STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
Now 85 years old, William Shatner seemed a little offended when asked if there was any one thing he’d most like to change about his life.
The actor who occasionally traveled in time, on both the big and small screens, as “Star Trek”’s original Captain James T. Kirk considered how changing one event in the past might alter the life he’s thoroughly enjoying in the present.
“I’m talking to you from a desk in an office on Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles. I have my total health,” began the man behind the Priceline Negotiator commercial character, mentioning the renewal for a second season of “Better Late Than Never” — the NBC reality show that he’s on with Henry Winkler, George Foreman and Terry Bradshaw — and the forthcoming feature documentary “The Truth is in the Stars,” in which Shatner interviews innovators, celebrities and politicians about how the imagined future of “Star Trek” has impacted real-life science and culture. One part of “The Truth is in the Stars” that stands out for Shatner is talking astrophysics with Neil deGrasse Tyson.
With expert timing, he wrapped up a summary of current projects with: “… I’m doing my one-man show … if I changed anything, what would it be like?”
The one-man show is a freshened-up “Shatner’s World.” “I’m coming to Philadelphia — to the Keswick Theatre — and doing what I did on Broadway. It’s a show that’s saying yes to life because I’m authorized to tell you how briefly it’s over,” he said. Topics Shatner said he’s riffed on include gorillas, motorcycles, music and children.
So what’s a typical day in “Shatner’s World” like?
“There’s no typical day,” he said. “Sometimes I come home at night and think: ‘What a fascinating day I just had’.”
One fascinating day for the director, producer, spoken word/music recording artist and Twitter instigator recently happened in Philadelphia. Worried that his wife, Elizabeth, might have ovarian cancer, they paid a visit to the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, at the University of Pennsylvania. Shatner, whose various hobbies include breeding dogs, was aware of canines trained to sniff out imminent heart attacks, but was amazed that Penn Medicine had dogs that can provide early detection for ovarian cancer. “The cancer gives off a protein which can be scented,” he said, giving a brief, laymen’s-terms summary. The dog test results said Elizabeth Shatner did not have cancer, and the couple are hopeful that traditional medical tests will confirm it. Read more at http://givingpages.upenn.edu/shatner.
Future fascinating days are in store January, when Shatner sets sail on a sold-out Star Trek cruise in honor of the franchise’s 50th anniversary. The condition he put on being a cruise special celebrity guest was that he could fly in 14 family members and have rooms on board for all of them.
Speaking of Star Trek, Shatner was pleased with what he described as the best-seller status of a remembrance of co-star Leonard Nimoy, “Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man,” which came out in February. “I wrote it from my heart,” he said.
However, that’s not even the most recent of Shatner’s 35 books (including his TekWar and Star Trek titles). September saw the release of “Zero-G: Book 1,” which Shatner authored with Jeff Rovin. “It’s a great science fiction read,” he said.
A new “Rolling Stone” cover story dared to compile a list of what the magazine considers the “100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.” Shatner was surprised to learn that at No. 7 was “The Twilight Zone, ” in which he appeared twice; at No. 18 was “Star Trek;” and at No. 44 was “Columbo,” in which he guest starred in 1976 and 1994.
“It took a long time (for me) to make that list. I’ve been around a long time,” he commented.
A small sample of Shatner’s other TV appearances over six decades (not including those as an ad pitchman): “T.J. Hooker,” “The Practice,” “Boston Legal,” “Rescue 911,” “$#*! My Dad Says,” “3rd Rock from the Sun” and “Weird or What?”