Monday, October 27, 2008

Station identification

Sometimes my professional life demands that I write about movies, so that's where I've been this past week: watching a crap-ton of apocalyptic flicks and writing down errant thoughts. Apologies for not keeping up. However! Last night friends and I watched both Ghostbusters movies back to back. We used a projector and aimed it at a big wall in the house, so it was a borderline theatrical experience. So I hope to continue with the Ghostbusters@25 series soon.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bette without a butt

Roger Ebert is flourishing as a blogger. The freedom agrees with him. Currently he has a great post on the new Bette Davis stamp, for which her ever-present cigarette was erased: (look at that pose! The erasure is laughably obvious):

Look, I hate smoking. It took my parents from me, my father with lung cancer, my mother with emphysema. [...] On the other hand, I have never objected to smoking in the movies, especially when it is necessary to establish a period or a personality. [...] If virtually all actresses smoked, Bette Davis smoked more than virtually all actresses. When she appeared on the Tonight Show the night after she co-hosted the Oscars, she walked onstage, shook Johnny's hand, sat down, pulled out her Vantages, and lit up. Tumultuous applause. I would guess it is impossible for an impressionist to do Bette Davis without using a cigarette.

Related post: The censors take on filters: Casting a pall (mall) on the alluring, noirish cool of the movies.

Friday, October 10, 2008

This weekend, vacation in Crawford

Hulu is out with its first movie premiere: Crawford, a documentary about the Texas town in which Bush "lives." It's a small masterpiece -- a short, sad, clear-headed look at how the sentiments of a small town are italicized (and then eroded) by the residency of a sitting president. It starts off slow but picks up around minute 30, when Crawford reveals itself as a pressure-cooked microcosm of a divided U.S.A. It turns heartbreaking in the last 15 minutes, when we see what the withering blast of "with us or against us" does when trained on only 700 people. Bravo to director David Modigliani (his first credit) and his crew.

Via The House Next Door.

Marge Gunderson interviews Sarah Palin

This mash-up needed to be done. But the scene in which Marge Gunderson sautées Jerry Lundegaard in politeness would've been a better pick. Couldn't fine the scene on the YouTubes, dammit. Someone get on that.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

We're in the middle of a drought, and the water commissioner drowns. Only in L.A.

New banner courtesy of Beedow, a former blogger who should blog again. He's a natural writer. But he's also a working actor, so time is short. At this point I'd name his favorite movie, just to keep in line with the mission of this blog, but I actually don't know what his favorite movie is. So I'm just going to guess Singin' in the Rain. Thanks, Beedow.

Ghostbusters @ 25: Ernie Hudson, Winston Zeddemore and the fourth wheel

In Ghostbusters: Winston Zeddemore is hired a half hour into the movie, and for what? To carry the workload? He has no special skills. He doesn't seem to be compelled by the job, either, but answers an ad in the paper and is screened by Janine Melnitz simply because he needs work.

Janine: Do you believe in UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full trance mediums, the Loch Ness monster and the theory of Atlantis?

Winston: Ah, if there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say.

Why would Stantz and Spengler hire someone who doesn't share their passion for the paranormal? Maybe it's because Winston is the only person to show up for the interview. Or the only person who is open-minded enough to believe in the work. (Wikipedia says Winston was a firefighter, which has a passing relationship with ghostbusting I guess.) When Ray first meets Winston, he treats him with a certain dismissive acceptance. The most we know about Winston is that he's a bit religious, if not superstitious. Winston loves "Jesus's style," which maybe prepares this newbie for facing a demon. Winston does get some good lines ("That's a big twinkie," "Ray, if someone asks if you're a god, you say YES," "I've seen shit that will turn you white" and the final line of the movie: "I love this town!"), but he never grabs for the movie's center. He just adds a little bit of color (excuse the pun) and flexible skepticism to the otherwise academic trifecta of ghost-obsessed white men. Notice the blocking in the screenshot at the top of this post.

The biographical rundown: The Ghostbusters series was obviously Ernie Hudson's one-and-only huge hit. He made the first when he was 39. The Yale graduate subsequently appeared in The Hand that Rocks the Cradle and Congo. He's often cast in roles of authority: a sergeant in both The Crow and Airheads, the warden on "Oz," FBI assistant director in Miss Congeniality, detective in "Desperate Housewives" and a doctor in several other minor movies. Today, at 62, he seems to be a regular on the comic convention circuit and is, with the other members of the original cast, lending his voice to the newest Ghostbusters video game.

What it all means: One wonders how the franchise might be different if Eddie Murphy had accepted the role. The dynamics certainly would've changed. In the '80s, no one was a bigger comic star than Murphy. Ghostbusters 2, especially, would've probably been all about Murray and Murphy battling for screen supremacy. But with an unknown like Hudson in the role, the franchise started as a buddy comedy between three white guys. The first movie's poster did not include Winston Zeddemore. The trailer didn't mention Ernie Hudson. This would be rectified when the sequel came out. Either way, Hudson and Winston always felt like the fourth wheel on a tricycle. This wasn't an entirely bad thing. It was just curious. I assume Hudson will be asked back for the third movie so the purists do not erupt with anger. Here's hoping. And to close, here's how the original movie's trailer would've looked if Hudson had been the star:

Upcoming: Bill Murray, Annie Potts, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver. Previously: Dan Aykroyd, Rick Moranis.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Marathon movie-watching, catheter optional

Two people have broken a Guinness World Record by watching movies for 123 hours inside a transparent plastic box in Times Square. Apparently they could not divert their eyes from the screen (makes sense) but they could have a 10-minute break between movies, which seems like cheating until you realize 123 hours equals about five days, and when else are they going to sleep? I could not do this. I fall asleep easily, and I am virtually incapable of watching more than two or three movies in a row except when in film-festival mode (and even then it gets tiresome).

I've thought about doing a straight sit-through of the Alien franchise. I'm sure many people have watched all six Star Wars movies in a row. I myself have never engaged in a marathon of anything other than "Arrested Development." Although on Sunday I plan to watch Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2 back-to-back. But that's not quite a feat.

Anyway, the news story does not say what the record-breakers watched, other than Iron Man to begin and Thelma and Louise to end. Did they have options? Or was the lineup pre-programmed? Estimating a total of 10.25 hours of breaktime leaves 112.5 hours for movie-watching. You could probably fit 56 movies in that time, figuring an average of two hours for running time. If I had to perform this feat and could choose the movies, I'd want a heart-racer or spine-tingler every third or fourth movie, just so I'd stay in the game. Here would be my 15 picks to split up the slog, in order of intensity:

Hour 8. The Innocents. Just enough silence and dread to perk me up.
Hour 16. Michael Clayton. I would not miss a frame of this delicious movie.
Hour 24. Changing Lanes. Same here. Gorgeous, suspenseful drama.
Hour 32. Wild Things. A little titillation after more than a day of watching.
Hour 40. True Lies. Lots of fun, with great pacing by John Cameron.
Hour 48. The Game. A tense mindf*ck. A clamor for relief.
Hour 56. The Fugitive. Harrison Ford carries me all the way.
Hour 64. The Shining. There's something about long, straight tracking shots.
Hour 72. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Quintessential bruised-forearm movie.
Hour 80. Open Water. You can't fall asleep while treading water.
Hour 88. The Silence of the Lambs. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.
Hour 96. The Blair Witch Project. This is the only terrifying movie on here.
Hour 104. Requiem for a Dream. Can't imagine what this is like to watch on no sleep.
Hour 112. Speed. A movie with three great climaxes. Bam bam bam.
Hour 120. Alien. To look away or fall asleep would be like plugging one's ears during a Beethoven symphony.

What movie always makes you perk up? What is the most intense movie you've ever seen? My answer to the latter question (right now, anyway) is Training Day, which completely gutted and drained me even though (or because) I didn't really like it.

Monday, October 06, 2008


I first got wind of the new Kirk Cameron marriage-in-peril Christian movie Fireproof a couple weeks ago, when I saw the trailer.

This parish-financed movie has won the praise of Mike Huckabee, the archbishop of Louisville and Bubba Cathy, the churchy senior vice president of Chick-fil-A. Now The New York Times has picked up on it, noting that it's so far made $12.5 million at the box office (set against its $500,000 budget). As much as I want to mock this movie, I will not. I haven't seen it. Maybe it's good. Religious-themed movies can be excellent. The Mission, for example, is one of my faves. But The Mission does not evangelize. Based on its trailer, I'm worried that Fireproof is doing exactly that, and only that. I'm worried that it will inspire couples to stay in failing marriages -- unions that will combust with or without God's help because sometimes, regardless of holy matrimony, people aren't meant to be together. I'm worried that a struggling couple will see this movie, and force themselves to stay miserable together rather than do what's best for both of them: divorce.

Blasphemy! I can see Bubba Cathy brandishing a chicken nugget at me and smearing her palms, feet and side with BBQ sauce and screaming "Stigmata!" Perhaps I'm being unfair. It's just that the political climate has made me frightened of religious messages, regardless of nuance. Too much badness has been waged in the name of monotheism. War, for example. Or futilely clinging to a dead relationship and doing emotional damage to oneself, one's partner and one's children.

Anyway. Might I suggest a great double-billing? Fireproof, followed by Bill Maher's Religulous. Or vice versa. Room for everyone! Except the crazies.


I may continue my Ghostbusters @ 25 series today, if I finish the post on Ernie Hudson. Or I may spread the series out over this month. We'll see. In the meantime, peruse the My Best Post Blogathon at He Shot Cyrus, a new-ish blog that's a lot of fun. The proprietor certainly knows more about the realm of blogging than I do. Exhibit A: He seems to be cultivating an actual readership, and the headlining banner at the top of his homepage is pretty stunning. Anyway, my submission for the 'thon is my Triple Crowners series, which is technically seven posts, but whatever. I swear I'll get to the next series installment before the end of the year. Really.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Ghostbusters @ 25: Rick Moranis, Louis Tully and country music

Rick Moranis is not dead. In 2004, a friend assured me he was. Someone started a rumor on the Internets. Maybe it was Moranis himself. Maybe he wanted to remind people he was alive (irony!) and planning to release a comedy album the following year. Either way, he retired from the movies in 1997 and hasn't been seen since. But he's been heard from. You'll see what I mean.

In Ghostbusters: Moranis plays Louis Tully, the wimpy accountant living next to Dana Barrett in an apartment building constructed as a conduit for demons. In the first film, we see him whenever he pops out of his apartment to say hello to Dana. Inevitably, he locks himself out. Eventually, Moranis gets to shine while hosting a cocktail party. He flits between guests, dropping uncouth information about new arrivals as if that's what a host is supposed to do. Soon there is a growl from his bedroom, allowing Moranis to utter a line for the ages: "Oookay, who brought the dog?"

It gets ugly from there for Louis Tully, who is posessed by the dog and becomes the Key Master. One of the movie's gags comes from the odd pairing of short, stooped Moranis and the tall, statuesque Sigourney Weaver. Seeing them make out while posessed on a pile of rubble is exceptionally funny. The whole posession thing sets up one of Louis's great little punchlines in the sequel, in which Tully defends the Ghostbusters in court:

Your Honor, ladies and gentleman of the audience, I don't think it's fair to call my clients frauds. Sure, the blackout was a big problem for everybody. I was trapped in an elevator for two hours and I had to make the whole time. But I don't blame them. Because one time I turned into a dog and they helped me. Thank you.

In the sequel, Moranis gets even more to work with. Louis gets the girl (Janine Melnitz!) and he gets credit for saving the world at the end of the movie. Moranis's performance in the court-room sequence is great comedy. He stumbles over every legal convention ("My guys are still under a judicial mistrangement order -- that blue thing I got from her!"). It's very winning. Moranis took Woody Allen's stock character from the '70s and turned up the volume and the anxiety for the '80s. It worked. It works.

The biographical rundown: After starting as a player on SCTV, Moranis spent most of the '80s and '90s as a sort-of movie star. Ghostbusters propelled him to starring roles in successful vehicles like Little Shop of Horrors, Spaceballs, Parenthood, Honey I Shrunk the Kid and its sequels. His wife died of liver cancer in 1991. He gave up the movies in 1997 to focus entirely on his kids. And then he reinvented himself as a singer-songwriter. Take a look at this. Yep, that's Louis Tully doing his best John Mellencamp pose. Moranis was nominated for a Grammy in 2006. Make sure to read this profile from The Independent, which has this nice biographical nugget midway through: How the now 53-year-old actor ended up quitting a successful movie career, writing and recording a colourful collection of country songs, and latterly penning comment pieces for The New York Times, is a tale that has its roots in tragedy.

The profile also goes on to say Moranis has an "obscenely spacious" apartment overlooking Central Park. I find this oddly comforting. I don't know why. I'm just glad he's not a washed-up actor renting a bungalow in Venice Beach. This man made a conscious decision to change his life, though he still has the spoils of his career to keep him comfortable.

What's it all mean? It means that another Ghostbusters needs Louis Tully. And maybe Rick Moranis needs another Ghostbusters. Yes, he has sworn off acting. But to be back in the improvisational arena with Murray and Aykroyd and Ramis? I hope there's a part for him in the script, and I hope it lures him out. And it's not just me who wants to see him again:

Monday: Ernie Hudson. Upcoming: Bill Murray, Annie Potts, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Ghostbusters @ 25 and the lost Dan Aykroyd interview

Next June is the 25th anniversary of the release of Ghostbusters and the 20th anniversary of Ghostbusters II. Both were a big part of my movie-watching childhood. And now Ghostbusters 3 appears to really be in the works, and set for a release in 2010. Two guys from "The Office" are writing it for the original cast. As it should be. The last thing I'd want to see is Ghostbusters 3 headlined by Seth Rogen, Michael Cera, Jay Baruchel, Nick Cannon and Megan Fox. Can you imagine? Yech. Let's take a look at where the original cast is today. They're all still alive (even Alice Drummond, who played the hyperventilating librarian in the opening sequence!). We start today with:

Dan Aykroyd

In Ghostbusters: Aykroyd played Ray Stantz, the wide-eyed, child-like nerd and PhD. If Egon is the brains and Venkman the nerves, Stantz is the heart. He's an expert on paranormal psychology and metallurgy, and is responsible for unleashing the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man on Manhattan.

The biographical rundown: Now 56. Wrote and starred in Ghostbusters at the tender age of 31, four years out of SNL. After, he continued double duty on both Spies Like Us (1985) with Chevy Chase and Dragnet (1987) with an about-to-go-supernova Tom Hanks. He delivered a selfless, horrifying performance in Caddyshack II (1988), effectively canceled out with his 1990 Oscar nomination for Driving Miss Daisy, effectively canceled out by his panned sole directorial effort Nothing but Trouble (1991), effectively canceled out by his successful, sensitive starring turn nine months later in My Girl. He rode out the rest of the '90s with bit parts and a failed Coneheads adaptation. He hasn't written a movie since Blues Brothers 2000, focusing primarily on performing and building his House of Blues empire.

What's it all mean?: I spent a couple hours with Aykroyd in April 2005. He was working on a special 25th anniversary DVD of The Blues Brothers. What was supposed to be a 10-minute magazine Q&A turned into a two-hour ride around Manhattan in Aykroyd's rental car. At the time, it was the coolest thing ever. He came across exactly as he described himself to me. "I was a warrior then," he said of the SNL and Ghostbusters years, and "Now I'm a Roman general looking back at his great campaigns and saying he needs to tend the pastures." He seemed very content to live in the present and enjoy the echoes of the past. But now it seems the general is bringing the action to his pastures for old time's sake. He's not writing Ghostbusters 3, and maybe that's for the best. He can act out the success of his past with the fresh ideas from the present. And that sounds great.

Bonus: I recently discovered the entire transcript of our conversation. Since the magazine only printed three or four truncated snippets of our conversation, I thought I'd run most of it right here. There's some really great stuff in it. The conversational English is not cleaned up. Enjoy.

[We're sitting in a hotel lobby.]

JJ: I'm wondering how the trademark Blues Brothers dance came about -- the kind of having-a-fit-on-hot-coals, toes going everywhere -- is that something that happened because of the music?

