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William Shatner Emotionally Describes Spaceflight to Jeff Bezos: ‘The Most Profound Experience’

Stacy Johnson

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William Shatner Emotionally Describes Spaceflight to Jeff Bezos: ‘The Most Profound Experience'



William Shatner, moments after returning to Earth from a trip just beyond the edge of space, recounted his experience in an emotional talk with Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos. The Canadian actor, who famously played Capt. Kirk in the original “Star Trek” series, described the spaceflight as “unbelievable” and something that “everybody in the world needs to do.” Bezos’ company launched Shatner and three others in a New Shepard rocket on Wednesday, with the crew spending a couple minutes in microgravity during the trip to space and back.

“What you’ve given me is the most profound experience I can imagine.”

Those were the words of William Shatner moments after returning to Earth from a trip just beyond the edge of space during an emotional talk with Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos.

The Canadian actor, who famously played Capt. Kirk in the original “Star Trek” television series, added that the spaceflight was “unbelievable” and something that “everybody in the world needs to do.”

“It was so moving to me,” Shatner said.

Bezos’ company launched Shatner and three others in a New Shepard rocket on Wednesday, with the crew spending a couple minutes in microgravity during the trip to space and back.

Read the full transcript of what Shatner told Bezos below or watch the video above.

Shatner: “Everybody in the world needs to do this. Everybody in the world needs to see … it was unbelievable.”

Shatner: “I mean, the little things, the weightlessness, and to see the blue color whip by and now you’re staring into blackness. That’s the thing. This covering of blue is this sheet, this blanket, this comforter of blue around that we have around us. We think ‘oh, that’s blue sky’ and suddenly you shoot through it all of a sudden, like you whip a sheet off you when you’re asleep, and you’re looking into blackness – into black ugliness. And you look down, there’s the blue down there, and the black up there, and there is Mother Earth and comfort and – is there death? Is that the way death is?”

Shatner: “It was so moving to me. This experience; it was something unbelievable. Yeah, weightlessness, my stomach went out, this was so weird, but not as weird as the covering of blue – this is what I never expected. It’s one thing to say “oh the sky … and it’s fragile,” it’s all true. But what isn’t true, what is unknown, until you do [go to space] is this pillow, there’s this soft blue. Look at the beauty of that color. And it’s so thin and you’re through it in an instant. How thick is it? Is it a mile?”

Bezos: “The atmosphere, it depends on how you measure because how it thins out, maybe 50 miles.”

Shatner: “So you’re through 50 miles … suddenly you’re through the blue and you’re into black … it’s mysterious and galaxies and things, but what you see is black, and what you see down there is light, and that’s the difference.”

Shatner: “And not to have this? You have done something … what you’ve given me is the most profound experience I can imagine. I am so filled with emotion about what just happened. It’s extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now, I don’t want to lose it. It’s so much larger than me and life; it hasn’t got anything to do with the little green and blue orb. It has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death. Oh my god, it’s unbelievable.”

Bezos: “It’s so beautiful.”

Shatner: “Beautiful, yes, beautiful in it’s way but.”

Bezos: “No, I mean your words. It’s just amazing.”

Shatner: “I can’t even begin to express … what I would love to do is to communicate as much as possible is the jeopardy. The moment you see the vulnerability of everything; it’s so small. This air, which is keeping us alive, is thinner than your skin. It’s a sliver; it’s immeasurably small when you think in terms of the universe. It’s negligible, this air. Mars doesn’t have any, nothing. I mean, when you think of when carbon dioxide changes to oxygen and what is 20% that sustains our life? It’s so thin.”

Bezos: “And you shoot through it so fast.”

Shatner: “So quickly! 50 miles.”

Bezos: “And then you’re just in blackness.”

Shatner: “You’re in death.”

Bezos: “This is life.”

Shatner: “And that’s death. In the moment, this is life and that’s death. And in an instant you go ‘wow, that’s death.’ That’s what I saw.”

Bezos: That’s amazing.”

Shatner: “I am overwhelmed. I had no idea. You know, we were talking earlier before going: ‘Well, you know, it’s going to be different.’ Whatever that is phrase is that you have, that you have a different view of things? That doesn’t begin to explain, to describe it for me.”

Shatner: “This is now the commercial. It would be so important for everybody to have that experience, through one means or anything – maybe you put it on 3D and wear goggles to have that experience, that’s certainly a technical possibility.

Shatner: “We were lying there, and I’m thinking – one delay after another delay and we’re lying there – and I’m thinking ‘yeah, I’m a little jittery here.’ And they moved the page, and ‘oh, there’s something in the engine,’ they said: ‘Found an anomaly in the engine … we’re gonna hold a little longer.’ And I feel this, in the stomach, the biome inside, and I’m think ‘okay, I’m thinking I’m a little nervous here’ and then another delay. By the way, the simulation … it’s only a simulation, everything else is much more involved.”

Bezos: “Doesn’t capture it.”

