As many of our readers will know, Bill Shatner has been all over the media lately promoting his new sitcom $h*! My Day Says. Among the more interesting pieces on the actor is a New York Times piece entitled "The Many Iterations of William Shatner" as well as the answering of 10 fan submitted questions for Time magazine. And then there is a recent Vanity Fair piece entitled "William Shatner and Betty White Are Making a Sex Tape for A.A.R.P." The article, which includes an interview with Bill Shatner, ends with the following exchange:
Q: O.K., one more question. You wear a toupee. We all know it, it’s obvious, but you won’t admit it. How long are you going to hold on to this ruse? Is it a mystery you’ll be taking to your grave?
A: Probably. But if it’s any consolation, that’s not very long from now.
We've long been pressing for interviewers to probe the toupee issue in more detail - but not like this! The entire interview feels awkward, with interviewer Eric Spitznagel seemingly doing more to put himself center-stage than actually seeking to elicit a decent interview from his subject. The toupee question (at the very end) feels like a dare was made with a friend - will he or won't he ask?- rather than a genuine attempt seeking to broach such an incredibly important issue.
We have also often suggested that there are numerous signs that Bill Shatner is actually now willing to talk toup: from ending his autobiography with the question "Do I wear a toupee?" to all kinds of hints about the issue. And by hosting interview shows such as Shatner's Raw Nerve and Aftermath, it's entirely possible that Bill Shatner is again signaling how such a potentially uncomfortable subject as his toupee could be delicately addressed - if the interview is conducted properly: "Ask me about my toupee the way that I ask my guests about their complex issues," he seems to be saying.
So it's a shame that despite these subtle signs, the toupee subject has essentially been left to the realms of the gimmick-provocateur interviewer rather than the true professionals, resulting in uncomfortable exchanges like the one above (or this).
Bill Shatner, discussing Raw Nerve, once told The Winnipeg Free Press:
"My impulse was...that [my interviewees] would feel confident enough to reveal themselves a little bit more than they have in the past. And I felt that I could effect that because I was speaking to them on their own grounds....I had no agenda, I wished not to hurt them, I didn't want to do any tabloid stuff. I very specifically kept away from tabloid matters and talked about things of the heart."
The legendary 1977 Frost/Nixon interviews lasted for 12 days.
The toupee is not a tabloid matter and should not be treated as such. For more than fifty years, Bill Shatner's heart (and mainly his head) have drawn upon the powers of the piece. It's a remarkable, moving and ultimately life-affirming story (the joy of the "Jim Kirk lace", the sweaty despair of the "Lost Years" toups, battling middle age with the "TJ Curly" and finally settling down and finding greater self-ease with the "Denny whatever-it-is"); whoever succeeds in gently coaxing this story from Bill Shatner will quite possibly have - in the words of Perry White from the 1978 movie Superman - "The greatest interview since...God talked to Moses!"