In the everyday world, the name is associated more recently with Priceline.com, a popular online site that helps people get discounted travel arrangements.
In the geek world, however, the name holds a place of honor among the pantheon of science fiction legends, for Shatner is James Tiberius Kirk, captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise in “Star Trek.”
For six decades, Shatner has delved into every facet of entertainment – from television, to movies, to writing books, to singing and recording albums. Even at 83, the man has no plans to slow down any time soon.
“Shatner’s World,” a one-man show chronicling the life of Shatner, as told by Shatner, was a hit on Broadway. Now, for one night only, “Shatner’s World” can be seen in local movie theaters across the country on Thursday.
Ever busy, Shatner is currently putting the finishing touches on his charity, the Hollywood Charity Horse Show, which helps to benefit programs that use horses as therapy for the disabled.
The larger-than-life icon recently took time out of his schedule to chat with A&E.
A&E: In your words, how would you describe your one-man show?
Shatner: In a couple of hours, I seek to entertain the audience with a web of words and actions and pictures. This show is a joyful expression, saying yes to life. It’s filled with laughter and tears. It’s filled with a variety of subjects that I expound on from music to motorcycles to horses to love to comedy, a variety of things that I do. All across this country, Canada and Australia, it has received wonderful notices and great audience acclaim and I’m sure that the live capture of that performance, which I did while I was on tour shortly after it closed on Broadway ... will reflect everything the stage performance has. But it’s for a price of a movie ticket that you can see a Broadway show.
A&E: How did the idea of showing it nationally with Fathom Events come about?
Shatner: The evolution of showing it nationally was very natural. What happened was a producer in Australia asked me to do a one-man show. That’s a daunting challenge for any actor, to hold an audience’s attention for an hour and half, two hours, by yourself, on stage. So I opened it in Australia and it was successful. Then I rewrote it and toured Canada. Then Broadway asked me to come and I totally rewrote and revamped the show and opened on Broadway. Then touring the way that I did for the following year was a natural evolution from the Broadway show. What is unique is the filming and its simultaneous broadcast to close to 700 theaters across the United States on April 24 … that gives it a unique twist that I’ve been told that’s never been done before, this kind of thing.
A&E: After 23 years, you’re as passionate about the Hollywood Charity Horse Show as you were when you first started it. What is it that drives you to do the charity and make it bigger every year?
Shatner: Last night, I was in Salt Lake City making an appearance and taking questions from the audience. A young man in a wheelchair started to ask a question, but the emotions got the better of him. He spoke as a wounded veteran, who had seen “Star Trek” while in Iraq and how it spoke to him and his buddies and how his legs had been blown off and the only thing that kept him going was “Star Trek.” The audience – there must have been 4,000 to 5,000 people in the audience and me on stage – were moved to tears by the fact that [this] young man had used “Star Trek” as a point of recovery. The point of recovery for so many veterans and so many children also has to do with the therapeutic effects of horses. So children in need – emotionally, mentally, socially – the returning veterans’ problems are the same as these children. They all can be helped by this charity that I run. The point was never more vivid than last night when this young veteran passionately spoke about his problems.
A&E: You have so many different celebrities who have offered items for your auction and to come out and perform – is it something that these celebrities come to you and say, “Here, we’d like to help,” or is it something where you go out and ask, “Hey, would you mind donating?”
Shatner: I am tugging on sleeves. Everybody who’s raised money for charity knows whereof I speak. It’s somewhat humiliating, but yet the passion drives you forward of tugging on people’s sleeves who pull their arm away – figuratively – who don’t return phone calls, so you keep phoning. They know what it’s about … they have to give some money and you know they know why they’re not returning the call, but you determinedly pursue them because the money is there. There is a mixture of humiliation and exultation raising money for charity. Those emotions are in varying amounts, depending on the people.
A&E: Your career has spanned six decades, not a lot of people can say they’re still relevant after six decades in the business. What do you hope people take away from your body of work?
Shatner: Oh, I don’t even think in those terms. I’m just plugging along. What I have learned, which is a cliché, but you have to live it to know how true it is – time is so fleeting and time goes by so quickly that you need to cherish every moment, and that’s about all I know.