Sneed: Will Nik Wallenda’s high-wire walk involve safety net?
BY MICHAEL SNEED April 14, 2014 11:32PM
FILE - In this May 2, 2012 file photo, Nik Wallenda waves to tourists after a news conference in Niagara Falls, N.Y. The New York city of Niagara Falls says daredevil Wallenda still owes about $25,000 for public safety costs from last months tightrope walk across the falls, and its having a tough time collecting, according to reports Friday, July 20, 2012. (AP Photo/David Duprey, File)
Updated: May 16, 2014 6:37AM
Getting wired . . .
Attention! Adrenaline junkies anxious to see famous high-wire artist Nik Wallenda navigate two Chicago skyscrapers in Chicago this fall — while insisting against using a safety net — just might be in for a letdown.
◆ Translation: Has anyone broken the news to Mayor Rahm Emanuel that the state Aerial Exhibitors Safety Act requires a safety net for any aerial act over 20 feet high?
Sneed contacted the mayor’s office Monday to see if there was already a plan in the works to undo the net knot. Knowing the power of the Rahmster to get things done or undone, it won’t be a problem.
“It can be done if the city exercises home rule,” a mayoral source said. “The mayor wants to do it, but it should be noted a site hasn’t been picked yet.”
◆ Upshot: Winston Simone, Wallenda’s manager, tells Sneed: “We are literally in the early process of this project and have yet to pick a site. He would prefer not using a net — something his family hasn’t done for 200 years — but we will do whatever needs to be done to comply with the city and state.”
◆ Wow shot: Chicago boasts two of the nation’s five tallest buildings: The 1,451-foot Willis Tower and the 1,362-foot Trump International Hotel and Tower — and has one of the nation’s most prominent skylines.
◆ Backstory: Since beginning his career at 13, Wallenda has walked across a gorge near the Grand Canyon — and is best known as the first person to walk a tightrope stretched over Niagara Falls.
◆ Stay tuned: Wallenda is due in town this week to determine possible locations.
May the force be with Pfleger . . .
Sneed has learned that Mellody Hobson and her husband, George “Star Wars” Lucas, have been holding power lunches in Chicago with the Rev. Michael Pfleger, who ministers to a large African-American congregation on the city’s South Side.
“This is the second time they have gotten together recently with Father Pfleger,” said a top Sneed source.
The Roman Catholic priest is head of the Faith Community of Saint Sabina, which includes the ARK, a youth community center, and St. Sabina Academy, an elementary school.
A noted anti-violence activist whose controversial methods once gave Cardinal Joseph Bernardin agita, Pfleger’s role in the church has become less controversial under the leadership of Cardinal Francis George.
“Mellody’s heart is in Chicago,” the source said. “And so is Father Pfleger’s. They are both on the same path when it comes to education.”
Chicago’s new power couple, which met with Pfleger at the Fred’s at Barneys restaurant on Saturday, already have made significant money moves in Chicago since their marriage last year.
◆ In December, the couple announced they would give $25 million over five years to After School Matters, a nonprofit group offering out-of-school activities founded by the late Chicago first lady Maggie Daley — and now chaired by Hobson.
◆ In February, the couple announced they are donating $25 million to the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools to support the construction of an arts building.
◆ Last week, Lucas, a billionaire, stated he is now considering Chicago as a location for his $1 billion Lucas Cultural Arts Museum to house his significant art and movie memorabilia.
◆ Last month, Hobson headed to Vancouver to address a TED conference, a nonprofit event dedicated to the sharing of ideas on any topic, to discuss being “color Brave.”
“Race in America makes people completely uncomfortable,” Hobson said at the conference. “I’m asking you to show courage, to be bold. I’m asking you not to leave any child behind, not to be colorblind but to be color brave, so every child knows that their future matters and their dreams are possible.”
Sneedlings . . .
Tuesday’s birthdays: Emma Thompson, 55; Seth Rogen, 32, and Allison Williams, 26.