It's Slime Time (And What/How Production Will Be Covered on GBHQ)

Production on Paul Feig's Ghostbusters (2016) begins this evening (with a night shoot to kick off production, may the caffeine gods bless the crew). Feig took to Twitter to post the above photograph to announce the production start, giving fans their first sneak peek at the infamous ectoplasm which is safely assumed a big part of the film. 

It's probably a good idea to take this moment on day one to lay out a few ground rules of what you'll be seeing here on the HQ, and when and how...

1) No spy photos, no rumors, no spoilers.

As you may have gathered in the few months that we've been back in business, GBHQ is no longer mainly a news site. Breaking news isn't our bag, and the first for a scoop isn't remotely a part of our mission statement. I'm still a firm believer it letting the filmmakers and the studio handle what you see and why as it ultimately can and might impact your viewing experience when the film hits the theaters. Unlit, uncomposed, long-lens spy photos that are your first looks of things drive me nuts. If a drone flies 100 yards above the set and snaps the first pictures of a new Ecto-1 or a crucial part of the production but it's not from official sources, don't expect to see it here.

2) We ARE going to be getting you in-depth articles, making-of/BTS moments, and official news as much as possible.

Those of you that have been around GBHQ since the glory days (or were they the dark days?) remember how we covered Extreme Ghostbusters. It's a little tricky as cast and crew are all under NDAs and I above all respect those. It'll be our goal to get you meaty content that's NDA-friendly and might give a little insight into the production process.

3) Trolls should stick to scouring New York City to breakdance and party.

GBHQ has a pretty civil commenting guideline set that aren't really conducive to feeding the trolls. For whatever reason, there are a lot of (very vocal) angry comments out there. People are entitled to their opinions, just as I'm entitled to mine. So while you're sitting in my living room, take off your shoes and please mind the rules of the house. Thanks.

An Open Letter to Me Circa 1997...

File Photo: Troy, Embarrassingly circa-1999.

Dear Troy,

Hey, it's yourself from the future. Take a minute from trying to reconnect to AOL after your parents picked up the phone and kicked you offline to read this for a quick second.

Today is Wednesday, June 17, 2015. I know that date has to seem pretty crazy to you, and to answer your first question: no. Cars don't fly yet. It's kind of bullshit, sorry. But I wanted to send you a letter from this date today to let you know that a new Ghostbusters movie is finally in front of cameras as of today.

Let's see... being 1997 you're probably super excited about Extreme Ghostbusters right about now.  If my records are right, you're probably hearing rumors that Adam Sandler, Chris Farley and Chris Rock are circling being a part of a new Ghostbusters film. But some heartbreak is on the way as you're soon going to tragically lose Farley, and several years later are going to lose a few other people that will break your heart too.

I'm not going to lie to you, the next eighteen years are going to be a little tumultuous in terms of your love for a certain property called Ghostbusters. There are going to be false starts, multiple casting rumors, and plenty of head scratchers between the time you're reading this to the time that a new movie is actually becoming a reality. You're going to hear rumors that make you geek out like you never have before, then there'll be rumors that will make you squint and ask nobody in particular, "Wha?" But ultimately what Paul Feig and the cast he's assembled for this film almost twenty years later from the date you receive this is the only way that it can be done. 

Take careful notice of a movie called Blues Brothers 2000 that's going to come out next year. You and your good friend Drew are going to go see it and, while both of you are going to want to immediately buy Ray-Ban sunglasses because you think they're cool, you're not going to be over the moon about the movie. You're going to notice that the filmmakers made some concessions in order to get the movie made, but ultimately what you're going to notice is that the story is continuing the storytelling of characters that aren't there, and can't be there for many reasons. And it's going to feel odd. It's going to feel like a Beethoven Symphony where a piano wasn't available for scheduling purposes. The music is still good, but you can't help but feel that something crucial is missing.

What the production crew filming in Boston, then later in New York are working on is a retelling. Sort of like what the original Ghostbusters was to those Bob Hope films it so lovingly paid homage toward. I'm sure you're a little disappointed that this isn't the sixth movie in an ongoing story but that's not necessarily a bad thing. There's extremely funny people in front and behind the camera, just as there was back then. It kind of sucks but there's going to be a lot of attention paid to the gender and the weight of some of the actors, a result of the strange snarky judgmental cacophony that pop culture becomes in the internet age. (Yeah, that's also something that you're going to find... your tried and true entertainment news sources are going to turn into gossip tabloids, and the internet is going to turn into a bunch of blogs - including yours - that feed people the news so that they can be upset about anything and everything down to the tiniest detail, it's really tough to explain and I'll have to save that for another letter to you when I can explain it myself).

There's a good chance that you may not like the end result of what they're doing starting today. But then again, there's also a good chance that it'll entertain you. You'll have just seen a fourth (yes, fourth) Jurassic Park movie in the same week that filming begins on Paul Feig's Ghostbusters (2016) and it's going to put things in perspective. Nothing can really ever be as good as the lightning in a bottle that was captured in that 1984 film. To think that you can recreate that is foolishness. But if there's a way to recapture the spirit of what made the original so fun and put it into a two-hour film that you enjoy, that makes you forget about the real world outside that movie theater for a couple hours, and makes you feel like a kid again, then it's all going to be worth the effort of the filmmakers.

But while you're watching that Jurassic Park sequel, there's going to be a little girl sitting no more than six seats down from you. She's going to be standing and jumping up and down (much to the dismay of her parents trying to control her), bonkers excited for the movie to start. She's going to be scared during some of the scarier moments, and she's going to leave the theater making dinosaur noises and begging her parents to see the film again. And for her, that movie is going to be a similar ride as when you were sitting by yourself in a darkened Greenwood Village theater in 1992, and is going to have the same impact.

There's a good chance this new Ghostbusters is going to do the same. It's going to capture the imaginations of an entirely new generation that's too young to moan and groan about the good old days or how they think the movie could have been done far differently and been successful. It might not have the same effect on you as those original movies did when you were a kid, but it might have a similar effect on someone that twenty years from now will be writing a similar letter to their past self.

If they're smart about it, and I'm fairly certain and confident that they are, Feig and Co. are going to make that movie for both of those audiences in mind. A movie for the new generation that's a little too young to get all the jokes but loves the premise and their imaginations are sparked with the possibilities. And a movie for you, the thirty-something (yeah, you become a thirty-something... spoiler-alert) who gets the jokes and just needs to escape for a couple hours.

Hang in there pal, it's all going to be worth it eventually.

Best,

The Troy of 2015

PS: Oh yeah, before I forget: there's going to be a guy offering you a pre-order for a hardcover comic book at some in the next couple years... don't do it.

Get Ready to Get Real Tomorrow

Just a gentle reminder that the IDW Ghostbusters/Real Ghosbusters crossover Ghostbusters: Get Real hits your local comic shop and online stores tomorrow! The official solicitation gives only a few details of the story reading: "When a confrontation with the elder God Proteus goes awry, Peter, Ray, Winston and Egon will meet... THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS!" But writer Erik Burnham was kind enough to give GBHQ a small sneak peek through a quick interview on the day the project was announced.

Definitely looking forward to giving the series a read, look for more here on GBHQ (possibly even an infamous Fritz-review) in the future!

He Also Enjoys Racquetball

Yesterday Paul Feig stayed true to his pattern of Ghostbusters announcements and posted a picture to Twitter of the Ghostbusters' new receptionist, in the form of Chris Hemsworth.

At risk of cribbing a phrase from one of the characters in our beloved series... this is great.

According to Variety, the role was initially offered to Hemsworth who passed because the role was on the smaller side. But a rewrite later and the actor most well-known as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was locked in as a character we only know as "the receptionist." While most fans are immediately drawing lines and comparisons to Janine Melnitz, it stands to reason that this character won't share much in common with his 1980s counterpart other than their chosen profession. The fact that the filmmakers actively pursued him and tailored the role to him is of interest. Maybe they've seen his turn in the new Vacation film and what they saw showed a lot of comedic promise?

For me, Hemsworth absolutely made Thor. What surprised me most about that film was just how much it made me laugh, from chucking a coffee cup toward the floor in the diner to sharing a boilermaker with Dr. Selvig, Hemsworth exudes a genuine charm and charisma that you can see playing well with the other leads in Ghostbusters (2016)

There's also a chance Hemsworth might be trying his hand at being a character actor, and we'll see an entirely different side to him than we've seen before as well. At this point, the sky is the limit and who knows where this is going to go. And that's what I'm enjoying the most about this project. The potential. Much like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I don't know what to expect with this film. And with those unlimited possibilities, that's exciting.

Feig's Ghostbusters Crew Gets a Little Larger

With principal photography right around the corner, details on Paul Feig's Ghostbusters (2016) crew are slowly beginning to surface around the interwebs. About a month ago, we at GBHQ thought it would be fun to speculate on who might be joining Paul Feig behind the camera to bring a retold Ghostbusters to life.

And I'm happy to report, several of those folks on our wishlist seem to be involved. So let's get into it, eh?

Robert Yeoman
Director of Photography

One of the creative members of Feig's crew that I'm most excited is aboard is cinematographer Robert Yeoman, a long-time contributor to Wes Anderson's films but also a master of vibrant landscapes and stylized imagery. Say what you will about the 1990 Nintendo commercial The Wizard but it's a love-letter to a road trip to California. Imagine what his compositions will do for the city of New York when the supernatural run rampant? I had initially thought Yeoman's prior obligations might have put him out of the running for Director of Photography on Ghostbusters, but it appears the planets aligned and he'll be in Boston this June.

Jefferson Sage
Production Designer

No surprise that Paul Feig's longtime production designer Jefferson Sage will be helping guide the visual aesthetic for Ghostbusters, having worked with the director on all his previous films (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy) as well as the broad comedies Year One (directed by Harold Ramis) and Paul (directed by Greg Mottola). What is interesting is that joining Sage in the art department are Supervising Art Director Beat Frutiger (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Star Trek, Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Art Director Lorin Flemming (Running with Scissors, the upcoming Spectral and Batman v. Superman Dawn of Justice) and set designer Steven M. Saylor, who has designed a wide variety and scope of sets from Alias to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

David Witz
Unit Production Manager

No stranger to large films with a lot of moving parts, UPM David Witz was the battalion leader on films such as J.J. Abrams' Star Trek, the recent Sony film Pixels, Moneyball, Gone Girl and Mission Impossible: III

Great news all around, there's one heckuva creative team assembling to begin filming in Boston. More to come as it develops here at GBHQ.

THX's New Animated Logo, Dr. Venkman Would Approve

Since the early 1980s, the absolute best theater audio experience has often been accompanied by the familiar "Deep Note" tone and the THX animated logo. I still remember purchasing the "THX-Certified" Star Wars Trilogy on VHS and playing the logo over and over on my parents' home theater system, impressed with just how cool it sounded.

THX recently revamped both their "Deep Note" tone and their animated logo and it curiously has a tie to Ghostbusters. As the title treatment comes into view, the subtitle "See You on the Other Side" appears underneath. Sure, it's a commonly used phrase but one would have to assume that a cinefile who happened to be in that brainstorm session might have consciously (or subconsciously) recommended the recognizable Ghostbusters quote.

For those interested, there's a great article on the history and backstory behind the note and the logo over on Yahoo to celebrate the arrival of its latest incarnation. We'll see if officials at THX either confirm or deny the new slogan's ties to the Boys in Grey...

UPDATE: The good people of THX have confirmed that the reference is just a fun coincidence.

A Little Ghostbusters Crew Speculation While All's Quiet on the Western Front

After the onslaught of news over the course of a couple weeks, a quiet has hushed across the usually bustling interweb landscape when it comes to Ghostbusters (2016) news and rumors. And thankfully, it's a calm before the storm that I'm sure is very welcome both for us fans as well as for the production crew as they prepare for principal photography.

With a June 15 production start date in the near-distant future, one would assume pre-production on Paul Feig's Ghostbusters revamp is well underway. With just about 11 weeks before cameras roll, set and prop construction should be ramping up. It also appears that Paul Feig is still out and about on his press tour for the June 5 release of Spy, with his travels taking the director to an advance Q&A screening of the film in Chicago tonight. That's got to be a tough-going schedule for Feig, as the world-tour press circuit and Spy's release date being a mere week and a half before day one on Ghostbusters affords him little breathing room.

Production Manager David Witz (Gone Girl, Star Trek, and Mission: Impossible III) has joined Ghostbusters according to Production Weekly, which means that full crew hopping onto the production can't be far behind. If IMDB is to be believed the first of those crew members, Nancy St. John (and her company Prime Focus) have boarded the new Ghostbusters in some capacity, either to provide a 3D conversion to the film or as one of (what I can only assume will be) the multiple visual effects houses brought on-board the film. This brings up an interesting question, will Feig be filming Ghostbusters in native 3D? Or will the film be converted for the third-dimension in post-production?

While 3D cinema-going has grown on me, there's a big part of me that hopes the film will be shot 2D (and on film) and then gets the stereo 3D treatment after the fact. As evidenced by the recent remastered Blu-ray release of the original 1984 film, there's something about this concept that lends itself to a little bit of a gritty film-grain look. 

To that point, my hope is that long-time collaborator and Oscar-nominated Cinematographer Robert Yeoman will be joining Feig on Ghostbusters, as he has on the director's three previous films, Spy, The Heat and Bridesmaids. His unique visual style will be perfect for the fantastical world of Ghostbusters that's on the horizon. Whether that will be the case or not remains to be seen as it also appears that Yeoman is attached to Peyton Reed (Ant-Man)'s upcoming film Staying Cool. The productions may overlap making Yeoman's participation in the project difficult if not impossible.

Another big part of the film's look and feel, will be its Production Designer. Jefferson Sage has been at the forefront as the Production Designer on Feig's last three films as well as Paul and Year One and also acted as Art Director on Analyze This. Legendary Production Designers John DeCuir (Ghostbusters, Cleopatra, South Pacific) and Bo Welch (Ghostbusters II, Batman Returns, Thor, Joe vs. the Volcano) are tough acts to follow but Sage most certainly has the chops to create some memorable set-pieces with a comedic edge.

Yes, all of the above is purely speculation. And I imagine it's only a matter of time before we start seeing and hearing of cast/crew commitments to the June 15th release date. But it's fun to start visualizing what might be in store once those puzzle pieces start coming together.

Erik Burnham Chats The Ghostbusters Getting "Real" in New IDW Comic

Worlds will collide.

Solicitations in Previews and a social media announcement today revealed the IDW Ghostbusters are about to meet up with their Saturday morning counterparts, The Real Ghostbusters for a four issue mini-series titled, "Ghostbusters Get Real".

Written by Erik Burnham, with art by Dan Schoening and Luis Delgado, the series will re-team the same creatives from the popular IDW on-going series. The first issue will hit comic shops June 17th, and series writer Erik Burnham was kind enough to take time to discuss with Ghostbusters HQ.


GBHQ: Were any seeds planted for this cross-over in Mass Hysteria or any of the other runs? If they haven’t already read ‘em (and let’s be honest, they should have) should readers go back and revisit some of the previous issues as a primer leading up to June?

Burnham: Not directly; though we had considered the possibility in place of a TMNT crossover (if Nickelodeon had passed). That said, the Interspatial Teleportation Unit in the TMNT/GB crossover should take some pressure of the Ghostbusters (Real and otherwise) -- they have a direct way home. OR DO THEY? (He says with a smile).

GBHQ: The creative team has been peppering in quite a few Real Ghostbusters visual in-jokes and references throughout your run at IDW, will any of those come into play as these worlds collide?

Burnham: I did think of one way to tie those easter eggs in. I may not wind up with the page space to make it explicit; if it comes down to that, though, I'll share with everyone in the backmatter.

GBHQ: How, if at all, did the success of the TMNT/Ghostbusters cross-over impact this four issue series?

Burnham: TMNT/GB was a bonafide HIT. Issue #4 even outsold issue #3, which is RARE. A hit makes it easier to do another one. (So obviously, I hope Get Real also does well!)

Plug: Pre-Order, please! APR150362 is Dan's cover (which interlock with #2-#4) and APR150363 is a variant by Erica Henderson (of Squirrel Girl fame!) /plug

GBHQ: What are some of the challenges or pitfalls of cross-over stories, and how do you avoid some of those issues?

Burnham: Crossovers have certain expected elements. Some are cliche (because they work so well they're practically a shorthand). Readers both do and don't want to see some of these cliches. I try to spin that stuff on its ear when I can. 
It comes down to a way to get characters together, a way to put the toys back in the box, and something for them all to do in between. (Sometimes that's a fight, sometimes it's a chat.)
In this case, we had an easy way to get everyone together from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon itself: folks, go watch "Janine Melnitz, Ghostbuster" and you'll see some clues as to how this story comes to pass (we flesh it out from other angles on the page, so it won't totally spoil the comic!).

GBHQ: Between the years with the on-going and these additional series, how have you, Dan and Luis developed a shorthand in your production process?

Burnham: If someone has a different idea now, they'll often just DO it (they'll mention it to me if it requires writing tweaks!). We do have that trust. (Any shorthand may also be because the guys prefer shorter emails from me.) I used to see every version of every page. Now, I see layouts and then the final proof, nothing in between.
Seriously, Dan & Luis are fantastic, and don't think I'm not aware how fortunate I am to have worked with - and still be working with - these two. They work harder to make sure every page is better than the last.

