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November 27, 2014

TV Moment of 2009: "Balloon Boy" Falcon Heene

by Adam Keleman, posted Dec 2nd 2009 2:00PM
As far as well-orchestrated publicity stunts go, Balloon Boy, aka Falcon Heene (yes, that's his real name) takes the cake.

Playing into the public's fear of child loss and endangerment, the storm-chasing Heene family first reported their six-year-old boy Falcon as trapped in a homemade helium balloon, floating at altitudes nearing 7,000 ft -- thereby setting off a frenzy of media coverage intensely focused on the supposed flight of this very young boy and a distraught family eagerly awaiting his rescue.

But the story gets better: It was all a hoax, a carefully schemed sham created by Falcon's parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene -- who captivated a global, news-hungry audience only for sheer thrill ... and maybe a potential reality show deal in the process.As far as well-orchestrated publicity stunts go, Balloon Boy, aka Falcon Heene (yes, that's his real name) takes the cake.

Playing into the public's fear of child loss and endangerment, the storm-chasing Heene family first reported their six-year-old boy Falcon as trapped in a homemade helium balloon, floating at altitudes nearing 7,000 ft -- thereby setting off a frenzy of media coverage intensely focused on the supposed flight of this very young boy and a distraught family eagerly awaiting his rescue.

But the story gets better: It was all a hoax, a carefully schemed sham created by Falcon's parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene -- who captivated a global, news-hungry audience only for sheer thrill ... and maybe a potential reality show deal in the process.

The good news was the boy was found just fine in the family's attic (his feet were always squarely planted on the ground, thankfully). The sad part of it all, though, was the literal extent (and heights) the starved-for-attention Heenes would take this charade to garner their 15 minutes of fame and time in the spotlight.

Also, it may be no surprise to anyone that the Heenes have already graced TV screens before as one of the crazed families swapping spouses in the reality show 'Wife Swap'; they even returned again to the program during its 100th episode.



It's a mystery why news agencies were so quick to accept the initial details and claims of the Heenes' highly skeptical yarn. At least we can be rest assured now that Colorado authorities have pressed charges against Richard and Mayumi Heene for their deceptive, fame-seeking antics.

The whole "Balloon Boy" incident will undoubtedly go down in the 2009 record books as a clear example of the public's need-no matter how false-for salacious stories of trapped and endangered children.

What happened to the days when kids were really stuck down a well?

Falcon 'Balloon Boy" Heene is no "Baby Jessica," that's for sure.

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