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Posts Tagged ‘Nik Wallenda’

A $250K Road And A Navajo Shrine: Producing Nik Wallenda’s Grand Canyon Walk

Daredevil Nik Wallenda‘s walk across a wire suspended above the Grand Canyon drew massive ratings for Discovery Channel when it aired last month. Now, Variety‘s Brian Steinberg goes behind the scenes to reveal the surprising challenges NBC News’ Peacock Productions faced while producing the broadcast.

Gretchen Eisele, executive producer for Peacock, found herself having to construct a production virtually in the middle of nowhere, a piece of land under the authority of the Navajo nation that was so remote that a trip to a real bathroom required a 15-mile drive. Construcing the road alone cost $250,000, according to Peacock. The team had to secure limited air rights around the site in case a pilot wanted to saunter above and try to get a look during Wallenda’s walk…

Meanwhile, the Navajo were concerned Wallenda’s event might damage an important spiritual shrine, and also expressed concern the nearby Hopi tribe might have authority over other elements of the site, Eisele recounted. Cameras had to be mounted below the tightrope and positions planned in the airspace above and around Wallenda.

While Peacock secured Willie Geist and Natalie Morales to host, the pair had to wake up at 1:30 AM to make the live broadcasts for the east coast, while the hotel the crew was staying at was in a different time zone than the wire walk location, causing confusion. It is quite a read.

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Cable Network Ranker: Week of June 17


Original Summer series and Nik Wallenda‘s Grand Canyon wire walk dominated the cable ratings last week.

On cable news, Fox News was the top channel, placing sixth in primetime among ad-supported cable channels in primetime, and seventh in total day. MSNBC placed 35th in primetime and total day, while CNN placed 39th in primetime and 34th in total day. HLN placed 40th in primetime and total day.
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The Evening Ticker: Forbes, Skipper, Wallenda

  • Discovery will re-air Nik Wallenda‘s wire walk across the Grand Canyon on Sunday at 8 PM. This time, however, Wallenda will watch the walk himself, providing commentary on his thoughts along the way for the program.

The AM Ticker: Malveaux, Promax, Lee

  • CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux, along with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, will report on ALS this week, with a series of specials airing on “CNN Newsroom” Wednesday-Friday. The ALS reports will air at 1 Pm each day. Malveaux’s mother is affected by the disease.

  • Promax/BDA handed out its North American “Promotion, Marketing and Design” awards recently, and just about every network took home at least one. The full list of winners (more than 100) is here.

Ratings: Nik Wallenda Grand Canyon Wire Walk Watched By 13 Million

Photo Credit: Discovery Channel

Daredevil Nik Wallenda‘s live walk across a wire suspended over the Grand Canyon was viewed by 13 million million people on Discovery Channel last night.

10.7 million watched the main event broadcast from 9:10-10:20 PM, culminating with 13 million people tuning in during the walk itself from 9:38-10:01 PM. An average of 8.5 million people were watching the entirety of the special, including the pre-show.

The program was also something of a proxy war between ABC News and NBC News. ABC News produced Wallenda’s last stunt, when he walked across Niagara Falls, with “Good Morning America’”s Josh Elliott and ESPN “SportsCenter’”s Hannah Storm hosting. For the Grand Canyon stunt, NBC News produced the special for Discovery, with “Today’”s Willie Geist and Natalie Morales hosting.

The numbers for Discovery were on par with Wallenda’s last wire walk.

The daredevil’s last TV special, which aired on a Friday night last June on ABC, averaged 10.1 million viewers, peaking at 13.1 million viewers during its final half-hour.

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Kate Bolduan’s High-Wire Walk

Tonight daredevil Nik Wallenda will walk on a wire across the Grand Canyon, live on Discovery Channel. NBC News may be producing the special for Discovery, but that isn’t stopping Wallenda from appearing ion other networks to promote the special.

On Friday, CNN’s Kate Bolduan interviewed Wallenda, and actually got on the high-wire herself. 30 feet above the ground, with no net and no harness.

