The William Shatner Fan Fellowship Weekend

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Star Trek Convention
Name: The William Shatner Fan Fellowship Weekend
Dates: July 10-12, 1981, and again in 1983, perhaps 1986
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Type: fan club, for profit
Focus: William Shatner
Founder: sponsored by William Shatner Fan Fellowship, an official fan club, Sonni Cooper
Founding Date:
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The William Shatner Fan Fellowship Weekend (WISH Weekend) was a con sponsored by William Shatner Fan Fellowship and Sonni Cooper.

photos, printed in The Center Seat v.2. n.3

After the club folded, this weekend was continued by The William Shatner Connection. See Shatnered Weekend.

Con Reports: 1981

To all the folks who thought we were wasting our money "just to see him across the room briefly at the banquet," you missed a fine party in the Shatner Fan Fellowship Weekend. Aside from the banquet, Bill spent more than an hour Saturday talking, answering questions, autographing, and more than two hours Sunday afternoon. He was accessible, open and candid in his answers, witty as usual (you should hear him try to explain why he agreed to do the film BIG BAD MAMA), and above all, gracious in fielding what seemed to me to be somewhat personal probing.

After registration Friday, there were Trek episodes (some dubbed in Japanese!), Trek animateds. Bill's old tv shows and films (yes, BIG BAD MAMA, too) to be seen in the video room, and 125 nice folks to meet and socialize with. Saturday we saw THE INTRUDER, then heard its producer Roger Corman speak about the production, direction and talent of its star. Bill's first appearance followed, and after lunch, we met and talked to Harve Bennett, new Trek exec producer—and freely gave him the benefit of our opinions on how it all should be done. "Squire of Gothos" William Campbell then spoke and showed a promotional film for The Motion Picture and TV Fund Country Home and Hospital, which is one of the Fellowship's charities. Old ABC pilot show "Alexandrer the Great" rounded off the programming, and we retired to primp for the banquet. Food was good, the company excellent, and we all got lots of pictures.

Afterwards the night owls returned to the video room where more goodies were shown. The 3-hour BROTHERS KARAMAZOV led off Sunday's schedule, followed by a panel of Trek pro writers, including Kathleen Sky, Stephen Goldin and Sonni Cooper. Then Bill's wife Marcy presented a program on health and beauty, sparkling with both herself, and answering questions about specific problems raised by the audience. Then Bill was back for a couple of hours, afterwards drawing 3 names for autographed t-shirts — 2 for domestic fans, one foreign; last came the personal autographing (writing whatever the buyer asked) of some photos that were auctioned for charity the day before—and from which we raised $800.00.

Altogether it was a great experience, and we still had two more days to go. Monday and Tuesday we were shuttled to Disneyland and the Universal Studio Tour, much enjoyed by all. I also got to go with fans who had a car, to the NBC studio tour (I'm with you, Johnny Carson, it ain't much). The whole week was wonderful fun, and I am sure ready to do it again any time the Fellowship is. [1]

About 130 fans (coming from as far away as Canada, England, Scotland, and New Zealand) came together in Los Angeles on July 10 through July 13. This was the William Shatner Fan Fellowship Weekend and many fans agreed it was a "Happening" in fandom. The majority, there were some shy ones, seemed so friendly and open which resulted in many friendships forming. The Weekend was officially over Sunday night but about two-thirds stayed for the excursions to Disneyland on Monday and Universal Tours on Tuesday morning. Later that day many were forming groups of their own for sightseeing ventures. Tuesday night those still there met in the lobby's lounge to look over pictures taken at the Weekend. Many commented on how it seemed like we had known each other for years - the friendships had formed that much in so little time. No one wanted to leave, but we finally broke up around midnight. During the Weekend around $1,200 was raised through donations, and a photo auction for the WISH charities. I've been to several cons and have never experienced the openness and friendliness of the fans that I experienced here. This is what makes me truly feel it is a fan fellowship and not a fan club. Bill and Marcy made appearances on Saturday, including the formal dinner given, and Sunday.

Bill has been burned by some people running cons in the past and has rarely made appearances since. This time I feel he really enjoyed himself and felt the affection coming from the fans. He opened many personal thoughts to us and on Sunday stayed on an extra hour over his scheduled one to continue answering questions and take time with his fans. Marcy spoke on beauty and health for an hour, in what I believe was her first appearance with the fans. Thank you, Bill and Marcy, for your time and care. Harve Bennett, also a member of WISH, had his first meeting with the fans and answered questions as much as he could on the new Trek. The script is back to first season Trek and he assured us there will be characterizations. Yes, there may be some changes but he really cares and has good intentions for Trek (the conclusion of many of the members there). Now that the writers strike is over, Harve is reworking the script from the many suggestions of the fans, Bill, Gene, Sonni, writers and others. If you write to Harve now, make it a short "Good Luck". Don't bury him with letters and demands that take his time.

