Being courageous and daring is as American as apple pie
By Gabrielle Pantera
HOLLYWOOD, CA (Gosh!TV) 2013/10/22 – “They’re more than just thrill junkies and run-of-the-mill stunt men; “ says American Daredevils executive producer Eric Leemon. “These are guys who do this work to support their families and live the American Dream. How many people can say that they love their job so much, that they’re willing to put everything, and I mean everything, on the line to do what they love?”
American Daredevil focuses on Dr Danger, Mr Dizzy and Spanky Spangler. These guys risk life and limb doing a job they love. They dream of being as famous as Evel Knievel.
Dr Danger Fire Stunt
Evel Knievel became famous for his dangerous stunts jumping cars, vans and trucks on a motorcycle. Spanky goes against doctor’s orders after one of his stunts goes wrong.
They are more then daredevils. They follow their own code and life for the thrill and a cheering audience. There is heart in this show as well. Why is it a thrill and what keeps them coming back for more?
“Every stunt has its own element of danger,” says Leemon. “Each one is unique. And, if the utmost care is not paid to even the smallest details, every stunt has the potential go really bad really quick.”
Leeman has produced many docu-reality series: Deadliest Catch, Ax Men, Wild Justice, Pitbulls and Parolees. “All of them are phenomenal shows, but when I first heard about this project, I leaped at the chance without hesitation,” says Leeman. “Why? First off, I grew up on Evel Knievel…had his toys, and pretended to be him while I jumped my huffy bicycle over hay bales when I was a kid. So I can relate to the spirit, the essence of the series. But an even more important reason was the richness of story telling that presented itself. Once I got to know the daredevils, I realized that they are all so relatable in their lives outside of their stunts and shows. They’re ordinary guys in extraordinary circumstances. They face down fear like the rest of us, but they stand up and move forward despite it. That’s inspirational.”
Mr Dizzy Stunt w/ Kneival Shout Out
“The daredevils are such great characters and their stories are so explosive and yet relatable,” says executive producer Kelly Lipscomb. “But I didn’t really expect our little film project to become this big TV series on History Channel, despite the hopes we’d long had for the project. Over three years we spent filming and developing it at Widespread Creative before teaming up with Kevin Harrison and his great staff at Transition Productions to produce the series.”
“The series chronicles the last of the Evel Knievel style daredevils as they put their lives at risk doing incredible stunts all just to make a living and entertain fans,” says Lipscomb. “These guys raise the bar every week and I’ll have great clips to share with you throughout the season.”
“All of the stunts are dangerous as far as we’re concerned when we’re out there filming the daredevils,” says Lipscomb. “Over the course of four years of filming we’ve had quite a few eye-opening things happen. One daredevil nearly bled to death internally after a car crash. He later lost over half his intestines in emergency surgery. Another crashed on a motorcycle on a 420 foot jump at around 110 mph. And so far, two of our daredevils have broken their backs.”
Sometimes it’s as dangerous behind the camera as being a daredevil. “I was hit by a stock car while running a camera a few years back and got lucky,” says Lipscomb. “And my co-producer, Matt Tisdale, almost got taken out by a flying boat while filming one particularly creative stunt. As you will see when our series premieres on History Channel, this is not a business for the weak or the faint of heart.”
“Some people think that daredevils have some death wish,” says Lipscomb. “But what we’ve found in traveling and filming these guys over the years is that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, the daredevils love the thrill that successfully completing a challenging stunt gives them, despite the risks. But they do this because they love performing and traveling the open roads of America, because it gives them a sense of freedom, because it thrills fans and, at the end of the day, it earns them a living.”
“We started out filming Dr Danger four years ago for a documentary film and he was truly a one-of-a-kind character–he was an underdog, a dreamer, but someone who was hell-bent on making his name in the world of daredevils, and he knew a lot about the world,” says Lipscomb. “Because every shoot we went on was full of great stories and always built up to a climactic stunt, we got hooked. As we continued to travel and film Dr Danger, he led us to other great characters and our little film evolved into this big TV series.”
“As a filmmaker out on the open roads with these daredevils, I often thought that what we were doing had a certain Hunter S. Thompson, Gonzo, air to it,” says Lipscomb. “His book, Hell’s Angels, probably wouldn’t be as good if he hadn’t been beaten up in the end by some of the very bikers he’d been riding with.”
Kevin Harrison and Eric Leemon are Executive Producers of the series for Transition Productions. Kelly Lipscomb is Executive Producer of the series for Widespread Creative. Tim Healy and Matt Ginsburg are Executive Producers of the series for History Channel. American Daredevils is produced by Transition Productions in association with Widespread Creative for History Channel.
On the History Channel on Tuesdays at 10pm e/p.