I began reading Bob Woodward’s Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi (1984) about a week before Tanner Colby condemned Woodward’s only book about the entertainment industry on Slate.
The book was sitting on my shelf, and I don’t know where it came from. I thought I’d do it justice by reading it. Since I read The Price of Politics (2012) last fall, I was interested in how Woodward would handle a story like this one.
During the final years of his life, Belushi worked into a cycle that went a little like this…
1. Belushi wants to make a movie
2. Others involved are worried Belushi’s drug addiction will mess up the movie.
3. Belushi’s agents assure them he won’t.
4. Belushi does cocaine/other drugs and messes up the movie.
The first parts of the book are exciting, as Belushi rises to fame with Saturday Night Live (1975-1979), Animal House (1978), and the Blue Brothers act. The second half is scary. Belushi’s addiction takes over his life, and films like 1941 (1979), Neighbors (1981) and Continental Divide (1981) do not match his earlier successes.
The way the production sounds like in the book, Neighbors seems like an extraordinarily strange movie, which I will make an effort to view soon.
I was pretty bummed by the end. Addiction is ugly, and Wired wasn’t a redemption story a la VH1′s Behind the Music. Like Price of Politics, Wired ends in anticlimax. Congress never reached a grand bargain, and Belushi died of a drug overdose at the Chateau Marmont. I knew it was coming, yet it was still is a punch in the gut.