Hollywood preview audiences cheer when his name sprawls across the screen. People ask for his autograph in airports. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer has become the outsize star of his own Hollywood story. His hip, high-voltage action films of the '90s (Con Air, Bad Boys, Armageddon) established a new style for the Hollywood blockbuster and helped make superstars of Ben Affleck, Nicolas Cage and Will Smith. Last year, with Pirates of the Caribbean, he even managed to mainstream reluctant celebrity Johnny Depp. Rare in the entertainment world, he has been able to transfer his instinct for the mass audience from movies to television, creating the hit crime-investigation series CSI and a seemingly endless parade of spin-offs and imitators like Without a Trace. All told, Bruckheimer projects have grossed more than $13 billion. He has done it by showing that commercial entertainment can be big and brawny but not entirely brainless. Bruckheimer says he simply makes "what I like." Which is why people cheer Jerry Bruckheimer: he likes what they like.
From the Archive
TV's Top Gun: Jerry Bruckheimer, Hollywood's top-grossing movie producer, is television's new go-to guy for high-rated drama. How'd he do it without blowing anything up?
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