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‘According to Jim’ Comes Home

3 Oct, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

"According to Jim"

Despite his show’s premise — a macho suburban father whose laziness gets him into messy situations, especially with his wife — actor Jim Belushi said he has never worked harder than on the sitcom “According to Jim.”

Lionsgate Oct. 21 releases According to Jim: The Complete First Season as a four-DVD set at $39.98. The ABC TV series, which also stars Courtney Thorne-Smith, Kimberly Williams and Larry Joe Campbell, among others, begins its eighth and final season later this month.

With the show’s TV premiere seven years ago, Belushi attributes the lengthy gap for the arrival of the first DVD to the series’ recent syndication sale.

Then again, the 54-year-old actor never imagined the series would last this long.

“In the nature of network television these days, it is a phenomenon,” Belushi said.

He said he ran into a studio president at a youth soccer game one weekend who told him “According to Jim” was among the 25 longest-running prime-time shows on TV.

“I said, nah … and started counting. At about 15 shows, the count started slowing and I had to go into dramas,” Belushi said. “I used to complain about bad luck [in the business], but I’ve been real lucky here.”

Belushi said the cast actively participated in the DVD’s bonus features, which include interviews, stories and a gag reel. He also gives a tour of the show’s Chicago suburban household set (filmed in Los Angeles) and offers show history, including changes over the different seasons.

“I love this show,” he said. “The first four years of this show, I did 1,400 interviews just to sell and market it. I’ve never worked harder. When I believe in something, I just can’t help myself. I go all the way.”

Belushi, who is a huge Chicago Bears, Blackhawks and Cubs fan, said the series is filming its last six episodes. However, should the Cubs make a historic run to the World Series this month, referencing it would be impractical, with the airdates slated for next February.

“The problem with a sitcom is you can’t really be relevant to the times,” he said.

The show did once improvise a closing with infamous Cubs fan Steve Bartman, who in 2003 interfered with a foul ball that contributed to the Cubs losing the game and eventually the National League Championship Series to the Florida Marlins.

Bartman became the subject of a city’s scorn.

“I was hiding him out in my house,” Belushi said of the gag. “We only aired it that week. It might show up on a DVD.”

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