Liane Bonin
December 01, 1999 AT 05:00 AM EST

It’s ”Seinfeld” meets Captain Kirk Wednesday night when Jason Alexander hosts ”Ultimate Trek: Star Trek’s Greatest Moments” (8 p.m., UPN). The retrospective will allow Trekkies to vote for their favorite episode from the four ”Trek” series while the former George Costanza struts his stuff as James T. Kirk, Shatner-style. But executive producer Alexander says his Starfleet commander shtick is an homage, not a parody, of the notoriously hammy thespian. ”As an actor, I’ve been very influenced by William Shatner’s style,” says the self-proclaimed Trekkie. ”If you ever see me do dramatic work, you’ll notice I’ve inherited that sort of halting, searching staccato rhythm of his from time to time.”

Several years ago Alexander got up close and personal with the man he claims inspired him to pursue acting. ”A friend invited me very cryptically to this little coffee shop, and in walks Bill Shatner, who sits down and says, ‘Hi, I’m your birthday present,” explains the 40-year-old actor. ”We chatted for about three hours. Some of it was silly, some of it was very profound. We’ve stayed in touch ever since.”

So why doesn’t his good buddy Shatner show up on the special? ”It became a little bit of a political thing,” Alexander admits. ”Once you ask one actor from any of the shows, it seems to slant the special towards that show, and we were very careful about not doing that.” Timing also played a part, as Shatner’s wife Nerine drowned shortly before the special was filmed. ”It was a terrible time to look to him for participation,” says Alexander. ”But I know he’s aware of the show, and I certainly hope he enjoys it.”

As much as Alexander likes all the incarnations of ”Star Trek” (he has guest-starred on ”Star Trek: Voyager”), he says even a prime directive couldn’t lure him into wearing one of those clingy little officer uniforms full-time. ”They work long, brutal days, the material is filled with lots of technobabble that’s not easy to learn, there’s lots of special effects work and smoke sets,” he says. ”The fantasy of watching is great, but reality is it’s a very hard job.” Still, Alexander admits he’d jump at the chance to star in or direct a ”Trek” movie, and he’s game for another guest shot. ”The greatest compliment my older son paid me when I was on ‘Voyager’ was he looked at my makeup and said, ‘Dad, you look like snot.”’

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