August '05 News Archive

8/31/05 - Does it come in .... camo?
Now it does!  I picked up the latest edtion of  Lee's Toy Review and found a pic (above) of the 1:18 scale Hot Wheels' Batman Begins Batmobile in Camo.  This is the first time I've seen it. 

8/27/05 - My Road Trip to Memphis
Needing some time off from work, I decided to take an impromptu road trip to Memphis, TN.  I've always been a huge fan of Elvis and I had hoped to visit Graceland some day.  Well, I finally got that chance.  My buddy Dennis and I hopped into my car and took a 12-hour drive to Memphis, where I had my first peanut butter & 'nana sandwich.  For more pics and stories, click HERE.

8/27/05 - Recent Finds
I picked up a few new things over the past week.  First, I found the 1:18 scale Hot Wheels "Tumbler" from Batman Begins (above left) at a local hobby store.  It's a little smaller than I imagined, but it's very detailed and looks great sitting next to my other HW Batmobile.  Also, I found the variant Hot Wheels Bat Cycle with Batman riding atop his cycle.  See the comparison below.

And finally, I found Johnny Lightning's "Overtaker" which is obviously the Drag-U-La from The Munsters, but with a different name and a different color scheme.  The car is included in JL's new Classic Plastic series of cars, which features a heavy dose of George Barris designs.  I'll try to find out if JL plans on releasing the "Bodysnatcher" which is also pictured on the card.

8/21/05 - The Gumball Rally
I went to Best Buy today to pick up some DVDs.  I bought both versions of The Italian Job (fairly cheaply, I might add) and I asked if they had The Gumball Rally.  The clerk punched up the title on the computer and to my surprise, the movie is coming out on DVD on August 30th!  I'm embarrassed to admit I haven't seen this one yet.  Fans of The Gumball Rally tell me it's better than The Cannonball Run.  I'm a bit skeptical, but we'll see.  I'm looking forward to getting it and after I watch it, I'll post my review right here. 

UPDATE:  I just finished watching the original The Italian Job (1969) and I now understand why it's on so many Greatest Car Chases lists.  I must've said WOW at least a dozen times.  There were also a few moments where I almost WEPT when I saw what what happened to the Jags, the Aston Martin convertible, and, of course, the 3 Mini Coopers.  I wonder if the Minis are actually capable of accomplishing everything I saw on-screen.  Finally, I laughed out loud at the ending, which was totally unexpected.  For those of you who haven't seen it, I won't ruin it for you, but I will say the ending was a cliff hanger!  (wink wink).  Oh, the DVD featured an interesting bonus feature.  There was one deleted scene that featured the Minis and some police cars performing a ballet.  Though wisely cut from the film, it's fun to watch. 

At the risk of offending fans of the original, I have to admit I found the 2003 remake to be more entertaining and it had a better story, but I'm glad to have finally seen the original.

I'll be out of town the next few days.  I'll see ya when I get back.

8/19/05 - Movies' Greatest Cars
I got home from work today to find a package in my mailbox.  Upon opening it, I discovered it was a DVD copy of Movies' Greatest Cars, sent to me by Brian Waddell Productions in the UK.  I was immediately filled with sadness knowing my interview had been cut out of the program, but the DVD was in my player within minutes.  I have to admit upon watching the program, I've never seen a more thorough, detailed and entertaining discussion of the greatest cars in movie history.  Full of great movie clips, the program focused heavily on the owners of amazing replicas as they counted down the top 30 cars.  My only criticism is that the program could've used more interviews from the actors who performed alongside these car stars (as it's predecessor TV's Greatest Cars did).  UK residents decided which cars would make the list.  Here are the cars that ended up in the top ten:

10) The Love Bug - Herbie ranked surprisingly high on the list, besting the likes of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mad Max's V8 Interceptor and the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters.  I, personally, was happy to see that little VW do so well in the voting, considering he's one of my all-time faves.

9) The Cannonball Run - Although it's difficult to pick just ONE car from this film, I agree this movie ranks among the all-time greatest car films ever made (though fans of The Gumball Rally would disagree).

8) Batman (1989) - The Batmobile from Tim Burton's Batman ranks a little higher on my personal list.  As a matter of fact, on my newest Podcast, I rank this car at number TWO. 

7) Smokey & The Bandit - No top ten list of movies' greatest cars could ever be complete without including the Bandit's Trans-Am.  Two Burt Reynolds' films made it into the top ten?  I applaud the voters.  Well done.  To me, he is the patron saint of car movies.

