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`Temptation’ link boosts `Chains’

Feb 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

The success of Fox’s salacious romance-themed “Temptation Island” may be giving new life to Endemol Entertainment’s once-abandoned “Chains of Love.”
Originally developed at NBC, which balked on the project in October over “creative differences” with Dutch producer Endemol Enterainment, “Chains of Love” is now parked at UPN and undergoing a facelift.
Endemol, having had problems with the American formatting of “Big Brother” on CBS last summer, has brought in veteran independent producers David Garfinkle and Jay Renfroe-partners in Renegade 83 Entertainment (See profile, Page 18)-to pump up the relationship aspects of the show. The two are also executive producers of the syndicated series “Blind Date.”
“What we’re doing with this show is really a social experiment,” Mr. Garfinkle said.
On that note, Mr. Renfroe said the project is “not about bondage,” which had been the label attached to the project when it was being developed at NBC. UPN even mailed out Valentine’s Day cards to the media with the following poem: “Despite what you heard from below and above, it’s not about S&M but the search for true love.”
The core of “Chains of Love” remains the same, with a man or a woman-called The Picker-shackled together at the wrists and ankles with four members of the opposite sex over a four-day period. What appears to have been added to the format is extraneous, outside mental and physical challenges similar to Fox’s “Temptation Island” and ABC’s “The Mole.”
“After all of the criticism about `Big Brother’ being too confined and static, Endemol has been somewhat more sensitive to suggestions about adding other competition and relationship elements to `Chains of Love,”’ said a production source close to the show.
A lot could also depend on where UPN schedules the show, since a 9 p.m. (ET) start time would allow for racier content. UPN programming executives, who were declining comment last week, are said by sources to be looking at potential Wednesday or Friday 9 p.m. slots-two evenings where the network has been ratings-challenged. The six-episode run will start in mid-April and go into the pivotal May sweeps.
The show, which started production last week in Los Angeles, is being set on a palatial estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It’s equipped with indoor and outdoor pools, a gourmet kitchen and a custom-built bed for five people. But some new elements include the chain gang venturing out in public for things like a skydiving challenge or romantic picnic in the park, where they must contend for the affections of The Picker.
“We’re going to tempt her with the `bad boy,’ but then we’ll also have the funny guy, the smart guy, etc.,” Mr. Renfroe said.
As the competition winds down, The Picker will be forced by The Locksmith to unchain one person during each episode. In the final episode, only one couple remains, but in two new twists to the format, the lucky suitor may have the option to reject The Picker’s love connection. Also, The Picker has discretion to allocate a portion of the $10,000 prize to either the last suitor or one of three other previously unchained courtiers.
“I can say with certainty that once advertisers see our presentation tape, they’ll see that the show is going to funny, entertaining and somewhat surprising,” said Mike Mandelker, UPN’s executive vice president of advertising sales. He said the tape should mollify any advertiser concerns over sexual content.
Meanwhile, over at Fox, Gail Berman, president of Fox Entertainment, said last week that her network will likely schedule two new reality series, “Love Cruise” and “Boot Camp,” in “Tempation Island’s” current slot at 9 p.m. Wednesdays or on Thursdays, starting in March or April. A second incarnation of “Temptation Island” will not likely be ready until summer or fall 2001.
Greg Dudsic contributed to this report