Los Angeles, 1964. Bob Crane (Greg Kinnear), popular radio host of top-rated KNX, is playing his drums in studio as part of his top-rated morning show. "Gene Krupa on the drums...no folks, that was yours truly on the skins." Crane then turns to interview his in-studio celebrity guest, the Lone Ranger himself, actor Clayton Moore.
Crane next goes to meet with Lenny (Ron Leibman) his loyal agent, who has the leading role in a new TV pilot for him. "It's set in a World War II prison camp," says Lenny. "It's a comedy." "This sounds like a career killer to me," says Crane. "Just read it," says Lenny.
Back at home, Crane has words with his wife Anne (Rita Wilson) about the project. She is offended by the whole idea, but eventually comes around, agreeing that it is funny.
Rehearsal begins soon with the cast of "Hogan's Heroes"-Werner Klemperer (Kurt Fuller), John Banner (Lyle Kanouse), Richard Dawson (Michael Rodgers), Robert Clary (Christopher Neiman)-around a table. The executive producer, Edward Feldman (Bruce Solomon) tells Crane: "Bob, don't try so hard. You're the hero of the show. It's named after you. Heroes don't try to be heroes. They simply are."
"Hogan's Heroes" premieres on September 17th, 1965. When the ratings come out, it ranks five out of 98 prime-time programs. Of the new shows, it is number one.
But while Crane is enjoying success with the show, there is tension at home. Anne has discovered "girlie" magazines in the garage, and is very hurt.
On the backlot of the "Hogan's" set, Crane meets a man who is working in Richard Dawson's trailer. The man explains that he is installing Dawson's new high fidelity unit and introduces himself as John Carpenter (Willem Dafoe). When Carpenter offers to do upgrade his music system, Crane explains that he's always been interested in photography. "If you like photography, you'll love VTR's," says Carpenter, who explains that video tape recorders are the same as audio recorders, only with pictures. He also invites Crane to join him later at a strip club called Salome's.
That night at Salome's, the drummer offers Crane the opportunity to sit in with the house band while the stripper goes through her gyrations. Crane seems to really enjoy combining two of his favorite activities-playing drums and looking at naked women.
Sometime later, Crane meets with his Catholic Priest, Father O'Neill (Don McManus), and explains how he has been blowing off steam after working late by playing in clubs. "It's not easy to resist temptation," says Father O'Neill. "You must remove oneself from the occasion of sin." One night, after playing the drums at the Classic Cat, Crane is met backstage by Carpenter. Crane introduces Carpenter to two strippers, the brunette Emily (Alex Meneses) and the blonde Elaine (Cassie Townsend). Carpenter invites everyone over to his place where he promises to show them the new equipment he's testing out.
At his apartment, Carpenter asks Crane, "Which one do you want?" Crane is nervous and says he doesn't care which one. Carpenter goes off with the Elaine, leaving Crane with Emily. Crane tries to offer some resistance, but it is futile-she knows what she wants and easily seduces him.
The second season of "Hogan's Heroes," Colonel Klink has as new secretary, Helga, played by Patti Olson, screen name Sigrid Valdis (Maria Bello). Crane immediately begins flirting with the attractive new cast member.
Out at a jazz club, Carpenter invites a blonde, Jill (Amber Griebel) and a brunette, Julie (Nikita Ager) to a party at his place with Bob Crane. When they arrive, we see how the relationship between Crane and Carpenter has developed-he is now the dominant one and he chooses which girl he wants.
Watching videos with Carpenter, Bob spots something he doesn't like-Carpenter's hand touching his butt. He is outraged at Carpenter's apparent bisexuality. He storms out, promising never to see Carpenter again.
Meanwhile, Patti and Bob are getting closer, and even discuss marriage. Eventually, she makes a surprising admission. "The other women...I know about them." Crane feels he has finally found a woman who understands him and his desires.
When the Crane family VTR breaks, Bob phones Carpenter to service it. The two make up.
Sometime after Crane marries Patti on the set of "Hogan's Heroes," the show is cancelled. After the show, with two families to support, Crane finds it difficult to find work. Lenny suggests "Dinner Theatre."
Crane options a sex comedy called "Beginner's Luck," and begins playing dinner theatres around the country. Carpenter joins him on the road and the pair are back to their old tricks.
Good news comes in an offer from Disney to play the title role in "Superdad." Lenny visits him on the set. Apparently someone from a tabloid took pictures of Crane coming out of a topless bar. Lenny tries to explain to Crane that he may be taking risks with his image and that the business can be unforgiving, but the actor is oblivious to the warnings.
With Bob on the road most of the time doing Dinner Theatre, Patti feels abandoned and their marriage starts to suffer. They argue and eventually, she decides to divorce him.
Bob's downward spiral is vividly displayed by his appearance on a TV show called "Celebrity Chefs!" His rude, sexist remarks about a buxom woman in the audience turns off everyone in the studio.
Becoming something of a pariah in the business, Crane seeks counsel from Lenny. "People only change when they want to," says Lenny. "I want to," says Bob." "An alcoholic cannot go back to his old drinking buddies and expect to stay sober," says Lenny.
Meeting Carpenter in a bar in Scottsdale, Arizona, Crane attempts to break off their relationship. Carpenter doesn't take it well.
Later that night, someone slips into Crane's hotel room...