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‘Blues Brothers’ readies for primetime

Belushi, Beatts write script as possible series

Jake and Elwood Blues are on a new mission: to find a place in primetime.

A new incarnation of the Blues Brothers, the duo made famous by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in the late 1970s, is about to be pitched to studios and networks in the form of a new TV series.Current TV rights have long been owned by Aykroyd and Judy Belushi — John’s widow — while Universal owns the film rights. Belushi and former “Saturday Night Live” writer Anne Beatts, along with Wayne Catania and Kieron Lafferty, have penned a pilot.

Script has the pair out of jail and Elwood, who was raised in an orphanage, looking for his real dad. Casting has yet to be determined.

Beatts, Belushi and Eric Gardner of Panacea Entertainment would exec produce. Aykroyd will participate in the project as the voice of Jake and Elwood’s parole officer.

The Blues Brothers debuted in a 1978 “Saturday Night Live” episode hosted by Steve Martin. The popularity of Belushi’s and Aykroyd’s characters quickly took off, and soon the pair went on to form a band that toured the country. A bigscreen pic, 1980’s “The Blues Brothers,” directed by John Landis, grossed more than $100 million worldwide.

After Belushi died in 1982, Aykroyd kept the spirit of the Blues Brothers alive. He was an investor in the nationwide House of Blues venues and often toured and sang with John’s brother, Jim Belushi, as the Blues Brothers. A movie sequel, “Blues Brothers 2000,” was released in 1998.

“I think these are great American characters,” Judy Belushi told Variety. “We want to keep them alive. We chose to introduce them as new characters but do it in an way that they have some history, have some life behind them.”

Added Beatts: “We’re not trying to replicate Dan and John but Jake and Elwood.”

If the pilot goes to series, each episode would include a musical number, presumably featuring a new Blues Brothers band.

“It would be ‘Route 66’ meets ‘Glee,’ and it all goes to hell in a handbasket,” Beatts said.

Gardner is hoping that, in addition to a TV series, there would also be branding opportunities for Blue Brothers merchandise, including the Bluesmobile.

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