First Contact and The Wil Wheaton Project

My new show premieres a month from today, on the network that I like to call “the network formerly-known as Sci-Fi,” but since that makes people who changed its name mad at me, I won’t call it that in this post.*

Seriously I’m bolding this because it’s important: The Wil Wheaton Project premieres at 10pm EDT on Tuesday, May 27th, on Syfy™ Syfy: Imagine Greater, and also watch WWE.**

(All silliness aside, everyone I’ve been working with at Syfy has been super awesome, super supportive, and as excited about this project as I am. I wouldn’t feel okay making jokes at the network’s expense if I didn’t know that they have a good sense of humor. We shot some promos last week where they let me really rip some of their own programming, because we did it in a funny way, and not all networks would let us do something like that.)

Okay. So, to business:

I’ve been meeting with my staff of writers, segment producers, researchers, and other creative people a couple of times a week for the last month or so, and we’ve been figuring out what shows we love, what shows we hate, and deciding how we’ll cover those shows as their (and our)season unfolds.

There are scripted shows we love, like Orphan Black, Game of Thrones, and American Horror Story. There are scripted shows that are so awful, it’s almost hard to figure out which joke we’re going to make (see: pretty much everything on the CW). There are some really great things online that I’m not going to describe now because I want to keep them to myself, and then there are the vast numbers of unscripted paranormal “reality” shows that are so insanely horrible, they actually come back around the track and end up being good: Mountain Monsters, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Adventure Ghosts, Monster Ghosts On The Mountain Having An Adventure***.

When we get  together for these meetings, we watch clips that the creative team has found, and then we pitch jokes to each other. It’s a really fun process, where we’re basically watching hilariously bad stuff, and then seeing who can make the room laugh the hardest. It turns out that all the MST3K I watched in college was actually contributing to my education, and I’m using the skills it taught me to this day.

I’m super happy and grateful that I’m working with people who are funnier and smarter than I am, so I have to push myself to keep up with them. I’m already a better comedy writer than I was a month ago, and I’m pretty excited that I’m leveling up those skills.

A couple weeks ago, we were pitching ideas to each other,  and we came up with something we think will be really cool and probably pretty funny. It’s called First Contact.

The idea is for you to tell us a story about a memorable time you met someone famous who you looked up to or admired. Whether it was funny, awesome, awkward, awful, or some combination of them all, we want to hear it.

All of us on the creative team will go through anything you submit, and we’ll pick out a few of our favorites to be animated and recreated on the show. I’ve talked to some of my friends who are voice actors, and I’m super happy and excited that some of the very best actors in the business are going to be part of this.

We had to talk to lawyers and people who wear suits every day to get permission to do this, and they said that it was okay, as long as I said precisely the following:

This is what I need from you:

– We want to see you on camera telling the story.  

– Make sure you are talking directly to camera in a well lit room.

– Go someplace quiet with no noise and absolutely no music playing in the background.

Your story must be true and authentic in describing the people and events that took place. No fibs, please.

– Please try to keep these stories under 2 minutes.  The shorter the better.

Once you’ve recorded your story, upload it to Youtube and send the link to HEYWWP at gmail dot com

Be sure to include any contact info so we can let you know if we plan on using your story.

Before you record, think about the details. I’m sure you were excited and nervous to meet your favorite celeb in real life.   Did it take courage to go up to him or her?   What was going through your head?  What did you say?  What did they say?  What about them surprised you?  How did it end?  Were your friends jealous?  


I’ll add that details about the time, place, and other environmental elements will give our animators stuff to work with. Speaking as a storyteller myself, I encourage you to get to the emotional center of the story as quickly as you can, because that’s how you connect to an audience. If you’d like an example of a first meeting that wasn’t particularly awesome, you can listen to my WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER story from w00tstock.

If you have any questions about this, ask them in comments and I’ll do my best to answer them as quickly as I can.

*OMG this hand that feeds me tastes SO GOOD!

**OMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOM please don’t cancel me before i even start i’ll be good i promise

***some of these don’t actually exist, but they could, with just a little bit of creative editing.

60 thoughts on “First Contact and The Wil Wheaton Project”

  1. Oh man, do I have a story or two for you lol Ahhh, Comic Con changes lives, people 😉

    1. Talking abt comic con and will shatner and first contact . Took my son to see him at phillycon 2013 and just 25 mins after we get there what comes over the loud speakers … sorry to inform fans . William shatner wont be comming today . So what a let down for me and my son…

      1. Bummer! It happens, though — they are human, and he’s no spring chicken. Gotta be ready for that at any live event, unfortunately. Hopefully you found other cool stuff to do!