No time period was given for when the motion picture would be completed and out, but Harve does have dates in mind and he has never missed a deadline yet. We WISH him all the best. I believe those who have met them would agree that we are very fortunate that the fans have Sonni Cooper and Susan Stephenson as our fan liaisons to Bill. They really care for the fan relationships to Bill and from him to us. We thank you both, for all the work you put in the Fellowship and for the Weekend. Bill enjoyed it so much he mentioned something about next year, at which point Sonni collapsed. Here's WISHing... [2]

As the sharing of con experiences seems to have become a popular topic in INTERSTAT, I feel compelled to pass along some very special memories of a most unusual gathering of
 fans: The William Shatner Weekend, held July 10-12 in Los Angeles. This was one of those rare occasions when the reality was even better than the expectations. Though a small gathering by normal convention standards (about 135), this was a geographically varied membership - many came from England and Canada, and some from Australia and New Zealand - eloquent testimony to the esteem in which William Shatner is held by the members of his Pan Fellowship. Those of us who are more accustomed to sharing our guests of honor with thousands were particularly thrilled at "crowds" that never topped 100. It could almost be described as an intimate occasion, since Shatner sat a mere two feet from his audience during both of his scheduled talks. A small, selfish voice inside me is glad the audience was that small - so much the better for those of us who were there. I think that much of my enjoyment was due to not having to "shop around" for other fans with like interests - everyone there was not only a Star Trek fan, but also an enthusiastic aficionado of Kirk and a diehard Shatner supporter. At a time when Trek fandom seems to be dispersing in all directions and into a multitude of other interests, this was a refreshing concentration. Another facet of this group was that this was the first fannish experience for many - and each of these neos with whom I spoke was delighted with the Weekend Another plus was programming which was scheduled without conflicts; the video machines weren't run while films were shown or guests speaking in the main ballroom. It was a relief to do without the painful decision-making of what to miss. And the films which were shown were rare treats, unlike the same old stuff shown for the umpteenth time at most cons. Here Shatner's earliest roles were featured, such as THE INTRUDER, ALEXANDER THE GREAT, and the first film in which he appeared, THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV - a tasty selection indeed. Other programming included producer Roger Corman (THE INTRUDER, BIG BAE MAMA), former Klingon and Squire of Gothos William Campbell - both totally charming.

And we were also treated to the first con appearance by Trek's newest start Harve Bennett, the new producer for the next Trek movie. Bennett made quite a hit with his obvious comprehension of the tenets of Star Trek - he even knows the difference between a Trekker and a Trekkie! The formal banquet held some special moments for many individual fans, when Shatner gave his undivided attention to those who presented him with personal gifts. Volunteer workers with the WISH organization, including six regional assistants, received recognition for their efforts in the form of letters of appreciation signed and delivered by WS.

Probably the single most impressive aspect of the Weekend was the fact that Shatner himself seemed to be enjoying it all so much. His opening statement at his last appearance - "Well, has the magic worn off yet?" - was a perfect reflection of this mood. For this was indeed an entrancing time - it was incredible to watch as he drew the shy people out of their shells with his gentle manner, and at the same time to see him deal with the few overly-emotional fans with his strength. And it was fascinating to note that the only time he was crowded at all was at the very last, as he was leaving. I hope he forgives the enthusiasm of those who pushed a bit for one last glimpse, or for one final try for an autograph (there were no formal autograph sessions - it was strictly on a "catch him if you can' basis). To borrow a line from Surak: "The cause was more than sufficient."

As is to be expected with any large and wieldy organization there are problems and less-than-satisfactory situations (attending films at 8am required a herculean effort from this avowed night owl), but they are insignificant in comparison with the overall sheer pleasure of the occasion. Many stayed several additional days, for scheduled tours in the area - an arrangement I hope more fans will consider, as part of the fun was in reliving the experiences during the structured days. The ultimate measure of any con is in the response to the question: "Would you come to another one?" My answer is a most emphatic "Yes!" It would be even better the next time, since the most active participants are now familiar and friendly faces, matched with the names on the letters and voices over the phone. Count me in, anytime! [3]

Friday 10th July, I had been in America almost a month, travelling from the eastern to the western seaboard, but this last weekend was going to be really special. I arrived at the hotel about 4pm but put off registering until 5pm as I needed time to work out the geography of the hotel which is rather large. Having registered and received my programme, I proceeded to coo with delight. We were going to see The Intruder', 'Alexander the Great' and 'The Brothers Karamozov' plus talks from Roger Corman, Harve Bennett, William Campbell and Marcy Lafferty Shatner. The banquet was arranged for Saturday evening and we were to meet William Shatner on both Saturday and Sunday. Just in case anyone should get bored or could not sleep we had video tapes of all or nearly all Mr, Shatner's work available in another room.