Dan Aykroyd: I think you're probably right there. Just because of the music. That's just what I did at the time. Now, of course like, you know, I mean, so many great dancers -- the Nicholas brothers, Fred Astaire, Donald O'Connor, "Singin' in the Rain" -- I mean, being exposed to all these great choreographers and choreography and dancing would tend to try to, I guess, inspire us. Now we had a great choreographer on the film, Carlton Johnson. That was just what the music did to me at the time. I don't think I could get the knees up that high now. Maybe...

You were talking with the woman up there [in the hotel room, filming a DVD interview] about how to classify whether it was comedy first, or musical comedy. What I thought watching it was "epic comedy." It seemed kind of epic to me because it's a road-trip movie, it's a buddy movie, there's chase scenes, there's big musical numbers, there's Nazis -- I mean, Illinois Nazis, but still -- and this kind of vengeful love story subplot. Do you think "epic comedy" is a good term?

Epic's a good term for it. It really is. Because it had big scope and big scale and Landis is a filmmaker who loves David Lean.

It came to me kind of like a Lawrence of Arabia --

In an urban scape. Yeah, I think you can say it was an epic piece. That's a good application of that term, for sure.

From the average Joe on the street, what do you get most? Do you get "Hey, Elwood!" or "Hey, ghostbuster!" or "Hey, Bassomatic 76!" What do people seem to know you most for these days?

I don't get much. The most recognition I get are from 18- to 25- to 30-year-old young women for the father in My Girl. I have this other demographic of women: 47 through 75, who like The Blues Brothers and Driving Miss Daisy. So I got this young female demographic that recognizes me as the father in "My Girl" -- that don't know "Ghostbusters" or "Blues Brothers," it's not their type of film -- and then I've got the older female demographic that's "Driving Miss Daisy" and "The Blues Brothers." And otherwise I'm not -- most people say "Love your work" or something. Other than those specific references, it's older woman love "Driving Miss Daisy," younger women "My Girl."

That's amazing.

Oh yeah.

If I saw you on the street I would go "Ray Stantz."

Oh yeah.

Because I was a Ghostbuster for many Halloweens, not to date you.


I just find that so strange.

You know, the recognition factor is kind of diminishing a little bit.

Is that something you welcome?

Oh that's fine. I think it's just a factor of you know, there's a whole new generation watching new people come up. And guys my age on the swing either way, older or younger, are just recognized and people say "love the work."

[At this point, we move to the front of the lobby and an older woman comes up to him and says "I love your work," and Aykroyd looks at me with a knowing "told you so" smile. She proceeds to say that she loves "That film with that woman," and Aykroyd says "Driving Miss Daisy," looking at me again, and she goes "Yeah, that's it!" We walk outside onto Park Avenue looking for the rental car.]

Do you catch any "SNL" these days?

Oh all the time. I'm a faithful, faithful fan of the show. I watch the live broadcasts when I'm not there. And nipping in and out of New York as I do, when they're doing a show here, when I have friends that want to go, I bring them over and I sit with Lorne.

What do you think of it these days?

I think that the girls are strong. The girls are strong. Rachel [Dratch] and Amy [Poehler], strong, strong. I love the new cast. I think they're great. Love the writers. Jim Downey is a master of political writing.

[The valet brings the car and we slip inside.]

What was I saying?

The women are strong.

Oh yeah, the women! And the writing! And Jim Downey -- he's the greatest political writer. You know James Downey.

Sure. [I didn't.]

He does all their political humor. Spectacular writer. Great artist, and love his work. Steve Higgins, the head writer/producer, is a great guy, he has an incredible sensibility. And so I'm a fan, a continuing fan. I went back and hosted a couple years ago, the May 17 show two years ago, and wrote with Tom David my older partner. We used to write the Coneheads together. It felt good, and that was a good show.

Is the sketch-writing something you miss a lot?

Mmm, I think I've pretty much explored the three-minute television sketch format for life, basically.

So is the newest thing continuing to perform?

It's getting the House of Blues company where we're really a meaningful brand in the concert business. We're the third biggest in the world now. So we'll stabilize and get some more venues open. There's people clamoring for it -- every city you go to, "please put one here, please put one here." So we have to make the selections properly, finance, capitalize it properly, and not spend too much like we used to. We spent too much on the early ones and now we have to be sensible and rein things in. And then it's the concerts with Jimmy [Belushi]. So that's basically where my whole thrust is right now: House of Blues, performing, music. I would say it occupies a lot of my time now. I'm on the board of the company and I'd like to see my investors get some of their money.

