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September 01, 2004

trek nation

Yesterday afternoon, I worked with Rod Roddenberry (Gene's son) at my favorite pub in the world, which just happens to be in Old Town Pasadena. Rod is shooting a documentary called "Trek Nation," that was originally about how Star Trek has positively impacted all sorts of people all over the world . . . but has become, he told me, about a son's efforts to understand his father, and grok his father's legacy. He's got an incredible story to tell, and I am really happy that I got to be part of it.

Even though we both worked on TNG (he was a PA one summer, and I was, well, Wesley), and we're about the same age, we never actually sat down and talked about anything important -- or got to know each other -- until last night. It's good that we didn't meet earlier in our lives, because from about 17 to 21, I was too busy being A Really Big Asshole™ to get to know him, anyway. It was really cool to compare our memories of Gene, and the diferences -- and similarities -- in our relationship with him.

We had an incredible conversation, that I'd love to recount here, but that would sort of steal Rod's thunder, wouldn't it? When the documentary is released, I think it will be of great interest to WWdN readers, even (especially?) those of you who are not Star Trek fans.

Posted by wil at September 1, 2004 11:01 AM
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» Lots-O-Planets from Karma Fool
Today NASA announced yet another planetary discovery. This time the news is about a new, smaller type of planet--still much, much bigger than Earth, but not as big as the so-called Super Earth that has also been in the news recently. [Read More]

Tracked on September 3, 2004 07:49 AM

» Trek Nation from SFSignal
Not that I troll Will Wheaton's blog or anything (or subscribe to his newsfeed which, somehow, is even sadder), but a recent post talks about how Rod Roddenberry (Gene's son) is making a documentary of his dad called Trek Nation.... [Read More]

Tracked on September 3, 2004 09:03 AM


I have that funny picture in my brain you and Rod sitting there talking, laughing and crying about Gene. It must be really great to recall in such way of the star trek time.

Posted by: Andre at September 1, 2004 11:09 AM

I can't wait for the documentary and
your interactions with Rod. Sounds very
Did you make it to Jimmy's Star ceremony?
I am happy to say today I ordered Just a Geek.

Happy I am.

Posted by: ColleenS at September 1, 2004 11:12 AM

Which is your favorite pub in pasadena?

Posted by: Andy at September 1, 2004 11:24 AM

Talking about ordering 'Just A Geek', can anyone (Wil?) tell me if there's a hardback and a paperback edition? I'm after a hardback, but Amazon.co.uk claims to only have paperback.

Any ideas?

Posted by: reno at September 1, 2004 11:28 AM

There is not a paperback version of Just A Geek. It's just hardcover, so Amazon is lying to you! Liars! Lies! Lying liars! Muwahahahaha!

Posted by: wil at September 1, 2004 11:31 AM

Looking forward to that documentry when it does come out Wil. Props to Rod for coming up with the idea. :)

To Wil:
Heard so much about your book, I will definetly by both. Its great to see you are doing so well in your post trek days. I wish you nothing but success.

BTW, have you ever thought of writing your own Star Trek Book?

Posted by: David at September 1, 2004 11:45 AM

...I was too busy being A Really Big Asshole™...

Would that be greater or lesser than an "Asshole of Shatnerian Proportions™"? :D

Posted by: Pamster at September 1, 2004 11:47 AM

According to Global Books in Print, only the paperback is available in the UK. Opposite seems to be true in the US. Go figure.

Posted by: Witty Librarian at September 1, 2004 12:05 PM

It must have been an interesting conversation that you had I am glad that your speech went well hope the Documentary on Star Trek works out.

Posted by: Dan L at September 1, 2004 12:05 PM

The documentary sounds cool! I am a Star Trek fan, raised by Star Trek fans, so I most definitely would like to see it. I remember when I was really little (like, 4 years old) I had a Kirk doll and a Spock doll. The only way I played with them though was to make them hug each other... Hmm... I wonder what the original series would have been like had they thrown that in. Anyway, glad you got to reminisce. It's always nice to remember those who have influenced us. :)

Posted by: Kimberly at September 1, 2004 12:06 PM

thanks for the heads up...i am looking forward to seeing ROD'S side of the story.

Posted by: d. burr at September 1, 2004 12:08 PM

I look forward to seeing the documentary when it comes out :) thanks for letting us know about it!

Also, thank you for using the word 'grok'. So happy to know I'm not the only one...

Posted by: Ashli at September 1, 2004 12:16 PM

Lots of things for me to look forward to: Trek Nation, ordering Just A Geek for myself and figuring out how to get it autographed, and finally telling you how much I liked Deep Core. *smirk*

Posted by: Meredith at September 1, 2004 12:17 PM

Amazon.co.uk sent me a hardback - so I'm guessing the entry is wrong...