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NBC’s Willie Geist and Natalie Morales–who are hosting the special–also previewed the walk on “Today.”

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NBC News Produces ‘The Office’ Special

Last night NBC aired the series finale of its sitcom “The Office.” The show, which follows the wacky and touching goings-on at the Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pennsylvania, was never as big a hit as comedies like “The Big Bang Theory” or “Two and a Half Men,” but found a loyal audience large enough to sustain it for nine seasons.

Leading up to the finale, NBC aired a retrospective of the series, featuring interviews with the cast and crew, and video footage from a trip they made to Scranton celebrate the show. An astute reader noticed that the retrospective was actually produced by NBC News, although it didn’t feature any notable news talent.

As strange as it may seem, NBC’s news division–not unlike ABC and CBS–will occasionally be commissioned for specials that are more entertainment than information. Peacock Productions, a production house within NBC News, is producing daredevil Nik Wallenda‘s walk across the Grand Canyon next month on Discovery Channel, just as ABC News produced his walk across Niagara Falls. Still, having the news division produce a retrospective on a show that could easily have been produced by the show’s own staff is sure to raise some eyebrows.

Willie Geist, Natalie Morales Will Host Nik Wallenda Walk Across Grand Canyon

In June, daredevil Nik Wallenda will attempt to walk across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope, live on Discovery Channel. NBC News’ Peacock Productions will be producing the jump, and so NBC “Today” co-hosts Willie Geist and Natalie Morales will be serving as the hosts of the event.

Wallenda announced the addition of Geist and Morales while walking on a tightrope above the audience at Discovery’s upfront presentation in New York yesterday (see the photo to the left). For insurance purposes, he was wearing a harness, “don’t worry though,” he said yesterday. “I won’t be wearing one when I walk across the Canyon.”

Last year ABC aired Wallenda’s walk across Niagara Falls, with “Good Morning America’”s Josh Elliott and “SportsCenter’”s Hannah Storm hosting. The event drew record ratings for ABC. ABC and Discovery were in a bidding war for the Grand Canyon stunt, with Discovery simply making the better offer. NBC, as the producer of the show, will also benefit.

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The Afternoon Ticker: Dow’s Cramer, Columbia’s Coll, Oxford’s Verjee

  • Chris Cramer has joined Dow Jones as head of video operations. The one-time chief of newsgathering at the BBC and, later, head of CNN International, Cramer will oversee an expanded video team at the News Corp. publisher. He’ll report to Dow Jones EIC Gerry Baker.

  • Steve Coll has been named Dean of the Columbia Journalism school. An occasional cable news guest, Coll is an author, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and former Washington Post reporter. He’s been president of The New America Foundation for the last 5 years.

  • CNN’s Zain Verjee is one 15 students to be accepted into a creative writing program at Oxford University. Verjee will continue to anchor her morning show on CNN International as well as continuing to contribute to CNN/U.S.

Discovery Channel To Air Nik Wallenda Grand Canyon Stunt, NBC News To Produce

Discovery Channel has secured the live TV rights for daredevil Nik Wallenda‘s latest stunt: walking across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope. Wallenda announced the stunt on NBC’s “Today” this morning. It was probably not a coincidence, as NBC News’ Peacock Productions will produce live coverage of the tightrope walk for Discovery Channel.

According to Brian Stelter in the Times, ABC was the other bidder for Wallenda’s latest stunt, but Discovery simply offered the better deal. A source close to the program tells TVNewser that Discovery’s offer was “dramatically better” than ABC’s, which included the stipulation that Wallenda wear a safety harness. Discovery is not requiring that Wallenda wear a harness.

The market for live stunt programming continues to be strong. Discovery scored big with live coverage of Felix Baumgartner‘s space jump last October. ABC aired Wallenda’s last stunt in June 2012, when he walked across Niagara Falls. ABC News produced the coverage, which drew the best Friday night ratings in years for the network.

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