Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Real-Real Ghost-Busters

Nine years before Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis would bring their ghost fighting team to the big screen, CBS aired a Saturday morning sitcom featuring two ghost hunting detectives and a gorilla in a slapstick live action comedy called The Ghost-Busters.

Starring Larry Storch and Forrest Tucker, the short lived show had the lead actors playing characters closely modeled after their more successful F-Troop roles, only this time they found themselves saddled with what was clearly a fake gorilla. The show was mercifully canceled after just 15 episodes.

Filmation, which had produced the show for CBS, had probably forgotten all about this dud until Columbia Pictures came calling. They had an unrelated project also called Ghostbusters and wanted to license the name from Filmation. Filmation agreed and history was made when Ghostbusters took the 1984 box office by storm.

Columbia Pictures, in a cost saving measure, had not locked up exclusive rights to the Ghostbusters name. Now that the film was a runaway hit, Filmation decided to capitalize on its success by bringing back its classic characters in a new Ghost-Busters animated series.

Amazingly, Columbia Pictures actually tried to stop Filmation from using its own trademarks by filing a lawsuit claiming that children would be confused by the "fake" Ghostbusters. The case was thrown out and Filmation's new cartoon was released into syndication.

Not willing to let Filmation go unchallenged, Columbia released its own cartoon, astonishingly called The Real Ghostbusters, which it technically wasn't. A more accurate title might have been The Popular, More Recent Ghostbusters.

Eventually, Columbia Pictures worked out its issues with Filmation. Undisclosed sums of money changed hands, sealed deals signed and the cartoon based on the original Ghost-Busters became Filmation's Ghostbusters and Columbia's cartoon became the unchallenged Ghostbusters.