The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Judd Apatow and 'Ghostbusters 3': Fat chance

March 3, 2009 |  6:19 pm

Anyone can write anything on the Internet, so I guess I wasn't surprised to discover that the amazing array of stories all reporting, speculating and buzzing about Judd Apatow stepping up to produce "Ghostbusters 3" turn out to be, ahem, fanciful, intriguing and entertaining -- but not true. All it took was a couple of calls to the top brass at Sony to learn that Apatow, despite his many talents and deep roots at the studio, where he has made several comedy hits, has nothing to do with the movie.

Juddapatow"It's not true," says Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures. "We have some great new writers working on a new script, but Judd isn't involved. Judging from the frenzy on the Internet, there still seems to be plenty of interest in the idea of doing another film, so we're certainly taking that as a good sign."

The first two "Ghostbusters" films, directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd, were signature 1980s action comedies and huge box-office hits. Over the years, Sony has regularly tried to interest the foursome in revisiting the franchise, with limited success. However, timing is everything. The studio recently hired the writing team of Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg (best known for their work on "The Office") to tackle a new script. As it turns out, most of the original films' creative team are involved as informal consultants on the new project, which would have the original Ghostbusters passing the torch to a new generation.

So why all those wacky Internet posts about Judd Apatow? Some of it is probably just wishful thinking -- after all, Apatow's comic versatility makes him today's equivalent of Reitman, who was the reigning comedy producer-director of his era. But it's also likely that the web gumshoes were confused by the fact that Apatow is producing another Stupnitsky and Eisenberg-penned project, "The Year One," a Harold Ramis-directed adventure comedy that Sony is releasing in June. This somehow led to all sorts of dreamy speculation that the new "'Busters" project would be populated with actors from the Apatow stock company, which isn't a bad idea, but is total fiction at this stage.   

For now, the studio is just hoping the writers can figure out a clever way to update the "Ghostbusters" saga. At least the Internet hubbub seems to offer plausible evidence that the franchise's fan base is alive and well and eager for a new film. If there were any doubt, just check out the assortment of fan-created trailers for a new sequel on YouTube. Here's a current favorite:

Photo of Judd Apatow by Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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