Photo: Colin Young-Wolff/CBS
Viva Love Island: Season two of CBS’s sexy singles reality show is back on and headed inland — to Las Vegas. Vulture has learned exclusively that the Eye’s adaptation of ITV Entertainment’s international hit has started preproduction at the Cromwell, a Caesars Entertainment boutique hotel on the Strip that has been shuttered since COVID-19 lockdowns began in March. The series had been set to return in May, once again filming on an overseas island, but those plans were put on pause because of the pandemic. CBS and ITV Entertainment, which declined comment for this story, are now hoping to premiere the Vegas-set Love Island by the end of the summer.
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While precise details surrounding the production are scant, CBS and ITV will require everyone associated with Love Island, including the show’s cast and all crew members, to be quarantined prior to the start of production. As with the daytime soap operas currently in production at ABC and CBS, cast and crew will be tested for COVID-19 before and during production; crew members will work in pods to limit interaction between them. The now-standard social distancing and sanitization protocol will also apply. While CBS isn’t commenting, in the past the network and its production partners have stated that the safety of all involved in a production would be their main concern. Indeed, the Eye soap The Bold and the Beautiful paused production a couple times as it got back to filming to ensure proper testing.
As for the decision to base the show in Las Vegas, keeping it in the United States, and close to Hollywood — where budding reality stars are organically grown — removes the difficulties that might have been associated with producing outside the county, including international travel and the fact that many countries have banned travelers from the U.S. because the virus is out of control in the States. Las Vegas is just a five-hour car ride from Los Angeles, so cast or crew members based there could conceivably avoid any risky air travel to get to the site of production. Las Vegas is also a regular stop for talent scouts hunting for reality stars, so in theory, producers may be able to find cast members who already live in the city. (Vulture has not heard anything about casting for season two or whether casting has even been completed. The network had previously confirmed that one of the show’s biggest appeals — lovingly snarky narrator Matthew Hoffman — would be back.)
The fact that the Cromwell is closed — at least for now — should also make it easier to base Love Island there, since a closed resort would allow crew members to set up without worrying about interacting with guests. (The hotel is accepting reservations in August, though it is warning potential customers said reservations could be moved to other hotels in Caesars’ Vegas empire.) It was not immediately clear whether crew members or whatever limited Cromwell staff still on site will remain quarantined at the hotel throughout production of the show, which if it replicates season one, will last for a little more than a month. Las Vegas is located in Clark County, Nevada, which is currently in the middle of a significant COVID-19 outbreak. Roughly 1,000 cases on average have been reported daily in the area for most of the past week, and hospitalizations have tripled over the past month. However, it is notable that Florida is facing similarly explosive growth of the virus, and yet the NBA — so far — has successfully established a bubble for players, coaches, and the media at Disney World in Orlando. Again, while CBS and ITV aren’t commenting, it appears as if they’re planning a similar bubble-type situation.
While CBS has canceled plans for a fall season of Survivor, the network has apparently started preproduction of an all-star edition of its 20-year-old unscripted warhorse Big Brother, multiple sources (and media reports) say. The network hasn’t confirmed anything, however. But given production of scripted series is still just barely getting started, CBS is likely hoping Love Island and Big Brother could both be on the air in September (and possibly October) so that the network has some tentpole series during what, in normal years, is the most important time for advertisers.
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