8 Facts About The Real Ghostbusters

Columbia Pictures/Sony
Columbia Pictures/Sony

In the five-year gap between 1984’s Ghostbusters and 1989’s Ghostbusters II, the supernatural comedy franchise found a new home in animation. The DiC production The Real Ghostbusters, which aired from 1986 to 1991, followed the continuing adventures of Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler, and Winston Zeddemore, a quartet of ghost-trappers aided by their secretary, Janine, and a friendly green blob of protoplasm named Slimer. For more on the show—including why it needed that odd “real” adjective in the title and which original film cast member got turned down for a voiceover role—check out these proton facts.

1. A legal dispute put the “real” in The Real Ghostbusters.

When Ghostbusters debuted in 1984, some moviegoers may have thought it sounded a little familiar. In the 1970s, the animation company Filmation produced a live-action series called Ghost Busters about a squad of paranormal investigators and their gorilla sidekick. (It lasted for one season in 1975.) When Filmation president Lou Scheimer confronted Columbia Pictures about the title and premise similarities, the studio entered into an agreement that paid Filmation for use of the name.

Later, Filmation decided to produce an animated version of their Ghost Busters, which they were well within their legal rights to do. In order to maintain control of the audience’s perception of the feature franchise, Columbia pursued their own project with the DiC animation company. They titled it The Real Ghostbusters as a way to differentiate it from the Filmation version, a move that minimized—but probably never eliminated—audience confusion.

2. The show turned down Ernie Hudson.

It may sound like an urban legend, but it’s unfortunately true. Hudson, who played everyman Ghostbuster Winston Zeddemore in both feature films, was willing to reprise his role for the animated series and was asked to audition for the show’s director as a formality. In 2012, Hudson told The A.V. Club that when he showed up for the reading, the director told him that the performance “was all wrong” because “that’s not how Ernie Hudson did it in the movie.” The man was apparently unaware he was speaking to Hudson. The producers never called him back and the role ended up going to Arsenio Hall.

3. Network executives were concerned Janine’s glasses might scare children.

According to writer J. Michael Straczynski, the creative team behind The Real Ghostbusters was largely left to pursue their own iteration of the story in the first season with only minimal network interference from ABC. But by season 2, executives started to worry over some seemingly trivial details, motivated in part by their working relationship with the research consulting firm Q5 Corporation: Q5 monitored children's programming and offered suggestions to make shows more appealing to juvenile audiences. Straczynski recalled that there was a fair amount of controversy over the design of Janine (played by Annie Potts in the films), whose eyeglasses appeared to be too pointy for their comfort.

"Well, Janine has these sharp glasses and kids are frightened by sharp objects, so let’s make them round," one executive said. They also wanted Janine to be less confrontational and more of a mother figure to the group. Fed up with the mandates, Straczynski left the series.

4. The show almost canned Ray Stantz.

In addition to expressing concern over Janine, ABC had other suggestions for changes in the series. Q5 recommended the show write out the character of Ray Stantz, played by Dan Aykroyd in the film, because he didn’t appear to serve any benefit to the program in their metrics. The showrunners laughed off the suggestion.

5. The Egon actor was told not to do a Harold Ramis impression but got the job anyway.

Veteran voiceover actor Maurice LaMarche was one of several performers to audition for the series. When he arrived, he was told by producer Michael C. Gross not to try and impersonate Harold Ramis, who played Spengler in the films. LaMarche couldn’t think of another approach and wound up approximating Ramis in his audition. He left, thinking he’d bombed. But he was hired for the role after Gross told him they probably needed at least one actor to sound like someone from the movies.

6. The voice of Peter Venkman got replaced for not sounding enough like Bill Murray.

Despite the game plan to keep the cartoon voices separate from the feature film actors, there were continued concerns that the show’s performers weren’t enough like their movie counterparts. Voiceover actor Lorenzo Music, best known as the voice of Garfield, was replaced halfway through the show’s run when Bill Murray commented to film director Ivan Reitman that Music didn’t sound anything like him. Murray wasn’t looking to get Music replaced, but the edict came down regardless: Full House star Dave Coulier stepped in as Venkman.

