Saturday, April 24, 2010

Rutledge Wood To Co-Host US Version Of "Top Gear"


It was one of those concepts in development, but now the Hollywood Reporter is confirming it. A US version of the wildly popular UK Top Gear TV series is coming to the History Channel as that network continues to revamp itself.

Click here to read the entire story. Here are some of the details:

History is teaming with BBC Worldwide Prods. to launch a U.S. version of the series this fall. The network has made a 10-episode commitment to “Gear,” which showcases all-things automotive — customization, stunts, reviews and auto-centric celebrity interviews.

History’s “Gear” will be hosted by comedian and “Rescue Me” co-star Adam Ferrara, stunt driver Tanner Foust and racing analyst Rutledge Wood.

“Top Gear” premiered in the U.K. in 1977, then relaunched in 2002 as a studio-based format. “Gear” is BBC Two’s most-watched program, and the brand has spun-off a magazine and road tour. NBC came close to doing a Stateside version in 2008.

Producers put considerable effort into casting the U.S. version, trying to find the right mix of hosts who would each bring a unique perspective yet mesh well together.


SPEED viewers are familiar with Tanner Foust as the host of the Supercars Exposed series. Click here for Foust's Facebook page that contains bio information and photos.

Adam Ferrara is a veteran comedian currently seen on TV in the Rescue Me series on FX. Click here to visit his official website.

The big surprise for many in this announcement may be Rutledge Wood. A veteran of five years at SPEED, Wood has been the clown and the fall guy for many network stunts. The irony is that when asked to handle NASCAR news reporting or serious hosting duties, he has come through with flying colors. Unfortunately, that is not his role on SPEED.

"Rutledge Wood is to entertainment as the root canal is to dentistry" says a poster in the SPEEDtv.com forums. There is little doubt that SPEED's use of Wood has put him in the "love him or hate him" category for viewers.

Here is a little overview of Wood's background that he offered on the old SPEED website for fans:

I graduated from the University of Georgia in 2002 with a degree in Marketing. First job out of school was working for Country Music Television (CMT) driving a huge truck around the country with their "Most Wanted" tour. Loved the crowds, loved making people smile. Then I spent a year with Clear Channel Communications producing and co-hosting a daily talk show in Mid-West GA. I got up before daylight every day and interviewed interesting people. I sharpened my DJ and mic skills hosting a weekly Karaoke/Comedy show in Newnan,GA at a club called the Alamo. Loved the crowds and making people smile. I started working for SPEED in Feb. of 2005 on the Need for SPEED Road Tour. still love the crowds and making people smile!

There is little doubt that this may be the opportunity of a lifetime for Wood. He has shown his willingness on both SPEED and TNT to play the fool, to be the clown and to work in almost any kind of TV setting.

Those familiar with the UK version of Top Gear know that the banter between the hosts and the willingness of the on-air team to take risks and have fun is the centerpiece of the show. Wood may have just found his niche.

There will be more updated information on this series as it moves forward into production. TDP will follow this project and keep an eye on what NASCAR connections the US-based version of this series may have in store for viewers. Expect Wood to continue his role on SPEED for the time being.

TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

37 comments:

tiamatsrevenge said...

Ummmmmmm ...

Phoenyx said...

Americanizing Top Gear? Really?

This scares me. Badly. Want to know why?

I enjoy Top Gear because it is everything American television isn't. Witty, funny, unPC, brutally honest in opinion at times (these guys can be "No holds barred" at times and I totally love it.

Now they want to take an excellent show, likely water it down, paint it in rainbow bright colors, tone the verbage down because gawd forbid they offend anybody, and probably add some stupid animated mascot to it just do dumb it down even further.

Ever heard of the saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"?

I could be wrong, and the Americanized version will be just as wonderful as its British older brother. If it is, I will publicly apologize, right here on this blog.

Auto Journalist said...

Nothing good can come of this.

The reason TG-UK is so successful, even here in the States, is the brilliant chemistry between Jeremy, Richard, and James.

