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William Fichtner to co-host 'Top Gear America'

It is time for some car talk.

William Fichtner was a very busy man before he arrived in Buffalo to make his directorial debate in the film "Cold Brook." The film has been percolating for some time. I vaguely recall Fichtner telling me about it years ago in an interview in Los Angeles.

Before prepping the film, Fichtner was named one of the hosts of a new U.S. version of the car show "Top Gear" being made by BBC America. The other hosts of "Top Gear America" are drag racer Antron Brown and car journalist Tom "Wookie" Ford.

According to several published reports, Fichtner's show will have eight, one-hour episodes and will be shown on BBC America alongside the British version later this year.

The History Channel carried a previous U.S. version of "Top Gear," but it was canceled.

Fichtner, who grew up in Cheektowaga and went to college at SUNY Brockport State, is known as a car enthusiast who used to attend Lancaster Speedway. He reportedly also is a competitive racer.

According to a source, the new Amazon series "The Grand Tour" may make a brief stop in Niagara Falls during its second season. Tim Clark, Buffalo Niagara Film commissioner, declined comment. But a source said the second season of the car series will start in the New York City area and may eventually make it to the Falls. Season one, which recently premiered on the streaming service, features former "Top Gear" hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

WBFO-FM, the public broadcasting station that carries NPR programs locally, has a decision to make about the future of the popular program "Car Talk," co-hosted by Tom and Ray Magliozzi.

Some stations reportedly are already removing the program. However, NPR will continue to produce "best of" episodes until Sept. 30. And after that, stations like WBFO-FM can continue to air repeats if they wish.

A WBFO spokesperson said the station is reviewing its plans and does not expect to make any concrete decisions until the middle of July. The show continues to air on weekends.

The Magliozzis were known as much for their humor as their help in diagnosing what is wrong with cars and how to fix them.

Tom died almost three years ago at the age of 77. The show stopped airing original episodes a few years before his death, but the show continued to air repeats.

New Channel 2 Hire: Emily Lampa, a New Jersey native who has worked in Maryland and in Florida, has been hired by Channel 2 as an investigative reporter and backup anchor. She was most recently at an ABC affiliate in Salisbury, Md., which is the 144th market in the country.


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