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Profiles of Russel Crowe, Tim McGraw

Aired November 8, 2003 - 11:00   ET



RUSSEL CROWE, ACTOR: Down! All hands down!


ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, he's the rough and rowdy Aussie who became one of Hollywood's leading men.


RON HOWARD, DIRECTOR: He's a rock 'n' roller. He's a motorcylcer. He's also an artist.


ANNOUNCER: An athletic standout in high school, who had early dreams of being a rock star.




ANNOUNCER: And now, marriage, a baby and a swashbuckling film that has everyone talking.


LEAH ROZEN, MOVIE CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: "Master and Commander" is among the most highly anticipated films of the holiday season.


ANNOUNCER: The life of Hollywood's master and commander, Russell Crowe. Then...


TIM MCGRAW, MUSICIAN: I had a barbeque stain on my white t- shirt... (END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: He's the hunk who's heating up country charts.

REBA MCENTIRE, MUSICIAN: He's a great singer. Stage presence is good. It all works.


ANNOUNCER: The king of country music's royal family.


JIM JEROME, WRITER-AT-LARGE, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Once he hooked up with Faith in the mid 90s, you can't stop them. I mean it's just a great story.


ANNOUNCER: He grew up in Louisiana with a family secret involving a big time ball player.


SANDY HOWARD, SISTER: It was a difficult time for all of us.


ANNOUNCER: He dropped out of college to pursue a dream in music city.


LANCE BUTLER, FRIEND: When Tim told me he was moving to Nashville, I laughed at him.


ANNOUNCER: Now, he's one of country's biggest stars.


MCGRAW: I got it made. I can't imagine having it any better life.


ANNOUNCER: We go one-on-one with Tim McGraw. Their stories, now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi. Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Russell Crowe is Hollywood's tough guy on-screen and off. He's an Oscar-winning actor, part-time musician and tabloid regular. He's also lucky, lucky in love and in his new role as Lucky Jack Aubrey in the swashbuckling epic, "Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World." As Crowe takes to the high seas, we take look at his career, his intensity and the surprising change of course in his life. Here's Bill Hemmer.


BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Russell Crowe cannot miss. Since his 1995 Hollywood debut in "The Quick and The Dead," he's garnered not one, not two, but three consecutive Academy Award nominations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, Russell!

HEMMER: In 2001, he took home the Oscar for "Gladiator." And now, saddling into theaters November 14, "Master and Commander," and epic role that could conceivably put him on the ballot one more time.

CROWE: By the end of the filming, I think the community and the spirit of the community was created was fantastic, you know. I'm quite sure that I would have gotten a number of volunteers to jump on the boat and head off to wherever if that's what would have been available to us.

HEMMER: Set in the 19th century, the film follows the high seas adventures of British Navy Captain Lucky Jack Aubrey. It's pure swashbuckling cinema and the buzz is big.

CROWE: Fire!

ROZEN: "Master and Commander" is among the most highly anticipated films of the holiday season. It is based on an entire series of best-selling books. They have a huge fan base and they are rabid to see this thing. I mean if you thought "Lord of The Rings" people were fanatics, wait until you meet everyone who's read this Patrick O'Brian novels. I mean they care about these books.

CROWE: You can be put at sea?


CROWE: Then you've got (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

HEMMER: He's at the top of Hollywood's A-List, commanding $20 million per picture.

CROWE: There's not a moment to lose.

HEMMER: But through the years this Australian import has seemed anything but interested in the attention.

CROWE: That's all very interesting and flattering and all that sort of stuff, but you know, quite frankly, you know, I've got one, and you know, spread it around a little bit, you know. I don't need it. I don't need another one.

O'NEILL: He doesn't conform to the Hollywood stereotype of how a movie star should be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You must feel you're on a bit of a roll. CROWE: Slightly.

O'NEILL: He certainly comes across as surly when he's at award shows.

HEMMER: Award shows, press conferences, you name it.

CROWE: I don't do my job to garner praise or garner awards. So you can take your cynicism and you can put it where the sun don't shine.

CYNTHIA SANZ, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: You think of Russell Crowe as this sort of party boy. I mean he's not really the sort of sensitive type. You think he's tough, and he gets into fights, but I think at his heart, he's really very romantic.

HEMMER: Russell Crowe, a romantic? Judging by last spring's headlines, you bet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. and Mrs. Crowe.

HEMMER: On April 7, 2003, after 39 years of bachelorhood, Crowe married longtime girlfriend, Danielle Spencer, on his birthday. The intimate ceremony was held on his Australian ranch, and as 100 guests looked on, the notorious bad boy shed more than a few tears.

