Fast Cars & Superstars



9:30 p.m. Thursday, June 7, and 8 p.m. Sunday, June 10

If you cross "Battle of the Network Stars" with "The Dukes of Hazzard," here's what you'd get: "Fast Cars & Superstars: Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race." Week after week, celebrities race against the clock and, eventually, each other, but the only records set are for the greatest amount of product placement.

Up until Thursday's premiere and not counting infomercials, I'd never seen a program that plugged one product or another virtually every moment it was on the air. It was enough to give goosebumps to any network sales exec who tuned in to watch this broadcast from Lowe's (ka-ching) Motor Speedway in North Carolina.

In the first round, former quarterback John Elway and surfer Laird Hamilton beat the time of tennis star Serena Williams, bouncing her from the competition. Commentary by Kenny Mayne and Brad Dougherty was consistent with the show's intellectual aspirations. Said Mayne of Elway's speed: "He set a new paradigm, whatever 'paradigm' means."

In future weeks, and at various times, other celebs will don logo-plastered outfits and climb into logo-encrusted cars. Meanwhile, producers and editors will try, without much success, to avoid using the same shots again and again. Viewers will be forgiven for checking on-screen program guides to see if they inadvertently landed at ESPN 6.