ABC has found a pair of siblings willing to risk their lives on live television for entertainment.
Nik Wallenda, a.k.a. the “King of the Highwire,” and his sister, Lijana, seventh-generation members of the famed Wallenda family circus troupe, have signed on to attempt to cross New York’s Times Square on a 25-story-high tightrope for a live special to air on ABC next month.
“Highwire Live in Times Square with Nik Wallenda” will air as a live two-hour event on Sunday, June 23. Nik and Lijana will start on opposite ends of the wire, cross in the middle of the 1,300-foot-long walk and finish at the opposite ends of 1 Times Square and 2 Times Square. The special will also include footage of the duo’s history, preparation and exclusive interviews.
The walk marks Lijana Wallenda’s first highwire performance since injuring herself in a 2017 accident in which she and four others fell 30 feet off a tightrope during a rehearsal.
“It’s hard enough crossing Times Square on the ground, try it 25 stories up,” said Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, in a statement. “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.”
“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!”
The Wallenda siblings are the seventh-generation of the so-called “Great Wallendas,” who trace their roots back over 200 years to the Austro-Hungarian empire. Their great grandfather, the legendary Karl Wallenda, brought the family to America from Germany to perform in The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Nik’s previous live televised events include crossing Niagara Falls in 2012 and the Grand Canyon in 2013. He holds 10 Guinness World Records.
“Highwire Live in Times Square with Nik Wallenda” will be produced by dick clark productions. Gretchen Eisele, Mark Bracco, Linda Gierahn, David Simone, Winston Simone, Shelley Ross and Nik Wallenda are executive producers.