Arts & Culture
Shatner, the Internet and Reverse Engineering
Published: July 30, 2014
William Shatner seems to need no introduction, but you’d be surprised how many irons the Star Trek star has in the fire. Aside from his one-man show Shatner’s World: We just live in it appearing in theaters and in Vegas earlier this year, two films set to be released in 2015 and his recent distinguished public service medal from NASA, Shatner is flexing his considerable skills as an interviewer. First displayed on Biography Channel’s 30-minute show Shatner’s Raw Nerve, science fiction’s most famous deliverer of imperative commands switches to the interrogative in the web series Brown Bag Wine Tasting, in which he chats with everyone from Alton Brown to a marijuana dealer and has them describe the day’s mystery wine. As Shatner demonstrates, the internet just might be his final (and best) frontier.
How did Brown Bag Wine Tasting start?
It was just the way an idea comes. I think it’s a good idea. I talked to a friend of mine that’s a sommelier, he picked out the wine and put it in a brown bag. I’ve been shooting a lot of documentaries recently, so I have a crew around and we just went out and started talking to people. It turned out to be so much fun and it’s gotten popular and we’ll continue to do it.
You seem like you’re so interested in people, which could be a little counterintuitive to [the way one thinks about] an actor.
You may be entertaining a cliché idea…
Yeah, I wanted to ask how acting might inform interviewing and vice-versa.
Well, I don’t know whether you need to be interested in the people to perform a kind of acting—to be yourself … I love talking to people, exploring peoples’ minds, and I was given the opportunity to do that on more than one occasion.
Do you have a particular favorite social media site?
Not really ‘favorite.’ I do a lot of Twittering and Facebook. And in fact, I’m coming up on 2 million [Twitter] followers .... But Brown Bag Wine Tasting is an example of how to use the social media—it’s entertaining for me to do and entertaining for you to see. At some point there’ll be a financial reward, it doesn’t exist at the moment, it’s very hard to come by, but that’s the next step in all of this….
Another thing about the social media is that you don’t have any idea what’s going to catch people’s imagination. I started a website called My Outer Space and I Twittered it once and within six months we had 12 million hits.
Rather famously, in the 1980s you were not a big fan of fan conventions. Now, the reason you’re coming to San Antonio is for a comic and pop culture convention. What changed your mind?
Long ago, I made fun of the people who go to conventions, it was done completely in fun and attempted as a good joke. Since then, I’ve written a book and directed a documentary on why people go to conventions and it’s an interesting reason … Going to a convention, for me, allows me to talk to people like you and tell them what I’m doing and promote what it is I want to promote and find out what it is they want to see and hear and maybe reverse engineer something.
Wizard World Comic Con
three-day pass: $75;
autographs and photo ops: $35-$100; VIP: $200
3-8pm Fri; 10am-7pm Sat;
11am-5pm Sun, Aug 1-3
Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
200 E Market
> Email Callie Enlow