“Reality” Comes to Fire Island
By David Crohn
and Tara Lamberti

Take a close look at the throngs of vacationers and daytrippers that flood the island this Memorial Day Weekend. You may catch a glimpse of the next Puck, Kelly Clarkson or Richard Hatch.

That’s because reality TV is coming to Fire Island.

A show called “One Ocean View” will follow eight to nine New Yorkers as they spend the weekends in a Corneille Estates summer share.

In their monthly meeting Saturday, May 21, the Ocean Beach village board unanimously approved restrictions to be followed by Bunim-Murray Productions—creators of MTV’s “The Real World”—during production. Village officials said that since most shooting will happen on private property with small crews, Bunim-Murray didn’t need a permit.

Ocean Beach Mayor Natalie Rogers confirmed they don’t need a permit to shoot, but added “I think the conditions we are going to put in [this special use] permit will help us limit what goes on.”

Shooting will end July 5 and six episodes are set to air in August on ABC.

According to Mitchell Hirsch, Bunim-Murray’s lawyer and spokesman, “Eighty percent of filming” will be in the house.

But the rest of the time, cast and crew members will hit the walks of Ocean Beach, where they will be subject to mandates set forth by the village. There will be no shooting in the commercial district after 11 p.m.; no vehicles of any kind—including golf carts—can be used; Bunim-Murray must pay to have an Ocean Beach police officer chaperone each shooting crew; a fee of $500 per day will be paid to the village.

Hirsch’s brother, Scott, another lawyer for Bunim-Murray, said the Van Nuys, Calif.-based company would donate an undetermined sum of money to the Ocean Beach Community Fund and the Corneille Estates Association.


No Love from Locals

When word got out that a reality show was being planned for the area, visions of drunken 20-somethings and nights of debauchery danced in residents’ heads. The question on everyone’s mind quickly became, “What will happen to the island’s quiet communities once ‘reality’ sets in?”

“There is no upside to this,” said Ocean Beach resident Brett Wolf. “They’re going to get boatloads of money. Unless we benefit from it I don’t see the point. We’re being exploited, plain and simple.”

But the show creators say they here to “record, not to ruin” and that cast members will be seen enjoying quiet walks on the beach—not getting wasted and hooking up. ABC, which is owned by Disney, is known for presenting family-friendly reality shows like “Miracle Workers” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” The makers of “One Ocean View” hope it will fit right in.

Other residents seemed less concerned for the damage the cast and crews may cause and more worried about the possibility that the well-kept secret of Fire Island as a down-to-earth Hamptons will get out.

“Do we really want this hour-long commercial for Ocean Beach appearing on national television?” said year-round Ocean Beach resident Nancy Roberts.

As part of a PR push to convince residents that this won’t be the beginning of the “Hamptonization” of Fire Island, Bunim-Murray cofounder Jonathan Murray spoke to (i)The Fire Island News.

“We’re going to be very respectful of the people around us,” Murray said. “It won’t be terribly invasive. Use of public walks will be incidental,” he said.

While the cast meanders down the walks only three crew members will follow behind. An unassuming camera man with portable equipment and two other people will make up the traveling team. The goal is to keep everything low key.

Murray is no stranger to Fire Island, having spent summers in the Fire Island Pines. “It was so invigorating,” he said.

Cast members will relax in the six-bedroom beach house complete with a volleyball court. Though casting is not yet complete, it is in the final stages. People who are “charismatic, have a great sense of humor, are attractive, smart, interesting and who have a story to tell” will be the ones chosen for a summer of fun.

Murray acknowledged that Ocean Beach is at the heart of their filming location and expressed his desire for the cast and crew to become a part of the goings on.

“We hope the people of Ocean Beach let us participate in the parade and dine at Mermaids. And we understand why they want to protect this place,” he said.