As one of Hollywood’s longest ongoing “in-development” projects, the much talked-about (and requested) Ghostbusters 3 has had its fair of setbacks – many setbacks, as of recently. But there’s one person Dan Aykroyd can add to his list of supporters: famed writer (and The Real Ghostbusters animated series mastermind) J. Michael Straczynski.
Speaking with Straczynski at Comic-Con 2012, the topic of the “still in-the-works” Ghostbusters 3 came up, as Men in Black 3 writer Etan Cohen had just been tapped to rewrite the original script from Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (Bad Teacher, Year One).
Bringing up Bill Murray’s hesitations with the Ghostbusters 3 script, and Cohen’s work on Men in Black 3 - which was itself rewritten by (at least) two other writers - we asked Straczynski whether the long-awaited Ghostbusters 3 could even work, given Murray’s need (and Aykroyd’s want) for it to “perfect.”
Quickly replying with a laugh and the statement, “Yes, well, if I wrote it,” it was clear that Straczynski had given the notion Ghostbusters 3 some thought. Acknowledging that he often comes up with ideas for franchises he has previously worked on or created (Thor, Underworld, Babylon 5), Straczynski admitted that he does have a working idea for a Ghostbusters 3 script – and that he would be willing to write it, if asked.
But therein lies the problem: Straczynski is likely never to be asked. Why? A grudge.
Following the success of the original Ghostbusters movie, Straczynski was tapped to spearhead the now iconic cartoon The Real Ghostbusters for ABC. Delivering the majority of the 147 episodes of the series - though not Slimer and The Real Ghostbusters (he quit under protest, only returning after ABC apologized and promised to let him write the characters his way) – the longtime scribe has ultimately been involved with creating almost fifty-four hours of terrific Ghostbusters storytelling (compared to Aykrod and Ramis' three). Unfortunately, Straczynski’s work on The Real Ghostbusters may have been too terrific, as this is the source of the problem.
When Ghostbusters 2 premiered in 1989, many fans of the series (and Bill Murray) were unhappy with the sequel. Using The Real Ghostbusters as a quality caliber, many began to cite the cartoon as being better than Ghostbusters 2 – something that didn’t sit too well with those who created the iconic paranormal exterminators.
We did the animated series – which got great reviews; fans loved it – and then [Ghostbusters 2] came out and didn’t do terribly well. Everyone kept saying that the animated show was better. That caught in the craw of some of the people who make [Ghostbusters] - that [people] were saying the animation was better than their film. So I think there’s a personal awkwardness, on their part, to come back to me on [Ghostbusters 3].
For Straczynski, whose 10-hour a day writing habit has him currently scribing two tentpole films for Paramount, as well as many other projects under his newly-created 'Studio JMS,' Ghostbusters 3 isn’t exactly something he needs to do. But as one of the figures who can certainly be pointed to as a source for the continued love of the franchise, his lack involvement (or consultation) with the third film should be disheartening for Ghostbusters fans.
Recently, Aykroyd gave an update to Ghostbusters 3, following Murray’s dismissal of the previous script:
It's got to be perfect. That's the whole thing. There's no point in doing it unless it's perfect. So that's what we're up to now.
While Etan Cohen is certainly able to write a compelling script on his own, his work on Ghostbusters 3 is purely script doctoring (fixing). Given Murray’s hesitation to read anything from the writers of Year One, Cohen is simply trying make work what already didn’t, instead of crafting a completely original story himself. As for trying to attain Aykroyd’s “perfection” - that goal is beginning to sound less likely.
So while Ghostbusters fans wait for Bill Murray to be beaten down enough to begrudgingly agree to Ghostbusters 3, the clear solution to this 20-year old problem of a Ghostbusters threequel will continue to unfortunately stare everyone in the face…
If YOU agree that Straczynski should have a shot at the Ghostbusters 3 script, let your voice be heard! Tweet your thoughts on the subject with the hashtag of '#JMS4GB3'
Because while grudges may have been fine in the past, what Ghostbusters 3 really needs is someone that has proven that they can write for these iconic characters. Currently, there are 3 people - and J. Michael Straczynski is one of them.
Follow Anthony on Twitter @anthonyocasio