Hollywood Reboots and our Personal Brands

Hollywood Loves Reboots

Hollywood loves Reboots. And the data says they can work. Just look at “Lois and Superman’s” boffo ratings on the CW.

Mr. Potato Head gets a Reboot

Everything once popular can be rebooted. Check out this week’s news about Mr. Potato Head. (Fast Company) He got a second life in the Toy Story series and now, Hasbro is rebranding him with a gender neutral name and surrounding him with a soulmate and a family.

Audiences love a known quantity. That’s why spin-offs like “Rhoda” and “The Jeffersons” worked. But it’s not a given. Think “After MASH,” if that show hasn’t already faded from your Reboot memory. What’s the secret to sustaining a career in an ever-changing world?

Smart people distill the essence of their gifts and think of new ways to reboot them.

Bob Hope – 1938

Bob Hope is a textbook example. He realized early that his skills were best expressed in a master of ceremonies role. When radio became a thing, he took his theatrical act to that medium. In his break-out film as an actor, “The Big Broadcast of 1938”, his character, Buzz Fielding, was an emcee. Even during his profitable road picture series with Bing Crosby, Bob’s shtick was ostensibly the same. He honed the act to such perfection that NBC gave him a lifetime contract as he rebooted from radio to Television.

The challenge many of us face today is getting stuck in the paradigms that we’ve defined in our resumes.

As business models evolve, human resources that were once the golden goose that made a company great, become the most expensive and expendable asset. When the cash-flow hockey stick levels out and starts to dip, the first place management looks is headcount.

Distilling the essence of your value and finding ways that it can generate income is the holy grail of every career. Think Sean Connery. He could have run the James Bond act into the ground and laughed all the way to the bank. Instead, he injected himself into other roles, some good, “The Wind and the Lion” and “The Hunt For Red October” are two profitable reboot examples. Some were duds. “The Man Who Would Be King” didn’t provide the return investors hoped for, but even that film has become a cult favorite.

Wolfman Jack – King of the Reboots

In the radio biz, there are examples of talent who leveraged their air-work to create a broader brand. Wolfman Jack‘s time behind the mic in Mexico caught the eye of George Lucas. His memorable role in “American Graffiti” was step one. He then syndicated a Graffiti Gold radio show before the shine of the film wore off. He donned a cowboy hat to broaden his appeal to country audiences when he became a recurring host on the Midnight Special. When he died, the Wolfman had rebooted a half dozen times and was still thinking up new iterations.

One of the things I love about being a writer these days is that almost all of my compatriots took up The Craft as a reboot. We came to storytelling from many different backgrounds but we share the same objective: To reinvent ourselves as authors. The same applies to the characters we write about. Every new novel that features a popular star is a reboot. Characters evolve. New challenges appear. What excites readers is watching how our protagonists find new ways to win.

Whatever you are doing now will change dramatically over time. The pandemic is another wake-up call that whatever we do today will be drastically different tomorrow. Hollywood Reboots focus on beloved characters, placing them in new situations, where their super powers can be used in a new way. How we adapt and innovate with regard to our personal brand will determine whether it’s a growth stock or a short sell.

Quick Takes:

Networks stop reporting overnight ratings. Here’s why. (Variety)
Will 5G be enough to entice you to buy a new iPhone this fall? Here’s the latest leak. (Tom’s Guide)

Kirk Franklin‘s latest NPR Tiny Desk Concert reminds me of one of Radio’s competitive advantages. Remote broadcasts.

Why Tom Morello doesn’t trim his guitar strings. (Guitar Weekly)

Did you know: Ancestry firms share your DNA test data more than you think. Via @Axios

Today in History:

1917, The 1st jazz records are recorded – “Dixie Jazz Band One Step” and “Livery Stable Blues” by Original Dixieland Jass Band for the Victor Talking Machine Company.

1954, Michigan rep Ruth Thompson (R) introduces legislation to ban mailing “obscene, lewd, lascivious or filthy” phonograph (rock & roll) records. Naturally it fails to gain traction because most politicians like things that are obscene, lewd, lascivious and filthy. 🙂

1955, Billboard reported that for the first time since their introduction in 1949, 45rpm singles were outselling the old standard 78’s.

1966, Nancy Sinatra went to No.1 with ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking‘. The song, written by Lee Hazlewood, is one he intended to record the song himself, but Nancy talked him out of it, saying that “coming from a guy it was harsh and abusive, but was perfect for a girl to sing”. She and Hazelwood would later collaborate on “Jackson“.

1977, The Eagles own the top spot on the charts with ‘New Kid in Town‘. It’s the group’s third No.1. The single, written by Don Henley, Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther, was the first to emerge from the iconic Hotel California LP.

1983, Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller” is the number one album in the nation. The LP, produced by Quincy Jones, was one of the first to use music videos as successful promotional tools. ‘Thriller’, ‘Billie Jean’, and ‘Beat It’ all received regular rotation on MTV back when the cable service actually played music. Thriller became the most successful album of all time with sales over 65 million copies.


