Saturday, April 3, 1999

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
"Baywatch Hawaii" stars Brooke Burns and Michael
Bergin hammed it up for photographers yesterday
at a life guard station along Waikiki Beach.

New season,
new location,
new stars

Haleiwa all abuzz

By Tim Ryan


The hottest new stars of "Baywatch Hawaii" may not surf -- or ever been on a surfboard, for that matter -- but no one seemed to care much at the announcement yesterday that the syndicated show was relocating to Oahu from Southern California.

In fact, neither Brooke Burns nor Michael Bergin, buffed and dressed in "Baywatch" logo swimsuits, had ever been to Oahu before, although they have been to Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.

"Here I am at 9 a.m. on the beach in winter, feeling warm sand between my toes, a warm breeze and warm drizzle on me," said Burns, clad in a new, never-before-seen two-piece suit. "I think I'm in heaven."

"We are finally," said executive producer Greg Bonann.

Burns and Bergin play boyfriend-girlfriend on the show. "Baywatch" star David Hasselhoff is in Morocco and still doesn't know he's filming in Hawaii this June, Bonann said.

The 22 episodes that will be filmed the first year from June to December will cost producers $17 million to $20 million, of which 60 percent is expected to be spent here. Producers are planning to film two days a week at the Haleiwa Surf Center.

The budget for each episode is $870,000, $35,000 more than was originally sought for the Hawaii filming, Bonann said. But Pearson Television, owners of "Baywatch Hawaii," agreed at the last minute to kick in the additional $770,000 a season to get the show to Hawaii, he said.

Burns' suit, manufactured by the California company Mysterio, was designed for Australia, where "Baywatch" originally was headed. In an odd coincidence, it features the hibiscus, Hawaii's state flower.

"Just a coincidence, I swear it," Bonann said.

Burns is best known for her recurring role as Jennifer, the fantasy girl on the TV series "Ally McBeal." She became a "Baywatch" regular last season.

She plays Jessica "Jessie"' Owens, an aspiring Hollywood stuntwoman. Her character was introduced in September with the launch of the series' eighth season.

As a teen-ager, Burns was studying to become a professional ballet dancer but that ended at age 14 after a ski accident. She took up modeling at 16 and since has been featured in U.S. and European fashion magazines and television ads for Mug Root Beer, Matrix and Carrows Restaurants.

Burns also starred on the syndicated series "Out of the Blue," which was shot on location in Orlando, Fla. Her first audition after moving to the West Coast was for "Baywatch" and she didn't get the part.

But she apparently made such an impression producers subsequently called her in to audition for the role of Jessie.

Bergin, known as lifeguard "Jack J.D. Darius" on the show, is also the face of Claiborne for Men, a division of Liz Claiborne Inc. He's been featured in magazines and on billboards around the world.

Bergin grew up in Naugatuck, Conn. He began modeling on the advice of a friend and continued to earn tuition for the University of Connecticut, he said.

With the demands of work growing and the commute to New York becoming more frequent, Bergin decided to spend the summer after his junior year in Manhattan working full time. He graduated with a degree in business marketing and relocated to New York a month later.

In search of a fresh face to replace Marky Mark as his underwear model, Calvin Klein chose the relatively unknown Bergin to appear solo, and with model Kate Moss, in jeans, underwear and suit advertisements. Since then, he has walked runways in New York, Paris and Milan for several top designers.

"I promise the people of Hawaii," Bergin said, "I will learn to surf in Hawaii."

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