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Now in our eighth calendar year!

PCR #362. (Vol. 8, No. 9) This edition is for the week of February 26--March 4, 2007.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang! A two parter this week. A very short rant (not a lot of excitement this week) now and my John Belushi tribute later this evening. Shall we begin?

MegaConned '07  by ED Tucker
LA FLORIDIANA
An Interview With Paul Guzzo  by Will Moriaty
MOVIE REVIEW
"Wild Hogs"  by Mike Smith
MATT'S RAIL
Greetings and Salutations....The Rondos Are Here! The Rondos Are Here!...The Musicality Of It All  by Matt Drinnenberg
MIKE'S RANT
And The Oscar Goes To....And The Anti-Oscar Goes To....The Real Deal....Whatever Happened To...? Chapter 9: John Belushi  by Mike Smith
LETTERS
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
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AND THE OSCAR GOES TO
All in all, a very successful Academy Awards ceremony was held this past week. The majority of favorites (or at least MY favorites) took home the big prizes, with the only upset being Alan Arkin's win over Eddie Murphy. In my NolanRadio interview you'll hear me blame the film "Norbit" for Murphy's loss. You'll have to listen to get my feelings why. Rumor is that Murphy left the Kodak Theatre shortly after the loss. Don't be too hard on yourself, Eddie. You gave a great performance. And it could have been worse. In fact, if you are sound mixer Kevin O'Connell, the pain just kept on coming as he lost an Oscar for the 19th time. Ouch. Congratulations all around to Martin Scorsese, who FINALLY won a directing Oscar. The fact that the academy lined up Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas to present the trophy showed that they were pretty confident "The Departed" director would take home the gold. The "three amigos" (as they were referred to) even had some good natured banter, with Lucas poking fun at the fact that he had never won an Academy Award. Though the shadow puppet theatre was impressive (when they did "Happy Feet"), I enjoyed even more the chorus that did all of the sound effects. Robert Altman won the "In Memoriam" applause contest and shame on the Academy for not featuring the late Peter Benchley in their tribute. Much thanks to the BAFTA organization who rightfully included Benchley in their tribute piece.

AND THE ANTI-OSCAR GOES TO
"Basic Instinct 2" took home four Golden Raspberry Awards, including worst picture and worst actress for Sharon Stone. Other big "winners" included Shawn and Marlon Wayons who tied for worst actor and shared the worst screen couple Razzie for "LittleMan."

THE REAL DEAL
Fans of the television show, "Heroes" will get a special treat this coming Monday evening when a special one minute "preview" clip of "Spiderman 3" will air. After the show fans can then go on line (NBC.com) to see another six minutes of the film.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO...?   CHAPTER 9:    JOHN BELUSHI

WHERE YOU MIGHT KNOW HIM FROM: TV's "Saturday Night Live" (original cast), "Animal House", "The Blues Brothers".

Awards:

  • 1977 Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series (shared with other writers) for "Saturday Night Live." Also nominated in 1979.
  • Emmy nominations in 1977 and 1978 for Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actor in Variety or Music Program.

    It is still had to believe that it will be 25 years ago this Monday (March 5) that John Belushi passed away. Younger readers of the PCR may only know of him through his work in "Animal House" or "The Blues Brothers," but to readers my age, John Belushi was the comic actor of our generation. From his early work with the National Lampoon to his final film, Belushi showed he could handle almost anything thrown at him. Anything, sadly, except drugs.

    Born in Chicago, Belushi discovered acting while in high school. Co-captain of the football team and homecoming king in his senior year, the popular Belushi enjoyed the applause and decided to try acting full time after graduation. After dropping out of the University of Wisconsin, Belushi returned home and helped for an improv comedy group, the West Compass Players. In the early 1970s, Belushi joined the cast of Second City, an improv group started years before by such performers as Alan Arkin. In 1972, Belushi moved to New York City to perform off-Broadway in the National Lampoon show, "Lemmings." When the show closed, John took a job as a writer for the Lampoon's syndicated radio show. His work here caught the eye of producer Lorne Michaels, who hired Belushi for his new late night television show, "Saturday Night." Though Chevy Chase was the first "star" of the show, it was Belushi who earned the great fan following. From his muttering Samurai to Marlon Brando. From James T. Kirk to Joe Cocker, there wasn't a character he couldn't nail. Like many of the cast, Belushi began getting film offers. Jack Nicholson cast him in a small role in his comedy western, "Going South." Liking his performance, director John Landis cast Belushi as Bluto in "National Lampoon's Animal House." This small-budgeted comedy went on to shatter box office records and for many years it was the highest-grossing comedy of all time. Teamed with his "SNL" buddy Dan Aykroyd, Belushi did a hilarious turn in Steven Spielberg's "1941." They followed that film up with 1980s "The Blues Brothers," which was based on an act they did to warm up the audiences before the show. They also released the multi-platinum album, "Briefcase Full of Blues." In fact, at one time they had the number one film AND album in the country at the same time. 1981 saw a different Belushi on screen. In "Neighbors" he switched roles with Aykroyd and played the quiet one, letting Aykroyd get all of the laughs. He followed "Neighbors" with a strong dramatic performance as reporter Ernie Souchak in "Continental Divide." Sadly, this would be his last film. The fast life of Hollywood introduced Belushi to a lifestyle he never envisioned. Part of that life was the ready availability of drugs, which became his demon. On March 5, 1982, John Belushi was found dead in his bungalow at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. Cause of death was listed as acute cocaine and heroin intoxication. The night before Belushi had partied with some friends, including Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams. One of his companions, Cathy Smith, went back to John's room with him and later admitted giving him the fatal injection of drugs. She was later sentenced to three years in prison for her actions. John Belushi is buried on Martha's Vineyard at Abel's Hill cemetery. This past summer, while on the island, our group visited his grave and paid our respects. On a simple headstone is written: Here Lies Buried the Body of JOHN BELUSHI. January 24, 1949 - March 5, 1982. I MAY BE GONE BUT ROCK AND ROLL LIVES ON.

    Belushi was just beginning to break out in films when he died. I truly believe that he would have had the kind of career now enjoyed by Robin Williams and Jim Carey - comedians who just as easily move to drama. While still on SNL, John's wife, Judi, made a short film entitled "Look Back In Anger," that took a look at the SNL cemetery. Ironically, every one in the cast has died with the exception of a very old Belushi. "Why did I survive," he asks? "It's because I'm a dancer!" That said he begins dancing on the graves of his cast mates. It's a great image that comes to mind every time I think of him. He only did seven films in his short life but he left behind a body of work that will always keep his memory alive.

    Next week I'll take a look at another Jack Nicholson co-star, the great Scatman Crothers.



    "Mike's Rant" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith.  Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.