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ALMOST FAMOUS

About The Production

He's only 15 years old and backstage at a rock concert, welcomed into the inner sanctum of the bands he idolizes. It would be a heady experience for any teenager, but it was especially so for one whose ambitions and ideals had been formed by the music of the day. And it was the experience that would shape his life for many years to come.

The above could be referring to William Miller, the boy whose coming of age is at the heart of "Almost Famous," or it could be a page out of the life of the film's creator Cameron Crowe. Like his young protagonist, Crowe had gotten his start as a rock journalist at the age of 15. In 1973, when he was just 16, he joined the staff of Rolling Stone magazine, where he eventually became an associate editor. While still in his teens, the young writer and avid music fan profiled many of the era's most influential artists. The experience had a profound effect on Crowe, and over the years, as he turned from journalism to filmmaking, he attempted to bring the essence of that story to the screen.

"I wanted to find a way to tell a story that captured the people I'll never forget, and the feelings I had meeting the bands, doing interviews, going to see shows...," Crowe offers. "I didn't want it to be like some of those semi-autobiographical stories that glorify the writer because the truth is I never felt like the center of any room I was in at that time. I was an observer. That's what the character of William Miller is--he's an observer."

Crowe continues, "William gets a front row seat at the 'circus' and ultimately has to go home and write about it and betray some of the confidences and secrets he's learned about people he idolizes. But he has a chance to see what happens behind the curtain, and I know I felt enormously privileged to have been given that opportunity. That's how I decided to tell the story. It wasn't until it became personal that it became a movie worth making. When I took that jump, it was very scary, but then stuff started to pour out of me, and the story became larger than just about rock in 1973. It became about music and how it affected me and my family, and how it still affects me today."

Producer Ian Bryce adds, "Obviously, this is a very personal movie to Cameron, but I think it is a story with which we can all empathize. The music and the period will appeal to anyone, whether you were there or not; these are legendary rock titles that people are still listening to today. And we all have personal memories about being 15. The coming-of-age story of this kid, his relationship with the band, his first journey away from home, his first love.. .these are timeless elements."

"Almost Famous" is told almost entirely through the eyes of William Miller, whose ardent appreciation of rock music completely changes his life, as well as the lives of the band and those in their circle. Crowe says, "That's the framework of the movie: a novice journalist trying to serve his desire to write a great story while staying friends with the guys in the band who are cooler than anyone he knows. He wants them to like him, and that's the test. It's about finding your place in the world.. .and what that world would have been like if you were swept along in the circus of rock in 1973."

Casting director Gail Levin launched a nationwide search for a teenage actor who not only embodied what they were looking for in William, but could carry so much of the weight of the film on his young shoulders. "We needed to find somebody not just to speak the dialogue but also be an observer of the world--wide-eyed and open--an actor who could capture the character's idealism," Crowe explains. 'We held a nationwide casting search, though I still thought we'd probably end up with a Hollywood actor. Then

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