The following information was provided by the organizers of The Great Grass Race:
A six-team, cross-country race on 5.5 mph Craftsman T110 lawnmowers might not be the kind of heart-in-your-throat reality show you’d expect to launch a new streaming site called Menace Vision.
But in a summer where a crippling pandemic has slowed down everything exponentially, this might just be the bonding experience everyone needs, says show creator/executive producer Denis Oliver, a native of Neuville-les-Dames in France, who will host a launch party with the contestants July 9 in Tarzana.
“I wanted a show that everyone could relate to while also forcing people, including strangers, to work together toward a common objective,” said Oliver. “This long lawnmower ride is a metaphor for our longing to bridge the tremendous distance we feel between each other right now.”
Oliver says he got the inspiration for the three-month race -- which starts at 9 a.m. July 10 in Moorpark -- while watching “The Straight Story,” a David Lynch-directed drama about Alvin Straight, a World War II veteran who travels by lawnmower across Iowa and Wisconsin to visit his dying, estranged brother.
“Mr. Straight can’t qualify for a driver’s license, so he does the trip however he can — like the Argentine man who circumvented a coronavirus quarantine by sailing for 85 days to visit his dying father,” said Oliver. “We have super-fast cars slumbering in the garage with dying batteries as we lament that we can’t visit our loved ones. But the human spirit can triumph over all things.”
And that’s a good thing, because the diverse contestants — who include a hairstylist/pre-law student from Newark, a martial artist from San Francisco and a mom of three boys from Oklahoma — will choose their own courses across the country while wheeling and dealing for food, shelter and even gas.
Although the show will be available on a growing number of platforms including Amazon Fire TV, the Apple App Store and Google Play, Oliver says he created his own site rather than partner with a Netflix or Amazon so he could generate enough revenue for charity and for other shows in development, which include Spice Wars, Under Pressure, Airborne and $$$ Chase — a treasure hunt that starts Aug. 7.