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Monday, March 15, 1999 Published at 12:47 GMT


Entertainment

Battle of Baywatch goes on

Honolulu: Hawaiian officials want Baywatch to move to the Pacific state

TV drama Baywatch could be filming its next series in Hawaii as the row over the show's aborted move to Australia continues.

The show's executive producer Greg Bonnan said Hawaii remained top choice for its new location after talks with Australia's Gold Coast state of Queensland collapsed.

"I really need to make a decision. The Hawaii deal is not closed. There are a lot of contingencies hanging out there."

Hawaii's state government has confirmed no deal has yet been struck over the move, which has escalated into an international row which has even involved Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

'Better deal' from Hawaii


Terry Jackson, Queensland Tourism Board: "They lied to me"
Queensland state Tourism Minister Bob Gibbs said he understood the show would now be filmed in Hawaii after authorities there had offered producers of the sex-and-surf drama a better deal.

He had been hoping to lure the show to Queensland, dubbed the "Sunshine State", after opening talks with TV officials two weeks ago.


[ image: Baywatch helped launch Pamela Anderson's career]
Baywatch helped launch Pamela Anderson's career
But now Mr Gibbs says he is "disgusted" with the whole affair.

Referring to the show's producers, who flew in from the US, he added: "The sooner they go home the better we'll all be."

Mr Gibbs said he had shaken hands on a six-year agreement after first meeting the producers two weeks ago. But he later found out that they were simultaneously negotiating with Hawaii.

But Mr Bonnan denied he had deceived Mr Gibbs.

"They wanted me to just basically say yes to Queensland and I could not do that. They gave me a deadline - either accept or we are removing the offer. I told them Hawaii was very much in the picture and they removed the offer."

Government officials in Hawaii and Queensland have been battling to offer the biggest incentives for Baywatch to move.

Hawaiian government and labour officials offered $1.7m in improvements to production facilities and wage concessions from unions - while Queensland reportedly offered $1m and free air fares and hotels.

Ratings boost

In an attempt to push up the viewing figures, the show's producers had originally hoped to move Baywatch from the beaches of Santa Monica in California to the Sydney suburb of Avalon where they had filmed two episodes in 1998.

But many locals were outraged at the thought of the programme taking over their beach.

During filming there last year, residents complained of heavy-handed security, despite assurances from producers that they would refurbish the town's surf club.

Global audience

So the neighbouring state of Queensland stepped in, hoping to use Baywatch to promote itself as a tourist destination to the show's global audience.

The nine-year old show, which turned Pamela Anderson into an international celebrity, claims to have an audience of one billion viewers in 140 countries world-wide.

US reports last weekend that the show had decided to move to Hawaii, prompted Australian Prime Minister John Howard to speak out.

He said the loss of Baywatch would be a blow for Australia's chances of attracting international investment.

No announcement is due yet on Baywatch's new home, and talks are still continuing.



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