SANZ: Really, the most touching part of the ceremony was about halfway through when he was reading his vows. Russell really teared up. I mean, he got all emotional about it, and he had to start over.

HEMMER: It seems Russell Crowe is as complex as the characters he plays on the screen.

HOWARD: He's a really interesting paradox because he is a rough- and-tumble Aussie, he is really -- he's a rock 'n' roller, he's a motorcycler, he has a farm. He loves his farm. He's also an artist. He's an interesting combination, and I think that's probably what makes him so sort of fascinating to watch.

HEMMER: Russell Ira Crowe debuted back on April 7, 1964 in Strathmore Park, New Zealand. You could say he was born into show business. His parents were film caterers, and his grandfather was a decorated World War II cinematographer.

The family moved to Sydney, Australia when Russell was 4, and within two years, he made his first TV appearance on the series, "Spyforce."

TIM EWBANK, BIOGRAPHER: Wandering around those TV and film sets at an early age, he lost all fear and he also saw how it worked. He'd go behind a door and see there was nothing there.

HEMMER: At Sydney Boy's High School, Russell's no-fear attitude helped him on the cricket and rugby field, but it was his talent for mimicking others that got him noticed. CROWE: I think I watched too much TV when I was a kid. We get a lot of American television and stuff. And so, I always used to just impersonate, you know, -- or not impersonate, but, you know, copy people's accents.

EWBANK: He's got a great ear, and even now, he can mimic most people.

CROWE: How wonderful, I'm talking to the BBC. Now, move your hand over here. Now, move your hand over there. Hello, how are you?

HEMMER: The family headed back to New Zealand in 1978. Russell was 14 then. Putting his acting career aside, he picked up a guitar, and he picked up a new name.

O'NEILL: In his mid teens, Russell started a band. He named himself Russ le Roq, and he was this Elvis look-alike with this hair, this big Elvis hair, really bad clothes. And he wrote his own songs, and one of them was called, "I Wanna Be Like Marlon Brando."

HEMMER: Russ le Roq would soon drop out of high school to pursue his pop star dreams.

But when his singles went rocketing to the bottom of the charts, he took up with the "Rocky Horror Picture Show," playing Dr. Frank N. Furter and Eddie for more than 400 performances.

EWBANK: I think he suddenly realized when he got up on stage and he wasn't just the singer in a band that acting was really what it -- what he really wanted to do. And from that, the seed was sown to really try and make it.

HEMMER: In 1987, Russell headed for Sydney, opting not to study at the famed National Institute of Dramatic Arts. He would audition and then hone his craft performing in the streets of Kings Cross.

Surviving would mean picking up odd jobs -- bingo caller, fruit picker, insurance salesman and waiter. He worked at this famous Sydney restaurant, Doils, for a short time, but finally in 1990, he got his big break.

He was 25, cast in a small film called "The Crossing," and during the filming, he would meet and fall in love with his co-star actress, Danielle Spencer.

EWBANK: The film opens with an incredible scene of them together, making love in some shed, I think it was. And he kissed her very, very passionately. And I think she sat up and really felt that, you know, there might be something more to this.

HEMMER: There was. The two would date on and off for the next 13 years.

Crowe's star would rise quite quickly in the land Down Under. He would win two Australian Film Institute Awards -- the first, for his role in the 1992 film, "Proof."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Describe him to me.

CROWE: What, each one?


HEMMER: But it was the controversial film, "Romper Stomper" that would garner Russell Crowe his second AFI award and make him a star.

CROWE: I want people to know that I'm proud of my white history and my white blood.

ROZEN: He was the leader of a group of skinheads who were beating up anyone who didn't look like them.

CROWE: Hando is a white supremacist. He's a racist, a fascist, extremely disturbed man.

ROZEN: And you just came out of the movie going "who is that guy," "What else can he do?"

CROWE: Come on, I'm not going to fight.

HEMMER: When our story continues, Hollywood's sexist leading lady brings Russell Crowe to the Wild Wild West. But to many involved in "The Quick and The Dead," his arrival is anything but welcome.



CROWE: What is your name?

HEMMER (voice-over): By 1994, just about everyone in Australia knew the name Russell Crowe. Following his star-making turn in "Romper Stomper," his next film, "The Sum of Us," stunned everyone.

CROWE: I like doing it with blokes, dad, and I don't think that's ever going to change, because I don't want it to.

