Has there been other flubbed spectacles like Opening Capones Basement?

I was thinking back to when I was a kid and Geraldo had been advertising for weeks that he was going to open up Al Capones sealed basement (or whatever the room was) live on national TV and there were warnings that there could be dead bodies, booze, money, guns , porno or any number of scandalous things behind the wall. Be ready for when I open this bitch. Put the kids to bed so they aren’t frightened by porno dead bodies. Here we go…

An empty soda can.

The look on his face was priceless.

Have there been other similar types of flubs like this before or since?

Not on the same level as Jerry Rivers, but I remember a lawn mower company had a promotion that their lawnmower would start (I.e by pulling the chain) first time. They did it on halftime on NFL games so they could convince you it was live by saying "As the Colts lead the Bears 14-3 on two Johnny Unitas touchdown passes, we start our always reliable ACME lawnmower on one start. The first game, it didn’t start. Apparently before halftime they had started it so many times that the carburetor flooded when crunch time came. The next 13 games it started fine.

Academy awards in the 1950s could be hit or miss on ending on time. One ended so early they showed the ending credits several times to fill the air. Another one went so long,winners had to give quick “thank you” instead of reading a telephone book of names.

I seem to recall the Queen was supposed to light some sort of pyrotechnic for the Millennium, but it did not work.

More along the lines of what Paul said and not so much the OP, but there was a major technical glitch in the torch lighting ceremony at the last Olympics. It was painful to watch.

There used to be video of it, but I guess no one has ever posted the 1952 Westinghouse commercial where spokesmodel Betty Furness tried to open a refrigerator, only to encounter a sticky door. Furness did not daintily adlib around it – she reacted just like a housewife would and tried various methods of yanking, shaking, and, as I recall it, hitting, to get the door open.

There was also that whole Ashlee Simpson thing on Saturday Night Live.

ISTR, back when Windows 98 was nearing completion, Bill Gates gave a presentation on it in front of a large audience and it crashed. Windows, not the audience.

Here’s the video. Poor picture and sound quality. Obviously, it’s a kinescope.

“This must be why we’re not shipping Windows '98 yet.”

I’m sure glad they got that BSoD fixed up and released a flawless OS.

Al Capone’s Vault - aka the end of Geraldo’s career. Watched that sucker live and like everyone else around Chicago, I felt ripped off and wanted that hour back.

Oh yeah - I remember looking at it, thinking “Shouldn’t that thing be moving like the others?”

A double blooper - it wasn’t Betty Furness. Subbing for her that evening was June Graham. Video.

That was the beginning of Geraldo’s career. Even though it was totally anti-climatic, it was a ratings blockbuster, and moved Geraldo from the role of journalist (at which he sucked) to talk show host (at which he also sucked), which would provide him greater notoriety. The fight on his talk show where he was hit by a chair launched a decade of talk show mania. I remember people painted a bandage over his nose on the billboards in LA following the fight.

Another flop was Evel Kneivel jumping… almost anything. I wonder if he ever landed safely. He had a big live special arranged where he was going to jump over a pool full of sharks. He insisted on a trial jump before hand, crashed (or course), and the show consisted of the rough footage of that crash and lots of commentary related to an event that would never happen. Unlike Al Capone’s vault, it did nothing for Evel’s career. Then of course there was his failure to jump the Snake River Canyon in a rocket, and the often shown crash following a jump over the Caeser’s Palace fountains in Las Vegas.

Yes, I’m wondering if it could be termed a “flop,” it did what its producers intended: got a big audience to whom many commercials were shown. I watched it too, and I remember Geraldo saying things like, “Who knows what we’ll find in there? Dead bodies, cases of bootleg liquor, bundles of cash–or nothing at all? Stay tuned…” Besides, between the live shots of the workers breaking in, there were lots of interesting little bits on Al Capone, the Chicago gangland of his day, and other pieces of history. I was disappointed that there were no bodies, liquor, or cash, and that “nothing at all” was eventually found, but given the mini-documentaries that it included, I didn’t think the show was bad at all.

I’ll agree on Evel Knievel, especially his Snake River Canyon jump. And didn’t his son Robbie try a jump over part of the Grand Canyon back in the 90s? As I recall, the weather didn’t cooperate and Robbie had to cancel the jump–after an hour or two of live TV. He did the jump a week or two later, again on live TV, but his first “non-attempt” was some time I’ll never get back.

Evel Knievel at least led to Super Dave Osborne, so at least something worthwhile came of it.

The Capone’s vault happened at the nadir of Rivera’s career. It was about the only work he could find. I admit I watched it along with some friends and yeah the ending was a huge letdown. But there were some interesting anecdotes about Capone from Buddy Rogers, actor-musician and third husband of silent screen actress Mary Pickford (the union lasted for 42 years until Pickford’s death). After the popularity and with the rise of trash talk shows as Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones, Rivera found himself in demand.

I People were disappointed in Evel Knievel’s Snake River Canyon jump because they assumed it would be on a motorcycle. Knievel had billed it under the nebulous name “Sky Cycle”. But it didn’t work as the parachute opened way to soon. Of course if you were stupid enough to pay money to see that on closed circuit tv, you deserve it

Super Bowl IV at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans was supposed to have a hot-air balloon race but the balloon marked NFL and carrying a man in a Viking outfit lifted off prematurely, failed to gain attitude and crashed in the stands.

I’ll be honest with you, I could not have imagined that there would have been really anything all that interesting in Al Capone’s vault. But, it was good television.

I guess the biggest one of all might be the Challenger explosion? That was on live TV IIRC, and I cant imagine what it must have been like being at Christa McCauliffes school for the live broadcast when it happened.

A lot of the Super Bowl telecasts could be considered flubbed spectacles. Not only were the halftime shows awful, but the games themselves were often blowouts. How many other TV broadcasts have generated a cult following who watch only for the commercials?

The Titanic safe opening?

There was stuff in there, but it was pretty mundane.


Losing my virginity.

I count it as “spectacle” because the hotel room was full of my friends passed out or screwing on the floor. We had the bed. No, it wasn’t flubbed in the flaccid or premature sense. My flub was that it took me Forever. It was great, but a heck of lot different from what I’d been doing for myself since I was 12.

Not really a spectacle, but I don’t want to miss an opportunity to post my favorite headline. Scientists thought they were able to predict when an earthquake would occur, and people gathered for the event. Nothing happened. This led to the New Scientist headline Everyone came but the earth didn’t move.

Very much a non-event as it has never happened at all. It was the safe from the Andrea Doria.

I always did wonder why everyone thought any bodies would be right there at the wall, did anyone think to dig into the area, which they claimed was a room and would have filled with mud of course being underground. Just taking down one wall I would not expect to find much till the area was excavated, was it? Wouldn’t it be funny if all those things were there, just a few feet in? Also if they were bodies maybe they had been buried in or below the floor of that room too? Didn’t a lot of Chicago folks end up under concrete, yet no one thinks of that???