Real Roadies Review 'Roadies' Cameron Crowe's new show Roadies chronicles the backstage world of rock 'n' roll, focusing on roadies. NPR's Eric Deggans watched it with real-life roadies, who said it's unrealistic.
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Backstage, Passable: Real Roadies Have Real Quibbles With Showtime's 'Roadies'

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Backstage, Passable: Real Roadies Have Real Quibbles With Showtime's 'Roadies'

Backstage, Passable: Real Roadies Have Real Quibbles With Showtime's 'Roadies'

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RAY SUAREZ, HOST:

Now to the world of television. Cameron Crowe the director and writer behind the film's "Almost Famous" and "Jerry Maguire" returns to the music business Sunday for his new Showtime series "Roadies." NPR TV critic Eric Deggans watched the first episode of "Roadies" with real life roadies.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: As a critic, I'm usually crafting stories about what I think on a television program. But for Cameron Crowe's new comedic drama "Roadies," centered on a group of technicians for a fictional rock band, I thought it might be best to hear from people who actually do the work.

Doug Redler, who's worked as a guitar technician for the B-52s, Hall and Oates Slash and currently the Dixie Chicks, had a pretty succinct review.

DOUG REDLER: Unfortunately, I found the show completely unrealistic, and it was really difficult to watch. It really had nothing to do with the ins and outs of what takes place on the show day, the hard work it takes, the long hours that make a rock show happen.

DEGGANS: Redler had problems with the show from its very first scene which features Luke Wilson's tour manager Bill Hanson hooking up with a young lady who is the promoter's daughter.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ROADIES")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) You.

LUKE WILSON: (As Bill Hanson) Hey, you.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) No, you, you. You're probably the oldest person I've ever [expletive] and I loved it. I mean, like, I love how you're not just some young dude, you know? You're like one of those old lions at the zoo.

WILSON: (As Bill Hanson) You can stop there.

REDLER: You know, so immediately you made us look like that's our prime purpose, you know, and the sole purpose for being on the road. It's not like it used to be back in the days, and I think it's just the time's just not - just not the business.

DEGGANS: One of the show's key characters is electrician Kelly Ann played by Imogen Poots. She tells road manager, Phil, played in a wonderfully crusty cameo by Ron White that she's decided to leave the roadie life for film school.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ROADIES")

IMOGEN POOTS: (As Kelly Ann) I don't hear the music the same way. I don't feel like it's mine anymore.

RON WHITE: (As Phil) Well, I feel the same way about my dog, but I'm not giving her away. It comes and goes, sweetheart.

POOTS: (As Kelly Ann) I have to be a fan of something or I'm useless. My whole belief thing is - it's just starting to crack.

SHAWN KHAN: That's just - it seems completely inaccurate.

DEGGANS: That's Shawn Khan, a technician who works with jazz fusion guitarist Al Di Meola.

KHAN: There have been bands that I've toured with that I don't really like the music, but I still love the job. You're not there to be a fanboy or a fangirl. You're there to work.

DEGGANS: Khan, who was a criminal psychologist before he became a roadie, does say the show depicts people drawn to the travelling lifestyle which also happens in real life.

KHAN: I do feel like there's a certain level of escapism in being a roadie and being somebody that's constantly traveling. And it's an escape from what I would call like the mundane stuff in life.

DEGGANS: Carl Hughes a technician who's worked with Bruce Springsteen and Megadeth loved "Roadies," partly because the Kelly Ann character is just like him. He also thinks the show explains a bit of the job for those who don't get it, recalling a Christmas card a fellow roadie got from his mother.

CARL HUGHES: And she's like after 45 years, I wish you would get a real job. I still don't know what you do for a living and how you get your money. Like they said, most people never know what we do.

DEGGANS: I had my own problems with "Roadies." It had too many topless women throwing themselves at men, too many obvious plots and stuff about the authenticity of music that felt sappy and inauthentic. As my panel of technicians noted, Cameron Crowe got some of the little things right, even if the series overall was a bit of a mess.

And for workers who toil in the background unsung, maybe a show that gets a few things right about their lives is better than nothing at all. I'm Eric Deggans.

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