The first authorized documentary about comic legend John Belushi will head to Showtime and begin production this fall. For the feature-length film, director R.J. Cutler and producer John Battsek secured the cooperation of the comedian’s widow Judith Belushi Pisano, who provided never-before-seen photos from her private collection for the documentary. It’s the first time Belushi Pisano has authorized or cooperated in a film about the late Blues Brother.
“Belushi was one of my very first heroes. At a time when film, television and music were undergoing tectonic shifts within American culture, he was at the center of it all,” Cutler said in a statement. “At that moment, he had the number one show on television, the number one film at the box office and the number one record on the charts. We plan to explore his unique genius and how his creative influence is still making an impact to this moment.”
Cutler previously helmed the docs The September Issue and The World According to Dick Cheney, while Battsek’s Passion Pictures worked on the Oscar-winning Searching For Sugar Man and The Tillman Story. Longtime Belushi collaborator Sean Daniel also serves as executive producer on the documentary.
“John Battsek and I have been discussing the possibility of making this film for over a decade,” Judith Belushi Pisano said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to finally embark upon that journey together with him and director R.J. Cutler. Passion Pictures is poised to make the definitive documentary on John Belushi – a man who not only had a profound effect on the comedy landscape of America, but also made an indelible mark on the social fabric of his time which continues to reverberate today.”
An authorized biopic about Belushi based on his widow’s oral history Belushi: A Biography was announced in 2013, with actor Emile Hirsch cast in the lead role and Dan Aykroyd on board to produce. However, that project has since stalled.