The Screen Actors Guild-Federation of American Television and Radio Artists’ strike affected not only Hollywood and Chicago productions, but events such as the Blues Brothers Con in Joliet.
Days after announcing the festival will return at the Old Joliet Prison on September 9, the Joliet District History Museum has announced that it will postpone its second annual event, which will feature actors Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi who portray the Blues Brothers.
“Everyone knows that the strike spread to public demonstrations and promotional activities,” said Greg Peerbolte, CEO of the nonprofit museum that has operated the Old Joliet Prison Historic Site since 2018.
“In speaking to Jim, talking to Dan’s publisher, and talking to Judy (Belushi Pisano) and our own staff, we mutually agreed that this was the right decision. We didn’t want to put anyone in a situation where they would feel uncomfortable or feel like they were past their strike line.”
The strike began on July 14, after negotiations between the Screen Actors Guild-Federation of American Television and Radio Artists and the Film and Television Producers Guild failed to reach an agreement on issues such as artificial intelligence, minimum earnings and broadcasting revenue.
“We regretfully suspend this year’s Blues Brothers Con in order to comply with the Screen Actors Guild’s directive,” said Judith Belushi Pisano, who was married to John Belushi until her death in 1982 and was present at the event. organizers of the event.
“Ultimately, we understand their decision to stand in solidarity with the union,” he said in a press release. “Thank you all for your patience and we look forward to seeing you next year.”
About 850 tickets were sold for the Blues Brother Con, according to Peerbolte. The event commemorates 1980’s The Blues Brothers, filmed on the grounds of the Old Joliet Prison, starring John Belushi as Joliet Jake and Aykroyd as Elwood.
Representatives of the Joliet District History Museum said that ticket holders have been contacted and all purchased tickets will be honored or fully refunded for the rescheduled event in 2024.
“The unions were responsible for abolishing the prison-worker system that prevailed in prison throughout the entire 1800s,” Peerbolte said.
He said the building union members were the first volunteers to spearhead efforts to open the former Joliet Correctional Center for public use in 2018.
“We have an interesting historical connection and we see ourselves as a place of conscience and conversation.”
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Channahon’s Peerbolte stated that Blues Brothers Con organizers hope to bring the event back in early summer 2024 until the SAG-AFTRA strike is resolved.
The Blues Brothers Con opening took place in August 2022 at the Old Joliet Prison, which is open for self-guided tours as restorations continue on the 16-acre site.
“As many Chicagoans know, ‘The Blues Brothers’ has a very distinctive fan base, following, and identity,” said Peerbolte, who estimated around 6,000 people attended the first festival. visitors for events and tours.
“There is no place to celebrate and appreciate ‘The Blues Brothers’. You might think there will be various Blues Brothers venues, but many of them are history, so it made sense for us to celebrate the film, the life of John Belushi, and the prison’s connection to blues music.” .
Peerbolte cited Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy’s 1930s song “Joliet Bound” as the Old Joliet Prison’s first connection to the blues.
“Joliet is a great ensemble,” he said. “Prison itself is an endlessly fascinating place.”
Jessi Virtusio is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.