Here is a simple enough scenario, our pal WILLIAM SHATNER of Captain Kirk fame, getting his picture taken with fellow usher and I, after a long night at the Nourse Theater.
When I was young Captain T Kirk and his crew, unwittingly taught me that humans in the future would be nice and extremely brave.
They looked out for each other, they embraced every creed and entity that came their way — they gave me hope. Kirk was the dashing, self sacrificing, daring, loyal and wise leader of a ship full of adventurers. These unassuming space travelers helped me to deal with whatever crap came afloat in my little world. Because of them, I knew there was potential for a better, happier place full of smarter, nicer people.
Can you blame me if I was a little excited that fate had suddenly given me the opportunity to breath the same air and potentially speak with a long-time tv hero?
On 1/30/2015 William Shatner was doing a show at the Warfield but — with only 5 days to go — it suddenly moved to the Nourse. The Warfield had been waiting for new balcony seats that never came due to an east coast snow storm and I’d forgotten how much I love snow.
I am an usher at the Nourse Theater. I came early for my shift and put a dozen roses with a heartfelt card backstage in the “green room” for Bill Shatner. I was psyched. The Warfield box office team and Goldenvoice producers got themselves set up in our smallish lobby to exchange and re-seat Warfield to Nourse ticket holders, going from 2300 seats to 1680. It was a disaster.
Everyone who had bought a ticket for the Warfield had to wait in a line, some had to wait in three. People became disgruntled and complained to me, since I was at the helm and “splitter” for my shift. I was there to direct and answer questions. But the Nourse ushers weren’t given the correct info and some patrons ended up waiting in unnecessarily long lines.
To accommodate the ticket mess, Shatner delayed his show for 40 minutes until finally he appeared on stage. While there were entertaining moments I found myself feeling just a little disappointed by the show. Though I was impressed with his energy and his humour, I’d expected something more exceptional. Particularly because I’d really enjoyed his movie The Captains in which he interviews every other actor who’d portrayed the captain in the Star Trek TV incarnations. That movie was surprisingly enlightening and it made me think that Bill had become enlightened in his older age.
But then at one point in show, Bill presented footage of his own TV “roast” — during which George Takei was on screen calling him “… a horses ass …”. Bill joked that for some reason George Takei didn’t like him. The footage continued with a slow motion of George’s words which stopped at a point where his mouth was wide open and full of obvious distaste. The audience laughed, I found it disturbing.
For nearly 2 hours Shatner was on stage acting out his ideas and highlighting moments in his life with photos and video footage. After all, the show is called Shatner’s World.
When I got home I Googled “why does George Takei dislike Willam Shatner”? It had been Googled before. There were many articles all asking similar questions. Keep in mind that George had also been on stage at the Nourse Theater in a program benefitting the Hirabayashi fund. Hirabayashi had battled the US government for the internment of the Japanese during WWII. George had been interned at age 5. I really admired his presentation and documentary.
From the multitude of interviews with George it all came down to the making of the original Star Trek tv show. Allegedly William Shatner didn’t say hello to him on the set and basically ignored the guy. George has complained openly about Shatner for years, then Bill made nasty retorts like Takei is psychotic, … mentally ill…jealous, etc. This made me think of Narcissism. Narcissists don’t have the capacity for empathy – not really. They are driven to surround themselves with those who agree and promote their over-grandiose sense of themselves. Any dissenting attitude is met with complete shutdown.
That William Shatner had actually made those defensive retorts, reminded me of the people who care for narcissists and are hurt by them. I started feeling empathy for George. But the more articles I read — the more confused George’s role became, in this ages-old feud — perhaps between a pair of narcissists! So I gave up on trying to analyze everyone and instead watched another Star Trek movie, which was thoroughly enjoyed.
I should mention that at the point of the picture with moi, Bill had come to the lobby to sit on that stool for well over 35 minutes. He had agreed to give photo opportunities for VIP ticket holders in the audience. So they all waited patiently in the theater until he came out and then lined up for their photos. Occasionally Shatner spoke briefly to a random person as they positioned themselves beside him, but mostly he said “hello” and “come on up”. I asked him if he enjoyed the flowers I’d left in the “green room”. He said “yes thank you”, but didn’t look at me.
My fellow usher confessed that he’d wanted to ask Shatner if he knew the joke, “How many ears does Spock have? The left the right and the final front ear?”. I’m glad that he didn’t because apparently he and Leonard Nimoy had been good friends and he was still mourning his death. On the other hand is this even true? At the end of the night the 84 year old guy seemed exhausted after hours of prep and a very energetic performance on stage. Later when I asked the stage manager about his experience that night he said that Mr Shatner had been very nice.
Relationships with human beings are never, ever simple.