After 25 years, neo-noir radio show with Webb Wilder finally debuts | Characteristics


Eleven months ago, award-winning producer, director, screenwriter and editor Steve Boyle stumbled upon a one-of-a-kind time capsule from Nashville’s past. He was organizing his personal archives when he scanned the master tapes for mole men, a two-hour neo-noir radio drama he produced a quarter of a century ago. It was to be the first episode in a series of programs starring roots rocker Webb Wilder, who would be called Webb Wilder, the last of adult men. Unfortunately, the pilot was not released and the series never came to fruition. Among his records, Boyle also found a copy of the companion mole men novel he co-wrote with actor-writer Shane Caldwell around the same time.

“I had forgotten all about it,” Boyle said. “I played the radio show and then I picked up the book and thought, ‘This can’t be wasted because if I croak tomorrow my kids won’t know what to do with it. It will be lost. And I didn’t want to see him lost because it didn’t feel right. There was so much work to be done. “

With Wilder and Caldwell’s blessing, Boyle makes an agreement with Ingram Content Group to put the book back into circulation. Then he called Jessie Scott, Program Director at WMOT, and offered to air the radio show. Completely excited by the prospect – “She freaked out,” Boyle recalls – Scott agreed.

“Jessie Scott makes that happen, and we’re very grateful for that,” said Wilder, who is also one of WMOT’s regular on-air personalities. he hosts Afternoon with Webb Wilder Monday through Thursday and the resort’s Americana card issuance The list Friday.

So after 25 years, mole men will finally make its broadcast debut on WMOT in two parts. The first will air on November 30 and will re-air on December 4, while the second will air on December 7 and again on December 11. After its broadcast on WMOT, mole men will be made available to national and international public radio stations via PRX. There will also be a book reading and short performance on December 5th at Eastside Bowl.

Webb Wilder, the last of adult men was originally conceived in 1994 as a television series for the Hard Rock Cafe global music video television network, after Boyle produced a series of skits promoting the network, dubbed “anti-commercial ads.” They played Wilder as a tough private investigator, a character that dates back to a 1984 short called “Webb Wilder, Private Eye: The Saucer’s Reign”. The short film has become a staple of the USA Network Night flight program, and Wilder & Co. released a follow-up in 1991 titled “Horror Hayride”. “Horror Hayride” and the next mole men featured Wilder reprising his private investigator character, and Caldwell was cast in both productions as the villain.

“I pitched the idea of ​​a TV series for the Hard Rock Cafe because the network was starting to grow more,” Boyle explains. “And the CEO said yes, but he wanted to read some scripts. So Shane and I sat down to write scripts.

“I remember Steve and I having dinner at the Green Hills Grille and we talked about the overall feel of the project and Webb’s character – what he would do and how he would react to situations,” Caldwell recalls. “The first one we decided to do was ‘Mole Men’ because the three of us love this three-part arc from the original George Reeves. Superman program called “Superman and the Mole Men”. “

After already scripting one episode of “Mole Men” and another episode called “The Doll,” the CEO told them he was having trouble reading the scripts. He asked that they give him a narrative version of the stories.

“I was like, ‘You know what, I’m just going to print them out in book form,’” Boyle recalls. “Want something that reads like a book?” Well, here’s a real book.

But before he could finalize the deal for the TV series with the Hard Rock Cafe network, the CEO resigned and his replacement declined to continue the series. Boyle, Caldwell and Wilder were all fans of pre-TV era radio dramas, as well as Firesign Theater black radio parodies such as Nick Danger: Third Eye, so it was natural to reinvent their radio show.

“I introduced it to NPR and PRI and both said they were interested, PRI in particular,” Boyle explains. “But they both said, ‘We need to hear a pilot show. “”

George Lindsey and Steve Boyle during the recording session of mole men

So Boyle produced what is now stand-alone mole men as a pilot episode and filled the cast with familiar names. Wilder plays himself, of course, and Caldwell appears as Wormy Worsham. They are joined in the production by the late George “Goober” Lindsey (deceased 2012) as Dusty Norris, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals as Captain Jack McCreedy, the late James Griffin of Bread (deceased 2005) as Lance Murdock, Kathy Mattea as Thelma Newby and Jonell Mosser as Ruby Falls. Jim Hoke was musical director.

By the time Boyle put the finishing touches on the pilot, NPR and PRI had undergone format changes and were no longer interested. And with that, the project reached a dead end. Until now. Wilder is happy that mole men will finally be heard, and he credits Boyle’s tenacity to making it possible.

“His energy and determination, I think, are the main reason [the show is airing now] – and the quality of the different participants, ”says Wilder. “It’s kind of like a ‘rise of the Phoenix’.”

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