EWBANK: To jump from playing Hando, this vile, vicious character to playing a gay rugby playing plumber in "The Sum of Us" was an extraordinary leap.

ROZEN: He said part of the reason he want to do it was because there were all these people who actually liked the skinhead, you know, and admired him, and he wanted to confuse them.

HEMMER: Crowe's gift for transformation and confusion would ultimately catch the eye of one of Hollywood's biggest stars.

O'NEILL: Sharon Stone is kind of attributed with discovering Russell, at least in the U.S.

HEMMER: But his big-screen Hollywood debut would be anything but quick.


EWBANK: Columbus Studio heads didn't want him to be there. They felt that he wasn't up to it. Who was this guy? Nobody knew him.

SHARON STONE, ACTRESS: I saved your life last night.

ROZEN: All kinds of people were saying to her, "Are you kidding? No way, no way." She said, "No, no, no, he's the guy."

EWBANK: She stuck to her guns and she was proved right. She said, you know, Russell Crowe is the sexiest guy working in movies today, and she was ahead of her time.

HEMMER: It would take two years, but in 1997, Russell Crowe happened.

HOWARD: I think "L.A. Confidential" is probably the first time that I was really sort of aware of the name "Russell Crowe" and a performance.

HEMMER: Director Curtis Hanson would cast Crowe immediately after this screen test.

CROWE: What is this justice? That's where [bleep] lie, justice.

HEMMER: "L.A. Confidential" would garner critical acclaim and America would notice Russell, the movie star, for the first time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to be a big star. Are you ready for it?

CROWE: Yes, yes, when? Yes, right. Whatever.


HEMMER: Concerned he was being typecast as the tough guy, Crowe took a 14-month break. He would retreat back to his farm in Australia to read and write, play the guitar, and search for the perfect script.

It came in the form of "The Insider," playing a middle-aged corporate whistle-blower. But when director Michael Mann approached him, he hesitated.

CROWE: And I said, look, all right, it's very flattering and all that and it's a great script. But you're being a little silly here, Mr. Mann. You should go and get yourself one of them 50-year-old actors to do this job.

MICHAEL MANN, DIRECTOR, "THE INSIDER": And he came down and we read. And it was just the two of us. I was reading one part and he'd read the other, and we're working right across my desk.

CROWE: He put his hand on my chest, and said I'm not talking to you because of your age. I'm talking to you because of what you've got in here.

MANN: I knew right then and there, this is the guy. This is Jeffrey Wigand.

CROWE: And I thought, best work with this fellow.

CROWE: You manipulated me into this.

HEMMER: Gaining nearly 50 pounds, audiences were stunned by his appearance as the former tobacco executive. That 1999 performance would garner his first Academy Award nomination.

CROWE: Forty-eight pounds I put on to play that role. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How'd you do that?

CROWE: Cheeseburgers and bourbon, mate. Ah, it was heaven.

HEMMER: Kevin Spacey took home the Oscar that year, but Crowe, once again, would make a remarkable transformation.

CROWE: At my signal, unleash hell.

HEMMER: Emerging six months later, 40 pounds lighter, with muscles to spare, he would unleash hell at the box office.

When our story continues, Hollywood's master and commander finally meets his match.

SANZ: She knew that he would eventually come back, and he did.

HEMMER: But first, Crowe falls hard for Meg Ryan, and nearly falls into the hands of kidnappers.



HEMMER: When "Gladiator" debuted in May of 2000, Russell Crowe's star power would shift into overdrive.

CROWE: You walk out into Coliseum and there's 5,000 extras going, "Maximus, Maximus," you know, it's theater on an absolutely grand scale.

HEMMER: Ridley Scott's epic would gross nearly half a billion dollars, catapulting Crowe to Hollywood megastar, a megastar with reports of a mega ego.

O'NEILL: Russell Crowe's reputation is, as someone who's tough and arrogant, somewhat surly.

CROWE: Mate, I'm not thinking about that, you know. I'm thinking about going down to try to vixen and having a drink.

EWBANK: You know, he certainly likes to party. He likes to drink. Women find him very attractive.

HEMMER: And so would the tabloids, linking him to everyone from Jodi Foster to Nicole Kidman. Crowe denied every romance except one.

CROWE: With Meg, we were doing the job and the personal thing was separate, separate altogether.

HEMMER: In June of 2000, news of an affair with "Proof of Life" co-star Meg Ryan would explode in the headlines. Cast as a hostage negotiator who falls in love with a married woman, clearly life had imitated art.

