Back In the Saddle?

Original Paranormal Investigators Officially Return; "Extreme" Team to Stay On

The original Ghostbusters after a bust outside a bowling alley on November 21
Ectozone Press International
December 16, 1997

An official press release today from Ghostbusters Inc. confirmed what many had suspected since the surprise appearance of original Ghostbusters Peter Venkman (43), Ray Stantz (38), and Winston Zeddemore (44): the official return of the threesome to the organization that Venkman, Stantz, and Egon Spengler (40) had formed almost fifteen years ago.

Speculation had run rampant after the threesome had returned to New York on November 21, and the Thanksgiving battle with a monster that Venkman described as "The Bermuda Triangle gone bad."

The release states that the four original Ghostbusters will mostly serve in an advisory capacity, and then goes on to answer questions concerning the team of teenagers Spengler assembled earlier this year, sometimes referred to as the "Extreme Ghostbusters". Roland Jackson (19), Kylie Griffin, Eduardo Rivera, and Garrett Miller (all 18) will be retained by the New York office, and will continue to handle the bulk of the field work.

"Hey, those kids are good." Venkman told reporters. "Not as good as me, of course, but when you got a monster trying to turn everyone into stone, the more particle throwers you have the better. They've saved this city a few times and it'd be rude to just throw them out on their butts--even if we wanted too."

In addition, Ghostbusters has hired two additional agents: Vincent Belmont (23) and Gabriel Angelo Martin (22), both graduates of the infamous Miskatonic University in Massachussetts. According to Venkman, Belmont had been corresponding with Spengler for some time. He describes both as gifted occult scholars.

This makes a virtual explosion of Ghostbusters in the New York area, quite a reversal of the situation a scant six months ago, when Spengler was living alone in the ex-firehouse known around the world as "Ghostbusters Central" In addition to the newly-reactivated original team and the expanded "Extreme" team, the Thanksgiving incident saw the formation of Ghostbusters: Nightsquad, who's membership includes Spengler's niece Jennifer (18)

The most sweeping announcement of the release was the full reactivation of the franchising body known as Ghostbusters International, with Venkman as CEO and the other original Ghostbusters serving as executive advisory board. "I'm trying to find our old accountant, that guy who was in the Keymaster Cologne adds back in the 80's--Louis Tully? He isn't returning our calls right now, but if he's reading this--hey, I'll pay you and everything this time."

First formed in 1983, Ghostbusters Inc. has had a storied but somewhat troubled history. It began when Venkman, Stantz, and Spengler were fired from Columbia University; Venkman convinced Stantz to take out three mortgages on his parents' house to finance the opening of the business. Zeddemore and Client Administrator Janine Melnitz (now 39) were hired shortly after that.

After their first major case, in which a Sumerian demigod assumed the form of Stay Puft Marshmallow's cartoon mascot, the Ghostbusters were signed to a movie deal spearheaded by noted comedian and paranormal enthusiast Dan Aykroyd. The film, Ghostbusters debuted on June 8, 1984, and became one of the highest-grossing movies of all time thanks, in part, to Bill Murray's energetic portrayal as Venkman ("He looks nothing like me." Venkman insists to this day; Aykroyd and Murray's friend Harold Ramis helped Aykroyd with the script and portrayed Spengler while Aykroyd took the Stantz role).

The Ghostbusters parlayed the financial gain of the movie into the founding of the franchising body Ghostbusters International, and signed merchandising deals with ABC, DiC Animation, Kenner Toys, and others. But in June 1986, just as ABC was preparing to debut the Ghostbusters cartoon on their fall schedule, the Ghostbusters were shut down by order of D. W. Malachi Stantz opened an occult bookstore, Spengler returned to academic work (ironically enough, back at Columbia as the dean who had fired them had since retired), and Venkman started a low-budget talk show called World of the Psychic

The near-resurrection of Carpathian despot and wizard Vigo Von Hamburg Deutschendorf on New Year's 1989 sparked a crisis that led to the removal of the judicial order and the return of Ghostbusters Inc. to action (they briefly used a modified version of their famous "no-ghost" logo, and Tully was first hired to handle the company finance at that time). The quick sale of the movie rights to the Vigo incident, which became Ghostbusters II, raised quick cash to help restart the company, though the contract--due to reputed "legal sloppiness" on Tully's part and the increased clout of the movie's acting and writing team--led to an end result that left some unsatisfied. Melnitz especially complains to this day about her portrayal in the film: "They make me look like some kind of goddamn desperate slut..." she once told reporters.

Still, the period that followed was one of increased visibility for a time--Venkman even got ABC to finance and air "The Ghostbusters Live From Al Capone's Tomb", a reputed jab at muckraking reporter Julio Ramanajan . There were even rumours that Venkman was considering challenging Mayor Arnie Lapinski for New York City's highest office ("It was all a joke..." Venkman says, brushing it off. "But it would make a great novel someday, right?") But right after the Ghostbusters made a surprise appearance on Late Night With David Letterman, saving the host from the ghosts of Ayatollah Khomeini, Ferdinand Marcos, and Nikolai Ceauceascu, a major slowdown of business, combined with some interpersonal friction centered on Spengler, led to the company being shut down once more.

In the intervening years, Venkman moved to Los Angeles and married the Ghostbusters' first client, celloist Dana Barrett. He became an agent, first for Columbia, then founded his own small agency (actress Catharine Bartholomew being probably the most known of his discoveries). Stantz taught engineering at Stanford University for a couple of years before a laboratory accident led to his dismissal from that institution--until he returned to Ghostbusters he sold used autos for Perpetual Motors in Colorado. Zeddemore had obtained a commercial pilot's license and was flying for a small commutor line in Montana. Melnitz entered what her sister Deann Irwin called a "stupid rebound" marriage to Tully that ended in separation in 1995 and finalized divorce earlier this year.

It was as instructor of Paranormology 101 at New York City Community College that Spengler first encountered Griffin, Rivera, Miller, and Jackson: they were in his class just as workers for the New York Transit Authority accidentally set loose a Sumerian disease spirit. Spengler and Melnitz (who had, as fortune had it, just turned up in Spengler's class that day) hastily trained the four students to be a new team of Ghostbusters. It was Miller who dubbed the new team the "Extreme" Ghostbusters.

Janine Melnitz and the "Extreme" Ghostbusters

With the reactivation of GBI and the return of the original members to duty, things have once more come full circle for the Ghostbusters. Explaining the decision to keep the younger team on the payroll, Venkman said this: "Look, I still have interests in California to take care of. Ray and Winston have wives and families. And Egon's finally popped the question to Janine--like ten years later than he should have, but that ain't the point. The point is that we just can't always do this full time anymore. The kids really can't either--they still got school y'know? But between the ten of us (the original Ghostbusters, the Extreme Ghostbusters, Belmont, and Martin) we'll manage just fine. Because you know how it goes--sometimes, s**t happens, and you all know who to call..."

B. King, V. Belmont, R. Collins, and F. Baugh contributed to this report
Supplement to GBI Case File GBNY-1997-15/321
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