Wednesday, May 12, 1999

‘Baywatch’ executives
meet neighbors at
Haleiwa surf center

By Harold Morse


Producers of "Baywatch Hawaii" made a splash with new neighbors in Haleiwa last night when they pledged to work in partnership with the community immediately.

The show must be centered around a headquarters and last night's meeting place fills the bill, said Greg Bonann, "Baywatch" executive producer.

An overflow crowd of perhaps 150 packed the surf center at Haleiwa Alii Beach Park for an information meeting put on by the North Shore Neighborhood Board and elected North Shore leaders.

Plans are to build a television studio above John Kalili Surf Center for the show to work out of, Bonann said.

"We're here because the people want us here. We want to be where we're wanted. It's hard enough -- without being wanted," Bonann said. "It's been really a great effort, and we want to make you proud. ... We want to make a show you're all proud of."

The surf center will be a movie facility on top and functioning lifeguard facility on the bottom, Bonann said. "First and foremost is the safety of the public. I'm a lifeguard. Many of the people who will work on this show are lifeguards."

Frank Conway, unit production manager, said work on the set will probably start Monday.

Although the show needs working space, it will try hard not to disrupt beach activities, he said. "We're going to help you guys help us stay here and be here awhile."

"We hope we're here another nine years," said Bonann.

That's how long the production continued in Los Angeles, he said.

Bonann said he is in his 30th year as a Los Angeles lifeguard and still works. Lifeguards tell him what they like and don't like about "Baywatch," which has a lifesaving theme, he said. "I consider those guys the heart and soul of what this show is about."

"Baywatch" had gone as far as it could in Los Angeles, he said. "We had to go somewhere location intensive that would get us into kind of a new lifeguard world."

Renee Confair, "Baywatch" location manager, said the show will need parking as it may have 40 to 70 people working at one time. But only critically needed vehicles will be parked nearby, she said.

The show will employ some Hawaii people, including technicians, said Howard Grigsby, production executive for Pearson Television, which owns "Baywatch." The production must be done right with skilled people, he said.

The first Hawaii episode will begin shooting about July 12, Bonann said. The season will be 22 shows in about 22 weeks. The first Hawaii episode will be viewed the week of Sept. 20, he said.

Ken Nichols, owner of North Shore Diving Headquarters, said he hopes having a billion people a week see Haleiwa on television won't bring unwanted development.

"The world is going to be looking at our little corner of the planet," he said. "I know the feeding frenzy is starting to occur here."

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