Shatner: “Doesn’t capture it … and besides, with the jeopardy, BANG this thing hits. That wasn’t anything like the simulation.”

Bezos: “It’s the G forces!”

Shatner: “It’s the G forces. And you’re thinking ‘what’s going to happen to me? Am I going to be able to survive the G forces?’ You feel that? Am I going to survive it? Good lord, just getting up the bloody [launch tower] gantry was enough. Oh my god, what an experience.”

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Fatal Prop Gun Shooting Shows Why Hollywood Crews Are Fighting for Better Working Conditions

Stacy Johnson

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Fatal Prop Gun Shooting Shows Why Hollywood Crews Are Fighting for Better Working Conditions



While injuries or death from prop firearms are extremely rare, the accidental killing of Halyna Hutchins on a movie set has sparked inquiries about working conditions for Hollywood crew members. The death comes as a major crew union is working to finalize a new three-year contract with Hollywood’s producers that ensures better working hours, safer workplace conditions and improved benefits. The circumstances of the shooting are under investigation. No charges have been filed.

While injuries or death from prop firearms are extremely rare, the accidental killing of Halyna Hutchins on a Sante Fe movie set Thursday has sparked inquiries about working conditions for Hollywood crew members.

“I’ve been in the industry 21 years,” said Kevin Williams, the prop department supervisor at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. “I have not heard of any circumstances like this. So, this is definitely one of these things, and it sounds like a cliche to say, but it really sounds like a freak accident.”

The circumstances of the shooting are under investigation. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office confirmed that actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of “Rust,” a Western being filmed at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, killing the film’s director of photography and injuring its director, Joel Souza.

Souza has since been discharged from the hospital. No charges have been filed. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

While it’s unclear at this point what exactly transpired Thursday, many in the industry have begun to inquire about working conditions on set. These queries come as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees works to finalize a new three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers that addresses the union’s calls for better working hours, safer workplace conditions and improved benefits.

“There have been times that I have been on projects for 18 to 20 hours and then been asked to return in six,” Williams said.

Crew protested working conditions

The IATSE issued a statement Friday addressing Hutchins’ death and encouraging its members to contact the union’s safety hotline if they feel unsafe on set.

“Our entire alliance mourns this unspeakable loss with Halyna’s family, friends, and the ‘Rust’ crew,” the statement read. “Creating a culture of safety requires relentless vigilance from every one of us, day in and day out. Please, if you see something, say something.”

The union declined to comment further.

A person familiar with the matter told NBC News that half a dozen camera crew workers walked off the “Rust” set in protest of working conditions just hours before the shooting took place. Among their concerns were multiple misfires of the prop gun.

Earlier Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing three unnamed people involved with the production, that the crew was frustrated with the production’s long hours. It also alleged that there were two previous prop gun misfires on set, one the previous week and one on Saturday.

​”The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company,” Rust Movie Productions said in a statement provided to CNBC. “Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down.”

Rust Productions is cooperating with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation.

A ‘potential failure in the system’

Hollywood productions typically adhere to strict safety measures for stunt work, particularly when it comes to weapon and prop safety. The Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee has written and distributed safety bulletins on best practices for television and movie productions.

“Blanks can kill,” the first bulletin reads. “Treat all firearms as though they are loaded. ‘Live ammunition’ is never to be used nor brought onto any studio lot or stage.”

These guidelines are recommendations and may not apply to reality shows such as “Mythbusters” or “Top Shot” where live rounds are used to test scientific theories or for marksmanship competition.

“I can say unequivocally that a blank round versus a live round is really easy to identify in the hands of an experienced armorer or prop master,” Williams said. “I can’t imagine anybody would say ‘whoops’ and just put that in there.”

He also noted that safety demonstrations are done with all cast and crew involved in firearm stunts who are instructed that prop weapons should never be pointed at another actor or crew member. In cases where a director wants to film a weapon being pointed at the camera and discharged, ballistic shields are used, he said.

“There are a lot of safety measures put in place,” he said. “If it turns out that a live round was loaded into a vintage weapon and it turns out that that is how this happened, then we need to figure out why.”

That’s a “potential failure in the system,” Williams said.

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Movie Ticket Sales Have Topped 2020’s Paltry Box Office, But Still Trail 2019’s Haul by 70%

Stacy Johnson

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Movie Ticket Sales Have Topped 2020's Paltry Box Office, But Still Trail 2019's Haul by 70%



Ticket sales in 2021 have already outpaced 2020’s paltry box office. But sales still lag nearly 70% behind 2019’s $11.4 billion haul. Box office receipts have steadily improved throughout the year, as new films have become available on the big screen and audiences have grown more comfortable venturing out of their homes. These trends suggest that as the threat of the coronavirus dissipates and major blockbuster titles continue to enter the market, the box office will return to more normal levels.

With just two months before the end of the year, the coronavirus pandemic continues to loom large over the film industry.