After a quick supper with a couple of fellow WISH members we retired to the San Clemente room to find 'City on the Edge of Forever' in Japanese was being offered. The dubbing was so good that you really did believe the cast had recorded it in that language. We finished up the evening with 'Perilous Journey'. The official opening was at 7.30am on Saturday and most of us made it on time. First 'The Intruder' a most compelling film. Then Roger Corman who directed 'The Intruder' gave us some insights into what it is like to work with William Shatner. 1 lam, the moment that we had all been waiting for, the man who needed no introduction - Mr. William Shatner. Flash bulbs going off for the next what seemed like 10 minutes, anyway my eyes got very sore from the flashes but Mr. Shatner did not appear to mind, or maybe he just went blind for a while. He then proceeded to do questions and answers convention style. Yes, he is excited about the new Star Trek script, but he couldn't tell us the storyline of course. Someone asked him about his animals and he began to tell us about Kirk, his beautiful red Doberman. Kirk had not been well for sometime after going to stud and Bill was faced with the possibility of having to have him put down, so he arranged to have one of the pups of the litter, which he has named Paris. For a short while Kirk improved but then regressed into pain to such an extent that Bill together with his family took Kirk for that last drive. I believe that every single person in that room relived that time with Bill and I feel that it told us a great deal about him as a person. Part of this hour was being filmed by ABC TV who are doing a film on fandom, following the assassination of John Lennon and then the attempted assassination of President Reagan both by 'fans'. I hope that the footage they got from the Weekend showed that fans are reasonable, polite and quite sane people and that it is in fact only a fraction of a percent that are 'fanatics' to the point of lunacy.

After lunch, Harve Bennett: Star Trek is to be a feature picture now. Kirk is an Admiral and the film is not a follow on to ST-TMP. Mr. Bennett hopes to achieve the feel of the first and second series in his movie. No Klingons, no Romulans but much more of the crew and some special effects but only where necessary. One of the girls asked why he was going to kill off Spock. There was a pause before Mr. Bennett asked "Where did you hear that - other than from Susan Sackett?" He then went on to explain that in the course of discussions various people had been disposed of at sometime - but that Susan had gone through the office when they were discussing Spock. As with the others the idea ended in the trash can, but Susan announced it in England and everyone had taken up the cry. However, Mr. Bennett did point out that Leonard Nimoy is not too keen to keep putting on the pointed ears and, therefore, he could not say that Spock would not be killed off, but he hoped it could be avoided. The final script has not yet been written due to the writers strike, but Mr. Bennett did stress that Gene Roddenberry is very closely involved and that Gene had provided him with a scientific adviser, which he said he needed as he was suffering a credibility gap or two in that area but they were being attended to. The question then arose as to whether James Doohan, our beloved Scotty, would be able to be in the film following his recent heart attack. It seems he is recovering well at present and should be all right by October, the new shooting date as the directors and then the writers strikes put shooting back until then, so you see even strikes sometimes have a silver lining. We all sent our good wishes to Mr. Doohan.

Mr. William Campbell was next on the bill and he came to tell us mainly about the TV and Motion Picture Fund (one of the WISH charities) and I think he was thrilled with the amount of money he raised. He told us a lovely anecdote from the making of 'The Squire of Gothos'. Try and imagine one green captain (that's right, green) and one very dark green Vulcan, full of envy watching William Campbell run the gamut of emotions as the Squire. After 'Alexander the Great' (which was) everyone rushed to their rooms to prepare for the banquet which was to be a full dress affair. It was really lovely to see the ladies in their pretty gowns and the gentlemen in tuxedos. Needless to say both Mr. and Mrs. Shatner looked breathtaking. Awards were given out to Regional Assistants and staff and then Bill was presented with presents by his fans — he said it was just like Christmas. The Shatners had to go back to another dinner as Bill had just been presented with another award there. So we all changed and then crowed around to see 'Big Bad Mama'.

