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‘Temptation Island’ to begin filming by end of the month

First group of 70 has tested negative for COVID-19

The reality TV series “Temptation Island,” pictured in this screenshot from the USA Network’s website, is scheduled to start filming at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort by the end of this month, according to the state and county film commissioners. USA Network image

Reality TV series “Temptation Island” will begin filming at the end of the month after the first round of arriving cast and crew completed quarantine and tested negative for COVID-19.

State Film Commissioner Donne Dawson said that about 70 people who had arrived in small groups since Sept. 8, including 15 local hires from Oahu and Hawaii island, have gone through the modified quarantine process and been tested three times, all with negative results as of Friday.

Since Sunday, three additional groups totaling 28 people have arrived, with the last 50 or so people scheduled to fly in by the end of the week.

The show is being shot almost entirely at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, with possible off-site locations following quarantine and testing.

“Nobody’s going off property who has not been through 14 days of quarantine,” Dawson said Tuesday.

The Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort will be the site for filming of “Temptation Island.” Filming is scheduled to begin by the end of the month. Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort photo

The modified quarantine program approved by Maui County and the state allows film crews to quarantine for less than the two weeks required of most travelers, so long as they follow a strict procedure. They must do one pre-flight PCR test, self-quarantine while waiting for results, obtain a negative result, go straight to their flight and then the hotel after arriving in Hawaii and quarantine in their room for four days. On the fifth day, they are given a second test, and if both are negative, they are cleared to go straight from the hotel to the filming location and back.

Dawson said that “Temptation Island” is also doing a third test 24 hours after the second one, and if all three results are negative, cast and crew will be cleared for work.

Hotel staff also went through the same regimen and will be subject to testing throughout the production. Random testing will take place every day, with regular testing several days a week for cast members and actors who will be in front of the camera without masks. Anybody showing symptoms will be treated and confined to their room, Dawson said.

Filming of the USA Network reality show was briefly postponed in August after community members expressed concerns over the show’s content and the prospect of a large production crew coming from the Mainland. Some staged small protests at the county building and the Andaz.

Union representatives and elected officials have said the film industry could help reopen Hawaii’s economy, especially because Hollywood has the resources to follow strict health protocols.

David Goldberg, president of “Temptation Island” production company Banijay Studios North America, said last month that cast and crew would avoid face-to-face contact with hotel housekeepers, who would clean rooms only when empty, and kitchen staff, who would make to-go meals. They also planned to have a medical team on-site and bring their own testing kits.

“Temptation Island” is the only project currently filming on Maui, Dawson said. “Deadliest Catch,” which takes place at sea but also followed 14 days of quarantine, just finished filming off Hawaii island. On Oahu, “Magnum P.I.” is starting its third season, while Netflix just finished a feature film production, and two other shows plan to film on the island after Thanksgiving, including a reboot of “Doogie Howser, M.D.” titled “Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.”

“This is part of the statewide initiative to restart the film industry,” Dawson said. “And right now that is mainly focused on Maui and Oahu.”

Dawson said that no off-site locations have been approved for “Temptation Island” yet. Filming on public property, including the beach, would require a permit from the state or the county.

“It has not been determined yet whether they will be permitted to film on the beach,” Dawson said.

Maui Film Commissioner Tracy Bennett said Wednesday that the show has not applied for any permits from the county, but that they are working on possible locations and have been checking with closed resorts to see if they can use their amenities. Bennett said he and Dawson are encouraging private properties for off-site locations.

According to Bennett, the Andaz is not using geofencing or similar technology to make sure people stay on property. He said that the unions for the television crew and the hotel workers are keeping tabs on their members and are tracking everyone’s name, arrival date, room number, date of quarantine and date of testing on a spreadsheet.

“How do we make sure they don’t leave without permission? Well, they’re under contract,” Bennett said. “They’re union employees, so if they want to keep their job, they live by their contract, because if they violate a quarantine, they’re subject not only to being fired but arrested and jailed as well.”

He said that each member of the crew has a specific job and is allowed into certain isolation zones depending on when they finish quarantine and testing. They’re following a set of guidelines called “The Safe Way Forward,” which was crafted by several unions representing cast and crew and governs how often people are tested based on whether they are performers, crew on set, staff in production offices or remote workers outside the production environment.

Hotel workers are not staying at the Andaz. When asked if he was concerned about them catching the virus and bringing it home, Bennett said he wasn’t because of the safety measures in place at the hotel, from the Plexiglas barriers to the extra cleaning.

“Everything that’s been put into place at all the resorts I’ve seen recently is really head and shoulders above what the law requires,” he said. “I have every bit of confidence that the hotel does its part in keeping the staff away from the crew and vice versa.”

Contacted last week for an update on the production, General Manager Michael Jokovich said that “we do not share group or guest details in an effort to protect the privacy of our guests.” He did not answer questions about how many workers the Andaz had brought back and what precautions they were taking.

“Andaz Maui will continue to do our part to help us emerge from this crisis, including complying with applicable governmental and local health authority requirements,” Jokovich said.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com.

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