So how's the time divided then?

It's pretty much half-focused on opening clubs, board meetings, and half concert dates and -- well let's see. I'd say a third concert dates, a third House of Blues-related activity, publicity, board meetings and calls, and a third personal. A third trying to raise my girls.

And city-wise?

City-wise it's mostly I would say on the road, according to my calendar, it's mostly on the road. Two-thirds on the road and then we have my home in Canada where we go for the summers and then my wife has the kids in school in New York City. And when I'm not here they travel with me. And they work. When they come to a concert, they dance, they all come up onstage. Wear basic black, put the earplugs in. And I have those girls working.

Do they wear sunglasses?

They wear sunglasses, yep, they do.

How old are they?

I've got a 15-year-old, a 12-year-old, and a 7-year-old. And oh no, nobody rides for free.

So where's your place in Canada? Near Ottawa?

It's near Ottawa. It's what they call the Thousand Islands up there. I have an island up there.

What's it like weather-wise this time of year?

It's, huh, beautiful. Beautiful now. Just really, just breaking. It's just cool and sunny. Of course, a month ago it was hang out the meat to freeze.

Same here.

Oh yeah, yeah. Where were you born?


Oh wow. You know [he slips into a growling voice] the Canadians. You know Toronto then.

Oh yeah, I spent summers in Canada in Thunder Bay. Not [Paul] Shaffer's Thunder Bay. In Ontario.

Really, wow? Well Shaffer's from there. He's from Thunder Bay.

I think it's a different Thunder Bay. It's the one just over the border from Buffalo.

Oh, oh, I see. Ah, yeah, OK. No, he's way up there.

Right, right.

Isn't that fun in the summer, the boating?

Yeah I grew up there across the border.

Cottage country, yeah.

Yes, it's beautiful.

Cool. Where'd you go to school?

American University in Washington.

Great. You writing books yet?


Do you like the writing?

I do. I actually just got out of college in December. And just moved here in January.


So 1980 -- because I've been a fan of the first class of SNLers, and I think there're the only class worth anything --

Well, Will Ferrell, he's pretty -- you know, Old School, great film, great film. And Lovitz, the devil that Lovitz used to do.

I like the Pathological Liars Association.


I was looking at 1980 and I think Caddyshack came out within a month of the Blues Brothers. And those to me are the two archetypal comedies of that era.

Caddyshack was prior, it was before. I believe it was before.

It was the same year.

Because Caddyshack sort of -- it might of been. Well that's one of the greatest comedies ever written. Animal House, Caddyshack, Old School, Blues Brothers, maybe Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Uncle Buck. The Candy movies with John Hughes, I like them a lot. The Great Outdoors. I did a good picture with Candy. The Great Outdoors, if you like cottage country, that was the definitive cottage country movie.

I'm partial to Uncle Buck myself.

Uncle Buck was -- see this was John Hughes, a tremendous writer. What a vibrant, beautiful writer he is. Prolific, amazing.

So what was the mood like, because I know you've got Bill and Chevy in Caddyshack at the same time you and John were in Blues Brothers. What was the feeling? Were you guys like, "We're golden gods now, we've got it."

Oh yeah, we called ourselves "living media gods." Small "g," though. Small "g." We were bratty, ratty, little tyrants, of course, at the time. But we supported each other. We loved to see the success of our colleagues, you know. Chevy was my biggest cheerleader at SNL and we loved Murray of course. You know, who doesn't to this day? He is universally revered. He had such an influence on all of us at Second City. Just his boldness, his style. His character the Honker that he sort of does in Caddyshack -- all of us at Second City were doing the Honker onstage and off. We used to go after work and go to the Old Town Alehouse and [at this point, Aykroyd spits out unintelligible Honker phrases, reminiscent of Murray's character in Caddyshack]. And Billy would do the Honker in Times Square. And in Chicago. And everyone did the Honker. And to this day.

I admit to doing the Honker. You know, anytime the Dalai Lama comes up. "The Lama."

