Bret Easton Ellis is dead, Jim

Wil is the co-host of Arena on the G4 cable video/computer gaming network. It’s the show where two teams face off in games like Counter Strike, Mechwarrior 4 and Unreal Tournament. I think it sucks too.

–Dave

What? Watching gamers play games isn’t fascinating! Someone better alert the CPL!

It’s the format of the show. You can barely tell what’s going on in the games as the people play. The commentary by Wheaton and his annoying, stereotypical nerd sidekick is useless. It doesn’t work on TV because I can’t control the camera and watch what I want to watch. If I’m able to spectate a game of Quake, etc. between top players where I can move where I want to in order to watch, then yes, watching others play works.

–Dave

I had to check out Wesley’s site too. I was amused to see this from Wheaton on his message board:

"Now the bad news: I just got my bandwidth bill from logjamming, and it’s just over 500 dollars.

“That’s right. 500 dollars, American, and I can so not afford this.”

He then goes on to ask for donations. Made me laugh.

What is this world coming to when a minor, minor celebrity can only land roles on a network that reaches 15 people, 14 if the network’s secretary calls in sick, and he can’t pay his bandwidth bill. WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO!!?!

Does he have enough to feed himself!?! I MUST KNOW!

And how come begging on the street is looked down on, but virtual begging is all the rage. I hate virtual beggers.

Chet

I know you’re just trying to be funny, but G4 probably reaches a lot more than 15 people. Anyone on Comcast cable service that’s paying for digital cable has the station. One of the benefits of a cable company backing a station is that it gets added immediately.

That doesn’t make Wil’s show any better. Just means that a lot of people can watch it.

–Dave

I worked with the old series cast when I was producing Star Trek: Judgment Rites CD for Interplay. All but Nimoy had stories to tell about Shatner talking to directors to have scenes refocused on himself, even to the extent of having lines written for others transferred to him between takes. One story told by several of them was how George Takai (Sulu) was supposed to be promoted and get his own ship in either movie 2 or 3 (I forget which, but I think it was 2). According to the stories, Shatner first tried to get the director to drop the scene and, when that wasn’t successful, then intentionally read the promotion scene completely deadpan for several takes, until the director got the message and cut the scene. Sulu didn’t get his ship until the sixth movie.

The stories were told with humor (all of them are great raconteurs, Walter Koening and Jimmy Doohan especially had us rolling in the aisles), but with a biting undercurrent that let you know there was still anger. Some of the cast is definitely bitter, for a number of reasons. Most people don’t know that only Shatner and Nimoy received royalties on merchandise and the like, because of the aforementioned agreement between the two of them re: negotiations with Paramount. They well understood they weren’t as marketable as Nimoy and Shatner, but the fact they they weren’t even tossed a crumb by either Paramount or their cast-mates left a bitter taste in their mouths, especially as most of them ended up type-cast and without steady on-screen work for a long while.

To Nimoy’s everlasting credit, most of the supporting cast had at least one tale to tell of how Nimoy went out of his way to recommend them for a part or keep their name in front of a producer or director. He was also a joy to work with, the compleat professional without being an arrogant prick. If you ever want to feel chills run up and down your spine, find the CD version of ST:JR and listen to the scene where Spock mind-melds with a dying German soldier on a WW One battlefield, a young boy who, at the end of his life, is questioning the values he held dear and which brought him to fight.

It was written for the text version of the game and is a huge block of text, full of em-dashes, wandering thoughts, lonliness for loved ones and a sense that he’d been all wrong about the war. We offered to break it down into smaller bits for the recording, but he simply read it silently to himself a couple times, made a couple notes on the scripts, said “No, I can go with this,” then proceeded to do an utterly mesmerizing 60-90 second performance that nailed it in one. Bear in mind that the average ‘take’ for a voiceover is less than 10 seconds and only rarely does a take exceed 30 seconds.

When he was finished, we sat stunned in the director’s booth; it was that powerful. The hair on my arms was literally standing on end; someone behind me was choking back sobs, literally. I know this sounds like an exaggeration for effect, but I am not making this up. Finally, Nimoy looked up from the script, saw our faces and said concernedly, “Oh, was it off?” At which point, we all rose from our seats and began clapping. He couldn’t hear us from the sound booth, of course, but he got the idea and smiled.

We took an immediate break and ran off two duplicates, to guarantee we wouldn’t lose that amazing performance.

Thanks very much for that anecdote Jessica.
Nimoy is a complicated and very talented guy. He’s got some great stories about playing heavies in old 50’s Westerns and Mob flicks. His autobiographies are by far the best to read, if only because he doesn’t gloss over his own warts like Shatner does.

You don’t mention him directly, but, based on what I’ve read I’d be surprised if DeForest Kelley dished on Shatner (he also had a career as a heavy in Hollywood prior to Trek). He didn’t have Shatner/Nimoy’s deal, but I heard he made off better than the rest, overall. There was a definite hierarchy there, and aside from the childishness it isn’t surprising. They could have gone without Chekhov, Uhuru, and Scotty. Though I like him, they could even go without Sulu. But that McCoy, Kirk, Spock dynamic was just golden.

Speaking of Sulu, I still wish they’d canned this silly Enterprise TV show idea and just made a spin-off featuring Sulu and the Excaliber from the ST movie era. Takai is a good enough actor, that’s for sure and the original series cameos they love to do would be easier to stomach. Plus I love those red uniforms… they’re perfect for showing blood on the white part.