GBHQ: TMNT, Ghostbusters, X-Files, Simpsons, Galaxy Quest, and now The Real Ghostbusters, you’re getting to explore some of the most beloved characters and franchises in pop culture. What is it that you love the most about getting to play in all these sandboxes?

Burnham: The fact that they keep letting me! Seriously, this is what I've wanted to do my ENTIRE life, and to enjoy every project as much as I have (from Venkman to Homer to Wolverine). I am seriously pinching myself over this, and lucky in my collaborators.

GBHQ: Thanks for your time, can’t wait to read ‘em!

Burnham: Thanks, Troy!

GBHQ's thanks to Erik Burnham for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Burnham can be seen later this month at the Emerald City Comic-Con March 27-29.

The Private Sector: Pride, Prejudice, and HFCS

The following article appeared on ProtonCharging.com and GBFans.com on March 24th, 2010 as part of my syndicated weekly column, The Private Sector:

There were few things that you looked forward to in any given elementary school day: recess, getting to see the cute sixth-grade teacher Mrs. Bull who was a good twenty years your senior, running home from the bus to catch cartoons in the afternoon, and… oh yeah, before it became un-cool to bring your own lunch to school -- lunchtime… 

I was among the fortunate who were blessed with a new lunchbox every year, and looking back – it was interesting the gimmicks and devices that were used to sell things to us to occupy those lunchboxes year after year. 

I’m sure you already know where I’m going with this: Ecto-Cooler. 

But bear with me while I build dramatic tension a bit… Gotta give the people what they pay for. Wait; do I get paid for this? Guys? Anyway… 

I could wax nostalgic for pages and pages about all the food stuffs that were available for my school lunch as a kid (Dunkaroos, Fruit by the Foot), but from around 1981 to 1990ish, there was a war being fought on the grocery store shelves. 

The war to be the sugar water “drink” of choice in kids’ lunchboxes. 

Think about it, Hi-C, Kool-Aid, Squeez-It, Capri-Sun, I could go on and on with the options that were available for kids to implore their parents to buy for them. Each, of course, had some sort of a gimmick that set them apart from their competition in the hopes that maybe leading you to obesity or diabetes in pouch form would be more appealing than the other guys. 

I remember, as a kid, the “juice” isle stretched as far as the eye could see, with all sorts of juice box, pouch, and bottle options to choose from. It only makes sense that the marketing folks would spend countless dollars to make you identify their brand above all others. (Now, juice boxes are relegated to an end cap or a small shelf next to the “real” juices… interesting, no?). 

But while Squeez-It and Capri-Sun had unique packaging that was immediately identifiable, Kool-Aid and Hi-C stuck to the tried and true juice box format. So what could they do to get notice? Kool-Aid opted for awesome advertising with the oft Seth MacFarlane parodied Kool-Aid Man, who became more identifiable than any of the flavored drinks they sold. Plus Kool-Aid devised the genius idea of Kool-Aid points, which you could redeem packages of their juices for “Kool” (nyuck, nyuck) usually Kool-Aid Man themed gear. 

Hi-C, on the other hand, had me sold the minute they developed a Ghostbusters themed beverage in Ecto-Cooler. 

It’s a pretty genius idea, actually. When you think about it on the simplest level, the drink has absolutely nothing to do with the Ghostbusters property. The first thing that comes to mind when seeing the mucus-like ectoplasm in the Ghostbusters film and in the animated show isn’t “citrus tangerine goodness.” (Unless there’s something the fan community isn’t telling me?) The drink wasn’t even really the same green color as your favorite paranormal entity and mine. But it didn’t matter, the minute they slapped Slimer on the packaging and named the flavor “Ecto-Anything,” it was sold to me. 

This is what Star Wars did to us… but I digress… 

Having had parents with a strict “milk once a day” rule – Ecto-Cooler at lunch meant that I had to endure drinking low-fat milk for dinner every night, but I didn’t care. It was worth it. Ecto-Cooler made me feel cool. Like I was drinking an officially endorsed drink from the Ghostbusters. No matter what a dweeb I actually was in real life, I was a Ghostbuster at lunch. Which, okay, arguably still made me quite the dweeb. But endearingly so, right? Right? 

I would beg and plead with my mom at the grocery store for Ecto-Cooler like a Mogwai wanting a snack after midnight. When Hi-C stated selling two liter cans of their beverages, the thought of cracking open one of those cans gives me more joy than tapping a keg of the finest brew as an adult today. Ecto-Cooler was the drink of choice when friends came to visit, just like scotch is for the suits in their executive offices. “Hey Brian, thanks for coming over, can I offer you an Ecto-Cooler? Boy, did you see Mrs. Bull today?” 

It probably makes me beyond shallow, but Ecto-Cooler became associated with childhood, it became associated with a simpler and more enjoyable time. Much like a generation before me drank YooHoo, I drank Ecto-Cooler. 

Of course, once the bane of our existence known as “nutrition” became a concern for families everywhere, the portion sizes of Ecto-Cooler slowly diminished. The boxes went from being monolith-sized, to matchbox-sized. Shortly after that, it ceased to be a juice and became a soft drink. It even suddenly became “An Excellent Source of Vitamin-C” (and pure sucrose by the tablespoon, probably) before eventually disappearing completely. It was missed, but life went on as juice boxes gave way eventually to Kool-Aid Koolers, which eventually gave way to it being cool to buy my lunch and drink school sanctioned milk, which gave way to a soda machine in high school, which eventually gave way to… I don’t know… girls. 

There was a time around 2002 or 2003ish that Ecto-Cooler made a quiet and understated return, re-themed and renamed Screamin’ Tangerine. And I’m not ashamed to say that I, Troy Benjamin, at that time about to graduate from college, bought juice boxes by the case full. It was all a desperate attempt to take myself back to that moment in my childhood that Ecto-Cooler reminded me of. 

Okay, well and when we discovered how good Ecto-Cooler and Vodka combined; it also became a means to inebriation. 

But it’s strange to think that a marketing ploy during a highly competitive era where beverage companies were throwing everything at the wall to see what stuck became associated in such ways. 

And it’s funny how much I want it back. 

The New Ghostbusters Films: Just the Facts

All this editorializing keeps our hair up, right Joe?

"All-female" and "Guy-centric" Ghostbusters. Chances are if you've thrown a rock at the internet lately, you've seen either of those terms in every headline you've come across. But both of those distinctions were given to the upcoming Ghostbusters sequel/reboot/remake/restarts by editorialized comments beginning at their points of origin.

So let's do something, shall we? Let's take a cue from another of Dan Akyroyd's characters that I adore and stick to just the facts... No anonymous sources, no "speculation," no snarky comments. 

Here are the direct quotes from those involved without any editorializing:

October 8, 2014 c/o Paul Feig Twitter - Feig announces he is making a new film. Note, he says "will star hilarious women."

October 8, 2014 - c/o Entertainment Weekly - Feig elaborates on his Tweet directly to EW, in his own words.

