Tonight at 9:30 on a new episode of A to Z, it’s Halloween, and there’s something strange in the neighborhood. As per usual with the show, which has given us celebrity appearances and pop culture references before, it wasn’t enough to have characters wearing Ghostbusters costumes. They instead had to take it a step further and brought in the man whose song “Ghostbusters” helped seal the 1984 film’s iconic status, Ray Parker, Jr., who appears in the show tonight as himself.
The episode is called “E Is For Ectoplasm,” and we spoke with Mr. Parker about his appearance on tonight’s episode of the charming and fun comedy.
KSITETV’s CRAIG BYRNE: How did you become involved with tonight’s episode of A to Z?
RAY PARKER JR.: I was on a cruise, a Dave Koz cruise in Alaska, believe it or not, just enjoying the sights, looking at the glaciers, and all my friends started calling me saying “they’re trying to reach you for a TV show.” And they kept saying something about A to Z, and I was like “what, they tried everything A to Z?” So finally, I learned the name of the show was A to Z, and we put it together in four or five days, because as soon as I got back, it was time to go on TV and do the show.
KSITETV: Is there anything you can tease about how you show up on the show?
PARKER: We have a lot of fun when I show up on the show. Some of the guys can’t believe I’m actually there, and then I actually get to interact with the audience and sing. Everybody on the show’s quite a bit younger than I am. It looked like I was surrounded by a bunch of kids, but they’re all adults doing their thing. [laughs]
KSITETV: After 30 years, is running into people wearing Ghostbusters costumes at events old hat for you?
PARKER: No, it’s not. I think Ghostbusters is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, and I appreciate it so much that I wouldn’t even dare take it for granted.
A lot of people come up to me, and say “are you tired of hearing ‘Who You Gonna Call’?” Absolutely not!
It’s everywhere. And not only that, but out of all of the songs that I’ve ever done, this song is very different. All of the younger kids, that are even as young as seven or eight years old, they all know the song “Ghostbusters.” They all can sing it. Well, obviously some of my other songs that are 30 years old – to them, they don’t know those songs. They weren’t even born. But they all know Ghostbusters.
KSITETV: Why do you think the song has endured for so long?
PARKER: It’s turned into something like American folklore. It’s like “Happy Birthday” or something. Anyone in the world, if you just go “who you gonna call?” You don’t even have to be talking about the film, or me, or anything else, but if you just walk up to somebody on the street and say “who you gonna call?” most people know what you’re talking about.
KSITETV: Were you impressed with how the guys looked in the costumes?
PARKER: The guys looked great in the costumes. I thought they turned out really, really nice.
KSITETV: Was there anything that they wanted you to do in the episode that you wanted to change?
PARKER: No. Everything they wanted me to do was great. They gave me, actually, a couple more lines. I just had a great time with it.
KSITETV: There’s been talk for a while about a Ghostbusters 3. Have you been approached, or would you be interested in creating music for it?
PARKER: I would always be interested in creating music for it, but I hope they use the original song, because that’s what I think people want to hear. We should be able to add some more music to it, but you know, what they usually do [is] they get around to music at the last moment for some strange reason. With the very first film, by the time they called me, they were done with the film. I actually want to know who do I call, because I’d like to be in this film! [laughs]
KSITETV: What would you like to see from Ghostbusters 3, assuming it finally happens?
PARKER: The first thing I’d like to see is me in the film. I’d like to work that out. I want to be in the film.
KSITETV: As yourself, or as a character?
PARKER: That’s a good question. I don’t care. Either way!
KSITETV: What other projects do you have coming up?
PARKER: I’m working on a new album, and building a new studio. I just finished The Meredith Vieira Show, and I’m touring Japan once a year. I’m doing a bunch of stuff. I just did a Jazz Foundation show with Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan, Verdine White, and Steve Jordan last Friday night in New York City at the Apollo. So there’s always something going on. I’m a pretty busy guy.
KSITETV: Why should people tune in to see A to Z tonight?
PARKER: They should tune in to A to Z because it’s going to make them smile, and they’re going to have a good time, and they’re going to have fun. And I think the show is a comedy that’s going to make them smile, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll be on there to make them smile.
Our thanks to Ray Parker Jr. for participating in this interview. Don’t miss the Halloween-themed A to Z episode tonight (October 30) at 9:30 on NBC! Here are some preview images: