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True Hollywood stories

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll during the making of the Blues Brothers movie. Even more great behind-the-scenes tales than is usual in the movie biz, which is justly famous for them, with this long 2013 article, to wit:

One night at three, while filming on a deserted lot in Harvey, Illinois, Belushi disappears. He does this sometimes. On a hunch, Aykroyd follows a grassy path until he spies a house with a light on.

“Uh, we’re shooting a film over here,” Aykroyd tells the homeowner. “We’re looking for one of our actors.”

“Oh, you mean Belushi?” the man replies. “He came in here an hour ago and raided my fridge. He’s asleep on my couch.”

Only Belushi could pull this off. “America’s Guest,” Aykroyd calls him.

“John,” Aykroyd says, awakening Belushi, “we have to go back to work.”

Belushi nods and rises. They walk back to the set as if nothing happened.

Well, in Belushi World, nothing much had. Another:

Filming finishes in Los Angeles, in and around the Universal lot, where Aykroyd again takes up residence. John and Judy rent a house in Coldwater Canyon. “By the time we got to Los Angeles,” Aykroyd says, “[the shoot] was a well-oiled machine.”

By comparison, anyway. Production goes more or less on schedule, and Los Angeles injects its energy: parties at the Playboy Mansion, nights with De Niro and Nicholson.

Belushi summons periods of sobriety. By now he has met Smokey Wendell, a kind of bodyguard/anti-drug enforcer for Joe Walsh, a guitarist for the Eagles. “If I don’t do something now,” Belushi tells Wendell, “I’m going to be dead in a year or two.”

Belushi is on his best behavior while in the presence of the movie’s other musical stars: Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, James Brown and Cab Calloway. They, too, are in fine form. Even Charles, the crankiest of the bunch, laughs and laughs, usually while retelling the same dirty joke. The Blues Brothers presents a real opportunity for all of them, since all but Charles are in commercial ruts.

Not that this changes any of them. Marini, one of the horn players, spots Franklin taking a cigarette break. He approaches sheepishly, saying, “I just want to tell you how much I enjoy your work.” Franklin turns, glancing at the number on Marini’s football jersey. “Sixty-nine, huh?” she says, and turns away.

One day Aykroyd and Belushi raid the wardrobe department. Tanen happens to be in Wasserman’s office when Wasserman takes a call notifying him that two of Universal’s biggest stars, dressed as Nazi SS officers, have driven off the lot and onto the freeway. Tanen finds this hilarious. Wasserman does not.

Behind the scenes, it’s a different story. Daniel and Weiss are spent. And now they’re confronting the movie’s climactic concert scene. The finale requires Belushi and Aykroyd to do cartwheels, dance steps—the whole deal. It requires hundreds of extras. It requires the Hollywood Palladium.

Daniel gets a call from Weiss. “You better get down here,” Weiss says. When Daniel arrives, Weiss explains. A kid had ridden past Belushi on a skateboard. Belushi asked to ride the board. Belushi fell off the board.

Daniel finds the star clutching his knee and in serious pain. “This was bad,” Daniel recalls. “We had to deal with it in the most effective and emergency-like way. And there was one person who was wired into the Los Angeles medical community better than anyone else.” Wasserman. “I was one of the last people he wanted to hear from,” Daniel says. “The only thing he wanted to hear from me was ‘We’re done.’ ”

Wasserman calls the top orthopedist in town. “It’s Thanksgiving weekend,” the doctor points out. “I’m on my way to Palm Springs.”

“Not yet,” Wasserman replies.

Thirty minutes later, the orthopedist wraps and injects Belushi, who then grits his way through the finale.

End of story.

Or not.

It’s not; still tons more fascinating, entertaining inside dope left here, of which you should read the all.

1

1 thought on “True Hollywood stories

  1. FWIW, I’ve had passing acquaintances with Dan Aykroyd that always ended up with a game of charades at my home in western Toronto.

    He was at Second City Toronto at the time and dating fellow SCT member Catherine O’Hara, who had been two years my junior in high school but hung around with my crowd back then.

    Later, whenever I had a party at my place Catherine would show up after a performance, dragging along Aykroyd and some other colleagues as well. (John Candy came by once.)

    The funny thing though is they wouldn’t head downstairs to the party room to join in the festivities but instead stayed up in the livingroom chatting with whomever was taking a break from all the noise.

    After the small talk wound down Aykroyd would always suggest we play charades, so that’s what we did.

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