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Some call it a musical; others, a comedy; others, a buddy movie; others, a bloated vanity project. The movie is behind schedule and burning through its budget, which Wasserman considered too big to begin with. But Belushi is an overgrown teenager, a celebration of willful chaos, a hugger.
Belushi, being Chicago’s favorite son, does anything he wants. Here Belushi’s local friends mix with the cast and crew, among them Carrie Fisher, who plays Jake’s maniac ex-girlfriend. Occasionally Landis rides Aykroyd, urging him to tone it down and play Elwood wholly deadpan. He takes offense at a comment made by his friend Michael O’Donoghue, an writer. O’Donoghue sends Belushi a taped and unusually candid explanation. “No one else should ever hear this,” he tells Mitch Glazer before making a teary call to O’Donoghue. About the 20th day in, you think, This is the worst piece of garbage out of hell. I’m going to be assassinated for making it.”The studio is not helping things. It wants, in place of Aretha Franklin, Rose Royce, the band that sings the hit theme from The creatives refuse.
They envision as a large-scale production involving grand set pieces, special effects, and a cast and crew of hundreds. Belushi urges Mitch Glazer to collaborate with Aykroyd, saying, “Just go figure something out.”Glazer begs off. He’s an Emmy winner, the author of many or most of his best Again Belushi does what he does best. “And of course John had told each of them they were the ‘heartbeat of the band.’ ”“Come on! ”He corrals the band but loses its architect, Paul Shaffer, who has obligations in New York. It includes lengthy, Aykroyd-esque explications of Catholicism, recidivism—you name it. Landis and Aykroyd haggle over bits the latter wants to restore or change. Korshak happens to be the son of Chicago’s own Sidney Korshak, the notorious Mob lawyer and Hollywood “fixer” whose client list happens to include Lew Wasserman, who happens to have an in with Chicago’s mayor, Jane Byrne. Landis produces the movie’s signature line: “We’re on a mission from God.” And who but Belushi can turn to a family and ask, as Jake does, “How much for the little girl? “I told some of the crew, ‘This is a ’ They were so confused. Friends, fans, and hangers-on literally throw it at him. “Every blue-collar Joe wants his John Belushi story,” says Smokey Wendell, who would soon become Belushi’s anti-drug bodyguard.
Another flurry of inappropriately late phone calls draws the band to Belushi’s place. So Belushi and Glazer find themselves in the garden, lighting candles. ” Belushi implores them, in his middle-linebacker way. It gets meta, with separate story lines detailing the recruitment of all eight backup musicians.“The script is never-ending,” Ned Tanen thinks. It’s like a long treatment or something”—a treatment being a detailed outline the writer produces is scheduled to begin shooting in two months. Aykroyd wants a scene explaining why Elwood’s car, the Bluesmobile, has magical qualities. “Let’s just say we were welcomed by the mayor,” Daniel says and smiles. ”“John would literally hail police cars like taxis,” Mitch Glazer says. ”The film’s budget is .5 million, then an expensive proposition, particularly for a comedy. They didn’t know what the fuck they were making.”By August, though, everyone knows one thing. “Every one of those guys wants to tell his friends, ‘I did blow with Belushi.’ ”It is 1979.
First thing in the morning, the king of Hollywood receives a phone call. And The Numbers—daily accountings of every dollar spent, every box-office receipt—are all that matter. And if Lew Wasserman sees it that way, that’s the way it is.
This is what makes him a movie that pretty much defies logic and description. “John,” Aykroyd says, “you’re from The platonic love affair between Belushi and Aykroyd defies reason—Belushi, who scribbles ideas on wrinkled scraps of paper; Aykroyd, whose mad-scientist digressions are such that Belushi, when asked to translate their meaning, says, “I have ”Granted, both are young comic geniuses from the Greater Great Lakes region, with its shortage of sunlight and abundance of Polish sausage.