One

Stardate: August 10, 1991

Preceding page: Together at Mann’s. (©1993 Paramount Pictures)

Snoring, smiling broadly, I am secure in the warmth and comfort of a carefree, dreamless sleep, and then it hits.

Instantly, my peace is shattered by the brain-piercing electronic screeching that blares and buzzes from my evil digital alarm clock. Quickly I spring into action, tossing about heroically and finally employing the desperate maneuver known as "the old pillow over the ears trick." Nothing works, and I come to realize that this is truly a no-win situation . . . in Trekker, an early-morningKobayashi Maru. Slowly, painfully, my eyelids begin to slide upward, and my semiconscious senses begin to contemplate the orangy-red block-style numbers that glare and blink at me, just out of reach, mocking my earlymorning helplessness. Their blurry taunts immediately tell me that my eyesight isn't what it used to be, and, upon squinting, that it's also 5:15 A.M. I'm late.

Now, as a pronounced series of bodily cracks and pops serenades me from deep within most of my moving parts, I make a supreme effort to overcome my blissful inertia. I rise from bed and start walking. "Left foot, . . . right foot, left foot, right." I repeatedly give this order to my brain, and after a short struggle, the gray matter grudgingly obeys. Still not quite conscious, I begin shuffling through the darkness, grunting and scratching in a sort of slumped-over posture. Basically, at this point I'm a Cro-Magnon in light blue pajamas.

Now I boldly go . . . into the bathroom, stumbling to the sink, where a sting of cold tile and a splash of cold water shock me at both extremities. The cobwebs finally begin to dissipate. I find my toothbrush, and in my nearly awakened state, I even manage to load it up. I now pause to admire my neatly symmetrical blob of tartar-control goo, lean in over the sink, look up into the mirror and come face to face with my own image, which scares me.

Here, by the dawn's early and uncompromising light, my face provides ample documentation of my own mortality. I look tired. I look old. This starts me thinking, but surprisingly, I'm not conjuring up any morose thoughts about the aging process. Instead, I'm almost immediately flooded with fond reminiscences of what got me here. My wrinkles, I muse, have been well earned, and they provide visual evidence of a career crammed with wonderful memories, and a life that's been extraordinarily rewarding, both personally and professionally.

To be perfectly honest, I've been unavoidably nostalgic of late, and this may account for my early-morning reminiscing. You see, today will mark the end of shooting on Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. It's a film that's been promoted as "the final voyage of the Starship Enterprise," and even though I've heard that said about all five of the previous big-screen adventures, I think this time the rumors may bear some credibility. Consequently, I've been savoring every long and hectic day on the set, reveling in the company of my castmates and marveling at the skills of our writers, producers and technical crew.

Strangely enough, the idea that this might actually be the "last voyage" has allowed me to broaden my perspective, and I've found myself looking at the whole Star Trek phenomenon in a new light. Somehow, only as it's begun to slip away am I able to view it in the all-encompassing and appreciative light that it deserves. I mean, I must admit, I've never actually considered myself a "Trekker," nor have I ever fully understood the enormous enthusiasm that the show has always seemed to generate among its most rabid fans. For me it has always been first and foremost a job, and somehow only now, when it may be ending, am I able to see past the work, past the day-to-day machinations and into the very reasoning behind what made it so great.

Forty-five minutes later, I'm at Paramount Studios, where I'm made up and dressed as Captain James Tiberius Kirk, perhaps for the last time. Our last day of shooting is quite simple, really; just a couple of brief scenes. However, sentimentality begins to slow us down, as all of us, the entire cast and a large portion of the crew, have come to realize that every moment of this production, and especially of this day, is to be cherished.

By the time mid-afternoon has arrived, we've wrapped. Champagne bottles are popping, cast and crew are hugging, kissing and smiling broadly. However, underneath the joy of having successfully completed our project, there is, really for the first time, a tangible undercurrent of sadness. I think it's weighing heavily on all of us that this time our good-byes may really mean "good-bye."

Flash forward four months. We're closing in on Christmas and Star Trek VI has opened to critical acclaim and even greater box-office success. Paramount is pushing the film tremendously and in the middle of all this activity, we original cast members have been asked to gather once more, to place our hand- and footprints in the fabled wet cement outside of Mann's Chinese Theater.

As I arrive, Nichelle and Walter are already working the crowd, smiling, waving and standing next to countless tourists as Instamatic flashbulbs glare. George Takei is there, too, and I swear to you this man thinks he's a Vulcan. I mean, it's either that or he's had some sort of operation on his hands, because wherever he goes, he's wearing an enormous smile, and displaying ambidextrous Vulcan hand signals for "Live long and prosper." Jimmy Doohan, as usual, is toying with reporters, answering their every question with his standard three-word answer: "Jimmy, do you think the studio means it this time when they say it's the last movie?" "It's a ploy!" yells jimmy. "Jimmy, they say the next film may star the Next Generation cast. Is that true?" "It's a ploy!" "Jimmy, what's the weather forecast for tomorrow?" "It's a ploy!,!" And of course my good friend Leonard is there, too, smiling, playing it cool, and underneath it all, I'm sure he's just as excited as I am.

Star Trek Memories. Copyright © by William Shatner. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Star Trek Memories by William Shatner, Chris Kreski
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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