Jeff Daniels Has All the Answers

Jeff Daniels Has All the Answers (photo)

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You mentioned Michigan, which is where I was born. How did you end up in the Great Lake State?

It’s home. I grew up in Chelsea, my wife Kathleen grew up in Chelsea. After ten years in New York, we had a kid, and we wanted to raise them in a place that we understood. She’s surrounded by family on both sides, so when I’m using the airport to go to work, she’s got a place where she can raise the kids that is outside the industry.

That was the reason we went there, and it worked in ways that we didn’t know back then. The kids have seen the world, but from outside the industry looking into it. They went to London when we shot “101 Dalmatians,” and they got to meet Jim Carrey on the set of “Dumb and Dumber.” It’s been a great ride for them, but then they’re in the Midwest, where nobody’s famous. They understand. We did it family first, career second — a close second. It keeps you sane. You end up taking movies for the right reasons, instead of “I’m not famous enough this year. I need to do something that makes me more famous. I need to marry somebody who is famous.”

You must be a hometown hero.

I think, whether it’s Chelsea or it’s Michigan, they pull for me. I’m like the Detroit Tigers. They want me to win. The support is great.

What do you do when you’re not working on a movie?

I play a lot of guitar. I’ve been doing a lot of gigs the last seven or eight years. I did them initially to raise money for my theater company, but I really enjoy just walking out with a guitar, plugging it in front of 200 to 1000 people. I’m always working on improving the show and writing new songs. I just wrote a play for my theater company. And then I play golf, with friends of mine or my boys.

What instigated your relationship to music?

When I moved to New York in ’76, I was 21, and I bought a guitar just because I knew I’d be sitting around. I needed something to fill my time, and I wanted to learn how to play. I did a lot of musicals, and I still wanted music to be a part of my life.

I picked up the tab books of Stefan Grossman and Doc Watson, guys like that, and really started to understand how to fingerpick. Later on came the blues and the Delta blues. I went down to Clarksdale, Mississippi, made the pilgrimage to the crossroads, and Robert Johnson’s grave. I never kept a diary, but I would write these songs, and a lot of them are just godawful, but they went into the notebook. Nobody was going to see them. They were just for me.

Now, I write for that audience that’s going to be sitting there that night. I don’t write for Billboard or to sell songs to some country and western guy. I’m observational, then I try to turn it into something that the person sitting there can relate to. That’s where you get songs about road rage called “Have a Good Life (Then Die),” and dealing with the 800-pound gorilla in the room, “If William Shatner Can, I Can Too.” And getting shot and killed by Clint Eastwood, I drop some Hollywood stories in there and try to make it musical with “The Dirty Harry Blues.”


You directed two movies, “Super Sucker” and the Michigan-themed “Escanaba in da Moonlight.” Is this a hat you’d like to wear again?

Nah, I didn’t like it. I’ve always been attracted to writing. I was interested in why Woody Allen was rewriting a scene in the middle of “The Purple Rose of Cairo” [and] Jim Brooks would rewrite little lines in “Terms [of Endearment].” I couldn’t care less about the camera or what kind of lens was on there: “What do you got on there, a 75? Why is that?” As I look back, I’ve always been interested in story structure, how to write well. Guys like Shelby Foote [or] Lanford Wilson. That’s been the driving force.

“The Answer Man” opens in limited release on July 24th.

[Additional photos: Lou Taylor Pucci and Jeff Daniels in “The Answer Man,” Magnolia Pictures, 2009; Jeff Daniels on the set of “Escanaba in da Moonlight,” Purple Rose Films, 2001]

Ghostbusters Everett

Ghostbusters In Hell?

7 Lost Ghostbusters Movies That Almost Happened

Catch a Ghostbusters marathon Saturday, Nov. 7th starting at 8P.

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With a new Ghostbusters movie set to debut next year, it’s time to start getting ready for an all out blitz of slime-flavored nostalgia. It’s been 26 years since we’ve seen a Ghostbuster on the big screen, although it hasn’t been for a lack of trying. Ray Stantz himself, Dan Aykroyd, has fought to make another movie in the franchise for decades. Bill Murray famously stood in the way of his efforts, refusing to even read a script. But behind this Ghostbusters Cold War, there were always a plethora of rumors, many coming from Aykroyd himself. Before you catch the Ghostbusters movies this month on IFC, check out a few of the Ghostbusters projects that could’ve been.

1. Ghostbusters in the Future

Columbia Pictures

In Making Ghostbusters by Don Shay, director Ivan Reitman recalled the stacks of pages Aykroyd had spent years putting together when he first joined the project. Originally conceived as a Blues Brothers-esque romp for Aykroyd and John Belushi, the early versions of the script saw a team of “Ghostsmashers” battling demons through a variety of “different planets or dimensional planes.” Reitman describes the first pages as one unending action sequence that was heavy on the ghost busting, light on anything else. He guessed those 50 pages would cost hundreds of millions of dollars (and these are ’80s dollars, remember) so the team went back to the drawing board.

2. Ghostbusters: The Next Generation

Paramount Pictures

Many considered Ghostbusters II a disappointment. Murray supposedly described it as “a whole lot of slime, and not much of us.” Apparently Aykroyd wasn’t in that camp, almost immediately starting work on ideas for a third film. The concept he quickly hit on, and has seemingly continued to champion in one form or another for the last two decades, was the idea of introducing a new, young crop of Ghostbusters. Over the years the rumors of who these new ‘busters might be, often started by Aykroyd himself, have included everyone from comedy superstars to TV witches. Chris Farley, Will Smith, Chris Rock, and Ben Stiller all seem like obvious choices. As time went on Bill Hader, Seth Rogen and Anna Faris joined the list. But Alyssa Milano, Eliza Dushku and Criminal Minds actor Matthew Gray Gubler? Aykroyd may have been drinking a bit too much of his Crystal Skull vodka at that point.

