Almost Famous – San Diego Reader

Best Shot Bets: Almost Famous

Cameron Crowe, 43, Academy Award winner for Best Screenplay for Almost Famous and director of such films as Jerry Maguire and Say Anything, based his book Fast Times at Ridgemont High (later a popular 1982 movie) on his experience at Clairemont High School and UTC.

What do you miss about San Diego?

A San Diego 7-eleven. That’s what I used to do when I lived in San Diego. I’d get something to eat, usually a corn dog or maybe a bagel dog and a coke at the 7-Eleven at the foot of the hill on Friars Road in Linda Vista. Then I’d drive around in circles around Fiesta Island, watch the jet skiers and pull over and write. I still do.

What towns did you like when you lived here?

I love O.B. It’s everything to me. It reminds me of why I love music. I love that beach. I love that people complain about it as much as they love it. It’s just great.

What do you do when you visit?

When I come down, my mom and I will walk together at the USD running track. We walk around and talk about what I’m doing, what I’m writing about. She’s so meticulous. She’ll gloriously punch holes in anything I’m doing, and we’ll solve problems. It was on that track where we cracked the scripts of Jerry Maguire and also named Jerry Maguire. It’s also where we talked about Almost Famous and when I decided to do it.

Any favorite locations you used in your films?

When I filmed the scene where Phillip Seymour Hoffman is supposed to be in the old KPRI studio, I was a fanatic because I wanted everything to be right. We were right by the El Cortez and in KPRI’s place is now an insurance company, but it was still really chilling. We were in the middle of a take, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman goes, “Why are you yelling cut?” I told him I hadn’t. He said he kept hearing “Cut!” bouncing off the buildings. And I thought, “Oh my God. Lester totally put the buzz on me!”

For a long time I was working on Almost Famous in my head, and I would go to the Sports Arena and just hang out by that backstage area because I had so many memories. When we were making the movie, the money people said, “There’s a ramp at the Los Angeles Sports Arena or there’s a ramp in Pasadena that’s so much better than San Diego.” To me there’s no reason to make the movie if you can’t be at the actual Sports Arena ramp. We were at the ramp for three weeks, and my dream was that other bands would come to the Sports Arena afterward and say, “Hey, man, that’s were they filmed that movie.”

Journalistic memories?

I always think of walking around downtown San Diego and picking up the Door. Then the Reader came around, kind of usurping the Door, which felt like it may or may not publish one week if they didn’t get it together.

Courtesy of San Diego Reader – – 2001