Shatner on Shatner: Canadian icon to direct, produce doc film on his life story

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BANFF, Alta. — William Shatner will be firmly in charge of the captain’s log when he helms an upcoming feature-length documentary about his storied life.

The Canadian cultural icon is slated to direct and executive produce a TV movie about his rise to fame, tentatively titled, “The Captains.”

It’s bound for Movie Central next year and promises to trace Shatner’s extensive career from his beginnings in Montreal, as well as delve into his “serendipitous” casting as Capt. James T. Kirk on “Star Trek.”

While walking a red carpet at the Banff World Television Festival on Tuesday, he joked that the film would be a lesson in “what not to do.”

Later, he said it would focus more on “dreams and aspirations,” than specific milestones in his life.

“It’s more about the captains of ’Star Trek,’ ” Shatner said, declining to reveal more about the film. “It’s more about that than me, somewhat.”

Movie Central announced the project the same day Shatner was presented with a lifetime achievement award at a splashy gala also attended by actor Eric McCormack, who received the NBC Universal Canada Award of Distinction, and comic Ricky Gervais, who received the Sir Peter Ustinov comedy award.

The 79-year-old Shatner was lauded as one of pop culture’s most recognizable figures thanks to a broad-ranging career that includes turns as actor, director, recording artist, author, and pitchman.

His career spans more than 50 years and boasts several hundred TV credits, but it’s his performance as Captain Kirk on the ’60s series “Star Trek” and subsequent feature films that cemented Shatner’s place in broadcast history.

“The Captains” won’t be Shatner’s first look back on his own life.

He already has several memoirs under his belt, including two books about his “Star Trek” career (“Star Trek Memories” and “Star Trek Movie Memories”) and the 2008 autobiography, “Up Till Now.”

Then there was the 2006 History Channel special, “How William Shatner Changed the World.”

Based on his book, “I’m Working on That,” and starring Shatner, the documentary explored how many of the gadgets in the original “Star Trek” TV series inspired some of today’s technological staples such as cellphones and PDA devices.

This fall, Shatner returns to series television with “(Bleep) My Dad Says,” a Twitter-inspired comedy about a cantankerous father and his over-educated, under-employed adult son.

Shatner said working on the series has been “great” and joked that his own father could be as tough on him as his character is on the show.

“Terrible stuff. (He’d say), ’wipe yourself,”’ said Shatner, whose other iconic TV roles included the title role in “T.J. Hooker” and eccentric lawyer Denny Crane on “The Practice” and “Boston Legal.”

“The Captains” is scheduled to begin production in July for broadcast in winter 2011.

It is being produced by Shatner’s Melis Productions in conjunction with Ballinran Productions Ltd.

This fall, Movie Central is also set to air the documentary, “William Shatner’s Gonzo Ballet,” about choreographer Margo Sappington’s journey to create a ballet set to the music of Shatner’s album “Has Been.”

Organizations: History Channel, Ballinran Productions, Gonzo Ballet

Geographic location: BANFF, Montreal

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