Episode 25: “Being Meeting Captain Kirk”

There are some universities (Stanford, University of Alabama) that organize “Last Lectures”, a series of talks from professors in which they hold their hypothetical final lecture. What is so important to them that they would want to share that with the rest of the world, even in their final hour? In this case, though, it may truly be the Last Lecture: Randy Pausch is a 47-year-old professor at Carnegie-Mellon that was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year. His Last Lecture is about fulfilling his childhood dreams and how he succeeded in doing that.

About a week ago I found out about this video via Ain’t It Cool News. Yeah, not the place where you can expect these type of videos to crop up, but just read on and you’ll get why it was posted there. It’s more than 1.5 hour long, so you really need to take some time and sit down for it (btw, skip the introductions, it’s a bit boring).

The cool thing that happened after that though is this [from Randy Pausch’s Homepage]:

This is, by far, the coolest thing (okay, #2 behind the palliative chemo working). JJ Abrams (Hollywood producer/director who did the TV series “Lost,” the movie “Mission Impossible III” and a bunch of other stuff) emailed me, out of the blue:

JJ Abrams wrote:
> Dear Randy —
> Hi there — I’m JJ Abrams, director of the new Star Trek movie.
> I read about you and your condition, and ALSO your affinity for things
> Trek.
> So, I just wanted to put the invitation out there — that if you had
> any desire to be in the film (can’t promise you role as CAPTAIN,
> but… we could do SOMETHING!), it would be my honor and pleasure.
> The last thing I want to do is intrude, so feel free not to reply —
> but I wanted to make sure you knew that, if you are willing and able,
> the door is wide open.
> I hope that your treatments are going well and that we get to meet one
> day.
> Best,
> JJ

Naturally, I presumed this was one of my friends, playing a prank. But after a little sleuthing, it was clear it was for real. Jai & I hopped a plane to LA, where I got a custom-made Star Trek uniform and my own station on the bridge, where I had lots of buttons and controls. I even got a LINE!!!!

In addition to publicly thanking JJ Abrams, I just wanted to say what an incredibly egoless and cool guy he was. We chatted a little bit between takes, and he is so tech-savvy (and I’m not saying that *just* because he knew all about Alice!). Anyway, it was a truly magical experience. Speaking of Magic, I got to fulfill a long-standing wish of taking Jai to the Magic Castle on that trip, courtesy of Peter Farquar. MK Haley, who is herself quite magical, joined Peter and his wife and Jai & me for an incredible evening.

the “Star Trek” movie will be in theaters December 2008. Don’t blink or you’ll miss me, but at some point a guy walked across the bridge and says “Captain, we have visual!”

I’d *love* to show you my costume (which they let me keep), but I promised JJ Abrams “no photos”. They’re trying to keep things a secret; in fact, even on the Paramount lot, you have to walk around in a trenchcoat if you’re in a Star Trek costume. It’s kind of like being at a flasher’s convention!

Oh, and if you think I’m making this up, here’s a copy of my check from Paramount (they had to pay me due to some union rules or some such… I’ll obviously be donating this to charity).