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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, July 25, 2003

'Reality' show hopes to land date with local TV

By Tanya Bricking
Advertiser Staff Writer

Brooke Price, left, one of the contestants in The Advertiser's Hawai'i Bachelor game appears in the pilot episode of "The Lei," along with contestant Jillian King and bachelor Marcel Khouw.

808 Fade-In Productions

It will be interesting to see whether Kaulana Rowe's love life takes any turns after his 15 minutes of fame. If he gets 15 minutes.

He's a local potential "reality" television star, at least on the pilot episode of the dating show "The Lei," which is hoping to land viewers this fall if a local station picks it up.

The show features two dates per episode. Rowe's debut will show the 29-year-old construction worker saying things like: "Basically, the girl that's gonna win tonight, she needs to be beautiful, but she needs a big booty and nice teeth."

It's a theme that continues throughout his date: "I like big butts," he repeats on the adventure that includes much lip action from the two women who compete for "The Lei" and features local attractions like putt-putt golf at Bayview Golf in Kane'ohe and downtown watering holes like Restaurant Row's Ocean Club.

Rowe says he agreed on a lark to be on the show but isn't expecting any more show business.

"I'm not looking for fame," he said. "I was just looking for fun."

If you want to catch up on the antics, it's unlikely you'll find "The Lei" on television during prime time, which already is packed with shows from that genre.

Some Hawai'i-based "reality" shows have hit the big time, with nationwide play for the WB's "Boarding House: North Shore" and "High School Reunion" shows. A second reunion show, filmed in May at the Paul Mitchell mansion in Lanikai, is slated to be a replacement in the fall if a program on the WB lineup struggles.

For other locally produced shows, such as "Hawaii Beauties of the Beach," pegged to launch shortly on KFVE, and "Hawaii Reality," a surfing house copycat show in the Roxy House, getting air time has been a drama of its own.

Michael Paz and Ian Fernandez of 808 Fade-In Productions, producers of "The Lei," say they may end up buying a late-night time slot with a local station to get the show on the air.

Bill Gaeth, vice president and general sales manager for KITV-4, wishes them well. He knows how expensive shows can be to produce.

"It's not unusual to have a local version of a show that is hot nationally," Gaeth said.

The trick is being the one that succeeds.

Paz was going to work on a golf show when he switched gears to catch the wave of the "reality"-based dating-show craze. He's directed three dates so far and is filming another next weekend before putting out a casting call at Nick's Fishmarket.

"The girls are a lot easier to talk into it than the guys are," he said.

The show borrows from the competition, pitting two dates against each other to win the hand of someone else. The show has two 15-minute dates for each half-hour episode and uses graphics with pop-up bubbles (like the ones on "Blind Date"), local-style lei and strategy straight out of "Dismissed" and some "elimiDATE" (think outflirt, outsmart and outlast the competition).

"It's still a work in progress," Paz said.

It's also evidence that dating shows are multiplying faster than the matches they make.

More than two dozen dating shows are getting air time this year from hits such as "The Bachelor" to shows like "The Fifth Wheel," "The Last Resort," "Married By America," "Mr. Personality," "Paradise Hotel," "Star Dates" and "Taildaters."

These shows are not just the fabric of pop culture anymore. They're social science.

Dating show viewers are the subjects of study for University of Florida psychology researchers Jonathan Roberti and Rebecca Mestemacher, who have launched an online survey (www.nrbhc.org/dating) to see who's tuning in and why.

Better yet, who are these people willing to date on camera?

Meet Brooke Price, 24, a Honolulu radio ad saleswoman by day, party girl by night.

Maybe she looks familiar. The auburn-haired preacher's daughter was in the paper a few months ago as one of the contestants in The Advertiser's "Hawai'i's Bachelor" game but was eliminated after the first date.

Seems she's found a second calling as a bachelorette. One of her girlfriends heard about casting for "The Lei" but had a boyfriend, so she encouraged Price to give it a try.

Now Price is part of the pilot episode. In the last 15 minutes of the half-hour show, she goes to Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park and ends up in the hot tub kissing her suitor, Marcel Khouw. Khouw also kisses Bachelorette No. 2, Jillian King, but he picks Price after more "face time" at dinner at Nick's Fishmarket.

He calls her "exotic and attractive." She calls him a good kisser.

Since the date, Price hasn't been out with her would-be prince, but she still can't get enough of this kind of thing.

"I enjoyed it," she said. "I think it's fun to be in front of the camera."

"The Lei" producers are still looking for a host. Price is game for that. Because for many dating contestants, the love connection has more to do with being in front of a camera than anything else.