Mayor Update on Temptation Island: “I’m Comfortable In Saying Maybe We Will Look At It”
By Wendy Osher
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said he continues to review the Temptation Island project, which was halted last week as media got word of plans to film the reality TV show in Wailea during the COVID-19 pandemic.
South Maui government leaders met via Zoom with the Maui Film Commissioner, medical professionals and film industry representatives to gain a greater understanding of protocols for the project.
During an afternoon press conference on Thursday, Mayor Victorino said, “I am saying this–It’s about time we take an opportunity to test–to see if these protocols that they’ve put in place will work. We have to test sooner or later–why not now, why not at the Andaz. Let’s make that our first. And let’s see. Because every great plan only works if you do it.”
Mayor Victorino, who expressed reservations last week saying he was not happy about the project, now says he believes there’s more support than before.
“And so I think at this point from the results that I’ve gotten back, I’m comfortable in saying maybe we will look at it. And so we’re going to discuss it further and probably make an announcement in the next couple of days,” said Mayor Victorino.
The initial news of the project prompted heavy criticism from some in the community who questioned the approval amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. Others expressed concern over conflicting messages that the production was being allowed while travelers were being told to delay non-essential travel.
Supporters maintain that the project would help to provide employment opportunities for union and hotel employees.
“First and foremost, this is about safety,” said Maui Film Commissioner Tracy Bennett during a recent virtual meeting, “This is about putting our crew and our hotel workers back to work safely. Get these jobs back. This virus sucks and as I said earlier, there is no guidebook for this… I want the Maui people to know that I’m trying to get this production and the unions and the hotels and everybody to understand that our community needs to be safe first and foremost.
“When it comes to the quarantine and the modified quarantine that the governor approved, the people of Maui need to know that this crew that’s coming in from the mainland is not going to have any community contact. They’re not going to be out and about at Costco, at Target at the restaurants. They’re staying at the hotel and they go strictly, after they’ve done their few weeks there where they are solely at the hotel, if they get a shot at some beautiful beach here on our island, or under a waterfall or something like that, it’s done much later and there is no rental cars. They’re in strict vans or busses straight to the location and back,” said Bennett.
State Film Commissioner Donne Dawson said, “The only filming that they’re going to do is under the confines and regulations of film permits–either issued by the state or the county, which will require strict COVID protocols even when they are in those state or county jurisdictions.”
State Representative Tina Wildberger of South Maui, who hosted the virtual meetings said she’s glad the “perceived immorality” of the content of this particular production was raised. “I think many people in Maui County would like to see the opportunity to see other film industry opportunities–not just Temptation Island–since it is sort of a celebration of debauchery or whatever it is… none of these shows are my cup of tea and no one has to watch it, but what we want to do is offer the economic opportunity,” said Rep. Wildberger.
“I personally feel that it’s not appropriate to judge. If you’re not harming women, children or animals… I don’t want to impose my moral value system on other people,” she said.