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Gervais Sees, Communicates with Dead People in 'Ghost Town'


English comic actor Ricky Gervais stars in a slightly supernatural, very funny tale of a New York dentist who - quite by accident - can see and communicate with dead people. Alan Silverman has this look at Ghost Town.

Dentist Betram Pincus really knows how to take care of teeth. His problem is the people that go with the teeth. Avoiding most human contact and all but the most necessary conversations, Pincus is comfortable in his solitude; but his isolation is shattered when he undergoes a usually routine medical test.

A few hours later he leaves the hospital, but it seems the New York streets are more crowded than usual. It turns out Pincus can now see dead people ... hundreds of ghosts milling around Manhattan.

Once he figures out what's going on, Pincus tries to find out why ...so he questions the doctor and hospital officials about his "routine" procedure.

Kristin Wiig is the surgeon. A regular cast member on the weekly sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, Wiig was excited to work with renowned comic actor Ricky Gervais who stars as Pincus.

"When I first met him I was nervous because I am just a crazy, huge fan of his and I was scared to add my own little things here and there ...but we clicked really fast and the first time I did something that made him laugh I kind of relaxeda little bit and we just kept going back and forth and having fun," she says.

"When people say Ricky Gervais in a romantic comedy. I have to go 'no, it's not like that.' I know I'm not George Clooney," Gervais jokes.

Ricky Gervais says the Pincus character is not mean; he is just honest and, perhaps, a bit lacking in social graces.

"This is a very normal and sort realistic socially awkward guy," he explains. "I think what is interesting about Pincus is that he is very flawed. Everything is a bit wrong with him apart from the fact that he's a successful dentist. I think people like that journey. I think that if someone starts out brilliant and wonderful and right, okay, well done. And I love redemption. I think it is such a lovely theme in fiction ...and you've got to start off wrong to get good. I think people want to be part of that. I think that's what's sweet about this because he is a fool ...an idiot ...and he's missing out on life. The funny thing is that it sort of takes these dead guys to point that out."

Ghost Town is directed by veteran screenwriter David Koepp (his scripts include the first two Jurassic Park blockbusters and the most recent Indiana Jones adventure). Koepp claims he does not believe in ghosts, but, for a dramatist, they can be very handy.

"I believe firmly in ghost stories and their value because I think they are such a sound dramatic platform for any number of stories: horror, thriller, comedy, drama," explains the director. "They all work because they are about death, which is universal ...love, longing and loss, which are all universal. With the broad, fantastic premise, they let you tell a very small human story."

Ghost Town co-stars Greg Kinnear as the recently deceased ghost who convinces Pincus to help the lost souls with their unfinished business. Tea Leoni plays a young widow who sparks a new interest in life for the solitary dentist. The screenplay is by John Kamps and the playful musical score is by Geoff Zanelli.

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