Twenty years ago, director Cameron Crowe decided to follow his much-loved debut, 1989’s Say Anything, with a romantic comedy set in the world of the Seattle music scene.
That movie was Singles (1992), and when Warner Bros. got first sight of it, just before the Seattle music scene exploded, they determined to shelve it. Then grunge went mainstream, and many of the bands featured in the movie, including Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, would go on to multiplatinum superstardom.
The biggest of these bands was Pearl Jam, the members of which were cast as Matt Dillon’s bandmates in the fictional Citizen Dick. The studio reconsidered, and then planned to release the movie to capitalize on the current hottest music trend with their “grunge movie.”
But not before they would ask Crowe to call in a favor from Pearl Jam. This would prove near disastrous, as Crowe — whose love letter to the band, the documentary Pearl Jam Twenty, opens Sept. 20 and includes the now infamous MTV footage — remembers…
“When Harry Met Sally… was the big hit as we were filming, I think. I think the studio saw Singles and thought, ‘What is this guy with the dreads, shaking?’ That’s Layne [Staley], man! From Alice in Chains! ‘Uh, where’s Billy Crystal? C’mon man, give us the thing we know.’ And it just kind of solidified into positions. They didn’t understand the movie at Warner Bros. They weren’t that happy they made it. We were editing it and trying to just finish it and fighting to finish it and no one wanted to put it out.
And then, ironically, Nirvana broke. Actually, Alice in Chains broke. Then Nirvana broke. Then the kind of zeitgeist story started to become Seattle. And then Pearl Jam broke and the studio was like, ‘Okay. Well, all right, the guy that shakes his head with the dreads, we like him now. But we need MTV to do a promotional party so we can kick the movie off to let people know they can see all this crazy popular Seattle music.’ READ FULL STORY