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August 06, 2002
Let's get some runs!

I have just returned from Chicago.

That's right, Chicago.

Why?

Because my wife surprised me for my 30th birthday, and took me to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubbies.

Holy.

Crap.

There are many exciting details, but no time to go into them. I've got a busy day ahead. I'll try to update infor later.

In the meantime, we saw Roughy and Mrs. Roughy, as well as Bobby The Mat and Mrs. Bobby The Mat, and you can hear about our evening together at UE.

This entry is from the blog department. Posted by wil at 10:22 AM
August 07, 2002
Double Secret Probation

For the last 10 days or so, I've been hearing this countdown at least once a day.

It goes something like this: "9 more days until my birthday!"

Or, "you know what happens in 4 days? It's my birthday!"

And, "it's...my...birthday...in...two...days!"

(That last one sounds better if you sing it)

Well, the countdown has been leading up to tomorrow, August 8th, which is my wife Anne's birthday. We look forward to her birthday each year because we always take the family camping for a couple of days...and we don't have to hear the countdown.

Well, that's not entirely true...we'll hear "Only 364 more days until my birthday!" At least once.

So today is the day that we leave for the magnificent and storied Great Outdoors. I won't have time to write again until next week.

In honor of my wife's birthday, I offer the following Thought For Today, which perfectly describes our life together:

"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
-Frost

This entry is from the blog department. Posted by wil at 09:07 AM
August 13, 2002
Crossing Over

Boy, I just don't update these days, do I?

I was thinking about that on my way home from work today, moving along a few feet at a time on the 10 freeway.

I think a big part of it is that it's summer, and I'd much rather be outside, and I've been travelling A LOT since the middle of July. I've been to SLC, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Vancouver, Alaska, Sacramento (twice) and I'll be heading to San Francisco next week for the EFF event.

So when I have some "free" time, I've been giving it to my wife and family, and when I have some creative energy, I'm giving it to Arena.

It's not like I don't have stories to tell...there's the trip to Alaska, the trip to Chicago, Camping with Anne and the boys last week....and boy do I ever have NEWS!

I'm going to give the news items their own entries over the next couple of days, because we just finished 2 episodes of Arena and I'll have time while Anne's at work (the boys are with their dad for his part of summer vacation.)

However, here's a very exciting New Thing In Wil's Life(tm):

A few weeks ago, my computer blew up. Smoke and everything. So I freaked...and just as I was about to go run the damn credit cards up to get a new machine, one arrived in the mail...this cool Sony VAIO thingy, that has a cool story all it's own, that will get told later on, too. Trouble was, it wouldn't start up. Or more correctly, it wouldn't load Windows. It'd just choke.

So as I was starting to freak again, another computer arrived in the mail. This time it was a gift from many, many people, who all pooled their resources together to replace the old POS 5000 that had recently blown up.

This new computer was a gift, and it worked as soon as I plugged it in, internet and everything.

The thing is, it was running Lindows.

Now, I've been toying with dumping Windows for almost a year. The Open Source movement really appeals to my anarchistic and individualistic tendencies, and everyone I know who uses Linux tells me that I won't miss Windows at all. I don't really use any software that's windows-specific, except Dreamweaver, and I'm told that I can run that under WINE, or find a comparable OS editor.

So I'm running this Lindows for about 3 weeks, and a couple of days ago, I break it. 100%. I messed up some dependencies, and even with the help of some really smart propeller heads, I just couldn't fix it.

So last night, I crossed the rubicon and installed Mandrake 8.2.

This install was the easiest thing I have ever done, and there wasn't one single problem. The only glitch came when I was trying to get my soundcard to work, which was hammered out quickly and painlessly, thanks to the monkeys in the soapbox.

I'm using Gnome, and I've never been happier.

I am now going to become the world's number one Linux cheerleader.

I'm off to Think Geek to get a sticker for my car, and a T-shirt for my huge pectoral muscles.

This entry is from the computers department. Posted by wil at 07:30 PM
August 14, 2002
Spare us the cutter

The call came while I was out, so I didn't get the message until days later.

"Hi," the young-sounding secretary said on my machine, "I have Rick Berman calling for Wil. Please return when you get the message."

I knew.

I knew before she was even done with the message, but I tried to fool myself for a few minutes anyway.

I looked at the clock: 8 PM. They'd most likely be out, so I'd have to call tomorrow.

I told Anne that I had a message to call Rick's office, and she knew right away also.

We'd thought about it for months, ever since I'd heard the rumors online. Of course, I tend to not put a whole lot of stock in what I read online...if I did I'd be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of hot teen bitches who want to get naked for me right now, and I'd be rolling in Nigerian money.

But it made sense, and I couldn't fight what I knew in my heart to be true.

I returned the call late the next day from my car on my way home from work. I was driving along a narrow tree-lined street in Pasadena that I sometimes take when the traffic is heavy on the freeway.

Children played on bikes and jumped rope in the growing shadows of the July afternoon. The street was stained a beautiful orange by the setting sun.

"This is Wil Wheaton returning," I told her.

She tells me to hold on, and then he's on the phone.

"Hi kiddo. How are you?"

"I'm doing fine. You know I turn 30 on Monday?"

There is a pause.

"I can't believe we're all getting so old," he says.

"I know. I emailed Tommy [his son] awhile ago, and he's in college now. If that made me feel old, I can't imagine what my turning 30 is doing to the rest of you guys."

We chuckle. This is probably just small-talk, so it's not as severe when he tells me, but it feels good regardless. Familiar, familial.

"Listen, Wil. I have bad news."

Although I've suspected it for months, and I have really known it since I heard the message the night before, my stomach tightens, my arms grow cold.

"We've had to cut your scene from the movie."

He pauses for breath, and that moment is frozen, while I assess my feelings.

I almost laugh out loud at what I discover: I feel puzzled.

I feel puzzled, because the emotions I expected: the sadness, the anger, the indignation...aren't there.

I realize that he's waiting for me.

"Why'd you have to cut it?"

This doesn't make sense. I should be furious. I should be depressed. I shuould be hurt.

But I don't feel badly, at all.

"Well, it doesn't have anything to do with you," he begins.

I laugh silently. It never does. When I don't get a part, or a callback, or get cut from a movie, it never has anything to do with me. Like a sophmore romance. "It's not you. It's me. I've met Jimmy Kimmel's cousin, and things just happened."

There is an unexpected sincerity to what he tells me: the movie is long. The first cut was almost 3 hours. The scene didn't contribute to the main story in any way, so it was the first one to go.

He tells me that they've cut 48 minutes from the movie.

I tell him that they've cut an entire episode out. We laugh.

There is another silence. He's waiting for me to respond.

I drive past some kids playing in an inflatable pool in their front yard. On the other side of the street, neighbors talk across a chain link fence. An older man sits on his porch reading a paper.

"Well Rick," I begin, "I completely understand. I've thought about this on and off for months, and I knew that if the movie was long, this scene, and maybe even this entire sequence, would have to go. It's just not germaine to the spine of the story."

He tells me that they had to consider cutting the entire beginning of the movie. He tells me that he has to call one of the other actors because they've suffered rather large cuts as well.

I stop at a 4-way stop sign and let a woman and her little daughter cross the street on their way into a park filled with families, playing baseball and soccer in the waning light.

I look them. The mother's hand carefully holding her daughter's.

I realize why I'm not upset, and I tell him.

"Well, Rick, it's like this: I love Star Trek, and, ultimately, I want what's best for Star Trek and the Trekkies. If the movie is too long, you've got to cut it, and this scene is the first place I'd start if I were you.

