Leno's "reuses" vintage car for arrival at Emmy Show. Photo via Flickr by Alan Light
Curious how Jay Leno, with his auto collection of muscle cars, sports coupes and hot rods, could bring "green vehicles" to prime time network TV. With his mainstream appeal, he might be the last candidate for eco-celebritydom, but the comic/talk show host has been aboard environmental causes as seen on Living With Ed and with his Popular Mechanics' "Green Garage." Now that Conan O'Brien snagged his late-night slot, The Jay Leno Show zooms to 10 pm, changing NBC's line-up. He'll continue the Jay Walk segment illustrating how ignorant Americans are about world geography and current affairs, plus he'll introduce a new feature, the "Green Car Challenge." Sound familiar? With dozens of vehicles in his solar-powered stable (from Harley hogs to Corvettes), it's not surprising he also owns a Tesla, Zero X Electric motorcycle, Eco-Jetcar, and even a 1906 Stanley Steamer. He restores antiques and vintage buggies and features 28 videos about greening the garage, as featured on treehugger previously.
When announcing details of his upcoming prime-time show, premiering September 14, the car enthusiast revealed to reporters at this week's Television Critics Press Tour plans for a regular automotive segment on his show. Called the "Green Car Challenge," the spot pits celebrities in an auto-race against each other in eco-friendly vehicles on a special track at NBC Studios. Producers are seeking a major manufacture to sponsor it and will feature "high-powered electric cars that are as fast as any racecars," the star added.
Green Speed Racers, an Eco-oxymoron?
It's a "comedy bit," according to the LA Times: "Tom Cruise has already asked whether he could do some practice runs before competing, Leno said. (The host told him practice runs are forbidden.)" Would Paul Newman have asked? The talk show host said it's a way to present guests who "are not good talkers but would be fun" (mentioning Shaquille O'Neal, actress activist Cameron Diaz and speed racer Patrick Dempsey.
Leno claims he's using the BBC series Top Gear as a model. The comic was approached by its producers to host an American version but he declined — perhaps holding out for his own version? He appeared in one of its segment, behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Lacetti during a 1-minute, 48-second race, but lost to Mark Wahlberg.
Sounds a little like a celeb-fueled version of Planet Green's Mean Green Machines which pits alt-fuel vehicles against each other and combustible engines. (Check out the "Red Rock Rumble" on Tuesday night, 8/11 for diesel vs electric Land Rovers.)
Though the love affair with auto racing is hardly compatible with environmental awareness, if it makes a dent in trading hybrids for clunkers, I'm all for preaching to the unconverted.