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Dan Aykroyd Interview: ‘Ghostbusters III,”Funny or Die’ and Crystal Head Vodka

Herein, Dan Aykroyd gives you Review-Journal readers insights into: The development of “Ghostbusters III”; the repaired friendship between Bill Murray and Harold Ramis; Aykroyd’s “Funny or Die” sketch; and the reason Aykroyd co-created the popular Crystal Head Vodka.

By the way, in my Monday column, Aykroyd says UFOs will figure prominently in 2012, “the end of consciousness and the end of perception as we know it.” So check that out. But for now:


I told Aykroyd I enjoyed the funny script for 2009’s “Ghostbusters: The Video Game,” which he cowrote and costarred in with originals Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson.

“Thanks. The game was a great collaboration with some really smart people, writers and engineers, and Harold and Ernie and Bill. We had a lot of fun with it.”

Getting a “Ghostbusters III” film to movie theaters seems more tangible than before, he says.

“The status of the script is, hopefully, writing and completing it within the next few months. It’s closer than it’s ever been now.”

I told him the only thing I ever worried about is the decade-long fall-out between Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, which went down after they collaborated on “Groundhog Day” (which is in my Top 3 movies list).

“Hopefully, we can put all that behind us,” Aykroyd says. “‘Groundhog Day’ was one of the greatest comedies ever made. They collaborated together on that, and they’ve always done great work together — going back to ‘Caddyshack’ and ‘Stripes.’ And its always a shame to see a collaboration like that become impaired. But I don’t think it’s going to be a problem for us. I think they patched things up.”

I asked Aykroyd if he’s considered doing sequels for some of his other movies, like “Spies Like Us” or even “Grosse Pointe Blank” (another of my Top 3 favorites).

“I heard that [producer] Brian Grazer was considering a ‘Spies Like Us’ sequel. Yeah, he thinks he has a story there, so hopefully I would be a component in training the new and upcoming spies. Maybe that will happen, as well. I’d love to do ‘Grosse Pointe Blank 2.’ It’s just figuring out the right story and the right placement for it. I see John [Cusack] from time to time, and we would always love to work together on anything.”


Aykroyd says there’s a real message inside his new Web-buzzy “Funny or Die” sketch “Presidential Reunion” that costars Aykroyd, Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond, Chevy Chase, Dana Carvey and Fred Armisen.

In the sketch, directed by Ron Howard, “SNL” presidents from the past visit President Obama and encourage him to clean up the big-bank mess they left him.

The sketch ends with a promotion for consumer site mainstreetbrigade.org.

Aykroyd says the ad was the fastest way to draw attention to the need for consumer financial protection and oversight: “To make sure when depositors put money in a bank that it’s not gambled away on credit default swap derivatives.

“They should reserve special funds, and they shouldn’t subject the people to a tax bill or a loan based on these losses.”

I told Aykroyd that I thought President Obama would put the smack-down on credit default swap derivatives the second he entered office, but he didn’t.

“Well, he inherited a mess,” Aykroyd says. “And to be fair, he’s only had a year and a half. We can’t start flagging him now. He’s only knee deep in the swamp. Let him get waist deep, and then he’s really start to slash and begin to fight.

“And these arcane financial engineering schemes have been going on since Wall Street was invented, since they began to trade peanuts and coffee under the original tree down there.

“But people are more aware than ever. For a while, the public didn’t know about it.”

I told Aykroyd the whole economic mess reminds me of a darker side of his film with Eddie Murphy, “Trading Places.”

“That would make a good remake today,” Aykroyd says. “We could revisit all of the ethics in a very exciting manner. I know they’re doing that with Michael Douglas and the ‘Wall Street’ [sequel, coming out in April]. I’m excited to see that.”


Aykroyd and his partners sold House of Blues to Live Nation in 2006, but he’s still a spokesman and consultant for the chain.

“I work to make sure the brand is continually stimulated.”

And if you know anything about Aykroyd, you know he’s got a lot of other interests still, and he speaks like an expert on many of them. So you hear sentences like these, a lot:

“I’m now a partner in the legal recreational consumable business.”

Not only is he autographing bottles of his Crystal Head Vodka at an Albertson’s (4 p.m. Tuesday, 10250 W. Charleston), he’s giving Wednesday’s keynote address at the Nightclub & Bar Convention at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Aykroyd got into the alcohol business several years ago. He was staying at his farm in Canada one night when he started craving tequila. He realized he couldn’t get Patron there.

So he approached the owner of Patron and got it distributed there.

In the process, he started working to build wineries around Niagara.

Then one day, he was talking about vodka with John Alexander, the landscape artist and portraitist. One thing led to another, and he went to Mexico, and took in the culture of sitting by gravestones with food, a boom box and drink, celebrating the memories of the dead.

Alexander suggested making a vodka bottle shaped like a skull to honor the tradition.

“To me, the only thing we could put in there was a non-polluted beverage,” containing no chemical additives.

To make it, they went to a government still in Newfoundland, “the last state-owned still in North America, and they crafted a beautiful beverage.”

A lot of other vodkas try to achieve a satiny, oily, velvety upfront feel in the mouth by putting in three certain ingredients, he says: 1) “Raw sugar, which has microbes in it”; 2) “raw glycol, which is a cousin to antifreeze,” and 3) “raw citrus oil, which you could cut through auto grease with.”

“So all these have been eliminated from Crystal Head. And people are responding to the good, clean taste.”

Working in alcohol “feels like a whole new career," he says.

"I feel like I’m back at ‘Saturday Night Live.’ I’m learning a lot. Luckily I have very smart partners who know the business better than I do."

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