O'NEILL: And then when Meg Ryan told the world that she was going divorce Dennis Quaid, then it became apparent that Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe were more than just a passing fling.

HEMMER: In the fall of 2000, photographers tracked the couple around the globe.

O'NEILL: Both of them seemed to be totally in love with each other. He took her to Australia. She met his family. He showed her around his beloved farm.

HEMMER: Crowe also introduced Meg Ryan to the band he had been playing with since early 1990s, Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts.

After a successful tour, Crowe headed home to Australia. And in December, when a white tent on his property fueled rumors of marriage to Meg Ryan, he responded with anger.

CROWE: Just take, for example, the fact that, you know, somebody announces in the press that I'm getting married. If I ever am lucky enough to find the woman to make that absolute commitment and decision that I'm going to be with for the rest of my life, I don't get to experience that joy or share that joy because this parasite prick has actually published it in the newspaper. And foreign people say, what, again?

HEMMER: The rumors were way off. Their six-month relationship was actually coming to an end. Reports would vary as to who broke it off.

CROWE: She is a magnificent woman, a marvelous person and a great actress. So that's -- you know, I don't...

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Sounds like you're friends.

CROWE: Absolutely. You know, and we just had one conversation maybe two nights ago.

HEMMER: Just when you thought Crowe couldn't grab one more headline, a plot to kidnap the film star surfaced.

CROWE: I had to meet with these FBI guys and stuff when I -- so I met with them, and they laid out a situation that they were very concerned about. HEMMER: The FBI confirmed the threat, although details of the bizarre plot were never truly revealed. Some labeled it a publicity stunt. Crowe just seemed amused.

CROWE: They obviously don't know me very well. After a couple of days, mate, they'll be on the phone, now, look we've got 50 grand, please take him back!

EWBANK: And I think at first, he probably thought it was a bit of a joke. But when suddenly, a security man had to surround him at every turn, it wasn't, you know -- it wasn't so funny.

HEMMER: In March of 2001 still surrounded by security, Crowe took home his first Oscar. The "Gladiator" was stunned.

CROWE: If you had asked me, you know, right up until the minute, I would have put a lot of money on Tom Hanks.

HEMMER: Flash forward one year later, Crowe is doing it again.

CROWE: Find a truly original idea. That's the only way I'll ever distinguish myself.

HEMMER: His role in "A Beautiful Mind" garnered his third Academy Award nomination.

ROZEN: I think there were two factors at work here, in his not getting the Oscar. One, I'm not sure the Hollywood community was ready to canonize him yet, to go yes, you are the new king. So that was a factor. Two, Denzel Washington was really, really good.

HEMMER: Oscar aside; it was his increasingly high profile companion, fellow Aussie, Danielle Spencer, who had fans abuzz.

KING: Are you now in love?

CROWE: Yes, I am. Yes.

KING: Do you want to tell us who?

CROWE: No, I don't.

CROWE: Sarah's coming home again.

EWBANK: He's written some very nice songs, and several of them are very much about his longstanding girlfriend, Danielle.

SANZ: She sort of understood when he went to Hollywood and had to pursue that life. You know, she sort of forgave a lot of the running around that he did.

EWBANK: She's seen the lows. She's seen the highs. You know, she's seen him when he was absolutely nothing. She's -- was at his side when he won an Oscar.

HEMMER: And on April 7, 2003, she was by his side again, this time as Mrs. Russell Crowe. Clad in Armani, the couple emerged from the small chapel on Crowe's Australian ranch. The ceremony had been short, just 20 minutes, and as rose petals flew and portraits were taken, emotions ran high. This union, 13 years in the making, seems to have tamed the edgy super star.

And on November 14, for the first time in nearly two years, Russell Crowe will splash onto the big screen once again. This time with "Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World." A $135 million later, there is great expectation.

ROZEN: The real hope is that this could be a franchise film. If this works, then you're probably, every couple of years, going to see another "Master and Commander" movie. They're going to be on the seas for a while.

HEMMER: But it's not just "Master and Commander" that has everyone talking. Come January 2004, Russell Crowe will be a father.

CROWE: And I'm not a father yet. I'm a father-to-be. Our baby boy is due in the middle of January and I'm very much looking forward to meeting him and finding out who he is.

And you can sail away tonight.

HEMMER: Future father, lover, fighter, rocker, biker, farmer, movie star of global magnitude, the young Aussie who penned the song "I Wanna Be Like Marlon Brando" seems to have gotten his wish, and then some.

