Jackass, MTV’s reality comedy series, came out in October 2000. While the show may not be appealing to most people, they did have a large fan base composed of kids as young as 12 and adults in their mid-30s. After several episodes, multiple feature films, and millions of dollars earned. The franchise was a roaring success for what it is. But did you know a man from Montana sued MTV because of this particular series?
In 2002, Bob Craft legally changed his name to “Jack Ass” as a personal crusade against drunk driving after his broth and a friend died in a car accident. He sued MTV for $10 million in damages claiming that the show was plagiarizing his name.
The Origin of the Jackass Series
Johnny Knoxville was an aspiring actor and writer from Tennessee. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams. At the start, Knoxville would appear in commercials and several minor roles in films and shows. He waited for his big break, but it seemed to be out of reach. This triggered him to make his own breakthrough in the business by writing and pitching ideas to different magazines. Knoxville eventually thought of testing self-defense equipment on himself. This caught the attention of Jeff Tremaine’s magazine; Big Brother.
Big Brother contacted Knoxville and convinced him to do stunts. He tested pepper spray, a stun gun, a taser, and even a 38 caliber gun with a kevlar vest on. The stunts were filmed, and the video entitled Number 2 was released. During this time, Bam Margera was also filming with his group, the CKY Crew. They film stunts, pranks, and skateboarding content with Ryan Dunn, Brandon DiCamillo, Raab Himself, Rake Yohn, and Magera’s family.
CKY’s videos were a hit, and Tremaine was interested. He flew Margera to Los Angeles in 2000 and convinced him that his crew would fit in with the prank series he and Knoxville planned. Saturday Night Live offered to make their series a segment in their show, but the offer was rejected since a bidding war between MTV and Comedy Central started. Needless to say, MTV got the deal.
We just knew there were a bunch of knuckleheads out there who had a very high tolerance for stupidity and pain.Van Toffler, President of MTV
After the MTV deal was final, Tremaine got in touch with Steve-O and had him film some stunts for the show. Ehren McGhehey, Preston Lacy, and Dave England joined the cast as well. (Source: Variety)
Jack Ass versus Jackass
Bob Craft, a resident of Montana, legally changed his name to Jack Ass in 1997 to raise awareness about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol. As he would explain, the act was a personal crusade. His brother and friend were killed in a car crash.
Ass filed a lawsuit against Viacom Inc., claiming that MTV’s show and film Jackass defamed him and sought more than $10 million in damages.
Viacom is liable for injury to my reputation that I have built and defamation of my character which I have worked so hard to create.Jack Ass
Ass could not find a lawyer to represent him, as they did not take him seriously or were too busy to be bothered by a lost cause. He decided to defend himself. Unfortunately, his case was dismissed. (Source: Kahane Law Office)