"I had been contacted by Sony and Ivan a number of months ago when I was in Budapest shooting my new movie Spy. But I was like, I don’t know if I want to take that on because the first two are such classics and just because of how do you do it? Who do you bring in now that Harold’s gone? I know that Bill didn’t want to do it and I love Dan, but it was just like I don’t know how to do it.  Then I had lunch with [Sony Pictures co-chairman] Amy Pascal when I got back to town. She was just saying, gosh, nobody wants to do this. I said, yeah, it’s really hard to take that on, especially since it’s 25 years later. how do you come back into a world that’s had these ghosts and all this? It just felt too difficult. How do you do it and not screw it up? But then it was bugging me for the next few days because Ghostbusters is such a great thing and everybody knows it, and it’s such a great world. It’s a shame to just let this thing sit there. I want to see another one. My favorite thing to do is work with funny women. I was like, what if it was an all female cast? If they were all women?  Suddenly, my mind kind of exploded: that would be really fun. And then I thought, well, what if we just make it new? It’s not coming into the world that existed before. It’s always hard if the world has gone through this big ghost attack, how do you do it again? I wanted to come into our world where there’s talk of ghosts but they’re not really credible, and so what would happen in our world if this happened today?"
"We want to have fun with giving nods to what came before, but we don’t want to be bound by it because Katie and I already have talked at length and we have really fun ideas for things. But we want to tell the stories that we would like to tell, which means we want to tell the character arcs that we want to tell, which means we want to start with some of our characters in a different place or with different personalities and things they have to overcome and learn through the experience of this first movie. My number one thing is always about character and what is somebody learning from or transforming through whatever happens to them in the movie. So I think there will be definitely room to play with that. We want to do clever nods to it, but not cloying nods to it. We want to have the ability to really bring it into modern day."
"We have a very rough, rough outline that we’re working with, but definitely know the basic story, know what we want the basic characters to do, know what we want the world to do and what the rules of our world are, but nothing I want to discuss obviously. It’s cool. I think it’s a really strong origin story that feels real—as real as a ghost story is. It’s going to be really fun and real. We’ll make it scary and funny."
"Everything is up for grabs right now. I look at this the same way a superhero movie launches where it’s always fun to see, like, what are they going to do with the costumes this time? What are they going to do with the hardware this time? It’s not going to be, here is the exact same stuff. It’s also not going to go, screw you, if you like that stuff, it’s all completely different. We’re going to have fun with it, but again, bring it into our time period. I’m a big hardware nerd when it comes to sci-fi and all of that so I love all the gear and I love all that. We’re really going to have fun with playing with the science of it. I think fans will be very happy with what we do because it has fun with what came before but it’s new. It’s just a new, fun take on it."
"I just don’t understand why it’s ever an issue anymore. I’ve promoted both Bridesmaids and The Heat and myself and my cast are still hit constantly with the question, “will this answer the question of whether women can be funny?” I really cannot believe we’re still having this conversation. Some people accused it of kind of being a gimmick and it’s like, it would be a gimmick if I wasn’t somebody whose brain doesn’t automatically go to like, I want to just do more stuff with women. I just find funny women so great. For me it’s just more of a no-brainer. I just go, what would make me excited to do it? I go: four female Ghostbusters to me is really fun. I want to see that dynamic. I want to see that energy and that type of comedy and them going up against these ghosts and going up against human detractors and rivals and that kind of thing. When people accuse it of being a gimmick I go, why is a movie starring women considered a gimmick and a movie starring men is just a normal movie?"
"At the end of the day, all we want to make is a great movie and people are going to attach a lot of energy to either being nervous about this or being excited about it, and all Katie and I and the rest of the team, who we slowly assemble, can do is just make a great movie that’s super funny, that’s scary, that’s real, that has great characters that people identify with and want to see in these situations. It’s a world that they’ve experienced before in the old ones, but the hope is the minute they sit down they’ll go, “I love the old one, oh my god, I’m loving this new one.” Everything’s got to live on it’s own merits. It would be terrible if we just go, oh we’re just doing an update where we use the same dynamic and scripts. If we just flop four women into the exact same personalities and roles as original, then that’s lazy filmmaking on my behalf, and who wants to see that? I don’t want to do a shot by shot update of a movie that existed. It’s the difficult thing about remaking a great movie. So that’s why we’re not remaking a great movie. We’re doing our take on it."

January 15, 2015 - c/o Empire Magazine - Paul Feig talks directly to Empire. In his own words:

"It came out publically that we’re in talks with Melissa but there’s a lot to work out."
"There’s a lot of haters and I get it. The problem with the internet is that if 500 really angry men start bombarding me, I think, ‘Oh god, everybody hates this movie,’ but then you realise that it’s only 500 people. I don’t block anyone out or not read that stuff because I want to know what the most hardcore hater fan’s problem is."
"A lot of people ask why I didn’t create my own thing but Ghostbusters never ran out of steam, it’s such a great idea. It’s such a fun franchise so why not bring it to a new generation? The old movie is never going to not exist. It’s not my plan to erase every copy! Hopefully they can all live together."
"We’ve been working on laptops and passing flash drives back and forth. It’s very old school. We’re using paper, god forbid."

January 27, 2015 - c/o Paul Feig Twitter - Note, this is not an official announcement. It is not confirmation. It is a photo presented by Feig without anecdote. 

January 27, 2015 - c/o Sony-run Sony Pictures Twitter. - Release date announced.

 

January 28, 2015 - c/o Dan Aykroyd direct statement to The Hollywood Reporter - Aykroyd's official press response toward any of the above. No specifics given.

"The Aykroyd family is delighted by this inheritance of the ‘Ghostbusters’ torch by these most magnificent women in comedy. My great grandfather, Dr. Sam Aykroyd, the original Ghostbuster, was a man who empowered women in his day, and this is a beautiful development in the legacy of our family business."

January 29, 2015 - c/o Ernie Hudson Twitter/Hollywood Reporter

"Four fiercely funny, foxy, females busting ghosts ... phenomenal!"

Hudson also retweeted a PR post referring to third-party rumors:

February 11, 2015 - c/o Paul Feig Twitter - Feig contacted me directly through my Ghostbusters HQ Twitter to clarify (and I'm comfortable posting this publicly now as it's been confirmed/printed in the Boston Globe).

February 17, 2015 - c/o Howard Stern Show - Dan Aykroyd appears as guest. In his own words transcribed from radio interview.

"I'm very, very happy. I've got three daughters. I'm all for female empowerment. The thing needed to be stripped down. (Stumbles) As I've said take the Ecto car. Well the Ecto car now has a chassis and wheels, it needs new engine, it needs a new body. I wrote a version of it which we may end up shooting one time. It'll be different than the all-female. But I did write a Ghostbusters 3 and it exists as a script."
"Paul Feig's script is funny."

February 24, 2015 - c/o Variety - Tom Rothman is hired as new Sony Chairman of Motion Pictures, replacing Amy Pascal. He does not specifically talk Ghostbusters but comments on franchises being his priority. In Rothman's own words:

"Every studio needs franchises. That was the case when we took over at Fox and that took time to build it up and it will take time here. It’s very important but it’s equally important to have a diverse slate of films that perform profitably."

March 9, 2015 - c/o Deadline - New production company formed called Ghost Corps. Note, direct quotes from article only. Also note, original article was mysteriously revised and corrected without any explanation late in the day March 9, 2015. Note, casting and/or movie release plan not discussed. Ghost Corps' mission statement, in Ivan Reitman's own words:

"We want to expand the Ghostbusters universe in ways that will include different films, TV shows, merchandise, all things that are part of modern filmed entertainment. This is a branded entertainment, a scary supernatural premise mixed with comedy. Paul Feig’s film will be the first version of that, shooting in June to come out in July 2016. He’s got four of the funniest women in the world, and there will be other surprises to come. The second film has a wonderful idea that builds on that. Drew will start writing and the hope is to be ready for the Russo Brothers’ next window next summer to shoot, with the movie coming out the following year. It’s just the beginning of what I hope will be a lot of wonderful movies. My primary focus will be to build the Ghostbusters into the universe it always promised it might become. The original film is beloved, as is the cast, and we hope to create films we will continue to love."
"Sometimes things happen at the speed they are supposed to happen. The deals were so strong on that second movie that the franchise became frozen in place 25 years. Nothing got done, we all had the power to block whatever we didn’t like, but we finally got together and found a way.”

March 10, 2015 - c/o writer Drew Pearce's Twitter. Direct comments and responses from Pearce in his own words:

March 13, 2015 - c/o Variety - Paul Feig discusses the various films directly with Variety. In his words:

“The Internet is really funny – I love it, but I hate it at the same time. The first wave when you make an announcement like that is overwhelmingly positive. Everyone’s so happy and you’re like, This is great. Then comes the second wave and you’re like, Oh my God. Some of the most vile, misogynistic sh** I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“The biggest thing I’ve heard for the last four months is, ‘Thanks for ruining my childhood.’ It’s going to be on my tombstone when I die. It’s so dramatic. Honestly, the only way I could ruin your childhood is if I got into a time machine and went back and made you an orphan.”
ON GHOST CORPS ANNOUNCEMENT: “I’d heard some rumblings about it. All I know is my ladies are going to kick ass and I would not want to go into battle without them.”

March 14, 2015 - c/o Drew Pearce Twitter and East Grinstead Online

“There are a ton of different kind of jobs in screenwriting and directing out here – the two ends of the scale being ‘assignments’ (usually bigger movies with a pre-existing brand) and ‘specs’ (usually original ideas that you have to write speculatively, without knowing if someone will pay you for it at the end of the process). With some of the bigger movies I’ve worked on – the next Mission Impossible, and the new Ghostbusters movie I’ve just started – your role is part of a team – it’s not a very authored experience, and you know that from the get-go. Then I’ve also got smaller, original ideas like The Long Run, a movie I’m hoping to direct later this year at Fox. Plus I secretly work as a script doctor on occasion, as favours to other filmmakers. That’s basically my job in a nutshell.”
“I’m actually writing a new take, which will star Channing Tatum and Chris Pratt, both of whom are brilliant and very nice chaps to boot. It’s a different kind of story, set in the same universe as the other movies, but following an entirely new group of Ghostbusters.”

