EXCLUSIVE: Discovery Channel, which snared 13 million viewers in June when it telecast Nick Wallenda slowly walking a wire across the Colorado River Gorge while conducting a running dialogue with God and Jesus, will premiere a docu on the controversial life of motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel on October 14. True Evel traces Knievel’s early childhood in Butte, MT, and rise from simple stunt man to American brand, inspiring countless entertainers, a line of toys and even a Marvel Comic by harnessing the power of publicity and marketing with outlandish stunts. The one-hour special will use archival footage and interviews with family, friends and colleagues to document his rise from small-town fairs to sold-out stadiums and infamous jumps, such as the one over the fountains at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, winding up with his final, penniless days. The man marketed as an American hero had another side, Discovery says. “He would [tell] kids — study, go to school, get good grades, treat your mom and dad right,” motorcycle racing star Skip Van Leeuwen says in the docu. “Two hours later, he’d be chasing 15 girls naked around his boat. It was nuts.” True Evel is produced for Discovery Channel by Kowalski TV. Craig Coffman serves as executive producer for Discovery.
An average of 13 million people watched Nick Wallenda slowly walk a wire across the Colorado River Gorge while conducting a running dialogue with God and Jesus last night on Discovery Channel. “Oh, I praise you, Jesus. Lord, help this cable to calm down — command it,” the 34-year-old aerialist suggested a few yards into his quarter-mile “Skywire” stunt. Wallenda was not wearing a harness but had a microphone and two cameras — including one that looked down on the dry Little Colorado River bed and one that was focused dead ahead. Discovery telecast the ratings grab with a 10-second delay in the U.S. and a couple hundred other countries. The two-hour event delivered 8.5 million total viewers — jumping to 13 million during the actual walk.
Note to Wallenda: you might want to re-think the whole “no harness” thing, because the extra dange did not goose your ratings. They were on par with the numbers you clocked for your last made-for-TV high-wire act, crossing Niagara Falls for ABC. That stunt, which ABC aired last June, averaged 10.1 million viewers, peaking at 13.1 million viewers during the walk.
Anyway, Discovery noted this morning Sunday’s stunt shattered records across numerous platforms including social media, where Wallenda generated 1.3 million tweets becoming the #1 most social show across broadcast and cable in the U.S.
For comparison sake: during the 9:30-10 half hour, in which Wallenda was actually walking the wire and clocking 13 million viewers, ABC’s Whodunnit? logged 3.8 million people, CBS’s The Good Wife rerun snared 3.3 mil, NBC’s Crossing Lines bagged 4.2 mil and Fox’s American Dad repeat popped 3.2 mil.