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Arts & Culture

2 Snake River Canyon Jumpers Land A Fox TV Special

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The saga of two groups with competing plans to jump Idaho’s Snake River Canyon has featured quarreling county and city officials, attempts to draw focus from the other, and a lot of smack talk. The melodrama around the jumps of “Big” Ed Beckley and Eddie Braun had reached the reality TV level -- so the next logical step was obviously to make it into reality TV.

Broadcaster Fox told advertisers Monday it had signed a deal with both jump teams and will air both attempts in a TV special this fall, with the working title “Jump of the Century.”

The two teams want to jump the canyon to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Evel Knievel’s famous failed 1974 attempt. Daredevil “Big” Ed Beckley has spent a lot of money on the project including about $1 million to the state of Idaho to lease public land.

“You know when Evel did this, the only things he had in mind were probably a bottle of Wild Turkey, a good looking woman and a big old steak,” Beckley says. “Forty years later we got different values let’s just put it that way. I’m proud to say this money is going to help Idaho schools and stuff like that.”

Beckley adds he also sets a high value on steak and Wild Turkey. He says he wasn’t worried about making the money back. He was confident that he’d eventually land a deal like the one he now has with Fox.

The network has not yet released many details about the special. For example, it’s not yet known if the show will be live (even though that's how Fox pitched it to advertisers), if it will be a competition, or even if the jumps will happen on the same day. It will show the behind-the-scenes drama of both teams as they prepare to jump the nearly 500-feet-deep canyon.

Before the TV deal, Hollywood stunt man Eddie Braun had planned to jump the canyon the first weekend of September, a week before Beckley. Braun was recruited for the jump by Scott Record and Scott Traux. Traux’s father designed the steam-powered rocket Knievel was strapped to in 1974. Braun will use a replica of that, hopefully with the bugs worked out. In 1974, A parachute malfunction sent Kneivel's rocket crashing into the canyon rather than landing on the other side.

Beckley says his apparatus will be much more high tech. He says there’s a motorcycle at the heart of it with multiple rockets attached. He says the farthest he’s ever jumped a motorcycle (no rocket assistance) is 156 feet. At the spot he’ll jump, Beckley says the canyon is 2,300 feet wide.

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