1935: NY Yankees release Babe Ruth, he signs with Boston Braves.
1960: Vera Miles stars in the famous “Mirror Image” episode of the classic CBS television series “The Twilight Zone“.
1987: The British mixes of the first five Beatles albums, Please Please Me, With the Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night, Beatles for Sale and Help! were released on Compact disc.
1993: A truck bomb explodes in parking garage of NYC World Trade Center at 12:18pm, killing 6 and injuring over 1,000.
2011: Queen‘s ‘We Will Rock You‘ is still the most-played song at US sporting events.

Today’s Birthdays:

1829: Levi Strauss, Blue Jean guy (Levi Strauss & Co.), born in Buttenheim, Bavaria (d. 1902)
1907: Dub Taylor [Walter Clarence Taylor Jr], (Gunsmoke – Back to the Future 3), born in Richmond, Virginia (d. 1994)
1908: Tex Avery, American cartoonist at Warner Bros, MGM ( Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig), born in Taylor, Texas (d. 1980)
1914: Robert Alda, (Guys And Dolls – Alan’s Dad) born in NYC, New York (d. 1986)
1921: Betty Hutton [Elizabeth June Thornburg], (Greatest Show on Earth), born in Battle Creek, Michigan (d. 2007)
1928: Antione “Fats” Domino, (Blueberry Hill, Blue Monday) born in New Orleans, Louisiana (d. 2017)
1932: Johnny Cash, (I Walk the Line, Ring of Fire, A Boy Named Sue), born in Kingsland, Arkansas (d. 2003)
1933: Godfrey Cambridge, (Watermelon Man – Cotton comes to Harlem), born in NYC, New York (d. 1976)
1937: Hagood Hardy, (d. 1997)
1943: Paul Cotton, (Poco), born in Los Angeles, California.
1945: Mitch Ryder, (& Detroit Wheels-Devil With the Blue Dress – Rock and Roll), born in Hamtramck, Michigan.
1947: Sandie Shaw [Sandra Goodrich], (Girl Don’t Come), born in Essex, England
1950: Jonathan Cain, guitarist & keyboardist (Journey, Babys), born in Chicago, Illinois
1953: Michael Bolton, American rock vocalist (That’s What Love Is All About), born in New Haven, Connecticut

Much More Music:

“In The Parking Lot” – Beach Boys. This throw-away from the band’s “Shut Down – Volume 2” LP is one of my personal favorites. It was never intended to be a hit. “Don’t Worry Baby” and “Fun, Fun, Fun” were the singles with “The Warmth of the Sun” getting flip side play thanks to Beach Boy DJ fans. But listen to the lyrics. Mike Love sings about the ideal high school experience as Beatlemania was peaking in the US. “We’re turning on the radio dial.. We can sit and listen for awhile,” reminds us of how important that medium was back then. “Here comes the news. There’s not time to lose.”  (Video)

“I’m Into Something Good” – Earl Jean A Brill Building classic, with lyrics by  Gerry Goffin and music by Carole King. Carole said that Brian Wilson‘s music influenced the song that became Herman’s Hermits first hit. They released it just a couple of months after former Cookies member Earl-Jean Reavis had her shot. The solo opportunity came after Earl-Jean became pregnant while on tour with the Cookies. Goffin, still married to King at the time, was named as the father. By the summer of ’64, she was signed to Colpix records and recorded her only top 40 hit. Herman’s Hermits, riding the British Invasion wave, took “I’m Into Something Good” to Number 1.  (Video)

“Once a Fool” – Kiki Dee. A total suck up to my loyal fan and college roomate, Steve Schram. As Dr. Steve Edwards, he fell in love with this Kiki Dee single when we were both working at WVIC in 1975. Released on Elton John’s Rocket Records label, it barely broke the 80s in the Billboard Hot 100, but inspired Elton to invite her to sing with him on one of his biggest hits, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” the next year. Listen again 44 years later and you have to admit “Once a Fool” has a certain “je ne sais quoi”. Our video is a rare live performance. (Video)


Today’s Quote Worth Re-Quoting:Life’s purpose isn’t seeking happiness. Happiness emerges when we seek life’s purpose.” ~WSW

One more for the road: The Babys had a brief prime in the late 1970s with two hits that cracked the Billboard Hot 100: “Isn’t It Time” and “Every Time I Think of You“. When I was cooling my heels at WATT in Cadillac, Michigan, It occured to me that lead singer John Waite was most comfortable in the key of “G” at 110 beats per minute. Low and behold the two hits were identical in pitch and tempo making it a breeze to splice the verses together, pulling the best of both tunes into one. Click on the media player to hear the finished product.

Thanks for listening!

Scott Westerman
Curator: Keener13.com
Host and Producer – Rock and Roll Revisited
Author: Motor City Music – Keener 13 and the Soundtrack of Detroit