King of Bling
Miami Heat star Shaquille O’Neal returned as host of the event, emceeing while famous actors, musicians and athletes competed against one another for the “King of Bling” title in the All-Car Showdown, which featured modified current and vintage, celeb-owned GM vehicles.
This year’s “King of Bling” and “Best Interior” titles went to L.A. Clippers forward Corey Maggette for his Blue Raspberry 2003 Cadillac Escalade ESV. Singer Macy Gray won “Best Exterior” for her black 2003 Black Hummer H2 while actress Shanna Moakler won “Best Old School Car” for her Seafoam Green 1953 Cadillac coupe DeVille. Judges participating in the event included actor Michael Clarke Duncan (“The Green Mile,” “The Island”), Frankie Muniz (“Malcolm in the Middle,” “Agent Cody Banks”), Michael Irvin (ESPN’s “NFL Gameday”), and Jim Taylor (General Manager, Cadillac).
GM might think that King of Bling is a play on current slang, but according to Kimatni Rawlins, publisher of Automotive Rhythms Communications, the phrase bling is played out. “People who keep using bling are not in the know,” says Rawlins, who runs the custom campaign “Flip My Whip.” “The GM event is a nice celebrity car show but it’s not one that will give them street cred,” he remarks. So, what’s the new buzz on terminology? “Some rapper will say something and that will be IT,” Rawlins notes.
Any controversy over whether or not bling is played out didn’t keep recording artist Ja Rule and celebrity guests including Ashton Kutcher (MTV’s “Punk’d,” “That 70s Show”), John Singleton (director of “Hustle & Flow”), Gabrielle Union (“Bad Boys II”), Rachel Hunter (“Dancing With the Stars”), Rosa Blasi (“The Grudge”), and Michael Irvin (“The Longest Yard”) from joining sports stars including Kevin Willis (San Antonio Spurs), Will Demps (Oakland Raiders), and Kareem Abdul Jabbar (formerly of the Los Angeles Lakers) for the event. Special performances by Keyshia Cole, Fat Joe, Ciara, and DJ AM entertained the crowd, which included more than 200 children from the Challenger’s Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles.
From Academy-Award winner Adrien Brody and comedian Carlos Mencia to model Vida Guerra and musician Macy Gray, the 2nd annual GM All-Car Showdown was a star-studded success. And to sweeten the pot for each celebrity contestant, General Motors made a $2,500 donation in each participant’s name to the charity of his or her choice. This year’s “King of Bling” winner, Corey Maggette, also received a $20,000 donation to the Corey Maggette Flight 50 Basketball Camp, a non-profit organization benefiting Chicago’s inner city children.
Maggette beat out 24 actors, actresses, musicians, models, and athletes for best-of-show honors. This year’s contestants, and their customized star cars, included:
Adrien Brody (Academy-Award Winner, “The Pianist”) – 2005 Chevrolet Corvette C6
Carlos Mencia (Comedy Central’s “The Mind of Mencia”) – 2003 Hummer H2
Corey Dillon (New England Patriots) – 1966 Chevrolet Impala
Corey Maggette (Los Angeles Clippers) – 2003 Cadillac Escalade ESV
Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) – 2004 Hummer H2
Elton Brand (Los Angeles Clippers) – 2003 Cadillac Escalade ESV
Eric Davis (former L.A. Dodger) – 1966 Chevrolet Stepside Pickup
Eric Dickerson (NFL Hall of Famer) – 2004 Hummer H2
James “Lights Out” Toney (Boxer) – 2004 Hummer H2
Jeremy Piven (HBO’s “Entourage”) – 2006 Cadillac XLR
Kelly Monaco (ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”) – 2005 Saab 9-7X
Macy Gray (Musician) – 2003 Hummer H2
Maria Menounos (former “Entertainment Tonight” correspondent) – 2004 Cadillac Escalade
Michelle Rodriguez (“The Fast and the Furious”) – 2003 Chevrolet SSR
Milton Bradley (Los Angeles Dodger) – 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle
Mr. Cartoon (Street Artist) – 1961 Chevrolet Impala
Musiq Soulchild (Musician) – 2004 Cadillac Escalade EXT
Orlando Jones (“Drumline”) – 1962 Chevrolet BelAir
Sean Avery (Los Angeles Kings) – 2004 Hummer H2 SUT
Shanna Moakler (MTV’s “Meet the Barkers”) – 1953 Cadillac Coupe DeVille
Shaquille O’Neal (Miami Heat) – 2005 Hummer H2
Terrell Owens (Philadelphia Eagles) – 1967 Pontiac Firebird
Vida Guerra (Model) – 1965 Chevrolet El Camino
Willie McGinest (New England Patriots) – 1961 Chevrolet Impala
Oscar winner Adrien Brody, who wowed moviegoers in 2002’s “The Pianist” as a Jewish musician struggling to survive in World-War II Poland, wowed the crowd in Los Angeles with his black 2005 Chevrolet Corvette. The only celeb to drive his own car up the red carpet, Brody worked with customization whiz Kenny Fong of Darkside Motoring in Chatsworth, Calif., to create this black beauty, which was tricked out while the actor was in New Zealand filming "King Kong.” Fong, who also modified Brody’s Hummer H2 last year, didn’t disappoint. Aftermarket OPG parts and a Magnaflow exhaust bring out the gutsy sounds of the V8, while inside, a black-on-black theme with custom speakers behind the head restraints upgrades the sleek interior of this sixth-generation ‘Vette. Dressed in a black leather jacket, black T-shirt, jeans and red shoes, Brody looked every bit the part of the all-American car guy, albeit a high-maintenance one: Apparently a few fingerprint smudges on the C6’s paint job led him to chase down the event crew to clean the car long after it had been parked elsewhere.