Nobody has good chemistry with Tanner Foust because, simply put, nothing rhymes with orange. He's an excellent driver, talent beyond his years, but on-screen? I hope they make him the Stig and don't give him any speaking bits.

The big buffoon guy from SPEED? *sigh* Yeah, that's someone I want to see every week, right after I come home from my weekly root canal, because I love being miserable.

The dude from Rescue Me... probably not the worst actor in the world, but Top Gear isn't about actors. It's about the youthful fascination with automobiles and how it carries over into adult and even geriatric age -- witness Michael Gambon.

I hate to sing the death knell for a show that's not even had its pilot aired, but please, History, call it something else.

Vicky D said...

Can't wait to see this show. I don't know the first two people you mentioned but if they work together like the UK folks do, it should be a pretty good show.

pornographicus said...

There is a great tradition of shows that have translated well from the UK to the USA going back at least to All in the Family. A potential problem that the American version will have to overcome is that, in this case, many people will have actually seen the original version.

In general, I wish this show and Rutledge Wood well. I will certainly give it a chance and am looking forward to it much more than I did Madhouse.

On the other hand, revamping itself or not, I still wonder how these types of shows belong on something called The History Channel. >:-(

Anonymous said...

I've loved UK Top Gear ever since BBC America started showing it here in the US a few years ago. I wish History Channel good luck because it will be very, very difficult to come close to the chemistry that the UK version has.

GinaV24 said...

Oh brother, you've got to be kidding? I like Top Gear a lot because its actually funny. I agree with Phoenyx that they will try and "clean it up" so as not to offend and it will lose the charm that Top Gear has. The personalities of the 3 guys on that show just mesh. It doesn't help that I don't find Rutledge amusing at all.

Maybe Rutledge is more than the clown that I've seen on Speed, but so far, Speed has been a real bust for me on finding programming that I want to watch.

sue said...

Rutledge a "racing analyst"? Could have fooled me. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

I've seen Top Gear a few times and found it very funny...however, I don't watch it enough to have picked up on the 'chemistry' of its stars so many are talking about, it just made me laugh a lot. Since the first time I saw Monty Python, I've always liked British humor better than ours. That said, sometimes when they re-do British stuff here, it just doesn't translate, or they change it in ways that makes it less funny. I guess it remains to be seen whether they can pull it off or not.

And I like Rutledge--I know he's a 'love him or hate him' kind of guy, but mostly I think he's good at what he's been asked to do (unlike that Pizzi guy on Fox, who is never even close to funny...)

Tripp said...

This could all be really good, or really bad, and Rutledge probably won't be the deciding factor.

To say that BBC's Top Gear is funny, while true, misses much of what makes the show special. The out-of-studio segments are creatively shot and produced which makes them some of the best looking and sounding productions on TV. Plus, the journeys they take on can be epic. Motorbiking in Vietnam or traversing a desert in Africa, these pieces are spellbinding. Will these too survive the American translation? Hard to know at this point but if they don't, it won't be Top Gear.

There must be something right about picking Rutledge as one of the presenters because the decision was made by people with bigger brains than mine.

I saw Rutledge interacting with the crowd in New Hampshire a couple of years ago during Speed's Race Day show and his affection for crowds was apparent. He spent a lot of time signing autographs, posing for pictures and talking with the folks, all the while with a big smile on his face. Clearly he likes his job. This may be one of the reasons he has been chosen for this. Judging his chances for success based upon his clown act on Speed could be selling him short, very short.

I hope this new venture succeeds as I am a huge fan of Top Gear but I'm cautious. It will be difficult to recreate the lightning-in-a-bottle that is Top Gear.

JohnP said...

LOL.. Since when is this goof-ball been a racing analyst?? Not on this side of the pond. I don't give a damn about his degree, he's nothing but a comedian want-to-be. Not unlike that Pizza dude.

