Jerry Maguire – L.A. Times (DVD Talk)

Cast, Crowe Revisit Jerry Maguire

The DVD includes commentary from what the director calls ‘a sweet reunion’ of the stars.

Cameron Crowe is very apologetic that the initial DVD of his 2000 Oscar-winning “Almost Famous” was released in the spring of 2001 without his commentary. He wanted to do it but found that his hectic schedule got in the way.

“The one time in my life I actually try to be prolific,” he says, “it keeps me from working on the thing that I really wanted to–work on the DVDs. But we did two movies [“Almost Famous” and “Vanilla Sky”] back to back. I couldn’t finish the DVD until we finished the last movie.”

With “Vanilla Sky” completed, Crowe was able to work on the digital versions of his films. Last fall, DreamWorks released a two-disc edition of “Almost Famous” that includes Crowe and his mother providing funny commentary on the semiautobiographical comedy-drama. Earlier this year, Fox released an equally impressive DVD of Crowe’s 1989 movie “Say Anything.” This time, Crowe and the film’s stars, John Cusack and Ione Skye, supplied the informative commentary. (In a DVD first, the three discuss “Say Anything,” Crowe’s directorial debut, for 25 minutes before the film begins.) On May 21, Paramount will release the DVD of “Vanilla Sky,” in which Crowe offers commentary with his wife, composer Nancy Wilson, accompanying on the guitar. But this week, Columbia TriStar is releasing a two-disc special edition of Crowe’s 1996 blockbuster, “Jerry Maguire” ($28). It features a documentary, rehearsal footage, deleted scenes and audio and video commentary with Crowe and stars Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger and Cuba Gooding Jr. Gooding won a supporting actor Oscar for his performance.

Crowe says that none of the studios has ever suggested what he should include on the DVDs. “We sort of come to them,” he says. “There is a guy in our office called Scott Martin. We are both real music heads, and we both are fans of liner notes. I will rush out and buy a box set that I have all the music of just to read the liner notes. So we kind of approach all the DVDs as liner notes–a personal conversation with somebody who would hopefully be a fan of the movie.”

He decided it would be great if a camera could film the commentary for “Jerry Maguire.” “Everybody was so close to those characters in real life,” Crowe says. “So the feeling was, ‘Let’s have a reunion.’ Then it was, ‘I would love to see what that looked like.’ I had never seen anybody do a video audio commentary. What you see is kind of like a sweet reunion.”

The DVD marks the first time Cruise has participated in a commentary. Crowe says the actor agreed to do it because of his love of the film, for which he received an Oscar nomination.

“I think the movie sort of inspired a lot of changes in all of our lives,” Crowe says. “It was a great time, and we really did get along. But you know what the sparkplug was? Renee. We always missed Renee because Renee went right into another movie after ‘Jerry Maguire.’ She was never a part of any of our field trips to go to the Oscars or junkets. I knew that Renee actually being with us would give us some kind of booster rocket, and it did.”

Crowe, who wrote “Conversations With Wilder,” a book of interviews with Billy Wilder, says that “Jerry Maguire” was a tribute to the late director. “It began wanting to inspire that kind of portrait of modern man with hilarity and melancholy, and there is no greater movie at that than ‘The Apartment.'”

He had wanted Wilder to play the part of the old sports agent in “Jerry Maguire.” Initially, Wilder told him he might be interested. But when rehearsals began and Crowe contacted him again, “he said he didn’t remember me and ‘leave an old man alone.'”

But “Maguire” co-star Bonnie Hunt told Crowe not to take “no” for an answer. “She said, ‘You should get in your car and go right over to his office.’ Tom Cruise said, ‘I’ll go with you.’ So we sped over to his office and he spent 45 minutes telling us ‘no’ with glee and loving it. It was an amazing afternoon. When the movie came out, Billy Wilder called me up and said, ‘I enjoyed the picture and I like the guy who played my part, so if you’d like to come over and talk about something for your column sometime.’ … I said, ‘I don’t have a column but I’m coming over,’ and that was the beginning of the book.”

Courtesy of the L.A. Times – Susan King – May 2, 2002