Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, August 23, 2001

Reality hits
home for 2 new
TV shows to be
shot in Hawaii

'Blind Date' pairs couples;
'Last Resort' pulls'em apart

One more series from former local boy.

By Tim Ryan

HOLLYWOOD'S fascination with reality-based television shows has reached Hawaii.

The Big Island will be the location for two contrasting reality shows in September and October, in which couples in one show try to rediscover romance, and in the other, singles aim to find love.

ABC will shoot the pilot "Last Resort" at Kona Village for a week beginning in mid-September. The program each week will take four couples on the brink of breakup or marriage to engage in a series of challenges and therapy.

The syndicated show "Blind Date," entering its third season, will film 10 episodes over a two-week period in October -- five on the Big Island and five on Maui. This show brings singles together on blind dates that involve a variety of activities.

Jeannie was crazy about Markus
until a boating accident left her
cold in a past episode of
"Blind Date."

Hawaii County officials are elated by the news, saying the exposure is certain to help increase tourism, benefit Kona businesses and provide work.

"Both of these shows ... will show the Big Island like a travelogue, ide ntifying wonderful locations and activities," said Marilyn Killeri, Big Island film commissioner. "If 'Last Resort' goes to a full series, it would be a major boost to the west side of the island."

Kona Village was the site in May for a "Last Resort" presentation by Fisher Entertainment of Seattle and Los Angeles until the show recently was purchased by Buena Vista Productions, the Disney division that supplies programming for ABC Daytime as well as for cable and syndication. Fisher Entertainment executive Mark Stendal of Seattle, a KHON reporter in the early 1980s, is one of the executive producers of "Last Resort."

The project could begin airing in January if a spot on ABC's daytime schedule opens up, sources said. If "Last Resort" is picked up by ABC, about 40 episodes would be filmed on the Big Island in 39 weeks.

Laurence Mountcastle, Kona Village's director of sales and marketing, described "Last Resort" as low-impact, using only about a dozen people.

"It's a very low-key, sit-down-and-talk interaction show without a lot of action or activities, so our guests are not disturbed," Mountcastle said. "It's not like an Oprah Winfrey talk show where there are a lot of people sitting around and an audience."

The "Blind Date" production will be based at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, though filming will take couples all over the island, said producer Joel Raatz. Filming will take place Oct. 22 to 26. The Royal Lahaina Hotel will be the series' Maui base from Oct. 29 to Nov. 3.

The show will bring 10 women and 10 men from the mainland. Auditions of about 2,000 hopefuls are being conducted in Los Angeles. Each episode includes two dates in which the couples spend eight hours together participating in various activities around the islands. Each date will be edited down to about 6 minutes when the episodes air, with Roger Lodge as host.

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