"The great thing is, I got to spend two wonderful days being on Star Trek again, working with the people I love, wearing the uniform that I missed, and I got to re-connect with you, the cast, and the fans. Nobody can take that away from me."

"And, it really means a lot to me that you called me yourself. I can't tell you how great that makes me feel,"

It's true. He didn't need to call me himself. Most producers wouldn't.

"I'm so glad that you took the time to call me, and that I didn't have to learn about this at the screening, or by reading it on the internet."

He tells me again how sorry he is. He asks about my family, and if I'm working on anything. I tell him they're great, that Ryan's turning 13, and that I've been enjoying steady work as a writer since January.

We're back to small talk again, bookending the news.

I ask him how the movie looks.

He tells me that they're very happy with it. He thinks it's going to be very successful.

I'm feel happy and proud.

I've heard stories from people that everyone had lots of trouble with the director. I ask him if that's true.

He tells me that it was tough, because the director had his own vision. There were struggles, but ultimately they collaborated to make a great film.

I come to a stoplight, a bit out of place in this quiet residential neighborhood. A young married couple walks their golden retriever across the crosswalk.

We say our goodbyes, and he admonishes me to call him if I'm ever on the lot. He tells me that he'll never forgive me if I don't stop into his office when I'm there.

I tell him that will, and that I'll see him at the screening.

He wishes me well, and we hang up the phone.

The light turns green and I sit there for a moment, reflecting on the conversation.

I think back to something I wrote in April while in a pit of despair: "I wonder if The Lesson is that, in order to succeed, I need to rely upon myself, trust myself, love myself, and not put my happiness and sadness into the hands of others."

I meant everything that I said to him. It really doesn't matter to me if I'm actually in the movie or not, and not in a bitter way at all.

I could focus on the disappointment, I suppose. I could feel sad.

Getting cut out of the movie certainly fits a pattern that's emerged in the past two years or so.

But I choose not to. I choose instead to focus on the positives, the things I can control. I did have two wonderful days with people I love, and it was like I'd never left. I did get to reconnect with the fans and the franchise. Rick Berman, a person with whom I've not always had the best relationship, called me himself to tell me the news, and I felt like it weighed heavily on him to deliver it.

Nobody can take that away from me, and I'm not going to feel badly, at all.

Because I have a secret.

I have realized what's important in my life since April, and they are at the end of my drive.

The dog-walking couple smile and wave to me.

The light changes.

Somewhere in Brooklyn, Wesley Crusher falls silent forever.

This entry is from the blog department. Posted by wil at 11:13 AM
August 16, 2002
alt.usenet.made.me.laugh

Found on Usenet, authored by O.Deus:


A crowd has gathered outside a dumpster, current residence of the reel
of film featuring Wesley Crusher, at the news that Will Wheaton's
apperance had been cut from Nemesis.

"First they let him go from the Next Generation and now they cut him
from Nemesis alltogether?" Wanda Killgorne 39, one of those holding a
silent vigil at the dumpster. "It makes no sense. The producers never
realized what they had with Wesley. The show went downhill the moment
he left and they've been too arrogant to do what it takes to save Star
Trek. Bring back Wesley as a Starship Captain with Godlike powers.
He's the only one that can save Star Trek."

At those words the crowd began chanting, "Bring Back Wesley. Bring
Back Wesley. Bring Back Wesley" but it was clear that their hearts
just weren't in it.

"Some of us are here because we're off our medication. Others are here
because Wesley Crusher gives us a reason to live." William Johnson 56
said delivering an improptu speech from the vantage point of standing
on a stained milk crate. "Still Others because due to our homoerotic
crushes on Mr. Wheaton, orders of protection prevent us from going any
closer to him. Still we all united in our veneration of this lost
reel."

Saying this Mr. Johnson reached into the dumpster and pulled out a
reel along with several roaches living in the reel.

"Behold the Reel of Wesley." He shouted as the crowd fell to its knees
before the reel and then rose one by one to kiss the reel and return
back to the private and state facilities from which they had come as
the sun set over the tall buildings, indicating that curfew was almost
over.

This made me laugh out loud.

It sure was strange to see something on Usenet about me that didn't involve Klingon gang rape.

This entry is from the computers department. Posted by wil at 06:15 PM
August 19, 2002
Rhymes with News

Today, I present to you, the faceless internet monkey, a short collection of news items featuring me, or my friends.

Enjoy them in moderation. (+1, Interesting...I hope):

This entry is from the random thoughts department. Posted by wil at 07:14 PM
August 20, 2002
Europa

I've been asked my more than one person to respond to the Open Letter to America, which is currently burning up the internet so fast, you'd think it was written by rtm.

I am reminded of a time in my own life when I got a letter from someone I really cared about, telling me what I refused to tell myself: I was an asshole.

Set the wayback machine circa 1988 or 1989. I am on top of the world. I travel in limos and fly first class to events where hundreds and sometimes thousands of people scream for me. Everywhere I look, I see my face staring back at me from Teen Cheese and Non-Threatening Boys magazines. I am getting more fan mail than anyone else at Paramount.

I am also desperately unhappy.

===

In the summer of 1988 or 89, I had this huge crush on a girl from school. She was really beautiful, sexy, and fun to be with.

We dated a few times, hung out a lot, and I was really falling for her. Then one day she stopped returning my calls, and coming over.

I was crushed. I didn't understand what had happened.

Then one morning I got a letter from her. In it, she told me, as delicately as possible, that she just couldn't be around me any more. I was arrogant, rude, ungrateful for what I had, and I treated her like property. I was demanding, overbearing, unwilling to listen to or respect other people's opinions. I was a dick, an ass, a jerk. She described to me a person I wouldn't ever want to sit next to on a bench, much less be.

I was stunned. I took the letter to my best friend Darin, and showed it to him, looking for comfort. He'd help me feel better about this frigid bitch, I thought.

When he was done reading it, he asked me what I thought. I declared, with righteous indignation, that she "didn't know what the fuck she was talking about", and that she could "fuck off, because it was bullshit."

Darin looked at me, and he said, gently, "Wil, you should read it again, because she's right."

I looked at him, he looked back at me. This was not the reaction I was expecting.

"What?" I asked, wondering if maybe I'd brought the wrong letter.

"[Her name] wrote you this letter because she cares about you, and she doesn't like what you've become. Frankly, none of your friends do. So you can read it again, and take it to heart, or you can blow it off, and continue to alienate yourself from everyone who cares about you, including me."

I really respected Darin. He was (is) the most tolerant, patient, loyal, honest person I knew (know). His words, added to those I held in my now-quaking hands were a Rosetta stone. Everything I didn't like about myself but was unwilling to address was all on those 3 sheets of hand-written 8x10 spiral-bound notebook paper, translated by my best friend into language I could understand.

A door was opened in that moment, and I had a choice to make: walk through and face myself, or ignore it and walk past.

I walked through, and on that day I began the process of re-evaluating my life, my priorities, and most importantly my attitude. It was scary, it was uncertain, it was vital. It was a long process, taking nearly 6 years, but it started that day.

People ask me all the time why I haven't ended up dead or drug-addicted, or in trouble in the law. The answer is still written on those sheets of paper, long-lost but not forgotten.

To this day I carry more than a little bit of guilt for the way I treated her. I've been able to apologize to everyone else who I've wronged in my life, but never to her. Maybe she'll read this and hear me say "Thank you, and I'm sorry."

So, back to the Open Letter. Do I agree with all of it? No. I think some of it is wildly off-base, and I think the message would be listened to by more people who need to hear it if it wasn't so inflammatory.

