Where he hasn't gone before: William Shatner talks "Better Late Than Never"

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23 August 2016

NBC, Tuesdays, 10:00 PM ET


By Lori Acken

If you haven’t fallen for Better Late Than Never — the Tuesday-night NBC funfest that follows Henry Winkler, William Shatner, George Foreman and Terry Bradshaw on an epic Asian adventure — then you probably haven’t watched Better Late Than Never.

Culled from a kooky Korean reality hit, the show features the unlikely quartet — plus funnyman Jeff Dye, who serves as lackey and instigator — living it up (and hamming it up) on a trek through Tokyo, Kyoto, Seoul, Hong Kong, Phuket and Chiang Mai.

For the man made a legend as Star Trek’s preeminent Capt. Kirk, being catered to while touring parts of planet Earth he’d yet to experience sealed the deal.

“It seemed outlandish to me, but I’ve never seen those countries,” Shatner says of the initial pitch. “To talk about the lap of luxury, you have to have a movie company provide for you. They have people, they get the tickets, they get the private planes, they carry your luggage, they throw roses in front of you — it’s a trip made in heaven because there’s nothing to do!”

And when Shatner learned of his fellow travelers, he submitted a few requests. In other words, if you’ve seen him take blows from the 67-year-old Foreman in the show’s ads, fear not. He asked for it.

“I said, ‘I want to catch a pass from Terry Bradshaw — four-time Super Bowl champ — and I want to get in the ring and box with [two-time world heavyweight champion] George Foreman,’” the 85-year-old boasts. “George had told me how he was a killer in his youth. He wanted to smash people, he was such an angry young man, and that’s why he became a boxer. I thought, ‘Hmm. I want to see what’s behind all that — what’s behind the Buddha.’ I started to box him and I saw the killer emerge.”

Winkler says Shatner — who does the Star Trek convention and Comic-Con circuits, tours his one-man show Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It and will debut the science-fiction novel Zero-G in September — served as the group’s sage. “He has read every book written on the planet since Copernicus,” the former Fonz muses, “and he remembers every word that he has read and will share it with you at any given moment.”

Just don’t expect every word to be true.

“If there was any competition, it was who could be funnier or who could joke,” says Shatner.

“I didn’t want to enter that competition, so I would mostly make up ‘facts.’ I was able to sell them that I knew what I was talking about — which amused me no end!”
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