Baywatch: Behind The Scenes Of A Classic Show

Jul 28, 2021Roshanak

‘Baywatch’ was one of the most popular shows ever created. People just loved looking at beautiful people in swimsuits. But how much do you really know about this series? It was originally canceled after the first season. David Hasselhoff didn’t like Pamela Anderson, and there were even protests against it. Let’s find out more!

Image Credits: Getty Images/Handout

THEY MADE A MUSIC VIDEO TO PROMOTE THE CONCEPT

According to co-creator Michael Berk, NBC didn’t get the concept of ‘Baywatch’ for a long time. In order to convince them that there were angles they take, they filmed a lifeguard on Venice Beach and added ‘The Boys of Summer’ by Don Henley in the background. It’s hard to say if it actually helped, but NBC eventually bought it.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Ben Gabbe

REAL LIFEGUARD HAD A ROLE

Interestingly, Michael Newman was actually a lifeguard in real life. Co-creator Greg Bonnan was a competitive swimmer and his friend. He asked Newman to be a cast member. Thanks to his experience, the actor was able to do more stunts as well as help other cast members how to act on their rescue scenes.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

SIMPLE SETS

When ‘Baywatch’ got the syndication deal, the budget was cut 30%. That meant that they needed to cut costs in all areas, and their sets became just a few rooms that staff and crew would use. One lifeguard station kitchen was used as a break room, and there was a gym where David Hasselhoff worked out.

Image Credits: Getty Images/James Aylott

GAINING WEIGHT WAS A BIG NO-NO

One of the most important parts of the show was the red swimsuits, and a lot of people loved the series for its beautiful people. Alexandra Paul revealed that her contract specifically said that she couldn’t gain weight while filming. Interestingly, it originally only applied to women, but eventually, men were also required to stay fit.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

TOMMY LEE JONES HATED ANDERSON’S LOVE SCENES

During her time on the show, Pamela Anderson was famously dating rockstar Tommy Lee Jones from the band Motley Crue. Hasselhoff revealed in his autobiography that the rocker hated the actress’s love scene with David Chokachi. Apparently, he would go crazy on set.  

Image Credits: Getty Images/Jim Smeal

RUNNING THE FAILING SPIN-OFF

One of the spin-offs of the show was ‘Baywatch Nights’, as the creators and Hasselhoff wanted to earn more money from its popularity. Unfortunately, the first season’s ratings were not that great, but it was renewed so that people wouldn’t think that the ‘Baywatch’ brand was losing value.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch Nights

THEY SOLD TICKET IN IRANS TO SEE IT

Many people around the world loved this show, and it was even enjoyed in places where not everyone had a television. Hasselhoff told Men’s Health that the Shah of Iran’s wife told him that people with satellite dishes at home would sell tickets so that others would come to see the show.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

DANGER TO KOALA POPULATION

When production costs in California increased, they decided to move to Australia. They were excited about the possibility of ‘Baywatch Down Under’. However, the people of Avalon Beach were mad because production closed down many areas, including one that was full of koalas. In the end, they had to leave Australia.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Peter Carrette Archive

JASON MOMOA WAS IN ‘BAYWATCH HAWAII’

When the show finally settled in Hawaii for its last two seasons, there were several new cast members. Jason Momoa was one of them, although he became a household after playing Khal Drogo in ‘Game of Thrones’. He was later cast as Aquaman for the DCEU franchise. Unfortunately, the actor couldn’t find much work after the show ended because he wasn’t taken seriously.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch Hawaii

THERE WAS A MUSICAL IN THE WORKS

David Schwartz and Michael Berk wanted to venture into the world of theater. Their project was ‘Baywatch: the Musical’. It was supposed to happen in London’s West End in 2017, but nothing ever took place. Schwartz had even assured that they would use a water tank.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Paul Harris

