Daily Podcast: Can NBC Top Top Gear?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
daily podcast can nbc top top gear

After I finish this post, I'm off to the U.P.S. store to post a memory stick of my audition for Top Gear (posted on YouTube here). Thanks in part to the writers' strike, NBC is attempting to fashion a uniquely American version of the highly sarcastic (to say the least) British program. It's important to note that British Top Gear airs on public TV; which is funded by a TV tax. The U.S. version will air on "free" TV, funded almost entirely by advertising. Now I'm not sure how much of GM's $2.1b annual ad spend the peacock network enjoys, but I bet it's a fair old whack. And Ford's no stranger to signing huge checks with the letters "NBC" in the important space. Not to mention Chrysler, Mercedes, BMW, Subaru and the rest of The Truth About Cars fan club. So you gotta wonder about the relationship between my chances and American Top Gear's editorial freedom. My brilliant career aside (as it has been for many years), the idea of a mainstream TV show that "dares" to be critical of crap cars sounds preposterous. But I've still got that Honda-friendly ELO song ringing in my ears. So WTH. I'm sending the stick (not Stig). Wish me luck. And rest assured that while every man may have his price, the ability to tell the truth is mine. I know.. I should be so lucky. Well, guess what? I am.

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  • on Jan 22, 2008

    I agree with the comments that I've read so far. I don't watch Top Gear (or try to, since the BBC doesn't seem to want this show escaping to America) for car information: I watch it for the wit and humor. It's fun to listen to Jeremy poke fun at practically everyone, including the BBC. Hamster adds the energy to the mix (he's probably the closest to what we can expect from an American version), and James May provides both a straight man for many of Clarkson's diatribes as well as the occasional bit of dry humor himself. I just can't imagine a U.S. version with anything approaching what for me is a perfect blend of personallities. I see failure in Top Gear USA's future, but then again, wnat do I know? I like Monte Python.

  • Brian E Brian E on Jan 22, 2008

    My dream cast for an American Top Gear would include RF and ex-TTAC podcaster Jonny Lieberman.

  • Andrew Andrew on Jan 22, 2008

    Robert- To begin with, let it be known that I stumbled upon your website only today, and it looks to be top notch. Please don't take offense from the following: As much as I liked your audition tape, it felt too much to me like you were trying to act like Jeremy Clarkson, but with an American accent. This isn't a bad thing, I think we all pretend to be Jeremy Clarkson every once in a while; after all, the man is brilliant. I do think that an American version of Top Gear would require a unique and outspoken host /similar/ to Jeremy Clarkson, but he would need to develop his own style and appeal with viewers in order to survive in a different (and let's be honest, less sophistocated) market. With that said- Personally, I'm optimistic about this American Top Gear business. I think that while it's a possibility that NBC could ruin the show entirely, BBC Worldwide (who is producing it) could do a bang-up job duplicating a British icon in order to avoid defacing a fantastic franchise. They have a vested interest, clearly. With that said, I think another user had it right when they suggested a type of rotating sponsorship method. If the show was sponsored by multiple car companies in equal shares, then honest reviews could be made as each company has the same financial interest in the show. That is the only bit that worries me though, because I'm sure American (broke) automakers will be quick to pull the plug on financial backing if anything negative is said about their cars. This is one of those things with endless 'what-ifs,' and we'll never really know until the program is launched in the US. I know I'm hoping for the best, anyone else?

  • DaPope DaPope on Jan 23, 2008

    I liked the tape quite a lot. You would definitely be an asset to such a production. However, I agree with most of the posters that it will be a shallow, hollow version of the original - which is quite often what happens with the US translations of Brit TV - "The Office" notwithstanding. Funny about the thoughts of you with a beard. I actually envisioned you like Vinny Vedecci, but wearing a Ferrari jacket. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEtTCYHF2Q0