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ABC shines light on preparations

Niagara Falls has never been lit up as brightly as it will be tonight.

"As anyone can imagine, it's not an easy thing to light the falls," said John Green, co-executive producer of ABC's live broadcast of daredevil Nik Wallenda's tightrope walk across the falls. "But we can't let anyone miss the action, the experience."

And after months of preparation, Green said the network is more than prepared to give the millions of viewers tuning in just that experience.

ABC will use seven trucks of lighting equipment, the equivalent of 325,000 watts of light, to make Wallenda's walk as visible as possible for viewers. About 15 cameramen will be stationed in helicopters, on zip lines, underneath the falls, and on both the American and Canadian side.

"It's been an elaborate process, but we're ready for the excitement. We're ready for those heart-pumping moments," Green said.

ABC plans three hours of programming from 8 to 11 p.m. The first part will explore the greatest stunts in history, and the legacy of the Wallenda family, whose wild performances date back seven generations. The live broadcast will follow from 9 to 11 p.m, and will be hosted by Josh Elliot and ESPN's Hannah Storm, featuring people's reactions and the atmosphere of the event.

In order to give viewers ideal camera angles, Green said elevated platforms extending more than 30 feet have been placed for cameramen near the location where Wallenda will mount and dismount.

ABC will be able to communicate with Wallenda throughout the walk by providing him with an earpiece and microphone. But Green said the network wants him to focus on the walk, and will, therefore, speak with him as little as possible.

"We want to respect his concentration," Green said. "This not only requires physical dexterity but mental dexterity, too. He needs to be in the zone. He's no different from an athlete."

ABC requires Wallenda to wear a harness for the event so that nothing catastrophic happens on a broadcast that thousands of families will be watching; this will be the first time he wears one.

But Green said that Wallenda respects ABC's request in order to make it a safe event.

"He understands why we'd be concerned," Green said, "and it'll still be a great story."