CROWE: This is a great job, and I want to encourage every one of you in this room to give everything you can to the story. God bless narrative. God bless originality. Good night.


ZAHN: Despite his macho image, Russell Crowe tells "Vanity Fair" that he had to overcome not only a fear of heights but also a fear of the ocean for his role in the sea-fairing adventure, "Master and Commander."


MCGRAW: I had a barbeque stain on my white t-shirt...


ANNOUNCER: Up next, he's a country music phenom from humble beginnings.


BETTY TRIMBLE, MOTHER: I mean you could even see the dirt on the ground through the floor.


ANNOUNCER: Now, he has it all.


MCGRAW: I'm just lucky. You know, I'm just lucky. I mean what else could I want?

Heart don't forget something like...


ANNOUNCER: Mega-star, Tim McGraw, when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns.



ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Tim McGraw is a down- home favorite, the triple nominee at Wednesday's Country Music Awards and the Artist of The Year according to radio music directors nationwide. He has a string of platinum albums and number 1 hits. Oh, and then there's his marriage to fellow country sensation, Faith Hill. For McGraw, it's all a million miles from the back roads of Louisiana, from a childhood of poverty and family secrets. Daryn Kagan has our profile.


MCGRAW: It was Labor Day weekend. I was 17. I bought a Coke and some gasoline.

JEROME: He's got a great voice and delivers.

MCGRAW: Well, she had a suntan line on her...

JEROME: The sex appeal is a perk.

MCENTIRE: He looks so confident on stage; you're like, was that choreographed or is he just that damn good? Well, he's just that good.

MCGRAW: I laugh every time I start to think about her.

FAITH HILL, MUSICIAN/WIFE: I feel that way when I look at him.


HILL: Yes, really.

MCGRAW: As we go rolling down this highway. I'm just lucky. I'm just lucky. I mean what else could I want?

DARYN KAGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What else could country great Tim McGraw really need? With eight Country Music Association Awards under his belt...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our next performer has three nominations tonight...

KAGAN: He was nominated for three more this year. He took the CMA's center stage and performed "Red Ragtop" from his latest album, "Tim McGraw and The Dancehall Doctors." When they released the song, it stirred controversy with lyrics about an abortion.

MCGRAW: ... we were running wild. We decided not to have a child.

KAGAN: And this year, a career milestone for McGraw, he grabbed his 20th Number 1 country single with "She's My Kind of Rain."

MCGRAW: She's my kind of rain.

JEROME: I think the knack for him is picking the great material that works with his persona, his message, his looks, his aura.

MCGRAW: I believe that's what my job is, is a storyteller and that's what I do. If I find a great story to tell, I'm going to tell it.

KAGAN: Or it could be Tim McGraw's own story, a love story with country's other hottest star that's reinforced his popularity.

HILL: This is my husband, Tim McGraw.

JEROME: Once he hooked up with Faith in the mid '90s, you know, you can't stop that. I mean this is just a great story.

KAGAN: Tim McGraw and Faith Hill have become one of country's most celebrated couples. When the rugged cowboy and glamorous cover girl performed together and then married in '96, both of their careers soared. The duo amassed a fortune...

HILL: We are expecting our first child.

KAGAN: ... and a family, a brood of three girls. The couple has gained even more popularity by touting their down-home value.

HILL: We wanted to raise our family. We didn't just want kids just as tokens.

MCGRAW: The family has got to be first and everything else kind of has to find a spot.

KAGAN: And there's another story about Tim McGraw in the spotlight, a personal story involving a famous name that stirs up memories of childhood pain and confusion.

(on camera): You met him, but it wasn't this instant father-son bond?

MCGRAW: I don't think it will ever be a father and son kind of relationship.

KAGAN (voice-over): It was a secret that wouldn't be revealed until late in Tim's childhood.

Tim McGraw grew up in rural northeast Louisiana, in the swampy town of Start, a cotton farming community 200 miles from Baton Rouge.

HOWARD: It had a little country star and the gin and a caution light. That's all that's there. I mean there's no red light or anything.

TRIMBLE: When he was -- gosh, I think he was a month old there.

KAGAN: Samuel Timothy Smith, nicknamed Timmy, was born May 1, 1967. He lived in Start for most of his childhood with sisters Tracey and Sandy. From a young age, Tim excelled in sports and music.

TRIMBLE: He sang first in front of people at 3 in church and you know you hear everybody say that, but he did.

