It’s pressure time for the celebrity drivers who’ll be racing in this weekend’s Long Beach Grand Prix Pro/Celeb matchup, including Brian Austin Green, who tells us the competition has gotten a lot tougher than when he first competed in the event 13 years ago.
“Then, Sean Patrick Flanery was the only guy who was really fast. Everyone else was kind of bumbling around trying to figure out what they were doing. Now we’ve got a lot of guys who are fast. Keanu Reeves won it last year and he’s back this year, but he comes back as a pro. For last year’s winner, that happens automatically,” explains Green. “So he has to start 30 seconds behind the celebrities. He could still win it, but it would take the fastest guys in the front making that many mistakes, and him making none.
“Adrien Brody is really fast. Jesse McCartney is fast. Adam Carolla’s fast.”
And Brian Austin Green? “I’m happy with the way I’m progressing. I think it’s going to be completely up to the position I end up in after the qualifying runs. If I get in the top four, I think I’ll be in the fight.” The field of 18 celebs also includes Patrick Dempsey, Christian Slater, and Patrick Warburton.
Brian’s girlfriend, the fantastic Megan Fox, will be there to cheer him on. He’s assured her, “It’s surprisingly safe. When I did the race 13 years ago, I totaled a car in practice, but because of all the safety features, I got out of the car and felt fine.”
Last year, Green was talking about doing the race again, but it turned out that with his “Sarah Connor Chronicles” production schedule, he couldn’t commit to the required amount of training time. “So we said, ‘Next year,’ and here I am,” he relates.
He’s gone from sci fi to a 1932 period piece with his April 24 telefilm, “The Wild Girl,” based on the 2005 novel, “The Wild Girl: The Notebooks of Ned Giles, 1932,” written by Jim Fergus. It tells of a mission undertaken by an unlikely collection of wealthy Americans and the Mexican army, to rescue the kidnapped son of a rich Mexican landowner from a rogue Apache group – and the complications that ensue when they come across a wild Apache girl.
“I really enjoyed my character. Coming off ‘Sarah Connor,’ where I played a bold, commanding type person, I was excited by the possibility of playing an understated guy who lacked confidence, which is sort of what he finds throughout the story. It’s not a typical Hallmark Channel movie,” Brian adds.
THE CONTROVERSY LINGERS: Allen Iverson has been a controversial figure throughout his professional basketball career, but never more than after a racially charged incident in high school where he and his friends got into a huge fight with some white teenagers. “Allen and his friends, who were also black, were charged. No whites were charged,” recounts filmmaker Steve James, who is from the same hometown, Hampton, VA. “It blew up into this big trial and became this town’s OJ trial before the OJ thing happened. It was this polarizing moment where you either supported Allen or you did not.” James explores the incident on a more personal level in his newest film “No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson,” premiering tonight (4/13) on ESPN as part of their “30 for 30” film series. “I interviewed more than 30 people, but there were people who didn’t want to participate, including Allen Iverson. I didn’t expect him to participate, though, because of what it’s about. We did talk to a lot of people who were close to him growing up,” he explains.
When asked if the people in Hampton are still affected by the incident, James responds, “The city has moved on but they haven’t forgotten. I found feelings to still be very strong about what happened. Allen has gone on to be a very polarizing figure in the world of sports. He’s one of those athletes that people love or hate. His persona has made it harder for people to forget because they’re constantly reminded of what happened when he’s had these brushes with the law throughout his career. He’s gotten in enough trouble over the years that it continues to fuel that debate about Allen Iverson.” James says his only goal is to make people more aware so these kinds of things so they don’t happen again. “I hope it challenges people to think about race issues. Even though it happened years ago, it’s still something that is important today.”
THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: Some of the most intriguing prospects coming up this pilot season include Debra Messing, playing a conservative pundit (!) who’s written a book called “Democrap” (don’t know you know Ann Coulter will be sorry she didn’t think of that title first?) in ABC’s prospective comedy “Right Vs. Wrong” – with a cast that also includes…Carrie Fisher.
Then there’s pop singer/actress Katharine McPhee, showing up in an NBC pilot called “The Pink House” about a couple of show business wannabes who migrate to West Coast and rent a place right on the beach, intent on making their dreams come true.
And AMC has its “The Walking Dead” zombie series tottering ever so inexorably our way, starring Andrew Lincoln of the big screen “Love, Actually.” It’s drawn from Robert Kirkman’s comic book series about survivors of an apocalypse that’s turned everyone else into zombies. Something tells us it’s the right time for this show.
With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster