World record holds MIPCOM breathless

David Merlini performs stunt at opening-night party

CANNES -- Hungarian escape artist David Merlini had MIPCOM delegates spellbound as he set a new underwater world record at Monday's opening-night cocktail party.

In full view of about 500 MIP delegates crammed into a back room of the Majestic Hotel, Merlini was lowered into a tank of water where he held his breath for a world record of 20 minutes and 39 seconds before organizers smashed the casing, leaving Merlini to stumble to the ground, blood pouring from his arm.

After taking a few minutes to catch his breath, Merlini told the crowd: "I wanted to keep going to over 22 minutes, like I have managed in my bathtub."

A representative from the Guinness Book of World Records was on hand to bestow Merlini with a certificate to confirm his status as the new world-record holder. The previous record was 17 minutes and 19 seconds.

In recent years, Merlini has attracted worldwide attention with a number of spectacular events. These include spending 33 hours frozen in ice while restrained; hanging strapped in a straitjacket under a speeding helicopter; and being trapped in a burning car and dropped 300 feet.

Mentalist Uri Geller was on hand to introduce and support Merlini in his dangerous endeavor.

Geller is currently on air worldwide with his latest show, "The Successor" (aka "The Next Uri Geller"), which has been bought for the U.S. (NBC); Canada (CTV); Australia (Nine Network); Iceland (365); Turkey (Star TV); Hungary (TV 2); the Netherlands (SBS 6); and all over Pan-Latin America (ANE). A second season is planned for next spring.
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