NBC has pedal to the metal with "Top Gear" remake

Tue Jan 15, 2008 4:47am EST
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By Nellie Andreeva

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The popular BBC car show "Top Gear" is revving up a U.S. edition.

NBC has ordered a pilot for "Gear," which will be announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit (January 19-27). Casting is under way for hosts. As with the BBC version, it will offer a mix of cars, humor and celebrities.

The pilot will be filmed at a secret location around Los Angeles equipped with a race track and hangar where the show will be filmed in front of a audience.

NBC reality chief Craig Plestis said the network already is getting numerous inquiries from car companies that had heard rumblings about a U.S. remake.

"This is a favorite of all automobile companies as it shows their cars in such a great light," he said.

"Top Gear," which airs on BBC 2, originally launched in 1977 but has gained wider popularity since its relaunch in 2002.

Among "Gear's" popular segments that will be replicated in the U.S. are races where the hosts have to reach a destination using different modes of transportation, road tests, challenges like converting and refurbishing existing cars into anything from a stretch limo to an amphibian and celebrities racing a midsize car. ("American Idol's" Simon Cowell holds the record for fastest lap time with a Chevrolet Lacetti.)

The U.K. show is hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May and also features the Stig, a masked test driver. The U.S. version also will feature a quartet of presenters, including a secret test driver.   Continued...