THEY USED TONS OF SUNSCREEN

Makeup artist Joanna Connell revealed that they went through more than 40 bottles of sunscreen a month to keep the cast from too much sun exposure and sunburns. So, that’s why none of them ever looked too red even though the entire show was almost always at the beach.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Mirek Towski

HASSELHOFF DIDN’T WANT THE ROLE

David Hasselhoff reached major popularity thanks to 'Knight Rider' and ‘Baywatch’, and he went on to become a huge musical artist in Germany as well as Austria. But you would be surprised to know that he didn’t want to appear on the series in the first place. He thought it would be like “Knight Rider in a bathing suit”.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

IT WAS ORIGINALLY CANCELED AFTER THE FIRST SEASON

Interestingly, ‘Baywatch’ had the highest-ratings in the Friday time slot after ‘Knight Rider’. However, it was not enough for the network and got canceled after 22 episodes. Additionally, GTG, the production studio in charge of it, was closing down. Billy Warlock said that the cancelation was not because of bad viewership, but rather, money issues.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

TWO CAST MEMBERS QUIT

Billy Warlock played the role of Eddie Kramer, while Erika Eleniak played Shauni McClain. They were both on the first two seasons and part of the third, which is when they decided to quit the show. Apparently, neither of them liked where the story was going and decided to get out. Interestingly, Eleniak and Warlock were engaged once.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

THE MOVIE REBOOT WAS A FLOP

You might remember the movie reboot of ‘Baywatch’ in 2017 starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Zac Efron. However, it was a huge failure at the box office despite making it into a comedy. The studio hoped that it would be like the movie reboot for ’21 Jump Street’. But it didn’t work.

Image Credits: Paramount Pictures/Baywatch

THE INSPIRATION FOR THE SLOW MOTION SCENES

The most iconic part of the show was the lifeguards running in slow motion. Interestingly, those scenes were inspired by the Olympics. Michael Berk filmed the 1988 Olympics with slower frames in order to catch the runners properly. Those shots are known for being amazing, and Berk brought the idea to the series.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

THEY HAD A PRO SURFER ON THE CAST

Pro-surfer Kelly Slater was cast for the third and fourth seasons of the series. He played the role of Jimmy Slade and was a love interest for Nicole Eggert’s character Summer Quinn. However, Slater ended up hating the plotlines of the show and asked to be written out. Additionally, he was rising as a professional athlete.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Visions of America/Joe Sohm

HASSELHOFF DIDN’T WANT ANDERSON AS A CAST MEMBER

David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson were two of the iconic cast members of the show, but Hasselhoff was against her. Anderon’s C.J. Parker first appears in Season 3, but the actor didn’t want her because he feared being outshined. The ratings eventually doubled thanks to her.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

TWO ICONS APPEARED IN THE MOVIE REBOOT

Since Hasselhoff and Anderson became the most recognized faces of the original franchise, they were asked to appear on the movie reboot. They both had short cameos, but it was best that way. The film starring The Rock, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, and Priyanka Chopra was a flop.

Image Credits: Paramount Pictures/Baywatch

SPIN-OFF AND FILMS

Aside from the spin-off ‘Baywatch Nights’, the franchise also had three movies, but they weren’t released in theaters. They were “direct to video”: ‘Baywatch the Movie: Forbidden Paradise’, ‘Baywatch: White Thunder at Glacier Bay’, and ‘Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding’.

Image Credits: 20th Century Studios Home Entertainment/Baywatch Hawaiian Wedding

THE DEAL TO START FILMING IN HAWAII

When things didn’t work out in Australia, the show moved to Hawaii. But the deal had several stipulations. They should change the name from ‘Baywatch’ to ‘Baywatch Hawaii’, hire several locals to be important cast members, and film for two years minimum. The last 44 episodes cost around $870,000, and more than half of the budget was spent on the island.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch Hawaii

IT WAS JOEY AND CHANDLER’S FAVORITE SHOW

You might also be a fan of NBC’s ‘Friends’, which started airing in the late 90s. Two of the main character, Joey and Chandler, were huge fans of the show, especially actress Yasmine Bleeth. At some point, they had a pet chicken and a pet duck, which they named Yasmine.

