Discovery’s skyscraper stunt crosses the line if Wallenda doesn’t buckle up

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In today’s Lori’s List, TV critic Lori Rackl previews the Discovery Channel special “Skyscraper Live With Nik Wallenda,” airing at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Nik Wallenda plans to cross the Chicago River on a tightrope suspended 50 stories high for a Discovery Channel special airing live around the world. (You can watch a live stream here.)

The 35-year-old aerialist also intends to walk a high wire between Marina City’s west and east towers. Because that’s not dangerous enough, he’s going to wear a blindfold.

There’s no denying this descendant of the famed Flying Wallendas circus family has mad skills in the balance department. He traversed Niagara Falls on a tightrope and, last year, he crossed a gorge near the Grand Canyon some 1,500 feet above ground.

You know who else was really good at this? His great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda. But that didn’t stop him, at age 73, from suffering a fatal fall during a similar performance in Puerto Rico in 1978.

Unless Nik is forced to wear a harness — something he’s said he doesn’t want to do — we could be tuning in to watch another Wallenda plummet to his death.

I get it: That grave risk is part of the stunt’s morbid appeal. But life is too precious to risk for TV ratings.

I hope he plays it safe, or the only line finer than the one he’ll be walking is the line that separates this from ending in triumph or tragedy.

Follow @lorirackl


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