Fox has pulled the plug on its planned live special that was going to feature professional stuntman Eddie Braun and daredevil Big Ed Beckley trying to jump across Idaho’s Snake River Canyon to mark the 40th anniversary of Evel Knievel’s failed attempt to leap over the 2,300-foot-deep canyon. Jump Of The Century was supposed to feature the two rivals re-creating the 1974 stunt — one on a rocket and one on a rocket-powered motorcycle. The special, announced at Fox’s upfront presentation in May, was on a tight schedule as the anniversary of Knievel’s stunt is September 8. I hear preparations were moving slow, with some of the contraptions taking a long time to design and build, and the budget was poised to go significantly above the original estimate due to growing production expenses.
The target date for the special was October 27, when the days are shorter and weather often is unpredictable, making lighting and other logistics for a primetime special difficult and expensive to pull off. Some of that was built into the premise — setting such dangerous stunts safely live on TV is hard and expensive. Word is Discovery lost millions and millions of dollars on its Mount Everest jump special, which was cancelled after a deadly avalanche at the summit.
Additionally, because of their bitter rivalry, I hear it has been hard to get Braun and Beckley together. “Due to production timelines and budget concerns, we have decided to not move forward with the Jump Of The Century,” the network said in a statement to Deadline.
Beckley, who last fall acquired rights from the Idaho Department of Lands to reproduce Knievel’s Snake River Jump on the 40th anniversary for a fee of $943,000, announced the setback on his blog and expressed confidence that he and the special’s team will find another media partner:
We received the final word on Tuesday evening the executives at FOX TV have backed away from the Snake River Canyon Jump.
We will not sacrifice safety, our integrity, and our just reward for attempting a real motorcycle jump over the Canyon.
We are now seeking other media partners and we are undaunted by this development because it is in God’s hands. We have followed his lead from the start and whatever he has in store for us, whatever it may be we are along for the ride.
Fox’s decision not to proceed with the special comes days before the arrival of the network’s new programming toppers, 20th TV’s Dana Walden and Gary Newman.