"Uh yes, uh, hehh." That whole announcing thing that he does where he's addressing the ball.

"About to win...the Master's Championship."

Yeah. Everyone loved it. So there was a lot of universal love around. We were riding high. But we also had a fear of the future, what's going to happen after this. And thank God that phase of my life's over.

Yeah, it's all held up. How often do you see those guys?

I see Billy and Chevy more than Jane or Laraine. I see Billy and Chevy frequently, a few times a year. Billy I seek out for little mini-adventures.

Like what?

A visit up to his house, or have him come and see me, you know, have a House of Blues music night if possible.

Do you golf?

I am not golfer, I'm a golf cart mechanic. I can fix the batteries.

So where are you off to next? You said this was a rental car?

Yeah, this is -- oh boy. I'm of the Hunter Thompson School of Rental Car Occupancy. I'm rough on them. We had this one off-roading this weekend in Martha's Vineyard. It's got the Sirius -- I love this satellite radio.

So you were in Martha's Vineyard then, over the weekend?

I was there. You know, John and I bought a house there with our first checks from Atlantic Records in 1978. And we had a home there every since. His wife, his widow, the new Mrs. Pisano, lives up there full time basically.

So you drove down here then?

I drove the car. I had to go up there. My wife and I have been thinking of tearing down a wall or two so we drove up there and drove back. This is not my regular ride. My regular ride is either the Harley in the summer. I got a police bike that Willie Davidson commissioned for me right from the factory floor. Dead stop, policeman's seats, special, beautiful. There's that, and then I have a very environmentally incorrect Ford Excursion, 10-cylinder.

Is it a good car?

Well the thing is I have a family of five and a bird and a dog and luggage. I would need two of these Lincolns, 16 cylinders, to hall what I do with the truck at 10. So that's how I rationalize that. And then my favorite ride of all, my favorite car of all, is my 1932 Pierce Arrow limousine, built in Buffalo. You know Pierce Arrow?

Absolutely. The building still stands.

It's still there. I have a 1932 factory limousine Pierce Arrow.

Do you drive it at all?

All the time. I drive it all summer. And then I have a 1941 Buick limousine, straight-A, overhead valve, dual carb, Rochester fuel carbs. So those are two old limos I bang around with in the summer.

You keep those in Canada?

Those are my favorite rides. My wife's due for a new car. I bought a Mercedes V12 for her in '94 but I'm not going to buy a V12 again. Not in the ages of $2.50 gasoline [editor's note: ha!], global warming, air pollution. If I buy her a car, I will buy her an 8-cylinder something, whatever that might be. Maybe one of those Cadillacs. I don't know. She deserves the best. She lives with me.

Must be twenty-some years.

Twenty-three married, twenty-four together I think.

So how much of the stunt driving did you do on Blues Brothers?

Blues Brothers I did...I would say...probably 30 percent of it. You know, some spins and stuff. I didn't do the jumps. But a lot of driving. And just a lot of driving behind the camera car.

That car's not in a museum anywhere, is it?

I think the original one is owned by -- well, the original one where we shot most of the interior scenes like where we're together in the car, which I think would be the one that if you'd want to own the car, it would be the one that John and I spent the most time in -- that one is owned by a police officer in Illinois. [Then, speaking to a careless driver in another lane:] This guy has gotta decide what he's doing.

You think Blues Brothers it the only SNL adaptation to a movie that's worth a damn?

Well I like The Coneheads, you know? I did. I liked The Coneheads. I thought it was a good family picture. But you know, a lot of artists and filmmakers, they say "Oh they marketed it wrong." Well in that case, they really did. It came out in the summer. It shoulda come out at Halloween like we planned. At Halloween it would've worked beautifully. So I really regret that that wasn't handled better. And I'm trying to think of the other incarnations...

Well I'm trying to think of ones that were around when Blues Brothers came out. It was all kind of a mid-'90s thing I guess, when they started come out with the later cast, with "It's Pat" and Molly Shannon's thing. I can't think of anyone in the '80s. Well, Coneheads was the '90s, wasn't it?

