5:30am PT by Rick Porter
ABC Nabs Latest Nik Wallenda 'Highwire Live' Special
ABC will work without a net — literally — with a live special on the heels of the NBA Finals.
The network will air a live special on June 23 featuring high-wire walker Nik Wallenda and his sister, Lijana. The special, Highwire Live in Times Square, will have brother and sister attempting to cross Times Square simultaneously from 25 stories up. The two-hour special is set to air June 23, a week after a potential Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
"It’s hard enough crossing Times Square on the ground; try it 25 stories up," said ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke. "ABC is the destination for big live events that become cultural moments, and Nik and Lijana will surely create one as they complete this never-before-attempted walk."
The Times Square stunt will be Lijana Wallenda's first high-wire walk since she fell during a rehearsal for another walk in 2017. In the Times Square special, Nik and Lijana will start on either end of the wire — stretched between the One Times Square and 2 Times Square buildings — meet and cross in the middle and finish on the opposite side.
"In 1928, my family performed at Madison Square Garden in the City of Dreams for the first time in the USA,” said Nik Wallenda. "And on June 23, I have the great opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream of my own by paying homage to that performance as we return for my most exhilarating feat yet. I am beyond excited to be able to walk with my sister, Lijana, as she overcomes near-death injuries and continues the Wallenda tradition of never giving up."
Nik Wallenda has starred in a couple of similar specials for Discovery in the past, and they've proven to be big ratings draws. Skywire Live, which aired in 2013 and had Wallenda wire-walking across a part of the Grand Canyon, set ratings records for the cabler. It averaged 8.5 million viewers for the full length of the special and peaked with more than 13 million tuning in for the live stunt.
A year later, Skyscraper Live didn't do quite as well but averaged a still-strong 5.8 million viewers, peaking at 6.7 million as Wallenda did a blindfolded walk between two Chicago high-rises.
The special will be part of a premiere- and event-heavy month for ABC, which will have at least four NBA Finals games beginning May 30 and is rolling out its summer unscripted schedule staring June 9 with Celebrity Family Feud, The $100,000 Pyramid and To Tell the Truth. Scripted drama Grand Hotel is also set to premiere on June 17.
Highwire Live in Times Square is produced by Dick Clark Productions, a division of Valence Media, the parent company of the Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group. The executive producers are Gretchen Eisele, Mark Bracco, Linda Gierahn, David Simone, Winston Simone, Shelley Ross and Nik Wallenda.