Hollywood Comes to Chicago — 1979

"Blues Brothers" director John Landis

“Blues Brothers” director John Landis

“Blues Brothers”
director John Landis
describes impending
explosions while
scouting locations
in John Davies’
vintage short film

In 1979, Chicago filmmaker John Davies produced a short titled, Hollywood Comes to Chicago, that featured a tour through the Windy City and its film production industry. He planned to submit the piece to WTTW’s Image Union, a series that featured work by local independent producers.

At the time, Chicago was enjoying the early stages of a bonanza that would soon include a film directed by John Landis called The Blues Brothers.

In Davies’ film, Landis describes impending explosions while scouting locations, and representatives from the fledgling Illinois Film Office explain what makes the city a great production town.

After receiving the video, WTTW upgraded it to run on the weekly Magazine Show, 360, hosted by reporter Barb Williams.



About John Davies
Wheaton native John Davies grew up with a passion for everything about media and show business. He formed a rock band in high school while working part time at the Audio Visual Institute of Dupage County, and often performed weekends in competitive Forensic events with Wheaton Central High classmate Jim Belushi, who would later become his partner in a production company that made short films.

After studying at Kalamazoo College in 1975, he worked with local TV stations in Minnesota and Michigan before landing as a projectionist with Chicago’s Facet’s Multi-Media in 1977.

In 1978 he became a junior member of WTTW’s documentary film crew, eventually becoming a Producer on Sneak Previews with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. John also Co-Created / Executive Produced and Directed Wild Chicago, Chicago’s longest running reality series (16 years).

After three Chicago Emmys and 11 years at WTTW, John formed Eggboy Productions with Jim Belushi. The partners made comedy shorts for every cable network, as well as NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

Other projects included NBC’s Jonathan Brandmeier From Chicago and A Comedy Salute To Michael Jordan, hosted by Billy Crystal, and Tab Lloyd: Investigative Reporter, a local WMAQ comedy special featuring Tim Kazurinsky, Al Franken and Belushi.

WFLD FOX Chicago tapped John to Create / Executive Produce a new kind of news program. Slightly ahead of its time, The New 9:30 was a comedic take on the nightly news hosted by Bruce Wolfe and Dan Dobrowolski.

In 1991, John accepted a deal with Hearst Entertainment in Los Angeles, where he produced episodes of Biography for A&E, Intimate Portrait for LIFETIME, and numerous prime time variety specials including the Emmy nominated A Comedy Salute to Andy Kaufman for NBC and Comic Relief’s American Comedy Festival for ABC.

John’s love for The Second City stayed with him in California, resulting in his Bravo series, Second City Presents, hosted by Chicago scribe Bill Zehme. Partnering with Chicagoan Jill Soloway, John Developed/ Executive Produced the NBC comedy series The Rerun Show.

Taking a page from his days with Siskel & Ebert, John Created and Executive Produced Movie Club With John Ridley, a movie review series for AMC. With Russell Simmons he Created / Executive Produced Hip Hop JusticeRun’s House, as well as its MTV spinoff Daddy’s Girls.

For the past six years, John has been writing, producing, and directing a steady stream of Chicago centric documentaries for national distribution. Phunny Business: A Black Comedy, about Chicago’s first Black owned comedy club, premiered on Showtime. Heroes On Deck: WWII On Lake Michigan, narrated by Bill Kurtis, aired nationally on PBS. A City At War: Chicago, also narrated by Kurtis, premiered on PBS and just won The Chicago International TV Fest Gold Plaque Award for best nonfiction program.

John is currently editing his new documentary about political corruption in The Land of Lincoln. Stay tuned.