"Two of the films on this lot are being made with the same kind of magic they used to have on movie sets. Just look at this," said William Shatner at Paramount early this week as he pulled aside a huge canvas curtain. Shatner pointed to a water tank where a miniature battleship was forging through the roughest seas a dozen wind and wave machines could muster. It was a scene from Herman Wouk's World War II epic "The Winds of War," which is now shooting as a television movie.
But while he showed at least as much excitement talking about "The Winds of War," Shatner has more of a stake in the other old-style movie Paramount is filming: "Star Trek II," in which Shatner returns one more time to play outer space's version of Horatio Hornblower, Capt. James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise. "Star Trek was on an eight-week schedule," said Shatner, looking quite down-to-earth despite pointed sideburns. "There's a sense of excitement about this film, a joy to working on it I haven't felt in years."
But while Shatner is free to talk about how wonderful it all feels, he can't say much about the movie itself, directed by Nicholas Meyer ("Time after Time") and embroiled in controversy ever since the Trekkies heard that it might include Mr. Spock's death. While the studio hemmed, hawed and said, "Mr. Spock's health is of the utmost concern to all of us at Paramount," Trekkies screamed that they'd boycott the movie if the Vulcan was terminated. (Of course, a Trekkie boycott means they'd all see it once rather than half a dozen times.) Shatner's lips are sealed, but he did drop one hint: In this film, Capt. Kirk's son will make an appearance.
Among the dozens of projects Shatner has tackled since he left the "Star Trek" series are the films "Halloween" and "Halloween II." But until recently even Shatner didn't know about this. Not too long ago, Jamie Lee Curtis broke the big news to him: the monster who runs through both of those films killing teen-age girls with an undistinguishable mask over his face is actually wearing a Capt. Kirk mask sprayed white. Director John Carpenter reportedly made his final choice between Shatner and Robert Redford masks. "Obviously," says Shatner, "he wanted to go for the attractive mask."