Hollywood strike reaches into Joliet to postpone Aykroyd-Belushi return

Next possible date is summer 2024

Blues Brothers Con: The Sequel was in doubt almost immediately after the date for the event was announced last week.

The star quality and Hollywood aura of the event attracted the attention of the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists currently engaged in a strike over the future of the film industry.

Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi were to return on Sept. 9 for a second straight year to the Joliet prison to perform where the opening scene of “The Blues Brothers” movie was filmed.

On Wednesday, the Joliet Area Historical Museum, which manages the Old Joliet Prison, announced that the event would be called off to honor the strike.

Museum Chief Executive Officer Greg Peerbolte said he began hearing late last week that there was a problem.

“Because “The Blues Brothers” is a Universal (Studios) film, it was seen as an activity in the purview of the strike,” Peerbolte said Thursday.

With no end to the strike seen as coming soon, organizers of “Blues Brothers Con: The Sequel” now are looking to early summer 2024 for the return of Aykroyd and Belushi.

“You’ve had some disappointed people,” Peerbolte said. “But we think most people who appreciate ‘The Blues Brothers’ know this is about music, it’s about art, and it’s about film.”

Peerbolte in a printed statement announcing the event was being called off emphasized that “Joliet is a proud union town” and that “our local unions led the volunteer effort to restore the site for public use.”

The postponement of “Blues Brothers Con: The Sequel” marks one more extension of the strike in Hollywood.

SAG-AFTRA had already applied the work stoppage to bar actors from attending premieres, awards shows, film festival and conventions related to their work.

News came out late last week that the Emmy Awards scheduled for Sept. 18 would be postponed because of the strike.

So, it may not be so surprising that an event in Joliet would become a target, too, since it featured two prominent figures in the film industry.

But the possibility that the union would want the show stopped was not a factor in planning for it, Peerbolte said.

“It did not come up at all,” he said. “It was not a prior consideration.”

A printed statement from Judith Belushi Pisano, widow of the late John Belushi who co-starred with Aykroyd in the film, indicated how serious a point it became.

“It is with a heavy heart that we are putting this year’s Blues Brothers Con on hold to honor the directive of the Screen Actors Guild,” Belushi Pisano said.

The statement reflects what Peerbolte said was a deep regret in disappointing fans who would want to see the show along with real loyalty to the union cause in the strike.

Aykroyd’s publicist pointed out that in addition to his being an actor, Aykroyd also is a longtime screenwriter, Peerbolte said.

“This was something he took personally,” Peerbolte said. “He did not want to be seen as being opposed to the strike.”

Hollywood writers were the first to strike followed by the actors’ union.

In the end, Peerbolte said, it was a mutual decision by everyone involved that it was best to call off the show. And, he said, it was better that the issue arose sooner rather than later.

“We’d rather know right away that this was going to be a problem instead of continuing to take ticket orders,” he said.

Peerbolte said there is a strong commitment by the principle parties to hold the show, although it looks like it will be months later.

“We do see this coming back,” he said.

In the meantime, ticket holders have been contacted, and any who bought tickets will be honored for the rescheduled event in 2024 or fully refunded, according to the museum announcement.

All ticket holders for “Blues Brothers Con: The Sequel” are asked to email jolietmuseum2002@gmail.com with their names and nine digit booking ID numbers to process requests.