Friday, April 2, 1999

Hawaii lands
TV series

The Teamsters union agrees
to a few 'good faith' compromises,
allowing the deal to
go through

Bullet North Shore up for 'Baywatch'

By Tim Ryan


Gov. Ben Cayetano announced today that "Baywatch Hawaii" would begin filming on Oahu's North Shore, and he credited teamwork by the city, private businesses and state government for bringing the program here.

"Today begins a new era in Hawaii television history," the governor said, "along with 'Hawaii 5-0' and 'Magnum P.I.'"

Today's announcement followed weeks of sometimes contentious negotiations, posturing by union and television executives, name-calling and, finally, an impassioned plea by Cayetano.

The television show has agreed to film in Hawaii for a guaranteed two years and 44 episodes.

The show will move here in June for the show's 200th episode, which will be called "Aloha Baywatch," executive producer Greg Bonann said.

"Landing 'Baywatch' is a real coup," Cayetano said yesterday. "It not only means employment for more than 150 people locally, but also expenditures in the state of more than $20 million annually, plus in one year the show will display Hawaii's beauty, people and diversity of activities to 5.7 billion viewers worldwide. Now that's a definite stimulus for tourism."

The No. 1 action-adventure syndicated television series in the world will film 22 episodes a year. It will cost producers $17 million to $20 million, of which 60 percent is expected to be spent here.

An exhausted and elated Bonann, the creator of "Baywatch," called the Cayetano-led effort "fantastic, historic."

"My thanks and heart really go to the governor. That guy is so incredible," Bonann said yesterday. "I have talked to him every day the last four or five days, and he is indefatigable. He has delivered what he promised."

'Baywatch' = bucks

Here's what the state and the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau say is the value of "Baywatch Hawaii" to the economy:

Bullet "Baywatch Hawaii" is shown in 148 countries and translated into 41 languages.

Bullet Hawaii gets added exposure as result of the title change to "Baywatch Hawaii."

Bullet The show will air one hour each week of the year.

Bullet "Baywatch" targets consumers in the 18-49 age category who are into healthy, active lifestyles, which fits well with HVCB's marketing plan.

Bullet The advertising value of U.S. exposure for Hawaii is estimated at $29 million a year or more.

Bullet "Baywatch Hawaii" will employ about 150 people locally.

Bullet About $20 million will be spent annually in the state by the cast, production staff and crew, and for other production-related goods and services.

The governor's announcement was made this morning at a news conference on the beach fronting the Hilton Hawaiian Village. It was led by Cayetano; Tony Vericella, president of the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau; Syd Vinnedge, senior executive vice president of Pearson Television, which owns "Baywatch"; Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris; Bonann; and two "Baywatch" co-stars, Brooke Burns and Michael Bergin.

The show, starring David Hasselhoff, was set to relocate to Australia if Hawaii had not come up with the right incentives. The show also features Mitzi Kapture, Kelly Packard and David Chokachi.

In addition to its new name, the show will have some new casting that will include two Hawaii actors as regular characters and a new lifeguard center atop what is now the Haleiwa Surf Center. And after eight years and about 200 episodes in Southern California, "Baywatch" is likely to live out its remaining years -- at least two and as many as six -- on Oahu.

The final agreement with the state was signed late yesterday afternoon in Los Angeles by executives of Pearson. Earlier in the day, the biggest obstacle in moving the show to Hawaii was overcome when the Teamsters union, which provides drivers for film and television productions, agreed to a few "good faith" compromises for one year amounting to more than 7 percent.

Despite wage cuts and other compromise agreements by three other unions -- the International Association of Theater Stage Employees, the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild -- it was the Teamsters, which provides the fewest number of production workers, that could have killed the deal. IATSE, which provides crew members to productions, agreed earlier this week to wage cuts of 12-15 percent.

Leo Reed, Local 399 head in Hollywood and director of the union in 13 Western states, faxed a signed agreement to Cayetano shortly after noon yesterday.

Teamsters gave concessions on vacation and holiday pay of 7.71 percent, Reed said, and the number of required drivers may be cut to 15 from 17.

"We have maintained the same wages and pension and health and welfare benefits," he said. "But when I found out that the state of Hawaii put in more money and the governor became so involved, I wanted to be part of the team."

But Reed emphasized that he was angry about comments producer Bonann made about him and the Teamsters when discussions stalled.

"I'm glad that things worked out," Reed said. "But if you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the front porch."

Reed said it was Mufi Hannemann, who is his cousin and a City Councilman, who kept him "level-headed" through a month of tenuous discussions.

"He kept telling me to understand both sides, my members and the people of Hawaii," Reed said. "Believe me, Mufi was the mediator who really emphasized the state side. And the governor was so sincere that usually things like this don't move me, but he really convinced me."

To convince "Baywatch" to relocate here, Hawaii will provide a $1.7 million incentive package, primarily for capital improvements, from the state, plus at least another $1 million from HVCB. This package includes:

Bullet Refurbishing the old "Hawaii Five-0" stage, offices and bungalows at the Hawaii Film Studio at Diamond Head Studio.

Bullet Constructing a massive Cue Tank, including underwater cave and coral sets for underwater photography.

Bullet Constructing a new "Lifeguard Beach" set at Haleiwa Beach Park.

Bullet Making improvements to the Haleiwa pier and marina, including a water-garage and dry-dock area.

Bullet Shipping the "Baywatch" fleet of rescue boats and water equipment.

North Shore ‘positive’
on ‘Baywatch’

The TV series will pump needed
money into the area

By Gregg K. Kakesako


North Shore residents generally support the decision to relocate "Baywatch" to Oahu because of the money it will bring to the area.

Ken Newfield, chairman of the 15-member North Shore Neighborhood Board, said "generally speaking," he has only heard "positive comments."

"I hope it stays that way," said Newfield.

He said he understands that television and movie production crews do cause disruptions and inconvenience to area residents wherever they go.

"That's the reality of the business," Newfield said.

However, he hopes to hold a neighborhood board meeting where government officials, "Baywatch" producers and community members can discuss these issues before the TV series goes before the cameras.

City Councilwoman Rene Mansho, who represents the North Shore, said she has been told that production will be done at Alii Beach only during the week.

"Even then, a lot of the shooting will be done at sets built away from the beach," Mansho said.

Merchants in the Haleiwa area "are going to do everything we can do to keep their ratings up," Mansho said.

Laura Lee Suyetsugu, retail manager for Excel Wetsuits in Haleiwa, said her boss, Ed D'Ascoli, spearheaded a community effort in which 72 North Shore business will offer discounts to "Baywatch" cast and crew members, ranging from 10 to 50 percent.

"The services range from vacation rental units to retail merchants and restaurants," Suyetsugu said. "The North Shore really wanted this."

Mansho said she sees the TV program as only helping her in her quest to upgrade many of the public facilities, including improvements to Kamehameha Highway, which runs through Haleiwa town.

"We have been trying to get improvements to the road from Weed Circle to Anahola Bridge for years," Mansho said, "and this can only help get some action from the city administration."

Mansho also cited a badly needed third bathroom facility for Haleiwa Beach Park -- something she has lobbied for since she was first elected in 1988.

She also said she was "very excited" to hear that the one-story community recreation center at Alii Beach Park in Haleiwa, which will be the headquarters for the "Baywatch" movie crew, will be renovated with the addition of another floor.

Newfield said he hopes "Baywatch" producers will turn to Haleiwa merchants and businesses whenever the need arises, rather than using the services in Honolulu or the mainland.

"For instance, if leis need to be bought," Newfield said, "will the producers buy them in Honolulu or out here?"

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