Coneheads was early 90s or late 80s. It was after Driving Miss Daisy. So it was early 90s. Well I don't think you can speak of the attempts that the girls made with those two movies in the same breath as Coneheads and Blues Brothers. Those were really great, you know, we had great really strong directors and great writing. The other efforts came up a little short, although the characters are very appealing. You can't take away anything from Molly at all, or the Pat character. But I just think in terms of story and execution -- Coneheads and Blues Brothers are pretty strong, if you can compare them.

I just can't get the David Lean image out of my head, just in terms of the epic. It's the opening shots that struck me.

Landis is a great, great filmmaker. No matter how you cut it or look at it, he's just a great, great filmmaker. Starting with his references to silent comedies, his knowledge of filmography, and the knowledge of the work of these directors. You know, stealing from the best. He just knew how to do that. And knows how to do that.

[We pull into Hertz, drop the car off and then walking West on E. 91st Street, talking about putting a House of Blues in Washington, D.C.]

There's a market for it there I think.

Well House of Blues, we're a house of all music. You know, who'd of thought that you go and see KC and the Sunshine Band have a full house and have an incredible night of entertainment? Incredible. We do Tom Jones, we'll do Little Richard when he's touring, Johnny Winter. We have tribute bands, Latin bands, we have all hip-hop and rap artists, anybody breaking a new record. It's a house of all music.

So are you in the midst of a tour?

I'm in the midst of the San Diego opening in the Gas Lamp District on May 15. And then our July opening of the House of Blues boutique hotel, poker room, slot room, with Harrah's -- we have a co-venture with Harrah's.

Is this in Vegas?

This is in Atlantic City at the top of the boardwalk. Incredible partners there. So I've got two big club openings coming up and about seven concerts -- some casinos, one corporate, a charity. The band's going to be pretty busy. Jimmy loves it. So don't have to convince him. And while the knees and the hips and the ankles respond well to the binding, I will continue to do it. Because it's just fun. The music is just these great American songs that we get to sing. We sing songs from 1948 right up through the '70s. We bring people up onstage to dance with us.

Does Goodman ever join you?

Goodman will join us for San Diego, yeah. But he's not on the rigorous --I wouldn't want to do that to the man. Jimmy and I could take it because we're so used to it, but it really is work.
[There is a blip in the tape.]

[...] the other daughter, and we go to the Museum of Natural History for the Young Scientists class, which she's been enrolled in the last couple of years. She loves that. It's an aerospace --

Is this the 15-year-old?

No, this is the 7. I'm meeting the 12, picking up the 7, and then the 7's birthday is today so we're going to have a little birthday dinner. I might call Downey. I have an idea for a piece we were talking about.

For SNL?

Yeah, I occasionally will come back and slip something in. So I'm going to talk to him.

Any hints?

Well it's sort of a political satire piece, I'm still fleshing it out. But we'll utilize Darrell Hammond's impeccable Rumsfeld.

So when you show up on the SNL set, do you find people distance themselves in reverence or do they flock to you for advice?

No they're too busy doing their work. It's only afterwards at the party that I can get up and tell them how much I love what they're doing. And they have to say, "Well, thanks Mr. Aykroyd." Little Rachel Dratch -- what a find. I kind of helped get her hired.

Did you?

Oh yeah.

Thank you for that.

I mentioned her name and I also underwrote her hiring by the recommendation of seeing her at Second City, "what do you think of her" and stuff. And I actually did mention her name.

So nothing planned for film, TV?

Pretty much gotta get these clubs open. I'm going to take the month of August off and then we are looking to Europe for House of Blues. London, Paris, Berlin. Maybe Moscow. Australia, they're dying for us there, we want to come down there. So I think the New Year will be focused in on-site planning, studies, approvals, financial approvals, meeting and greeting the people who are going to be supporting us in each town, lining up friendly investors and people who hold real estate who want their places to have a nice tenant like us. You know, I mean, look: If Spielberg or Reitman or one of the Scott brothers or Peter Weir, a great director, calls me, or Phil Robinson, and says "We'd like you to play the U.S. marshal who loses a leg in a train wreck," of course. I can always work as an actor. But the writing I used to do -- I think I got seven or eight scripts made. It's pretty good, considering.

Tomorrow: Rick Moranis. Next week: Bill Murray, Annie Potts, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver.