Don't Call Them Ghostbusters
December 6, 2004 12:00 AM
Since the debut of "Ghost Hunters" in October, paranormal researchers from Rhode Island (whose day job is as plumbers for Roto-Rooter) have been on a spirited search for ghosts and poltergeists. Along the way they have found a sizable viewing audience, averaging 1.2 million viewers per episode. Last week Sci Fi ordered 13 additional episodes of the show, which is captured not just by the production crew but also by handheld cameras carried by the team members. That is how they captured some hard-to-explain incidents, according to creator and executive producer Craig Piligian ("American Chopper," "Survivor: Africa"). In one case, the show lost a cameraman who quit after seeing an alleged ghostly entity. Another time a sound engineer's heavy equipment inexplicably flew into his face, knocking him to the ground. The close calls have made for great TV. Maybe too great. Although the paranormal team members (who don't like comparisons to the movie "Ghostbusters") have been investigating pro bono for 12 years and are known for taking a high-tech approach, savvy viewers can be forgiven for a degree of skepticism given the show's content and the network's penchant for hoaxes-on its prank show "Scare Tactics" and, less scrupulously, during an ill-advised publicity stunt promoting "The Village," in which the channel attempted to fake a scandal involving director M. Night Shyamalan. But Mr. Piligian said that while he is a skeptic, he has faith in the team's credibility. "I'm sort of a nonbeliever," he said. "But I believe in the [`Ghost Hunters' team]. I believe they're real enough. They're normal guys and they sell the show as legitimate."
Although California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger graces the cover of the upcoming Emmy magazine, which features a comprehensive special report on runaway film and TV production, don't look for a quote from him inside. He told the mag he was too busy to give an interview, despite repeatedly saying the loss of more than 30,000 showbiz jobs in California since 1999 is a big concern. Several articles do detail his commitment to the cause. While he won't allocate any new money, restore the budget of the film commission or provide tax incentives (due to state budget problems), the Governator has recruited pals such as Danny DeVito, Tom Werner and Clint Eastwood onto the film commission to help lobby producers to keep production in the state. An anecdote in the issue relates how the governor appeared earlier this year on the L.A. set of a movie with Mr. DeVito to talk about runaway production. He praised Mr. DeVito for keeping his production in California. But when a reporter asked about outsourcing jobs from the Golden State, the Gov replied: "We don't want to get into the situation of protectionism." Concluded Robert Salladay, author of the article: "Saying `We want to make movies everywhere' at a political event to stop out-of-state productions is the kind of zig-zaggy comment Schwarzenegger often makes."
-ALEX BEN BLOCK