December, 2006

Second Wind

by George Takei

It has been fifteen years since my last and final marathon. That was the London Marathon back in 1991. Since that punishing run, I have become a steadfast follower of, what is called, the Law of Nature. It decrees that as time passes, the mind is supposed to grow with insights as the body gives up its strength. It didn't take my mind to inform my body that the latter is true. I can't run 26.2 miles anymore. My days of running marathons are over.

However, I still savor the good memories of those days strategizing with other runners on the long distance runs, going on long, sweaty training runs with them, and sharing what we learned with each other after each run. One of the things we often talked about was the "second wind" - that burst of renewed energy that runners seem to get at some point in the run, when we are feeling totally spent, straining to lift the feet, and dog-tired but determined to keep staggering forward. Suddenly, the feet inexplicably regain their easy stride, the breathing becomes relaxed and steady, and the pace picks up. This usually happens at about the two-third point in the run for most runners.

That notion of the "second wind" seems to be holding true for my career as well this past year. My work schedule seemed to suddenly pick up renewed energy. As the months passed, the pace has ramped up to warp speed. And, I find my intensifying work schedule as invigorating as being back at the helm of the Starship Enterprise going at warp ten.

2006 began with a jump-start on the second day of the new year. A call from Gary Dell'Abate, the producer of the Howard Stern Show on Sirius Satellite Radio, inviting me to come aboard the show as its "official" announcer was the shot from the starting gun. And I was off and running. As I've written in my blog at the beginning of the year, I agreed to join the show and be with the Howard Stern team as often as my schedule would allow. A year has passed and the team has now become family. I have a hilarious good time with Howard, who I consider the "great truth teller," my "cuddly muffin" Artie Lange, the classy lady Robin Quivers, Fred, Benjy, and the two "boy friends," Sal and Richard. And, occasionally, I drag out my soapbox and speechify on issues to boot. It seems I am now identified, not only with Star Trek but with the Howard Stern Show as well.

Howard Stern has heated up my career. Streams of offers for episodic television began coming into my agent's office. "Malcolm in the Middle," "Freddie," "Will and Grace," - alas, all these shows were cancelled shortly after my appearance. I hope I wasn't the one that jinxed them. Happily, "Psych," and "Cory in the House" are alive and thriving after my guest appearance. I hope I've brought them some long life and prosperity.

The pace of conventions also has taken off by the amazing fact that the year 2006 is Star Trek's 40th birthday. This is truly a remarkable event. A show that was so low rated back in the '60s that it was cancelled after only three seasons has lived so incredibly long and prospered in so many unimagined ways. This is unprecedented. I celebrated this happy event throughout the year with fans at conventions all over the world from Europe to North America to Asia. At 9 p.m. on September 8, 2006 - exactly forty years since Star Trek was first aired on NBC back in 1966 - Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry, a crowded bevy of fans, many from overseas, and I toasted this propitious moment with sparkling champagne up in the landmark Space Needle in Seattle, Washington. How cool was that! It's a memory I'll never forget.

One amazing thing followed another. I filmed a new Star Trek episode - in, of all places, the lush, verdant wilds of the Adirondacks! It was put together by - of all people, devoted Star Trek fans! The show will be accessed - of all things, by the internet! Forty years can produce such undreamed of wonders. This series of Star Trek episodes called "Star Trek: New Voyages" was created by people who discovered Star Trek on television as youngsters in high school or college and today are successful people each in their respective professions. Led by James Cawley, they remain committed Star Trek fans to this day; so committed that they have pooled their money, energies, and passion to produce the "New Voyages" series.

My participation in it began with director/filmmaker Marc Zicree, who found a story developed by Hollywood science fiction writer, Michael Reaves, for a contemplated revival of Star Trek as a television series in the '70s. The series revival was not to be but the story remained glowing in Marc's mind. He came over to my home and shared his enthusiasm for the script and the idea of doing it as part of the "New Voyages" series. I read the script. It was a terrific Sulu story. In it, he ages thirty years, and during those years, he falls in love, they have a daughter, and tragically, he loses his wife. It turns out, however, that those thirty years were just three minutes to the crew of the Enterprise. It is a moving drama -and I didn't have to endure the aging make up for it. The power of my acting, I'd like to think - but more accurately the years that have passed since the TV series, made age make up unnecessary.

The experience of filming this project was as arduous as it was wonderful. The hours were tough and long but I loved the dedication of the hardworking cast and crew. The role was challenging and at the same time, enormously fulfilling. Marc Zicree is a passionate and utterly committed director. I think we have an extraordinary Star Trek episode. I can't wait for it to be web cast in March next year.

There was another Star Trek landmark. Paramount Studios decided to clear out its warehouse of all its vast collection of Star Trek props, costumes, spacecraft models, and other memorabilia and put them up for sale at the prestigious Christy's auction house. That many of these collectibles sold for as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars is another measure of the economic success of the fans who discovered the show so long ago. Like Star Trek, the fans too have lived long and prospered.

