According to Jim: Jim Belushi Masterclass at Roma Fiction Fest

RomaFictionFest programme signed by Jim Belushi
The fifth edition of the Roma Fiction Fest, which over the last four years has brought some of the biggest names in TV drama to the city, finally opened yesterday in a dramatically diminished format at its new home at the Auditorium Parco della Musica. A massive reduction in budget means that very few international stars are slated to appear at this year's festival, with a definite shift of focus towards home grown product. Thankfully, however, the inaugural event yesterday saw the arrival of the exuberant Jim Belushi on the festival's fuchsia carpet. Winner of the 2011 RomaFictionFest Excellence Award, the star of movies as diverse as About Last Night..., Salvador and K-9, appeared on stage in Sala Sinopoli to give a Masterclass about his work in television, and in particular as the lead in the smash hit US sitcom According to Jim.

The afternoon kicked off with an unseasonal, but very, very funny episode from the series - The Christmas Party – which the actor chose because of the many visual gags. This was, of course, perfect for an Italian audience unused to reading subtitles for a show they usually watch dubbed. In fact, Jim Belushi called Massimo Rossi - the Italian dubber who voices Jim in the Italian edition - up onto the stage for an affectionate meeting; Rossi revealed that some episodes were so hilarious that the actors would be forced to record their lines separately because it was impossible not to burst out laughing mid-take!

A multi-talented actor, musician and comedian, Jim Belushi is an enormously charismatic presence on stage – rather than a pure “Masterclass”, the event transformed into “An evening with Jim Belushi”, shifting from gags and stand up comedy one moment, to intimate anecdotes about his brother, the late great John Belushi, and memories of his Albanian-born father, the next. Music is also an essential part of his life and at Dan Ackroyd's insistence, he put aside initial misgivings about stepping into his older brother's shoes and now also performs as Zee Blues in the present incarnation of The Blues Brothers. At one point he even plucked an harmonica from his pocket and gave us an improvised burst of the blues!

As was fitting in a television festival, however, Jim Belushi's love of the medium was clear. Not only is he a TV performer, he is also a fan himself, who described his recent excitement at getting to meet “Batista” and “Dexter” (from the TV series Dexter) at a party. The Tudors, The Borgias and Lost were also on his list of recent favourite shows.

After two hours of sheer entertainment, as a final salute he threw himself to the ground and did a backwards somersault to the delight of the audience who were already on their feet applauding. Seemingly in no hurry to leave the stage he stayed shaking hands and signing numerous autographs.

Watch some highlights from Jim Belushi's appearance at Roma Fiction Fest 2011 – including his blues performance - below (or click here to watch on You Tube).