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John Ary Talks To Wil Wheaton About STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, MEMORIES OF THE FUTURE, Web Videos, And More!!

 

 
 
 
John Ary here with an interview with Wesley Crusher himself, Wil Wheaton. I had the opportunity to chat with the youngest member of The Next Generation crew last night about his experiences on the show, his time away from Hollywood, and his plans for creating new content in a digital world. He gives some very candid insights into the best of and worst episodes of season 1, working for producer Rick Berman and Youtube.
 
I've uploaded the audio, so if you would rather hear his responses, just click on the questions.
 
 

What episode are most looking forward to watching off the new Star Trek Blu-Ray set?

I think that Farpoint is the one I’m most looking forward to seeing because that was the first episode of Next Generation that I saw when I was a kid.  And that was sort of my first exposure to what Next Generation was going to be on television.  And being able to see it again now in high definition about as close as possible to get to sort of seeing it again for the first time.

 

 

 

In your opinion what did that first season do right and what did it do wrong?

We really struggled to figure out who we were and what we were about in the first year. I don’t think anybody really knew. And the entire first , almost first two seasons have some incredible high points like The Big Goodbye and some really embarrassing low points like Code of Honor. I’m really grateful that we were given the time to sort of find ourselves and figure out exactly what this show is about because by the time Next Generation gets to season 3, 4 or 5 I think its some of the best science fiction that’s ever been on television.

 

 

What was your experience as the youngest member of the Star Trek crew?


It was an emotional experience for me.  I was working all day, 5 days a week with people who I loved and admired and I thought were so, so cool.  There were people that I wanted to be like.  I wanted their approval.  At the same time I was a kid and they were adults.  We couldn’t hang out after work and I always felt a sense of loss because of that.  I always felt that somehow I was getting ripped off because everyone else got to hang out and they got to goof off and they got to do things together .  At the end of every work day I went home to go to bed. I had homework to do.  I was interested in Nintendo and Sega and listening to Depeche Mode and they were going out to do cool grown up things.  They were going to concerts and going out to dinner and that stuff.  So it really felt like I missed out on a lot of things and it’s been very recently within the last couple of years that I’ve gotten together with some of the members of the cast.  And it’s been fantastic to go out and have dinner. And go out and have drinks.  And talk about the things our respective children are doing and kind of relate to each other finally as adults. 

 

 

When will we get Memories of the Future: Volume 2?

I wrote that in 2009 and my plan was to write and release Volume 2 by the end of 2010 and after making those incredibly amazing well formulated plans I started working so much on Leverage and Big Bang Theory and Eureka that I just didn’t have time to sit down really and do it and in my time off, the last thing I wanted to do was sit down and write after I had been working as an actor all day long, after spending all day creating a character I didn’t want to go back and so of switch gears and do the humor and the reflection that I think makes Memories of the Future a book that people will enjoy.  So I’m about ⅔ of the way through it and as I had said for the last three years... working very hard to get it out by the end of the year.

 

 

What can we expect for Memories of the Future: Volume 2?

I have some things planned for the Starfleet Academy episode Coming of Age that I have read in public a couple of times.  I am most looking forward to re-watching the episodes like Contagion just because I remember thinking it was really really cool and the "drugs are bad" episode because I remember thinking it was really really bad.

 

 

After you left the show, what lessons did you learn from your time away from Hollywood?

By the time I stopped working on Star Trek, when I was 18, I had already been working full time as an actor for 11 years.  I had never really known what it was like to be just a normal person with a regular life and I had a lot of conflicting emotions at the time.  I was really excited to jump back into the world and go back into working in film and I was excited to have some time to myself to do some regular things that regular people do. And I was kind of getting tired of the entertainment industry.  All of those things together created a great deal of turmoil for me.  I was invited by the owners of Newtek to go to Kansas for one of their Christmas parties and while I was there I got to see the Video Toaster and the Video Toaster 4000, as well as a prototype of the Video Toaster 4000.  I saw Lightwave 3D.  I met a bunch of people that were very committed to disrupting the way that television was made and the way that television was released.  And that was fundamentally disrupting the way that creative people approached being creative in a film and television medium.  And that was really really exciting to me because I had spent my entire life up to that point doing what producers and directors had told me to do.  And Rick Berman was NOT the greatest producer in the world to work for and at that time I was under the impression that there was no such thing as a good kind nurturing producer.  

