RIVERSIDE, Iowa – Riverside has been "punk'd" by William Shatner (search), aka "Star Trek" Capt. James T. Kirk, and Spike TV.
Riverside considers itself the "future birthplace" of Capt. Kirk, commander of the starship USS Enterprise (search) in the '60s "Star Trek" series. The town holds an annual TrekFest (search), which includes a parade with people dressed as "Star Trek" characters and public showings of the "Star Trek" episodes.
Shatner had been shooting scenes in Riverside for what he said was a low-budget, sci-fi movie titled, "Invasion Iowa."
On Tuesday night, he invited residents to view scenes that he'd been directing in and around town for a week.
Shatner thanked some 800 people who turned out for the gathering and then revealed the filming had been for a new reality show on Spike TV (search) about a small town playing host to a Hollywood film shoot. The show is set to debut next year.
"Everything in front of and behind the cameras was faked," Shatner said. "The only thing that was real is the love we have for Riverside."
Spike TV said in a statement Wednesday that a crew of producers, writers and actors had spent more than a year planning the "carefully crafted" hoax.
"It's hard to imagine any undertaking more audacious, hair-raising and ultimately rewarding than what we just finished in Riverside," said producer Paul Wernick.
To soften the blow, Shatner announced that he and his co-producers were donating $100,000 to the city to be used for community projects. The cast and crew also passed the hat and collected $12,000 for the Riverside Elementary School Book Fund.
Mike Hanson, who had been hired as an extra, said he and his fellow actors had been suspicious about the project.
"It was too cheesy to be real," Hanson said after Shatner's announcement. "If it was really a movie, we'd be more scared of how bad it was."