The TV Column: G4 pulls this week’s ‘Proving Ground’ after Ryan Dunn’s death

June 20, 2011

The Comcast-owned cable network G4 has pulled this week’s episode of its new reality series “Proving Ground” — and company execs are having discussions about its future — after its star, “Jackass” regular Ryan Dunn, died early Monday morning in a car crash.

Dunn, 34, was driving his 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 near the Philadelphia suburb of West Chester when the car left the road, jumped the guardrail, plunged into a wooded area and burst into flames. Dunn and a still-unidentified passenger were killed, police told the Associated Press.

“The show is off the schedule as of today until we discuss next steps,” a G4 spokeswoman told The TV Column.

Nine half-hour episodes had been shot of “Proving Ground,” which premiered last week. Only 31,000 people watched its debut last Tuesday night.

In the show, the “risk-taking” Dunn and “gorgeous” Jessica Chobot — G4’s descriptions — worked with experts, specialists and prop masters to re-create stunts seen in films, TV shows and video games to see whether they could work in the “real” world. You know, like spinning a web and swinging from it, a la Spider-Man.

A few hours before his 3 a.m. death, Dunn tweeted a picture of himself drinking with two friends; that photo has been yanked. Even so, TMZ founder Harvey Levin said during a live webcast Monday afternoon that the amount of reaction received over the site’s report on Dunn’s death has been “almost unparalleled in the history of TMZ” and that some responses are “not particularly sympathetic” because of TMZ’s report that a friend claimed Dunn was “wasted” when he got behind the wheel.

Police had not said whether alcohol was a factor in the deaths, but they said speed might have been. A 100-foot tire skid marked the spot where the car veered off the road, the AP reported.

The impact of the crash reportedly split the Porsche into several pieces, and Dunn’s body was identified by his tattoos.

“All of us at G4 are shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic news that Ryan Dunn has passed away,” the network said Monday in a statement. “Ryan’s comedic wit and signature no-holds-barred approach made him an incredible talent and his work on G4’s ‘Proving Ground’ was flawless.”

Dunn might also be seen this year in the yet-to-be-released film “Living Will.” In that flick, which has been floating around for a while, Dunn plays Belcher, a “party bum slacker” who “returns from the dead as a mischievous and perverted ghost.”

“Being dead is the best thing that’s ever happened to me — ever,” Belcher says in the flick’s ghoulish trailer, available on YouTube.

But Dunn was best known as a member of MTV’s “Jackass” TV series and movies, becoming a hero to young guys in the 2002 “Jackass: The Movie” when he inserted a toy car in one of his body cavities — the other one where thermometers can go — and headed to an emergency room with a fabricated story about suffering a strange pain after passing out at a frat party.

“The Jackass brotherhood will never be the same,” MTV President Van Toffler said Monday in a statement.

“Today I lost my brother Ryan Dunn. . . . RIP Ryan, I love you buddy,” “Jackass” colleague Johnny Knoxville tweeted Monday afternoon.

Henry to Fox News

CNN senior White House correspondent Ed Henry has jumped ship to become chief White House correspondent for Fox News Channel.

Henry’s hiring is part of additional changes at FNC’s Washington bureau, the cable news network announced Monday. Wendell Goler and Mike Emanuel, who had shared White House responsibilities, have received new assignments.

Goler has been named senior White House and foreign affairs correspondent and will take on additional responsibilities covering the State Department. Emanuel has been named chief congressional correspondent. Also, James Rosen is now chief Washington correspondent, covering “major Beltway stories and how they impact the country,” while Carl Cameron continues as chief political correspondent, covering congressional, gubernatorial and presidential elections for FNC.

Henry’s move is the latest defection of on-air talent from CNN to FNC. In January, John Roberts, who was the latest in a revolving door of CNN’s “American Morning” co-anchors to be removed from that gig, joined FNC as a national correspondent.

Before becoming CNN’s senior White House correspondent, Henry was a CNN congressional correspondent. Before joining CNN, he was a print journalist at Roll Call for eight years, serving as senior editor and a columnist.

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