On the other hand, I think that America has an opportunity to walk through an open door, and take a long hard look at ourselves. The simple fact is, America, most of the world really doesn't like us. We're arrogant, irresponsible, and unaccountable. We loudly an constantly remind the world that we are a Superpower...well, with great power comes great responsibility, right?

The great thing about America is that We The People have a voice, and the louder that voice, the more insistent that voice, the harder it is to silence.

Let's raise our voice, and walk through this open door. It's scary. It is uncertain, but it is vital that we do. It will be a long process, but we can do it.

I'll take the first step, with this Thought for Today:

"If you succeed through violence at the expense of other's rights and welfare, you have not solved the problem, but only created the seeds for another."

This entry is from the politics department. Posted by wil at 03:30 PM
August 21, 2002
46&2

I'm working my ass off today for Arena...we're working on a really cool special, and I'm under the gun to finish a script, so I don't have time for a real entry...

But Loren sent me this article, in the SF Gate, and I wanted to share it.

The interesting thing about this story, and the proliferation of stories like it, and celebrity weblogs, is that most people aren't able to see people like me, who are on their tvs, as real people, with real problems and real dreams.

People look for and expect to find a validation of their perception of the celebrity in question, and when they don't find that, they either react with surprise and delight, or they find ways to force what they found to fit their perception.

If someone came here looking for a failed actor, they could find that. If someone came here looking for a very happy husband and father, they could find that too.

It depends on what they're looking for, I think, and what they're willing to see.

This entry is from the blog department. Posted by wil at 12:12 PM
August 22, 2002
H.

This afternoon, you can watch me on TechTV's The Screen Savers. Then tonight, I head into the DNA Lounge in San Francisco to defend your right to free speech and parody on the Internet as I go toe to toe with Barney in a celebrity boxing match brought to you by the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Chilling Effects project.

If you're in or near San Francisco, and your value your rapidly diminishing rights of free speech and free expression, I encourage you to come and check it out.

However, if you can't be there, for whatever reason, here is a copy of the speech I'm giving tonight.
--
"Copyright law is a good idea. It allows actors, writers, and musicians to create and own intellectual property, and hopefully derive a living from their creations.

As an actor and writer, I have a personal stake in making sure that Copyright law is enforced. If I can't own the works I create, then I can't feed my family.

The music labels, publishing houses and studios who release our creative works would have you believe that unless we strengthen copyright laws, their clever euphemism for eroding your rights to parody and free expression, all artists will suffer.

Don't you believe them. As a negotiator for the Screen Actors Guild, I have firsthand experience with these men who claim to care so greatly for artists, and I call shenanigans. The greatest danger to musicians is not Gnutella. It is the label. The greatest danger to actors and film makers is not DeCSS. It is the studio. These corporate masters care little for the artists who are filling their 4 car garages with new Porsches and filling their private jets with fuel and "hostesses."

What they do care about is controlling how you listen to music, or watch movies, and, increasingly, how you discuss and react to our creations.

Copyright law was best described as "a balance between expression that the owners can control and expression that is left open to the commons."

Right now we are facing the complete destruction of that delicate balance. Corporations, and their congressional lap dogs, are doing everything in their power to ensure that the "expression left open to the commons" is forever removed, leaving only "expression the owners can control."

That is a truly terrifying statement, which bears repeating: "expression only the owners can control."

Do you want your freedom of expression controlled by a studio, record label, or multi-national corporation? Do you want Sony's goons kicking in your door because you dare call Shakira SUCKira? Do you want Paramount to have the right to tell you that you can't write that Star Trek fan fiction you've been working on while your wife is asleep? You know, the one where you're the captain and Counselor Troi is giving you a "special session?" Do you want Best Buy telling you that you're a criminal for expressing, on your website, your opinion that, "Best Buy sucks?"

Of course we don't. We all value our freedoms of expression and our rights to satire and parody. Can you imagine a world without "The Onion," or "Satirewire?" Area Men everywhere would be slienced. I don't want to live in that world.

Corporations know that they're wrong. They rightfully fear the Internet, and those of us who know how to use it. They don't like it when we step outside of the narrowly defined, consumer culture they've created for us.

They have seen "expression left open to the commons" running counter to "expression that the owners can control," and rather than respect our rights, they are working feverishly to destroy that all-too-delicate balance.

Corporations regularly abuse copyright law to silence dissent. Best Buy, Wal*Mart and Starbucks have all sent Cease and Desist letters to angry consumers who feel that they've been ripped off, and, like me, taken their case to the public via the Internet.

So they are shoving money at congress, and sending lawyers after us.

Our fundamental rights are under attack by a terrified cabal of corporate monsters, who have bought and paid for the DMCA and CARP, and I say that the erosion of our rights stops right here, right now.

I will continue to parody public figures and cherished icons.

I will state, on my website, in 100 point flashing red type on a blue background: "Barney sucks! Best Buy sucks! Sony Sucks! Microsoft sucks, Bill Gates is the anti-Christ and John Ashcroft can kiss my ass!"

I will promote artist's rights. I will educate, enlighten, and empower. I will write, call, FAX and email congress.

Copyright Law is not a tool of repression granted to an unaccountable corporation by a corrupt congress at the expense of an ignorant public.

It exists to protect and promote artists. Don't ever forget that.

Tonight, we are ignorant no longer, and as ignorance goes, so goes complacency. The EFF has created an online library where you can research your rights, at chillingeffects.org. Get online, get educated and get involved.

Individually, we can get angry. Together, we can, and will, make a difference."

This entry is from the politics department. Posted by wil at 07:28 AM
August 26, 2002
WFS on KNRK

Arena is kicking my ass right now, because we are doing a special episode featuring the HALO National Championship on Friday...so I haven't had time to recap my amazing time in San Francisco with the EFF...but it's coming as soon as I get some spare time.

However, I just got an email from my friend Gabe, letting me know that tomorrow morning at 7AM PDT, he will be interviewing WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER on radio station KNRK.

KIRK on KNRK? Is that a goocher or what? Does it get any better than this? How many more rhetorical questions can I ask? Will I stop? Who knows?!

Well, this news is too great to pass up, and I think the world should know.

So if you happen to run into the world, would you please pass this along?

Thanks so much.

Love you.

Mean it.

Buh-bye.

This entry is from the music department. Posted by wil at 10:20 PM
August 27, 2002
Reflections- Artificial Sweetener

Sometimes we know in our bones what we really need to do, but we're afraid to do it.

Taking a chance, and stepping beyond the safety of the world we've always known is the only way to grow, though, and without risk there is no reward.

Thoughts like this have weighed heavily on me for the last year or so, as I look around and reassess my life.

This past year has involved more self-discovery and more change than any so far in my life. It's been tumultuous, scary, exhilarating, depressing, thrilling, joyful.

I've realized recently that I have changed dramatically since I started this website. When it began just over a year ago, I was very adrift, terrified that the Internet would tear me apart.

Well, it did, and it turns out that was a great thing. The Internet kicked my ass, and it forced me to find strength within myself, and to not derive my sense of self-worth from the opinions of others.

This website has introduced me to amazing people, weird people, scary people. This website, and many people who read it, has also helped me figure out what is important to me in my life, what makes me happy.

I guess the feeling has been building for a long time, and I knew it was there, but I wasn't willing to acknowledge it. It was --is-- scary. It's a major change in my life, but I can't ignore it, and to ignore it is to ignore myself, and cheat myself out of what I think my real potential is.

Back in the middle of May, I was asked to do this commercial. Well, not just a commercial, more of an infomercial, really. My first reaction was, "No way. Infomercials are death to an actor's career."

