Showtime's 'Roadies' Is an Extension of Cameron Crowe's Love of Music

Cameron Crowe
AP Photo/Charles Skyes

Cameron Crowe poses for a portrait in New York City on Dec. 9, 2011.

The hourlong comedy, due in the summer, could be considered a modern extension of Crowe's "Almost Famous."

Cameron Crowe's upcoming Showtime series Roadies could be considered an extension of his 2000 feature Almost Famous in that it continues to tell stories where music is a character.

While that may sound cliché -- "the location is a character!" -- it's a fair assessment of the hourlong Showtime series set to debut in the spring.

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Crowe will write, direct and exec produce Roadies, which offers a backstage look into a tight-knit group of rock band "roadies." Exec producers also include Winnie Holzman (My So-Called Life), J.J. Abrams and his producing partner Bryan Burk (Lost). Luke Wilson stars as the tour manager, Bill, while Carla Gugino is Shelli, the band's production manager and Imogen Poots is the electrical tech.

"I love music and stories where music is a character," Crowe told reporters Tuesday (Jan. 12) at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. "Over time I was struck by the fact that Almost Famous spoke loudly to people. It was a very personal story for me and I didn't expect it to touch people that way. I wanted to revisit the world of writing about music but in a different and contemporary way. … [Telling] authentic stories about people behind the curtain presenting music to people every day.

Crowe, who eloquently recalled his time with David Bowie (read more on that here) during the panel, singled out the late rock star when stressing the importance of music.

"If you look at the outpouring over David Bowie you know it's not nostalgic. Music is important," he said. "I wanted to tell stories about people who love music."

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The prolific screenwriter-director also used the TCA platform to stress the authenticity of Roadies. Multiple times during the panel, he noted that several characters or plot points included in the series are based on true stories -- and legends -- that exist within the music industry. A story in the pilot about a pianist who flips out when there are fingerprints on his piano, he said, is based on Freddie Mercury, while co-star Peter Cambor's guitar tech is based on Elvis Costello.

Roadies will also address the economics of the music business, with Crowe stressing the recent doom and gloom about the industry is "kind of bullshit." He pointed to the outpouring of adoration for Bowie and die-hards stressing about sound quality as examples of how music is always important.

"It's not a bygone era," he said. "There's still nothing like when the lights go down. That's not nostalgic. That's what we base each episode around. The show isn't about the big performance you get from a star but everything that goes into setting a stage for that."

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Exec producer Abrams, meanwhile, stressed that Roadies at its center is a family show.

"It's about this family. Most family is bound by blood; this family is bound by music. You'll see that this is the constant thread throughout everything," he told reporters.

Added Crowe: "Marriage, relationships, different kinds of relationships -- music gets to be our favorite backdrop. And their jobs are the backdrop. The idea of doing the show and the way the scripts have been coming out, it's a chance to explore a lot of contemporary themes."

Roadies features the Head and the Heart in the pilot and will continue to include bands and musicians in a regular capacity -- many of them playing slightly different versions of themselves. To that end, the Eagles' Joe Walsh will guest star in an upcoming episode that sees the show's central band having troubles maintaining an opening act.

"It's like our version of the drummer in Spinal Tap," Crowe said, noting that Wilson's Bill has a lot of Walsh's characteristics.

Crowe also stressed that they looked at their series as a platform to help showcase new and emerging artists as they view the series "like a great radio station" with visuals.

A premiere date for Roadies has not yet been announced.

This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.

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