Leno Turns Down Offer to Host American 'Top Gear'

April 2, 2008

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Let me begin by saying that, when it comes to car-related programming, the BBC's Top Gear stands alone in terms of sheer awesomeness. They pander to no one, they have no qualms about throwing a Zonda sideways around a track at high speeds, and they raced a Bugatti Veyron against a Cessna across Europe.

So when I heard about NBC's decision to pick up the rights to create an American version of the show, I was filled with an abundance of different emotions.

The obvious initial reaction was joy. More Top Gear! And then, concern. Who'll host it? What will they review? Will they target the same "demographic"?

As far as the first question goes, Jay Leno seemed like a no brainer.

But he turned the job down, even though he's retiring from the Tonight Show next year, works for NBC, and is probably the most recognizable American gearhead you could ask for.

The two curve balls Leno threw out there in his response are probably the biggest obstacles facing Top Gear America: corporate sponsorship and clueless producers.

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