MARCH 16, 2015 - c/o reuters AND INDIEWIRE AND COMICBOOK.COM - paul feig comments from sxsw festival at spy premiere. in his words:

"It's a giant franchise and it's a big world. I completely understand wanting to create this whole (franchise) just like 'Star Wars' has. But for me, all I can concentrate on is my ladies and how much we're going to kick ass."
RE: Bill Murray's Possible Involvement in His Film: "We are ready for him. If Bill will show up, Bill is more than welcome. Nothing would make us happier."
"There were plenty of angry tweets to me that thought I did. It was purely a creative decision. I'd been contacted starting last year when I was in production on 'Spy.' I was getting calls from Sony, Ivan Reitman called, they wanted to do a sequel and I was so flattered because I love the franchise so much and wanted it to come back. I just couldn't figure out how to do a sequel 25 years later where two of the original cast members weren't even going to be in it. I'd read the original scripts that had been written to try and do it -- some of my favorite comedy writers wrote those scripts, and they were really good scripts -- but something felt off. The math was off. 

So I kept saying no and then finally had lunch with Amy Pascal and she was just like, 'Why doesn't anybody want to do this movie? None of you comedy directors want to do this!' I went on this whole thing, this is a sacred cow, this thing we all grew up with and thought, 'I don't know how to do it.' But there's this great franchise sitting there, this great idea of funny people battling the paranormal. That's an awesome canvas to paint on. So I thought, if I had to do it, what would I do? The most obvious things are the last things you think about. And I thought, if I made them all women, then I know how to do that. I get excited about that. I can see the comedy and the fun in that. But are they their daughters? What's their thing? I want to see them develop the technology and I want to see the world confront ghosts for the first time and I thought, 'Let's just reboot it.' 

It was as simple as that. It was no more evil than that and there was all this feeling of this evil plotting, I've had things come at me like 'We're so tired of this PC bullshit.' This isn't PC! There's all these funny women; I'm trying to figure out how to get more women's ensembles together and get more of these people working and here it is. That's it."
"Jesus, there's so much. Just put in my address and look at the things that are addressed to me any day. The worst of it was always 'Women can't be 'Ghostbusters'!' This flat statement of 'this can't happen.' I always try to find the germ of logic and, look, for a lot of guys -- I was in my early 20s when I first saw it and I thought it was groundbreaking comedy -- who saw it when they were seven, eight, nine, they kind of grew up playing it so I think to them it's much more a way of life, like a religion."
"No comment on that [laughs]. It does become a bit of a religion for people, like 'Star Wars.' All of our favorite movies are religious icons to us, I try to be sensitive to that and so, guys, I get that but I'm not going to destroy those first two movies. I can't. I almost feel like it would possibly hurt them more if I did it as a direct sequel because it would almost back-poison the well. If you don't like what I end up doing, you can say, 'Well that was the new one. Fuck that. We have these other ones.' You can only do what inspires you and what you think will be fun and what you know how to do for an audience to make them laugh and have a good time. My intentions are nothing but pure."
"We start shooting June 15 so we're still punching up the script, doing heavy prep of designing all our effects and our ghosts and nailing down what we're going to shoot. It's fast approaching."
"I love the original ones so I want to do enough nods to it that the fans go 'Oh, okay they're aware of it! That's fun that they're twisting this and that!' But I also want to make it so that a new generation can make it their own too. We'll make references but blow past them and go toward our own thing; I want to keep the same tone and style but I want it to be even scarier just because I think with the way we can do stuff now, we can really have fun with making it creepier. Comedy and scares go really well together. The original was very scary and if you look at it now, you still have that, but there's a chance to go even further with it."
ON USING RAY PARKER JR.'S ORIGINAL THEME: "We have ways to bring it in that we're playing with, so we'll see. It's such an iconic thing that part of you goes, 'I don't want to change it,' but then another part of you wants to update it. It's one of the biggest questions we're faced with.""

Will continue to update with direct quotes and statements as they're made...

Update 1: 3/11/15 3:27pm - Corrected Tom Rothman title and Amy Pascal spelling. / Added Howard Stern quotes from Dan Aykroyd. / 6:40pm - Added Ernie Hudson response from 1/29/15

Update 2: 3/13/15 1:00pm - Added Paul Feig comments to Variety at SXSW

Update 3: 3/14/15 10:51am - Added additional Drew Pearce comments.

Come With Us to the Ghostbusters Spooktacular VAULT

Back in its hey-day, Ghostbusters HQ was home to a wide variety of materials related to the Universal Studios Florida "Ghostbusters Spooktacular" show, that was closed down and replaced by a Twister attraction in the late-90s. I'm not entirely sure why I had so much material on the show, I think it might have been partially because we had visited on a family vacation in the early-90s and I didn't end up getting a chance to see the show before it closed down, so naturally I wanted to know all about it and began accumulating photos, interviews and a whole lot more.

Since that time, I've actually gotten to become good friends with one of the key cast members who continues to share her personal insights and photos with me, which maybe some day she'll be gracious enough to allow me to post (or, who knows, maybe I'll finally get around to making a documentary on the show like I've always planned). But in the meantime, enjoy what materials were originally on GBHQ with the Ghostbusters Spooktacular Vault, recently unarchived here on Ghostbusters HQ to take you on a trip down memory lane.

The vault can also be accessed by hitting the drop-down Ecto-Containment Unit menu as well.

The Private Sector: Where Has All the Pyrotechnic Fluid Gone?

The following article appeared on ProtonCharging.com and GBFans.com on January 27, 2010 as part of my syndicated column, The Private Sector:

Sure it’s crowded, it’s dirty, and there’s people here that would just assume step on your face than look at you, but one of the benefits of living in Los Angeles is the incredible wealth of talent, especially when it comes to “movie magic,” that calls such a place like Los Angeles home. This past Saturday, some of the greatest talents in the visual effects business gathered for the Visual Effects Society’s “25th (and 1/2) Anniversary” Screening of Ghostbusters at the Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood. 

The event, which was touted as a screening and Q&A session with “special guests” turned into an impromptu reunion of the Boss Films crew, the former Marina Del Rey folks behind the visual effects of Ghostbusters, 2010, and their final project Alien 3. It goes without saying that the event was memorable - from stories of the complicated process in which the Stay Puft costume was engulfed in flame (“We… uh… put gasoline on him… and lit him up.”) to the wealth of fantastic archival photos by Virgil Mirano, which were expertly (and far too quickly) piloted by fellow DVD producer and visual effects magician Van Ling. 

But what I really took away from the reunion/screening was just how fun the process of making movies used to be. 

It’s funny seeing the twinkle in Richard Edlund’s eye when he reflects upon his time spent building Boss Studios from the ground up specifically for Ghostbusters and 2010, especially considering that Edlund is one of the greatest proponents of a digital, non-photo chemical, visual effects age. You get the feeling that he, and all of the participants that were on stage at the event, loved the challenge that having to produce everything optically presented. And when you stop and think about it, why wouldn’t they? If given the choice between being on a soundstage and rigging a solid-steel model of a Central Park West apartment building with explosives – then blowing the thing to kingdom come… or sitting and having a team of twelve animators at ILM digitally create the explosion frame by frame, I think the former is quite a bit more exciting than the latter. 

There was one point in the moderated panel where the crew was discussing the challenge of animating the “rubberized light” beams that emit from the Ghostbusters particle accelerators. The solution, as described, was that the weapon was actually sucking atoms and particles from the area in which it was pointed so the pyrotechnics that were assembled on-set were made to look more like something “pulling” from the sets and less like the impact of an explosion (and, if you frame-by-frame through the DVD, you’ll notice the actual animated streams actually start on the wall and THEN link back to the proton gun three frames later). Fascinating and fun anecdotes that I had never known, and each person on the panel spoke of the process with a childlike glee. 

But even taking that “fun aspect” out of it, one could argue that better and more effective work was produced when there was a challenge presented to the filmmakers. Can you imagine Steven Spielberg’s Jaws if the mechanical shark was computer generated and didn’t present any problems? How about Ridley Scott’s Alien film if he wasn’t hiding the man in a suit in the dark shadows of the Nostromo? I’ve vented at great lengths elsewhere (and frequently) about how computer generated effects have freed up (but become a handicap for) visionary filmmakers, so I won’t venture into that territory again. But I think that the point is clear: they just don’t make ‘em like they used to. 

That much was abundantly clear in seeing and hearing the former wizards of Boss Films wax nostalgic on their Ghostbusters work. It was challenging, it was stressful, the pressure was insurmountable, and the fate of both their studio and others hung in the balance… yet twenty-five odd years later they are all still able to come together and the result is akin to a family reunion. Because despite all that hardship, they still had a helluva time. 

Here’s hoping that the folks already hard at work on a third installment of this famed franchise take into account the challenge, and don’t take any of the shortcuts available in this modern era of filmmaking for granted… well… okay… and that they have a helluva time doing so. 

We're Back!

