1. Our couch is 12' away and no, it does not hurt your neck to watch. We've had it up there since we moved in over a year ago and we are comfortable with it there. 2. The firebox and piping has a warning on it that only 2" of clearance is needed, so no, the cables mounted on the studs will not melt or catch fire. 3. With a full fire going, there is no heat to be felt above the mantle where the TV/speakers are. It seems all of the heat is directed outward from the firebox. 4. ibyoudiditwrong What the temporary situation was after we moved in. Cut a huge square in the guest bedroom behind the fireplace for access. Added 2 extra studs to the framing above the firpeplace; $2 in wood goes a long way in piece of mind that the TV isn't going anywhere. Installed the recessed outlet and connected the wiring to the outlet on the guest bedroom wall - it's never used 99% of the time. Marked holes for the studs. Used CL2 In-Wall rated cables - also bored a hole for cables behind the cable STB and home theater unit. 2 HDMI, RCA component, coax - that's all I wanted for this because the basement finish job will include a mega-home theater. Just need a simple TV / HTIB / game setup here. Inside the built-in cabinet. First layer of mud on the hole repair in the guest bedroom. The plasma grows impatient, sitting on the floor being unused and sniffed by the dogs. Mounting brackets have been attached. Painted the wall where the TV will rest and fastened the wallplates. Hung that heavy mother. In the cabinet underneath is where all the wires are - still have to straighten them up and zip tie it all to make it look neat and clean. But barely any wires to be seen up here. Painted more of the wall. Ordered smaller lights for either side of the TV. Because of the corner studs, they are out as far as they can be. Drywall in guest bedroom, with mudding and painting completed. Good as new. Finally, new lights installed, painting almost completely finished in the living room.