Lee Cataluna: 'Temptation Island' Is Playing It Safe On Maui - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Lee Cataluna

Lee Cataluna is a columnist for Civil Beat. You can reach her by email at lcataluna@civilbeat.org

As hard as it has been to have everything shut down, opening everything up again is a delicate thing. It’s not like just flipping the sign on the door or throwing open the front gates. There are so many concerns, contingencies and questions about fairness.

Attitudes about dealing with COVID-19 have become almost binary: all-or-nothing, safe or free, pandemic or pau.

But with no cure or vaccine right around the corner, it is becoming clear that Hawaii is going to have to live in the gray, carving out bits of normalcy and figuring out how to get back to work with COVID still lurking. What that means is complicated and sometimes scary.

One of the industries poised to lead the way out of lockdown is the film and television business.

On Maui, filming of a reality TV series called “Temptation Island” will start at the beginning of October, though the production team has already been arriving in small groups to the Andaz Maui hotel in Wailea. About 250 people involved in the making of “Temptation Island” will stay at the Andaz and shoot on the property through the end of October. “Temptation Island” filmed two previous seasons on Maui.

The USA Network show is gearing up production on Maui following new COVID-19 guidelines written by film production organizations and unions. Screenshot

At first, Mayor Michael Victorino was wary about the production bringing in so many out-of-state people before a program of pre-testing trans-Pacific travelers was put in place. After talking with producers and the unions representing the film crew and the hotel workers, Victorino gave a cautious OK.

“From what I’ve been told, they will stay right in that location and film, stay, live, eat. They’ll have doctors and nurses and other medical professionals. They’re taking care of everything. And I know Department of Health will also be checking and monitoring so that if anything does go wrong, we will shut it down as quickly as possible,” Victorino said at a press conference earlier this month.

State Film Commissioner Donne Dawson says the film industry, with all its rules and resources, can “stand in the gap of tourism” while the industry is faltering.

“The film and television industry has a higher standard for health and safety,” Dawson said. “It is a supremely regulated and controlled business endeavor.”

Productions are following a document called “The Safe Way Forward”, a plan written by the Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees and Teamsters’ committees for COVID-19 Safety.

“Though our primary concern is the health and safety of performers, we know that, especially during this time, everyone’s health and safety is really tied together,” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, COO and General Counsel for SAG-AFTRA.  He pointed out that, unlike most jobs, actors are often required to interact without masks and social distancing, and so safety protocols and frequent testing are extremely important to SAG-AFTRA members.

The plan separates everyone on a film set into narrow zones, defined both geographically and physically. Zone A is for actors in front of the camera who can’t social distance or wear masks, and anyone who works closely with them, like a makeup artist. Those people are tested three times a week at minimum and do not have close contact with anyone outside their zone.

Zone B is everywhere the production has a footprint, be it an office, vehicle or control room. People who work in Zone B are tested once a week. Zone C is defined as the outside world, anywhere the people employed by the production go when they’re not working. Because “Temptation Island” is a closed set and will be doing almost all of the filming on the hotel property, there isn’t much of a Zone C, which is key.

Dawson emphasized an important difference between a “resort bubble” for tourists and a film production staying in a hotel. “On a film shoot, it’s an employer/employee situation. Everyone is obligated to obey protocol. If not, it’s not about getting a citation or having to pay a fine. You lose your job. Your job is on the line.”

“Any filming in the public has to go through the rigors of regulated film permitting.” — State Film Commissioner Donne Dawson

The groups arriving at Andaz are currently completing a modified quarantine and going through pre-production. About 100 workers at the hotel property are receiving COVID training. Most of the filming will be done on the hotel property, with some scenes planned for private property.

“Any filming in the public has to go through the rigors of regulated film permitting,” Dawson said.

In addition to Temptation Island, there are two other film productions currently in Hawaii and one about to start. Netflix is filming a feature-length film on Oahu, “Magnum P.I.” just began shooting the show’s third season and a reboot of the ’90s series “Doogie Howser,” now called “Doogie Kamealoha,” will soon begin production.

