William Shatner's 'Invasion Iowa' Proves to Be TV's Most Elaborate Hoax Ever
New Reality Series to Be Telecast on Spike TV in 2005
RIVERSIDE, Iowa, Sept. 29 -- Emmy Award(R)-winning actor
William Shatner revealed Tuesday that "Invasion Iowa," the independent science
fiction time-travel film he purportedly wrote, directed, produced, and starred
in on location in Riverside, Iowa, is actually a fake. Shatner stood in front
of a crowd of hundreds and revealed to the people of Riverside that they are
now the unwitting stars of their own television series for Spike TV, produced
by Paul Wernick & Rhett Reese, William Shatner, and Gary Benz. Shatner then,
as a thank you to the townspeople of Riverside for being such good sports,
presented town officials with a $100,000 city service contribution.
"I fell in love with the people of Riverside," William Shatner said. "And
the hardest part of this whole experience was containing my empathy for the
individuals who listened to and identified with the soap opera that we played
in front of them."
A crew of producers, writers, and actors spent more than a year planning
this carefully crafted hoax, which lampooned the craziness of Hollywood before
an audience of "small-town America." Shatner played the role of an
increasingly over-the-top version of himself. His eccentric faux "entourage"
ranged from his harried, neurotic assistant, to his spiritual advisor, to his
flighty leading actress, all of whom were played by improvisational comedic
"It's hard to imagine any undertaking more audacious, hair-raising, and
ultimately rewarding than what we just finished in Riverside," says Paul
Wernick. Rhett Reese adds, "This is unlike anything that's ever been tried in
the history of television. It was a truly breathtaking experience."
"This is a breakthrough concept" says Peilin Chou, Spike TV's Vice
President of Original Series, and the Executive in Charge of Production of
"Invasion Iowa." "The complexity and intricacy of how the show is
orchestrated coupled with the warmth of the people of Riverside makes this
truly extraordinary television."
The series held auditions and cast several local residents for roles in
the faux film, then hired more for its fake film crew. These individuals,
mostly from the city of Riverside, became the unknowing stars of a television
series. The locals who became cast members, Brooke Lemke of, Iowa City; Wayne
Simon, of Riverside; Leann Sexton, of Riverside; John Conway, of Wellman,
Iowa; Mike Poch, of Riverside; Ryan Baumbach, of Iowa City; Brandon Kaufman,
of Riverside; and, Bill Blank, of Des Moines, and the locals selected as crew
members, Scott Riggan, of Riverside; Jim Pickering, of Riverside; and Diana
Schultz, of Riverside; were given front-row seats to all the on-set and
off-set shenanigans, including attending dailies in Murphy's Bar & Grill, a
local bar and family restaurant, and becoming confidantes of Shatner and
"Invasion Iowa" creators and executive producers Rhett Reese, Paul
Wernick, and William Shatner chose the city of Riverside, population 978, in
large part for its status as the "future birthplace" of Shatner's legendary
"Star Trek" character, Captain (later Admiral) James T. Kirk, who was born in
the quaint Midwestern farming community on March 22, 2228. Since 1985,
thousands of fans have gathered annually in Riverside for "Trek Fest."
Traditionally held during the last week in June, Trek Fest welcomes fans who
come to celebrate their love of the "Star Trek" television series, films, and
lore. "Invasion Iowa" has no connection to the "Star Trek" franchise.
The "Invasion Iowa" cast and crew spent ten days in town, shooting at
various locations, including Downtown Riverside, Murphy's Bar & Grill, Sojka
Farms, Delgato's restaurant and St. Mary's Church, and brought in nearly a
million dollars to the local economy.
The show is set to debut on Spike TV in early 2005. "Invasion Iowa" was
created and executive produced by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and William
Shatner. Gary Benz also serves as executive producer. Mary Jester is
co-executive producer, Ronnie Weinstock is supervising producer, and Brendon
Carter is director. The series is exclusively produced for Spike TV by Reese
Wernick Productions and GRB Entertainment. Peilin Chou, Spike TV's Vice
President of Original Series, serves as the Executive in Charge of Production.
Spike TV, the first network for men, is available in 87 million homes and
is a division of MTV Networks.
SOURCE Spike TV