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In Cameron Crowe’s critically acclaimed 2000 film Almost Famous, Marc Maron chewed up a scene as “Angry Promoter” by exchanging obscenities with the band Stillwater’s manager while chasing their tour bus outside his venue. “Amateurs!,” he yelled. “Lock the gates!”
Maron is no longer an amateur when it comes to music-themed projects after racking up a healthy list of credits in such films as Frank and Cindy, Roadies, the David Bowie biopic Stardust and this weekend’s new release, Respect, about the early life and career of Aretha Franklin. In it, he plays legendary record producer Jerry Wexler, a man credited with coining the term “rhythm and blues” and propelling the careers of Franklin, Ray Charles, Led Zeppelin, the Allman Brothers Band and others.
Not only is Maron a big Wexler fan but he loves music, hence why he doesn’t at all mind being “typecast as the aggravated guy in rock movies.”
“I’m fine with that, man,” he said with a laugh on the black carpet outside MGM’s Respect premiere on Aug. 8 in Westwood. Taking the part opposite Jennifer Hudson for director Liesl Tommy offered the chance to do a deep dive into the life and career of Wexler, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. “The opportunity forced me into learning everything about Jerry. I read his autobiography, talked to his biographer and watched footage of him. He really is the history of modern music, the guy at Atlantic Records from the beginning who recorded Ray Charles and worked all the way through to the Allman Brothers into the ’80s.”
The film opens this weekend but movie audiences won’t be the only ones able to check out Maron’s work. He’s due in Phoenix for a pair of stand-up shows as he continues to criss-cross the country perfecting a new one-hour special. He has dates in Salt Lake City; Bloomington, Indiana; and Los Angeles over the coming months leading up to plans to “premiere it in a big way” at the New York Comedy Festival in November.
“They’re relieved a bit, but you know, we’re not out of the woods yet,” Maron said of how audiences are responding to the relaunch of live events amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As for whether the material will ultimately be filmed for a TV special, Maron said “nothing has been inked yet.” “It’s been great, though. I just got back from Denver where I did five shows and it’s nice to be out there.”
Speaking of getting out there, Louis C.K. recently announced a stand-up tour, his first set of U.S. dates after facing sexual misconduct allegations and ultimately apologizing for his behavior. Maron and Louis C.K. were friends for more than 25 years, a relationship that dates back to their days as struggling comics on the stand-up scene in Boston. Their collaborations included a long-buzzed about podcast conversation on Maron’s WTF (some called it the “greatest podcast episode ever”) as well as an episode of the FX series Louie.
After The New York Times published the bombshell report about C.K.’s sexual misconduct, Maron dedicated a WTF episode to their complicated history and his response to the story. He ultimately concluded that he was “disappointed in my friend.” Asked by The Hollywood Reporter about C.K.’s new tour, Maron said they are not in touch. “He’s not talking to me anymore, for some reason,” Maron said. “But you know, look, you can’t deny the guy the right to do what he does and try to make a living from it.”
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