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article imageIn Albania, Jim Belushi picks up citizenship and an ad gig

By Andi Balla     Nov 4, 2009 in Entertainment
Jim Belushi has become a citizen of Albania and picked up a gig as the main pitchman for a mobile phone company in the process.
Since the fall of communism, Albanians have been proud of Mr. Belushi, the famous American Hollywood actor and son of Albanian immigrants. He had visited Albania several times after the fall of communism, professing his pride in being Albanian.
Last month, he made it legal. He was granted Albanian citizenship in the Albanian capital, Tirana, according to a press release by the office of Albania’s president, Bamir Topi, who handed Mr. Belushi his new citizenship certificate at a special event.
"I always say that I am Albanian, but today I’m really Albanian,” Belushi said, holding up the citizenship certificate.
Since then, Albanians have been opening their newspapers to the smiling face of Mr. Belushi giving the thumbs up and telling them, “I’m an Eagle.”
The eagle is Albania's national symbol and doubles as the name of one of the country’s mobile phone companies, with which Mr. Belushi has a contract as an ad spokesman.
Born in Chicago to first-generation Albanian-Americans, Mr. Belushi often speaks about his heritage and mustered the will to speak some broken Albanian during his cameo role in Wag the Dog.
He had earlier been granted one of Albania’s highest decorations, Honor of the Nation, by Albania’s president.
Albania is a small Adriatic republic the size of Maryland in Southeast Europe that has a few North American big names it has been trying to use to elevate its image.
In addition to Jim’s brother John, who died in 1982, it lists Eliza Dushku, American Idol’s Kara Elizabeth DioGuardi and Masiela Lusha of the George Lopez Show among its own people in Hollywood.
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