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William Shatner Talks About Interviewing D.C. Sniper Lee Malvo ... Really - TCA Report

by Joel Keller, posted Jul 29th 2010 9:03AM
William Shatner at the 2010 Summer TCAsDuring the reporter scrum after CBS's '$#*! My Dad Says' panel, William Shatner implored the gathered mob of reporters to write about his new show, 'Aftermath with William Shatner,' which debuts on the Biography channel on August 2, but has a preview tonight at 10PM ET on A&E. In the preview, Shatner talks with some of the survivors of the infamous Beltway sniper team that terrorized the Washington, D.C. and other areas in 2002. He also got a chance to speak to the younger member of the sniper team -- and the only one still alive -- Lee Boyd Malvo.

Yes, you read that right. Lee Malvo, who has rarely if ever granted an interview before, was interviewed by William Shatner. When I caught up to Shatner at CBS's party later that night, I asked him what the experience was like.

"Monumental," he said. "A guy who was a cold-blooded killer at the age of 17 begins to thaw, begins to find remorse. And that's one of the thrusts of the show. Joel, if there's anybody you can reach to watch the show (tonight), you must do it. It's exciting as hell."

Some of the other people Shatner will interview on the show are 1980s subway shooter Bernard Goetz, Mary Kay Letourneau, the brother of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Jessica Lynch, and the daughter of Randy Weaver of Ruby Ridge infamy.

This show is an extension of sorts of Shatner's other show on Biography, 'Shatner's Raw Nerve,' where he gets up close and personal with celebrities about growing up, their influences, and what makes them tick. His personal interview style is an outgrowth of his own personality. "I think it's an extension of the curiosity I've had about people, always have had. Didn't realize it was any more intense than anyone else's, but apparently it is."

'Raw Nerve' has proven to be an interesting watch because Shatner gets these celebs to open up in ways that they normally never do to journalists or talk show hosts. For instance he got "Weird Al" Yankovic to talk about the accidental deaths of both his parents a few years ago, something he had not talked about with the press. Shatner says that in all the episodes he's done -- 26, with 13 more to air -- that not one subject has refused to open up to him.

"They realize I'm not going to hurt them," he explained. "That I'm a kindred spirit, and I don't want to hurt them. I've had people tell me things and then come back to me and say 'I don't want that shown,' and I haven't shown it."

He's not interviewing them for journalistic purposes, so his objectives are different. "You're in a profession to make a sensation to get something different," he said. "I'm there to see if I can catch a glimmer of a soul, and they know that. So it almost becomes like two buddies or in some cases a psychiatrist (and patient). It's been very meaningful to me. And that's what 'Aftermath' is going to be."

In the D.C. sniper episode of 'Aftermath', Shatner spoke to three of the survivors "in depth, especially about forgiveness." Did they trust him more because it was William Shatner interviewing them instead of a stranger? "I think so. (At first) there would be a guard up. But after a few minutes... and not only that, they allowed me the time. I spent hours with them, and gradually it happened."

Before Shatner had a chance to walk away, I asked him how it came to pass that Malvo and Shatner got together to begin with. "When the first approaches were made, the people who were making the show said 'William Shatner wants to talk to Lee Malvo. And Malvo said, 'I want to talk to him.'" Quite impressive, no?

Below, a clip of Shatner's interview with Malvo from a recent ABC News report:

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Ric Kaysen

Facing life without parole or the needle has a way of generating remorse.

July 29 2010 at 12:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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