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Hollywood adds horsepower

Mustang appears in 'Legend,' 'Knight Rider'

Ford Motor Co’s Mustang is enjoying a resurgence in Hollywood, landing some pivotal roles.

The pony car is featured in Warner’s “I Am Legend,” with Will Smith racing a red Shelby GT500 through the streets of a deserted Gotham in a 2½-minute opening sequence.

In a coup for the automaker, the car has also been chosen as the new KITT in NBC’s revamp of “Knight Rider,” to air Feb. 17 as a movie-of-the-week and potential series pilot. Customized shape- and color-shifting versions of the car (this time voiced by Will Arnett) replace the iconic Chevy Camaro of the ’80s action series.

And early next year, Ford will roll out a green Mustang based on Steve McQueen’s wheels in 1968’s “Bullitt.” Company’s building 7,700 of the “Bullitt”-branded cars, to tie in with the pic’s 40th anni. WB has a redo of the actioner in the works, which Ford is also eyeing.

The spotlight is usually put on a car when a new version’s hitting dealerships, but the Mustang’s current design bowed in 2005 and a redo’s not expected until 2009.

Ford, though, isn’t surprised at the enduring appeal.

“This is a car that’s never lost its luster since it launched in 1964,” says Alessandro Uzielli, senior adviser for Ford’s global brand entertainment group. “It epitomizes the American muscle car. It sells itself. It’s a genuine movie star.”

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