The legendary Harold Ramis gives High-Def Digest a call to discuss 'Ghostbusters,' nudity, and most importantly, the 'Year One' Blu-ray.
By Michael S. Palmer
The phone rang. I answered. And there he was on the other end of the line saying hello. None other than Dr. Egon Spengler.
Or in reality -- stepping out of my boy-hood fantasies -- acclaimed writer/producer/actor/director Harold Ramis. The man behind 'Animal House,' 'Meatballs,' 'Caddyshack,' 'Stripes,' 'Ghostbusters,' 'Back to School' (seriously, if it’s on cable, who can turn it off?), 'Groundhog Day,' and now, 'Year One.'
First, in the 'Ghostbusters' universe, Ramis said he was not directly involved with the Blu-ray release of the first movie. The studio informed everyone that it was happening, of course, and that they were planning to release it coinciding with Ghostbusters: The Video Game, on which Ramis had already been working. As you’ve probably heard, 'Ghostbusters 3' is definitely in development. 'Year One' and 'The Office' scribes, Gene Stupnitsky & Lee Eisenberg, broke the story with Ramis, and are penning the first draft.
Stupnitsky & Eisenberg actually used to be interns and production assistants at Ramis’ company. After becoming his protégés and proving themselves in television, they collaborated with Ramis on the 'Year One' script. Ramis’ story for 'Year One' was inspired by Mel Brooks’ famous 2,000 Year Old Man character as well as religion in general. What aspects do we take for granted, such as Adam & Eve, or circumcision? And what was Sodom really like? Could it have been the Las Vegas of its time?
For the filmmakers/techies amongst us, 'Year One' was shot on film, but Ramis said he would consider HD on future projects. He says film is simply a recording medium now that one scans in order to finish movies digitally. Not a tech guy himself, Ramis said he started watching TV when it was just a 10-inch black & white screen filled with more static than image. He uses his computer only for email, writing, and a handful of games. And anytime the director sees Blu-ray (or High Def in general), he’s amazed. Yet for now, the force behind some of our favorite movies has yet to go Blu.
'Year One' comes to Blu-ray on October 6th in a feature-packed set. It's an Unrated edition (with a Digital copy for playback on PSP, iPod, Mac, or PC), which he says will amount to a few more sex jokes. Since the filmmakers were always aiming for a PG-13 release, Ramis didn’t shoot extra R-rated material such as nudity (but if you, dear reader, need your fix of unrated naughty bits, Ramis joked that when the studio went back for the re-release of Stripes, they added 18 minutes of new footage, 9 of which allegedly involve nudity). There’s also an audio commentary by Ramis with stars Jack Black and Michael Cera (recorded with all three in the room). Ramis can’t say enough kind words about Black and Cera. Two nice, hardworking, professionals who never added conflict to the set.
Exclusive to the Unrated Blu-ray disc, viewers and fans will find three BD-Live enabled features:
- “Year One Cutting Room”, which lets viewers create their own video using clips and music from the film and share it online.
- “movieIQ”, Sony’s answer to Fox’s “Livelookup,” which allows viewers to access real-time trivia about the cast, crew, music, and production.
- “cinechat” an in-movie instant message feature allowing viewers to chat with friends around the world as they watch the movie.
It’ll be interesting to see the reaction to “movieIQ”. Since this was a quick phone interview, rather than a Blu-ray showcase event, I haven’t seen any of these features in person, but I’m sure High-Def Digest’s impending review will discuss quality and functionality of these new special feature. It’s great to see studios trying to infuse their home entertainment releases with full capabilities of Blu-ray and BD-Live.
As for Ramis, what’s next? I was hoping for some type of musical reunion / collaboration with Kenny Loggins (aka, the soundtrack voice of the 1980s), but for now, Ramis is obsessed with building his own guitar, something he has neither the training nor the tools to accomplish. After that, Ramis may rewrite a script of his own, based on work he did in a psych ward during the late 1960s.