Maui is 'One Life' for soap stars
By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Maui County Bureau
All the way to Maui.
The ABC soap opera made television history May 13-17 when it aired live for the entire week. Then, the show won its first outstanding drama series-daytime Emmy on May 17.
Last week, members of the New York-based cast and crew landed on Maui for the show's first location shoot outside of New York in almost 10 years.
"This is a gift,'' said actress Sherri Saum, who plays professor Keri Reynolds. "I love New York, but this is a great vacation.''
Five actors and more than 20 crew members were at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa for a seven-day shoot, generating scenes that will air two or three days a week from June 12 to July 11. Other scenes will air throughout the summer.
Thank the Maui Visitors Bureau and the Hyatt Regency Maui, which teamed up to pay for airfare and accommodations in a move to capture some nationwide publicity.
But "One Life to Live'' supervising producer and director Frank Valentini insists the road trip isn't just an excuse to vacation.
"We wouldn't be here if it didn't fit into what we are doing,'' he said. "It all makes story sense.''
And actors and crew are working hard, despite the distraction of the sun, sea and sand. On Wednesday, for example, the crew pumped out 26 scenes involving 15 wardrobe changes.
"It's a lot of work, but I can't complain. I'm having a great time,'' said Kamar de los Reyes, who plays Antonio Vega.
And now for the plot. (Skip the following two paragraphs if you don't want to know the outline of the Maui story):
Keri (Saum) and Antonio (de los Reyes) take a romantic getaway to Maui, where Antonio proposes marriage. Along the way, the couple play detective to discover the unexpected truth about Rae's (Linda Dano) past.
Meanwhile, Todd, Tea and Ross (Roger Howarth, Florencia Lozano and Shawn Christian) wind up as castaways on a deserted island. (Pa'ia and Windmills beaches play the part of the uncharted island.)
The interior scenes previously were shot in New York, so don't expect to recognize the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Maui or any other indoor locales.
The soap has filmed in exotic locations in the past including Argentina, Paris and Vienna but the network tightened its budget about 10 years ago.
While fewer people are watching the soaps these days, the genre that includes a handful of veteran shows, such as "All My Children'' and "Days of our Lives'' continues to endure with an audience of longtime loyal fans and new recruits.
"The death of the soaps has been incredibly exaggerated,'' said Valentini, who has been with "One Life to Live'' for 17 years. "We've had our low points and our high points. But a couple of actors (such as Erika Slezak and Phil Carey) have been with us a long time, and their fans have stuck with them through the lean times.''
He said the show succeeded in walking a fine line between satisfying longtime viewers and new ones, and the ratings have increased of late. The drama, he said, ranks among the top three in the key demographic of women 18 to 49.
After Sept. 11, the drama took on a much lighter tone, introducing fantasy and some light-hearted plots. Maui fits well in this regard.