7. It was retitled Slimer! and the Real Ghostbusters.

Owing to the popularity of sidekick Slimer, the green ghoul who roams the fire station that doubles as Ghostbusters headquarters, the show was renamed Slimer! and the Real Ghostbusters in 1988. A Ralston cereal of the same name followed in 1990.

8. There was a spin-off.

The Real Ghostbusters stopped production in 1991, two years after Ghostbusters II left theaters. With a third movie seemingly grounded, Columbia decided to try and keep the franchise’s fortunes flowing with Extreme Ghostbusters, a 40-episode series that was a direct continuation of the first animated series. In Extreme Ghostbusters, Egon leads a new team of investigators—mostly early twentysomethings—with support from Janine and Slimer. The original Ghostbusters make appearances in the two-part finale.

The series is also notable for including a nod to the Hellraiser film franchise, a decidedly non-kid friendly creation, in the “Deadliners” episode. Some of the protagonists are designed in homage to the Cenobites seen in the 1987 Hellraiser film and its sequels.

This Damn Fine Twin Peaks Box Set Is the Only One Fans Will Ever Need

Amazon
Amazon

Fans of David Lynch’s three-season drama Twin Peaks know there’s quite a lot to excavate. The series, which ran from 1990 to 1991 on ABC and returned for a one-season engagement on Showtime in 2017, has been a perpetual source of ambiguity, red herrings, and the downright inexplicable.

Now there’s a centralized hub of all things Peaks to dwell on. Twin Peaks: From Z to A is a Blu-ray box set containing all episodes of the original series; 1992’s feature film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me; 2017's Twin Peaks: The Return; an international version of the 1990 pilot with additional footage; as well as an abundance of new and archival material totaling 20 hours in length.

The box for the 'Twin Peaks: From Z to A' Blu-ray DVD set is pictured
Amazon

Inside the package, which is illustrated with the Douglas firs that are part of the show’s iconography, are mini-figures of Special Agent Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer, played in the show by Kyle MacLachlan and Sheryl Lee, respectively. The box acts as a diorama of sorts and opens to reveal the Red Room, a location where many of the show’s most surreal moments took place. A series of three-by-five index cards provide backdrops of key scenes. The only thing the set doesn’t have is Lynch’s hand-drawn map of the show’s Washington location, but you can find that here.

The set is limited to 25,000 copies. It retails for $139.99 on Amazon and is due for release on December 10.

[h/t Newsweek]

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Unraveling the Many Mysteries of Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline'

Keystone/Getty Images
Keystone/Getty Images

The story of Neil Diamond’s "Sweet Caroline" has it all: love, baseball, Kennedys, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, and the triumph of the human spirit. It’s pop’s answer to the national anthem, and as any karaoke belter or Boston Red Sox fan will tell you, it’s way easier to sing than "The Star-Spangled Banner." As the song celebrates its 50th birthday this year, now’s a good time—so good, so good, so good—to dig into the rich history of a tune people will still be singing in 2069.

"Where it began, I can’t begin to knowing," Diamond sings in the song’s iconic opening lines. Except the "where" part of this story is actually pretty simple: Diamond wrote "Sweet Caroline" in a Memphis hotel room in 1969 on the eve of a recording session at American Sound Studio. By this point in his career, Diamond had established himself as a fairly well-known singer-songwriter with two top-10 hits—"Cherry Cherry" and "Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon"—to his name. He’d also written "I’m a Believer," which The Monkees took to #1 in late 1966.

 

The "who," as in the identity of the "Caroline" immortalized in the lyrics, is the much juicier question. In 2007, Diamond revealed that he was inspired to write the song by a photograph of Caroline Kennedy, daughter of John F. Kennedy, that he saw in a magazine in the early ‘60s, when he was a "young, broke songwriter."