But then I thought about the last few years of my life as an actor. The daily frustrations. Losing jobs for stupid, capricious, unfair reasons.

I looked back and saw that it really started when my friend Roger promised me a role in Rules of Attraction, then yanked it away from me without so much as a phonecall or email or anything. Then there was the roller coaster of Win Ben Stein's Money, and missing family vacations so I could stay home and go on auditions that all ended up being a huge waste of my time.

Throughout this time, this painful, frustrating Trial, I began to write more and more. It's all here on WWDN. I can see my writing style change, as I find my voice, and figure out what I want to say, and how I want to say it.

The emails changed, too. People stopped asking me to do interviews for them about Star Trek, and started asking me if I'd conrtibute to their magazines, or weblogs, or books.

When this phonecall came for the infomercial, I took a long walk, and assessed my life.

The bottom line was: They were offering to pay me enough to support my family for the rest of this year. I wouldn't have to worry about bills anymore. I wouldn't have to view each audition as This One Big Chance That I Can't Screw Up.

Accepting it would mean some security for me and my family. It was also a really cool computer-oriented product (which I'll get to later, don't worry). It's not like I would be hawking "The Ab-Master 5000" or "Miracle Stain Transmogrifier X!"

It would also mean, to me at least, the end of any chance I had of ever being a really major actor again. That elusive chance to do a film as good as, or better than Stand By Me or a TV series as widely-watched as TNG would finally fall away.

I thought of all these things, walking Ferris through my neighborhood.

It was a long walk.

I thought of Donald Crowhurst.

I thought about why actors --and by actors I mean working, struggling actors like myself, not Big Time Celebrities like I was 15 years ago-- suffer the indignities of auditions and the whims of Hollywood.

I remembered something I said to a group of Drama students just before their graduation: "If you want to be a professional actor, you have to love the acting, the performing, the thrill of creating a character and giving it life. You have to love all of that more than you hate how unfair the industry is, more than the constant rejection --and it is constant-- hurts. You must have a passion within you that makes it worthwhile to struggle for years while pretty boys and pretty girls take your parts away from you again and again and again."

I listened to my words, echoing off the linoleum floor of that High School auditorium, and realized that those words, spoken long ago were as much for me as they were for them.

I listened to my words and I realized: I don't have that passion any more. I simply isn't there.

I am no longer willing to miss a family vacation, or a birthday, or a recital, for an audition.

I am no longer willing to humiliate myself for some casting director who refuses to accept the fact that I'm pretty good with comedy.

I am no longer willing to ignore what I'm best at, and what I love the most, because I've spent the bulk of my life trying to succeed at something else.

So I walked back to my house, picked up the phone, and accepted the offer.

It was tumultuous, scary, exhilarating, depressing, thrilling, joyful.

I would spend the next three weeks wondering if I'd made the right decision. I would question and doubt it over and over again.

Was it the right decision? I don't know.

Things have certainly changed for me, though. I have had 3 auditions since May. A year ago that would have killed me, but I'm really not bothered by it now.

I've made my family my top priority, and decided to focus on what I love: downloading porn.

Just kidding.

I've decided to focus on what I really love, what is fulfilling, maybe even what I am meant to do, in the great cosmic sense: I am writing.

I write every day, and I see the faint outlines of something really cool. I occasionally catch glimpses of an ability, unrefined, long-ignored, coming to life.

Sometimes we know in our bones what we really need to do, but we're afraid to do it.

Taking a chance, and stepping beyond the safety of the world we've always known is the only way to grow, though, and without risk there is no reward.

Risk was always one of my favorite games.

Tomorrow: Why Creation Cut Me From The 15th Anniversary of TNG Convention, and Why It's a Good Thing.

This entry is from the blog department. Posted by wil at 09:19 AM
August 28, 2002
I see another hurdle approaching

Yesterday, I wrote about the scary nature of facing the world outside of what I guess we'll call "your safety bubble."

At least that's what I was trying to write about. YMMV.

I also promised to talk about why Creation cut me from their 15th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation convention, and why I think it's a good thing.

To understand the events leading up to the cut, it's important to understand the realities of the Star Trek Convention (and all SF conventions, really): There was a time, long ago, when these cons existed by and for fans. They were places where fans could get together, safely dress up in costumes, debate the minutae of scripts, and generally geek out amongst friends without fear of The Jocks showing up.

Some folks realized that they could turn this phenomenon into a working business, and for better or worse, Creation was born.

For years, I had a great relationship with Creation. When I was a kid, I attended the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors shows at the Ambassador hotel. When I was on TNG, I appeared as a speaker at countless Creation conventions.

Then I had a not-so-great relationship with them for awhile. I felt that they had become the 800 pound gorilla in the convention world. They were the only kid on the block who had that cool football that all the other kids wanted to play with, and without any real competition, they charged too much, and I felt that the fans were increasingly getting the shaft.

Not the cool Richard Roundtree Shaft, either, so you can just shut your mouth right now.

In retrospect, there were many factors contributing to what I would describe as the decline and fall of the convention experience, and I think the guests need to be at the top of that list.

I never made very large speaking fees, even when I was A Big Deal™, but there were plenty of actors who did. It didn’t bother me too much at the time, because I felt that the fans were mostly showing up to see these headlining actors, and that meant Creation would earn a lot of money.

I always felt that the actors should share in that profit, until I became aware of the escalating costs to the fans, and the declining quality of the convention experience.

It was like I’d stepped out of the Ivory Tower for the first time, and I’d seen the suffering in the streets. I didn’t want any part of that world, and I didn’t want to do any more conventions. However, I was heavily pressured by my agents and publicists, so I continued to go.

I felt obligated, and I hated it.

I withdrew when I was onstage, I didn't give it my all, and I even stopped signing autographs in person. I guess I was 16 or 17 at the time. What I really wanted to be doing was playing GURPS and goofing off on this new computer network called GEnie where I could talk to people all across the country in real time!

After a few shows in this frame of mind, I quit entirely. I only did one convention that I can recall, when I was about 20, in Kansas City. It was horrible. There were about 50 people there, all crammed into the back of this auditorium because they didn’t want to pay for the “VIP” seats, so I was left talking to 50 people in a room intended for about 700, across 30 or so empty rows of seats.

I’m amazed that I didn’t climb to the balcony and jump off right then and there.
It was really hitting “Star Trek Bottom” for me, and I swore that I’d never do another convention again.

The convention world went on without me. My fellow cast members continued to regularly attend shows all over the world. I did one or two, including one in England, mostly because I love England and it was an opportunity to get over there on someone else’s dime. But in my heart, and in my ever-blackening soul, I hated it. So the cons were few and very, very far between, until I gradually stopped entirely.

Years passed, and I grew up. Like a battered wife, I began to forget the bad things and only remember how exciting it was to see OJ run for 500 yards in a game, how he would smile at me from the end zone, how sharp he looked in those Bruno Magli shoes.

I agreed to attend a convention in Pasadena, where I did the interviews that are in “Trekkies.” I don’t remember much beyond feeling like a complete loser for even being there, and embarrassed that my girlfriend, who eventually became my wife, was seeing me like this.

The world turned, and I eventually saw “Galaxy Quest.”

Seeing that movie reminded me about all the nice dinners I’d had with The Juice, how he always felt bad after he’d hit me, the fun trips we’d taken together, and how nicely tailored his gloves were.

I made a call to Adam Malin at Creation. I told him that I’d seen “Galaxy Quest,” and that it reminded me how fun Conventions could be. This was an entirely true statement. I told him that I’d be interested in doing some shows, if he’d have me. We had a very nice chat, and he invited me in for a meeting.

