The limited series was to film during Ventimiglia’s hiatus from This Is Us. The project was fully cast and staffed; production was about to begin when it was forced to shut down on the last day of prep, March 13, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With Ventimiglia’s window of availability closing, no definitive path to production restart in the U.S. amid a surge of new COVID-19 infections, which makes synching up everyone’s schedules a daunting proposition, a decision was made not to proceed with the series at USA.
UCP, the studio behind the project, will be shopping it with Ventimiglia, who had been on board since Day 1, still attached. The rest of the cast has been released.
“USA is incredibly disappointed to have had to make this decision, as we were so excited about this project and working with Milo, Etan, and everyone involved,” USA said in a statement to Deadline.
Written by Etan Frankel, Evel is based on the story of Evel Knievel (Ventimiglia) as he prepares for his greatest death-defying feat — the historic Snake River Canyon jump. Evel is an exhilarating portrait of a complex man living the American dream, juggling meteoric celebrity and raising a family — and facing the very real probability that his next jump will kill him.
Starring and executive produced by Ventimiglia, Evel hails from McG’s Wonderland Sound & Vision, Charles Roven’s Atlas Entertainment and UCP, a division of NBCUniversal Content Studios. Executive producers are McG, Mary Viola, and Steven Bello of Wonderland Sound & Vision; Alex Gartner, Charles Roven and Topher Rhys-Lawrence of Atlas Entertainment; as well as Ventimiglia and Russ Cundiff via their DiVide Pictures.
USA has been making a shift toward live and unscripted programming and unscripted, joined by scripted event series. Evel, whose demise at the network was first reported by THR, was a prime example of that and was showcased at NBCUniversal’s May upfront-style event, which featured Ventimiglia.
Evel may be the first of a number of films and TV projects slated for summer shoots, during broadcast TV stars’ hiatuses, that will have to be scrapped or pushed by a year.
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