Comedian Carlos Mencia makes no apologies for skewering politicians, celebrities and anyone else unlucky enough to find themselves the butt of his jokes on “The Mind of Mencia,” his hit Comedy Central TV show. Likewise, his supercharged 2004 Hummer H2 takes no prisoners, with its extra large sunroof, Monster Max bumpers and one-of-a-kind Monster metal “exoskeleton.” Giant tires and wheels, fitted with outsize Brembo brakes and coated in black powder paint, are set off by roof-mounted custom headlights and a Rancho suspension. The black suede leather interior and carbon fiber dash are best viewed at the top of the automatic motorized step that boosts would-be passengers into the vehicle.
Newly-crowned “King of Bling” Corey Maggette of the L.A. Clippers stole the day, taking top honors as well as “Best Interior” for his 2003 Blue Raspberry Cadillac Escalade ESV. In addition to the custom paint job, the 19-foot long Caddy is tricked out with blue and gray Louis Vuitton fabric, 27-inch wheels, a total of 22 TV monitors, clear Plexiglas seats (the better to view floor-mounted TV screens), and an all-chrome motor. Emblazoned with the logo “Audiobahn,” the ‘Slade is 100-percent HOT. Maggette says the vehicle is his brainchild, and warns that he has plans to follow up with a Cadillac Escalade EXT, which will be “100 times better.”
Eric Dickerson, an NFL Hall of Famer and former Rams star, has a more aggressive form of transportation: an all-black 2004 Hummer H2 tricked out by VIP Custom Motoring of Henderson, Nev. Dickerson’s passion is clearly for on-road entertainment: His Hummer boasts a 12-inch drop-down widescreen high-resolution monitor for watching DVDs and playing video games. More than 80 hours of labor and almost $75,000 went into the customized vehicle, including Ice Blue Pearl custom paint, a lowered suspension kit, chrome handles, gas-powered door openers, rear air vents, and many other unique modifications.
“Entourage” star Jeremy Piven rolled up in his brand-new 2006 Cadillac XLR. On TV, he plays an L.A. talent agent whose clients’ fame is their friends’ fortune. On the red carpet, his fame and fortune have helped fund a sweet mod job by Chip Foose for “Rides” producer Bud Brutsman of BCII in Los Angeles. Piven’s XLR features a dropped suspension, slightly redesigned front and rear ends, new brakes, and a stainless steel roof. Unique wheels and exhaust tips, new air intakes and a two-tone paint job complete the package.
R & B singer Macy Gray won “Best Exterior” with her oversized Hummer H2, which features black glossy paint matched to matte black wheels shod with off-road tires. Big but sleek, Gray’s Hummer, modified by Casa de Cadillac in Sherman Oaks, Calif., took over the red carpet. Host Shaquille O’Neal seemed taken by the Hummer, too. "It's hot, that's mean," Shaq proclaimed. Of the eye-catching H2, judge Michael Clarke Duncan told Gray, “It fits you." Gray, who's making her own inroads into fashion and movies after establishing herself in the music world, relished the fact that "there's nothing else out there like (my Hummer)." Sing it Macy!
Maria Menounos, former correspondent for "Entertainment Tonight" and appearing as the sexy nurse in this year’s film “Fantastic Four,” traded her scrubs for a sleek black number as she escorted her pearl white 2004 Cadillac Escalade down the red carpet. With 22-inch Momo rims and a custom grille, Maria’s ride was all about understated elegance.
Michelle Rodriguez’s bright red 2003 Chevrolet SSR looked “fast and furious” enough to have starred along with her in the 2001 street-racing flick that helped catapult her to stardom. Dressed casually in a white button down and khakis, Michelle laughed along with Corey Maggette on the red carpet, showing that this former star of “Girlfight” is as sweet as she is street.
Milton Bradley, a Los Angeles Dodger and California native, hit a home run with his 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle, a classic muscle car whose deep, throaty roar is loved the world over. This star of America’s favorite game showed he loves American steel, too.
“Overhaulin,” the TV show where old rust buckets are reincarnated as classic showpieces, was the birthplace of actor/comedian Orlando Jones’ 1962 Chevrolet Bel Air. Black outside and bright red inside, Jones’ ride is a sleek testament to the beauty of vintage vehicles. And it’s practical, too. The two child seats in back, made by racecar seat maker Recaro, are a perfect fit for Jones’s young family. And, of course, the kiddie seats are dyed to flawlessly match the rest of the interior.
Shanna Moakler, an actress, model, former Miss USA, and Playboy playmate, may seem an unlikely auto aficionado on paper, but on the red carpet it’s clear she’s a gearhead at heart. Shanna’s 1953 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, painted a retro seafoam green and lovingly restored, is her ‘baby’ in a stable of six Cadillacs. Wearing knee-high heeled boots and a short tunic, the star of MTV’s “Meet the Barkers” reality show claimed “Best Old School” prize of the day. Hubby Travis (of rock band Blink 182) and crew members from their TV show were on hand to film the event.
Philadelphia Eagle and “Catch This” author Terrell Owens holds the NFL record for catches in a single game. He also holds the keys to a 1968 Midnight Blue 1967 Pontiac Firebird. The spotless Firebird, looking as fit as it would have on a showroom floor almost 40 years ago, had a few new touches, such as updated leather upholstery stitched to look vintage. Under the highly polished hood, the V8 engine growled like a true muscle car.
Vida Guerra, an actress/model whose big break came from a photo shoot for FHM magazine, brought her dangerous curves to the red carpet with a 1965 Chevrolet El Camino. Custom-painted cherry red with a flame pattern on the sides done by Pete Santini, the car is as hot as Vida’s native Cuba. Under the hood is a 400-horsepower engine with four-speed automatic custom built for Chevy High Performance magazine.
Photos courtesy of General Motors