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The first ever live TV exorcism is happening tonight

Do not adjust your sets…

exorcist Source: MovieClips via YouTube

A LITTLE-KNOWN American TV network will make history tonight with the first ever live broadcast of an exorcism.

The Destination America channel is hoping that “Exorcism: Live!” will be the scariest pre-Halloween programme on US television, and not a heavily-hyped disappointment.

The mostly live, two-hour broadcast will culminate in an attempt to rid a home near St Louis, Missouri of supposed malevolent spirits.

The boy who was the subject of the 1949 exorcism immortalised in William Peter Blatty’s 1971 book The Exorcist and subsequent movie, briefly lived in the Bel-Nor, Missouri house.

“This, to me at least, is probably the quintessential American horror story,” said Henry Schleiff, group president at Discovery Communications who oversees the network, and is no stranger to colourful promotions.

At Investigations Discovery, he ran a “Wives With Knives” marathon one year as an alternative to Super Bowl Sunday.

Only three years old, Destination America is available in about half of America’s TV homes.

It has established a speciality in programmes about the paranormal like “Ghost Asylum” and “A Haunting,” and is looking for some major attention.

Source: Destination America/YouTube

The publicity surrounding tonight’s broadcast has drawn comparisons to Geraldo Rivera’s 1986 special where he opened legendary gangster Al Capone’s vault to find almost nothing inside.

That episode has become shorthand for much-hyped television programmes that fail to deliver.

“I don’t know if I believe in ghosts,” Schleiff said.

But I believe in research, and it says 60 percent of people believe in ghosts. I genuinely believe this will be an entertaining and informative show and I’m very proud to be associated with it.

The exorcism of the boy known as Roland Doe was completed outside of the house, but there’s evidence ‘bad vibes’ remain there, said Jodi Tovay, who developed the special.

Chip Coffey, a psychic who participates in the show, said the spirits communicated with him when he visited the house, and a picture of Pope Francis was mysteriously ripped from his hand.

This stuff is real. This is nothing to play around with.

Without that confirmation from Coffey and other psychics that something creepy remains there, Tovay said that Destination America wouldn’t go to the house.

exorcism The house where Roland Doe, whose exorcism inspired the 1973 movie, once lived. Source: Destination America via YouTube

The boy who was the subject of the 1949 exorcism is still alive.

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Now 80 and living in the Washington, DC area, he guards his privacy and declined to participate in the special, Tovay said.

Similarly, the people now living in the St. Louis house vacated for the production and would not discuss their own experiences there.

The special will have some pre-produced segments, including stories of past demonic possessions and excerpts from the diary of Doe’s lead exorcist.

They’ll show the bed where he was exorcised. The bulk of the show will be a seance to try and communicate with spirits in the house and an effort to try and extricate them.

A spokesperson for Discovery confirmed to that viewers in Ireland will be able to watch a live online stream of six cameras positioned in the house, but not the TV broadcast.

Besides Coffey, the cast of Destination America’s “Ghost Asylum” series will help with the psychic cleansing.

Tovay is well aware that even if it’s true that the house is haunted, the demons aren’t necessarily tied to a TV schedule, and may decide to stay quiet when the show begins at 9pm (1am Irish time).

I can schedule events, but I can’t schedule demonic activity. If that happens, I’m not going to fake it.

Still, she freely encourages skeptics to tune in.

I dare you not to be scared.

Contains reporting by the Associated Press.

Read: Meet the reverend who participated in the 1949 exorcism that inspired The Exorcist>

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About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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