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Anyone with an Internet connection and a fanboy or fangirl sensibility probably has a mini-crush on George Takei, the 76-year-old actor and LGBT activist many remember from his days on the original “Star Trek.”
He could have faded into obscurity like many stars of the bygone era of leisure suits and Farrah hair, but his wit, ability to tackle social issues and penchant for cute puppy pics have made him a social media star.
With more than 6.5 million Facebook friends and 1.11 million Twitter followers, it’s pretty safe to say people like what Takei has to say (ooh, that rhymes!) and are interested in his life. They’ll get an even wider peek into his day to day in director Jennifer Kroot’s documentary “To Be Takei,” which premieres at Pacific Art Movement’s Spring Showcase, an Asian film fest happening April 17-24.
The film will focus on Takei, his husband Brad and their work as activists for LGBT rights. The couple welcomed cameras into their lives for three years, which was no problem for Takei. Brad, on the other hand …
“That’s the nature of documentaries,” Takei said from his home in Los Angeles. “I’m an actor. I’m used to cameras being around me. That’s what we agreed to sharing. But for Brad it was a little bit uncomfortable. In some scenes he looks like a deer in the headlights. But Brad came off delightfully. He’s somewhat new to being in front of the camera, and it’s captured. I think it adds to the authenticity.”
Takei said many of his former “Star Trek” colleagues appear in the documentary, including William Shatner. He admits he and Shatner had some beef in the past.
“We had to do some bargaining [to get him to appear],” Takei said.
The film also touches on Takei’s early life living in a Japanese internment camp in Arkansas, the hardships he and his family faced upon being released and his work campaigning for human rights in the U.S. And, of course, there will be lots of laughs. As his grandmother once told him, Takei says, “Well, life is a comedy.”
“To Be Takei” will screen at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 17, at UltraStar Mission Valley. Takei will be there. Feel free to give him a high-five.
You’re reading the Culture Report, Voice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news.
Art Recommendations, New Digs and More Visual Art News
• Pacific San Diego Magazine double-dog-dared MCASD’s new curator of contemporary art, Elizabeth Rooklidge, to pick an artist who gets her eyeballs in a tizzy. This led to a recommendation chain where a local artist shares their favorite art maker, and that art maker shares their fave, and so on, and so on.
• Glass artists Nic McGuire and John Gibbons set up shop in Barrio Logan. CityBeat gives them a warm welcome.
• CityBeat reports on more new digs, this time for artist Louise Girling.
• Art and poetry make a beautiful baby at Low Gallery’s exhibition, Everything Makes a Sound, featuring works by Anna Zappoli. Check it out on Friday.
• BBC News has a gorgeous slideshow featuring artists along the U.S.-Mexico border photographed with some of their work. Many of them are Tijuana artists; all of them are awesome.
• Space 4 Art will host seven SDSU furniture design and woodworking students for the exhibition Measured Twice, which opens Wednesday. Not going to make a woodworking joke, but I want to.
• Casey Weldon’s eccentric, fairy tale-like paintings will mesmerize you and make you slightly uneasy. That’s just how I like my art. See his work this week at Distinction Gallery/Art Hatch.
• Get to know Nicholas Ivins, the artist behind this month’s cover of Pacific Magazine.
Opera Drama, Belly Dancing Alice and More Music and Performance Notes
• Looks like the guillotine won’t be coming down on the San Diego Opera right away. Its board of directors held an emergency meeting on Monday to re-evaluate the long-standing opera’s fate. The verdict: The board will wait just a bit longer to consider other options besides shuttering and look closely at their finances. (KPBS)
• Even with that bit of hope on the horizon, the opera is still dealing with some drama resulting from its possible closing. KPBS reports that the American Guild of Musical Artists filed a claim with the National Labor Relations Board for failing to honor contracts with singers.
• Before the news of Monday’s meeting broke, Voice of San Diego invited Carlos Cota, business manager for Local 122 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, onto our weekly podcast hosted by Scott Lewis, Andy Keatts and Caty Green. Read some of the highlights of the interview and listen to the podcast here.
• So the destiny of the San Diego Opera is still up in the air, which means “Don Quixote” may or may not be the final show ever produced. In case it is, do yourself a favor and do not miss it.
• San Diego’s performing arts scene is pretty wonderful and here are 12 shining examples, courtesy of Pacific.
• A belly-dancing version of “Alice in Wonderland.” Yes, you read that right. It premieres Friday.
• An interactive Beatles experience? God, I hope that doesn’t involve a hologram performance by John Lennon (outdated pop culture reference alert!).
• This Friday, the Escher String Quartet teaches people there are classier things to listen to than Katy Perry, which is what I’m currently and shamefully playing at this very moment.
Centennial Update, Soul Saving and More Culture Crumbles
• The opera’s possible closure has been causing an outpouring of “why”s and “noooo”s, but before that, the Balboa Park centennial was the original headache for San Diego culture lovers. So what happens now? VOSD has some insight, as does KPBS.
• Balboa Park has become the place to have your rotten soul saved. (Reader)
• What do you get when you pair 10 local chefs with 10 brewers? Why, it’s taste-bud magic. Get a taste at Craft Beer + Bites this Saturday.
• Meet Marty Burnett, the man who has built 150 sets for the North Coast Repertory Theater, in this profile by the U-T.
• SDSU will be offering a class on zombies. Seriously though, I would set the curve so high on the “Shaun of the Dead” midterm. (KPBS)