KAGAN: Early on, money and jobs were scarce for his mom, Betty, a waitress and dad, Horace, a part-time trucker. The poverty-stricken family moved 13 times when Tim was a kid.

TRIMBLE: Some of these places we lived, I'd fix them up and make them home. But I mean you could even see the dirt on the ground through the floors.

HOWARD: I'd answer the phone and there's a bill collector on the other line. And mom's like, "I'm not here," you know. So at times, I knew that it was hard for her.

KAGAN: But for Tim and his family, life was about to get even harder.

TRIMBLE: He's sitting on the bed and he's as white as the sheet. I said, "Tim are you all right?" "I need to ask you something." And I said, "What?" He said, "Is Horace Smith my daddy?" And I just teared up just like I just did.

KAGAN: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, Tim makes a shocking discovery about a big-time ball player, news that will change the rest of his life. And later...

HILL: This kiss, this kiss, unsinkable...

KAGAN: "This Kiss" turns into way more than just a hit song.

HILL: I wrote my answer on his dressing mirror.

It's the way you love me, baby. It's the way you love, darling.




(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KAGAN (voice-over): In'78, Timmy Smith was living the typical life of most boys in rural Louisiana.

BUTLER: We'd go camping or hunting or typical things like that, but basically, just small town life.

KAGAN: And Tim had dreams of someday becoming a ball player.

MCGRAW: I was pretty much an athlete growing up. I mean that's what I wanted to do. I thought I was too little though.

KAGAN: One of the players he idolized, pitcher, Tug McGraw.

MCGRAW: I had a baseball card of him and like three other guys on my wall.

KAGAN: Eleven-year-old Tim was home alone when he got the shock of a lifetime.

MCGRAW: And I found this box and opened it up, and sure enough there was a birth certificate that has McGraw under my last name. It just -- it was like a joke. You know you just didn't -- it didn't register.

KAGAN: Tim's mom revealed that in 1966, she had a summer romance with the baseball pitching great. At the time, he played in the minors for the Jacksonville Suns. Their relationship didn't last, but she was pregnant. She contacted McGraw, but never asked for help.

TRIMBLE: He was a famous baseball player and it come out and hurt his career in any way, I didn't want to do that.

KAGAN: Tug McGraw went on to play for the Mets and the Phillies. He became the highest paid relief pitcher in professional baseball.

TRIMBLE: And he said, "Is that guy -- do I ever get to meet him?" And I said, "Son, I don't know. You know, he knows about you. He knows where I'm at, but he's -- so far, he's chose not to have anything to do with you."

KAGAN: Tim did McGraw briefly when he was 11 but the two did not become close.

HOWARD: It was a difficult time for all of us.

KAGAN: By this time, Tug McGraw had his own family. Tim didn't speak to his famous father again until his senior year of high school.

MCGRAW: I mean, he had a life. You know, he had his kids who were young and he -- you know, I'm sure it was tough on him to try to figure out what am I supposed to -- what am I going to do here? I mean, you know, not to diminish the responsibility at all.

KAGAN: But he did ask his dad to pay for his college education, and McGraw eventually agreed. Tim began using his real last name and spending more time with the dad he hardly knew. MCGRAW: You know we've become more -- almost like an older- younger brother. Me being the older brother and he being the younger brother is really what it's come down to.

KAGAN: McGraw attended Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe, 15 miles from home. He thought about studying law but school soon took second fiddle to music.

MCGRAW: In college one summer, I went and got a guitar from a pawn shop for like 20 bucks and I watched CMT, believe it or not, and sit there -- and "Hee-Haw" -- and would see where their fingers were on the cords and the songs and then play the guitar and then listening to the radio. I think in that summer, I had like a 50 song repertoire.

KAGAN: He'd grown up listening to 70's rock groups like the Eagles and Journey but began emulating country legends, George Strait and Hank Williams Jr. In just months, McGraw was good enough for solo gigs at local bars. He wasn't long before he craved a bigger audience. In 1989, he dropped out of college and took a chance. He headed to music city.

BUTLER: When Tim told me he was moving to Nashville, I laughed at him. For him to come out being a typical college, fraternity guy, to say, "Hey, I'm going to sing country music," and we all kind of went, "Well, OK."

KAGAN: But McGraw was serious. He hit Nashville's local club circuit, found a backup band called the Dancehall Doctors and wasted little time in establishing himself. In 1992, his cool style and his famous last name got him a meeting at a record company. One record executive was a Tug McGraw fan.

MCGRAW: It was a friend of my dad's knew somebody that worked at Curb Records and called up and he just got me an appointment by chance. And I showed up early.

