Alex Honnold Scheduled to Climb Skyscraper on Live Television

posted by dpm on 07/24/2013

The Hollywood Reporter reports that famed free-soloist Alex Honnold is scheduled to climb one of the world's largest buildings live on national television. The event is scheduled to take place this coming fall and will be broadcast on the Nat Geo network. For safety reasons, the structure Honnold will climb is being kept secret although it is referred to as, "one of the tallest buildings in the world."

Nat Geo president Howard Owens jumped on the opportunity when the idea was brought to them by Alex stating that it "struck at the very heart of what a National Geographic global television event should be." The stunt will be filmed by the Sender film crew, known for their work with the Reel Rock Film Tour. It will be aired live in a two hour special that will also incorporate pre-recorded segments about Alex, his ability, and his accomplishments leading up to what the Hollywood Reporter calls "the wildest building climb ever attempted."

This TV event will be at least the third live-broadcasted and highly-publicized stunt to take place recently. Felix Baumgartner's October 2012 sky dive from space, in which he broke the sound barrier, was watched by millions. Most recently, Nik Wallenda's tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon broke ratings records for the Discovery Channel.

As the Hollywood Reporter puts it, "In an increasingly time-shifted landscape, such live event specials offer a will-he-or-won’t-he-make-it element that makes for water-cooler TV." It certainly seems that networks looking to break ratings records are giving the audience what they want, and that might be real-life drama that is even more "real" than reality T.V.

Undoubtedly, the event will be viewed by millions but there are certainly some watching this trend in television with a wary eye. It's pretty easy to draw some parallels with Roman coliseum entertainment. As long as our hero gladiator is slaying the lion...everyone is cheering.  

Click the image to watch an excerpt from Nat Geo's "Alone on the Wall," a short documentary about Alex Honnold's free-solo achievements on big walls.