Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Monday, September 13, 1999

Jig is up on
‘Baywatch’ Hawaii gig

I've just concluded my first professional entertainment industry writing gig. In any other profession, a job is a job. But in the entertainment industry, a job is a gig. And this was a pretty sweet gig, baby.

I was asked by April and Al Masini, producers of "From Hawaii ... Destination Stardom," to write some one-minute on-location segments featuring local fireman-turned actor Kala'i Miller. I figured, no problem. Most of the minute would be devoted to Kala'i and the contestants doing things like surfing, sightseeing and boating. That meant that there would only be about 15 seconds of actual dialogue in each segment for Miller, who also is a "Baywatch Hawaii" cast member.

I figured that for one-minute on-location segments all you needed was a camcorder and some sunblock. My first clue that it was a tad more complicated came at the first production meeting. We met at Pacific Focus, the local production company hired to do the actual filming and editing. At the meeting was Dennis Burns, head of Pacific Focus; Kala'i; an assistant producer; a guy in charge of the vans; a director guy; an assistant to somebody in charge of something really important and a couple of other people whose gigs I didn't catch.

Everyone seemed very calm and professional, which was really unnerving. I kept waiting for someone to tell me what to do, but I was faking being so calm and professional they didn't realize I was clueless.

I eventually just hunkered down at my little computer at home and pounded out the first 15 or 20 segments with no real idea as to what I was doing. One of the first segments was to feature Kala'i taking the contestants outrigger canoe surfing. So I had Kala'i standing on Waikiki beach with a surfboard looking at the camera and saying "Today we're at Waikiki Beach to do some surfing. But we aren't going to use one of these (drop surfboard into sand), we're going to use one of these (show canoe)." Then he tells the contestants that the main thing is to stay in the outrigger no matter what. So off they paddle and we see scenes of the surfing. The segments ends, I wrote, when "Kala'i falls out of canoe." Brilliant, uh? Look out Steven Speilberg.

But what was really amazing was to see the first show when it aired on the PAX channel and there's Kala'i throwing the surfboard down. There are words coming out of his mouth that I wrote on my little computer and then, amazing! there's Kala'i falling out of the canoe! Talk about power. I thought, man, lucky thing I didn't write: "Kala'i walks in front of a bus." Actually, once the production got going and they began taping two entire shows a day, my contribution seemed pretty meager. And, as it turned out, my scripts were basically just an outline of possible action and Kala'i adlibbed a lot of his dialogue. (I only went to two locations to watch the shooting. At Sandy Beach, Kala'i, who's built like a brick firehouse, attracted so many teenage girls I thought we were going to have to use tear gas to get out of there.)

The taping of 24 episodes at the Convention Center was completed last week. It's amazing that something so complicated can get done so quickly. They shot an entire season in a little more than a month. Hopefully, the network will order more episodes because I'd like to re-gig, or whatever they call it. I'm already thinking about possible scripts. How about, "Kala'i skis down the slope of Diamond Head on a skateboard." The cool thing is that Kala'i probably would try it ...

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802
or send E-mail to or

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