I went and saw him the following week, and we talked about what I was doing now, and how the convention world had changed. It was strange for me to be sitting in his corner office, on the top floor of a building in Glendale, looking out at the mountains where I used to live, telling him how grateful I was for the opportunity to talk with him about shows.

We agreed that I’d do some for him, and they’d be in touch.

What I didn’t tell him was that I hadn’t worked on anything meaningful in years, and I was really struggling as an actor. Anne and I had just gotten married, and we were under a mountain of debt.

I walked to my car, feeling dirty.

A month went by without any phone calls, and I thought that I’d been involved in yet another meaningless meeting featuring yet another string of empty promises. I began to feel depressed.

While I waited for the call to come, I spoke with Dave Scott, who owns a company called Slanted Fedora Entertainment. Dave had been doing lots of conventions, and had a good reputation amongst the fans, and more importantly, amongst my Star Trek actor friends. I told Dave that I hadn’t done a convention in a long time, and I was wondering if he would be interested in having me do one of his shows. He seemed interested, and said he’d get back to me.

Again, months passed. I did a few shitty, embarrassing, forgettable movies and I began to wonder if maybe it was time to get into some other line of work.

Something that involved exotic language like “Soup du jour.”

Before I could begin learning the art of up-selling wine, however, Dave called, and invited me to a convention in Waterbury, Connecticut, in March of 2001. In addition to me, Brent Spiner, Gates McFadden, and Denise Crosby would be attending. I was ecstatic. We agreed on a speaker’s fee, and I went to the show.

As an example of how long I’d been removed from Trek, I offer the following scene:

At the airport, I see Brent and Gates, standing by the gate, waiting to board our plane.

My heart leaps, and I walk towards them, beaming, with open arms.

They both looked up at me, like I am Hannibal Lechter, and begin to retreat.

They don’t recognize me, at all, until I tell them who I am.

Yeah, I’d been out of the game for awhile.

We did the convention, and it was really great. I had a wonderful time, and I thought that everyone there enjoyed my talk. I didn’t realize just how much they enjoyed it, until I read this review, though.

A few months after I got home, the call from Creation came. I was invited, not as a speaker, but as an autograph-signer, to the upcoming Grand Slam Convention in Pasadena.

Not as a speaker, like the rest of the cast, but as an autograph-signer, like that guy who played Transporter Chief #7 in episode 34.

This was a serious blow to my ego, especially after the success of the Slanted Fedora show, but I had swallowed my pride before, doing what I had to do in order to support my family.

Each time I’d done it, it had paid off in ways I didn’t expect: when I went to ComicCon in 1999, I met Ben, who introduced me to loren, without whom there would be no WWDN.

I can’t imagine where I’d be right now without WWDN.

I’d also gone to the Hollywood Collector’s Show, which is often referred to as “The Hollywood Has-beens Show,” where I realized that, no matter what anyone said, I really wasn’t a has-been. I was just a guy who was really struggling, having had too much success too young.

Hey, at least I wasn’t one of the Coreys, right? Yeah, that's what I'd try to tell myself.

However, at each of these events, as frustrated as I was, as much as it wounded my pride and bruised my ego, I knew that it was a much better alternative to, “Would you like to me to check your oil, sir?” I knew that I was very lucky, and I was grateful, if ashamed, for the opportunity to support my family.

So I accepted the offer to be a signer, rather than a speaker. I didn’t get a speaking fee. I got what I could by charging a fee to sign pictures, posters, trading cards…sadly, no boobies.

Although, at one point during the day, a very pretty girl came over to me, and I am not afraid to tell you, she was seriously putting the vibe onto your Uncle Willie. I mean, she was vibing me hard. She walks up to me, hips swinging, lips pouting, eyes leering, and says, “Do you have a girlfriend?”

“No,” I tell her…expecting a replay of the hooters incident, “I have a wife!”

BOOYAH BABY! I await her chastened response.

“Oh,” she says, coyly, putting a finger in the corner of her mouth, and drawing her tongue seductively across the tip. “That’s too bad.”

And she walks away, hips swinging.

Swinging, man. The room falls silent as she walks out. A guy in a Red Dwarf T-shirt drops a box of unopened Magic cards.

I picked my jaw up off the floor.

Shortly after this convention, I was looking for posts about the con on UseNet, and I saw that some dude had taken a picture of this girl, who was like a piece of steak in a piranha tank around all of us geeks.

The message said something like, “Look at this hot girl who was at the Star Trek Convention!”

There was a reply, which said something like, “Look! Here’s another picture of her!” It was that same girl, alright, but she sure wasn't wearing the same Charlie's Angels T-shirt that she was wearing at the con...matter of fact, she wasn't wearing anything at all.

That’s right, the full-on porn model totally hit on me, right there in front of everyone. Not that I would have hit it, being married and all that, but it sure did make my inner geek happy.

That convention ended up being really great. I was able to promote my ACME show, and climb a little bit further out of debt. I did end up giving about a 20 minute talk in a very small room, which was intended to hold about a hundred people, but was packed to standing with about 150 or so. The talk went fabulously well, and Adam Malin sought me out himself to tell me that he was sorry for not putting me up on stage in The Big Room. He said that he didn’t know how much the fans liked me, or how good I was on stage. He promised to have me speak at the Grand Slam Show in 2002.

At that show, I saw Dave Scott, and he invited me to the Vegas convention that is chronicled in the as-yet-incomplete Saga of SpongeBobVegasPants.

I was back in the game, baby, and I was loving it. Cons were fun again. I’d been on the other side of the table, standing shoulder to shoulder with the fans, for a few years. I’d grown up. I’d spent time on stage in sketch comedy shows and improv shows. I understood what audiences wanted, and I was learning how to connect with the Trekkies, how to identify with them. I felt like I was able to make up, in some small way, for the years I’d spent being an ass, and I really liked it.

Then came 9/11. Then my Great Aunt died. Then the economy fell apart.

I had to cancel some cons, because of work and family commitments, and cons had to be cancelled because there simply weren’t enough people willing to buy tickets.

The promised invite to Grand Slam 2002 never materialized, but I did attend again as an autograph-signer, this time without any damage to the ego. I saw it as an opportunity to promote the WWDN, and get closer to that magic Zero on the Home Equity Balance Sheet. I did speak in that same little theatre, this time to about 14 people, because I was programmed opposite Ricardo Montalban, who was occupying The Big Stage.

The only cons I was able to attend were the Galaxy Ball, chronicled here, and the CruiseTrek trip to Alaska, which is in the as yet unwritten “Untitled CruiseTrek Project,” which is coming soon, I promise.

I was also invited to attend the Creation Celebration of 15 Years of Next Generation, and a Slanted Fedora convention in Las Vegas in early September.

Why do I do cons? There are several reasons. It’s a good way to support my family, first and foremost. It would be disingenuous to say otherwise. I also enjoy the attention. It’s nice to tell my stupid stories, and make my stupid jokes for an audience that wants to like me. But the reason that I’ve become aware of since that Waterbury show, the thing that I’ve really gotten in touch with, is the tremendous satisfaction I derive from giving something back to the fans.

Look, the way I see it, I'm getting paid a speaker's fee for these shows, and that fee is coming out of the fan's pockets, so I owe the fans a memorable experience. I work my ass off at these shows, because it is my responsibility to ensure that they get their money's worth. If someone wants to ask me a question I’ve been asked a hundred times, I’m glad to answer it, because it means I won’t have be answering a question that I’ve been asked a thousand times…but seriously, folks, try the fish.

