Pay-Per-View Takes a Great Leap Backward With Daredevil Event

There have been some crazy things on pay-per-view television.

There was Jimmy Connors playing Martina Navratilova in a contrived tennis match last September. Before that, there was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar playing Julius Erving in an infamous one-on-one basketball game that attracted all of about 6,000 subscribers nationwide.

Now, along come a couple of motorcycle daredevils, Robbie Knievel, son of Evel, and England’s Eddie Kidd, who will compete in a jump-off at a park in Panama City Beach, Fla., next Friday on pay-per-view.

For anybody addled enough to want to watch this, the going price is $19.95.


“Not bad for seeing somebody kill themselves,” one cable operator quipped.

It’s not exactly a battle-to-the-death kind of thing, but almost. The two will start by jumping at least 130 feet over 22 cars. If each makes it, they will move on to 150 feet over 26 cars, then 175 feet over 30 cars. Then comes one final “challenge” jump.

The winner will be the one with the longest jump.

If one of these wackos crashes and is able to try again, he can. But after a second crash, he’s through.

Usually, daredevil motorcycle jumping is a long, drawn-out affair with the action lasting only a few seconds. But the promoters of this multi-jump event are putting a clock on the competitors. They will have only 10 minutes between jumps.

A miniature camera will be mounted on each rider’s helmet, giving new meaning to the term helmet cam and possibly supplying viewers with an up-close-and-personal look at bones breaking.

And there’s more. A bikini contest will precede the jump-off.

Great, huh? Sex and violence all in one show--for only $19.95.

Race president Bill Burke has long maintained that the Los Angeles Marathon is an international event, and this year it actually is getting international coverage.

ESPN International will pick up Channel 13’s telecast Sunday and send it live to about 75 countries.

WWOR in New York will also pick up the live feed.

The marathon has become a signature event for Channel 13, and the station again is going all out with its coverage.

It will begin at 8 a.m. Sunday, more than an hour before the start of the main race, and end at 1 p.m., long after the top runners have finished. And there will be an encore three-hour telecast Sunday night at 7 p.m.

Barry Tompkins and Larry Rawson return to co-anchor the telecast and will be joined by a supporting cast that includes Katherine Switzer, Toni Reavis, Tony Hernandez, Tom McLoone, who will run along with runners back in the pack; Renee Hambley, who will be stationed at the mile 13 water station, and others.

Channel 13 General Manager Rick Feldman said one new aspect this year will be Dana Adams reporting from a helicopter.

A highlight of the telecast will be a feature to be shown around 10:30 a.m. on Patsy Choco, a cancer victim who will be participating.

Choco and Harry Shabazian, a teacher who started the Students Run L.A. program, are being honored by Channel 13 and KABC radio.

Frank Belmont, a free-lance producer from Oak Ridge, N.J., is back for his second year to oversee the coverage.

Belmont will be going from one extreme to another. After producing Sunday’s coverage of an event that is spread out over 26.2 miles, the following Saturday he will produce the pay-per-view telecast of the light-flyweight title fight between Michael Carbajal and Humberto (Chiquita) Gonzalez at the Las Vegas Hilton.

Tom Kelly, Al Bernstein and Ruben Castillo will announce the Forum-promoted fight.

Exhibition baseball begins today, with the Dodgers playing the New York Yankees at Vero Beach at 10 a.m., PST., and the Angels playing the San Diego Padres at Yuma, Ariz., at noon.

As usual, KABC radio will carry all Dodger spring training games, and KMPC, which in the past carried only weekend games during the spring, now will carry them all.

Today’s noon Angel broadcast will mark the debut of the announcing team of Bob Starr and Billy Sample.

CBS’ Pat O’Brien will examine Jim Harrick’s situation in a piece to be shown at halftime of Sunday’s Michigan State-Michigan game, which begins at 11 a.m. The piece will include a segment with KMPC’s Joe McDonnell and Doug Krikorian.

O’Brien, who keeps busy with CBS sports, “CBS Evening News” and “Entertainment Tonight,” is also the co-host of a new CBS show, “How’d He Do That?” It makes its debut next Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Radio numbers: Latest Arbitron trends show KMPC made significant gains from December to January, going from a 1.1 to a 1.5 in the men 18-plus category.

The good news for the “McDonnell Douglas Show” is it got a respectable 2.2 in men 18-plus in the last trends. The bad news is XTRA’s Lee Hamilton got the same Los Angeles number.

TV-Radio Notes

Saturday’s Santa Anita Handicap will be televised on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” at 5:45 p.m., a three-hour delay. Jim McKay will serve as host, with Dave Johnson calling the race. Why not Trevor Denman? Apparently, the networks just don’t understand that Denman is the best race caller in the business. . . . Santa Anita has contracted an outside company, TeleTurf, to produce the race coverage. TeleTurf is headed by Jim Spence, former No. 2 man at ABC sports to Roone Arledge. Because of Santa Anita’s new $6-million broadcast center, TeleTurf will use 10 of the track’s cameras and only three of ABC’s, an attractive cost-saving for the network.

Although KMPC’s promos make it sound as if the station will be carrying all NCAA tournament games, the station’s game coverage doesn’t begin until the second round. KMPC will have stringers reporting from all 32 first-round games. . . . From Saturday through March 14, during what it calls “championship week,” ESPN will televise 32 basketball conference tournament games, including 25 title games. . . . ESPN will manage to squeeze in a little golf, televising the GTE West Classic from the Ojai Valley Inn and Country Club today at 12:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Jim Kelly will be the host, with Bob Murphy serving as studio analyst. The on-course reporters will be Jim Nelford and Andy North.

Murphy, a victim of migratory arthritis, is one of the topics on CNN’s “Sporting Life With Jim Huber” on Saturday, along with two stories recently reported by The Times. One is about hockey goalie Clint Malarchuk, who has an obsessive-compulsive disorder; and the other is about 48-year-old runner-swimmer Bonnie Frankel, who petitioned the NCAA to be able to compete on the Loyola Marymount cross-country team. Problem with Huber’s show is it is on at 5:30 a.m. on the West Coast. So set the VCR.

The first of four Dodger specials that new Dodger station Channel 5 will carry during March will be on Saturday at 8 p.m. This one, with Vin Scully serving as host, is called “Building on Tradition” and focuses on some of the new players. . . . Channel 5 and KWKW have agreed to simulcast Dodger telecasts in Spanish on a second audio channel on television sets so equipped.

The five Sunday afternoon NHL playoffs ABC has agreed to carry will begin April 18 and run through May 16. They will include two division semifinal games, two division finals and a conference final. . . . NBC might not have to replace Quinn Buckner when he takes over as coach of the Dallas Mavericks next season. The network’s NBA pregame cast that includes Bill Walton and Peter Vecsey would seem to be strong enough to carry the show. . . . Jim Palmer, 47, has replaced Phil Rizzuto, 74, as the Money Store spokesman in television commercials.

Two busy announcers are Paul Sunderland and Bill Seward. Sunderland worked California-Arizona for ESPN on Thursday night, will work both the USC (1 p.m.) and UCLA (5 p.m.) telecasts on Prime Ticket on Saturday, will report on the Kings for “Press Box” Saturday night and has a volleyball assignment for Prime Ticket on Sunday. KNX’s Seward will be doing the sports for Channel 2 this weekend, and Monday he will fill in for Gil Stratton on Channel 56’s “Santa Anita Tonight.” . . . Speaking of busy announcers, KFWB’s Randy Kerdoon keeps raking in the awards, the latest for sports reporting from the Los Angeles Press Club. Kerdoon has won nine awards in the last 14 months.