Amen. We worked with Nimoy for three days (he also did our Making Of… video for ST:JR), and he had some great stories. For example, during the first day of voice-overs, during a pause, he asked if there was any news in the Nicole Simpson/Ron Goldman murder case, which was a week old at that time. He then went on to say that, on the night of the murders, he, his family and friends ate at Mezzaluna and they all wondered who that beautiful woman was at the next table. They asked the waiter, who told then it was OJ Simpson’s wife, Nicole.

The next day, when he read about the murders in the paper, he realized that the waiter was Ron Goldman. Gave me chills, I tell ya.

During the filming for the Making Of…, he had his stepson Adam at the studio, coaching him for his Bar Mitzvah during breaks and at lunch. Turns out Adam’s natural father is John Schuck, whom ST fans will recognize from various small roles in the ST movies. Nimoy urged us to use him if we had a role for him, saying he was a good talent and underused. Now, that’s class.

I didn’t get to work with Dee Kelley, actually. By the time he was available, the budget for Interplay Online Services was approved and I moved off to head that up and Ken Allen was moved in to complete the ST:JR project. Ken told me that Kelley was the perfect Southern gentleman and came in prepared and ready to rock, so you are probably correct about his not dishing on Shatner. Kelley’s final performance in any medium before his death, by the way, is sitting on tape somewhere at Interplay, part of a cancelled ST game. I’d kill to get a copy of that tape.

It’s true, any old series game or project can probably live without the supporting cast; the dynamic of the lead trio was the key to the series. I will say this; after working with all but Kelley, I’ll work with the supporting cast any time, on any project. All that I worked with are professional and pretty easy to work with and gave everything to the performance, sometimes insisting that we record several versions of bits, because they wanted to get it perfect.

Contrast this with Shatner, who shoved two days of work into one day by basically phoning in the performance; most of his 2,000 some-odd lines were read in a complete monotone. We couldn’t even give him voice direction, for fear he’d get pissed and exercise his ‘asshole clause,’ as Hollywood calls it (“I can be an asshole and walk and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it.”). The one time we tried, he blew up and that piece ended up on Howard Stern when someone involved sent him the tape (my 15 minutes of fame; I was the one he blew up at. I think one of the engineers at the studio did it; they were all pretty ticked off that they weren’t allowed to ask for an autograph). To Shatner’s defense, at the very next break, he apologized profusely and sincerely, and spent time with each of us the rest of the day making it right. I was left with the impression that he was sincerely bothered that some of his coworkers didn’t like him and couldn’t understand why.

I agree perfectly with you. Enterprise is better than the other alternative, though, a show about the Academy in an attempt to snare a younger audience. When we thought Paramount was actually going to give us ST for an MMOG in 1994, we were allowed to see the treatments for proposed new series and asked which one would tie in best with the game. The Academy one was one of the choices; Voyager was the other. I told them I’d rather have the Next Generation/Deep Space Nine timeline over either of them and work the Academy in as the training simulator. I also told them I thought the Academy would alienate their core audience, which was slightly older than the age 15-21 demographic they were aiming for.

Then Paramount was bought by Viacom, who licensed the rights to ST to Microsoft exclusively for four years and the opportunity was gone. Again; that was the second time I had the license in my hand and Paramount pulled it away at the last minute. Dammit.

That last was me, by the way. Another forgotten login.

“Kelley’s final performance in any medium before his death, by the way, is sitting on tape somewhere at Interplay, part of a cancelled ST game.”

Jessica, really? I wrote a column at Daily Radar about how sad it is that Star Trek: The Secret of Vulcan Fury never got released particularly because of DeForest Kelley’s death and promptly got an email from Interplay (I think it was from Chris Taylor (not the Dungeon Siege guy) the other one) that Dee Kelley did NOT do voice work on the title. He still wouldn’t tell me why the game got cancelled though and why New Worlds got released.
;-)

Andrew,

Chris would be in a position to know for sure, I’d think, so I’m probably wrong. I seem to remember Ken Allen talking about that taping, though. I’ll contact him and ask him about it. I have his business card around here somewhere.

As for why SVF was cancelled; heck, I’ll ask him that, too, :D.

C’mon Jessica, break that story! :)
All I know for sure, other than that Chris Taylor (not the Dungeon Siege guy) thing, is that former Interplay PR lead Krys Card told me years ago that Vulcan Fury was “on the shelf and being considered for possible release”. Ok. Mostly complete, on the shelf, the money is spent… now what? If it’s somehow bad, well, ok then. Bad Trek games are somehow worse than other bad games… but the idea of a new adventure with the old cast and their own voices plus a script from DC Fontana? Man, that would have sold well I think. Hopefully they or someone will dust it off, polish it up, and get it out there.

I mean, assuming it isn’t y’know… really bad.

It’s a Tuesday and one of those noisy ones in Times Square where the construction is apocalyptically loud and there are cars in endless rows and all of them are honking, I’ve got my headphones on and I’m listening to the new Eminem CD (which is a first-rate example of rap delivered in a non-PC, rebellious style but also lyrically sophisticated and philosophically challenging) and I realize that I’m an hour late for a massage I’d scheduled uptown when suddenly a bus goes by with a poster for the upcoming movie “American Psycho 2” and I’m gripped by a sudden unspeakable certainty that