A week later
my boss, the Features Editor, called me into his office. "We've
got a scoop, Gil. Get your act together - you're interviewing
Brent Spiner at 15.00 hrs." The ground shifted under my feet
(damn these earth tremors). Feeling slightly sick, I asked,
"Will he be sending a "representative"?" "Don't be a bloody
idiot - what would be the point of that?" barked my boss. I
repaired to The Bugle's V.I.P. suite to await the great man's
arrival. No time to prepare my questions, but an experienced
reporter like myself should be able to cope with that minor
drawback. My junior assistant appeared, carrying the tape recorder
and notebooks and wearing a Data T-shirt I swear she did not
have on earlier.
Mr. Spiner arrived promptly at the appointed time and we greeted
each other. I noticed his handshake was firm and warm, and hastily
retracted my cold, clammy paw! He was wearing a beautifully-cut
dark suit and pristine-white, collarless shirt. His hair was
immaculate and he looked every inch a movie star. I became acutely
aware of my scruffy jeans and the curry stain on my sweater.
It seemed to me that the room became charged with electricity
the moment he entered. I admonished myself for being fanciful.
My assistant re-entered, bearing a tray of coffees. It wasn't
Mr. Spiner's fault! Turning in his chair to thank her, he inadvertently
subjected her to the full radiance of his engaging grin and
liquid blue eyes. Spiner and I spent the next fifteen minutes
on our hands and knees trying to mop coffee stains out of the
pale green carpet, whilst the Bugle's C.M.O. attempted to bring
my assistant out of a deep coma. Eventually order was restored.
I set up the equipment myself, my assistant having been led
away, moaning incoherently.
"Please don't be angry with her," begged Spiner. "I must have
caught the tray when I turned round." I arched my left eyebrow
at him; a tactic I normally employ to subdue recalcitrant intervieweees.
Brent returned my gaze unflinchingly, and his eyes twinkled
with merriment behind his specs. I gave up! I was not in this
Fortunately, matters improved as the interview got underway
and my questions flowed with the ease of the seasoned professional.
Mr. Spiner proved to be an ideal subject, talking easily and
coherently, and illustrating every point with graceful movements
of his hands. My confidence ebbed slightly when I failed to
keep up with several of his witticisms, but he was just too
quick for me. A good reporter is never afraid to ask an awkward
question (even when he has only recently come to grief on the
very same issue). I framed my words with tack and diplomacy.
"Have you any idea why you were unceremoniously booted out of
the Sunspot's world tour?"
Mr. Spiner lowered his eyes (the room darkened by a few watts)
"I suppose they decided my voice wasn't up to scratch".
"Are you angry about it?"
He brought the lighting back up again and replied cheerfully,
"Oh, no. My Fam - er, the Sunspots are terrific guys.
I love them all and they deserve their - uh - success and -
er - fame."
(I made a mental note to do some research into the intriguing
and oft-mentioned "Fam - er".) My next question was phased with
the adroitness for which I have become renowned in journalistic
"How does it feel to be transformed from a faceless, jobbing
actor into a famous movie star? And how can you possibly explain
Spiner's voice sounded dangerously silky -
"It's very nice, thank you. I like it. I put it down to my incredible
talent and the exceptionally good taste exhibited by my fans."
I peered at him, imagining I saw his mouth twitch, but his expression
was deadpan; his eyes wide and innocent. I had the annoying
suspicion that this guy was running rings around me, and I didn't
care for it at all. Nonetheless, and dodgy patches aside, the
session continued smoothly for the rest of my allotted time.
We parted on the best of terms, and Brent said he would look
forward to reading my article. That firm handshake again (I
remembered to wipe my hand surreptitiously on my pants this
time) and he whisked out of the V.I.P. suite and away.
Neatly side-stepping a clutch of secretaries who normally won't
give me the time of day, I retreated to my office and yelled
for my assistant. The C.M.O. appeared, and informed me that
she had been escorted home and placed in front of a TV set showing
an episode of "The Outer Limits". Sensing my bewilderment, the
C.M.O. said, "You wouldn't understand. It will help her - trust
Sighing heavily, I got down to the task of transposing the taped
interview to paper. I listened to it with growing amazement
and worries about the onset of senile dementia. There was my
own voice (God, did I sound that bad?) asking,
"And what do you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies
The reply (in a voice like honey spread on silk) -
"I love sleeping and watching TV."
There followed a discussion about Brent's favourite programmes,
during which he enacted an entire episode of "I Love Lucy",
taking the parts of Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel in turn. Or
could it have been a recording of the show? I was no longer
sure of anything any more! The next bit was me attempting to
probe into his private life (essential, as any good newsman
will tell you) and Brent offering politely,
"I never talk abour 'Star Trek' or my private life."
There followed an enthusiastic Spinerlogue on the new film "S.T.
- First Contact", during which he heaped praise on everyone
connected with the movie, with particular reference to "Jonathan's
brilliant direction." All his co-stars were paid glowing tributes,
and he ended with "Data's pretty damn good too", accompanied
by a chuckle.
I finally packed in around midnight and headed wearily for my
apartment. Too late, I remembered that I had promised to take
my girlfriend out to dinner to celebrate her birthday. Amends
would have to be made, once I'd gotten rid of this mega-migrane!
Not long after, I received a package from Spiner's office,
containing a signed photograph and a home-recorded cassette
of him singing in the bath. "Just to prove I ain't so bad",
said the handwritten note. 'Nice guy', I thought, shoving
the tape in my jeans' pocket.
That night, having nothing better to do, I gave the tape a
spin. I nearly fell out of my chair! There, amidst splashing
noises, soared the purest, sweetest, most beautiful sounds
I had ever heard in my life. I devoted the remainder of my
evening to carting hugh piles of Pavarotti and Domingo albums
out to the garbage. I placed Brent's tape reverently next
to The King, and wondered how much I would get for it at auction.
Show-Biz Guru, Gil,
Signing off until next time