April 13, 2010

MadAve At The Movies & HBO: Jerry Maguire

Jerry Maguire.jpg

By Kurt Brokaw, Culture Editor ...with additions from the peanut gallery.

1996: Tom Cruise’s title character has its true-life origins in a sports agent named Leigh Steinburg, who persuaded many A-level sports stars to give generously to good causes. This is important to note, for “Jerry Maguire” the movie, with its layers and layers of goodwill, zest and sincerity, wants you to believe it’s a true-life dramatization of the world of sports marketing.

The film’s McGuffin (in Hitchcockian terms) is Jerry’s Mission Statement on fair play, integrity, loyalty and 20 other nice things that would make a motivational movie itself. It’s the exact reverse of Michael Douglas’ “greed is good” speech in the movie “Wall Street” a decade earlier. Douglas got applauded for his efforts, but Cruise gets fired. Only his lowly accountant (Renee Zellweger) and one low-level contract player (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) stick with Jerry, and the rest of the film is a struggle for these underdogs to stage comebacks and win big. You know Cameron Crowe, a good and trustworthy soul, wouldn’t write and direct it any other way.

Tom Cruise is a powerful brand up on the big screen, and his speech is laced with one liners that have crept into culture – “show me the money!” and “I love you, you complete me” are a couple – as well as delirious peptalks that include passages like this “I will not rest until I have you holding a Coke, wearing your own shoe, playing a Sega game featuring you, broadcast during the Superbowl, in a game that you are winning, and I will not sleep until that happens…” and one and on.

The movie is gushy and uplifting and rowdy and affectionate, like a dog that won’t stop licking your face. Next to “Patton,” it’s probably the one movie most shown by companies to their sales forces as a hit-the-ground running tool. Jerry Maguire, both the marketer and the movie, are poster boys for Madison Avenue.

HBO Carbon Copy Face Lift

2005: HBO's hit series, "Entourage" take a page right out of "Crowe's Maguire" in their August 28, 2005 telecast, featuring the whacking of lead talent agent, Ari Gold. Actor Jeremy Piven delivers his brilliant depiction of Ari, such that people joke with each other if they heard what Ari said last night? According to a recent edition of The New York Times, the agent Brian Sher International Creative Management said that ""Entourage" has become part of the fabric of what we do."


Like Maguire's embrace among Sports Marketing agent/athletes, the once arrogant Gold character has already won the hearts and minds of Hollywood Avenue/Madison Boulevard insiders as well as America's Entertainment Groupies, as he attempts to bounce back from his being bounced out. His cupid pose above does nothing to detract from that Q factor "gold."

Since sports marketing agencies and talent agencies have been covered, we wonder when advertising agencies will be next. The old bromide about how "you're not really in advertising until you've been kicked out" may boggle screenwriters with such an amazing array of hard luck stories that that they'll have a hard time choosing which to use.

In typical Hollywood fashion, the Entourage cliff hanger keeps Ari and us "Tsetse flying" until next season. We'll take a meeting and stay tuned.

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