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Why The Rockford Files Reboot Failed

You might recall a dazzlingly good-looking TV detective who might just take on your case. If and if the money was right and the risk was low enough. James Garner, was Jim Rockford, the star of the acclaimed series The Rockford Files which ran from 1974 to 1980. He was a bit on the sarcastic side, but he’s lovable – and did we mention he’s quite the looker?

The Rockford Files was created by Roy Huggins and Stephen J. Cannell. Huggins, incidentally, was the creator of the show Maverick which also starred Garner. Instead of an Old American West, Huggins wanted his new show to look like detective work in a modern setting.

Rockford is an ex-convict who spent time in San Quentin. He’s wrongfully convicted of those charges and was pardoned 5 years after being mercilessly thrown the book. After his release, he struggles to find work as a PI. He is forced to live residence in a mobile home – doubling as his office – on a Malibu beach.

He doesn’t want to get his hands too dirty or get caught up in conflict. But Jim Rockford has a keen sense for solving cold case files. He is one of the finest sleuths on the Pacific Coast. And he looked darn good doing it in that classic golden Pontiac Firebird of his.

The Rockford Files

So nearly 40 years after The Rockford Files first entered into our cultural zeitgeist. There have been numerous talks of rebooting the classic series. Stick around for the whole video to see why the most recent attempt in 2010 to resurrect the series by NBC went down in flames.

Facts Verse Presents: Why the Rockford Files Reboot Failed

But first, we are going to take a look at some of the more obscure Rockford Files factoids that are sure to be interesting to fans of the series.

Before we dust off our magnifying glasses and start investigating the case, make sure you hit the like button and subscribe to our channel. Tap the bell icon to turn on notifications.

Jim Rockford and James Garner Have the Same First and Middle Names

James Garner‘s full name was James Scott Garner. That probably rings a bell if you are a fan of the series. His on-screen detective character’s full name was James Scott Rockford.

What a coincidence!

Actually not quite, a lot of Garner’s personal life was intentionally incorporated into his persona on the small screen as we will see with the next fact.

The Pontiac Firebird’s License Plate Holds A Special Message

Producers let Garner’s agent customize the plates for the gloriously golden car Jame’s character drove. She went with the tag 853 OKG.

The first set of numbers referred to August 1953, the month Garner scored his first acting gig. The OK stands for his home state of Oklahoma and the G is for his last initial.

Jim Rockford Had The Same Number As The Ghostbusters

As the theme song goes, Who you gonna call?

Well, Jim Rockford evidently.

If you watch the opening credits of The Rockford Files closely, the camera will pan into Jim’s phone right as his answering machine picks up and starts giving his shpiel.

His phone number is written down at the bottom of the phone as 555-2368.

10 years later during an in-film commercial in the movie Ghostbusters advertising the crew’s paranormal services, their number is also listed as 555-2368.

Garner Sued Universal Studios Over The Rockford Files

In an interview with a local paper, James was quoted as saying “You show me anybody who has done enough television as an actor and I’ll show you somebody who is beat to a pulp.”

What Garner was referring to was a suit between himself and Universal over profit shares that took 8 years to finally settle.

He was trying to get 22.5 million dollars out of the studio and he ended up winning the case, although the exact figure of his award was never stated. He seemed pretty satisfied with the results of the case though, so we can assume he took in a sizable chunk of change.

Hey, by the way, did you ever get around to giving us a like and subscribing to our channel?


Warner Brothers Changed Garners Name Without His Permission

James was born in Norman Oklahoma on April 7, 1928. Although he would come to be known by another name, his surname at birth was Bumgarner.

The studio thought that that name was too difficult to say so they credited him as simply Garner. The name stuck and he subsequently legally changed his name to match the bill.

It was a pretty rude move from Warner Brothers considering they never asked him before making the very personal change.