Wait. If someone wants to ask me a question I’ve been asked a hundred times before, I’m going to listen, and answer it like it’s the first time I’ve ever been asked. I’m going to do everything that I can to let the people who are there know that I value their time, and their appreciation of what we do. I’m going to really make sure that people feel that it was worth it to come to the damn convention. I’m going to give something back to the fans, however small.

One of the things I've been doing, to make conventions memorable for the fans, is performing with my sketch comedy group. We do a show that is geared for a smart, sci-fi-oriented audience, and each time we do it, the fans go nuts.

When Creation asked me if I would attend the 15th Anniversary Celebration show, they also asked if I would bring my sketch comedy group to perform a show. They told me that they’d heard from people who saw it in Las Vegas, or on CruiseTrek, that it was great, and would I consider doing a show?

I told them I’d love to do that, and they asked me about fees. I did some math in my head, figured out what it would cost for my group, reduced my personal speaking fee (bad economy, people losing jobs and 401(k)’s and all that) and gave them a figure. They said it sounded good, and they’d be in touch.

They called back in early August, with a very different number. A low number. An insultingly low number.

I asked why the number was so low. I put my fees into perspective, alongside the fees commanded by some of the other Trek actors.

The terse answer came very quickly: “Well, we just don’t think of you as a very big part of the Trek family.”

Ouch.

They had a point, I guess. TNG ran for seven seasons. I did four as a regular and a few episodes in the fifth year. There have been five TNG movies, and was almost in one of them.

Yeah, I guess I wasn’t as big a part of the Trek family, from their point of view.

But I was an original cast member on TNG. This was a “Celebration of 15 years of TNG” convention. They’d just made several million dollars at a show in Las Vegas. Surely they could come up a bit, negotiate a little.

Not a chance. Take it or leave it, Wheaton.

I considered their offer, and did some math. I thought about what it would cost for my comedy group. There are eleven of us, and putting together a show is expensive. The people in my group are all professional writers and actors, and I have to pay them for their time. We have to pay for rehearsal space, costumes and programs. I did the math, and when it was all done, if I paid my comedy group what they deserve, I would earn a few hundred dollars. I was unwilling to make them work for less than they deserve. I told this to Creation.
They’d just made several million dollars at a show in Las Vegas. Surely they could negotiate a little.

I offered to do the show for the fee they were offering, but I wouldn’t be able to provide the comedy group. In place of the comedy group, I’d bring some selections from my website: The Trade, The Wesley Dialogues, Spare Us The Cutter, and I’d read them on stage. It would fill the hour, and it would give something really cool and unique to the fans. I read some things on CruiseTrek, and they loved it.

No dice, Wheaton. The offer is for your group. Not for you alone. Take it or leave it. You’re not part of the family.

This put me in a very tough position. I wanted to be part of this show. I wanted to see the cast again. The fans, I thought, would really enjoy seeing me. The fans, I told them, have been reading my website in huge numbers. The fans, I told them, and I have really made a connection in the last year. I think it’s going to suck if I’m not there. They’d just made several million dollars at a show in Las Vegas. Surely they could reconsider.

We’ve made our position clear, Wheaton. You’re wasting our time. Take it, or leave it.

Well, I had to leave it. I think that there is a certain value attached to having me at a convention, especially one which purports to celebrate 15 years of The Next Generation, and while I was willing to adjust that value greatly, They’d just made several million dollars at a show in Las Vegas, and I wasn’t about to undervalue myself.

It sucks, I think, that I won’t be there.

It sucks for me, and I think it sucks for the fans.

Sure, there are fans that will be as angry at me as I am at baseball players right now, and I can’t fault them for that.

But I hope that there are fans who understand why I had to make the decision I made. They’d just made several million dollars at a show in Las Vegas. I tried to negotiate with them, but they had decided that I wasn’t a member of the Trek family, and it is their business. I respect that, though I may disagree with it.

When I hung up the phone with them, I felt awful.

I walked Ferris, which I often do when I'm upset, or stuck, or need to gain some perspective on things.

During that walk, I realized that in the long run this will be a good thing.

Yesterday, I wrote about the scary nature of facing the world outside of what I guess we'll call "your safety bubble."

Star Trek has always been my safety bubble, and getting cut from this convention, along with getting cut from the movie, has pretty much burst that bubble.

As that bubble collapses and pools around me, I step out of its false sense of security.

I take another step into a brave new world, conquering myself until I see another hurdle approaching.

This entry is from the blog department. Posted by wil at 04:01 PM
August 31, 2002
Schism

"Individually we can get angry. Together we can, and will, make a diference."

I wrote those words recently, hoping to rally and inspire people to action.

I was talking about the rapid erosion of our free speech and parody rights on the internet, but that phrase applies to any movement, really.

One voice is easily ignored or silenced, but when other people add their voices to yours, you become a chorus not easily ignored.

It turns out that a lot of people got angry that I wouldn't be attending the 15th anniversary of TNG celebration next month. It turns out that those voices joined together in emails, phone calls, internet postings and FAXes. It turns out that those voices became a chorus not easily ignored.

Thursday afternoon, I had a message on my machine from Adam Malin, president of Creation. He told me that he'd been "flooded" with emails, phone calls and FAXes. He said he'd read the internet postings, and he wanted to talk with me. He told me that he felt terrible, sick, and was very upset that I felt the way that I did. He was apologetic, and hoped I'd call him back so we could speak directly and if nothing else, clear the air.

When I set the phone down in it's cradle, I was surprised to feel my hands shaking.

I was, quite honestly, stunned. Shocked. A phone call from a lawyer I would have expected. An angry phone call, maybe, given the rage people were expressing on message boards at my own site and elsewhere. But a personal, cordial, apologetic call? I just didn't think it would happen.

I didn't have a chance to call him back until yesterday, during my lunch hour at work. See, we've been busting our asses at Arena to pull together this HALO National Championship event, and yesterday was the culmination of weeks of 12 hour days, of hundreds if not thousands of individual hours of work.

So lunch comes, and I phoned him.

I apologized for not calling him back right away. I explain to him that we're working on this special, and it's maxed out my internal CPU.

Before I can say anything, he apologizes again for not talking to me directly, and letting his underlings deal with me instead.

He tells me that he has never thought of me as "not part of the family."

I tell him that I have been given the impression from everyone at Creation, even the people with whom I am friends, that there are "levels," and it (rightly) goes: Captains, Data, everyone else...then there was me.

I tell him that I've felt marginalized, and treated like my contributions to Trek weren't important to him, Creation, the fans, or Paramount.

He apologizes again, tells me again that he doesn't feel that way. Tells me that he wanted to make it right. He wants to have me at that convention.

I am stricken by how genuine he seems. I am beginning to feel badly for not going over the heads of his employees and speaking directly to him, myself.

I also notice something that is a new feeling to me, as far as Star Trek goes: I'm being treated like an adult. Treated with respect, spoken to fotrhrightly and candidly.

This may seem like an overstatement of the glaringly obvious, but even though I am thirty years old, I still feel like I'm "the kid" where Trek is concerned. Not feeling that way is something new to me, and I'm not sure how to deal with it.

Adam tells me that he has heard great things about my sketch group. He's heard that they are fabulous, and the fans really love the show we do. He tells me that he wants to hire them for the show, wants me to speak at the show, and he really wants to make it work out.

I tell him that there wasn't time to get the group together now, and produce a quality show. He is really upset about that. He asks me if I'd be willing to get my group together for Grand Slam 2003.

