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Old January 8 2013, 12:29 PM   #101
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Location: New York State
Re: Putting the Shatner "ego issue" from TOS to rest

Hi, guys. This is my first post here and I'm enjoying all your contributions. Lots of good info.

I just have one thing to chip in and it concerns the story about Shatner visiting Harlan's house and counting lines in the script. Maybe this is well known, but I don't think it's been mentioned yet.

In 1966, agents of "leading man" actors were concerned about Jonathan Harris literally stealing LOST IN SPACE out from under Guy Williams. Harris poured on the personality and Williams became a supporting actor, a Mr Sulu at best, on his own show. It shook people.

So these agents, including Shatner's, got contract clauses that required their leading man to have at least as many lines as the next biggest part in any script.

Shatner had to check each script himself because 1) there was no Wm. Shatner Inc. with loads of assistants waiting for something to do, and 2) if you don't enforce your rights in a contract, you can lose those rights through a legal precept called laches.

Laches, in contract law, means that if you don't enforce a right soon enough to avoid inconveniencing your opponent (who might come to rely on your slackness), then you lose the right in question.

Shatner may have been vain, self-centered, and inconsiderate, but he wasn't stupid. With "Mr Spock for President" bumper stickers showing up, he didn't want to become the next Guy Williams, which on ST would mean a Sulu-sized role. Shatner had to count lines, and Harlan Ellison was entirely ignorant of the reasons.
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