Shatner versus Wheaton

Somehow, no matter how immersed in a show you become when editing or being part of the production of its official Magazine, some aspects of that show’s history slip you by.

Case in point: Wil Wheaton‘s apparently revived beration of William (Captain Kirk) Shatner for being… well, he called him a d*** after the Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wesley Crusher actor’s initial and follow-up encounters (the first took place during filming of Star Trek V) with Shatner proved disastrous.

Wheaton, a lifelong Star Trek fan, has just re-recounted his first meeting with Shatner, an experience which led to him becoming so hacked off by the original series star’s attitude he even started selling “William F******* Shatner” t-shirts on cafepress which are now described as reverential rather than deferential.

(Despite the latest recounting of the feuds origins, it seems Wheaton and Shatner made their peace while shooting a tv show together, although Wheaton’s update on how the whole saga started has prompted renewed support for his stance from some fans).

I know that there’s back biting among actors out there, but having trawled the web for more Wheaton-Shatner encounters it seems there has been some kind of apology from Shatner, so wouldn’t it be nicer for all concerned to move on and not stir it all up again? I can understand why Wheaton got so annoyed – by all accounts Shatner snubbed him on more than one occasion. But it all seems very old hat now, and an odd thing to revive so many years later. Perhaps ensuing recollections from Wheaton will reveal how the two made up.

Having worked for so long on Star Trek Magazine I’m surprised I’d never heard about the feud before. (Of course, the battle seems to have blown up originally well after I was editing the title and before I resumed the role in the run up to the magazine’s recent US launch). Maybe it’s just being blown up now far more than it was originally because we live in an even weirder slag-a-celebrity era than ever.

Personally, I’ve heard bad stories about some actors — and great stories about others — throughout my 20 year experience of working on licensed TV magazines and comics. During my last period as editor of Star Trek Magazine, there were several letters pouring scorn on Shatner’s attitide to fans, and equally vociferous defenders of him, too.

While editing Doctor Who Magazine, I recall some fans being virulently awful about Jon Pertwee, but any fears I may have had about meeting him were quickly swept away during a convention in Indianapolis. Not only was he almost uniformly charming (admittedly helped, I’m sure by my sorting out a long-standing issue on the use of photos of him in the Magazine which his agents had not bothered to tell him about, leaving him out of pocket and DWM using the same old pictures over and over again). He was far from the curmudgeon he had been painted — although I know he could be short-tempered.

I suppose the point of this post is to say that when it comes to dealing with people — even world famous actors — form your own judgments and don’t be too quick to judge on the basis of third party claims. It’s clear Shatner and Wheaton have had issues in the past, now strangely revived after long thought settled, but how much of the online debate on the matter is based on the comments of those involved, and how much is now based on hearsay and ill-informed claims?

Categories: Star Trek