April 22, 2014 10:15am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Discovery to Turn Canceled Everest Leap Into Documentary
Discovery Channel may have canceled its Everest Jump Live but it will turn the footage it has gathered thus far into a documentary exploring the dangers of Mount Everest following a deadly avalanche that claimed 13 lives.
Climber Joby Ogwyn was poised to be fitted with cameras and leap from the summit of Mount Everest wearing a wingsuit jumper fitted with cameras in a live event that was set to air May 11 as well as in 224 countries and territories.
Discovery canceled the jump on April 20 following the April 18 avalanche that claimed the lives of 13 people in the deadliest avalanche on the world's highest peak.
Discovery will now use footage documenting the process gathered from NBC News' Peacock Productions, which would have produced the live jump, for a documentary. The crews were on Everest shooting footage in advance of the special for five nights of live programming that would have culminated with Ogwyn's jump.
The special will document the deadly disaster in Nepal and follow the Sherpa community's response to the avalanche that claimed the lives of 13 Sherpa guides. It's unclear whether the special will be an hour or two hours long, and what level of participation NBC News will have. Discovery is also working to find a fitting Sherpa charity to which it will make a donation and will likely encourage viewers to do the same during the documentary.
Discovery announced Sunday that it has canceled Everest Jump Live following the deadly avalanche. "In light of the overwhelming tragedy at Mount Everest and respect for the families of the fallen, Discovery Channel will not be going forward with Everest Jump Live. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the whole Sherpa community," the network said in a statement.
The cabler's announcement followed multiple tweets from Ogwyn over the weekend during which the daredevil noted that the jump would continue as scheduled and his leap would honor those who were lost Friday by creating a special charity.
Discovery planned to air two hourlong preshows detailing Ogwyn's training, followed by the live two-hour broadcast that would have televised his ascent to the summit and his jump from the top.
Ogwyn's jump was the latest in a growing roster of live stunts that have included Nik Wallenda's Skywire walk across the Grand Canyon and Felix Baumgartner's leap from the stratosphere, both of which delivered massive ratings to Discovery. The network announced this month that Wallenda's next live stunt would follow the so-called "King of the High Wire" attempting to cross Chicago's skyline untethered as part of Skyscraper Live. Discovery and sibling network Science will also televise a live (unmanned craft) moon landing.