Denise Neil

Car dealers' promos adopt the style of 'reality' TV

Apparently, pop culture sells cars. Lately, I've noticed a couple of local car dealerships treading into reality television territory.

One is Eddy's Toyota, who until recently had been producing a series of slickly made webisodes featuring the staff, including owner Brandon Steven, goofing around and doing "man on the street" interviews. The episodes, which also aired on local television, still can be found on YouTube and at

Then, this weekend, Mel Hambelton Ford put on the finale of its "Mel Hambelton Idle." (Get it? Like a car idling?)

The elaborate singing contest, set up "American Idol" style, drew 70 hopefuls, and last night's finals featured two actual "American Idol" contestants — this season's Chris Medina, who made the top 40 of the Fox singing competition, and top 24 finalist Tim Halperin.

Although it was too late to get the winner's name into this column, you can see the winner at the dealership's website,

That person, chosen from a pool of 70 applicants, not only won a new car and $5,000 but also will be the new voice of the ubiquitous "Mel Hambelton Ford" jingle that you can't escape on the radio.

"We're better, we're proving it, you be the judge ..."

Halperin and Medina served as judges for the event, which took place Saturday night at the dealership. They both also performed a couple of songs. Proceeds from raffle tickets sold for a car giveaway at the event went to help Medina's fiancee, Juliana. Her struggles with a brain injury were documented during this year's audition shows.

Although it seems like an odd marriage to me — cars and pop culture — it does appear that those salesman are starting their own underground entertainment trend.

Now if Rusty Eck would just put on a contest, I'd be in. No one does a better impersonation of that dramatic, growly jingle —"Rusty Eck Ford YEAAAHHHHH you can't do better than that," than yours truly.

Is this love?

I can clearly remember 10 years ago being flabbergasted that my favorite hair bands were still alive, well and touring — albeit with shorter hair, in some cases.

A decade later, they're still going. This week, Whitesnake and Warrant are playing a concert at Hartman Arena.

Hair-metal fans will remember Whitesnake for its sultry videos featuring redhead-gone-bad Tawny Kitaen, a model who was married to lead singer David Coverdale and had an uncanny ability to slither around car hoods.

Warrant, they of "Cherry Pie" fame, is now without lead singer Jani Lane (which takes away some of the allure for me) but is still performing some of his greatest songs, including "Heaven."

The bands will appear at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $25, $29 and $45 at