Fox is all set to head for Fantasy Island in summer. The network has gifted a straight-to-series sequence to a contemporary form of the classic drama. The exemplary project, from the two writers and producers Liz Craft and Sarah Fain (The 100), Gemstone Studios, and Sony Pictures TV is scheduled to go on air this coming summer.
This also marks the first green signal for Gemstone Studios, which is Sony TV’s boutique label, specially dedicated to independent production innovatively and efficiently. Sony TV and Gemstone will co-produce this with Fox Entertainment.
Retaining the semi-anthological format from the original one with a handful of its main characters residing on the island and with new guests making a special appearance in each episode, the new Fantasy Island, written and executive produced by the outstanding duo Craft and Fain, deep dives into the “what ifs” that keep many of us awake all night. Each episode will narrate some emotional but provocative stories about those who walk in with a wish but end up reborn in the magical realism of this Fantasy Island.
Intending to develop a narrative outside the mainstream broadcast cycle, the contemporary adaptation particularly focuses on presenting to its viewers a summer series that offers a true, much-needed escape from their everyday lives.
The original Fantasy Island was a brainchild of Gene Levitt and produced by Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg. It ran on ABC from 1977 until 1984. It had starred Ricardo Montalbán as the bizarre Mr. Roarke as well as Hervé Villechaize as assistant, Tattoo, to grant guests fantasies’ on the island for a handsome price.
For those who want to know a little more, Fantasy Island has always been quite a vital IP for Sony, which has, for this obvious reason, revisited it several times, including the 1998 series revival that starred Mädchen Amick and Malcolm McDowell. It had aired on ABC, and a reboot was being developed on the same, during 2018-19.
Earlier this year, a feature-length horror adaptation that starred Maggie Q, Michael Peña, and Lucy Hale grossed about $50 million at the box office but managed to earn a dismal 7% approval on Rotten Tomatoes.
There is one thing that strikes many Fantasy Island fans, including us. And that is: What is it that the new Fantasy Island has in store for us and what is worth a re-release, even forty years after its debut? We will get to that and give you more details on this in a while. Meanwhile, if you are enjoying this video, do not forget to like and subscribe to our channel.
But before getting into all the interesting facts about the new series, here are some things you must know about the original one before watching The Blumhouse Reboot:
It featured dozens of stars as celebrity guests
Fantasy Island came to be popular for its slew of guest stars it featured over the years from the ’70s and ’80s showing up to play the guests that visited the island. Some of the well-known faces included Don Knotts, Regis Philbin, Scott Baio, David Cassidy, Leslie Nielsen, and even Jimmy Dean (the one you know as the sausage guy).
Some of the guest stars became famous later on, such as Michelle Pfeiffer (who starred in 1983’s Scarface), Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker from Star Trek: The Next Generation a few years later), the actor Sid Haig (Captain Spalding from The Devil’s Rejects films)and Tori Spelling (who was then a kid). The guest stars signed the plane that was used to fly characters to the island.
The Guests were all exceptionally wealthy
In the first made-for-TV film (in reality, a pilot for this series), it was unfolded to its fans that the guests paid a lump sum of $50,000 to stay on Fantasy Island. As you can well imagine, in terms of today’s currency standards, that is more than $200,000.
Seeing how most guests were so wealthy, they often acted as though they would never have to struggle during their lifetime. Such a spoiled attitude neither did them any favor nor to the island, as it had a unique way of showing them some humility as far their fantasies were concerned.
The Fantasies Always Taught a Lesson
Mr. Roarke always gave his final word as to whether a guest’s fantasies would or not end up well, usually with just eye movements or minimal facial expressions. As the fantasies gradually unfolded, Roarke endeavored to use them to teach his guests an essential life lesson. Coincidentally, the fantasy would expose a guest’s error in judgment, and they were often happier if the fantasy was not realized. For instance, willingness to revisit “good old days” may just send you back to the good old days of the Salem Witch Trials. Roarke’s ability in helping guests realize that their fantasies were not free of danger and that the danger usually came from the guests themselves. Roarke maintained a stringent code of conduct, his morals made him more merciful. He intervened when fantasies became perilous, but guests also sometimes died due to their negligence or ego.
The idea for the show was a joke
Spelling was in a pitch discussion with the network where his ideas were not that captivating. That resulted in an exasperated joke coming from the producer. His wife Candy reportedly revealed that Aaron was in his office, trying to sell ABC a show and she had apparently heard him ask what is it that the producer would like him to do? It was a rhetorical question as he continued saying, would he be putting a guy on a deserted island and make him grant wishes to others? Well, by now you must have figured that he was just being sarcastic. But it worked in his favor, the network loved the idea.
Opening Credits Resemble That of M*A*S*H
You heard us right, the opening credits have something common to that of ‘M*A*S*H.’ Now worries if you have not figured that yet. Because we are going to tell you.
The original fantasy island is Kaua’i in Hawaii. We can say that at least, that is where you will find Wailua Falls, the mesmerizing waterfalls you see during the opening credits. Another unforgettable opening credits sequence featured a shot on the island – M*A*S*H. A shot featuring a helicopter over a mountain was also filmed on Kaua’i.
Orson Welles was desired to play the lead
ABC was pushing really hard to have the venerable, although faded star, as the Fantasy Island’s headliner. During that time, Citizen Kane prodigy was occupied as he was making art films with lover Oja Kodar. Despite the network’s wish to have Orson Welles, Spelling desired Montalbán and, obviously, won. Yet another to play the role of Roarke.
There is no such thing as Corinthian leather
Fantasy Island’s popularity brought several golden commercial opportunities for Montalbán. He soon became the spokesman for the Chrysler Cordoba. In the ads, he settled in the interior and praised its “fine Corinthian leather,” stressing hard on the second syllable in his melodic accent. It soon became a catchphrase. However, there was only one catch – the entire concept of “Corinthian leather” is made up. Yes, you heard that right. It was not brought from Corinth, Greece. It was just a marketing mumbo jumbo. If you want to know about it further, well, the material was sourced mostly from New Jersey.
Belvedere replaced Tattoo
Late in the series, Villechaize grew extremely demanding behind the scenes. He kept demanding more money and also behaved in unexpected and unacceptable ways on the set. And although he was closely associated with Fantasy Island, he was kicked off. His role as a sidekick was replaced by Christopher Hewett as our dear old “Lawrence.” Truth be told, it was slightly difficult to identify him without his mustache, Hewett was, later, best known as Mr. Belvedere on the hit sitcom.
The network wanted to replace Tattoo with a girl
Fantasy Island began as two made-for-TV movies, in 1977 and 1978. When filming was underway, Fred Silverman, ABC’s head, called Spelling to ask the film to be cut into two halves. He wanted to convert the whole idea into a series. However, there was one catch, coming from a lower-level network suit – they wanted Tattoo to get the boot. They wanted to get rid of a guy, the executive had demanded, per what has been mentioned in Aaron Spelling: A Primetime Life, which is Spelling’s memoir. They wanted to have an attractive, alluring girl for Mr. Rourke. Despite the success with Charlie’s Angels, Spelling remained stuck with Villechaize.
Fantasy Island has always been one of our favorite and iconic series, and when we heard Liz Craft and Sarah Fain’s vision of this world, we almost instantly guessed that they were onto something even more special. And, the facts tell us that we were not wrong. So now, are you ready to take a trip to Fantasy Island? Do let us know your views in the comment section. And, before you move over to playing the next Facts Verse video, please take a moment to like and subscribe to our channel, and don’t forget to press the bell icon to stay updated about all our latest videos