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William Shatner, Henry Winkler apologize for Star Trek V, Monty

Henry Winkler says sorry about ‘Monty,’ and both urge you to watch ‘Better Late Than Never’

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Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Reality shows aren’t just for too-taut, too-tan housewives. On NBC’s comedy/travel/reality series Better Late Than Never (debuting Aug. 23 at 10 p.m. ET), William Shatner, Henry Winkler, George Foreman, and Terry Bradshaw take Asia by AARP-approved storm with comedian Jeff Dye. Here, in the latest installment of Watch This/Sorry About That, we allow Shatner and Winkler (who also serves as an executive producer of Better) to sell you on the series… if they apologize for a dubious project on their lengthy résumés. 

WATCH THIS: Better Late Than Never

WILLIAM SHATNER: Imagine four disparate and desperate guys stumbling through Asia in various degrees of consciousness. And then imagine all of us talking to each other, against each other, and over each other. It made for a lot of fun, a lot of adventure, and a lot of laughs. I had a bucket list: Eat crickets, get in the ring with George Foreman, catch a pass from Terry Bradshaw, and have Henry Winkler make me laugh. To various degrees, I did all this. Of the unimaginable array of things people eat in this world, we assessed several of them. None of them are the equal of a good peanut butter-and-jam sandwich. [Pork] vagina has a certain taste that the French sum up extremely well in the phrase “Je ne sais quoi.”…. Getting knocked out by George Foreman — it was over so quickly. And then he helped me to my feet. I saw the white tunnel and my mother was calling me… I kept saying, “Why am I doing [this trip]?” And then the answer came loud and clear: Because Henry Winkler was.

HENRY WINKLER: You can watch me eat an entire rice ball filled with wasabi that surprised my mouth — and the surprise kept going for about two days. You will see gigantic men like George Foreman fit into a capsule hotel room that literally we had to use a shoehorn to get him completely in. Unfortunately the sumo wrestler didn’t make the cut, but I was picked up and thrown around like a Raggedy Ann doll by a sumo wrestler. I taught ninja warriors an entirely new movement in approaching their target. I met an elephant who looked me in the eye. I looked him back and said, “I’m so happy to meet you,” and I started to cry. We had cow penis soup in Hong Kong. Well, I had very little of it. Bill, I think, had seconds. It’s supposedly very good for your circulation. And let me just tell you, when they brought out the ball of snakes that was being carried by the proprietor of the place, my circulation went from zero to 150 as I left the table… There is nothing like this show on TV. It is a travel show, an eating show, a comedy, a discovery, all wrapped into one. It will delight you. And if it doesn’t, I will come to your house and do the dishes.

Paramount Pictures

SORRY ABOUT THAT: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

Shatner starred in and directed the sci-fi franchise’s fifth feature film, which entangles the crew of the Enterprise with Spock’s zealot brother and his search for God. He’d like to talk to you about The Final Frontier, specifically the ending.

SHATNER: I got the chance to direct a several-million-dollar movie, Star Trek V, and I did not get the help I needed in allocating my budget, so when it came to shooting the ending — needing a good villain and lots of computer graphics — I had run out of money. Sorry about that. [Laughs.] I had to use footage that I had already shot — and spit on it a lot. I wanted to give [the audience] earth-breaking granite monsters spewing rocks and fire. Instead, I had a few pebbles in my hand that I threw at the camera.

Everett Collection

SORRY ABOUT THAT: Monty (1994)

This 1994 Fox comedy series starred Winkler as a brash, ultraconservative talk-show host (and also featured David Schwimmer, David Krumholtz, and Kate Burton).

WINKLER: When Monty was originally written, it was hysterically funny — about Rush Limbaugh having a gay daughter. NBC [owned it] for 11 minutes — I was asked to go to the [advertiser] upfronts and then somebody called me and said, “Can we have the ticket back?” Then we sold it to Fox, and it became Rush Limbaugh with a son who stopped studying law in order to become a chef… We did six episodes before they finally canceled it. Thirteen were made, and some of them have never seen the light of day; there is no suntan on those particular episodes. I’m telling you, it was cringeworthy… I wouldn’t even call it a performance. I should have been sent to the Midwest to some rehab facility for actors. Here’s the lesson: When you’re trying to fit a square peg into the round funny house and it doesn’t fit, do not take out your saw.

A version of this story appeared in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands now or available digitally here. Don’t forget to subscribe for exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.