David said...

not a good pick. they need someone funny but not weird funny. the show is awesome as it is from the UK. we dont need an American version of the show

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with Rutledge. He's a very down to earth guy. I've seen him a few times. He isn't a snob or anything. Is this type of show his thing? Have no idea, but we shall see. Maybe it'll be good.

Garry said...

History Channel is swiftly becoming MTV, what with no real history shows or educated content. The continuous dumbing down of America is highlighted by networks such as MTV which no longer show Music videos, History channel no longer showing History, etc. The only channel that lives up to it's namesake is Hallmark. It doesn't dumb down veiwers, and it's content consistently shows that there can be decent, moral programming that doesn't involve class clowns, eating bugs, animated gophers,or thug life glamorized. If SPEED continues the "lifestyle programming", why couldn't they put "Top Gear" on that network? All they would have to do is cancel Unique Thugs or Unique Whips, or whatever it is.

RPM said...

I like the sound of this. Rutledge and Adam will blend well together. I'm not so sure about Tanner. We will see.

I agree that History has drifted away from their format and seems a strange place to air this. But it's no more strange than some of the other shows they are running like Pawn Stars (which I absolutely hate with a passion).

Jeeza said...

The worst decision....in the world.

Anonymous said...

When I read this the only thing I could think was "Why does God hate television so much?" Between Rutledge and that Pizza guy I have come to the conclusion we racing fans are being punished for something horribly evil we've done. Whatever it is, I'm deeply sorry and I hope the beatings end soon.

Anonymous said...

Garry, it has nothing to do with dumbing down (well, that may be the result, but not the intent.) It's, as usual, about money. It's simply cheaper to make this kind of programming than actual drama or, probably to some extent, well done documentaries. It's no different than the networks showing stuff Big Brother intrigue or Gordon Ramsey swearing. A&E used to be 'arts and entertainment'...well, the arts are pretty much gone when your main fare is Kirstie Alley and Billy the Exterminator. I certainly do miss the old History Channel though. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with bringing Top Gear to the US. However, they'll be competing with their own kind. I love the British Top Gear (have watched every episode uncut) and I just don't think the show will fly with current Top Gear fans no matter how much they try to be like the original.

That said, half the reason I watch the show is the trio of characters (One has a sharp whit and was a car magazine writer for years, One knows cars inside and out but is a very bland individual and can't drive a lick, and the other is a pretty boy radio show host that is more worried about his hair and teeth than what he actually says. The one thing in common is that the three guys work well together and THEY KNOW what makes a good car.

The other reason I watch Top Gear is its incredible cinematography. They bring the cars to life with their reviews like no other show. The post-production is well-done and precise.

I'll give this American show a shot, but I don't think this series will ever be as classic as its British counterpart. Plus, it's on History? Hmmmm.....

Sarah Says... said...

Noooooooooooooo!

Top Model maybe, but Top Gear? Nooooooooooooo!

Ann_Ominous said...

The American version of Absolutely Fabulous was a huge flop. They couldn't duplicate the cast's chemistry, plus they cleaned it up.

I bet this is the same.

Anonymous said...

They say this show will be a U.S. version of a beloved car-guy show, with many of the elements that endeared us to the UK version....

And that the three personalities they have chosen, a drifter, a clown and an obscure actor, will be able to match Jeremy, Richard and James' acumen for talking about cars (and driving them - remember Captain Slow going over 200 mph in the Veyron?)despite having little, if any automotive background.....

All I know is that we call it......
A DISASTER!

Kylie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Horrible idea. Top Gear is a fantastic show and nothing good can come of this. American tv producers need to come up with original ideas and stop trying to rip off the Brits.

Anonymous said...

More monkey see, monkey do programming.

Jeff said...

Have never seen the show, and likely never will, RW falls into the same category as the rodent cam and Chris Meyers, I have no interest whatsoever in any of them.

Jimbacca said...

Wow very interesting change.

Adam Corrolla / Faust / Eric Stromer were originally in the project. NBC turned it down. The one exec I talked to said 'Just wasn't the same' so they passed on it. That was '08.

There have been rumors around about history channel for months. Still with Adam involved.

Interesting twist. From some of the supercars exposed I have seen, looks like Tanner has been trying to do some top gear esq type deals.

I don't see it being as brutally honest as the Brits. Brits don't rely on advertising as this show would have to.

But wow rutledge. Sure he's a nice guy but I'm at a loss at the choice.



The uncut top gears are far superior to the hacked ones bbc america puts out there. The driving adventures are pretty epic.

If the cinematography isn't up to the real TG level it will be a waste. Leno passed for a reason and gave pretty sound information on why it won't reach the UK level if it does go into production.

Vicky D said...

How hard can it be to put together an American Version of Top Gear? I think Rut is a very good interviewer and hopefully the other 2 will mesh together with him and it'll be a watchable show. I wonder if they'll have the celebrity driving the track. That's my least favorite part of the show. I can't think of any 3 guys that work so well together than James, Jeremy or Richard. Like I said before, can't wait to see it.

Nan S said...

I agree with those that feel the US version will never be straight talking or critical about any of the cars they test. They would be too worried about future advertisers. Too bad, I was looking forward to it when the first pilot was done about 2 years ago. This cast leaves me cold and sad.

Anonymous said...

...just saying...as someone mentioned, "All in the Family"..."Sanford & Son". Ab Fab is not the only example. Once in a while, it *does* become as big or bigger a success in the US than it did in Britain. Dancing with the Stars is a BBC production. American Idol came from Pop Idol. That said, I cringed at Life on Mars, although it was well done, still didn't translate. I just find it hard to criticize a show that hasn't *aired*.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy, Richard, & James were offered sizeable checks to do the US version, but all DECLINED, with Jeremy saying that there was no way the show could be done on American television because of the advertiser pressures.

Now, they try to foist Rutledge Wood off on us.

Anybody want an over/under on the number of episodes it will take for this ripoff to implode under its own weight?

James W. said...

"Racing Analyst Rutledge Wood"

I found that to be pretty funny.

Auto Journalist said...

"Jeremy, Richard, & James were offered sizeable checks to do the US version, but all DECLINED, with Jeremy saying that there was no way the show could be done on American television because of the advertiser pressures."

It wasn't just that: None of the guys wanted to be faced with moving their families (well, in James' case I don't know what that means), or spending that much time away. Jezza and Hamster both have kids in school, and aren't about to uproot them and move them to America.

What I'd like to see if for BBC-America to do a better job of showing TG here, unedited. If they have to add an extra 30 minutes of commercials, fine, just don't chop up my show and edit-out all the funniest bits!

BBC-A isn't a broadcast network here, it's cable/dish only. This means they're not subject to the same regulation as, say, ABC/NBC/Fox/CBS. They can show James saying "Oh cock," but for some reason it's bleeped most of the time.

Chris from NY said...

Rutledge? The History Channel?

This is going to suck.

Before "THEY" thought of it, I thought an American version of Top Gear would be a great idea. But, never leave a reality show in the hands of the History Channel, or any wrongly-named network for that matter.

Anonymous said...

the rutledge guy is more an entertainment act..and there is no comparison between hub, espn's show and the showtime show inside nascar..inside nascar has great scanner audio and doesn't miss any parts of the race..chris myers does a good job of keeping the analyst reacting to what fans care about...

Anonymous said...

If you ever saw Gordon Ramsey's excellent "Kitchen Nightmares" on BBC and then tried to watch the awful Fox version of the same show, you'll know why this version of "Top Gear" will be a waste of time.

If you haven't, consider that anyone who knows cars and racing already has zero interest in watching Rutledge Wood, and you'll know why you shouldn't waste your time on this show.

Anonymous said...

The Nascar Game Show on Speed has to be the very worst TV program in the history of Television. And Rutledge Wood is the main reason. Besides it being just a stupid show. Top Gear USA. I give it 6 episodes. Then can it. And when will the history channel change it's name ? It has nothing on it about History. Just stupid also.