Have you ever had a loved one pass away, and then something happens in your life and you want to tell them all about it?
Hal Uplinger was a sports producer for CBS, but to me he was Uncle Uppie. He was not only a sports lover, but also a professional athlete. He played basketball for the Baltimore Bullets in 1953-54, but he made his biggest impact in the sports world when he helped pioneer the use of instant replay.
I will never have the opportunity to ask, but I would imagine Hal Uplinger’s biggest accomplishment was in 1985 when he successfully produced the American side of Live Aid and distributed the 16-hour broadcast all over the world.
On July 30th, 2016, Amusement Park Entertainment along with four-time Emmy winner Allen Berman, produced Stride Gum Presents Heaven Sent. It was a live broadcast on Fox where professional skydiver Luke Aikins jumped from 25,000 feet without a parachute or wing suit, and landed safely!
Mostly focusing on traditional advertising in my career, I was honored to work on this historic live event that made the Guinness Book of World Records for the highest skydive without a parachute. After 7 long months of planning, I finally made it to the location in Simi Valley, CA. When I entered the gates of Big Sky Movie Ranch, I had no idea what to expect. After 4 bumpy miles on a dirt road, I finally made it onsite. I was speechless. The number of production trucks was insane … people were on headsets, walkie-talkies, cell phones, and operating cameras and lights.
Event day was busy, the production crew was rehearsing, Luke was doing test jumps, the team was discussing contingency plans, but it was like well-organized chaos. I have never felt so many emotions running through my mind at one time. I felt a sense of accomplishment, a sense of relief that all the hard work and meeting deadlines had paid off, nervousness for Luke, anxious for his family, and scared for the actual event. With all these emotions, I was mostly sad I could not pick up the phone and call my Uncle Uppie. He would have loved to hear about my experience more than anyone and answer all the questions I had …
… How was Live Aid promoted? How much planning went into a 16-hour live event? How did you handle the stress? At any point, did you think the show would not go on-air? How did you coordinate distribution to 155 counties? … There’s so much more I would have asked him…
Thank you Jimmy Smith for believing in me and putting me on this project. If it were not for Heaven Sent, I would have never felt this deeper connection with my Uncle Uppie that I have today. I am more amazed by him than ever and wish I had the opportunity to share my experiences with him. He is forever in my heart.