I was thrilled at the opportunity to be involved in something that was going to make it possible for creative people do creative things without having to interact with people that were just were not honest and honorable and that weren’t awesome.  At the same time I was feeling like I need to get out of the world that I knew because it was time to experience sort of the real world I guess. I didn’t want to be trapped in this insular world where I would grow up to be this cliched Hollywood douchebag.  And going to Newtek and spending time in Topeka and with everyone from the company, those were some of the greatest years of my life... I grew so much.  I learned a lot.  I matured a lot.  I am incredibly proud to be part of the Video Toaster’s development and every time someone uses iMovie to make a video that they post to Youtube they are in Newtek’s legacy.  And we often joke that we were so far ahead of our time that we were making hardware and software and tools that anybody could use, there was just no way for them to be distributed.  If we had made the Video Toaster around the time that Youtube existed we would be having this conversation on yacht on the Mediterranean somewhere.

 

It sounds like what Newtek did with the Video Toaster, you are doing with Youtube and Tabletop?

When I did my first episode of Leverage, John Rogers is a good good friend of mine... When I did my first episode of Leverage two years ago John and I were out to dinner and we were talking about the show and I said to him “I am really surprised that you came back to television because you were real happy writing comic books and living up in Canada” and he said “Yeah, but I got this offer, this opportunity to do a show that I’m proud of and that I love.”  And that’s the thing I zeroed in on and he said “I’m at point now in my life where I only work with people I like.  I don’t want to work with people who are idiots.  I don’t want to waste time with people who are jerks.”  

And that really resonated with me and when Felicia asked me if I would be interested in developing a show together to put on Geek and Sundry I was really excited because I saw an opportunity to continue working with people that I love.  Every show that I’m on right now is an amazing cast, with a great crew, and I’m only working with people that I love.  And I wanted to continue that and do it independently with Tabletop the same way that I saw Felicia do it with The Guild.  And I’m really proud of it and I hope that we are sort of blazing a trail for other independent creators and producers to come along in the next few years and continue to disrupt the system, so that ultimately the goal is to get better.  When there’s more competition for people’s time there’s more bandwidth to distribute different types of programming, then there’s going to be something awesome that everybody likes.  

Maybe that will be on broadcast television.  Maybe it will be on the internet.  Maybe it will be in some medium that we haven’t figured out yet.  But it’s fun to be part of something that feels like, we’re sort of playing Oregon Trail but in real life.

 

 

Do you foresee yourself making any more Youtube shows in the future?

Yes, I have a couple of ideas for short films or for something that would be a like a 5 to 10 episode web series that sort of like... I love those BBC series that are 5 episodes and they are out...  They don’t do that thing that happens to most American series in their 3rd season where they tread water and nothing really happens... I can’t think of a series that I’ve watched that I haven’t stopped watching in its third season... Really really good shows that I loved in the first two years that just kind of fell apart in the third season.  

So I have a couple of ideas and I’m working on them with a friend of mine who is a writer and rather than try to take them into Hollywood and have to do the meetings and pitch meetings... and have to worry about a big budget and have to support a big studio infrastructure and that stuff... The idea of doing these sorts of things on a smaller independent scale and putting them online is a really really attractive thing.  I think that you can sort of split the world into people that understand that web video is not in any way significantly different than broadcast television in terms of audience and things like that.  Its the people that are determined to make it something completely different and sort of view it as a ghetto... it’s the same thing that I saw happening with blogging started to spread around the year 2000, 2001.  

Back then you could split the world into people who understood what was happening and saw how things were changing and moved into a new world and then the other people who sat there and are still trying to catch up.  So I’m really excited about producing anything for Youtube or Vimeo or whatever comes along. 