6) 2 Fast 2 Furious - Wow.  I'm amazed this sequel ranked so highly in the UK.  I found this movie thoroughly enjoyable, but to include it in the top ten?  Maybe they should've only counted the votes of those who shave.  I thought the The Fast & The Furious was a more solid movie, featuring more memorable cars, yet it placed MUCH lower on the list.

5) The Italian Job (1969) - Of course, with UK residents casting the ballots, it's no surprise the original version ranked so highly (effectively knocking Marky Mark's version right out of the top 30).  I'm embarassed to admit I STILL haven't seen the original version yet, but after seeing the clips on this program, I vow to buy the DVD this weekend!

4) Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) - Although I enjoyed the ORIGINAL movie's car chase more than the climactic chase in this remake, I agree that the '67 Mustang Shelby GT 500 is a spectacular car.

3) Goldfinger - Taking into consideration this list was decided by voters in the UK, I'm amazed, appalled and SHOCKED that Bond's Aston Martin DB5 landed at number 3.  I'm really scratching my head here.  In my humble opinion, this car, with all it's gadgetry, is the all-time GREATEST car in movie history and I assumed movie car buffs in the UK agreed.  I assumed WRONG.

2) Back to the Future - The program revealed that the time machine was originally proposed to be a REFRIGERATOR!  Good thing common sense prevailed and a Delorean became one of the best and most memorable movie cars of all-time. 

1) Bullitt - The ten-minute car chase featured in this gritty cop drama propelled a green '68 Ford Mustang Fastback GT390 into the number one spot of movies' greatest cars.  Steve McQueen behind the wheel helped, I'm sure.  I agree the movie features one of the all-time greatest car chases, but this car would rank slightly lower on my personal list. 

For those of you living in the UK, you can catch Movies' Greatest Cars in its entirety on Sky One.  Check your local listings.

To hear my personal list of greatest movie cars, download my second Podcast, which should be available later this week on iTunes.

8/18/05 - Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
I just got back from the Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony held at the State Theatre in Detroit.  Although I was working, it was a fun night.  Inductees this year included Benny Parsons, Danny Foster, Hurley Haywood, Troy Ruttman, Jay Springsteen, Tom Sneva, Tommy Ivo and Holman & Moody.  Sadly, Benny Parsons couldn't attend due to the passing of his father.  He'll accept his award next year. 

In addition to meeting some of the inductees, I got to shake hands with some other legendary racers including Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett, Mario Andretti, Shirley Muldowney and others.  Last night, I actually shared a table with the beautiful and fun Linda Vaughn (who, I found out, had cameos in movies like Stroker Ace and The Gumball Rally).

Probably the highlight of the night for me was meeting actor-turned-drag racer Tommy Ivo.  As a child and teenager, Tommy acted in films with the likes of Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, William Holden and others.  He also appeared in numerous television programs like The Donna Reed Show and Leave it to Beaver.  On the right is a still from the 1964 movie Bikini Beach, in which Ivo did some stunt driving.   Imagine walking away from a career in Hollywood to begin a legendary career as a drag racer!   It's a pretty amazing story and it was a pleasure meeting Tommy.  Check out his body of work by clicking HERE.

Congratulations to all of this year's inductees into the Motorsports Hall of Fame.

8/10/05 - Talking Cars in August
I've been so incredibly busy lately editing videos for the upcoming MotorSports Hall of Fame Ceremony (August 18 in Detroit), but I'm finally able to take a breather and bring you a new edition of Talking Cars.  This month's topics include:  The Dukes of Hazzard (of course), Charawheels #37, The Car, Grease, Batman Begins and more!  Also, to open or not to open...that is the question!  Click HERE and take your mind off these hot August nights.

8/10/05 - EW Ranks the 10 Best Movie Cars!
I received the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly in my mailbox yesterday.  There is a TON of coverage of the new The Dukes of Hazzard movie, including  Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott (and the General Lee) on the cover.  The highlight of the issue, however, is Chris Nashawaty's list of 10 Best Cars in Movie History.  Looking it over, I'm sure it will inspire more angry e-mails than kind ones!  Okay, I agree with some of the cars on the list, like the Bandit Trans-Am, Bond's Lotus Esprit Sub, the Delorean from Back to the Future, the Bullitt Mustang and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (though I'm surprised it landed at #1).  The Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger is NOWHERE to be found, yet the list includes cars from Death Race 2000 and the Pussy Wagon from Kill Bill??????  Very odd choices indeed!  Nashawaty also picked Suzanne Somers' T-Bird over the Ford Coupe and '55 Chevy from American Graffiti.  This guy is just ASKING for it!  We'll definitely discuss this article on our next Hollywood Cars:  The Podcast!

