Advance Look: The New William Shatner Memoir

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It’s called Up Till Now. It is not Shatner’s first piece of autobiographical prose, but it is the first in his oeuvre that I have personally sampled. It’s not out till May, but it’s on my desk, and I don’t recall signing anything saying I wouldn’t blog about it. So.

It’s interesting. It’s not bad. There aren’t any bombshells in it that I spotted in a quick, businesslike skim. There’s a lot of stuff about his friction with Leonard Nimoy that I didn’t know about. Like this one time, a magazine wanted to do a story about Nimoy getting his Spock make-up on, so there was a photographer in the make-up room, and Shatner didn’t want anybody seeing him put his make-up on, so Shatner kicked the photographer out. Nimoy yelled at Shatner. Shatner smirked at Nimoy. More yelling ensued.

Yeah. So, O.K., or this one time when Spock had to do a mind-meld with the Horta, and Nimoy decided to go pretty big with the reaction — “Pain! Pain! Pain!” — and Shatner was all making fun of him — like, “Can somebody get this guy an aspirin?”

Leonard did not think it was funny. He was furious. He thought I’d set him up and then betrayed him for the amusement of everyone else on the set. I had toyed with his commitment to his character and the show. For a laugh at his expense. An actor had betrayed an actor, the worst thing you could do. He told me later that he was done with me, that he thought I was a real son of a bitch. He didn’t say a word to me for more than a week.

And so on. Like I said, not a lotta bombshells. But then again it’s Kirk and Spock, which makes it de facto at least a little bit interesting. There’s a good bit where you get the backstory to the making of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the one where they go visit God, particularly the ending. To be fair, Star Trek V has some very fine moments. But the ending isn’t among them.

He talks about other cast members hating him — Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, DeForest Kellley — pretty much all of them, really. Thing about it is, Shatner cops to a lot of what was obviously going on. He cops to being jealous of all the attention Nimoy got — the Emmy nods, etc. He cops to hogging the scenery. He’s not a monster: he can make fun of himself. You can see why it was all pretty annoying at the time. But it’s amusing to read about it now.