Where ‘Love Island’ came from

TV Pipeline

Q: I understand that “Love Island” is based on a British show. How long has that series been on the air? – Elaine Smith, via e-mail

A: The original program – whose Arielle Vandenberg-hosted U.S. version did a lot to boost the younger demographics of CBS viewership over its month-long, almost-every-night summer run – started in England in 2005 and initially ran for two seasons, an interesting twist being that celebrities were the participants rather than everyday people. Most of those players (and yes, we mean that in more than one way) probably would be unknown to the American market, but one was actress-model Nikki Ziering, the ex-wife of “Beverly Hills, 90210” veteran Ian Ziering.

“Love Island” then returned to British television in 2015, but not celebrity-driven – and it’s been on every summer since then, including this one. After last year saw enhanced controversy with the suicide deaths of a couple of earlier participants, and the producers promising counseling services for the “Islanders” going forward, the overseas show’s fifth-season premiere this past June had record-breaking numbers for the network ITV2.

Q: What is Kaley Cuoco going to do, now that “The Big Bang Theory” is over? – Gary Crane, Albuquerque, N.M.

A: Actually, she’s going to be pretty busy with a number of projects. She’s an executive producer and voice-cast member of DC Universe’s upcoming animated series “Harley Quinn”; and she’s developing ideas for her new production company (named Yes, Norman … after her dog), including “The Flight Attendant,” an adaptation of a novel in which she’ll star for the forthcoming streaming service HBO Max. She’ll also be producing, but not starring in, a sitcom called “Pretty” that’s in development at CBS. Warner Bros. Television, which made “The Big Bang Theory,” has a first-look deal for her company’s product.

Q: I read that Mandy Moore now has her first Emmy nomination, but wasn’t she on other shows before “This Is Us”? – Kellie Clark, Grafton, Ohio

A: Yes, but the NBC drama marks her first job as a series regular apart from the considerable animation-voiceover work she’s done for Disney Channel. Moore had made pilots that didn’t sell in earlier seasons, and she had guest arcs on such series as “Entourage” (playing a version of herself), “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Red Band Society.” She also has another presumably lucrative television job these days, pitching hair-color products in ads.

Q: Someone told me Naomi Watts starred in a TV series before she became a movie star. What was it? – Roger Clay, via e-mail

A: Well before her television stops of late in Showtime’s “The Loudest Voice” and “Twin Peaks” and Netflix’s “Gypsy,” Watts was a regular in a 1997-98 NBC melodrama called “Sleepwalkers.” She played one of several researchers who could insert themselves into the dreams or nightmares of others, with Bruce Greenwood (“The Resident”) also among the show’s stars.

Before that, Watts appeared on some Australian shows including “Home and Away,” one of that land’s most popular programs – to the extent that it’s still running, after having debuted in 1988. (That’s not a typo.) She had a recurring role on the serial in the early 1990s, as one of a number of talents who would become famous alumni of it … with Chris Hemsworth, Isla Fisher, Julian McMahon, Melissa George and Ryan Kwanten also among them.

Q: Did any episodes of the “Training Day” series with Bill Paxton not air after the actor died? – Jeff McCrea, Umatilla, Fla.

A: All 13 of the episodes had been filmed before Paxton’s death in February 2017, and CBS did air all of them. Had the show gone to a second season, the Paxton character – based a little more than loosely on the part that earned Denzel Washington his second Oscar, for the 2001 movie that inspired the series – would not have been recast, and a similar character presumably would have been developed.

Q: What ever happened to Pamela Hensley, who played C.J. on “Matt Houston” and Princess Ardala on “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”? – Robert Dunlap, Reading, Pa.

A: She ended her acting career – up to this point, at least – when “Matt Houston” finished its ABC run in 1985, presumably to focus on married life. In 1982, she wed her second husband, who had a big connection to “Houston” as well: E. Duke Vincent was the supervising executive producer as well as a longtime associate of television icon Aaron Spelling, who also provided guest turns for Hensley on such shows as “The Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island” and “Hotel.”

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Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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