[01/14/05 - 12:00 AM]
Emmy Award(R)-Winner William Shatner Stars in New Improvisational Comedic Mini-Series 'Invasion Iowa'

[via press release from Spike TV]

Emmy Award(R)-Winner William Shatner Stars in New Improvisational Comedic Mini-Series 'Invasion Iowa'

Premieres on Spike TV, March 29-April 1 at 9:00 PM, ET/PT

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif., Jan. 14 -- What happens when dysfunctional Hollywood crashes into "small town America?" With the help of some of his show biz cohorts, Emmy Award(R)-winning actor, William Shatner brings improvisational comedy to a new level with "Invasion Iowa," a complex comedy where the people of Riverside, Iowa are under the impression that Shatner and gang are filming an independent sci-fi movie. Spike TV's first ever mini-series premieres Tuesday, March 29 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) culminating on April Fool's Day, Friday, April 1.

"I fell in love with the people of Riverside," William Shatner said. "The hardest part of this whole experience was containing my empathy for the individuals who listened to and identified with the Hollywood dysfunction that we played in front of them."

A crew team of producers, writers, and actors spent more than a year planning this carefully crafted show, which lampooned the craziness of Hollywood before an audience of "small-town America." "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.

"We went to pull one over on the people of Riverside, and the joke ultimately ended up being on us," says Kevin Kay, EVP of Programming and Production for Spike TV. "We were amazed by not only the kindness and openness of the townspeople, but their understanding of the complexity and comedy of this project."

The people of Riverside expected a movie shoot, but what they got instead was a front row seat to some Hollywood-style insanity. Shatner played the role of an over-the-top version of himself. His eccentric faux "entourage" included his harried, neurotic assistant, his spiritual advisor, his flighty leading actress, his Hollywood studio executive and his nephew/body double, all of whom were played by improvisational comedic actors. As a thank you to the townspeople of Riverside for being such good sports, Shatner presented town officials with a $100,000 city service contribution and the cast and crew donated $12,000 to the Riverside Elementary School Book Fund.

Here's a glimpse of the cast of characters in "Invasion Iowa" from the talented improv actors:

* Bill's Spiritual Advisor -- "Steve"

Sweet and well-meaning, Steve advises Shatner on all aspects of his life, from spirituality to finances to diet. Claims 956 deductions on his taxes because he is 'spiritual father to many.' He is the world's only known 'Bill Whisperer' and has the innate ability to calm Shatner down just by whispering the right words. Steve is portrayed by Ernie Grunwald.

* The Studio Executive -- "Max"

A no-nonsense, vicious, Hollywood executive, Max is stylish and sexy, but most men are too intimidated to approach her. She's the one person Shatner fears and obeys. Max is portrayed by Garz Chan.

* The Actress -- "Gryffyn"

Gryffyn is Shatner's leading lady. She embodies every stereotype of the Hollywood actress to the extreme: she's vain, insecure, unstable, shallow, egocentric, promiscuous, a vegan, superstitious, flaky and sexy. She has a "Winona Ryder" habit of stealing things from local stores. Gryffyn is portrayed by Desi Lydic.

* The Assistant -- "Herb"

Herb is Shatner's ridiculously friendly assistant who is terrible at his job. He thinks this job could be his big break, so he tries hard to impress Shatner. As a result, Herb tries too hard and constantly makes mistakes, making him more and more nervous. Herb desperately wants to be a director and is constantly pitching bad ideas (It's 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' meets 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!'). Herb is portrayed by Michael J. O'Hara.

* The Body Double -- "Tiny"

Tiny is Shatner's 'nephew,' longtime body double and irrepressible hanger-on. The "bastard" son of a wardrobe assistant on the original 'Star Trek' series, Tiny grew up fatherless and wild. Shatner took Tiny under his wing and helped raise him over the years, but because Shatner always had such a soft spot for Tiny, he never enforced real discipline. Tiny is the life of every party, over-the-top fun, and completely uncontrollable by 'Uncle Bill' or anyone else. Tiny is portrayed by Kirk Ward.

"Invasion Iowa" was created and executive produced by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and William Shatner. Gary Benz also serves as executive producer. The series is exclusively produced for Spike TV by Reese Wernick Productions and GRB Entertainment. Peilin Chou, Vice President of Original Series for Spike TV, 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. MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), owns and operates the following television programming services -- MTV: MUSIC TELEVISION, MTV2, mtvU, VH1, NICKELODEON, NICK at NITE, COMEDY CENTRAL, TV LAND, SPIKE TV, CMT, NOGGIN, MTV INTERNATIONAL and THE DIGITAL SUITE FROM MTV NETWORKS, a package of 12 digital services, all of which are trademarks of MTV Networks. MTV Networks also has licensing agreements, joint ventures, and syndication deals whereby all of its programming services can be seen worldwide.

Web Site: http://www.spiketv.com

  [january 2005]  


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