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.