Ticket sales in 2021 have already outpaced 2020’s paltry box office. But sales still lag nearly 70% behind 2019’s $11.4 billion haul. As of Sunday, the domestic box office has tallied $2.84 billion in ticket sales, according to data from Comscore. 

Box office receipts have steadily improved throughout the year, as new films have become available on the big screen and audiences have grown more comfortable venturing out of their homes. Exclusive theatrical releases like Disney’s “Free Guy,” Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and Sony’s “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” have proven that there is a future for movie theaters, even if overall attendance and ticket sales are smaller than pre-pandemic times.

These films had strong opening weekends. The “Venom” sequel, which debuted the first weekend in October, currently holds the record for the best opening during the health crisis, with around $90 million in ticket sales. Even better, these titles continued to lure in moviegoers in the weeks after their debuts.

This pattern suggests that as the threat of the coronavirus dissipates and major blockbuster titles continue to enter the market, the box office will return to more normal levels.

“To say the box office has turned a corner would be an understatement at this point,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com.

With two weeks of sales yet to bake in, the October box office is the second-highest grossing month of the year. Theaters have already tallied $415.6 million in ticket sales in the first half of the month, putting it behind July, which garnered $583.8 million in sales, according to Comscore. July featured the release of “Black Widow” as well as continued ticket sales of “F9,” which debuted the last week of June.

“The industry is still working to overcome certain obstacles, like caution among older audiences and the anticipation of vaccines for kids, but a large share of the moviegoing audience has returned in staggered waves over the course of the last six months,” Robbins said. He added, it’s a promising sign for theaters heading into the holiday season.

“October has been a rejuvenation period for Hollywood, something studios and exhibitors have been patiently waiting for,” said Jeff Bock, senior analyst at Exhibitor Relations. “The outlook for fall has the industry headed in the right direction, as evident by the plethora of strong debuts.”

Prior to the pandemic, the fall movie season — which encompasses October, November and December — accounted for around 25% of ticket sales each year. In 2019, that 3-month period tallied nearly $3 billion.

Box office analysts do not expect the fall 2021 slate to match that, but they are confident that titles like Disney’s “Eternals” and “Encanto,” Warner Bros.’ “The Matrix Resurrections,” and Sony and Marvel’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home” will be enticing enough to help the 2021 box office reach around $4 billion.

“Recovery has always been a multitiered process and, as strong as 2021 looks to finish, 2022 has the makings to take the box office rebound even higher,” Robbins said.

But Bock expects the first part of next year “will be a slog,” because there are few major releases as the year begins. However, the summer looks as “strong as ever,” he said, likening it to 2019’s blockbuster line-up. The summer slate includes new releases from major franchises like Marvel, DC, Jurassic World, Top Gun, Fantastic Beasts, Minions and Transformers.

Still, audiences have been less predictable during the pandemic, and the availability of some blockbuster features on streaming at the same time as in theaters has led to cannibalization of ticket sales.

“One of the most intriguing aspects of the theatrical restart during the pandemic has been the fact that young audiences are turning out in strong numbers and on a consistent basis,” Robbins said. “Before the pandemic, there had been various narratives about how young consumers were turning away from so-called traditional habits in lieu of the litany of content distribution platforms across social media and streaming.”

It seems older generations, many of which have kids that cannot be vaccinated, are now the ones that are less inclined to venture out to theaters. However, as vaccines become widely available to those under the age of 11, this could shift once again.

“Films with appeal to younger demographics have thrived while those aimed at more mature moviegoers have had a tougher time gaining traction,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore said. “At least for now.”

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal distributed “F9,” and “Halloween Kills” globally and distributed “No Time To Die” internationally.

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Veteran Actor, ‘Bosom Buddies’ Sitcom Star Peter Scolari Dies at 66

Stacy Johnson

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Veteran Actor, ‘Bosom Buddies' Sitcom Star Peter Scolari Dies at 66



Peter Scolari, who rose to fame alongside Tom Hanks in the offbeat sitcom “Bosom Buddies” and later appeared alongside Bob Newhart in “Newhart,” died Friday after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 66.

His manager, Ellen Lubin Sanitsky, confirmed his death in a statement. 

Scolari won an Emmy for his work on “Girls,” portraying the father of series star Lena Dunham’s character. He was nominated three times for a supporting-actor Emmy for his work in “Newhart.”

The New York native most recently appeared in the series “Evil.”

He has an extensive list of credits, appearing in shows including “Happy Days,” “Hotel,” “Family Ties,” “The Love Boat,” “Empty Nest,” “The West Wing” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.”

He lent his voice to the animated Christmas film “The Polar Express,” which starred Hanks.

It was “Bosom Buddies” that made Scolari a star. He and Hanks starred as roommates who dressed as women so they could live in an affordable apartment in a building for women only.

Scolari was also an accomplished stage actor, appearing in Broadway shows including “Hairspray” and “Wicked.” He also appeared on stage with Hanks in “Lucky Guy” in 2013.

He is survived by his wife, Tracy Shayne, and children Nicholas, Keaton, Joseph and Cali.

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