Posted by: Auz at September 1, 2004 12:19 PM

Pub in Pasadena? I like Crown City Brewery. Is that it??

Maybe one more near Colorado Blvd. would be more Old Town.

Hmmm. Which spot has more Guinness?

Posted by: Geri at September 1, 2004 12:33 PM

Wil..you were on Star Trek? What's Star Trek? hehe You know I'm kidding. Yep, thats a doc I shall check out.

Posted by: Jason (FutureWonder) at September 1, 2004 12:55 PM

sounds really cool. I am still waiting to find out when the hollywood homegame is going to air though.


Posted by: neph at September 1, 2004 12:56 PM

I admit to being a non trek fan. Shatner/Kirk totally turned me off it in my early childhood. I enjoyed some TNG and DSN eps, as well as TOD eps where Kirk was not the main focus (so few). I LOVE the impact that Trek had on the world. I look forward to the doc and expect it to change my mind.

BTW - everyone taked their turn being a really big asshole. I was apparently transformed into a raving bitch on my 13th birthday and remained so for a whole year. You seem to have come out of it as a really cool person, someone I'd love to sit and chat with at length.


Posted by: damedini at September 1, 2004 01:27 PM

I know you don't wanna steal the guys thunder and all but man, it would be really great hear your thoughts on Gene the man instead of Gene the legend.

Posted by: Kane at September 1, 2004 01:36 PM

" A Really Big Asshole™ "

" Asshole of Shatnerian Proportions™ "


I love it! Shatnerian Proportions!!!

That's my new catch phrase!!!

Posted by: edwoodca at September 1, 2004 01:38 PM

Old Pas has a number of great pubs; Crown City is certainly excellent. Lucky Baldwin's is another good one. Two blocks away is the Yard House in Paseo Colorado. The 35er and The Old Town Pub are Pasadena's seediest, but a great time nonetheless. McMurphy's, Q's, and Moose McGillicuddys have a decent pub feel, too.

I've been to all of them dozens of times (or is it hundreds???), and I saw Wil at one of 'em (not telling! I emailed him about my trepidation in talking to my hero. No response :( )
Want a free gmail invite? I've got 15 left...

Posted by: Brett at September 1, 2004 01:47 PM

I can't tell you how much I thoroughly enjoyed both your books. I did not want them to end. Your story telling ability inspires me to better heights. Something I have gone on about several times on my own blog.


Posted by: Stephanie at September 1, 2004 02:00 PM

"I was too busy being a really big asshole"

Don't beat yourself up over this, Wil. Happens all the time.

Posted by: Jim at September 1, 2004 02:06 PM

Rod Roddenberry? That's really his name? That's like the people who name their kid John Johnson.....oh well, it's nice to know that the two of you got a chance to share stories about the man that was obviously so influential to both of you. The documentary sounds amazing, because although I never "got" the original series, I lived for TNG. FYI, I never hated Wesley! :)

I'm about halfway through JAG, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Hope to see you in Seattle soon!

Posted by: Kirsten at September 1, 2004 02:09 PM

I read about the documentary on one of the many articles I've seen on Jimmy Doohan the last couple of days. I am looking forward to its release.

My husband and Rod went to college together at a very cool little liberal arts college in Massachusetts, which happened to be full of sci-fi geeks. Apparently, it was a "very big deal" when Majel Barrett would show up on campus.

Posted by: Holly at September 1, 2004 02:14 PM

Okay, I feel like I've been commenting on everything lately. But I have to share this story that was totally lost in my memory until now.

I used to work at a drive-thru dry cleaner in Vegas (while attending college, I might add), about 12 years ago when TNG was my favorite show. I went out to "hop" a car.

"Last name?", I asked.

The driver replied "Rodenberry". I froze. Naaah, I thought.

"Heh," I said, "spelled like Gene Rodenberry?"

"Well, that's my dad" Gasp! I nearly passed out.

It was his daughter and I can't for the life of me remember her first name. But she let me get freaky and praise her dad to pieces. It was quite a moment for me. Kinda like meeting you too :) Anywho, your story brought back the fond memory. Thanks for that! Looking forward to the documentary.

Posted by: Laura at September 1, 2004 02:40 PM

Wow, that sounds like a great documentary,
any idea when it is coming out?

Posted by: Jerry Ann at September 1, 2004 03:04 PM

Just wanted to say iam gald you and your wife are safe on the long journey.

Posted by: Cody Harrell at September 1, 2004 03:11 PM

If you want to keep up with the Trek Nation news, you can check out Eugene Roddenberry Jr's ("Rod") site at www.roddenberry.com

Posted by: loretta652 at September 1, 2004 03:30 PM

I'd bet the favorite pub is Lucky Baldwin's. It does have an identity crisis though. A british pub with a preponderance of Belgian ales.

So come on. Out with it. Which pub is your favorite?

