Trucking hits the spotlight in 18 Wheels of Justice

by Jason Cisper

"This time, it's personal."

So says the narrator in the promotional video for 18 Wheels ofJustice, a new Fireworks Entertainment, Inc. series on cable television in 2000. And finally, the good guy is a professional truckdriver.

The show, airing on The Nashville Network on Saturday evenings, sets Michael Bowman (Lucky Vanous) as a cop-turned-trucker who is in hiding from a notorious crime family. After putting the top dog, John Calder (G. Gordon Liddy) behind bars, Bowman's family is murdered. Bitter and seeking revenge, he enters the Witness Protection Program and disappears. "He traded his badge in for 16 tons of high-tech steel," the narrator booms. And with the help of his tech-savvy partner Cie (Lisa Thornhill), he hits the road - saving a life or two along the way.

The series also features Billy Dee Williams as Bowman's former supervisor, who looks out for him as he performs heroic actions (and thus attracting unnecessary attention to himself).

Studio executives are excited about the new show, which began airing in January.

"We were convinced of the staying power of this project," says Adam Haight, president of Fireworks Entertainment. "Pure action series are what the international markets are looking for."

You can't have a television show about a trucking hero without a truck. Enter Kenworth's T2000. The rig is touted by Kenworth as the show's "co-star." And CBS representatives seem to agree.

"Kenworth's T2000 is exactly what we were seeking for a co-star in 18 Wheels of Justice," says Robb Dalton, senior vice president of CBS Enterprises. "We wanted a one-of-a-kind, high-tech rig that showcases actual working technology, not make believe, and the T2000 has exceeded our expectations."

This particular rig, steely-blue with sleek, silver stripes, has perhaps exceeded the expectations of the average T2000. At $200,000, the customized, made-for-television truck costs more than twice as much as some of its more practical brethren. With that kind of an investment, the show's producers say that the truck will become more than just eye candy for background scenery.

Kenworth maintains that the show's hero will be presented as a safe operator. They say it's an opportunity for the trucking industry to get some good PR as well.

"We'll help to provide a positive image of truckers and the trucking industry through the series," says Ed Caudill, Kenworth's general manager and vice president of PACCAR.

"18 Wheels of Justice" began airing on Saturday nights in January. Fireworks Entertainment was scheduled to produce 22 episodes, to be filmed in southern California.