by Peter Conradi/Bullet News
Nik Wallenda will be walking a tightrope across the Horseshoe Falls starting on Goat Island in the United States and finishing near Table Rock on the Canadian side. The Niagara Parks Commission says it has a contract with Wallenda agreeing to this route - and this provision in the deal will be enforced, according to Chairwoman Janice Thomson.
"This was his request," Thomson said. "His proposal was to walk from Goat Island to Table Rock. We took that wording directly from what he asked and put it in the contract; it's critical to us that this be honoured."
Thomson said she is surprised to hear Wallenda still speaking in public as if the decision has not been made. He talked for example last week during a visit to an elementary school in Niagara Falls about how weather might influence the choice, or that the position of the falls could be too distracting for him to walk from the U.S. to Canada. But Thomson said those weren't issues when he signed the contract, and that any attempt to deviate from the agreement could be a deal-breaker even at this late date.
"We don't want any more surprises," Thomson said. "I think we would have to say that's not the deal. We are trying to make sure right now that we are all clear on what the deal is. I think we will have to reach ABC to make sure they know what the deal is."
ABC has exclusive rights to the June 15 walk during in a three-hour special beginning at 8 p.m. The American network last week made it clear Wallenda would have to make his attempt wearing a harness that secures him to the wire. ABC has insisted mandatory use of the harness was presented to Wallenda at the very beginning of negotiations, but as few as two weeks ago the daredevil indicated no decision had been made.
ABC is calling the telecast live, but is squeamish about the possibility that Wallenda could fall, and is using a delay in case something goes wrong. It is also generally thought the network wants Wallenda to walk from Canada to the United States. No one from ABC could be reached for comment Thursday and Wallenda didn't return phone calls.
"I plan to watch from somewhere near the end of the wire," Thomson said. "And I know I am going to be on Canadian soil."
Wallenda confirmed Friday morning that his agreement with the Niagara Parks Commission does include a clause for him to walk from the United States to Canada. He still insisted weather could alter that.
Also on Friday, Jeffrey W. Schneider, head of PR for ABC News, said "We made it clear from the beginning that appropriate safety measures would be taken," with regard to the tether idea.
As to when Wallenda will walk, Schneider said, "It's still being worked out. My understanding is the walk would take place in the second hour" of a three-hour television block beginning at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 15. He said he didn't know where the walk would begin, and he wasn't familiar with the NPC's stated contract stipulation.
In terms of ABC's live coverage, Schneider said The Alphabet Net will use "all kinds of camera angles," and "it's going to be a very large live remote" and "a very dramatic nighttime walk."