3. Ghostbusters Vs. Greek Gods

Columbia Pictures

In the late ’90s, rumors started to circulate that a script for a third Ghostbusters was ready to go. An early indication of how to sidestep Murray’s involvement, this outing would deal with Egon and Ray trying to keep the business afloat while battling Hades, Greek God of the Underworld. But it appears those rumors were just that. No script has ever seen the light of day.

4. Ghostbusters 3: Hellbent

Aykroyd, along with former SNL writer Tom Davis, penned the script for this iteration. The concept involved the Ghostbusters being sucked into an alternate version of Manhattan, called Manhellton, where the people and places of New York City were replaced by demonic versions. Of course, a new crew was involved. IGN reported at the time that the new team included a pierced New Jersey punk, a “pretty but uptight gymnast,” a “Latino beauty,” a “dread-locked dude” and a young genius whose giant brain made his head comically over-sized. The main villain was reportedly the Devil by way of Donald Trump, which shows Aykroyd may hate ghosts, but he might just be psychic. While the script was never produced (Murray dubbed it “too crazy to comprehend), the story was repurposed as a video game in 2009, with the original cast reprising their roles.

5. Ghostbusters: Cadets

Columbia Pictures

In 2009, Aykroyd and Ramis were at it again, talking up the idea of a new generation of Ghostbusters. Though Murray still wasn’t on board, Aykroyd laid out his vision for the threequel, which would center on the team “learning how to use the psychotron, the accelerators…all these great tools that they’re going to have.” Um…okay? What’s wrong with good ol’ fashioned proton packs?

6. Ghostbusters 3: Grumpy Old ‘Busters


In 2011, Aykroyd dropped hints that the original Ghostbusters would return, even without Murray’s involvement. This time the script would play up their age, adding “My character, Ray, is now blind in one eye and can’t drive the Cadillac…He’s got a bad knee and can’t carry the packs…Egon is too large to get into the harness.” Thank Gozer we never had to see Ray huffing and puffing while carrying a proton pack.

7. Ghostbusters 3: The Return of Oscar?

Columbia Pictures

With Aykroyd trying, and failing, over and over again to get something going, Harold Ramis decided to step in. He hired The Office scribes Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, who also wrote Ramis’ big screen comedy Year One, to put together a script from scratch. Supposedly centered on Peter Venkman and Dana Barrett’s grown son Oscar joining the team, there was some momentum. Once again, Murray still refused to play ball, reportedly shredding a copy of the script and joking he would only appear in the film as a ghost. With the studio refusing to move ahead without Murray’s involvement, the project petered out. The final nail in the coffin appears to be Year One itself. Murray said in a interview at the time, “Well, I never went to see Year One, but people who did, including other Ghostbusters, said it was one of the worst things they had ever seen in their lives.”

This Week

This Week on IFC: Judy Greer Visits CBB, Benders Sobers Up and Gigi Strips Down

The fun starts Thursday, October 15th, starting at 10P.


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This week on an all-new Benders, Paul (Andrew Schulz) decides it’s time to renounce beer and give the sober life a whirl. There’s a first time for everything, right? And if it gives him a chance to one up Anthony (Chris Distefano) in a new hockey division, that’s even better. Meanwhile, Karen (Lindsey Broad) hosts a book club and it goes about as well as you’d expect. Who knew book clubs don’t have keggers? See what unfolds this Thursday, October 15th, starting at 10P.

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Then on Gigi Does It, everyone’s new favorite bubby decides it’s time to tackle her body image issues. And what better way than to volunteer to pose nude for a local art class? Brace yourself for Gigi’s inner (and outer) beauty Thursday at 10:30P.

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Finally, Jurassic World and Married star Judy Greer stops by Comedy Bang! Bang! to show off the unique auditioning skills that have helped her to score roles in every movie and TV show. Plus, Kid Cudi gets into a hockey rivalry. Maybe a Benders crossover is in his future? Find out by tuning into Comedy Bang! Bang! in its NEW TIME SLOT, Thursday at 11P

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D Gets Animated

Hit the Road to Festival Supreme with Tenacious D’s New Animated Shorts

Festival Supreme hits Los Angeles Saturday, October 10th.

Tenacious D Animated

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Tenacious D is very animated about this year’s Festival Supreme, which returns to Los Angeles for a third awesome year on Saturday, October 10th. With a line-up that includes Amy Poehler, The Kids in the Hall, a Mystery Science Theater 3000 reunion, Aubrey Plaza, The Darkness and many more, can you blame them?

Now all they have to do is get to Festival Supreme in time to get the party started. And you can follow along as Tenacious D hit the road in a new animated mini-series.

In episode one, tragedy strikes when The D finds out the IFC jet has been double booked. (Maron strikes again!) How will they get to Festival Supreme now?

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As the dynamic duo makes their way to California, someone crashes their road trip—literally.

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The Kids in the Hall may have forgotten to get their passports, but that will never stop them from making it to Los Angeles’ Shrine Expo Hall & Grounds by Saturday, October 10th.

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Will the gang be able to make it to Festival Supreme in time? Watch below, and be sure to grab tickets and follow IFC on Twitter for more updates on Festival Supreme 2015.

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Should You Open the Package?

How Well Do You Know the Transporter Movies? Take Our Quiz!

Catch Transporter 3 this month on IFC.

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The action-packed Transporter trilogy is screeching onto IFC, where it intends to deliver car chases, explosions, and more Jason Statham than should be legally allowed. But how well do you know this high-octane franchise? Take our quiz on the Transporter movies below and find out.


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