 

 

 

The new Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 1 Blu-Ray set is now available on Amazon and at your local retailer.
 
For more interviews, features and reviews subscribe to the AICN Youtube channel and follow me on Twitter.

 

Readers Talkback
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  • July 24, 2012, 11:08 a.m. CST

    inb4 wil wheaton die die die

    by rakesh patel

    I like him. i've brought his books, read his blog, enjoy his resurgence into pop culture, with spots in big bang theory and eureka. you might not have liked Wesley ( i did) but don't be a dick about it.

  • July 24, 2012, 11:17 a.m. CST

    Wow not one question about Eureka?

    by IamHERE

    Wil Wheaton was a fun and memorable character added to the cast the last few seasons. Plus he hosts the after show for Falling Skies. Did anyone bother to ask any in depth questions? article most definitely falls short.

  • July 24, 2012, 11:18 a.m. CST

    Everytime i see the name John Ary

    by rakesh patel

    I hum the theme tune to his youtube videos.

  • July 24, 2012, 11:20 a.m. CST

    I like Wesley, could do without Wil Wheaton

    by martinprince

    But hey, other people seem to dig him, to each his own.

  • July 24, 2012, 11:23 a.m. CST

    iamhere

    by John Ary

    I would have loved to talk to him more about his Falling Skies hosting duties, Eureka, Leverage and his voice-over work, but I ran out of time.

  • July 24, 2012, 11:25 a.m. CST

    its wierd

    by rakesh patel

    but in the things i've seen him play in of late he plays most dicks. like in the guild, big bang theory and eureka. dicks gone good. if you know what i mean. this comment has turned weird very quickly.

  • July 24, 2012, 11:37 a.m. CST

    will wheaton has a great humor about him

    by john

    he isnt full of himself. I like his commentary, and that like on big bang, he lets them make fun of his star trek past. I dont think you can bash him for being wesley, that was a part written for the show, and he did quite a bit with what he was given. (never liked the rainbow sweater tho). He actually beccame more interesting when he went to the academy, and showed he wasnt perfect. He also didnt get a chance to do much comedy on trek, and he is apparently really good at that. Im glad he became a regular on eureka, and its sad that show is done, as of this year, because the writers on that show keep it fresh and CHANGE things. I had no idea that he was on leverage, which sort trailed off for me mid 2cd season, but am going to go back and catch up on. I think it would be neat to see a proper sequel to trek post voyager, and see him as like a captain, a nice contrast to his beginnings.

  • Didn't Wesley disappear in TNG to go capering across the cosmos with the mysterious "Traveler" guy? If so, how does he turn up in uniform at Riker & Troi's wedding in the last TNG flick? What'd I miss?

  • July 24, 2012, 11:38 a.m. CST

    This poor kid was crucified by the fans

    by eric haislar

    during the shows run. Had to be awful being a kid and have the fandom fucking hate you. I love this guy he funny and insightful.

  • July 24, 2012, 11:41 a.m. CST

    The funniest thing about wesley

    by rakesh patel

    Was that Episode when Q grants everyone a wish. Wesley gets turned into a WWE wrestler with a prepubescent voice. Creepily Geordi says " hey Wes, not bad!"

  • July 24, 2012, 11:42 a.m. CST

    I dont think people disliked him in trek

    by john

    he just wasnt data or picard or worf at the time. I think if you want to talk about a fanbase turning on a character, lets talk about Lana on smallville. I cant think of any better examples, show grinded to a halt everytime she came back. Wesley coming back was always cool, as you wanted to find out what he was doing....

  • July 24, 2012, 11:43 a.m. CST

    Alpha Three Nine!!!!!!

    by eric haislar

  • July 24, 2012, 11:45 a.m. CST

    fitzcain

    by eric haislar

    Lana was good until after season 5 she served a purpose. But your right after that she was worthless and you just wanted her to go away.

  • July 24, 2012, 11:46 a.m. CST

    @obijuanmartinez

    by rakesh patel

    in the series he went with the traveller, and at the wedding he was going to serve aboard the titan. Change of career i guess.

