Monday, June 2, 2014

Britt Griffith Joins Amy Bruni, Adam Berry In 'Ghost Hunters' Exit, Jason Hawes To Appear (And Film) At TAPS Gathering

BY AARON SAGERS

The "Ghost Hunters" franchise continues to be haunted by more bad casting news. Following last week's announcement that Amy Bruni and Adam Berry were departing Syfy's unscripted paranormal series, investigator Britt Griffith followed suit Saturday with a social media statement that he'd also be leaving the show.

Posted on his public Facebook page at 1:20 p.m. ET, Griffith stated, "A bunch of you are asking me if I to [sic] am leaving ‪#‎GhostHunters‬ just like Amy and Adam. The short answer is; Yes...."

"It was an honor to work for Craig, Mike and Ita at Pilgrim Films and I wish them and Syfy nothing but success," Griffith also stated.

When reached for comment, Griffith told me his "release contract" prevented him from discussing the details of his departure. However, he did say, "I did not ask for more money or any special perks; it was simply time for me to move on."

But that timing is indeed intriguing. Griffith's departure comes as Syfy's longest-running reality series heads towards its 200th episode, which Griffith will be a part of, along with the tenth anniversary of "Ghost Hunters" and its tenth season. Moreover, his announcement comes immediately following Bruni and Berry's, along with a bit of a social media brouhaha and statements from series lead/producer Jason Hawes, which suggested the duo was making unreasonable financial demands. (Check out my breakdown of the situation that followed the initial Deadline report, along with my confirmed predictions about replacement cast members).

Griffith has been with "Ghost Hunters" since 2008. He departed the flagship show in 2010 to join its spinoff "Ghost Hunters International" (in episodes airing early 2011). He was briefly removed from that series due to derogatory statements he made during an interview, but was soon forgiven and back on "Ghost Hunters." He has since also hosted a "Britt's Gear Guide" on Syfy.com to accompany new "GH" episodes.

The paranormal investigator has also shifted towards an acting career in the past few years, most notably on the horror "The Black Dahlia Haunting" and in the new movie "Dead Sea," on which he also serves as executive producer.

To that end, Griffith said on his Facebook page he will "continue to produce movies for Micro Bay Features and may even take on an acting role or two."

With Griffith gone, the show likely needs three replacements. According to a source close to the show, I correctly predicted former cast members KJ McCormick and Dustin Pari would be returning to "Ghost Hunters." While McCormick hasn't said anything about the news online, Pari has retweeted multiple congratulatory messages without denying them and acknowledged on Twitter he was "just going in to help out."

So will the third "Ghost Hunters" replacement come from the Pilgrim Studios casting call that was posted last week? I won't put my money on it. As I previously stated, I don't think Hawes would want to bring an outsider into his group. Instead, I think Hawes is going to attempt to cast internally through TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) -- the ghost hunting team he co-founded, which is featured on the show -- while also try to mitigate any negative publicity garnered from the recent departures.

For instance, a source passed along a message sent late last night, June 1, from a TAPS Family management announcing Hawes would be appearing with a camera crew at the group's annual meeting -- which is taking place this weekend in Missouri.

According to the message, a camera person would be filming "at Jason's discretion," with the purpose of shooting Hawes and perhaps veteran "Ghost Hunters" cast members Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango. Further, the post stated that management is uncertain whether filming would appear in an upcoming episode or "exactly what the implications are" beyond a focus on Hawes.

My source tells me Hawes has not been able to attend these annual meetings the last couple years due to last minute issues or illnesses. So this appearance from the organization's leader, who happens to be a television personality, has to be a big deal for these folks.

That's worth noting because I think a couple things will be happening at the event. First off, this filming is being assembled at the last minute, and one could surmise it is as a response to the exits of Bruni, Berry and Griffith. But if Hawes is bringing his own camera operator, and it isn't Pilgrim or a Syfy representative who has reached out to the event organizer, might the lead ghost hunter be conducting his own casting call?

If Hawes doesn't want Pilgrim casting an outsider, there would be few better opportunities than for him to connect with a TAPS Family team member and present them as a candidate for his show. A fringe benefit of this appearance is to collect video of Hawes interacting with a supportive group, and demonstrating his leadership abilities and personality.

After all, both "Ghost Hunters" and Hawes could use some positive PR right now. Regardless of which party is telling the truth about the reasons behind the cast turnover, his "Impossible Demands" reaction following the Deadline report on Bruni/Berry set off a series of contentious tweets.  As the marquee name of "Ghost Hunters," Hawes' TAPS Family appearance might be a fast way to achieve some good publicity. And I would guess this footage will appear online in a matter of days following the gathering.

There are still months ahead before "Ghost Hunters" returns with new episodes this October. Syfy has plenty of time to focus on the 200th episode and tenth anniversary, and whatever big special will accompany those milestones. But even as proof of the paranormal remains elusive, there is definitely evidence of a changing "Ghost Hunters" franchise.

0 comments: