Book Vs Movie: “Almost Famous”
Based on several articles by Cameron Crowe in Rolling Stone Vs the 2000 film
In 1973, writer Cameron Crowe was just your ordinary 16-year-old on the road with The Allman Brothers writing a cover story about the band’s troubles and successes while going on the road. The resulting article came out in December 1973 and changed his life becoming a well-respected journalist who covered the biggest bands of the 70s including Led Zeppelin, The Who, and The Eagles all before he was old enough to have a driver’s license.
Years later, he would spend a year undercover as a high school student at Clairmont High School in San Diego to write Fast Times at Ridgemont High (it would become his first screenplay as well.) Later films of his include Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, and Singles but the film that most closely resembles his life is Almost Famous.
The story of William Miller (played by newcomer Patrick Fugit) a teenager who gets the assignment of his dreams--to write about the new band “Stillwater” for Rolling Stone magazine. Along the way, he befriends “Band-Aids” who are NOT groupies but rather muses for their favorite musicians. Led by 16-year-old Penny Lane (Kate Hudson in an Academy Award-nominated performance) she follows lead guitarist Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) on the road and teaches William how to live life as if there were no tomorrow.
The movie is filled with rock-n-roll tropes such as greedy managers, awful promoters (Marc Maron’s “lock the gates!” intro on the WTF podcast comes from this movie,) sex, drugs, and misogyny abound. There is also a great deal of heart and warmth here with Frances McDormand playing William’s tough but loving mother. Zooey Deschanel plays his stewardess sister who is running away to find herself in the early 1970s.
The film was a big hit for all involved and the budget for the soundtrack (which includes more classic rock classics than can seem bearable) was reportedly $3 million. Crowe won an Academy Award for his screenplay and Hudson became the movie Rom-Com queen for the next 20 years.
There has been controversy, however, with THE ultimate groupie (no shame in her game!) Pamela Des Barres is NOT consulted even though she wrote the seminal work on fandom I’m With the Band. And by the way, aren’t they a little young to be on the road?
So, between the original Cameron Crow articles and the movie--which did we prefer? Have a listen and find out!
In this ep the Margos discuss:
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