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EMBARGO LIFTED!! Leonard Nimoy And/Or Peter Graves In M:I 4?? Plus Looming Lunch With Shatner?? Hercules Meets J.J. Abrams!!

I am – Hercules!! So there was this last-minute invitation to attend a Thursday morning press conference in Santa Monica, Calif., where J.J Abrams was plugging the DVD/Blu-ray release of his wonderful new “Star Trek” movie. I was perhaps the last journalist to arrive, sat in the back row, and was close to being the last of the questioners called upon. I enjoyed very much my exchange with Mr. Abrams, so I decided to transcribe it: HERCULES: I am Hercules from Ain’t It Cool News. I wanted to ask you … ABRAMS: [inevitably laughs at the grown man calling himself Hercules] HERCULES: … a very nerdy question. Nicholas Meyer watched all 79 episodes of the original series before he directed “The Wrath of Khan.” ABRAMS: Cool … HERCULES: How many of the original episodes do you estimate you’d seen before directing your film? ABRAMS: I watched most of the episodes. I watched, actually, a lot of them with my kids, and they loved it so much more than I ever thought they would and were scared to death! It was so cool to see these episodes through the eyes of a 7- or 8-year-old. HERCULES: How many more do you estimate you have to go? ABRAMS: First of all, you should come over, you should watch the other ones. HERCULES: Anytime! [Laughter.] ABRAMS: I just want to speak for a moment about Nicholas Meyer, who’s an amazing director and writer, and who was friends with my parents when I was a kid. And when I was a kid, among the other embarrassing things I would do – and there’s a list of stupid things – I would make these dumb comedy tapes. I would often make these prank phone calls and hold the phone but I would also, Greg Grunberg and I, make moronic comedy tapes. I vividly remember one night, though, when Nicholas Meyer was over for dinner, that he came to my room – and I was probably nine, maybe ten – and he and I made a tape together. And it was some stupid interview tape, and he and I were playing characters into each other. And he was just sort of a guy who was willing to be surreal and goofy. And I knew he was a writer but I didn’t know much else. But the idea that he would later go on and direct a Star Trek movie and even later I would, is so weird to me. And I’ve never discussed this because it’s obviously so painfully boring, [laughter] but it was one of those things, you know? And years later when he came to my bar mitzvah – which, you really should have been there [laughter] – he gave me “The Unabridged Sherlock Holmes,” which I still have, the two-volume book. It’s just bizarre to me, because I’m such a fan of the films he did. And, really, that was the height of my Star Trek fandom, when his films came out, I loved them. I also felt kind of a kinship kind of because I knew that guy. And it was just very surreal to be in those shoes, getting to say, “Action!” HERCULES: I’m going to rudely add a follow-up … ABRAMS: Please. [Laughter] HERCULES: Can you rule out Leonard Nimoy reprising the role of Paris in “Mission: Impossible 4”? ABRAMS: How cool would that be? Seriously? HERCULES: I think it would be kinda cool! ABRAMS: Actually, it’s kind of funny. I just got a call – which would be a very bizarre, for obvious reasons, bend in the sort of time-space continuum – but I got a call that Peter Graves [team leader Jim Phelps in the TV series] is in great shape! I’m not kidding. And I think there was a period of time when he did “Airplane!” and you’d think, “Oh my God!” But I almost feel like you could sort of serious-ize him again! So whether it’s Nimoy, who of course I have an incredible affinity for, or Graves, or anyone, I think having … I actually tried to get Martin Landau [master of disguise Roland Hand in the TV series] in “Mission 3,” in a very small little moment just for fun, and was told that he had no interest in doing it. But then, when I met him, after the movie came out, it was the greatest thing. We were at this restaurant in New York, it was one of the TV upfront parties, and someone introduced me to Landau. They took me over and Martin Landau came over to me, and extends his hand, and he goes like this [Abrams makes that classic “Mission: Impossible” grab for his own neck as if to yank off his own fake face]. That was the greatest thing I’d ever seen. [Much laughter] Abrams spoke of many other things, including making the next “Trek” in 3D and a fast-approaching lunch he was going to have with William Shatner. If you can’t wait till somebody transcribes the rest of press conference, you can find my live, borderline-incomprehensible twitters from the event here. My furious twittering, incidentally, allowed Abrams, whom I’d never met before Thursday’s press conference, to sneak up on me in the back of he room. “Dude!” he said as he grabbed my hand. Then he darted off to his next appointment. Ain’t it cool?!?!
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