KAGAN: Within a year McGraw landed a record contract. But his self-entitled debut album sank into oblivion. Luckily, he got another shot.

MCGRAW: Don't take the girl.

KAGAN: The ballad, "Don't Take The Girl" from his second album put McGraw on the country map.

DARRAN SMITH, DANCEHALL DOCTORS: And we stopped and people were -- all the crowd's singing the words and we're just playing along with it. And then, you just felt that hair stand up and the tingling and you go, "This is going to be something huge."

KAGAN: But it was another single, the political incorrect "Indian Outlaw" that sent McGraw into the big leagues. McGraw received heavy criticism from some who found the song offensive to Native Americans.

MCGRAW: You can find me in the big bar. I'll be beating on my tom-tom...

RAYMOND APODACA, NATIONAL CONGRESS OF AMERICAN INDIANS: The song, in its lyrics, helps perpetrate all of the negative stereotypes and demean, basically, the Indian culture.

MCGRAW: ... because I'm an Indian outlaw.

KAGAN: But the controversy only boosted McGraw's popularity. The song became his first number one hit and the album, country's biggest seller of 1994. McGraw progressed from a struggling club act to a headliner almost overnight and the hits kept coming.

MCGRAW: Because I like it, I love it, I want some more of it.

KAGAN: Country rock anthem, "I Like It, I Love It," flew to the top of the charts. And although McGraw didn't write any of the songs, he became an ace at picking winners.

MCGRAW: I love it. I want some more of it. I just don't like anything that I write. I think I'm pretty bad at it actually.

MARK HUNT, CO-MANAGER: I think one of the really mystical, magical things about Tim is his ability to choose a song.

MCGRAW: I had a barbeque stain on my white t-shirt. She was killing me in that miniskirt.

KAGAN: McGraw's next choice would cast him even further into the spotlight. When we return, the country duet that sent sparks flying, hearts breaking and tongues wagging.

JEROME: Both had been in long and serious relationships at the time, so there wasn't any thought of them ending up as a romantic duo.

KAGAN: And a brush with the law that leaves McGraw with a bad boy reputation.





MCGRAW: Now, who could ever walk away with so much left undone...

KAGAN (voice-over): By 1995, Tim McGraw was topping country charts with hits like "Can't Be Really Gone." He no longer needed his famous baseball player dad to further his music career, but another name would soon change his life. After the release of his popular third album, McGraw went on tour. Opening up for him, rising country star, Faith Hill.

HILL: Take another little piece of my heart. I know you will. KAGAN: Hill had some hits like "Piece of My Heart," but was barely known in the pop world.

MCGRAW: I knew the first time I spent five minutes with her that I was done for. What I also knew that she was way out of my league, too, so I had a big ladder to climb there.

KAGAN: But that wasn't his only challenge. Hill was already taken.

JEROME: Faith was engaged to Scott Hendriks, who was a very successful, powerful, Nashville record producer and music executive. And she had been married once before and Tim had been coming out of a long relationship.

KAGAN: But the Spontaneous Combustion Tour would live up to its name. The sparks between McGraw and Hill flew.

SMITH: Well, when I saw them on stage, you know, singing together, you could just kind of tell there was something there, you know?

MCGRAW: I tried to just keep my head turned and just, you know, stay away. And I remember my road manager, I told him, "I need to see Faith for a minute." And she came in and I just grabbed her and kissed her.

KAGAN: A relationship developed. And by the end of the tour, Hill had broken off her engagement. McGraw popped the question back stage.

HILL: And I got so angry at him. "What you're asking me -- I just came off the stage and this is crazy, in a trailer." And I realized that he was serious. And so, my response, I wrote -- I wrote my answer on a -- on his dressing mirror in a Sharpie and said, "Yes, I will marry you."

KAGAN: The couple married in the end of '96. They kept the big day a secret from friends.

BUTLER: We were all prepared to play in a softball tournament and half of us there were dressed in shorts and t-shirts. And I got on the bus with Tim to go get ready for the softball game and he said, "Oh, by the way, we're going to a wedding." And I said, "Really, whose?" He said, "Mine."

MCGRAW: It's your love. It just does something to me.

KAGAN: Since then, their careers have exploded. McGraw became country's Male Artist of The Year with songs like "It's Your Love."

HILL: You can kiss me in the moonlight, from a rooftop under the sky.

KAGAN: And Hill's popularity rose with crossover hits like "This Kiss." HILL: This kiss, this kiss. It's criminal.

