Aykroyd’s High On Spirits
By BRUCE KIRKLAND (Toronto Sun)
Tuesday, April 9, 1996
HOLLYWOOD — When some supernatural monster is killing thousands of goats in Florida and Puerto Rico, “Who ya gonna call? Goatbusters!”
Dan Aykroyd cracks the joke but he’s still deadly serious about paranormal and supernatural phenomena. So much so he plans to launch and host an independent television series called PSI Factor. “I’m the Robert Stack figure,” he teases. “I’m hosting the show.”
The series will investigate the weird, the wonderful, the wacky and — yes — even the goat massacres Miami TV reporter Maria Salas has queried him about at a surreal press conference. “I’m not aware of that. If you can give me a reference on that, I’ll have our investigative group look into it.”
Ignoring obvious giggles and guffaws, Aykroyd calls PSI Factor “a very interesting project.” Aykroyd is soon to be seen in Celtic Pride with Daniel Stern and Damon Wayans, and is currently in Sgt. Bilko with Steve Martin, but it’s PSI Factor that really scorches his belly.
“We are dramatizing real paranormal supernatural investigative cases undertaken by a group called the Office for Scientific Investigation and Research. They take supernatural events that have occurred around the world and break them down scientifically to find out whether they’re a hoax or whether there is a logical explanation.”
In some situations, the researchers have discounted the hoax factor and yet found no logical reason for specific occurrences, Aykroyd says.
“In many cases, we have incredibly scary and stimulating, unresolved cases pointing to the fact that we are living in a world that encompasses a lot more than just the four dimensions we see. There is a tremendous amount we don’t see in this world and the mystical is going to come into play.
“As we approach the year 2000 mankind is going to be looking for a spiritual answer and a more satisfying reason for why we’re all here.”
He cites a recent report from the People’s Republic of China about Mongolians swarmed by killer fleas: “People were dying from flea bites. When you think fleas you think of fleas like this (he pinches his digits together indicating something minuscule). These fleas were the size of Chow dogs!” PSI Factor will investigate. (No one mentions Fleabusters.)
Aykroyd is gearing for a fall release and plans to shoot the initial 22-part series with Toronto’s Atlantis Films. For Aykroyd, whose roots are in Kingston and the Ottawa Valley, this is a family obsession stretching back four generations. His great-grandfather corresponded with Arthur Conan Doyle and Bertrand Russell “on matters of spirituality.” His grandfather “held seances in the old family farmhouse” (near Kingston), and “my dad also had that stuff going on.”
The laughter that talking about the supernatural inspires — including open ridicule at the press conference — is of no concern, Aykroyd says. “I’m approaching this in a very serious manner. In the first episode, I’m going to introduce myself saying that: ‘You know me from comedies but we’re dealing with cases that actually happened.’ I’m committed. It’s one of the most exciting things I’ve worked on in my life!””