Posted by: Craig at September 1, 2004 03:55 PM

Eugene "Rod" Rodenberry is also working with the folks at Star Trek: New Voyages at www.5yearmission.com

Haven't posted here before, but have been reading for a long, long time. Thanks for sharing your life, Wil.

Posted by: Drakonar at September 1, 2004 04:16 PM

um, wasn't it Roddenberry's son Gene who went to "a very cool little liberal arts college in Massachusetts"? I thought he was at Hampshire at the same time as me, studying astronomy (mostly at UMass, I should note). but yes. a good place to be a trekkie.

Posted by: hampshire grad at September 1, 2004 05:09 PM

I was just at Target and saw the first season of the original ST series on DVD for $99. That's a lot of money, but I suppose it's an important addition to any Trekkie's collection.

Don't worry about how you acted when you were younger, it's all a part of the process of growing up or older and more fossilized. :-) Whatever your attitude, you seem to have outgrown it.

I can't detect any sort of 'RBA' from your blog. What's a PA? Personal Assistant to a star or something?

Please let us know when "Trek Nation" will air or be available on DVD or video, I'm not a big trekkie but it sounds interesting.

I think you have everyone curious about which pub that you frequent. Are people usually pretty cool when they recognize you in public? Or do they ask for your autograph? If so, do you mind being approached by fans?

Posted by: Linda at September 1, 2004 05:57 PM

As a loyal and fully paid up member of WWDN, I fully expect a big announcement from Uncle Willie when the documentary comes out. If we all get together and buy it the same day, the WWDN market segment can make its presence known!

Can't wait!

Craig Steffen

Posted by: Craig Steffen at September 1, 2004 06:01 PM

I think Gene Roddenberry was amazing. Star systems that he made up, turned out to actually be there years later?? I got my own therioes about him, but at the risk of sounding like some psycho claiming to have been abducted by some alien force where they kept me for years on end and forced me to have sex with amazingly hot dudes to help populate their world (yeah, I acutally heard a woman claim that once), I'll keep my thoughts to myself on him.

I would love to meet his son someday. I think it would be interesting to see how they differ and if he is into the same things as Gene or if he's gone on a totally different path.

Posted by: Veronica Knight at September 1, 2004 06:33 PM

Linda asked what a PA is; that would be a Production Assistant, which in plain English is a "gofer" type person who runs errands and does the grunt work that is needed on the set. At least, that's my understanding of the job. I doubt that it pays much, but could be fun on the right production, and TNG might have been one of those. :-)

Dave Westbay

Posted by: Dave Westbay at September 1, 2004 07:15 PM

Today's post got me thinking about timing and relationships. How many people have I dismissed or bypassed who's company I'd enjoy today? Would I come off better or worse in their eyes? And what if I met for the first time today friends I've known for years. Would we still make a connection? Hmmmm.

Posted by: Sandee at September 1, 2004 07:25 PM

That sounds like a fantastic time. I seriously can't wait to see this documentary - it must be a bizarre and fantastic experience for Rod to be working on this project. I wish him luck!

Posted by: Heather at September 1, 2004 09:26 PM

JAG is available in hardback in the UK and if you are having trouble trying to find it then ring 01243 843291 J. Wiley. I think the problem is that on the product information it has the "Binding" as "Paper" and therefore it is assumed to be paperback.

Hope the documentary will be available in the UK.

Posted by: griff at September 1, 2004 11:38 PM

you know, I'm with david.. I have always had this fantasy of reading a ST novel called "Crusher" and it'd be about you on yer own ship (as like a leutenant commander or something).. like, maybe wes rejoined the federation later (he was wearing a dress uniform in nemesis right?) or something and is all grown up now with his own life and is this amazing kick ass guy more like you Will.

Posted by: Robert at September 2, 2004 04:56 AM

Since you aren't going to release any details of your interview (and fair enough btw), I only have my imagination to help me fill in all the missing pieces.

What I know for sure if that you are both in a pub talking. OK, the rest. Well, I have a strong feeling you are both wearing frilly dress and large brim hats, the kind with ribbon on them. I'm also fairly certain that as you chat, you are giving each other makeovers. But somehow, this was all done in a very manly way. Then, human seeking hover bots came in, and were arming weapons to attack. Sensing doom, Rod swiftly pulling a script, erased 'human seeking hover bots' to 'lovely bouquet's of flowers', and all was right again with the world. I'm not sure what you guys were actually saying, since it all too high pitched for my ears to understand.

Posted by: anc at September 2, 2004 07:17 AM

Wil, you rock for many reasons, but today you rock for understanding the space of creativity that belongs to Rod and having respect for it as to keep the conversation for his telling.

Posted by: Joshua at September 2, 2004 09:15 AM

anc: I think you're confusing me with that time my friend Cecily and I talked about the Imporance of being Earnest . . .