Garner Punched Glen Larson Because He Plagiarized The Rockford Files

James initially made the accusation when he learned that episodes of Magnum PI seemed to have strikingly similar premises to the Rockford Files.

Garner ended up filing a formal complaint with the Writers Guild, which sided in his favor. Larson was deemed to be guilty of intellectual property theft and was fined.

Larson thought it would be best to visit Garner on set to make some kind of amends for his wrongdoing.

But according to Garner himself, when Larson showed up, he punched him so hard that he went crashing through a trailer.

A Spin-Off Was Planned But Never Took Off

The network had plans to launch a spin-off series starring Gandy Fitch, played by Isaac Hayes, and Marcus Aurelius “Gabby” Hayes, played by Louis Gossett Jr., The show would have been called Gabby and Gandy, but after the backdoor pilot was met with lackluster reception, it was re-edited and broadcast as The Rockford Files: Just Another Polish Wedding in 1977.

Another Spin-Off Saw The Light Of Day – Sort Of

The character Richie, played by Dennis Dugan, first appeared in a made-for-TV movie called Richie Brockelman: The Missing 24 Hours. The film was intended to be a pilot for its own series but it wasn’t as successful as NBC had hoped it to be. Instead of scrapping the character, they re-introduced him into the Rockford Files in 1978.

This inclusion eventually led to the short-lived series Richie Brockelman, Private Eye which ran for only 6 episodes that summer and was never renewed.

Besides Dennis Dugan, the only other character from The Rockford Files to appear on Brockelman’s show was Sergeant Ted Coopersmith, played by Robert Hogan.

Rockford Dates A Lot Of Younger Women

In many episodes, our title character gets involved with a female co-star. Oftentimes these lovely ladies are old flames from the past.

Examples of this can be found in the roles of Corrine Camacho, Linda Evans, and Lindsay Wagner. In season 1, we learn that Attorney Beth Davenport is also one of his exes.

Almost all of these cases, the women are significantly younger than Rockford is – typicality surpassing an age gap of fifteen years. In the case of Lindsay Wagner who shows up twice in season 1, James Garner was 21 years her senior.

And now, without further ado, the moment you’ve all been waiting for.

Why The Rockford Files Reboot Was Canceled

In 2010, there was a lot of hype brewing surrounding a Rockford Files reboot. The rumor mills were pumping out all sorts of conflicting information, but what we do know was Dermot Mulroney was taking on the role of James Garner’s character Jim Rockford.

Dermot of course is known for his work in rom coms like My Best Friends Wedding and The Wedding Date and dozens of minor roles in TV shows like Shameless and Arrested Development.

Steve Carell was set to be the producer and David Shore, the creator of House was signed on to be the executive producer.

It was expected for the show to be a shoo-in for the fall line-up, especially with big names backing it. What could have possibly gone so wrong that it would be indefinitely postponed as it did?

Apparently, the pilot was so bad that it could have been considered a criminal act. If Shore and Carell hadn’t been involved with the project, NBC would have pulled the plug on the ill-fated show much sooner than it had.

Michael Watkins directed the pilot. He previously worked on shows like Quantum Leap and NYPD Blue. Those in his circle say that he severely stunted the script with a lusterless and lethargic direction.

Dawn Parouse, from Prison Break fame, was assigned to take control of the day-to-day production of the show. When she saw the first version of the pilot, she did her best to recut the session into something that was more watchable, but that still wasn’t enough to impress NBC execs.

Aland Tudyk and Beau Bridges

Other bits of criticism fell on Dermot Mulroney’s take on Rockford. To be fair, his character is one that is quite personalized and it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the role convincingly.

The show would have co-starred Aland Tudyk and Beau Bridges if it had ever launched, but that dream died about a decade ago. Maybe someday we’ll see a proper Rockford Files reboot, but until then all fans can do is pray and wait.

Well, here we are again at the end of another facts-packed video. Now we want to hear from you. Would you want to see another Rockford Files series be made or are you satisfied with the original? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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