Archive for April, 2008

17
Apr
08

Gear. Part 2

First of all, the foolishness described in the last post has sat uncomfortably in the back of my stomach since the discovery. You can’t imagine how full of anxiety I was when I realized my blog was in terrible danger of actually being read.

Returning to write second half of this tale in a state of stone-soberness, I’m having second thoughts of divulging any further, but when you label something “part 1”, there’s really no going back, I guess. Be forewarned though that if part 1 was my intoxicated one night stand with Top Gear, this part is the awkward and humbling morning after.

“Top Gear” was coming to the states and I was both delighted and terrified. delighted obviously that I had my favorite show come to my side of the pond in some form, and terrified by what form that would possibly be. This wasn’t the first stab at making a U.S. TG, btw. A pilot was produced and shot, then went away and never spoken about again. From what I know of it, it was terrible. There was no studio audience, the setting was thematically a glorified garage and the hosts were either reality tv vote-offs or 3 3ast 3 3urious extras, people who preposterously think the word “drift” can constitute a type of “race.”

Granted, my opinion doesn’t reflect what’s popular nowadays, but I think I’m coming from the general perspective of the average Top Gear viewer. I digress.

Tracking the bits of information filtering through the internet, I followed the endeavors’ most important facet of just who would be hosting this incarnation. Stately James May, plucky (and nigh-invincible) Richard Hammond, and big daddy loudmouth Jeremy Clarkson are endearing individuals who take us along their journeys. Any show can present a car, speak about it’s features and even give us their opinion of them, but for some reason, the perfect chemical composition of these men, who do a great job individually as well, I should say, is what gives the whole show it’s soul.

There was well documented speculation that celebrities who happened to be established “car guys” would be approached. NBC employee Jay Leno seemed to be the obvious front-runner ( who was approached and to his credit, turned them down), as well as Seinfeld and Patrick Dempsy rounding out the fantasy celeb line-up. who’s fantasy this would be is anyone’s guess, but whatever.

So as speculation was abound as to whom would be chosen for the U.S. version, or “Gear”, as it was said to have been named, I did what any TG fan would do to keep TG away from hosts like Frankie Munez and Ludacris…. I sent them an audition tape.

The idea was, in my twisted head, that it would be my personality and Top Gear knowledge would simply blow them away, and shame them for even considering anyone else. “this is the guy!” they would shout, after popping in the DVD and being mesmerized by my performance, and I would rush home and tell everyone that I had received a voicemail and they wanted me to fly to Cali for further auditioning. the ultra fan would become part of the phenomenon in some spiritually ascended fusion.

The reality turned out slightly different.

After tracking down the correct PR person, I had my sexy editor mention that Elements had an auto writer who would be interested in being involved with the show. Things were excitedly promising at this point as we received enthusiastic responses of what I’m like, and how they’ve spoken with many people but no one really fit the bill. We even had an exchange with one of the directors in charge of the operation, who is responsible for some of the most spectacular original TG footage ever produced. It had all become very real very quickly.

It was time to make the big play of the whole mission, the audition tape. I received a 2 page email with instructions and a questionnaire to answer on camera, which I carried around in my back pocket for the entire week. I gathered Melissa and Victor to help me out and we arranged the Mustang and the Beetle in a rich tableau displaying my seriousness love of quality performance cars and my sense of humor for enduring a VW beetle for god knows how long.

Here’s where the views of the next events may differ, but this is how I felt from here on in. In short, I was powerfully nervous. I was asked to speak about myself, and the things I said didn’t sound interesting to me, the anxiety kept me from breathing, so my speeches were long-winded and came off as such. I focused on trivial things like “what if I should have cut my hair beforehand” or “should I not have worn this sweater?” ( as if everything else had guaranteed my spot on the show, but my hair and sweater would have ruined it.)

As we continued, the excitement that fueled me dwindled. I wasn’t having fun anymore. I was nervous, and my confidence chipped with every try. We tried a change of location, and when we ran out of sunlight, and having rested, we tried a third time in the morning inside my room (the version that was ultimately submitted). It turned out to be the more natural take, but even then, I was worried if it was good enough. I felt like I could have done better, despite giving it my best effort. I’ve performed on stage and have a good long history of speaking in public and developing a comfortableness in the craft, but this time, maybe because I felt it was so damn important, I basically choked.

The tape was sent, and we eagerly awaited a response. We rejoiced when we heard back from our contact saying he’d recieved the tape and sent it to the casting department, and then wished us luck.

and then nothing.

nothing at all. I got into the ritual of checking my emails and phone specifically for any message. I even kept in mind the time difference in California when checking at home, as if the casting director would call towards the end of business hours there. I checked Finalgear first thing every morning, foolishly looking to see if they’ve heard something about me that I haven’t. and after a couple weeks, I consigned myself to the fact that I shouldn’t bother anymore.

I have to say that it was a fun journey up to this part, one full of immensely uplifting hope.

I still check Finalgear first thing, but to see who they’ve finally chosen. every mention of “Gear” fills my stomach with bitterness and dread. I don’t even watch Top Gear as often, if at all because of the experience. as of this writing, they’ve chosen 2 people, Adam Corolla, and some other guy. they’re looking for a third still, but I’m not holding my breath.

-Alex-

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09
Apr
08

D’oh…

This is both a word of caution to you and a reminder for myself not to blog after drinking as you may include a car magazine tip line in your email blast.

“fromAlex K. <B********4@gmail.com>
to….tips@0-60mag.com…”

…brilliant.

09
Apr
08

Gear. part 1

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it happened but I fell in love with “Top Gear” much like a high school student falls mad over the head cheerleader. ( which brings to mind Julie Silver, but that’s a whole other blog). Everyone’s got their favorite shows, be it “Lost” or “Friends” or “Seinfeld”, and I had shows I very much liked, but none I could point to and call my favorite.

So one evening I meandered over to Discovery channel, like I do, and saw possibly the most amazing footage that I could relate to. There were these British guys, three of them, and they decided to see what was faster, public transport or a car. To determine the victor, they decided to race from England to the south of France, two of them using the Eurotunnel or “chunnel“, and one in a car, notably the Aston Martin DB9.

I’m going to say it again: they were racing a train against an Aston Martin DB9. If this does nothing for you, it fuckin’ spoke volumes to me.

So there they go, two men on a series of trains and buses en route to Monte Carlo while a third gentleman speeds towards the south of France in his Aston, and along the way stating how docile the DB9 can be until you really want to put the pedal down, where it erupts in a burst of speed and engine roar, to which the driver says: “This is how you beat the French: by shouting. Raaahh!!” I proceeded to listen to how another of the 3 men stated how he enjoyed his recently purchased used Bentley T2 because he liked, among other things, “the strip of chrome down the bonnet, with the weird, winged ‘B’ thing down the end”.

People romantically speak of love at first sight, but it’s after this episode, the first that I had ever seen, that I truly and completely fell in love with Top Gear.

This instant attraction was immediately preceded with the question, what the hell is Top Gear? Well, to sum up, it’s a show about cars from the UK that decided to produce a season on the Discovery channel here in the U.S.

For the next couple of months, I had a favorite show all to myself. Like a UFO witness, I excitedly raved about a show that races rally cars against bobsled teams at Lillehammer, or had an Apache helicopter maintain missile lock on a Lotus Exige, which, as proclaimed by the presenter, was “ driven by an idiot.”… himself.

This was “Top Gear,” an exciting, funny, cool, self-deprecating, educational, interesting BBC program, and for that brief period in 2005, it became my favorite show in the world. I realize I’ve said this a couple times already, which I do to emphasize how important this show became to me. at the end of it’s run here in the U.S. I frantically Emailed Discovery to find out just when the show would return, to which they replied: (oh yes, I saved this email)

Thank you for your interest in Discovery Channel’s “Top Gear.” The “Top
Gear” series was 15 episodes and ran its pattern.
At this time, there are no plans to continue the series, but if this
changes we will begin sharing a new air date and time. Your comments will
be forwarded to our program management and executives and will be taken
into consideration.

We hope that you continue to tune-in to Discovery Channel for new and
exciting programming, such as the second season of “Deadliest Catch”
on Tuesdays at 9 PM, “Mythbusters” on Wednesdays at 9 PM and some great
stories about survival on Fridays at 9 PM.

The Bastards! the absolute bastards!! You gave me the best show in the world for 15 glorious episodes and then took it away from me, and all you have to say is “hey, check out these guys catching crabs.” I’ve never fed a steady supply of heroin to someone over the course of 15 weeks and revoked it from them, but I imagine my experience would be akin to that.

Fast forward to now. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t watch at least a part of the 10 seasons that have aired in the UK, which I have been forced to acquire through the internet. I read the magazine, I kept up with the hosts, I even learned about Richard Hammond’s near-fatal crash on my Blackberry 3 jobs ago, when I had a more substantial amount of hair. yes, that long ago.

the actual Fark.com headline: Wed September 20, 2006

Sad TopGear presenter Richard Hammond critically injured attempting British land speed record in jet-powered Vampire

I’ve spent a lot of daydream time since then coming up with my own version of “Top Gear,” spending a lot of real time coming up with possible segments and looking up locations of where the show could be based out of. Like a fantasy football team, I’ve carefully researched potential co-hosts for the show over the course of a couple years for the moment where I approach the powers that be and pitch them my own US version of Top Gear.

You can imagine, then, what I had to say about this.

whatever is a die-hard fan to do?

To be continued….