Cowher rides onto reality show
Share with others:
Something along the lines of "American Idle," were there such a thing, might sound more fitting for a middle-aged, recent retiree.
Maybe even a spin on "Dancing with the Ex-Coaching Stars" or "Survivor: Latrobe."
That wouldn't be Bill Cowher's reality-television style, though.
He apparently prefers left turns, 150-mph speeds and a new-fangled, ABC summertime series called "Fast Cars and Superstars: Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race," and we're not making that up.
Barely two months off the Steelers' job, this 15-year head coach and soon-to-be CBS studio analyst went out last week and filmed seven made-for-reality-TV episodes that required him to dress in a blue racing uniform, squeeze into a stock car and vroom-vroom around Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte, N.C.
By contrast, foaming over the Joey Porters of the NFL world seemed appreciably easier, if not safer, right?
This series sprang, of all things, from an advertising campaign starring six NASCAR drivers representing Gillette. Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards and Jamie McMurray participate in the "Fast Cars" series that was taped March 12-14 in western North Carolina, roughly 150 miles from the North Raleigh home Cowher shares with his wife, Kaye, and daughter Lindsay.
Those half-dozen professional drivers were the classroom and on-track teachers for the dozen celebrities who compete in the shaving company's sponsored series: Cowher, 49; former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway (who, at somewhat of an unfair advantage, long owned a line of car dealerships); tennis' Serena Williams; William Shatner of "Star Trek" and ABC's "Boston Legal"; Krista Allen of ABC's "What About Brian"; singer Jewel and her rodeo-champ boyfriend Ty Murray; Fox analyst and former NBA player John Salley; skateboarder Tony Hawk; WWE star John Cena; and volleyballer turned model Gabrielle Reece plus her surfer-husband Laird Hamilton.
Public relations and network flacks declined to comment for the record yesterday, what with ABC yet to formally announce the series. By all accounts, the network is planning to air six half-hour episodes and a one-hour finale, when the victor receives a championship trophy -- no word yet on a parade. "Fast Cars" is tentatively slated as a lead-in to the NBA Finals June 7-23, but such summer scheduling remains fluid.
How Cowher and the rest fared behind the wheel is a closely guarded secret, though he told Charlotte-based WSOC-TV about his high-speed concerns amid taping:
"The only things I'm worried about are those walls. If I can deal with those turns, I mean, [those are] the only things that are the obstacles right now. "
Indeed, Cowher had to follow a fine line, as drivers refer to the shortest, swiftest loop around an oval.
"I'm going to drive it like I stole it," Cena the wrestler said of his NASCAR-ready vehicle.
The celebrities vie in time trials, head-to-head heats and skill competitions, including fastest overall, quickest from zero to 100 mph and, in an event that follows naturally, braking. They also wage a pit-row competition, in contests such as tire-changing.
Gillette, through a spokesman, refused to divulge insurance or liability issues, though all contestants supposedly emerged unharmed.
Phil de Picciotto of the Octagon agency declined to discuss the participation of his Crafton-reared client when reached by telephone yesterday: "I'm not prepared to talk about any of that right now."
According to The Sporting News, the shaving-company sponsor required contestants to appear well groomed in the series. So none of that offseason beard stuff for Cowher. Although, it's plain to see that he already has changed his regimen while between jobs.
First Published March 22, 2007 12:00 am