Sunday 8am, "The Brothers Karamozov', after which Kathleen Sky and Stephen Goldin talked about Star Trek novels. After lunch Marcy Lafferty Shatner gave us a talk on health and beauty, telling us stories of Bill and his diets on the way. She had with her the cosmetologist from Nature's Gift, who answered questions and gave us a lot of useful advice on hair care. Marcy Shatner leaves one feeling that one has been in the company of a very special person, not only very beautiful but very giving as well. What I'm trying to say is you can see why Bill thinks she is so special. Then our last hour with Mr. Shatner. This session opened with him talking quite a while to a young lady who had dogged his tracks during his tour last summer, thereby making him feel very uneasy. After he had explained how unnerving it can be to see the same face popping up at you all the time; the young woman exclaimed that he should not make people fall in love with him. Mr. Shatner explained very carefully that it was not he who did anything. The persons themselves fell in love or thought they did with a creation of their own making. The young lady then proved his point for him by telling him that he didn't even look like William Shatner; he wasn't tall enough, his shoulders are not as broad as they should be and that he was thinner than Captain Kirk. After the rest of us assured him that we were certain he IS William Shatner, he explained that everyone puts on about lOlbs in weight on movie film — hence most film actors diet before starting a new project. As to height it depends who he is standing beside, i.e. Leonard is over 6' and the tallest member of the crew of the Enterprise, therefore everyone on that set is relative to him in height.

Believe it or not, I had to leave at this point. If anyone thinks it is easy to put up your hand and tell William Shatner you have to walk out on him because you have a plane to catch, think again. However, he was kindness itself and gave me some advice on how to cope with jet lag, which I needed and which works, and then thanked me for attending the Weekend, and smiled. I think I flew back on a 747 or maybe it was just that smile!

Thanks to the Admiral, his wife, his staff and friends for a really great weekend.

P.S. With well over a 1000 members to remember Sonni and the rest of the Admiral's staff really make you feel that you matter. Also they made sure that we all got a chance to speak to our Admiral and the other guests. [4]

Con Reports: 1983

In September, the William Shatner Fellowship had its second annual meeting in Hollywood. It was a busy-every-moment five days, starting Wednesday (the 19th with registration and a business meeting led by Helen Molloy and Jane Singer, who planned the weekend and put in all the hours of hard work getting ready for us.

After the business meeting, we attended a taping of the Merv Griffin show. California was going through a long spell of hot weather with unusually high humidity. While we Mississippi Valley and Florida people are used to humidity, even we had to admit it was hot! The walk to the theatre for the taping was pre-announced as 1/4 to 1/2 mile. I don't know California distances, but that would have been a good mile in Illinois. But it was worth it, as Merv's guests included Bob Hope and Barbara Eden.

Thursday we spent the day at Disneyland (believe it or not, my first time there). There was a light crowd that day and we were able to see almost everything with no waiting in line.

Friday we got our first glimpse of Bill, when we were allowed the unique privilege of spending three hours on the "T.J. Hooker" shooting set. This is unheard of at the Burbank Studios, but Bill and Larry Albucher, the unit production manager, really put their necks on the line to arrange it for us. Shooting that day was in the police station, an enclosed set, so we were divided into groups and allowed in while they rehearsed and shot some scenes. Even backstage we could hear what was going on, and we had a long chat with a new member of the cast, who plays that detective in a wheelchair (can't remember the actor's name!) It was an interesting and informative 5 hours, and great to see Adrian, Heather (where is the law of averages that one girl can look that good?), James Darren, and of course, Bill.

When we left the set, it was off to the park for a barbecue and to the Equestrian Center for a hayride. It was a perfect evening. We passed row after row of stables with those beautiful horses watching us go by. One of them kept twitching one ear almost as though he were waving at us.

Saturday we had a special private showing of Star Trek III. That's the best way to see it —- with soulmates who cheer, groan and sigh in the right places. After lunch at Farmer's Market, we went again to the Equestrian Center, where Bill held a question-and-answer session. He then brought out the beautiful Desdemona's Glory, one of his 3-gaited American Saddlebreds, and and put her through her paces for us. Bill was questioned on the progress of ST IV, and he indicated that the rumors are true. ... Negotiations have halted because he has asked for more money. He spoke of the series' history, the reruns, the residuals, what the studio has made on ST and how little the cast has shared in the profits. I feel that he is right. Not only Bill, but the rest of the cast also should be paid better in return for what Trek has given the studio.

That evening, Bill and Marcy attended the banquet, and once again seemed able to relax and enjoy themselves. Still, it was unusual for Bill to go from table to table greeting all of us; I figure it was Marcy's idea. Although we naturally tended to glance their way during the evening, on the whole we were able to sit and chat and treat the affair like a big family gathering.

That was the last event attended by Bill, but we still had one official day of the weekend — a Sunday picnic at Leo Carrillo Park beach, with lots of food, fun, and relaxation in a spot backed by mountains (and does that sand get HOT!.

In person, Bill has even more charisma than on screen, and Marcy is a warm and lovely lady. With so many other things going on that weekend, they still took time for us, and we deeply appreciated it. [5]

From "The Center Seat"


  1. ^ by Dixie O in Interstat #47
  2. ^ by Bruce M in Interstat #47
  3. ^ by Vel Jaeger in Interstat #48
  4. ^ from Beyond Antares #42
  5. ^ from Jan Driggs, Com Con Nov/Dec 1984