Island series hitting high tide

Jul 23, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Islands are now tempting TV.
Networks looking for doses of reality are turning to the islands as virtually all broadcast networks are looking to bring island-themed series to the small screen for the 2002 season.
Two of the major networks are rumored to be interested in a reality version of “Fantasy Island” in which producers will make a fantasy come true for contestants a la the scripted series of the same name. A deal is expected to be announced shortly.
Sources at CBS have confirmed that the network is looking into the project, but a spokesperson for the company would not comment on the status of the series.
Two versions of the scripted series have previously hit the screen with radically different results. “Fantasy Island” with Ricardo Montalban as Mr. Roarke and Herve Villechaize as Tattoo first aired in 1978 and ran through 1984. A second, darker version, featuring Malcolm McDowell in the Mr. Roarke role, failed to last one season in 1998.
Despite the critical and ratings failure of “Chains of Love,” UPN is getting back into bed with Dutch series producer Endemol Entertainment on a new reality series project tentatively titled “Culture Shock.” Described as “Swiss Family Robinson” meets “Survivor,” the prospective 2002-03 series project revolves around
four families who will be sharing a 4,000-square-foot house on an unspecified South Pacific island (originally thought to be Fiji), an Endemol spokesman confirmed.
UPN President and CEO Dean Valentine said the new “family” reality series would differentiate itself from more “extreme,” shock-value-based reality series gaining popularity-such as NBC’s “Fear Factor” and “Spy TV.”
“[`Culture Shock’] will have various challenges and deprive these families of some modern amenities,” Mr. Valentine said. “I am sort of fascinated with how families interact from remembering `The Louds’ 20 years ago and `The 1900 House’ on PBS. So we’re hoping to catch a little of that in what we are doing.”
ABC is said to be close to bringing a major dose of reality to daytime. Sources say the network and its sister, the Disney-owned Buena Vista Television syndication unit, is about to announce the daytime stripping of “The Last Resort.”
The show is being billed as an alternative-based series that offers “troubled” couples a chance to fly to an island resort to regain their romantic bliss-described internally as the antithesis of Fox’s controversial hit “Temptation Island” series.
A source close to ABC dispelled previous Hollywood talent agency rumors that longtime soap “Port Charles” was being considered for cancellation to make room for “Last Resort.” ABC sources say many details remain to be hashed out but stressed that ABC affiliates will continue to have the flexibility to place “Port Charles” anywhere on their daytime schedules.
“Last Resort” is said by sources to be in development with Fisher Entertainment, which is the TV production unit of Fisher Broadcasting, which owns two ABC affiliates.