  • July 24, 2012, 11:50 a.m. CST

    Whhill Whheaton

    by Grando

    That is all.

  • July 24, 2012, 11:53 a.m. CST

    Dig him.

    by Dusty

    I still screen "Stand By Me" for my film club. Met him a couple times in Topeka. Nice guy.

  • July 24, 2012, 11:53 a.m. CST

    it's also a weird validation by geordi the more i think about it

    by rakesh patel

    because he only sees fucking heat signatures and infrared. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_n7FVJ_Svk

  • July 24, 2012, 11:55 a.m. CST

    eric

    by john

    sorry didnt mean to imply she was totally worthless, she served a purpose as the first love thing, but once Lois showed up, along with chloe, she was just kinda there. Nothing against the actress, just wish we got more green arrow, and DC heroes, than lana got turned into a witch, lana somehow has kryptonite lipstick, etc. Back on topic, I liked wes even early on, him and data were like the two always fixing the ship. I liked that he had the answer and no one listened, and by the end of the show, it was like "um wes, you were saying something, we are kinda outta ideas here....", and one observation, why was there no lock on the holodeck? I think that could have been pretty awkward, especially the way quark used them later on

  • July 24, 2012, 12:06 p.m. CST

    fitzcain

    by eric haislar

    Oh i totally agree. I was just saying she was not totally worthless in the beginning.

  • But he admits Trek didn't get good until season 3?

  • July 24, 2012, 12:13 p.m. CST

    NNTP newsgroup still there: alt.wesley.crusther.die.die.die

    by MrShootist

  • and she turned into a yeti. That would have scared him for life. Unless he was into furries.

  • July 24, 2012, 12:21 p.m. CST

    I guess he never watched BREAKING BAD.

    by DerLanghaarige

    He seems to me like a clever guy, but if he watched that one and stopped it around season 3 because "nothing happens", he doesn't seem to be THAT smart after all.

  • July 24, 2012, 12:33 p.m. CST

    sounds as if he has his act together

    by jupiterjim

    I'll look forward to seeing what he does next. Good interview

  • July 24, 2012, 1:03 p.m. CST

    OMG I get to listen to John Ary's silky tones on the phone!

    by Talkbacker with no name

    Kinky

  • Since its release a lot of people have reported that CBS has screwed up the audio mix for the pilot epiosde. Dialogue is audible from the center AND the front right speaker. Other episodes also have a similar problem with audio bleeding into the front channels.

  • That princess chick was sort of hot too, but then she turned into a big plastic monster too so the deal was off at that point. Still, Ashley Judd and Olivia D'Abo in their respective primes... Ol' Wesley didn't do too bad for himself for a space-nerd!

  • July 24, 2012, 2:07 p.m. CST

    Funny how when people talk about the Video Toaster

    by Keith

    ...they never really mention the Amiga, to which it was a bolt-on. I guess NewTek wanted to distance themselves from that machine, which, despite being the best home computer in the world for under a thousand bucks at the time, had been mismanaged by Commodore and had the whiff of (relative) failure in the USA, even though it was a huge success in Europe. There's a great chapter on NewTek and the Video Toaster in the book 'The Future Was Here'. The Amiga was the world's first multimedia machine, but was passed over in favour of inferior products (PCs and Apple Macs) because Commodore were hopeless at marketing. Great days, the late 80s and early 90s.

  • July 24, 2012, 2:24 p.m. CST

    Wil's looking bloated

    by Lou Stools

    Time to lay off the home brew.

  • July 24, 2012, 2:31 p.m. CST

    @misterdarcy

    by AlibyebyeEssmob

    Loved the Amiga. My parents bought the kids an Amiga 500 when it arrived on the scene, and it was absolutely amazing. I still have such fond memories of it. That MOD music! So good. Amiga should have been where the Mac is now, but their marketing was so atrocious they blew the gigantic lead they had on the competition. They shied away from the notion they were a games machine, too, instead of embracing that, and bragging about the raw horsepower that allows such great games to be played.