Well hello there, internet. Long time, no see.

I'm Troy, where're you from... originally?

To a few old-timers out there, the name "Ghostbusters Headquarters" might spark a memory or two of your dial-up internet days. Logging into Prodigy or AOL and waiting for ten years for a ridiculously long URL to load and eventually getting you to the site known as GBHQ. Some might remember Ghostbusters HQ as a message board that was a ragtag bunch of hooligans that was the dive bar equivalent of social networking before social networking.

But regardless if you have prior knowledge of GBHQ or not, I'd like to reintroduce you to the ol' girl...

Ghostbusters HQ is back. But a little different. Like the times, she's changed a bit.

With new Ghostbusters films on the horizon and the promise of everything to come, there's such a flurry of information (and a lot of misinformation) thanks to the instant nature of what the internet has become. I found that a lot of my time interacting with the community was assuaging fans who had been misinformed by click bait-fueled articles and comment hate. 

And suddenly I got the bug again, to rebuild something out of Ghostbusters HQ from its ashes... and that's where you are today:

The goal of the new Ghostbusters HQ is to become the premiere online magazine for fans to reach to as another source for in-depth and insightful articles. GBHQ isn't going to take the place of any of the more central fan-hubs like A.J.'s fantastic GBFans, but rather my hope is it'll be your periodic stop for a good read or two. News, editorials, hopefully a lot of great interviews and behind the scenes are on the horizon. 

CLASSIC GBHQ: Interview with Michael C. Gross

Michael C. Gross, the long-time art director for the National Lampoon and executive producer of the Ghostbusters films (and is the man responsible for the no-ghost logo that adorns many a product to date) was gracious enough to give an interview to GBHQ representative Neil Vitale, best I can figure somewhere around 2000. 

Presented here is the interview as it was on the website at the time (spelling errors and all, with few annotations added).

NV=Neil Vitale

MG=Michael C. Gross

NV : How did the Real Ghostbusters show come about? Was it the next logical step after the film became such a big success?

MG : The first movie was made when there was no idea of doing a second movie. One of the surprises of the first movie was the appeal to kids.
In fact at the first preview screening we saw kids there and thought they might find it too scary. When the scary parts (to a kid) were then diffused by a joke and silly laughter...kids loved the release. It also became a useful tool for parents to use so little kids would be less afraid of things that go bump in the night. So here we were, no sequel in mind, kids, a few toys (nothing much because we didn't pre sell something that didn't seem ok to kids). So..... folks who made livings from developing cartoons from movies came along and convinced us... and THEN a toy deal could fall into place.

NV : How long did this cartoon take to plan before it went on the air? Was it tough to cast the show, where you trying to find voice actors who sounded like their live action counterparts, etc? I think I speak for all of us when I say that this is the BEST movie to toon adaption ever done. Plus it really expanded on Winston's character to boot.

MG : It went into quick production. Columbia TV and we (Ivan's people) looked at production companies that could deliver 64 shows for syndication. (the ABC deal was yet to be made) and in a few months we were off and running. Joe Strazinski was hot to be story editor and not only was talented and funny, but respected and understood the movie.
Ivan is particularly good at casting and put the final approval on the voices. Arsenio Hall was easy to pick (he auditioned for the movie but was thought to be a bit young). The other guys were able to do multiple voices and were improve comedians as well, so tweaking the scripts on set became easy. Expanding on Winston and Janine was easy on TV because you needed to come up with new plots and you had lots and lots of time (episodes).

NV : This is a most asked question. Why was the show changed to a more toonified look in season 3 and focusing soley on the adventures of Slimer? I like to refer to it as the Scrappy Doo years of the GB franchise. It tried to bounce back to the story structure of the first two seasons toward the end with 'Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters', but do you think it really recovered from the change over? I'm curious as to wether it was a network decision or a creative one.

MG : Well your questions about the "toonification" is interesting. Part of it was this...the show was simultaneously sold to syndication AND ABC... it had never happened on TV. What this meant is the first season got on air on syndication and meant several things...not as much money for animation, so one in three shows would be difficult to watch (quality of animation, drawing etc) but always (I think) bailed out by the great writing. There was no standards and practices for syndication and the show was more adult. When the ABC shows were getting made (same creative team and production team) we had more bucks for animation but had to write a little more for Saturday morning (as it was then called).
Meanwhile, Slimer became more popular with the kids. THEN.... the decision was made to go for a longer show....hence the more stylized (intentional) Slimer spots. The style and writing tone were to separate it more and keep the Slimer cartoons lighter. It then sort of ran out of steam (5 years in all on the air and 100 shows...let's face it, only the Simpson's outran us in the comedy animation world).

NV : Speaking of Character changes....What happened to Janine during the final seasons of the show? I loved the way the change happened as an episode plot, rather than just magically popping up in an episode as a character re-design...but most fans of the show missed her old Annie Potts Look and NY accent...

MG : Annie's accent did not change. The hair changed because as a woman she was the only character We COULD change (thereby making her fresher). She was also developing as a leading smart heroin. The hair change was my idea and I always liked it.

NV : From the Newsgroup: "Why wasn't Lorenzo Music used past the midpoint of the Real Ghostbusters?"

MG : Lorenzo Music. First off let me say he was a wonderful, smart. Talented, Funny man. When we started the show we couldn't use the original film actors... too expensive, conflicting and busy schedules, etc. So the voices had to reflect the CHARACTERS not the actors. In (Bill's) Venk's case it was difficult to get the voice to go with the writing... but he was great. Then mid-way through production Bill was having lunch with Ivan Reitman and said how much he liked the show and said "why doesn't he sound like me?" We just assumed we wouldn't get permission and worked around it. Ivan came and told us to change it. Then because we had impressionists/comics doing the voices any way, we went for Bill and figured it wouldn't be the first time changes in a character would be made mid-season on Television. I missed Lorenzo.... on the other hand some people didn't care for him because his voice was so well known for Garfield among many other things.

NV : I know that you didn't have any part in Extreme GB, but if you've seen any of it, what do you think of the series? And fans want to know, 'Is it considered Cannon with the original?'

MG : I never even saw one episode of Extreme GB. It was a concept of Hasbro to try and revitalize the franchise to sell toys (I never saw a toy either). I think they may even have paid to get it produced, not sure.

NV : What would you like to see released as extras on the animated Ghostbuster DVDs? Any particular forms, ala season sets or best ofs? Any current plans to put these out?

MG : It's a shame there is no collection of the best shows. The first set of videos was when video tape was still a young industry. There were only a few shows completed and some were just terrible... we were still feeling out how to do the show. One of my favorites was the chickens show and the very sophisticated boogie man show...too many others to recall...but I wish there would be a good collection. I'm surprised we haven't seen the show being aired anywhere at all...

NV : Last RGB question....There's supposedly a Ghostbuster Revival going on. A new Comic Book (editor's note: this was the 88MPH book at this point) has appeared, shifting away from the RGB Designs (Fans of Egons hair from the series are dissapointed), and going with a more movie toned look. If this is a success, do you think a new animated series based on the book can make it in todays toon market?

MG : I haven't seen a new comic...can you send me one? I have no idea if it could come back to life... my feeling is no... that was then and this is now... new audiences, etc.

NV : First of the Movie questions. What was it like working with these guys in their prime? Where they really as wild as reports during their Saturday Night Live days would have us believe?

MG : No, not nearly. I knew Bill (and in fact John Belushi's wife was my assistant in my National Lampoon days) during those days... they WERE wild, By the time the movie was made, no one was wild anymore.

NV : Dan Aykroyd is apparently really into ghosts and spooks, as is his brother Peter. I'm curious if he ever took you to a 'live haunted house' (no pun intended) as research for the movie? And have you had any real ghost encounters?

MG : Danny talked a lot about the super natural and I'm aware of his brothers interest... but no we never did any thing approaching the subject. The closest thing we did for "research" was movies...we screened "Ghostbreakers" "Scared Stiff" (the same movie but with Jerry Lewis instead of Bob Hope... same script, director, some scenes even picked up)... and others. But actual haunted houses etc...no.

NV : Who's idea was the 'Stay Puft Marshmallow Man'? One of the best movie ideas and designs ever. You just feel so sorry for the poor guy when he gets burned to bits.

MG : Danny came up with Stay Puft in his very first draft. The actual design was figured out at the effects stage. We were very unsure of the idea all through filming...thought we might be crazy and we were worried... but the first screening calmed those fears...he went over HUGE... then we asked ourselves, how could we have doubted ourselves.

NV : With CGI as prevalent as it is today, what type of Ghost effects do you think you can get away with compared to the 80's? Or do you think that CGI can ruin the 'realism' that a puppet or manaquin can represent?

MG : No cgi has only made effects better. We struggled with transformations, etc.. today, kids stuff. On the other hand, it is a good example of how it is concept and writing that in the end count.