"It was a picture of a little girl dressed to the nines in her riding gear, next to her pony," Diamond told the Associated Press. "It was such an innocent, wonderful picture, I immediately felt there was a song in there.” Years later, in that Memphis hotel room, the song was finally born.

Neil Diamond sings the National Anthem prior to Super Bowl XXI between the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos at the Rose Bowl on January 25, 1987 in Pasadena, California
George Rose/Getty Images

Perhaps because it’s a little creepy, Diamond kept that tidbit to himself for years and only broke the news after performing the song at Kennedy’s 50th birthday in 2007. "I’m happy to have gotten it off my chest and to have expressed it to Caroline," Diamond said. "I thought she might be embarrassed, but she seemed to be struck by it and really, really happy."

The plot thickened in 2014, however, as Diamond told the gang at NBC’s TODAY that the song is really about his first wife, Marsha. "I couldn’t get Marsha into the three-syllable name I needed,” Diamond said. "So I had Caroline Kennedy’s name from years ago in one of my books. I tried ‘Sweet Caroline,’ and that worked."

It certainly did. Released in 1969, "Sweet Caroline" rose to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the decade that followed, it was covered by Elvis Presley, soul great Bobby Womack, Roy Orbison, and Frank Sinatra. Diamond rates Ol’ Blue Eyes’ version the best of the bunch.

"He did it his way," Diamond told The Sunday Guardian in 2011. "He didn't cop my record at all. I've heard that song by a lot of people and there are a lot of good versions. But Sinatra's swingin', big-band version tops them all by far."

 

Another key question in the "Sweet Caroline" saga is "why"—why has the song become a staple at Fenway Park in Boston, a city with no discernible connection to Diamond, a native of Brooklyn?

It’s all because of a woman named Amy Tobey, who worked for the Sox via BCN Productions from 1998 to 2004. During those years, Tobey had the wicked awesome job of picking the music at Sox games. She noticed that "Sweet Caroline" was a crowd-pleaser, and like any good baseball fan, she soon developed a superstition. If the Sox were up, and Tobey thought they were going to win the game, she’d play the song somewhere in between the seventh and ninth innings.

"I actually considered it like a good luck charm," Tobey told The Boston Globe in 2005. "Even if they were just one run [ahead], I might still do it. It was just a feel." It became a regular thing in 2002, when Fenway’s new management asked Tobey to play "Sweet Caroline" during the eighth inning of every home game, regardless of the score.

At first, Tobey was worried that mandatory Diamond would lead to bad luck on the actual diamond. But that wasn’t the case, as the Sox won the World Series in 2004, ending the "Curse of the Bambino" and giving Beantown its first title since 1918. In 2010, Diamond made a surprise appearance at Fenway to perform "Sweet Caroline" during the Red Sox's season opener against the New York Yankees. He wore a Sox cap and a sports coat emblazoned with the message "Keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn."

 

A different mood greeted Diamond when he returned to Fenway on April 20, 2013, just five days after bombings at the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured nearly 300 others. "What an honor it is for me to be here today," Diamond told the crowd. "I bring love from the whole country." He then sang along with the ‘69 recording of the song, leading the crowd in the "Ba! Ba! Ba!" and "So good! So good! So good!" ad-libs that have essentially become official lyrics. Diamond also donated all the royalties he received from the song that week, as downloads increased by 597 percent.

The Red Sox aren't the only sports team to have basked in the glory of "Sweet Caroline." The song has become popular with both the Penn State Nittany Lions and Iowa State Cyclones football squads and has even crossed the Atlantic to become part of the music rotation for England's Castleford Tigers crew team and Britain's Oxford United Football Club.

Over the last five decades, millions of people have had their lives touched by "Sweet Caroline" in one way or another. The enduring popularity must be a pleasant surprise for Diamond, who had no idea he’d written a classic back in 1969. "Neil didn't like the song at all," Tommy Cogbill, a bass player at American Sound Studio, said in an interview for the 2011 book Memphis Boys. "I actually remember him not liking it and not wanting it to be a single."

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