“Every production that comes in has to have a COVID safety program,” Dawson said.

According to the film industry publication Variety, the Safe Way Forward measures are bringing unseen benefits to film sets.

“Industry sources say that one notable silver lining to the strict safety measures is that productions appear to be moving faster and more efficiently as there is renewed focus on getting as much done as possible in a day. ‘There are fewer disruptions and distractions for the core group (required on set) and there are no entourages that come with the talent every day,’ said a senior studio executive who has been knee-deep in sorting out safety measures on TV series. ‘We’re seeing efficiencies.’”

Aside from criticism for its content, the “Temptation Island” production angered some Maui residents who felt those involved in the television show were getting special treatment.

“They were asking, why does a film production get to use this modified program and we don’t?” Dawson said. “And my answer to that is, yes, you should. But the film industry can afford to provide robust testing.”

David Goldberg, President and CEO of Banijay Studio North American and executive producer of “Temptation Island”, said, “We are just beginning and must remain vigilant, but to date we have conducted over 800 tests that have all come back negative.  We will continue to vigorously execute our COVID protection plan to keep the cast and crew healthy and safe.  That also extends to the citizens of Maui who we are equally committed to protecting. Our goal is to demonstrate a safe and successful way forward, not only for the TV and film business, but for other industries that are eager to get back to work.”

Read this next:

Use CARES Act Funds To Help Develop Easy Testing

Not a subscription

Civil Beat is a small nonprofit newsroom, and we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content because we believe in journalism as a public service. That’s why donations from readers like you are essential to our continued existence.

Help keep our journalism free for all readers by becoming a monthly member of Civil Beat today.


About the Author

Lee Cataluna

Lee Cataluna is a columnist for Civil Beat. You can reach her by email at lcataluna@civilbeat.org

Latest Comments (0)

What has been interesting to note in our response to this pandemic and exemplified in this particular business enterprise is the value and importance being placed on group and individual integrity in adherence to a set of guidelines designed to protect and ensure the safety of the community.  My question is once this pandemic is past us will we learn from this and adopt this type of behavior as a way forward and possibly a new way of thinking on how to live and behave with others and thereby create a much more responsible and livable society?  I remain hopeful that we can be better than we are because of these challenges.

incredibles2 · 2 years ago

What has not been addressed is how the Maui Andaz plans to keep the hotel workers safe? Will they be living on the property until filming is completed? Or, will they be tested every day? If a Temptation Island worker gets bored and leaves the hotel premises, there are no consequences if their supervisor just says, "hey buddy, don’t do that again," right? When will the filming be pau? Will these people be here when tourism reopens?

kbaybaby · 2 years ago

I don’t have a problem with this. The system described to combat Covid-19 is very thorough and the film industry can afford it. I’ve seen many shows make adjustments due to Covid-19 and I recognize the effort the film/television industry Is making to keep everyone safe. 

Kahomie · 2 years ago

Join the conversation


IDEAS is the place you'll find essays, analysis and opinion on every aspect of life and public affairs in Hawaii. We want to showcase smart ideas about the future of Hawaii, from the state's sharpest thinkers, to stretch our collective thinking about a problem or an issue. Email news@civilbeat.org to submit an idea.


You're officially signed up for our daily newsletter, the Morning Beat. A confirmation email will arrive shortly.

In the meantime, we have other newsletters that you might enjoy. Check the boxes for emails you'd like to receive.

  • What's this? Be the first to hear about important news stories with these occasional emails.
  • What's this? You'll hear from us whenever Civil Beat publishes a major project or investigation.
  • What's this? Get our latest environmental news on a monthly basis, including updates on Nathan Eagle's 'Hawaii 2040' series.
  • What's this? Get occasional emails highlighting essays, analysis and opinion from IDEAS, Civil Beat's commentary section.

Inbox overcrowded? Don't worry, you can unsubscribe
or update your preferences at any time.