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Matt LeBlanc named a co-host of gearhead show, ‘Top Gear’

Actor Matt LeBlanc attends Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Actor Matt LeBlanc attends Hollywood Foreign Press Association and InStyle Celebration of The 2016 Golden Globe Award Season at Ysabel on Nov. 17, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Kevork Djansezian

In a career move no one saw coming -- perhaps most of all the guy making the move -- Matt LeBlanc has joined British hit reality show, “Top Gear,” as a host.

He replaces Jeremy Clarkson, the brawling wild man of “Top Gear,” who was fired last year (for brawling). LeBlanc -- the first non-British host in the show’s long history, per BBC America -- will bring a different style.

His news release comment: “As a car nut and a massive fan of ‘Top Gear,’ I’m honored and excited to be a part of this iconic show’s new chapter.”

Make no mistake -- host of gear head series “Top Gear” is one of the most visible and coveted on-air positions in the world, and instantly submits he who holds this particular crown to the steady and white-hot scrutiny of the British press. “Gear” has a big audience here, too, and has for years, although perhaps not necessarily credit due to Clarkson who -- if you believe the reports --was both a lightning rod and lightning bolt thrower, and tossed a few our way on occasion, too. His firing was huge news in the U.K., which had already exhaustively covered his many other controversies, including -- reportedly -- homophobic and racist remarks. He was suspended last March after what was described as a “fracas” with a producer, although the details suggested more of a food fight -- Clarkson was unhappy when he didn’t get the steak he had ordered, and took his displeasure out on the staffer. He was dropped and an uproar ensued -- Clarkson, politically far-right, has a significant following the U.K., still does, and will host a show for Amazon later this year.

LeBlanc of course brings -- presumably -- an extreme, opposite style: Congenial, lighthearted and apolitical, he won’t be Joey Tribbiani, of course, but won’t be Matt LeBlanc of “Episodes” either.

Chris Evans remains -- in the terminology of U.K. TV -- the “lead presenter.” The show returns in May with a very familiar face at the helm, too.

 Here's Evans' statement:  

"Matt’s a lifelong fellow petrolhead and I’m thrilled he's joining Top Gear. Acting out our craziest car notions on screen is a dream job and I know we’ll both be debating some epic road trip ideas. We can’t wait to share what we’ve been up to on screen later this year."


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