  2. To be perfectly honest, my best celeb-meeting story is meeting Wil Wheaton at DragonCon a few years ago. Would that be weird?

    I have some other decent stories, like meter Bruce Boxlightner and Peter Jurasic (B5).

    A couple of questions:

    – Will this be a rolling submission for the next couple of months, or is it more likely that we’ll get our story used if we submit quickly?

    – I’m a bit confused about you wanting us to submit video of ourselves, but then voice actors and animators will be involved. I assume that means that you’ll animate the story, and the animation will act out the story, not us telling the story, right?

    I can’t wait to see this show. Whoo-hoo!

    1. – Will this be a rolling submission for the next couple of months, or is it more likely that we’ll get our story used if we submit quickly?

      The sooner we get submissions, the sooner we can get to work animating them. I hope that it’s a popular enough segment that we do it for months to come, though.

      – I’m a bit confused about you wanting us to submit video of ourselves, but then voice actors and animators will be involved. I assume that means that you’ll animate the story, and the animation will act out the story, not us telling the story, right?

      I think it will be a combination of the above, sort of using the model they do on Drunk History, where the narrator says stuff that comes out of the actor’s mouths. In this case, let’s say you’re telling a story about meeting someone, so we use your description to narrate it, and then we have a voice actor do the celebrity (especially if it’s someone we know who can match that voice), and you do your own voice.

      Does that answer your questions?

      1. Yes, thanks, that answers those questions perfectly. The voice actor/animator/my voice thing now makes sense.

        What about my pre/meta question, though:

        I’ve met some neat people across the autograph table, mostly at Dragoncon. I have a couple of decent stories, but by far the best one is meeting…er…you (Wil) at Dragoncon. Would it be weird to submit that story to your show?

          1. I hope we get some of emotional Wil stories like that woman that learned how to walk with your picture so she could one day come to a con and hug you. Those were touching and very cool. That story really stuck with me.

  3. Hey Wil,

    There are plenty of gamers and geeks who also geek out over wrestling. When a thought leader like yourself marginalizes the genre, you influence others to do the same. No one has to like wrestling, but I’m sure you have more than a few fans who do who would appreciate not being treated as outcasts because of their choice in entertainment. I do my best to live by Wheaton’s law, and part of that includes liking what I like and letting others do the same without making fun of their choices.

    This isn’t the end of the world. I will be lining up with everyone else to enjoy the myriad Wil Wheaton entertainment content that exists now and will be created in days to come.

    Thank you for doing all that you have to bring geeky pursuits and gaming to a larger audience. I hope that Tabletop hits its million dollar goal and you can expose role-playing game to that audience as well.

    1. That joke isn’t at the expense of anyone who enjoys professional wrestling. I grew up watching WWF every Saturday, and I loved it.

      I’m making a joke about the channel that’s supposed to be about science fiction airing wrestling.

      1. WWE airing on SyFy, in my opinion, makes more sense than many of the things airing on the channel. WWE is all about fantasy in a comic-book sense. A cast of characters with outsized personalities in outrageous outfits performing physical feats that seem superheroic. Good versus evil, triumph over seemingly insurmountable odds.

        Yeah, it can get cheesy, but so do many of the SyFy movies that everyone loves for their cheesetasticness.

  4. I’ve never really met anyone famous, much less had a super awkward, memorable meeting. You could change that if, on your next trip to Seattle, you stopped by my booth at the Fremont Sunday Market to try my beer jam (which you will like a lot). I promise, I will stammer, blush, and say at least one accidentally inappropriate thing, and one ON PURPOSE inappropriate thing, and probably tear up a little like the ninny muggins that I am, and then the D&D geek who sells artisan marshmallows across the market from me will swoop in with an appropriately timed witticism and a sample marshmallow, and then the whole market will break out in song and dance, and there will be children with streamers running around, and many friendly dogs doing tricks, and at least one person playing Zelda tunes on an accordion (this actually happens) and much rejoicing will happen, and I will go sit down in the back of my booth rocking and asking my boyfriend over and over again if I really just said THAT to Wil Wheaton.
    The. End.

    1. The Beer Jam really is EPIC….and I need to make another trip to Seattle for I am sadly, on my last jar…however…I have yet to see a dog doing tricks…maybe I don’t stick around long enough once I hoard MArshmallows and Beer Jam….O.o

      1. there’s a chance that I exaggerated about the dogs doing tricks. But there really is a couple of people who come through with accordions and play Zelda tunes. And sometimes the vendors sing to each other during set up.

        BTW, thanks! Let me know next time you go to Seattle and I’ll make sure to have a really big selection of beer jams :) Pretty soon it will be time for Apricot Jasmine I.P.A.!!!!

  5. Although you may already be planning to do so, it would be awesome if you could remind your followers about the premier date a week or so prior, so that those of us who wish to set our TiVos may do so. Thanks in advance! Very excited to see what’s to come this summer!

  6. Clarification-question: is the show premiering on Tuesday the 27th or Wednesday the 28th? My birthday is the 28th so I’m hoping it’s Wednesday

    1. Tuesday the 27th of Smarch, actually.

      I’m an idiot. I’ll change the post to reflect that the 27th is a TUESDAY.

  7. I understand why you had to say they could only be true stories, because otherwise everyone would be sending in these absurd stories about how when they met Wil Wheaton he actually rubbed shaving cream on their faces and shaved them with a straight razor.

  8. Oh wonderful! I can talk about the first time I met Lou Ferrigno and how he refused to stop eating cold pasta while at a con because he was carb loading.

  9. Wil, you rock, and I wish you the best of luck with your show! But – please – tell me you don’t hate Supernatural…. :( (speaking of the comment concerning the CW above)

  10. “There are scripted shows that are so awful, it’s almost hard to figure out which joke we’re going to make (see: pretty much everything on the CW). ”

    Awww… Wil. I guess you haven’t actually watched anything on the CW lately. Arrow, The Tomorrow People, The 100. All good shows. And yes, I also love Orphan Black, Game of Thrones, and American Horror Story. So, I do know what good scripted TV is.

    1. Thank you. His curt remark about most of the CW bothered me, too. I agree, the series you mentioned are good.

  11. I’ve met Bill Gates, but the highlight of my career was spending a morning with Dr Gene Armidale, the father of the IBM mainframe. We talked about his and his team’s exploits at the very dawn of computing, and how he experimented with AI in the late 60’s and the growing emergence of when he called ‘a global grid’ of computing. Very “Tron”. This was in the mid to late 80s, before the internet had really taken hold. Concepts that are only now being discussed outside of Sci Fi where the theme of the all too short time I spent with this man. While he may not have been a household name, he was a hero to me once I met him.

  12. Done. Talked into the camera for 2 minutes, uploaded it to YouTube, sent you an e-mail. — I actually met one of your ST-TNG space family members because of a Star Trek Catan game board that he saw and which he asked me about. 😉

  13. So, I have a story which is actually a 5th contact, as the first 4 weren’t all that exciting. Will that do? I have audio provided by the celebrity (a song where he ad-libbed a whole verse about my wife and I during a concert for about 50 people) so you would need to get his permission to use it.

  14. If I submit when I met Neil Gaiman, can he do the voicework?

    Seriously, Wil, I am so excited and happy for you with this.

  15. Is Wil Wheaton Project now the final name for the show? I was hoping it would end up as something like “Wit with Wheaton” or “Will Wheaton’s Wiles” just so it could be abbreviated as “www.”

  16. I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell the story of when I met this guy named Wil Wheaton at Emerald City Comicon. I was working on a knitted dice bag for him, and our mutual friend Joel Watson was kind enough to introduce us so I could show off the work in progress.

    The bag was based on a comic Joel did, with an ASCII symbol for ‘don’t be a dick’ which is basically an ASCII dick with a backslash through it. Only I wasn’t done with the bag, so I explained to this nice man (while trying not to lose my shit that OMFG I’m talking to Wil Wheaton) that the balls were taking longer than I expected.

    Yes, that’s right. I told Wil Wheaton that the cock and balls I was knitting for him were taking me a long time.

    I think I passed out for a second at the embarrassment of what I said, but Wil just rolled right with it and said, ‘Listen. Take ALL the time you need on the balls’.

    And so I did. So – First Contact with a celebrity and I talk about balls. Like you do.

  17. Mia might try to put something together about meeting you at the Denver Comic Con last year and the resulting viral video from a few weeks ago. She has lots of projects lately for the end of the school year, though.

    1. I’m not sure. Send an email to that HEYWWP address, and ask. Someone from production will be able to answer your question.

  18. I once walked past Felicia, but we were moving in opposite directions so I didn’t have time to grab her and run away with her. Not that I would have, mind. I just wouldn’t have had time, even if I had been the sort of person who does that sort of thing. I didn’t even have a black van waiting to chuck her in the back and drive away, which I presume is the sort of thing you do if you’re one of those people who randomly kidnaps celebrities.

    And that was my only encounter with somebody famous that I admired. I don’t think I can get a decent story out of this one.

  19. i never met anyone famous. the two times i went to dragon-con i just saw celebrities when i was on the way to or from the ladies room.
    most people see them waiting for an elevator. <_<

  20. I denied Lenoxx Lewis (the boxer) from getting a library card because he didn’t have proper identification.

    Btw GhostHunters is a pretty cool show.