The feature film part of my "second wind" included "The Great Buck Howard" with John Malkovitch and Tom Hanks and "Finishing the Game" directed by hot young director Justin Lin, about martial artist, Bruce Lee's last, uncompleted Hong Kong film. Both films will be released next year.

The topper of the year came like an early Christmas gift in late November. I was cast in the highest-rated new television series of this season, NBC-TV's "Heroes." I will play the powerful and wealthy industrialist father of the time traveling Star Trek fan Hiro Nakamura, wonderfully acted by Masi Oka. Is this déjà vu all over again? And, so auspiciously, in the 40th anniversary year. My first episode will air on Monday night, January 29, 2007. So next year, you will be seeing a lot of the results of my "second wind."

2006 has been a richly engaging and exciting year. Like in marathon running, I know that a tremendous stimulant to the "second wind" comes from the cheering and the support of the people on the sidelines. As we briskly stride into the next year, my heartfelt thanks goes out to all who have been such an integral part of this fantastic run that I have enjoyed this past year. May I extend to all, my heartiest cheers for a happy holiday season.




George Takei Statement on Proposition 8

Andrew Koenig

Majel Barrett Roddenberry

George Takei Statement on William Shatner

Marriage Equality Comes to California

You Gotta Have Friends

George Takei on Casting of John Cho as Sulu

Second Wind

George's Statement on the Star Trek Feature Daily Variety Story

The Forty-Year Trek

Why Howard Stern?

January, 2006
The Year of Equus

Tribute to Pat Morita

November, 2005
Equality and Justice For All

Tribute to Jimmy

May, 2005
Catfish, Scholars, and a Geisha Party

April, 2005
Two Surprising Gifts

March, 2005
Measuring TV Viewers

February, 2005
Oscars: the Luckiest of the Best

January, 2005
New York, New York

December, 2004
Tsunami of Compassion

November, 2004
An Emperor, Abe Lincoln, and Four Presidents

October, 2004
Fund-raising with fun raising

September, 2004
Life Interrupted

August, 2004
Celebrating Three Legends

July, 2004
Dense Enrichment

June, 2004
Seattle: The Crucible of Imagination

May, 2004
High Times Down Under

April, 2004
Trekkin' in Japan

March, 2004
An Actor's New York

February, 2004
They Call Her Osama

January, 2004
Caribbean Seatrek

December, 2003
My Arkansas Roots

November, 2003
A Month of Glory and Fury

October, 2003
Jet Lag Reminiscences

September, 2003
Supporters and Whoopee!

August, 2003
Beaming Back in Time

July, 2003
Hawaii, Chicago, Tulsa and Kiribati

June, 2003
A Salute to Liberty

May, 2003
Renewal and Nurturing

April, 2003
The Human Spirit

March, 2003
An Anglophile Angeleno

February, 2003
NASA Must Rise Again

January, 2003
A Shiny Double Bow

December, 2002
Holiday Reflections

November, 2002
"Omiyage" Gifts from Japan

October, 2002
Historic Travels

September, 2002
Oscar-Winning Movies

August, 2002
Summer Visitors

July, 2002
Mama's "Pacific Overtures"

June, 2002
Fumiko Emily Takei, 1912 - 2002

May, 2002
Flight of Angels

April, 2002
Surviving a Texas Storm

March, 2002
Hooray for Hollywood; Boo on Secession

February, 2002
Sacramento Roots

January, 2002
Bearing Witness

December, 2001
A Hundred Million Miracles

November, 2001
Serendipitous London

October, 2001
The Aftermath

September 11, 2001
A Special Message

September, 2001
Summertime at the Hollywood Bowl

August, 2001
Voice Transporter

July, 2001
Two American Monuments

June, 2001
Luck Be a Lady

May, 2001
A Global Banquet Table

April, 2001
Joy and Disappointment

March, 2001
Two Guys Named David

February, 2001
Wisdom from a Volcano

January, 2001
Millennial London

December, 2000
Japan - From the Past to the Cutting Edge

November, 2000
Counting My Blessings

October, 2000
The Mother of an Actor

September, 2000
Hanover Expo 2000

August, 2000
Rockin' in the Northwest

July, 2000
Global Interchange

June, 2000
Sky High Challenge

May, 2000
A Month of Theater

April, 2000
Excelsior Passion

March, 2000
Alien World Right Below

February, 2000
Hawaii Connections

January, 2000
A New Beginning

December, 1999
Millennium Musings

November, 1999
Power of Ingenuity

October, 1999
Back to a Diverse Future

September, 1999
Our Human Linkage

August, 1999
Equatorial Launch to the Stars

July, 1999
Celebration of Diversity

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