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Judy Belushi-Pisano, actor and John Belushi’s widow, dies at 73

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Judy Belushi-Pisano, actor and John Belushi’s widow, dies at 73

Judy Belushi-Pisano, an actor and the widow of “Saturday Night Live” star John Belushi, died Friday, according to social media posts shared by the Belushi estate. She was 73.

Belushi-Pisano died after a years-long battle with endometrial cancer, her son Luke Pisano told the Martha’s Vineyard Times. Luke said that Belushi-Pisano — a “great mother,” “beloved sister” and “special person” — was diagnosed in 2020 and entered hospice care in 2023.

John Belushi’s official Instagram, run by his estate, paid tribute to the comedian’s widow, saying “there was no one like her.”

“Judy made everyone feel loved,” the post read. “She was nonjudgmental, light, funny and pure. You could be truly yourself around her, that alone was a gift.”

The post acknowledged her “unwavering dedication and creative genius” in the creation of the Blues Brothers, a blues and revue band originally led by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.

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Belushi died in 1982 at age 33 from a drug overdose.

“In the years following John’s passing in 1982, Judy honored his life and championed his legacy and Blues Brothers brand,” the post read. “As we bid farewell, we pledge to continue her work, ensuring that John’s legacy, and the Blues Brothers will never fade.”

Born Judith Jacklin, Belushi-Pisano was Belushi’s high school sweetheart. They married on New Year’s Eve 1976.

“I figured that at least was a date he’d be able to remember,” she joked to the Chicago Tribune in 2004.

Belushi-Pisano spent 15 years with Belushi as he became a well-known figure in the comedy world, especially as one of the original “Saturday Night Live” cast members. She participated in Belushi’s projects, including the musical “The Blues Brothers” and comedy “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” according to IMDb.

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She was deeply shaken by her husband’s death, she told the Chicago Tribune.

In the immediate aftermath, “[i]t was difficult to go to the grocery store,” Belushi-Pisano said. “It was difficult to watch him on ‘Saturday Night Live.’”

Belushi-Pisano became a champion — and a staunch defender — of Belushi’s life and legacy. Upon his death, she gave journalist Bob Woodward access to Belushi’s loved ones for the biography “Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi.”

She was publicly enraged by the finished product, which detailed Belushi’s drug abuse. (Woodward said his approach was meant to demonstrate how the entertainment industry enabled the addiction, the Chicago Daily Herald reported in 2005.)

To counter “Wired” and its movie adaptation, Belushi-Pisano released “Samurai Widow” in 1990. Her intentions with the book were to shed light on who her first husband was outside of his drug addiction and to help others experiencing a similar heartbreaking loss, according to a 1990 Houston Chronicle article.

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“The main theme is really a woman’s story, going through an important transition time, through two healings,” she told the Plain Dealer in 1990.

The same year “Samurai Widow” was released, Belushi-Pisano married Victor Pisano. They divorced in 2010.

In 2005, Belushi-Pisano helped write another biography about her first husband, titled “Belushi.” She told the Daytona Beach News-Journal in 2006 that she struggled for years to reconcile herself to Belushi’s death.

Belushi-Pisano, at that time, said she still placed flowers at his grave.

“Someday I imagine that there’ll be a day when I just won’t be there,” she said. “There will be something else I have to do. I went through a long grieving process. … Now I can say that’s over and I can acknowledge John’s dead. I can look at his life now and … sort of say ‘the way he died was tragic, but he had a helluva life.’ We had a lot of great times and we had struggles, and we went up and down, but mostly that was a good life.”

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Belushi-Pisano is survived by her four children, as well as grandchildren.

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Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Twisters (2024) –

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Movie Review: Twisters (2024) –

A staff report

Genre: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller
Release Date: Friday, July 19, 2024
Director: Steven Harper
Starring: Edgar-Jones, Powell, Ramos
Rating: ★★★★☆

As storm season sweeps across the silver screen in “Twisters”, director Steven Harper delivers a gripping tale of adrenaline-fueled action set against the tumultuous backdrop of Oklahoma’s tornado alley. With an impressive 80% fresh rating on the Tomatometer, this film promises a thrilling ride for audiences seeking heart-pounding suspense and breathtaking visual effects.

The story centers around Kate Carter (played by Edgar-Jones), a seasoned meteorologist turned cautious researcher in New York City, haunted by a traumatic tornado encounter from her college days. Drawn back into the tempestuous world of storm chasing by her friend Javi (Ramos), Kate finds herself confronting not only the fury of nature but also her own fears.

Enter Tyler Owens (Powell), a charismatic social-media maverick whose daredevil antics and thrill-seeking escapades with his crew make him a viral sensation. Together, Kate, Tyler, and their teams embark on a daring mission to test a revolutionary tracking system amidst unprecedented storm activity.

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Harper masterfully intertwines elements of action, adventure, and suspense as the storm season escalates to unprecedented levels of intensity. The visual spectacle is nothing short of breathtaking, with jaw-dropping tornado sequences and high-stakes encounters that keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

The cast delivers compelling performances, with Edgar-Jones portraying Kate’s internal struggle and determination with depth and vulnerability. Powell brings charisma and a hint of recklessness to Tyler, balancing the film’s emotional core with adrenaline-pumping excitement.

Supporting characters, including Javi and Tyler’s crew members, add layers of camaraderie and tension, enhancing the film’s dynamic ensemble. The chemistry between the leads feels genuine, grounding the narrative amidst the chaos of nature’s fury.

While “Twisters” thrills with its action-packed sequences and impressive visual effects, it also explores themes of courage, redemption, and the relentless pursuit of scientific discovery. The storm-chasing backdrop serves not only as a canvas for thrilling set pieces but also as a metaphor for confronting one’s past and embracing the unknown.

In conclusion, “Twisters” (2024) stands out as a must-watch summer blockbuster, blending pulse-pounding excitement with compelling storytelling and standout performances. Whether you’re a fan of disaster epics or simply seeking an exhilarating cinematic experience, buckle up for a ride through the eye of the storm with Kate, Tyler, and their fearless crews.

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Larry Vallon, L.A. concert executive behind the Universal Amphitheatre, dies at 77

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Larry Vallon, L.A. concert executive behind the Universal Amphitheatre, dies at 77

Larry Vallon, the longtime concert executive for AEG and others who turned the Universal Amphitheatre into a regional powerhouse, has died. He was 77.

A representative for AEG confirmed Vallon’s death on July 14 due to complications from Alzheimer’s.

Vallon’s career in concert promotion spanned five decades, beginning with a stint as a page on Bob Eubanks’ “The Newlywed Game.” He went on to work for promoters like Wolf and Rissmiller Concerts and founded his own firm, Larry Vallon Presents.

He spent 23 years at the firm that became Universal Concerts (and later House Of Blues Concerts), where he worked under longtime mentor and Hollywood mogul Lew Wasserman. He booked shows for A-list acts including the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and the Who, and won Pollstar’s Talent Buyer of the Year award four times.

Locally, Vallon renovated and ran the former Universal Amphitheatre in the late ’80s, making it into a globally recognizable venue for acts like Frank Sinatra and Linda Ronstadt, who each had residencies there. Under Vallon, the venue was a popular site throughout the ’90s for acts like Maná, Juanes and Julio Iglesias (who played an 18-date run there), helping to seed the growth of Latin and Spanish-language music in the U.S.

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Vallon moved to AEG in 2004, and spent 15 years at the company before retiring in 2019. While at Universal in 1984, Vallon had hired future AEG Presents Chief Executive Jay Marciano, who told Hits Daily Double, “He was a friend, mentor and the big brother I never had, the most positive person I have ever known, and he could really make me laugh. My life is so much better from having known him. Loved that man.”

Vallon is is survived by his wife, Claudia; daughters Vanessa Vallon and Kelly Vallon Ciccotti; and son-in-law Matt Ciccotti.

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Film Review: Operation Undead (2024) by Kongkiat Komesiri

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Film Review: Operation Undead (2024) by Kongkiat Komesiri

“Operation Undead” is an excellent zombie movie, both for the action and horror, but also for its anti-war and historic comments

As we have mentioned before, the zombie genre is one that has been done to death throughout the history of modern cinema. However, a number of filmmakers who still decide to deal with the concept, manage to find new elements to add, in one of the reasons zombies keep going (pun intended). Thai Kongkiat Komesiri is definitely among those. 

The film begins in 1939, during World War II in Chumphon Province, where Mek, a new sergeant, just learns that his girlfriend is pregnant. In the meantime, his younger brother, Mok, is in the Youth Soldier unit, and as war has not yet hit the area, spends his time having fun and shenanigans with his fellow soldiers. Alas, it is at that moment that the Japanese forces approach the area, and the whole population face death and destruction. The Japanese, however, apart from taking over the province for strategic reasons, they have also decided to test a new biological weapon on the locals. The result is a superhuman horde of Thai soldiers that function like zombies, but a number of them still retain their conscience. Not to mention they have a leader. Eventually, Thai and Japanese forces declare a ceasefire to deal with the threat, and Mek receives a special covert mission to clean up the area alongside a Japanese combat unit, unaware that this might include his own brother.

The uniqueness of Kongkiat Komesiri’s approach to the zombie trope is actually multifold. Evidently, the most obvious one is the fact that the zombies still have a brain and can think and feel, while the fact that they are organized under the leadership of a ‘commander’ adds even more to the threat they present to the humans. More impressively though, is the way the filmmakers use zombies to show the dehumanizing nature of war, or even civil war one could say, as this time brother faces brother. Furthermore, the accusation towards the Japanese for the experiments using humans they undertook during the various military expeditions, is also palpable.

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Lastly, and probably even more impressively, the parallel with Thai history during WW2 is quite eloquent in a rather intelligent approach. Thailand actually made an agreement with the Japanese that led to an armistice and military alliance treaty that allowed the passage of Japanese troops towards British-held Malaya and Burma. After the invasion, the cooperation continued, and eventually led to the government splitting into two factions, one Pro-Japan and and pro-Allies. As the actual war hit the country very briefly, the victims were very few but Thais suffered deaths due to diseases that reached more than 5,500 thousand. Evidently, the parallel with the story could not be more obvious. 

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All the aforementioned, as much as the impact of what the two armies and the zombies are doing on the area, to the locals, induce the movie with an intense sense of drama, which works quite well most of the time. Unfortunately, on a number of occasions, and more towards the end, the movie goes into intensely melodramatic paths, something that definitely detracts from its impact. At the same time, this element, the zombies, and the anti-Japanese sentiment is probably what will make the movie popular in Korea, with K-Movie entertainment already having purchased the rights.

The acting by the two main protagonists is quite good. Nonkul as Mek and Awat Ratanapintha as Mok are quite good in their antithetical roles, while handling the drama in a style fitting to the overall approach of the narrative. Supitcha Sangkhachinda as Mek’s girlfriend is also good, particularly in the dramatic parts. 

Expectedly, though, “Operation Undead” is also about the action, and in that regard, it definitely thrives. The zombies look as scary as possible, with the occasionally frantic editing that results in sequences of thunderous speed adding much to this element. The brutality is found in large proportions, adding to the entertainment the movie offers, in a style that zombie lovers will definitely appreciate. The sound is also greatly implemented, adding to the agony and tension, while the job done in the cinematography does not omit highlighting the beauties of the area.

Despite the fact that it definitely goes a bit too strong on the melodrama, “Operation Undead” is an excellent zombie movie, both for the action and horror, but also for its anti-war and historic comments that definitely deem it a stand out in the category. 

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