It would seem that assembling "The Best of John Belushi" (Warner Video, $24.98) videocassette must have been a harrowing experience for the comedian's widow, Judith Jacklin Belushi.
This mostly hilarious, one-hour tape is made up of highlights of his 1975-79 tenure on NBC's "Saturday Night Live." She repeatedly examined 4 1/2 hours of her husband's television skits and selected the 16 best.
"Some people must have visions of me sitting there in tears, going through these tapes," she said. "But I didn't find it terribly sad overall. Of course there were a few days I felt sad. I would go home and feel sad that those images of him still existed. It wasn't haunting, but it was uncomfortable sometimes."
The selection process was therapeutic in some ways, she said. "In general it was a good thing for me to be able to accept that his image is still around, on tapes and movies," she said. "That's the way he exists for me now. To me, he's not dead. He's a part of my life; he's always around. It takes time to accept that.
"I'm assaulted by his image and his voice all the time. It was something I had to get used to, or move to a desert island where they'd never heard of him."
For two years after his death of a drug overdose in March, 1982, she couldn't have worked on "The Best of John Belushi." During those years, she said, watching all those tapes was just too painful. "I wasn't emotionally able to do it for a long time. I wasn't ready to deal with those tapes until about a year ago, when I decided to do the videocassette."
One of her criteria for selecting skits and bits was her husband's feeling about them: "He was proud of the 'Star Trek' piece. That had to be included. And I knew there would have to be a samurai skit. He really liked the 'Don't Look Back in Anger' piece, too. In that one, he plays an old man."
But sometimes she overruled his tastes. "He didn't like the skit about the bees but it was used anyway," she said. Surprisingly, he never spent much time looking at those old "Saturday Night Live" tapes. "He didn't watch many of those shows until the summer before he died. For some reason he just started watching them that summer."
Will there be a "Best of John Belushi, Part II"?
"Maybe," she replied. "There are still some good samurai skits left, and some good Greek skits and some good Marlon Brando skits, too. In this body of work there's good and bad, but certainly enough good to do another one.
"The problem is that there's a lot of red tape, a lot of business stuff that I have to go through all over again. I hate that part of it. If I could avoid those hassles, I'd definitely say I'd do another one. But now I'm not so sure."
MUSIC: "Sun City," a videocassette about the making of the "Sun City" music video and the single, has just been released by Karl-Lorimar at $19.95. This 45-minute cassette also includes the "Sun City" video. The big attraction is the footage from the recording sessions in London, Boston, New York and Los Angeles of Artists United Against Apartheid, an all-star group featuring Bruce Springsteen, Pat Benatar, Hall and Oates and Bob Dylan. The proceeds go to anti-apartheid organizations.
On Jan. 24, Sony will release "John Lennon Live in New York City," filmed at a 1972 concert. The price is $29.95. Meanwhile, a 14-song sound-track album is due out on Capitol Records.
Sinatra fans' eagerly awaited "Frank Sinatra: Portrait of an Album" is due Jan. 21 from MGM/UA at $39.95. It was shot at the recording sessions of his latest album, "L.A. Is My Lady," with producer Quincy Jones leading an all-star orchestra. A delight for Sinatra fans, who won't care that he's not in great voice on songs like "Mack the Knife" and "Teach Me Tonight," or that the album wasn't a big hit.
A terrific HBO special, "Elvis--One Night With You," will be released Jan. 14 by Music Media at $19.95. "Elvis Without Frills" is a better title. These are scenes mostly left out of his " '68 Comeback Special." A rare look at the King in a casual mood, with a small group in front of a small audience.
Also next month: "Twisted Sister--Come Out and Play" is a collection of the heavy-metal band's old and new videos. For country fans, "Hank Williams, Jr.--A Star-Spangled Country Party" (Pacific Arts, $29.95), featuring Waylon Jennings and Earl Thomas Conley in a concert aboard the USS Constellation. At the end of January, Vestron is putting out, at $29.95, the one-hour concert cassette, "Eric Clapton--Live '85," filmed at the Hartford Civic Center. It's been showing this month on Showtime.
Out in February: "Olivia--Soul Kiss" (MCA, $19.95), a compilation of video clips of songs from her new album, which hasn't done as well as expected. But because she's noted for fine videos, this one may attract fans anyway. On Warner Video, four Dream Academy videos called "The Dream Academy," priced at $12.98, and "Depeche Mode--The World We Live In and Live in Hamburg," a 55-minute concert videocassette selling for $29.98.