Article in Austin American-Statesman on making American Daredevils

Article in Austin American-Statesman on making American Daredevils

Posted in American Daredevils, Behind the Scenes, Events, News, Production, Updates

Article in Austin American Statesman about Widespread Creative and making American Daredevils for History Channel

Read today’s article below in the Austin American-Statesman about resident producer and filmmaker Kelly Lipscomb’s journey with Gregory “Dr Danger” Carpenter and Matt Tisdale to create and ultimately produce the new American Daredevils TV Series with Transition Production for History Channel.

Many thanks to Dale Roe at the Austin American-Statesman for his great article here.

Read the original article:

“Austin Daredevil Jumps Cars, Lands on History Channel” by Dale Roe in today’s Austin American-Statesman here!

Austin daredevil jumps cars, lands on History Channel


I am chatting with Austin’s Dr Danger, who is at home recuperating from an accident.

“I jumped an ambulance off of a 12-foot-high ramp into a semi trailer and, uh, it broke one of the vertebrae in my back,” he explains.

+Austin daredevil jumps cars, lands on History Channel photo

Kelly Lipscomb, left, creator and executive producer of History Channel’s “American Daredevils,” poses with Gregory “Dr Danger” Carpenter.

Danger (whose real name is Gregory Carpenter) is the 50-year-old co-creator, star and co-producer of the television series “American Daredevils,” premiering at 9 pm Tuesday on History Channel.

After a childhood spent crashing model cars into each other, taking occasional trips to the emergency room and idolizing Evel Knievel, it’s hardly surprising that the Sacramento, Calif. native would follow that legendary daredevil’s career path.

“The older I got, the more I realized I was a daredevil. It’s kind of like a personality disorder,” he says. “Eventually I just had to face the music and say, ‘I’m a daredevil.’ I don’t know why. Anyone with half a brain wouldn’t be doing this.”

+Austin daredevil jumps cars, lands on History Channel photo

Austin daredevil Dr Danger stars in the new History Channel series, “American Daredevils.” MATTHEW McDERMOTT / A+E NETWORKS

He first performed in 1989 at a monster truck show, then did car jumps and explosions in the Portland, Ore. area for quite a while. In 2005, realizing it was impossible to hold down a job and also tour as a daredevil, he came to a decision.

“I left in a $200 car and a trailer with my gear and I just haven’t stopped,” he says, laughing. “Going out on a national tour with a $200 car is kind of — talk about a risk! That says daredevil all over it.”

His travels brought him to the Austin area, where he performed at a local dirt track. Promotion and advertising man Kelly Lipscomb, an Austin native, sent a camera operator out to capture footage of the event.

+Austin daredevil jumps cars, lands on History Channel photo

Matt Tisdale (left) and Kelly Lipscomb shoot a segment for History Channel’s “American Daredevils” at Texas Motor Speedway.

“The first thing I saw was so compelling,” Lipscomb remembers. “He looked like Knievel; he had this burned-up red, white and blue jumpsuit on; he comes in front of the camera and he’s like, ‘rock ’n’ roll!’ and he kind of peels off. The next thing I see is this car just flying off his ramp — explosion, big crash into this stack of cars — and I was just intrigued.”

Lipscomb had just invested in professional equipment with the idea of shooting documentaries. When Danger set out to tour in spring 2009, Lipscomb and collaborator Matt Tisdale (also an Austin native and an associate producer for the TV show) joined him.

They planned to create a documentary called “Chasing Danger,” but as filming went on, they realized that the compelling stories of Danger and other daredevils including Mr. Dizzy and Spanky Spangler would make a good television show — the traveling, planning and realization of stunts provided a natural storytelling arc.

They cut a sizzle reel of footage and eventually took it to the History Channel, which ordered a pilot. It was an overnight success four years in the making.

“A lot of people, including girlfriends and family members, thought we were crazy along the way, and there were times we were pretty certain they were right,” Lipscomb admits.

“Doing the TV show was hard work, but it was also a lot of fun,” Danger says. “The stunts are always dangerous, no matter how you slice it. It’s challenging; it takes a lot of guts to do this. Knowing that people are going to see it on TV makes it a little more real.”

Lipscomb and Danger hope that the show will help the daredevil business recapture some of the glory it enjoyed during its ’70s and ’80s heyday. Lipscomb believes the audience for the show is people who grew up loving Knievel — who donned capes and red, white and blue jumpsuits on Halloween and rode their bicycles up homemade ramps.

He is aware that he might face criticism from those who might perceive the show as encouraging a whole new generation to risk life and limb.

“Evel Knievel heard the same complaints in his days — that kids might try to copy his jumps and hurt themselves,” Lipscomb says. “But Knievel always discouraged kids from emulating him. To the contrary, he encouraged kids to stay off drugs and in school, just as one of the characters in our series, Spanky Spangler, encourages kids today to get an education so they don’t have to do what he does. Because it’s dangerous and it’s a hard way to make a living.”

Danger believes the episodes and stunts will become even more fun to create as time goes by. But at 50, how much longer can he go on?

“(Lately my family has been saying) ‘You’re too old now. You’ve gotta be careful.’

After this last accident, I might just say they’re right,” he says. “But I’m not quite ready to call it quits yet.”

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