WEBB WILDER, LAST OF THE FULL GROWN MEN Book e-Book & Audiobook
WEBB WILDER, LAST OF THE FULL GROWN MEN Book e-Book & Audiobook
How did all this start? Steve Boyle had co-created and was running a global music video television network for Hard Rock Cafe in 1994. Steve felt that the network programming was an opportunity to promote Hard Rock and so began to create HRC commercials for the network. HRC wasn’t totally on board with such an ordinary idea. The request Steve received from corporate was to create “anti-commercial commercials.” So, rather than the usual corporate pitch, Steve created a series of fun bits and sketches that simply ended with a HRC logo. Corporate loved it, and so did MTV, ESPN and TBS who began to create the same format of promotions. It quickly became the hit promotional video format of the 90s!
Steve wanted to include Rock stars in the promos, but HRC wanted to test the format out first and so Steve hired some friends, in particular, Webb Wilder and Shane Caldwell to do a bunch of HRC promos. These corporate commercials were so well received throughout the U.S. and the world, they also collected numerous international film festival awards, as well as Addy (Advertising Agency) awards.
Steve wanted to expand on the network and asked if HRC would back a Neo Noir Pop Culture Dramedy Detective Mystery television series with Webb Wilder and they said yes! But they wanted to read some scripts first but didn’t want to read actual scripts (since some folks find them hard to follow). It was suggested that Steve write them as a narrative and so Steve and Shane, along with input from Webb, wrote two story-scripts (and outlined ten more). To help in marketing the pitch, Steve thought to print the stories up as an old pulp fiction style book.
The brilliant book cover and layout was created by Elvis Wilson. His artwork then inspired a poster which included a proposed cast of Classic Hollywood stars of the day for the television series, as well as producing a coffee mug, a t-shirt and some postcards.
Back in the 90s, we couldn't print just a handful of books, we had to print 1,100 of them! To prove to HRC that there was an audience for this concept, the book was sold to the public. A short promotional tour of two bookstores was booked. The first was Davis-Kidd Booksellers with Webb, Shane and Steve along with Jonell Mosser, reading Chapter 8 of the book. Webb and Jonell sang a few songs and then Webb, Shane and Steve sat down to sign books for the fans. The second showcase was a reading of "The Doll" at Tower Books. 1,000 books were sold in six weeks.
The scripts were novelized as requested, which proved an audience by selling out the first edition of the book. It didn’t take long to create all of this, but sadly it wasn’t fast enough. By the time the pitch was officially ready, HRC's CEO quit and the new CEO didn’t want anything to do with what the old CEO had going. So, no deal. But that wasn’t going to stop such a great idea.
It was then decided that radio would be the place to hold the show. The trio brought back Jonell to play Ruby Falls and recorded a demo of the show by reading Chapter 8 from the book. Jonell was “the” voice in Nashville and also a friend of the trio. Her sultry-bluesy voice along with her natural sensuality made her the perfect femme fatale. Added to the acting were bits of needle drop music and sound effects. Steve took this, along with the other materials, to PRI Public Radio International and NPR National Public Radio. Both said they were interested in the show as a radio series but both wanted a pilot show before committing. This is a normal industry request and so “Mole Men” was produced as the premiere show and pilot to what was to be a series of twelve installments of two one-hour shows per story (for a total of 24 shows). PRI was particularly up for the series!
Casting was pure joy for the "Mole Men" episode. Steve was looking around Nashville for original music for the series when Jim Hoke walked into his office with a track Jim wrote and produced. Steve instantly knew that was the show’s theme and so Jim was added to the team as music director. As for acting, Webb was the star and Shane played the demented bad guy, Wendell “Wormy” Worsham. Since Jonell played the part of Ruby Falls so well for the demo, she was included in the radio fun. Shane brought in George "Goober" Lindsey (The Andy Griffith Show) who arrived with that big smile of his and was the perfect voice for Dusty Norris. Steve had recently worked with Felix Cavaliere (The Rascals) and was able to bring him in as tough guy, Capt. Jack McCreedy. Needing a mild-mannered voice, Steve had also worked with and was friends and neighbors with James Griffin (Bread) who plays the conduit of the story, corrupt real estate agent, Lance Murdock. Jim Hoke had suggested Kathy Mattea as Thelma Newby and there was a collective awww, yeah! Jim Hoke then put together a brilliant group of Nashville A-level musicians for the incidental score of original music written by Jim. And with that, the team was set and the show was on.
It took a few months to get the cast together and produce the show. In those few months, both PRI and NPR changed their formats to all News and Classical. This meant that as well received as the show pilot was, there was no room in either network for the series. And so with that, the show and book were shelved.
