Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Island Fever and MTV invade Maui for new TV Show

2 new MTV reality shows will use Valley Isle as a backdrop
The programs will air on MTV in 2007 and feature Maui residents

By Katherine Nichols knichols@starbulletin.com (reprint from Honolulu Star Bulletin)

Oh, the misery of working as a surfing instructor on a yucky white-sand beach on Maui! Or, worse, being young and falling in love and trying to stay loyal to a relationship when beautiful people wander into your life on a daily basis!
It's all part of the drama revolving around two new reality shows set on Maui that will air on MTV in early 2007. "Living Lahaina" started shooting on the Valley Isle yesterday, and "Island Fever" begins filming next Friday. Each show initially will complete eight half-hour episodes over the next 10 weeks.
"Living Lahaina" features a group of instructors at the Royal Hawaiian Surf Academy in Lahaina, who fuel their thrill-seeking sensibilities with an endless quest for adventure. Their exploits will take them on road trips around Maui, as well as to other islands. The cast and crew include an undisclosed mixture of Hawaii residents and people imported from the mainland.
"Island Fever" is more relationship-driven, highlighting a group of "friends and lovers" dealing with the angst surrounding emotional ties and constant temptations to stray. An MTV representative said that everyone in the cast already lived on Maui, and most were born and raised there.
While both shows will accentuate the inherent physical beauty of the setting, "Island Fever" does not plan to relegate Hawaii to the role of backdrop. Producers instead want to incorporate the feel and culture of the island as though it were a character on the show. Hawaii state Film Commissioner Donne Dawson said that producers were receptive to community and cultural concerns, and wanted the show to be as authentic as possible and worked hard to hire residents. "If you're going to be immersing a production in a community for any length of time, it always helps to have a lot of locals on your team," said Dawson. "They know the lay of the land." The shows have different producers, shooting schedules, crews, casts and concepts, so overlap does not seem to be a concern. Content might be, though. "I'm well aware of what reality shows are about," said Maui Film Commissioner Benita Brazier. "I'm well aware that there's going to be some conflict, but I'm positive that it's going to put Maui in a good light. They're being good stewards because they want to come back." Brazier expressed even stronger optimism: "We trust that both productions will take this opportunity to educate themselves and then to document the Maui that most visitors will never experience."
That might be a stretch for a network that caters to a young, edgy set that does not necessarily tune in for an anthropology lesson. Yet everyone involved is excited about what could result in vast and beneficial exposure for the state.
Producers came to Maui in June to shoot a pilot episode for each show, which they presented to MTV executives. Both shows received "green light" status several weeks ago, fueled by a constructive meeting last month in Los Angeles with Hawaii's film commissioners. The decision to proceed was made before the tax incentives of Act 88 went into effect, but the MTV spokeswoman confirmed that those incentives have made shooting in Hawaii even more appealing.

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