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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 17, 2007

MTV Does Maui

StoryChat: Comment on this story

By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Neighbor Island Editor

The Cast: From left Corbin, Jesse, Anna, Chaunte, Anthony (front) and Sean. Pro surfer Cheyne (with hat) is in back.

Photos by Nabil

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Series premiere

10:30 tonight


More information: www.mtv.com

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Corbin, 24: With no goals and no girlfriend, he's the kind of guy who can't take anything or anyone too seriously.

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Jesse, 21: The new guy in town who often finds himself breaking the No. 1 rule in Ka'anapali: Don't fall for tourists.

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Chaunte, 20: Notorious for being the center of attention, she stirs up drama wherever she goes.

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Anna, 20: Chaunte's roommate and fellow restaurant hostess, she also relishes the attention of men, especially ex-boyfriend, Cheyne.

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Anthony, 19:Quiet and shy, he is hanging on to his relationship with Chaunte, who insists they remain "just friends."

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Sean, 24: A Ka'anapali player who dips into the constant flow of tourists to find his love du jour.

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Cheyne, 23: A pro surfer and party-all-night guy who has a girlfriend but is still attracted to his ex, Anna.

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Brace yourself, Hawai'i. MTV is back with another "reality" show based in the Islands, this time featuring seven friends who live and work in the Ka'anapali area.

"Maui Fever" debuts today with the first of eight half-hour episodes that expose "the daily lives, loves and betrayals" of its cast of five guys and two girls. Series creator Morgan J. Freeman said Maui is an ideal setting for the show because of its exotic backdrops and spicy mix of tourists and locals.

"There's an allure to the tropics and to Hawai'i, and of living on a tropical island and being on permanent vacation," Freeman said.

The 37-year-old says he's familiar with the lifestyle and characters who inhabit the rollicking resort town after years of vacationing at his parents' Ka'anapali condo.

MTV brought its series "The Real World" to Honolulu in 1999, planting seven strangers in a Diamond Head beach house for a raucous run made notorious by the meltdown of local girl Ruthie Alcaide, who required an intervention for alcohol abuse. But "Maui Fever" is more like MTV's recent hit "Laguna Beach," in which a film crew eavesdrops on a group of pampered teens as they hang out together, party and interdate in the seaside Southern California enclave.

The Maui-based series already has been slammed by bloggers who claim it grossly misrepresents Island life, while others are incensed at the lack of diversity in the cast, especially for a show set in the most ethnically diverse state in the country.

Defenders of "Maui Fever" say it is what it is: a piece of pseudo-reality MTV fluff, not a documentary.

Freeman said casting was a challenge because of the need to find a group of people who already were friends and who didn't mind getting intimate on television. "You can only film people who are willing to be filmed, and a lot of the people we wanted (for a more diverse cast) didn't want to be filmed. You can't control that," said Freeman, adding that some of the supporting characters are nonwhite.

The seven leads include pro surfer Cheyne Magnusson, 23, one of three cast members who grew up in Hawai'i. Another, Chaunte, 20, is a King Kekaulike High School grad, and the remaining three are Mainland transplants who have been living on Maui for several years. (Producers would not reveal the cast members' last names.)

The group said they had no qualms about the exposure and don't care what viewers will think of them.

"I'm comfortable with who I am. I don't care. They can make me out for who they want," said Anthony, 19, who was raised on the Big Island but graduated from Lahainaluna.

Sean, 24, said he has no regrets about the show. "If you're not comfortable in your own skin, that's your problem."

Fellow cast member Corbin, 24, who also grew up on the Big Island, is hoping "Maui Fever" will boost his fledgling music career. He is described as the shiftless clown of the group.

"I don't watch TV. I probably won't even watch this show. Seriously," he said.

Magnusson, who is too well-known to remain anonymous, is pegged as a popular guy who likes to party hard. In person, he is the most articulate and ambitious of the lot. The Lahainaluna grad owns a condo and has plans that include running his own business.

Magnusson feels that "Maui Fever" portrays Hawai'i in a positive light, and said he isn't losing any sleep worrying about public reaction to the show. "Hawai'i is different things to different people. You can't control what people think about the Islands," he said.

Speaking shortly after "Maui Fever" wrapped in November following three months of filming, the pro surfer said he went into the experience with a "why not?" attitude but was glad to be living off-camera again. "I appreciate the privacy and quiet times and am looking forward to having more," he said.

Shooting an unscripted show is a gamble, but Freeman says the cast didn't disappoint. "I couldn't have been more blown away by what unfolded when we were there. It was a dream come true," he said.

Producers are not revealing any details, but viewers can tune in to find out if Cheyne's relationship with his girlfriend survives his attraction to Anna, and whether Anthony gets wise to Chaunte's manipulative ways. More importantly, which blonde hottie will we most love to hate: Chaunte or Anna? And will Corbin care about anything?

Note: Satellite-TV subscribers can see "Maui Fever" at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on Dish channel 160 or Direct TV channel 331.

Reach Christie Wilson at cwilson@honoluluadvertiser.com.