The genre of high-stakes stunts on live TV is looking to push new boundaries. Australia and U.S. producer Essential Media Group (Saving Mr. Banks, Miracle on Everest) has teamed with daredevil performer Bello Nock (America’s Got Talent) and his Opportunity Nocks, Inc. on Volcano Walk Live. It is envisioned as a live three-hour live primetime TV stunt special featuring Nock in a tightrope walk over one of the world’s most active volcanoes. The project, which marks Essential Media Group’s first foray into the live event space, is aiming for a premiere in late 2019. There is no network attached yet though there are active conversations.
A location for the walk has not been determined. In collaboration with experts, Essential Media and Nock have boiled down the target list of volcanoes to a handful that have been active for up to 100 years and, based on volcanic activity, will decide on the exact location closer to the airdate.
“We have worked tirelessly for more than a year with Bello to put together the best team, including top volcanologists and engineers, to determine how and where to perform this unimaginable high-wire walk,” said Essential Media Group President Jesse Fawcett.
From 2012-2014, three live TV specials of Nik Wallenda’s wire walking over Niagara Falls, across the Colorado River Gorge and between Chicago skyscrapers did well for ABC and Discovery. A decade ago, Wallenda and Nock, who grew up together, actually teamed up together for a double version of the Wheel of Steel act, which they did in the Ringling Brothers production Bellobration. Nock is now upping the ante of dangerous high-wire stunts with Volcano Walk Live.
“It’s what every wire walker says can’t be done. That’s exactly why I am going to do it,” said Nock, who’s known for performing several stunts in New York City including rappelling off of Madison Square Garden and hanging from a helicopter over the Statue of Liberty. He made Time magazine’s list of “America’s Best Artists and Entertainers” in 2001 and his theatrical show, Bello Mania, was nominated for a Drama Desk Award.
Nock is a descendant of the family that founded Switzerland’s Circus Nock in the 18th century and began performing at age 3, playing the baby on the burning house in a “Dumbo” clown routine. At 6, Nock played Michael Darling in the touring version of Peter Pan with Cathy Rigby. At the age of 15, he began performing in the Nock family’s sway poles act. He later performed with his father and three brothers around the United States in an acrobatic troupe before joining New York’s Big Apple Circus, where he became the star attraction in 2000.
Last year, Nock appeared on America’s Got Talent atop a sway pole, shooting himself out of cannon and over a helicopter, as well as on the Wheel of Death.
Essential Media Group’s documentaries include Miracle on Everest and Australia: The Time Traveller’s Guide. Its current slate includes Body Hack, Uncharted with Sam Neill and Living Universe.