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Andy Sullivan: Against the Grain

Did you know that before Chevy Chase went into acting, he was in the band Steely Dan? Chevy Chase, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker met each other while attending Bard College in upstate New York in the late ‘60’s.  The three musicians played a few gigs in a band called the Leather Canary with Chase on drums, Fagen on keyboards and vocals, and Becker on guitar.  Fagen and Becker played in a few bands before forming Steely Dan in 1972.  After stints as a tennis player, bartender, truck driver and comedy writer for the Smothers Brothers and National Lampoon, Chase joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1975.  (www.rapidcityjournal.com and SiriusXM 70’s on 7).

Here’s an interesting Chevy tidbit I learned from www.cheatsheet.com: “Although Christmas Vacation takes place in the Chicago area-John Hughes wrote the screenplay and he was known for setting movies in the Windy City-the movie wasn’t actually filmed there.  Instead of shooting on location in the Midwest, Christmas Vacation, shot in Burbank, California at the Warner Brothers studios. They filmed some of the outdoor scenes in Colorado, director Jeremiah S. Chechik told Rolling Stone in 2014.  The cast and crew arrived to see no snow. 

Even 32 years after it premiered, Christmas Vacation is still one of the most popular (rated 7th in a 2019 ranking of best holiday movies.  Why is he talking about a Christmas movie”? Maybe because it’s snowing and 18 degrees as I write this.  Here’s a few more things: Chevy filmed the meltdown scene in sections.  The cast held up cue cards so he could remember all his lines during the scene. 

Christmas Vacation became a commercial success when it opened in theatres on December 1, 1989.  That was somewhat of a surprise because sequels do not typically perform better than originals. The original was National Lampoon’s Vacation. 

Bet you didn’t think I’d end up talking about a Christmas movie in February, did you? I’d say Chevy Chase has had a pretty great career going from Steely Dan to comedy, SNL to the National Lampoon movies to NBC’s Community. 

Did you think I’d be writing a column on Chevy Chase? No?  Come back next week to see what I’ll have next. 

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