I notice that we're having a cordial, comfortable conversation. It's like we've both been stung. Me by the posture taken during the previous negotiation, and him by the vitriolic rebuke from the fans. He seems to genuinely feel badly that my feelings were so hurt, and I get the palpable impression that he wants to make things right.

He asked me again if I'd be willing to do the show for a very reasonable fee, just a little bit below what I was asking for before negotiations broke down last month.

I am immdediately torn.

I think about this thing that someone said in the comments yesterday: "If you turn your back on Trek one more time, I'm buying you a revolving door."

I think hard about that. It burns inside me.

I dont know what to do.

On the one hand, I want Trek behind me.

On the other hand, it will never be behind me no matter what, because, let's face it: Trek was and is HUGE. Bigger than me. Bigger than I will ever be in my (stalled and slowing) acting career.

After I'd gotten the first phone call from Adam, I talked it over with Travis (from Arena) who is a very good friend of mine. Knows me very, very well.

Told him I'm having mixed feelings about it. I can think of reasons to do the show, and reasons to not do the show.

He asked me why I didn't want to do it.

I gave him some reasons, pro and con.

He asked me if I was happy writing.

I told him I was.

He asked me if I liked being on stage.

I told him that I did.

He asked me why I could possibly not want to be onstage in front of people who want to like me, and read my work to the same. He reminded me of the sketch shows we've done together at conventions, and how we have always felt great afterwards.

He asks me again why I can't embrace Star Trek as something wonderful that I was part of, and at the same time continue to move forward as an actor and writer.

I couldn't answer him.

Pride? Fear?

I don't fucking know.

The people on the 'net have rallied around me about this. The fans have raged at Creation, and Creation listened.

But there's that revolving door. I'm stuck in it, big time.

I think of this email I got where a guy said he felt like I was trying to convince myself that it is okay to be booted from Star Trek things. He's right.

I think of a comment where a guy criticizes me for being so angst-ridden about Star Trek, accuses me of being full of shit, says he can see right through me.

He has a point too. I meant what I said about being cut from the film. But having the safety bubble burst? Well, I'm still standing in it's remains, hoping I can find a way to refill it, just in case. Setting Wesley free, embracing a sense of freedom? I meant that, as well.

I feel like I have grown older, and changed. But I feel unfulfilled, unsure, and I know that the last few months of entries here have focused on that. Maybe I'm giving way too much weight to the comment of one random person who didn't even have the courage to put an email address with the anonymous comment. For all I know I could be biting on the biggest troll ever.

But there is truth to what that anonymous poster said. I'm torn. I am caught in a revolving door, and I don't know what will happen, and I am filled with angst, and that feeling is burning inside of me, keeping me awake at night, distracting me every minute of every day. It's burning in me so fiercely, so hot and insistent, that I have lost perspective. I can't make objective decisions and weigh the pros and cons effectively.

So I seek counsel from some very good friends of mine. Some people who I really trust and respect. I write to them what I've written above, with the following pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Fans will be ecstatic that Creation listened, that they fought for me and won.
  • Fans will be happy to see me in person.
  • I'll earn money for my family and be able to perform what I love to do for an audience who *FINALLY* wants to like me.
Cons:
  • That revolving door feeling, and the fear of a massive backlash from...well, I'm not sure who, but backlash nevertheless.


It seems pretty slam-dunk, right? I should do the show and feel great about it. But it's not that easy for me. I am extremely conflicted, until I get the following responses:

"This could not be easier, but that's really because I'm not you.

You don't have a choice, man. When you just had a few little tiny hairs, something in you nailed that part of the "kid that was to be forever hated"(tm).

I honestly believe that you were hated because everyone wanted to be like you and because you were a fucking kid in an adult world and there was a new crowd suddenly attracted--nevermind that we've got the black guy with the hairclip on his eyes and a Klingon on the ship...not to mention that fucking hot Martina bitch.

No, you were the biggest oddball, and you didn't have a clue what was happening to you, no matter how fucking smart you were--and Wil, you're no dumb guy.

Hell, you know I know that you're a million times harder on yourself than anyone else could be in a single day.

You've managed to take all the asshole things you did when you were younger and attempt to make right on them.

Again, if you're at all like me, you probably get irate if you catch yourself littering because of the Karma Train that'll come back to hit you if you cause some old guy somewhere some extra effort to clean up your mess, even if it's his job.

Damn, man. I know what you're doing...I do it, too.

So, you think you'd be compromising or something if you went and changed your mind and went back to the show.

I don't. You're going to enjoy it. People like you.

You looked in the face of a thousand-million internetters and said, "Hey, I'm a fucking human like you, I've been a dick, it's not right, this is what I did and this is what I think now. Sorry; won't happen again."

People like you, man. In fact, you're probably not even capitalizing off of all the Internet Momentum(tm) you've gained in the past year. Shit, Wil, people all over the place NOW LIKE YOU. Let's face it, you've only gotten limited access to those auditions, but how many magazines, newspapers, tv shows, etc. have you been on because you're a fucking computer geek-boy now?
You want my point-blank, in-your-fucking-face opinion right now?

Too bad, I'm giving it to you anyway.

For starters, go there.

Go there in a big fucking "in your face, but I'm still just lil ol' Wil" way. Have the fucking time of your life--do it FOR YOU for the fans, not for the fans. These people want to see you--and even if they say something negative, just laugh it off like water on a duck and say, "Cool, but you know, you really don't know me" and know that you've won in that statement alone.

Then, Mr. Man, I think you need to start doing something to have the voices of these hundreds of thousands of souls who, together, are not only fucking bright when they're not trolling, but who are also strong-minded and very likely to do something about making you an actor.

???

Yeah. You've got a fucking posse, man.

Truer words could not be said. Now, what does it fucking take to get all of these people together to say in a single voice, "We Want Wil" and have them get you back on screen?

I don't have the answer there, but I guarantee you that I'm going to be the first person to try and figure it out...people want to see you. People are rooting for you all over the place and you don't even know it because you've let yourself become accustomed to not being quite so famous.

But, dammit, man, you're the movie-star guy that's "just like me...holy shit!" and you're an underdog. You're the guy that people want to see get some momentum behind and get to the top--and then remember each and every one of them on the way up and once you get there, because, no one does that. Everyone forgets that one little geek that didn't have to show up at the con and ask for your autograph...who made it there for you and saved money to go.

If you forget him, he'll take you down as quickly as he put you up there, and you know that very well, my friend. They taught you that already.

You're a blessed man. Don't forget that. I'll never be on a G4 network or on a game show, and that's cool, but believe me, I'd want to do it in a heartbeat. You, on the other hand, can do it with your eyes closed--and that's true. G4 is your stepping stone, in case you hadn't noticed that just yet.

Let me wrap up with something that Michael Jordan once said: "Every night when I go out on the court, I think about that father and son out there who are seeing me play basketball--and that's the only reason they're here. This might just be their only chance. Sometimes, I even wish I could trade places with them because of the great feeling--the great moment this is for them. Every night when I go out on the court, I play my best...for them."

So, get your black-ass out on the court. Hit the fucking circuits and get busy busy busy, man. No fucking infomercial is going to be your death, so get that fucking preconceived notion out of your head and put the rubber to the road.

Dunno; maybe you'll be pissed at some of this, but the truth is, I don't care about that. I care about the fact that you SEEM to be letting some of your potential wash-away from you, and you're too good for that.

Look, I don't know all that goes on, so that obviously makes me very uninformed, but if this is my opinion of you, then imagine what other people must feel if they're your fans? You've become an icon all over again, believe it or not."