  • July 24, 2012, 2:32 p.m. CST

    Wil Gives Mortal Kombat Lessons

    by John Ary

    A friend from Topeka just sent me this, "One of our favorite geek family stories is when my brother talks about the time Wil showed him how to do Sonia Blade's leg grab on the original Mortal Kombat machine in the back of Gatekeeper (the local comic book shop)."

  • July 24, 2012, 2:32 p.m. CST

    Victim of the Writer's Strike

    by _Maltheus_

    Too many crappy Wesley stories in S1 made people hate this guy. Didn't really warm up to him until his last few episodes when they gave him a little depth. I remember all the usenet vitriol, back in the day with alt.wesley.crusher.die.die.die. But he got everyone back by being a really nice, humble guy, who seems grateful for all his has, and now I feel bad for ever disliking him.

  • July 24, 2012, 3:15 p.m. CST

    Ugh

    by Dan

    Big Gang Bang Theory still sucks...and he should distance himself far away from that garbage.

  • July 24, 2012, 3:16 p.m. CST

    Still gets points for STAND BY ME...

    by Dan

  • July 24, 2012, 3:32 p.m. CST

    Might be a nice guy, might be a dick

    by The_Loafer

    Not sure but I think it was celebrity "Star Trek" Jeopardy or Weakest Link or something like that and Roxann Dawson (who played B'Elanna Torres) mentioned he kept on hitting on her, in front of her husband, called him a jerk I think. Might have been an act, might not, but at that time anyway, he came off as a sad brat. Hope it's not true or he's over himself. Cool: Appears to have been "in jest" http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Roxann_Dawson

  • July 24, 2012, 4:22 p.m. CST

    That was mean.

    by UltraTron

  • July 24, 2012, 4:35 p.m. CST

    whil wheaton does excellent work .

    by pete

    for audio books. just finished redshirts by john scalzi. he did mindblowing reading quality for that. highly recommended

  • July 24, 2012, 4:50 p.m. CST

    SHUTUP WESLEY!

    by vezner2007

    Best line ever. I only wish Will Wheaton would have taken Picard's advice and shut his pie hole. I never liked him. Crucify me for saying so if you want. I don't care.

  • July 24, 2012, 6:38 p.m. CST

    @omgitsfullofidiots

    by Kremzeek

    Maybe I'm the only one, but I can't stand Wheaton *or* Wesley. It's something about the way he talks. He just annoys me. So, I could never listen to him talk for that long. I'd want to put a figurative gun to my head. I can barely stomach any scene he's in on TNG. (FF is my friend on those eps.) He may be a nice guy, but... I'm not a fan of him or the Wesley character.

  • July 24, 2012, 6:41 p.m. CST

    fitzcain...I disliked him on Trek!

    by Artemis Webb

    Wooden, effeminate...he ruined every scene he was in. When he was in Stand By Me he played the exact same character he did in TNG. The kid could not act his way out of a wet paper bag.

  • going back and watching TNG now he annoys the Hell out of me.

  • July 24, 2012, 7:52 p.m. CST

    @kremzeek

    by Darkplanet

    This planet needs a serious asshole cleansing. Hate someone because of their voice? SERIOUSLY??? I bet your shit smells like roses and you don't have a single character trait that doesn't annoy someone on the planet right? Grow the fuck up and take a serious look in the mirror you shallow piece of shit. Wil Wheaton, you ROCK!

  • July 24, 2012, 8:06 p.m. CST

    wow

    by john

    cant believe some of the hatred, kinda sad. Cant just say "didnt grab me, or wasnt my thing" to carry a hate torch that long, must be tiring. People can complain all they want, did you hate the kid on lost and space, too? or eddie munster? Wes served a purpose as someone kid's could relate to on the show, and was more than just some dumb kid on the show. He saved the ship regularly. Would you prefer beverly had a daughter that cried all the time, carrying a worf doll around everywhere? sheesh get over it. Alexander was also on the show remember? not the most klingon kid, but still ...had interesting things about him. (I wont go into the episode where he came back from the future to kill himself, that was messed up for the writers to do, but hey it was berman).

