Excuse me, I've got Shatner on the line

(Credit: Urbanite)

The phone rings. You pick it up.

“Hello, amNewYork.”

“Uhhhhhhhh, Scott?” a deep baritone voice says.

“Speaking,” you reply.

“Bill,” the voice says with a pause. “Shatner.”

William Shatner, 77, is truly unique, from his staccato vocal pattern to his numerous memorable acting roles to his contributions to the musical world. There’s just no one like him.

Listen to Scott's conversation with Shatner [HERE]. So it should be no surprise that his autobiography, “Up Till Now: An Autobiography,” written with David Fisher, is a riveting, hilarious read. This is a man who has really lived, and even if you think you know something about him, you don’t know the half of it.

From his early days working on the stage in his native Canada, to his latest unforgettable character, Denny Crane on “Boston Legal,” Shatner delivers an honest and forthright account of his life and work, interspersed with random thoughts, restaurant recommendations, anecdotal stories and plugs for his current projects.

So why would Shatner, who is as busy working as he ever was, decide to get his life story out now, when new pages are being written every day?

“Well, the answer is really it’s time to put down, in some sort of form, some interludes in my life, so my kids and my grandkids can read about it at some point,” Shatner says. “Sort of a legacy.”

Of course, you have to wonder whether he might be concerned with some of the more risque parts of the books — some are kind of dicey and some are a little racy.

“Dicey is good, racy is uh,” Shatner says, inserting another pause. “Depends what race.”

Shatner is a funny man. As you read further into the book, you encounter both his comedic half and his dramatic half, often side by side. When he’s discussing his work on “Rescue 911,” he mixes stories about saving lives with an anecdote about getting sprayed by a skunk. This mix of tone keeps the book light and inviting.

And somewhere in the middle of all of that, he’ll literally stop whatever he’s talking about to mention his Web site — www.william-shatner.com — to point out what corresponding merchandise is available for fans. Remember, one of Shatner’s many faces is the Priceline Negotiator.

If you learn only one thing from this book, which, by the way, is available as an audio book read by the man himself, it is that Shatner is an honest, upfront guy. He’s totally on the level.

“I don’t have any deep secret that I’m trying to disguise,” he says.

So, you’re wondering, is this story on Shatner really not going to mention “Star Trek” at all. Don’t be silly. Shatner’s most famous role, Captain James T. Kirk, is certainly discussed ad infinitum in this book and a million other places, but the more significant news is that the role has gone to another actor for director J.J. Abrams upcoming — and completely recast — “Star Trek” film.

Strangely, and unfortunately, Shatner is not involved in that movie, but he did get a chance to meet his successor, actor Chris Pine, who he says “is on the road to good fortune.” And no, he’s not really worried about passing over the reins.

“I’m OK with that, except that he’s younger,” Shatner says, laughing. “I don’t feel good about that.”

-- By Scott A. Rosenberg

Tags: media , entertainment , books , arts

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