Martha's Vineyard docu-soap planned
A defining Island summer is the subject
Alluringly rendered in pastel script, the invitation extended by marthasvineyardcasting.com targets real people between the ages of 19 and 28, who would like to compete for a chance to star in a primetime television show to be set on Martha's Vineyard. Casting directors are interested in groups of friends, including locals, summer residents, and first-time visitors.
"There are moments in life that change who you are - one summer that defines you." That's the way 25/7 Productions, the Los Angeles-based production company that created such shows as NBC's "The Biggest Loser," and TLC's "A Model Life," puts it. And, "New friends are made, others fade away, lust simmers, and sometimes, mistakes are made with no regret. But one thing is for sure, you'll never forget your summer on The Vineyard."
25/7 Productions is in the early stages of production on "The Vineyard," a working title. Tentatively scheduled to air in September, it will appear on The CW Television Network, whose fare includes "America's Next Top Model," "90210," and "Gossip Girl."
In a telephone interview last week, Dave Broome, president of 25/7 Productions and executive producer of the show, explained his decision to set the show on the Vineyard. "We're looking to kind of capture a time in people's lives. The Vineyard is where people go to summer, coming off of college. There's a kind of dividing line - the people that are going there to work and figure things out for their future, and people who are there to have fun in the sun and not have to work, because they have the financial means where they don't have to worry about summer jobs. The interaction between the two groups is actually really appealing."
Referred to by Mr. Broome as a "soft-scripted docu-soap," "The Vineyard" will combine elements of reality TV and narrative drama, similar to MTV's "The Hills," which documents the interconnected lives of affluent 20-somethings in Los Angeles.
"We take things that are really going on in our characters lives," explained Mr. Broome. "We don't tell them how to feel, we don't tell them what to say, we don't tell them how to act. But we try to capture it as it's taking place."
The show's producers hope that Rosie Piccione, who graduated from Martha's Vineyard Regional High School in 2004 and is a member of the 25/7 Productions casting team, can help to guarantee authenticity. "She has local relationships and local connections, which have been tremendously beneficial," remarked Mr. Broome. "It's really critical to do this very genuine and very authentic. We don't want anyone to look at this and say, 'That would never happen here.' We want them to be like, 'That's exactly what life is like on the Vineyard in the summertime.'"
The show has already attracted much online attention through announcements on Facebook and other sites. "We're having a tremendous response," said Mr. Broome, who estimates they've received between 600 and 700 applications.
On February 28 and March 1, casting directors will meet with selected applicants at Four Seasons Hotel in Boston. "We're being very selective," said Yong Yam, one the show's producers. "It's not an open call."
While the central cast will include only six or seven characters, Mr. Broome said, "There will be lots of supporting and surrounding characters. We really want to capture life there. We're going to talk to the restaurants, to the shops, to clubs. Everything that really takes place there we're going to prominently display."
No decisions have been made as to specifically where on the Island the show will be set. "We haven't scouted yet, though we'll probably shoot all over Martha's Vineyard," said Mr. Broome. "We're looking at possible houses that we can use."
According to 25/7 Productions, whose producers plan to start shooting on location in March, they haven't met any resistance from town officials and residents. Said Ms. Yam, "Even before we started the process, I called the chamber of commerce, just to get an idea of how receptive people were going to be. They didn't seem to have any problems with permits or anything. They all seemed very receptive."
As of last week, Oak Bluffs selectman Kerry Scott had no knowledge of the show, but said that she approved of the idea - cautiously. "If there was any kind of extraordinary disruption, I think it would have to be talked about among the selectmen, the police department, the fire department," she said. "I know none of us would want to see anyone who's visiting the Vineyard robbed of their enjoyment because this kind of activity was taking place."
More as a lifelong resident than a town official, Ms. Scott added, "I would also hope that the way they portrayed the Vineyard would be accurate and respectful."
Edgartown selectman Arthur Smadbeck, who learned of the show through a television advertisement, had little worry. "I'm not sure what permitting they would need, unless they were going to plan to block roads or something like that. From what I've seen, I don't foresee any problems at all. It just sounds like a lot of fun."
Ms. Scott and Mr. Broome independently agreed on one thing: if handled responsibly, the show could provide a much needed boost for Vineyard businesses during this slow economic time.