  • July 24, 2012, 9:32 p.m. CST

    so tired

    by jameskpolk

    of the Big Bang theory Hate. It's an amusing 22 minutes once a week. And Wheaton is great when he's on it. I wonder if BBT was shot like "Community" without a laugh track most people would think it was genius. The "stage-play" sitcom is just a different convention, and one that some of us still prefer. discuss.

  • July 24, 2012, 9:54 p.m. CST

    Well, his wife is MILF-rific

    by mjgtexas

    Other than that, like his internet ginger geek-girl cohort, spreads himself too thin to the point of overexposure.

  • July 25, 2012, 2:11 a.m. CST

    I remember the 80's TNG rpg gave Wesley stats that

    by Bedknobs and Boomsticks

    made him better at repairing the engines than Geordi. Weird. And wasn't he supposed to have evolved into a superior, demi-god like person, who can traverse space-time?

  • July 25, 2012, 2:32 a.m. CST

    I hated his punk ass on TNG

    by Chuck_Chuckwalla

    Over the last few years he's endeared himself to me. God bless you Wesley Crusher.

  • July 25, 2012, 4:03 a.m. CST

    the next generation is sooooo booooorrrrrriinnnngg

    by Balkin Flabgurter

    whenever i watch that series a few things come to mind.. 1. Reading rainbow 2. old people farting and the smell of unvarnished furniture 3.plain oatmeal 4.Linen stores 5. country kitchen buffet i think you get the point.

  • July 25, 2012, 4:06 a.m. CST

    oh and that episode "galaxies child"...

    by Balkin Flabgurter

    what the fuck??????

  • July 25, 2012, 4:56 a.m. CST

    Wesley was annoying as hell, but Wheaton seems like a nice guy.

    by Koborover

    He's a huge videogame nerd so that makes him OK in my book.

  • July 25, 2012, 6:20 a.m. CST

    Don't get all the hate for Wesley

    by Shia LeButt

    Wesley Crusher was like a product of Shakespeare compared to the "annoying teenager" in today's series. Never had anything against his character. And for that matter, don't get the hate of season 1/2 of TNG. Still blows any scifi show of today out of the water.

  • July 25, 2012, 6:38 a.m. CST

    Then again, Deanna did have big, nice, lovely jubbly wubbly bubblies!

    by obijuanmartinez

  • July 25, 2012, 7:13 a.m. CST

    Tabletop

    by hspahr

    I actually really enjoy Tabletop. I love playing games but have a hard time digesting a million rules. I find it very helpful to actually see someone play a game. It's my "I'm bored - what will I watch" addiction.

  • July 25, 2012, 10:12 a.m. CST

    Hated Wesley - Don't understand Farks obsession with Wil

    by FrodoFraggins

    He seems nice enough. But he played the most annoying regular character in Star Trek history.

  • July 25, 2012, 3:12 p.m. CST

    @darkplanet: Looks like you don't know how to read, bro

    by Kremzeek

    I did not wish ANY ill will upon Wheaton. NONE. I don't want him to die or anything horrible like that. I just can't stand the way he talks so I avoid things he's in. Hell, he might not be able to stand the way *I* talk. That's fine. So, you like every single actor out there huh? There's not a single one you say "Ah... damn, s/he's in it? Ah well, I don't think I want to see it then"? Yeah right. I don't wish ANY ill will on any single person - at all. Doesn't change that I don't like Wheaton or Wesley. The 2 things aren't really even related. Nice job judging me on one post from a TB though. That's preatty awesome.

  • July 25, 2012, 3:12 p.m. CST

    *pretty*

    by Kremzeek

  • July 25, 2012, 3:20 p.m. CST

    I love it...

    by Kremzeek

    This TB actually has people telling Wheaton he should kill himself... yet DarkPlanet decides to rant about my comment. HAHAHA. Wow. That's irony.

  • July 25, 2012, 9:45 p.m. CST

    Will he ever bury the hatchet with Sheldon?

    by Triple_J_72