  21. I don’t have any celebrity stories aside from event meet-and-greets. I wish my Mom was still alive so that she could tell about how she accidentally sprayed urine on Katharine Hepburn when KH was visiting a friend in Stamford Hospital back when mom worked there (1970s) :)

  22. I’ve met celebrities before… But will the segment ever expand to our (the viewing audiences) own supernatural encounters or the like? I keep having run ins with these black eyed children here in the woodlands of Washington state, and the truth needs to get out.

  23. I met Tim Conway when I was 7 years old. He was sitting in the seat behind me on a plane. He was as funny in person as he was on tv

  24. I have a long list of celebrity meetings (including Wil Wheaton and William Fucking Shatner). May I make multiple submissions?

    1. I’m sure that you can. If you want to get a definitive answer before you do, just email the team and someone will let you know.

  25. I’ve only ever met quasi – famous people. They’re interesting to me, but I don’t know if enough people know who the people are to qualify.
    Wendy Pini (guest starring Sonny Strait )
    Randy Milholland (web comic artist/writer & my best story)
    Dan Logan (young Bobba Fett from episode two of Star Wars)
    Kevin Pererra (I’m spelling that wrong) and Sarah Lang (from AotS)

    That’s just the ones with decent stories.

  26. I remember meeting YOU in 2004 at the Electronic Frontier Foundation where you fought Barney the Dinosaur. I used to be the sysadmin there and I drove you around town in San Fran one day while you were here. I remember telling you that when I was a kid I was Wesley Crusher – but without the start ship. And I remember you wanting to meet John Gilmore who was a celeb to you.

  27. So far, other than drag queens, you are the only celebrity I’ve met….

    It was at Megacon just a couple months ago. This was my first con as an attendee, I was really excited to stand in lines all day and navigate my way through hordes of mostly washed masses. I missed the photo op with you so was frantically running around waiting in other lines for other things that I had wanted to do that day. Suddenly…. one of my friends told me they had spotted you in the autograph area. You were the main reason I wanted to go to that convention so I ran. I ran as fast as one can run in a convention center filled with who knows how many thousands of people. I still somehow managed it. I found myself ducking… weaving and spinning my husky, big boned, curvy…. let’s face it, fat ass around countless people in elaborate costume to get to that line as fast as humanly possible. Out of breath, I got in line. You weren’t there. I asked 2, 3 maybe even 4 total strangers…”Excuse me, is the the line for Wil Wheaton?” Each one of them answering in the affirmative. Noticing one of the convention volunteers I had to ask again, just to be sure. She smiled and informed me you were “taking a much needed bathroom break.” I jumped around happy that I was in the right line, getting more and more excited. 5 minutes went by….. 10….. 15. I started panicking. I ran up to the front to see if you had come back, nothing…. another 10 minutes…. FINALLY! I started taking pictures. No flash of course, I didn’t want to get kicked out of the line that I had worked so hard to get into! 5 People in front of me…. 4….3….2….oh holy god they are together… that means I’m next! Suddenly there I was, standing in front of you… in person…. nothing but a small flimsy table standing between myself and this person who I had grown up watching. Had crushed on as Crusher. Cried over in Stand By Me. Amused by in Eureka and Big Bang, Re-ignited my geekdom on Youtube….. words flashed though my brain… everything I’ve ever wanted to say, all at once…… and I spewed fangirl all over you. I basically let loose a pile of word vomit so fast and high pitched I wouldn’t be surprised if the cadence of my voice caused nearby animals to wince in pain. The entire time this travesty is taking place my brain seemingly sitting by, refusing to stop my idiotically yapping jaw.

    I barely let you get two words in edgewise. You, however, seemed to take it in stride and didn’t let on that I sounded like a total ass at all. I picked out the fez and fake mustache picture for you to sign, because fez’s make everything better! The only disappointment in the meeting is that I didn’t go with my first instinct of “write it all on a nice thank you card!” But I walked away thrilled by the experience, made fun of by my friends for weeks after. Daily looking at the signed picture at work and laughing at myself thinking how totally worth it it was.

    So that’s my story. I was considering doing a vid for it, but honestly, not sure if it’s really what you’re looking for for the show. Feedback greatly appreciated!

    (PS my pic is one of the pictures taken at Megacon while waiting in line.)

    1. And by feedback I really mean I’d love your opinion as a writer. Cause, ya know, reasons. And it’s not like a gal has many chances to ask, right? =)

      1. Hi wil,
        Sorry in advance if I missed it, but exactly what is the show about? Like just a direct summery. Thanks

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