(Come to think of it, I'd LOVE to have the Pussy Wagon in my die-cast collection.... BUT BEST EVER?  I don't think so!)

8/8/05 - Hollywood Cars:  The Podcast!
Podcasting is taking the world by storm!  My buddy Chris has introduced me to the growing phenomenon known as Podcasting.  If you have iTunes on your computer, you can download entertaining radio-style talk shows that you can burn to CD or transfer into your iPod.  With a lot of help from Chris, we've created the Podcast version of this website.  It's called Hollywood Cars: The Podcast and it features me and "Dex Pietro" with Chris providing the engineering.  The first episode features a discussion of my Top 10 Best Car Chase Movies.  Future topics will include car TV shows, car music, car movie reviews, and of course die-cast cars.  And, we'll pick a few e-mails to read on the Podcast as well.   Go to iTunes and download Hollywood Cars: The Podcast today!  Best of all, IT'S FREE!!!

UPDATE:  Here is an e-mail sent to me by Chris:

For the ultra-techy, you can include the link to the feed and suggest they add it to their Podcast aggregator so they can automatically get new episodes.  Here's the link you'll need to give them...

And for the non-techies who don't even want to download and install iTunes, you can point them directly to the .mp3 file to download it straight to their computer, then they can listen to it on the computer, burn it to a CD, etc.  Here's the link to the .mp3 file...

8/5/05 - Movies' Greatest Cars
For those of you living in the UK, I received an e-mail telling me that Movies' Greatest Cars has been pushed back to August 7 at 10pm.  Tune in to Sky One to see the follow up to TV's Greatest Cars which premiered last December. 

UPDATE:  I received some horribly disappointing news last night in an e-mail.  Dennis and I didn't make it into the final cut of the program.  Well, at least we got a fun trip out of it. 

8/1/05 - Wow!  I DIDN'T hate it!
I got to see a sneak preview of the new Dukes of Hazzard movie tonight, and I went in FULLY expecting to hate it.  I mean, how DARE someone try to redo the TV series that holds such a warm place in my heart?  But guess what ...I didn't hate it!  As a matter of fact, I laughed pretty hard throughout most of the film.  But the highlight for me was seeing that beautiful vision up on the big screen.  What an awesome sight!  Wow.  That's right.... I'm talking about THE GENERAL LEE.  Oh yeah, Jessica Simpson was in the movie too, but the CAR was the star.

I still don't agree with the casting choices.  I would've like to have seen Paul Walker play Bo Duke and Danny Devito would've made a perfect Boss Hogg.  But I do have to admit Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott had great chemistry.  The movie was MUCH funnier than the TV series ever was, but it was missing the lovable charm of the original.  Take Rosco P. Coltrane for instance.  On the TV series, James Best portrayed the Sheriff as a bumbling but lovable "bad guy."  You sorta rooted for him in a way.  You even got the feeling Bo and Luke actually LIKED him.  In the movie, Sheriff Rosco had no redeeming qualities.  He was totally unlikable and kinda freakish actually.  So I felt a little something was lacking in the movie.  Now my buddy Dennis, who is a HUGE fan of the TV series, was actually overheard after the movie saying "I loved it!"  So that's really saying something.

For me, the movie shifted into high gear at the start of the Hazzard County Road Rally.  I was grinning like an idiot during the entire race.  The plot, about Boss Hogg's plans to strip mine Hazzard County, was okay, but I could rattle off a dozen Dukes TV episodes that were more intriguing. 

And since the movie was produced by the same guys who did Super Troopers, watch for a few nods to that hilarious movie!  Oh, and be sure to sit through the credits, which not only provided some of the biggest laughs, but also showed that a few more '69 Chargers joined their TV brothers in Hot Rod Heaven.  Ouch.  I'm still cringing. 

In summary, the General Lee was the star of the movie, though the actors provided a lot of laughs, and Jessica was nice eye-candy of course.  Based on the reaction from the audience, I think this movie is going to do quite well at the box office, allowing the General to make the "jump" from small screen stardom to big screen superstardom.  The Dukes of Hazzard opens in theaters on August 5.