NV : Many people are wondering if a 20th anniversary DVD of Ghostbusters is in the works? I don't know why it would be needed since the first one, with the MST3K Style Commentary, is one of my favorites ever made. They are also hoping Ghostbusters 2 can get the same treatment..Is it possible to get the 4 guys to do a Cast Commentary for one of them if the first or second are ever re-released?

MG : I think the DVD that exists is IT... anything else would be milking it. #2 with commentary? I don't know.... doubt it.... we've all gone our separate ways...but hey 6 years from now? First let's see who is still alive.

NV : Whatever happened to Ghostbusters 3? Was there ever serious talk behind getting it started? So many rumors, and then it just stopped....

MG : Only rumors about#3.... especially after EVOLUTION... ouch.

NV : During the end Credits of Ghostbusters 2, we see what appear to be bloopers. (There's one of Murray dancing near a refridgerator). Do any bloopers of the two movies exist for a possible DVD re-release?

MG : The bloopers (or more accurately outtakes or scenes cut) probably are in the vaults...I don't know. Sony doesn't even speak to me..... I didn't consult on HEAVY METAL for instance.

NV : If there where a Ghostbusters 3, what direction would you like to see it go in? All new Cast? All new villains?

MG : Too hypothetical a question.....but my guess is that it would have to be so different it would have to take place on Mars.

NV : Winston was really developed as a Character in RGB. How come he never had a big enough role in the movies, and did Ernie Hudson have any input for his animated counterpart? Did he give you any feedback on it after he had a chance to see the series?"

MG : No Ernie was just acting in it, not particularly concerned about enlarging the role, etc. He's a GREAT guy by the way. If you study the structure of movies you can see why there is no room to enlarge any character when there are that many in a feature (90 minutes, three acts, remember?).

CLASSIC GBHQ: Interview with Dylan Gross

Now well-known as a go-to aerial photographer throughout Hollywood, GBHQ interviewed Dylan Gross back in 2000 about his time spent as an assistant cameraman/loader on Ghostbusters II.

Here is the interview as it was presented back in 2000 with the original introduction as well.

What is a "camera loader?" What does "1st assistant camera" mean? All of these are terms you would hear on a movie set. After working on 45+ films, including Species, George of the Jungle, Bad Boys, and many others, Dylan Gross has had an extensive career and is still going strong today, working in aerial filming and commercial directing. However, one job stands out on his resume. It was actually the second film he ever worked on, he was 19 at the time, the film was Ghostbusters 2. 

Q: How did you get the job of working on Ghostbusters II? 

A: Maybe predictably, my father. Ghostbusters 2 was one of the first films that I worked on full-time, and I was 19 when I started. My father was the show's Executive Producer (Michael C. Gross), and my summer jobs for many years were on film sets. I was the (there is one on every set) producer's son who someone was told to give a job... in this case, it was a little more serious, a s I was part of the shooting crew. It was my first "real position" - and with the Camera Crew, which was generally considered the hardest part of the crew to become part of (of the below-the-line, working crew, that is). In fact, even with my father as one of the two Exec. Producers for the show, he was told at first that due to the tightness of the camera union (at the time, IATSE local 659), even he couldn't get me a job with them. For a couple of weeks during pre-production I helped out some of the physical special effects guys (the makers of the slime!). Then things worked out with the camera crew by the time that principal photography began. It was my first show in the union. My father would say that I didn't have to keep the union card, at least I had it. And my direct boss, Cameraman Michael Chapman, joked that it was a complete waste of time to get in the union... he was probably right, but here I am, doing camera work almost a dozen years later (my father moved out of the film business around six years ago). 

Q: Explain your job to our viewers if you would please. 

A: At the time, my job was pretty lowly. A couple of factors were there - first, there was quite a bit of responsibility in even the lowest camera department job, typically loading and unloading the film into the camera magazines. On any movie, the handling of the film takes a special importance - rightfully so - all of the days work is trusted at one moment to the person handling it. Second, the guys in the camera department wanted to send a message that I was very lucky to have gotten into the camera department so easily. Most, if not all of them, paid many more dues before they were allowed membership. So, for the first week, I wasn't even allowed on the set. They kept me on the camera truck, where all of the equipment was, building wooden shelves for the camera cases. I was finally allowed to hook up the video monitors that show what the film cameras were shooting (video assist). On today's sets, that is a separate job from the camera department, but being relatively new, the monitors and equipment were left for the camera crew to deal with. Most of my days were spent wiping Ghostbusters Slime off of piles of tangled fifty foot video cables. As far as my future camera work, eventually I got my hands on the film (film loader), and then the slates (second assistant camera) on the TV show Quantum Leap, as well as features like Kindergarten Cop, Heart and Souls, Point of No Return, and The River Wild. I was a focus puller (1st assistant camera) for a few years, and then ended up, through a friend, getting into aerial (helicopter) filming. Almost by mistake, that became my specialty as, at first, a technician, and then as a Cameraman myself, shooting. This has been my mainstay for several years, and has led to the beginning of a Commercial Directing career (I finished my last of three directing spots recently). 

Q: How much time was allowed for filming in N.Y. and L.A.? 

A: Honestly, I don't recall. I think that the N.Y. unit (which shot first, doing exteriors before the L.A. sound stage work) shot for maybe a couple of weeks. In L.A. I think that we went for around 60 days, or twelve weeks of five day shooting weeks. As I recall, for a large show, the film was relatively on schedule. Most of my energy was spent perfecting the removal of slime from cables, so the finer points of the schedule were lost on me. There were also some re-shoots and additional shots made after the principal photography was wrapped, I belive about a week's worth of work. 

Q: In your opinion, what was the hardest scene to film? 

A: When N.Y. starts to be enveloped in slime, the related scenes were a mess. There were many sets that became covered in the sticky mess, and keeping the cameras clean and safe was mostly janitorial work for the bottom end of the crew. The slime was everywhere, stuck to cases, cables, shoes - everything. Everywhere out of the shooting scene were hoses to pipe slime, things to trip over - it was a tiring environment with very long hours. 

Q: Who was the best to work with? 

A: My dad knew Bill Murray casually for many years, and he had seen me as a very young kid and breifly on a few occasions, growing over the years. He joked with me quite a bit and made it easier to be around the set. Somehow it evolved where I would have cigarettes for him with some of my camera stuff (in a pouch on a belt), so I would get these summons to the center of the set for a cigarette, often at times where the set was closed and just the actors and the director (Ivan Reitman) were rehearsing. Overall though, a film set is a bit like the circus, and there are amazing characters thoughout the whole crew. It is quite an environment to grow up in, and many people made it a memorable place to be. 

Q: Were you a fan of the original film before working on the sequel? 

A: I was in school full time on the first movie, which came out in the summer after the ninth grade for me. For a fourteen year old, it is a pretty huge movie. I think I got as sick of the Ghostbusters song that went to the top of the charts as anyone else did, but yeah, I really liked the original a lot. 

Q: What are some of your favorite stories from working on the film? 

A: Some of the smaller things are definitely lost to my memory... Like any good union member, I did spend a lot of time playing cards on set. There was a one-handed game that the sound guys played, that only involved one poker hand and could be played pretty discreetly during long setups. The sound crew was a three person crew - mixer, boom man, and cable man. The cable man was always running the games, and was incredibly good at starting rumors as a past time. He would plant one piece on information with one crew guy, and then another with someone else. He would be the catalist to some amazing rumors that I couldn't believe he could start. The film shot through January in L.A. and he started the rumor that the Superbowl has changed where it was going to be held that year. He had members of the crew (a lot of sports bettors) changing their wagers based on this rumor that he somehow started panic among the serious sports fans. Somehow, from spending many hours a day crawling under and behind things with those video cables, I became known as the Monitor Lizard. The office got word of this and thought it would be funny to credit me as that in the film. Because of the way things worked on a union film then, the legal department needed it cleared with my union to call me that. Amazingly, the office still made the request to my union, who found no humor in it and insisted that I take a normal credit.

CLASSIC GBHQ: Interview with Steve Perry

One of the greatest times that I had in running Ghostbusters HQ was around the time that Extreme Ghostbusters was first airing on TV. While the series didn't have legs and never made it past one season, it was the first taste of new Ghostbusters material that us fans had in a long time. 

Several of the good folks involved in Extreme Ghostbusters were kind enough to let this shlubby little kid interview them for the site. Steve Perry, whom I had admired from his work on Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, stepped into Extreme Ghostbusters to write one of the best episodes: Ghost-Apocolyptic Future. Here is an interview with Steve posted as it was in July of 1997.

Troy - Mr. Perry, could you tell us a little about the episode which you wrote for the Extreme Ghostbusters series?