A year or more later, PRI called Steve to say that they had changed their format back to what it was and were now interested in the series, but Steve had to inform them that everyone was busy and had gone their separate ways. We spent three years working on the series and were worn out. It was just to difficult to get the band back together.
Twenty plus years later there’s a pandemic and suddenly everyone has time on their hands. Steve was going through his archive and ran across the book and radio show, and thought that this was too good to be lost in his archive of hard drives
And so here we are again. All these years later. The 1996 book is now available as a second printing along with a 2021 e-book edition of one e-book for each story. And Webb Wilder has read the entire unabridged book as two audiobooks. Plus, the 1996 t-shirts and coffee mug have been updated and are also available for fans. And the radio special will have its World Premiere on WMOT-FM 89.5 • Part 1 Nov. 30th & Part 2 Dec. 7th. As for the radio show broadcast nationally. . . well, like any good mystery, you’ll have to stay tuned for the next installment of this great adventure.
We’re thrilled to finally have this lost Pop Culture gold available for your reading and listening pleasure. We hope you have as much fun with these stories as it was for us to create
Webb Wilder, Last of the Full Grown Men.
Webb Wilder had an early 90's hit short film on USA Network's "Night Flight" called "Webb Wilder, Private Eye." The character was commissioned to return for a series of original short Hard Rock Cafe anti-commercial commercials. The spots were too subtle for play in noisy Hard Rock's but it did inspire comedian/writer Shane Caldwell and Hard Rock's producer/director Steve Boyle to get together with Wilder in 1995 to create Webb Wilder, Last of the Full Grown Men.
Shane Caldwell shines as Pastor Lawrence Fecalson of the Hard Rock Tabernacle, displaying the sinful ways of Rock music and Hard Rock Cafe souvenirs. The irony was that "the little bear" spot played as the last video of the night at the HRC in Tokyo, at which time everyone stopped what they were doing, watched the video and then ran to buy the (pagan idol) HRC bear.
Comedian/writer Shane Caldwell cries, whines and generally has a series of breakdowns as has-been Pop star Lenny Lee. With catch phrases like "It's Me! It's Me! It's Lenny Lee!" and "Why don't you love me!" Producer/director Steve Boyle was aiming for a mocumentary with this character, only to discover that viewers really thought this was a true music documentary series.
You can see all of the Steve Boyle / Hard Rock Cafe 1990s anti-commercial commercials along with more of Webb Wilder and Shane Caldwell's antics, at this link here.
July 30, 1996 • Shane Caldwell and Steve Boyle join the KDF morning crew to promote the upcoming book signing and performance at Davis-Kidd Booksellers.
July 31, 1996 • WKRN Ch. 2 had a morning business promotion - if a business gave Ch. 2 some coffee mugs to give away, they would promote their local business. We called and offered a mug as well as a book and Wurmz 'n Dirt Candy. In turn they promoted our book signing and performance at Davis-Kid Booksellers. They had a lot of fun with our items, which is fun to watch. And the book is nicely demonstrated by the News anchors.
Whoa! We wanted promotion, but not this! We were now dealing with a Fan Scam!
Thanks to Tower Records the book had been sold throughout the U.S. and it seems that we had an imaginative fan in Aztec, New Mexico. Steve Boyle received a call from a newspaper reporter telling him that “a man was sentenced to five years probation for bilking people out of $13,000 by selling ‘California Red Superworms’ that he claims ate nuclear waste” and the reporter wanted to know if Steve felt that the “Mole Men” book had anything to do with it.
Once Steve stopped giggling and then recovered from feeling horrible for those who were hoodwinked, he then went into a bit of back peddling thinking that the hard pressed investors may want to sue for putting out the book - which did seem to be the blueprint of the scam. But, here it is 20+ years later and so we feel confident enough to say, yeah, this fraudster must have read our book and scammed these poor people. We thought we came up with such an outrageously unbelievable idea of a story, only to find, some people thought it could be real. Life can sometimes be stranger than fiction.
To catch-up on the current adventures of "Mole Men" & "The Doll" check out some fun promotional videos on the Sound & Vision page.
The fear and fascination of 1950s Mole Men from the center of the earth has scared and scarred Shane Caldwell and Steve Boyle since they were kids. These mutual traumas were a fun launching point for Webb Wilder and his first adventure with Mole Men.
Clark Kent and Lois Lane arrive in the small town of Silsby to witness the drilling of the world's deepest oil well. The drill, however, has penetrated the underground home of a race of small, bald humanoids who, out of curiosity, climb to the surface at night. They glow in the dark, which scares the local townsfolk, who form a mob intent on killing the strange visitors. Only Superman can intervene to prevent a tragedy.
The Mole People is loosely based on the theory of a hollow earth. The film depicts an underground civilization created by Sumerian descendants, who worship Ishtar and who keep mutant humanoid Mole Men as their slaves to harvest mushrooms.