Beloved actor will accept prestigious NATHANAEL GREENE HUMANITARIAN AWARD award at event hosted by RIIFF, the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (RICH) and Rhode Island College; and present most recent film work “William Shatner's Gonzo Ballet”
William Shatner has cultivated a career that has spanned over 50 years as an Emmy and Golden Globewinning actor, director, producer, screenwriter, recording artist, author, and horseman. He is one of pop culture’s most recognizable figures and has also established himself as a major Hollywood philanthropist.
Born in Montreal, Shatner developed an early interest in acting and started working professionally at the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) before he reached his teens. He found himself drawn to the theater and eventually joined the Stratford Shakespeare Festival under Sir Tyrone Guthrie. Tamburlaine, one of the festival’s productions, moved to Broadway and Shatner was immediately noticed by the New York critics. He later returned to Canada and won the Tyrone Guthrie Award.
During his time at Stratford, Shatner also wrote plays for the CBC. He moved to New York and was a part of television’s Golden Age, working on programs such as Playhouse 90 and Studio One. He made his film debut in 1957’s The Brothers Karamazov, followed by Judgment at Nuremburg and The Intruder.
During the same period, he starred on Broadway in The World of Suzie Wong and A Shot in the Dark. He has since guest starred in several hundred television programs including classics such as The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Mission: Impossible. He also recurred on other staples including 77 Sunset Strip and Dr. Kildare before garnering an Emmy nomination for his appearances in 3rd Rock from the Sun.
In 1966, Shatner originated the role of “Captain James T. Kirk” in the television series Star Trek, which rocketed to fame—but only after the show was cancelled and later re-launched in syndication. The series spawned a feature film franchise in which Shatner reprised the role of Captain Kirk in seven of the Star Trek motion pictures. He has since appeared in other movies such as Airplane II: The Sequel, Loaded Weapon 1, Showtime and both installments of the Miss Congeniality franchise. Shatner played the title role in the network television series hit T.J. Hooker before hosting television’s first reality-based series, Rescue 911, for six seasons. Since Rescue 911 first aired in 1989, over 300 lives have been saved by people who learned life-saving techniques from the show.
He made his feature film directorial debut in 1989 with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (in which he also starred and helped conceive the story). Since then, he has directed several other features, television movies, and series. Most recently, he directed (as well as co-wrote, produced and starred in) Groom Lake, a picture about the mysterious area surrounding Roswell, New Mexico.
Shatner was one of the first celebrities in Hollywood to recognize the importance of the Internet. Since April 1998, he has served as the spokesman for Priceline.com. His enduring appeal has proven to be an integral part of the company’s ad campaigns and brand marketing program. As the celebrity spokesperson for Priceline.com, he contributes his trademark sense of humor and entertaining style to the groundbreaking and humorous series of television and radio commercials.
In September 2004, Shatner won an Emmy for his recurring role as eccentric law firm partner “Denny Crane” on The Practice, the David E. Kelley-created legal drama that finished its impressive run on ABC in 2004. Shatner has been reprising the role as a series regular on the hit ABC program Boston Legal. As a result, he won his first Golden Globe in January 2005 as well as another Emmy that September. He has been nominated twice since for Emmys and earned a second Golden Globe nod as well as a SAG Award nomination.
Shatner traveled to Riverside, Iowa, which boasts itself as the “Future Birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk.” Shatner and a crew from Los Angeles filmed Invasion Iowa, a 2004 reality series in which an entire town was punked into believing that a sci-fi film was being shot there. Locals were hired on as cast and crew only to later discover that their reactions—not a movie—were being filmed.
The series aired in March 2005 on Spike TV and was very well received by critics and audiences alike. Shatner's Raw Nerve, which currently airs on the Biography channel, is his own edgy and off-beat celebrity interview series. In each episode, Shatner spends a half hour getting to know his guest on an intensely personal level and touch upon subjects not normally visited on other talk shows. Guests such as Valerie Bertinelli, Tim Allen, Jon Voight, Jenna Jameson, Jimmy Kimmel, Kelsey Grammer have discussed topics such as addiction, grief, childhood, marriage, combat and parenthood.
Shatner’s love and appreciation of music inspired him to go into the studio and record Has Been, a compilation of songs he recorded with such musical artists as Ben Folds (who also produced the record), Brad Paisley, Joe Jackson, Aimee Mann and Henry Rollins. The album features Shatner’s trademark vocalization and shows off his passion for poetry and lyricism. Has Been was released through Shout! Factory in October 2004.
In March 2006, he produced and starred in a TV Land special entitled William Shatner in Concert, featuring highlights from concerts that he performed with several of Has Been’s guest artists. The music was interwoven into segments that followed Shatner in various everyday activities as well as some very special moments, such as the birth of one of his granddaughters. Early in 2007, the Milwaukee Ballet performed “Common People,” a dance presentation set to several numbers from Has Been. The event — as well its preparations — were filmed and can be seen in the new documentary Gonzo Ballet.
