The Night I *Almost* Met William Shatner

(Year Four of Robb’s Illustrious Career)

I was working on Weakest Link and we had a Star Trek theme show. All 12 contestants (or 8 or 10 or whatever it was) were Star Trek cast members from the various shows – there was Shatner, the chick who played Tasha Yar, George Takei I believe, LeVar Burton, the hologram doctor from Voyager, that Neelix dude from Voyager, etc. Nobody else memorable. The tapings took 2-3 hours and I was psyched to meet Shatner – I was busy with my job duties before and during the show (my job was in the control booth, not on the stage), but my plan was definitely to somehow meet the guy after the taping.

So we go to the booth to start the taping and the assistant director comes in from the stage. She says dang the rumors are true – all those people HATE Shatner. All of them. She said the bad blood on the stage was palpable. I don’t know if anybody ever watched the show but the way it worked is everyone would have to work together to accumulate the most money, then at the end of each round one player is voted off by the other players until finally there are only two left and they have a head-to-head round to determine the winner who takes the entire pot. The host (Anne Robinson) tries to crank up the interpersonal conflict, but if people are smart then they will ignore politics and vote off only the weaker players to maximize the money for themselves. The conflict of the game is just that: will people turn against each other in a political smackdown? Or will they play pragmatic and smart to get more money?

So they play the first round of the game and Shatner does pretty well. FAR from the weakest player. But of course he is voted off by all the other players. Unanimously. Man they hate that guy. I am crushed. While I am still captive in the booth doing my job, Shatner does his post-show backstage interview and walks off the set. He walks. 20 minutes into the 2-3 hour taping he drives of the studio lot. So I never met the guy.

A couple of weeks later we had a different theme show. Coolio won the game… or maybe Ben Stein won it… Anyway, thinking I was somebody important, Coolio marched right up to me after the show and shook my hand and thanked me profusely. It didn’t help. All I can say is Coolio is definitely no William Shatner.


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