Thanks to some technical difficulties which were not present when we conducted our tech test about 1.5 hours before its premiere last night at 10:00 pm, we were unable to produce the audio for the live commentary between myself and Kara Dennison as we watched the first episode of the U.S. version of “Top Gear.”
Adam Ferrara: A comedian and actor, his biggest credit to date is starring as Chief Nelson on “Rescue Me.”
Tanner Foust: A stunt driver whose credits include two of the The Fast and the Furious movies, he’s also a rally driver and has competed in the X Games.
Rutledge Wood: He’s the dark horse of the trio, having no major mainstream screen credits to his name, other than appearing on SPEED in a show called “NASCAR Smarts.” This show is so off the radar it doesn’t have its own Wikipedia page.
Now, I’m not the most car-obsessed person in the world and I love original-flavor “Top Gear.” I also loved “Initial D” when I first saw it. And yet something really bothers me about the approach they’re taking in the trailer.
Lemme backtrack a second: German race car driver Sabine Schmitz has been featured on the original “Top Gear” several times; the most recent appearance was in 2008 when she and her two “D Motor” co-presenters took on the lads in a series of crazy races, one of which involved the removal of a prosthetic arm.
The thing I noticed about the German team was that Schmitz seemed to have the most personality and charisma out of the three (and I am willing to concede that perhaps I like her a lot because she’s a female racer). However, all three were pretty fun to watch during the double-decker race because they were as aggressive and crazy as Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May.
These three guys? I don’t get a sense of that kind of craziness, and that’s what keeps people watching “Top Gear.”
But, [Tanner Foust] rocks because he wears his heart on his sleeve. While riding shotgun in a Lamborghini with him around the Las Vegas Convention Center, I told him that fan-boys of the UK series were rooting for this version of “Top Gear” to fail. His first response was viscerally physical. His jaw set, his eyes narrowed behind his sunglasses and he gripped the steering wheel more tightly. For a split second I had a vision of him letting go of the steering wheel and lunging at my neck. Then he explained just how much the concept of Top Gear meant to him.
It was at that moment that I realized he looked so hurt by the comment because the guy’s just like us — a fan-boy.
Anyway, this is going into my DVR, and if all things go right, you may even be able to either read or hear a commentary of the show between me and our U.K. TV expert Kara Dennison.
“Top Gear USA” premieres on the History Channel on Sunday, November 21 at 10:00 pm Eastern/9:00 pm Central and will likely repeat.
If you’re a fan of British author Neil Gaiman’s former monthly comics series Sandman and have always wanted to see a live-action version, then The Hollywood Reporter has news for you.
Over at their Heat Vision blog, reporters Borys Kit and James Hibberd broke the exclusive news that Warner Bros. TV is “in the midst of acquiring television rights from sister company DC Entertainment and in talks with several writer-producers about adapting the 1990s comic. At the top of the list is Eric Kripke, creator of the CW’s horror-tinged ‘Supernatural.'”
That howl you heard around 6 pm Pacific, by the way? Was the wailing and gnashing of teeth of many a mature female comics fan who knows and loves both Sandman and “Supernatural” and knows exactly how Kripke could possibly fuck it all up.
The bit of good news from the blog that all fans are holding onto lies in these two sentences from Kit and Hibberd:
[Neil Gaiman] is not involved in the new developments, though since it is early in the process, that may change. In fact, securing Gaiman will prove key for the project to go forward.
Gaiman, who is currently in the U.K. taking care of business related to his upcoming “Doctor Who” episode, didn’t comment on his Twitter account when the news broke here in the U.S. because he was on a Skype call to the Melbourne Writer Fest in Australia as one of their events. (Damn, don’t you love technology, these days?)
According to James Hibberd at The Hollywood Reporter‘s Live Feed blog, Munn is likely to be taping a few segments over the next few weeks and the response to her bits will determine whether or not she’ll be able to continue on as a regular special correspondent.
I have a love/hate relationship with geeky shows who hire non-geek-aligned women like Munn to host them. Sure, they need jobs like any other women do, but at the same time why not hire a host who has a little more experience in the field and is also attractive? At the same time, I’m glad that Munn was able to book this job because any step forward for Asian-American women in media is a good step, right?
Look for more work by Munn on “The Daily Show” in the weeks to come.
Wheaton: This is the first time I’ve ever been on the stage with a fellow Starship driver. I have never shared the stage with someone who has also driven a Starship.
Burton: And how does it feel?
Wheaton: It feels pretty good. It feels like we could talk in a shorthand that no one would understand or care about.
Frakes: You wouldn’t consider being on stage with Marina [Sirtis, Deanna Troi from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”] being on stage with someone who could drive the spaceship.
Wheaton: I don’t think so.
Burton: She crashed the ship the one time we let her drive, didn’t she?
Frakes: That was a huge mistake.
Wheaton: That was a bad idea.
Burton: Right into a planet, as I recall!
In full disclosure, I haven’t seen all of Star Trek: The Next Generation yet, but if/when I am able to cherry-pick which episodes I watch, “The Outcast” is high on my list, and artist Jess Fink explains why in this comic.
I was really blown away by the frankness of the dialog in this episode too. Apparently Jonathan Frakes pushed for them to hire a male actor to play Soren but the producers didn’t think TV was ready for dude-on-dude action.
I would pay good money to see that episode re-shot the “right” way, wouldn’t you?
Already, Wikipedia is saying that he’s dead, but I believe I’m going to wait a few hours before we report any further.
Our best thoughts are going out to his family and friends right now.
Update: It is with a heavy heart that we type these words to inform you that according to the NY Times blog, USA Today, and The Washington Post, among the other Internet articles posted about this, that Gary Coleman has passed away today, at the age of 42.
An entire generation of geeks grew up with Coleman when he starred in the sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes” as a Harlem youth being raised along with his brother by an rich widower from 1978 to 1986. Other than his signature catchphrase (“Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”) one other thing that Coleman was known for was his short stature, caused by a congenital kidney defect.
After the show’s ended, Coleman found it difficult to get further work in Hollywood and in 1999, he sued his parents over the mismanagement of his trust fun and won. He never really regained the kind of public adoration he had as a child actor, though guest appearances in several TV shows and an unsuccessful run for the governorship of California kept him in the public eye.
Even further exposure was gained when book-writer Jeff Whitty and composers, Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx made Coleman a character in their hit Broadway play Avenue Q, depicting him as a “former child actor” who’s now the superintendent of a run-down building somewhere in Manhattan. (Incidentally, the show’s reaction to his death can be read here.)