HILL/MCGRAW: I'll climb right up to the sky...

KAGAN: And when they sang together, hits like "Just To Hear You Say You Love Me," their popularity soared. The singers were stacking up hits and awards, winning a Grammy for the duet, "Let's Make Love."

HILL/MCGRAW: Let's make love all night long.

KAGAN: In 1997, country's favorite duo started a family. They had Gracie. Little Maggie followed in '98. But the couple had a scare with the birth of their third daughter, Audrey, in December 2002. Hill's pregnancy turned dangerous.

JEROME: She had really lost a lot of her fluid and she was really in pretty much an emergency situation. And within 12 or 18 hours, she had a c-section. And she called Tim right away and he came rushing to the office and they got the kids out of school. It was a frightening -- as she put it, "frightening and alarming situation."

MCGRAW: She was just early, just a little early, but she was fine. I mean we took her home after about a week in the hospital and never had any problems.

KAGAN: Calm words from a guy who has a reputation of being a doting dad.

TRIMBLE: When Gracie was born, it was like, as soon as she'd whimper, he'd run and get her. He'd change her diaper. And Faith would be fixing a bottle, and he's like, "Now, put it on your arm, test it."

HOWARD: He changes diapers. He does whatever. He plays dress- up. He plays, you know, whatever they want him to do. He'll play tea party with them if they want him to.

KAGAN: But in 2001, McGraw's reputation as a family man was jeopardized. He endured a public criminal trial that could have ruined his home life and his career. It all started when fellow country singer, Kenny Chesney, took a ride on a police horse.

MCGRAW: And these other officers didn't bother to stop him and ask if he had permission, and just jerked Kenny off of the horse and started swinging batons. And I tried to make them stop and they turned on me.

KAGAN: McGraw was arrested and charged with second-degree assault. Almost a year later, he was found innocent but the high- profile trial took its toll.

(on camera): Do you think that prosecutors took it as far as they did because you guys are celebrities?

MCGRAW: Sure and because I wouldn't take their deals. I mean did we really want to go through all of this? And Faith and I both -- you know, we got kids, and 13, 14 years old, they're going to ask me what happened. And if I do any kind of deal, they'll never believe anything I say.

KAGAN: This year, McGraw faced another crisis. In March, his famous dad, Tug McGraw, was diagnosed with malignant brain cancer. Doctors gave him three weeks to live. But Tim pursued different medical opinions and helped his father get better treatment. Although, Tug underwent successful brain surgery, he's still battling cancer.

MCGRAW: Tug's doing great. He came through his surgery fine. He's going through all of his treatments fine. And he's tough. You know it's hard to keep him down.

KAGAN: McGraw and Hill have made it clear that family comes before fame even vowing not to be apart for more than three days at a time.

JEROME: Faith would actually have Audrey with her in the recording booth, cradling her or parked in a car seat. If the baby suddenly started to make noise, they'd have to yell, "Cut" and start over. But I think there is this feeling that they are this movable feast of a family wherever they go.

KAGAN: McGraw says it's Hill's efficiency that makes touring a breeze.

MCGRAW: The toys, I mean, the baby who -- I mean she's got this plastic bins that are all labeled and stacked and neatly stacked there with blankets in between to make sure nothing breaks. And I'm throwing my stuff in the suitcase and trying to sit on it and shut it.

KAGAN: Hill's organization means a little down time on the road. McGraw usually works in a game of basketball before his shows. But his more impressive moves have been off the court.

He wrapped up a 49-day U.S. tour, nailed another Number 1 single with "She's My Kind of Rain," and in his 10-year career, has sold over 27 million albums.

MCENTIRE: He's good lucking. He's sexy. He's a great singer. The mysterious looks he gives from under that hat brim, it all works.

KAGAN: It's working all right, but for one of country's greatest success stories, it's not the music that makes the fairy tale ending.

MCGRAW: And I've got three princesses at home. I mean I've -- and well, I've got four girls, beautiful girls that just adore me, so I've got it made. I can't imagine having any better life.


ZAHN: In addition to another album and a tour set for next year, Tim McGraw will be trying his hand at acting. He makes his debut as a sheriff in the Indie film, "Black Cloud." The movie is expected to open at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.

That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Coming up next week, American royalty, the Kennedys, 40 years after the assassination of JFK. I'm Paula Zahn, thanks so much for joining us. Hope you'll be back with us next week.

ANNOUNCER: For more celebrity news, be sure to pick up a copy of "People" magazine this week.


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