“Baywatch” threatens to say “aloha, Hawaii”

Associated Press

When Animals Attack! Oops, no, this is the wedding portrait of Darva Conger and Rick Rockwell, who found one another on a another Fox special, “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?” Fifty women went to Las Vegas to court multimillionaire Rockwell. More is in today’s People Column.

AP file 1998

Paula Jones is suing real estate tycoon Abe Hirschfeld. Find out why in today’s

People Column.

Once upon a rosy time, Hawaii tossed $3.1 million in cash and capital improvements like chum into the water and lured “Baywatch” away from Los Angeles. The move was expected to land the island increased publicity and $35 million in revenue over two years.

That was then. This is now, and “Baywatch Hawaii” says it needs another $2.5 million or it will shut down.

“The (budget) situation is awful right now,” says Greg Bonann, creator and executive producer. “If we can’t get assistance from the state, there’s no chance the show is coming back. Baywatch’ will be out of business, forever.” Sniff, sniff!

Bonann blames the financial crisis on a 50 percent drop in overseas revenue for show owners, Pearson Television. About 100 million people in 148 countries tune in to watch wet, skimpily clad Americans. Domestic revenues can’t pay the $890,000 per episode costs. The state House Committee on Culture and Arts is looking at a bill that would create a $5 million annual fund to support a television industry in Hawaii.

BUT DID SHE BRING A DOWRY OF GOATS? Arranged marriages have happened the world over for centuries, but it just gets grotesque American-style. Tuesday night Fox premiered its show “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?,” on which real estate investor and motivational speaker Rick Rockwell wed Gulf War veteran Darva Conger after a two-hour prime-time competition.

The show combined elements of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” “The Dating Game” and a beauty pageant. Apparently the insanity began when Fox executive Mike Darnell saw the ratings success of the ABC quiz show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” and decided to throw in matchmaking. “It struck me that part of the reason it was so successful was wish fulfillment,” said the executive vice president for alternative programming. “I thought, what else do people wish for?’ They wish for a relationship. They want to get married. And I thought, how could I combine the two?”

Thousands of women applied, setting back the feminist movement 2,000 years. The 10 semifinalists paraded in bathing suits and weddings gowns and answered questions like what they would do if they found another woman’s telephone number in their new husband’s pockets. Suing Fox for emotional distress and karmic humiliation was not any of the answers. Ratings and a distressing lack of public taste will determine if this series becomes semiregular.

PAULA JONES: WEASEL TYCOON OWES ME $1 MILLION: Paula Jones is suing a New York tycoon for the $1 million he had offered her to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against President Clinton.

The lawsuit, filed Feb. 7 in Dallas County, Texas, claims Abe Hirschfeld broke a contract to pay Jones after she settled with Clinton for $850,000 in November 1998.

“Paula would not have settled with the president had she not had Abe Hirschfeld’s written promise to pay her,” said Jones’ attorney, Gregory Kitterman.

Says Hirschfeld: “I don’t owe her nothing. She didn’t want to take my money. I gave her the check, she gave it back to me.”

Hirschfeld offered Jones the money in October 1998, but Jones’ camp claims he later sought to attach conditions to the payment that made the offer unappealing.

EASING BACK IN BEHIND THE DESK: David Letterman will be returning to “The Late Show” on Monday, but only for three nights a week at first. Guest hosts will continue to sit in, according executive producer Rob Burnett. “As early as two weeks ago, I think he was ready and raring to go,” Burnett said. “Dave, I think, got a rare opportunity to experience what it would be like not to do this The experience has absolutely made him miss the job completely.”‘ Letterman’s first guest will be Regis Philbin, who was on the show when the host revealed his medical problems. Letterman underwent an emergency quintuple bypass operation Jan. 14 after a test revealed a blocked artery.

Today’s People Column was compiled by Vera H-C Chan from staff and wire reports. Comments? Write to us c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099. Or call 925-943-8262, fax 925-943-8362, or e-mail


Show departure scheduled: For Courtney Thorne-Smith. The “Ally McBeal” actress will be moving on to star in a sitcom next fall. Her exit follows the news of Gil Bellows leaving. Bellows plays the estranged husband of her character.

Birthdays: Actor Marc Lawrence (90), actress Kathleen Freeman (81), mystery novelist Margaret Truman Daniel (76), actor Hal Holbrook (75), singer Bobby Lewis (67), actor Alan Bates (66), country singer-songwriter Johnny Bush (65), football Hall-of-Famer Jim Brown (64), actress Mary Ann Mobley (61), singer Gene Pitney (59), actress Brenda Fricker (55), actress Rene Russo (46), actor Richard Karn (44), actor Lou Diamond Phillips (38), basketball player-turned-executive Michael Jordan (37), movie director Michael Bay (36), rock musician Timothy J. Mahoney of 311 (30), rock singer-musician Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day (28), actor Jerry O’Connell (26), country singer Bryan White (26), actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (19).

Hed is 37 pts, 25p4, 2 decks

Cutlines 25p4 of millionaire and mate and 12p2 of paula jones. copies available.

molly rimmed, SPX

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‘” Molly is not ashamed to admit she saw it. The hyphenated Multi-Millionaire and question mark are cq.