Another friend said:

"I just talked to [his wife, who is very wise] about it, who had this to say:

First off, she thinks you should do it (for reasons I'll get into in a second).

But the big thing (again, still her talking) is that you should do this for you.

Whatever you decide, right now, it's gotta be for you, and not because X amount of people will judge you for doing it or not doing it.

If you feel it's right for you, and will benefit your family, and your writing, and gain some recognition for you, AND you'll get to see some old Trek buddies again, and that's what you want, then you gotta do that thing.

But don't do it if you now feel pressured by the fans to do it.

And don't NOT do it because you're afraid of what the fans will think.

Whatever you do, do it because you, you personally need to.

Okay, here's where I start talking.

To put this in some perspective, I remember a time when Shatner wouldn't do the con thing. There was a period between the cancellation of the series and the first movie where he wouldn't even mention Star Trek in interviews (which was actually kind of surreal).

That said, he came back, did the movies and lives very well off of them and off of the additional fame from a new audience not as familiar with the series.

Because I think there comes a point where you have to acknowledge that This Thing You Did Back When is a part of you that's always going to be there. It's like Sue Olson (the actress who played Cindy Brady) once said--you have to accept that people will always think of you as that character, because only then can you really move on.

Once you accept that, the audience accepts you...and paradoxically, on your own terms.

See, this whole "Turn Your Back On Trek" thing, if you let thatget to you...how do I put this?

If you don't do it because you have to Turn Your Back On Trek, well, then you're not really turning your back on Trek--you're still letting the Trek thing dictate what you do.

And, while we're putting our cards on the table, here, I think that you shouldn't look at not turning your back on Trek and finding your own voice as being mutually exclusive. As a former convention-goer, the Trek (or otherwise) speakers who I thought were the coolest were the ones who accepted that Trek was the reason they were there and why we were there, as opposed to the guys who seemed weirded out or perplexed that anyone gave a shit.

Not that you'd be that way--I'm talking about an initial attitude going in, not the handling of the experience from that point on.

As far as you feeling that you're renegging on what you said in your post...and here's some perspective:

The situation is different now.

It's not that they called you, snubbed you, and you're going back anyway to eat shit for the peanuts.

It's that they contacted you, snubbed you initially, then realized they misjudged your appeal (and ability to bring in a LOT of new people) and finally were willing to meet you on terms you could accept.

I'm not gonna lie and say that some people won't be assholes and call sour grapes on you for "singing a different tune."

Expect it. I know you are.

You've been down this path before. We all know you have.

I mean, it's great publicity for the website, and for Arena, and for you. You will have an ability to connect with the fans again--but this time it'll be a little different, because you're probably going to see more people you know you from the site--and Malin knows that."


Mixed in with all of this, I got an email from a really nice woman who organized fans to share their outrage about this. Creation reverses themselves ... PLEASE do go, otherwise IMO Creation will win, as they can say you turned THEM down after they met your (original) terms or soemthing like that. Then promote the hell out of the convention on your website. Perhaps if Creation and the others see how powerful you and your website is, they just MIGHT sit up and take notice, and I'm not just talking about conventions here, but perhaps it might help you in other ways (as yet unseen) as well.

I'm calling for a campaign here to do right by you ... 'cause I think it stinks. NO one messes with the Wil Wheaton, or they'll find that they have the 'Possee' as you call us, to contend with, and I suspect we are a much MORE powerful together, than Creation realizes.

I'm doing this for you, cause I think you are a neat guy ... but also mostly because, remember, I've been a Trekkie longer than you've been around (before you were born), and this is now really got me STEAMED how on their High Horse that Creation has gotten of late."


So. I think long and hard about these things, and still I feel heavily conflicted.

I revisit those pros and cons, and think to myself:

I'd love to have a chance to read some of my stuff for an audience who would really "get" it.

I'd love to go in front of fans who, for the first time EVER **LIKE** me.

But that revolving door is spinning, and I don't know how I can face the people who said "Good for you! Leave Star Trek behind you forver!"

Well, right now, the absolute truth is, as my friend said:

"Because I think there comes a point where you have to acknowledge that This Thing You Did Back When is a part of you that's always going to be there. It's like Sue Olson (the actress who played Cindy Brady) once said--you have to accept that people will always think of you as that character, because only then can you really move on. "

That's the freedom I was referring to in the last part of The Wesley Dialogues.

"If you don't do it because you have to Turn Your Back On Trek, well, then you're not really turning your back on Trek--you're still letting the Trek thing dictate what you do... you shouldn't look at not turning your back on Trek and finding your own voice as being mutually exclusive."

Well, I'm going to wrestle with that last one for awhile, I think, and WWDN readers can expect more angst in the months to come. Sorry, it's just part of the process. There are hundreds of great weblogs to read, and lots of pretty trees to look at outside if you'd rather not read that stuff here.

Well, this is 9 pages now, so I think it's time to get back to the point:

Adam and I talk.

It is a good, long, honest, respectful talk.

We clear the air.

He tells me that his profit margin on the Vegas show was not several million dollars. He tells me that it was very, very slim, relative to his investment, which was nearly half a million dollars.

He tells me that he didn't want me at the Grand Slam on stage because he wanted to hold off until the 15th show. He thought it would be cooler if he waited to have me come on then.

He tells me that he had no idea about my website, or about how the fans felt about me now.

He asks me if I'd reconsider.

I reconsider. I replay all those emails in my head, I balance the pros and cons, and I say to him,

"Adam. I am really conflicted about this. I feel like each time I do a Star Trek event, it's...well, it's not necessarily a step backwards, but it certainly isn't a step forwards, but I feel like I should listen to the voice of the fans. We should all listen to the voice of the fans, because that voice has been increasingly silenced over the last decade.

I love to perform, and I would like to give something back to the fans. I would love to attend the event, and be part of the celebration, but I'd also like to share some of my writing with the fans. Would you be able to put me in an evening spot, so I can read somet things that I've written?"

"Is it funny?" He asks me.

"It's funny, it's sad, it's bittersweet...it's really a reflection of the person I am, and people seem to respond to it."

"Can I book your comedy group for Grand Slam in 2003?"

"Yes. I'd love to bring my guys out. We love to perform."

We talk about fees, and we agree on a very fair fee, which is right on par with the rest of the actors.

I will do a question and answer session at the convention, and I will bring selections of my writing, and read them for the audience during and evening program.

I ask him for one more thing. I tell him that I have more in common with the fans now than I do with the actors, and I keep hearing how the fans are getting the in-person-autograph shaft these days.

I want him to put my autograph table in an area where I can sit for a few hours, so all the fans can get their stuff signed, so I can talk with people who are so inclined.

He tells me that he'd really like that. Many actors just won't do that, and he thinks it would be great.

I feel very good about this conversation, and I feel very excited to be part of this celebration.

Resolution? It's a long ways off. That's why they call it "angst."

But there is something wonderful buried in all of this:

I doubt I would have gotten this phone call if there hadn't been such a loud and immediate response from the fans.

You spoke up on my, and your, behalf, and your voice was heard.

Think about that for a moment.

Your voice was heard. You made a difference. Creation is the 800 pound gorilla of conventions. They don't have to listen to anyone.

But they listened to you. They listened to us.

That, my friends, is huge, and everyone who is reading this gets to own part of that.

I strongly suggest that you take a moment, and phone, write, FAX, or email Adam or Gary or whomever at Creation, and thank them for hearing your voices.

And if you come to the 15th show, please, please, please seek me out and introduce yourself. I'd like to know you.

This entry is from the blog department. Posted by wil at 12:26 PM

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