Steve - The working title for my episode was called "Ghost-Apocalyptic Future," and is based on Marty Isenberg's and Bob Skir's outline. Briefly, the story concerns a trans-temporal ghost who can shift to our time from a future where ghosts rule the cities. As part of the plot, Kylie winds up in that future, in exchange for a ghostbuster from that time.

Troy - Wow! Sounds like a very deep episode! Which Extreme Ghostbusters character (if any) did you find yourself growing attached to while writing the episode?

Steve - I enjoyed them all, although I have a fondness for Egon, since I wrote about him on the old show, The Real Ghostbusters (with my writing partner Michael Reaves), some years back. Hardcore fans will probably remember that our story editor on the old show now writes and produces a live-action show of his own, called . . . Babylon 5. That's Joe Straczynski.)

Troy - Do you plan to write anymore Extreme Ghostbusters related material? (e.g. more episodes, short stories, novels)

Steve - Probably not, the show is bought up for this season and I've got other book projects I need to do. I did enjoy working with my story editors Marty and Bob, though, and both of whom are great writers on their own.


Troy - Many fans are eagerly awaiting the release of the new show, so that they can meet the new characters, could you tell us a little about the characters?

Steve - I'd rather not say too much about the new guys (Roland, Eduardo, Garrett and Kylie). Better to let the viewers experience them for themselves. Basically, though, they are younger, hipper 90's characters who can be funny or serious, and who are great successors to the old gang. Egon is still there, a kind of uncle to the new guys; and Janine and Slimer are still around.

Troy - You did an excellent job in giving depth to characters in Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, for example Prince Xizor (the main villan of SOTE). When writing the XGB episode was there a character which you explore and build depth to in the same manner. Or, was there a character which you created that you had to bring life to?

Steve - Pretty much I tried to do that with everybody. You can't really get into that level of complexity in a 22-minute animated show, there isn't that much room. The characters will grow over the arc of the series, and after a couple of shows, you'll have a pretty good idea of who they are and what they stand for. There are some fairly deep issues covered in some of the individual shows, however. One of Marty and Bob's early episodes deals with racism and religious intolerance, for instance, and they do an excellent job with those issues.

Troy - Thank you much for giving Ghostbusters Headquarters a moment of your time, I'm sure you have a very busy schedule! Hope to hear from you again soon!

Steve - You're welcome. I think fans will like the new series a bunch.

Classic GBHQ: Interview with Shannon Muir

Production Supervisor Shannon Muir

One of the greatest times that I had in running Ghostbusters HQ was around the time that Extreme Ghostbusters was first airing on TV. While the series didn't have legs and never made it past one season, it was the first taste of new Ghostbusters material that us fans had in a long time. 

Several of the good folks involved in Extreme Ghostbusters were kind enough to let this shlubby little kid interview them for the site. The most gracious was Shannon Muir, whom I'm still glad to call a friend to this day. Here is that interview as it originally was posted in August of 1997.

Troy - Thanks for doing this interview with me, Shannon. First let's start by asking what exactly it was that you did on the EXTREME GHOSTBUSTERS (XGB) show. 

Shannon - You have no idea how big a question that is! I was a Production Supervisor. Production Supervisors have a lot of responsibilties. Basically a Production Supervisor is a conduit of information between different departments that brings things together to get an episode made. 
Pretty vague, huh? Well, I'll TRY to explain it all. Also bear in mind this is the way it worked on EXTREME GHOSTBUSTERS, every studio has different processes... 
First, I worked with the Art Department -- who draw the backgrounds, props, and character reference -- to make sure the primary designs needed for a script are done in time for the storyboard handout. Then I worked with the directors, communicating with their storyboard artists and seeing that they got any additional needed models for both rough and clean-up (final) stages. 
After the storyboards are approved by the head producers, and their changes incorporated, final storyboards (SBs) and models are generated. This information is also given to what is called a timing department, where they use special sheets (exposure sheets, or x-sheets) to dictate how long each and every action in the show should take, since a SB generally shows only broad strokes of action. The color department also receives copies of the SB and models, and they use computers to color in the models to send overseas. For lack of a better phrase, it a color-by-number process -- color models are also notated with numerical references for each color, for which overseas has a matching, previously-agreed-on color palette. 
All this stuff is packed up and sent to the overseas studios by the Production Suervisors. At this stage, the overseas studios start FAXing questions about elements that are not clear to them. I would then go to whatever department the questions pertained to, get the answers, and FAX them back overseas. Sometimes I even spoke by phone with the overseas coordinators. 
The last phase is post-production. The film comes back and is transferred to a digital (computer) medium for editing. Scenes are then taken out, and sometimes even rearranged! When time permits, if overseas has made mistakes on coloring or drawing scenes, a studio asks to have them re-done (otherwise you find ways to edit around them). A Production Supervisor is responsible for logging all the needed retakes, communicating that information to overseas, and then logging when the retakes are returned to see whether or not they can be used in a show. 
As you can see, this is a LOT of work. Episodes would originally get assigned to certain Production Supervisors based on who was directing the episode. However, we came to find over time that some people became more burdened than others, so we ended up swapping responsibilities for some episodes. Also, several of the Production Supervisors got moved to other shows (such as MEN IN BLACK and CHANNEL UMPTEE-3, premeiring October 11th on Kids WB!). That's why so may episodes list a "team effort" for Production Supervisors.

Troy - In the episode "Killjoys" Egon uses an odd looking proton pack with a set of lights and what look like satillietes on the top. What was this piece of equipment?

Shannon - I've been waiting for this question! It's the deluxe equipment Egon is marketed with. I just saw the toys in a store the other day for the first time, and what it got called on the toy is not the same name it had in the early prototypes we sent to Trendmasters (why I don't know). Unfortunately, I have gotten the name of this piece of equipment and the deluxe piece of Eduardo's equipment confused. All I can say is... check the toy shelves. It's original name was "Field Projector," for what it's worth. 
Exactly what the added equipment is supposed to do, I'm not clear on. I definitely don't think "Killjoys" clearly shows what it does. The director added the use of this equipment to the episode, it wasn't originally scripted. These weapons were designed early on because I think they were considering moving away from using the proton guns in favor of different equipment on the show -- but what is Ghostbusting without proton guns? Just my opinion. 
If I remember right, the "portable containment unit" Roland is marketed with was written into one of the later episodes of the series... but under its original name of "Ghost Vacuum." Actually, I just noticed that he's leaning on it in the group shot of the opening credits!

Troy - Probably the question on everyone's mind is 'When will we get to see the old GB crew?' 

Shannon - That's the 2-part season finale. That was scheduled for mid-November, last I heard.

Troy - Anything that you can give away about this special episode? 

Shannon - You'll find out what Peter, Ray, and Winston have been up to. And you'll definitely get to compare both crews and see what you think. They'll have to team up against something REALLY BIG. Not sure what else I can tell you without ruining the plot... and if I do that you might not watch!

Troy - Did you feel that there was a great deal of expectation from fans of the Real Ghostbusters cartoon show putting a pressure on you during production? 

Shannon - Within the studio itself, no. Other than a reference point when we were working on the 2-part pilot and the 2-part season ender, we didn't really spend much time focusing on REAL GHOSTBUSTERS as a crew. Personally, however, I was aware of all the fans on the 'Net and knew what they hoped for. A lot of that was behind my energy to make the best show possible. I'm always big on continuity and a stickler on details in general, but I think I was even moreso with this series... at least in those areas within my power.

Troy - As a fan of animation, were you impressed with the results of the show? 

Shannon - Overall, yes. There are some episodes out of the 10 that have aired so far (when I'm answering this) that are not as good as others... there'll always be some that are that way in any series, I think. I'm particularly proud of the "Darkness at Noon" 2-part pilot and "The Unseen."

Troy - Thanks for this brief interview Shannon, we look forward to hearing from you in the future! 

Shannon - You're definitely welcome. The last thing I'm going to do before I close is give a rundown on the voice actors, because I know people have been curious. Maurice LaMarche is back as Egon (who, in my honest opinion, is irreplacable). Interestingly enough Janine is not voiced by either actress who played her in the REAL GHOSTBUSTERS -- the talented Pat Musick takes up where first Cree Summer and then Kath Soucie left off, I think perhaps because they wanted to give Janine a slightly more "mature" sound and they felt Pat could provide that. Garrett is brought to life by STEP BY STEP's Jason Marsden, and Roland by IN THE HOUSE's Alfonso Ribiero. Kylie is Tara Charendoff, Eduardo is Rino Romano, and Slimer is currently voiced by the incredibly talented Billy West (who also provides the voice of recurring character Mayor McShane). I got to see these folks in action at an episode recording one night. The level of professionalism and talent of the cast is truly exceptional, and I think they brought a lot to their characters.