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The Capt. James T. Kirk statue in Riverside’s Hall Park has the blessing of the actor who portrayed the iconic Star Trek character.
During a telephone interview promoting his current “Wrath of Khan” screening tour, William Shatner addressed the statue, which was unveiled during Trekfest in June.
“That’s fantastic,” Shatner said upon hearing that the statue was a popular photo stop during RAGBRAI in July. “If I didn’t authorize it because I didn’t need to – indeed I don’t have the authority – I give them my blessing.”
During the Trekfest unveiling, former Councilman Steve Miller said he sat down with Shatner over cigars in 2004 and received Shatner’s permission to use his likeness for the statue.
On July 17, in response to reading a story about the statue, Shatner tweeted, “Don’t remember a cigar or being asked. Seems like a nebulous excuse. All (Star Trek) license related needs to go through CBS (They know that.) Why would I agree to a statue of me that I had no input on what it looked like? They didn’t even invite me to the dedication!”
In last week’s interview, Shatner did not directly address the 2004 meeting Miller referenced, but spoke about filming in Riverside.
“I stayed 10 days with a film crew shooting in Riverside, hiring people to be in the movie and setting up scenes to be in the movie,” Shatner said. “In fact, what I was doing was shooting the people of Riverside reacting to a movie being made in their town. I punked the whole town for 10 days.”
He said that after the 10 days of shooting, guilt began to set in, saying “it was like the spy who came in from the cold.”
“We were so in love with the people of Riverside and we were so filled with remorse that we had fooled them, there were tears in debriefings every day,” he added. “I have remained guilty about what we had done to people who were friends of ours. There’s a whole story of Riverside, Iowa, that I will have to get into when I come to Cedar Rapids.”
Shatner is currently on a screening tour of “The Wrath of Khan,” and that tour comes to Cedar Rapids on Friday, Sept. 28.
“This wonderfully received film called “The Wrath of Khan” is played, then I come out and take questions and give answers to the audience,” Shatner said. “What happens is that we all have a really great time. It’s full of laughs and information.”
The film was released in the summer of 1982, but remains popular today.
“It resonates for a number of reasons,” Shatner said. “One, it’s a pretty good film. It’s a real Star Trek film, filled with plot, emotion and the characters.”
He explained that Paramount was considering canceling the entire Star Trek franchise after “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” was released in 1979.
“It was only after the insistence of the wife of the head of Paramount that they decided to allow the television department to make a feature film for one-third the cost of the big Star Trek movie called ‘The Movie,’” Shatner said. “It saved the franchise is what I think. As a result of ‘The Wrath of Khan,’ the Star Trek franchise has continued.”