Posted by: wil at September 2, 2004 10:19 AM

It's off topic, but I just wanted to congratulate you for your new column in Dungeon Magazine. (Okay, not THAT new, since your second column just hit the stands, but still pretty new).

It's the first column I have ever read about being a gamer and an adult and a dad. Your writing is compelling in its sincerity. I look forward to reading more. (And to your new book when it comes out).

Posted by: Robert in Austin at September 2, 2004 12:18 PM

How about a hint? ;)

Posted by: Troy at September 2, 2004 01:36 PM

Looking forward to the documentary; is it going to be a theatrical release or straight to video/DVD? What would be cool is if Rod would write a companion book to the documentary, to detail a lot of stuff that gets left out (especially the father/son thing). Maybe you could give him some pointers.

FINALLY moving this weekend :) (long story there); I'm planning to get ST Season 1 next paycheck probably to christen the new place.

Still waiting for HHG as well, but hope it holds off for a couple of weeks as it may take that long to get our cable hookup.

Posted by: Roberta at September 3, 2004 08:13 AM

I have to admit. I chuckled at the Name Rod Roddenberry....does that make me a bad person?
Anyway, I'm glad that you are able to talk with him. From all the interviews/articles I've read, Everyone loved Gene. He really sounded like a great man. If he's half the man his father was, he's a better man than me. I'm glad you were able to sit down and talk with him.
I look forward to the release of the documentary.

Side note: I'm a long-time reader, first time commenter(or?) I just wanted to say thank you for writing. I really enjoyed Dancing Barefoot and will be picking up JAG very shortly. Your writing style is what I wish mine could be: Straight from the heart.

Take Care.

Posted by: Markus at September 3, 2004 01:28 PM

Hey Wil,
I met you in the a hole years 17-21 and glad you grew out of it.
We all make mistakes and forgiveness is divine and knowing thyself is truly amazing so glad you grew up into the wonderful person you are.
I'd like to meet you now so come to Edmonton, Alberta Canada - I lived in Pasadena and went to AADA. We'd love to see you up north for a book sigining.

Posted by: 1cutebird at September 3, 2004 03:23 PM

Hi Wil. I met Rod last year at a german convention (www.fedcon.de), where he was also shooting scenes for his documentary. He showed us a first trailer and some scenes (I remember seeing him interviewing Nichelle Nichols), later that night I met him in the hotel bar and over the course of a few beers we talked about his father and what Star Trek ment for both/all of us. Nice guy. I am glad to hear, that you made it into the movie as well - another good reason to watch it as soon as possible.

Posted by: Christian Humberg at September 4, 2004 12:34 AM

Just came back and found wil replied to me! Hehe. I feel all important now.
Cheers for the response. I'll go order my hardback copy now :)

Posted by: reno at September 7, 2004 05:41 AM

This is an apology from a fellow recovered complete asshole. I came across your site about a year or so ago and was hooked from the moment I finished reading the “If this is your first time here” disclaimer. But that’s not why I’m writing this.

You see, somewhere in the late, late 80’s I went to a Creation Con where you were signing autographs. Although I came away from the experience with a nice photo featuring your signature, the way in which you acted left me with the impression you were a rude snob. Or, in your words, a complete asshole. The pic went into a box with other Trek memorabilia until a couple years later when I was moving into my first apartment. My roommate and I decided your picture would look best thumb tacked to the dartboard. There it stayed until about 1991 when it was replaced by Sailor Moon.

My connection to Trek is far more tenuous compared to being the son of Gene Roddenberry: I took two years of screenwriting with Judy Burns, and John Hertzler acted in a radio play I wrote and directed at UC Riverside. Yet from my perspective I think perhaps if you had met Rod back then, and had he concluded you were a complete asshole, that today he would come to the same conclusion so many of us have – that you’ve turned out to be a fine person, a good father and dad, and your wit and deftness with words is truly something.

I hate to make such a lengthy entry in someone else’s blog, and chances are you won’t read something this far down in a post over a week old. I only make it over to Pasadena (from the cursed IE) about once or twice a year, but if we ever bump into each other the first round’s on me.

Posted by: Mad Monarch Voards at September 9, 2004 12:40 PM

For the record... I never remember Wil being an "Asshole". AND... If he was, it helped make him one of the kindest and most genuine (as well as self-deprecating) guys I know.
Let's have some beers without the cameras?


Posted by: ROD at September 15, 2004 08:24 AM

so when is this documentary supposed to come out? Im really looking forward to it.

Posted by: JAKERS at September 15, 2004 01:28 PM

yeh when is it coming out.

Posted by: ViralOmega at September 15, 2004 03:14 PM

Wil, I have only got one question, and if you know. When is this documentary suppose to come out to the public? I have been quietly waiting for it's release.

Posted by: Jim Hutto at October 27, 2004 08:08 PM
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