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TrekToday - Shatner's Invasion of Iowa A Hoax

Shatner's Invasion of Iowa A Hoax

By Michelle
September 30, 2004 - 10:06 PM

William Shatner's Invasion Iowa, announced as an independent film featuring a script by Shatner and Leonard Nimoy {story}, is a hoax perpetrated for a new Spike TV reality show, Shatner announced yesterday.

After originally stating his plan to shoot an original movie in the town of Riverside, Iowa a week earlier, Shatner and Spike TV revealed that the plan was in fact a fake, luring hundreds of people into unwitting appearances on the television series. As a thank-you to Riverside, Shatner then presented town officials with a $100,000 contribution to the city.

"The hardest part of this whole experience was containing my empathy for the individuals" who agreed to participate, said Shatner, who had claimed involvement in Invasion Iowa as a writer, director and producer. Spike announced that a team of writers and actors had spent more than a year planning and executing the hoax to show the culture clash between Hollywood and small-town America, sending Shatner to Riverside with a personal assistant, a spiritual advisor and a flighty co-star, all played by professional actors.

The series also held auditions for locals to participate in Invasion Iowa, casting the mayor's son among others. These people became confidantes of Shatner and his team. "The complexity and intricacy of how the show is orchestrated coupled with the warmth of the people of Riverside makes this truly extraordinary television" declared Peilin Chou, a Spike TV vice president.

Not all the people of Riverside appreciated the joke. The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported that set dresser Barb Simon had to hold back tears, "wondering exactly what Shatner’s principles are."

"They don’t understand that we opened our hearts to them," said Simon. "Already on the news I hear them laughing. We’re the ones that will show up on TV."

But Jerry Murphy, the owner of Murphy’s Bar & Grill, where the cast often congregated, said, "I think it is funny...it was a pretty neat experience, pretty positive for everybody." The show is scheduled to debut on Spike TV in early 2005.

More coverage is available from MSNBC, CNN and via the Associated Press at Yahoo!

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