Spring 2008 marked the release of Shatner’s brand new recording, Exodus. Written by David Itkin and performed with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (including a chorus of 350 and over 70 instruments), Shatner narrated the story of Exodus to sold out crowds in Little Rock in the spring of 2005. The CD is available in retail outlets everywhere.
In 2006, he produced and starred in another cable special, How William Shatner Changed the World, an Emmy-nominated documentary that aired on the History Channel and was based on his book I’m Working on That. The program goes in-depth to show how many of the gadgets used in the original Star Trek television series inspired and foreshadowed some of today’s technological staples such as cell phones and PDA devices.
Shatner was also heard in movie theatres throughout the world in the summer of 2006. He starred as the voice of “Kazar” in the Walt Disney feature The Wild, a film animated by C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures in Toronto—a company in which Shatner is a partner. He also was also one of the lead characters in the DreamWorks animated picture Over the Hedge, playing “Ozzie the Opossum.”
Off the screen and broadcast waves, Shatner has authored over two dozen best-selling books in both the fiction and non-fiction genres. His novel series TekWar was turned into a television series (in which he starred and directed) for The Sci-Fi Network. Some of his other popular novels include Man O’ War, Star Trek Avenger and Ashes of Eden. He wrote two books about his Star Trek career in Star Trek Memories and Star Trek Movie Memories before penning Get A Life!, a hilarious but endearing look at the cult of Star Trek Conventions. His lasted novel, Star Trek: The Academy—Collision Course hit bookshelves in Fall 2007.
Shatner’s newest book is his autobiography, Up Till Now. Released in May 2008, it very quickly became a New York Times best-seller and received praise from reviewers and readers alike around the world.
A new comic book series – William Shatner Presents – will debut in summer 2009. The series will be based on three novels of Shatner’s: Tek War, Man O’ War, and Quest for Tomorrow, along with a brand new title: Chimera.
Shatner has also become a success in another career—horse breeding. A longtime dedicated breeder of American Quarter horses, he has had smashing success with the beautiful American Saddlebred, developing and riding world champions “Sultan’s Great Day” and “Revival.” He has won numerous world championships in several equine events.
His passions for horses and philanthropy were united through his involvement with AHEAD With
Horses, a charity organization that gives physically and mentally challenged children the thrill of riding a horse—and boosts their confidence and self-esteem, often with life-changing results. For the past 18 years, he has hosted the Hollywood Charity Horse Show at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. The event, held every spring, benefits AHEAD With Horses and other Los Angeles-based charities. He has also worked with the American Tinnitus Association, raising awareness of this debilitating illness through numerous television appearances and interviews. In June 2007, he helped raise awareness of the sub-par treatment that many U.S. troops were receiving at Walter Reed Army Hospital.
On an international level, he and his wife have started the William & Elizabeth Shatner Therapeutic Riding Consortium Endowment for Israel. This very special venture is designed to benefit Bedouin, Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli children so that in addition to healing, there will be an effort to brin the war-torn children together and start the first steps towards a lasting peace.
Shatner continues to act, write, produce and direct while still managing to find time to work with charities and further his passion in the equestrian sports. He and his wife and three married children live in Los Angeles.
SHATNER IN RHODE ISLAND, AUGUST 6TH:
The awards presentation honoring William Shatner will take place at the Columbus Theater Arts Center on Thursday, August 6th at 6:45 p.m. prior to the screening of David Bettencourt and G. Wayne Miller's “On the Lake: Life and Love in a Distant Place. The event is hosted by RIIFF, the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (RICH) and Rhode Island College. Tickets are $15 for this event.
At 8:30 p.m. Mr. Shatner will take part in a special conversation with the audience: “William Shatner Unplugged.” He will discuss his craft, share insights about his life, career, and the new documentary film “William Shatner's Gonzo Ballet” directed by Kevin Layne and Patrick Buckley, which he will introduce and present. Tickets are $15 for this event.
Please note that separate admission will be required for each event.
ABOUT THE FILM:
"William Shatner's Gonzo Ballet" Directed by Kevin Layne and Patrick Buckley.
On a cold, Milwaukee night, high art meets pop culture as the music of William Shatner ('Star Trek,' 'Boston Legal') and Ben Folds (Ben Folds Five), from their critically acclaimed album, 'Has Been,' is transformed into 'Common People,' a ballet from award winning choreographer Margo Sappington ('Oh! Calcutta!).
'Gonzo Ballet' explores this unique collaboration, as well as the musical journey that has taken William Shatner from the trippy covers of 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' and 'Mr. Tambourine Man' in the 1960's to his recent original work with Ben Folds, and finally, to the ballet.
The willingness of the audience to accept new work, especially work based upon a pop album, is explored, as is the popularity of ballet in our culture. 'Gonzo Ballet' takes us from Shatner's musical beginnings, and the critical misfires, to his finally 'getting it right' with Ben Folds, and to the unlikely collaboration with Margo Sappington. What shines through is each artist's dedication to their work, and to each other.