Like Cuomo, Before the Falls

A death-defying stunt, but is anyone paying attention?

Sept. 16, 2008 — -- It's very early in the morning aboard the "GMA" Whistle-Stop '08 Tour train, and Chris Cuomo is cool.

Not cool like James Dean cool (although that's debatable), but cool like Tiger Woods on the 18th hole at the Masters cool. And he needs to be.

Today we're headed to Niagara Falls, N.Y., for what I've been told are breathtaking views and a few major surprises, including a life-threatening, death-defying, insanity-inspired stunt that is only now being slightly overhyped.

They really don't tell me much, but I do know that at some point Chris' life could literally be on the line and that he'll get a view of the falls few people get, save those that have been over in a barrel.

But if there's anyone who can pull this off, I'm sure that at least Chris thinks he can.

"Today is a good day to hang precariously from a harness over the falls," he told me with a determined air as he stared off through the window into the distance.

Cleo, his producer and sidekick of sorts, tried to explain that he's actually going to be on dry land, only sort of close to the falls and the harness is just a safety precaution. But like the brave man of action that he is, Chris is not interested in such details.

Then the hero asked a few practical questions.

"What do I need to be pushed over the edge? A light breeze? An errant pigeon?"

Cleo demurred. She knew it would take at least a medium breeze, and intelligent as they are, pigeons' flight is rarely "errant." No need to worry the man with hypotheticals like that.

Then thoughts turned to his fans and what he could tell them to ease their fears as he bravely stepped straight into the gaping, fang-laced mouth of peril.

"Don't worry everybody. I'm safe. I'm more strongly tethered to this fence than to reality." That could work.

Is he scared? Of course not.

"Fear comes with intelligence, so we're OK," he said.

If things should go awry, however, Chris asked me to pass along a message. He would like to be remembered by his true title, El Rey de Tren. Who am I to argue?

So with a kind smile to dear friends Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts -- who did not look up from their notes -- Chris held his head high and walked with indomitable strides toward what will most likely not be certain doom.

Then, as Robin's head turned and her gaze followed her friend's lonely walk down the train, she nearly whispered four words that no one who heard them will soon forget.

"Wait, there's a stunt?"