Image Credits: NBC/Friends

THE ORIGINAL THEME

The original song for ‘Baywatch’ was actually ‘Save Me’ by Peter Cetera, with Bonnie Raitt and Richard Sterban doing backup work. It’s from Cetera’s album ‘One More Story’ released in 1988. However, on some DVDs, they changed the song to ‘Above the Waterline’ by Kim Carnes.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

THE MOST POPULAR THEME

When the show went into syndication, they changed the song to ‘I’m Always Here’ performed by Jimi Jamison from Survivor. Between Season 6 and 9, the instrumental version of that song was the ending of the series. The ending theme changed again in Season 10 when it became ‘Baywatch Hawaii’.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

A SHORTER SONG

After some time, they added the NBC episodes to the syndication deal, and the opening theme became a different version of the same song, ‘I’m Always Here’. It also included some of the original footage that NBC had not allowed before for the new opening.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

THE SYNDICATION DEAL SAVED IT

When the first season got canceled, Berk and Schwartz were advised to buy the rights from GTG, and they got it for just $10. The deal was that if they didn’t reach success, the rights would return to GTG. If it did become popular, they would get $5,000 per episode. Hasselhoff was also asked to cut his salary in half and become an executive producer, which he accepted. The actor's popularity in Germany also helped her syndication.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

SEVERAL PLAYBOY GIRLS

Naturally, ‘Baywatch’ needed to have some of the most beautiful people in the world, and they worked with several Playboy Playmates. Aside from Pamela Anderson, there was Erika Eleniak, Brande Roderick, Carmen Electra, Gena Lee Nolin, and many others. A documentary about them called ‘Babes of Baywatch’ was released in 1998.

Image Credits: Getty Images/James Aylott

THEY ALMOST DIDN’T PICK ERIKA ELENIAK

Although Playboy girls became almost the norm for the show, it originally didn’t work like that. NBC didn't want Erika Eleniak after discovering that she had appeared in the magazine. However, producers really wanted her over many actresses such as Alicia Silverstone and Teri Hatcher.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

THE PROTEST AGAINST THE MOVIE REBOOT

As mentioned earlier, Australia didn’t like the idea of ‘Baywatch’ filmed at one of their beaches. Well, the movie reboot also got some protesters because some of the citizens of Savannah, Georgia, did not want most of their big beaches closed off. Additionally, one of the boat chases was supposed to be shot in a “No Wake” area.

Image Credits: Paramount Pictures/Baywatch

THE ENDING THEME BY HASSELHOFF

David Hasselhoff did in fact sing for the show. The ending theme of Seasons 2 through 4 was his version of ‘Current of Love’ by Kevin Savigar and Todd Cerney. Furthermore, the ending for Season 5 was a duet of ‘I Believe’ alongside Laura Branigan. Of course, they had to use his talent as a singer too!

Image Credits: Getty Images/Bernd Muller

THE SHOW BROKE SEVERAL RECORDS

The series was syndicated in 148 countries, and at its height, received more than 1.1 billion viewers each week. It’s considered one of the most-watched shows in history. Additionally, David Hasselhoff has two Guinness World Records including the most-watched actor on television. The other is for doing the highest reverse bungee jump.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

FIRING PAMELA BOWEN

Shawn Weatherly was originally cast on the show to replace Pamela Bowen. Bowen had gotten the part, but couldn’t complete her first shoot in the water. It turned out she had a phobia and suffered a panic attack on the set. Unfortunately, the actress became uninsurable after that incident.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

TRIED TO BE MORE RISQUE FOR EUROPE

Showrunners wanted to be a little more inclusive for European markets and changed the pilot a bit to include a topless woman. Hope Marie Carlton played the part of a woman on the beach. “The show opened with the lifeguards all gathering around with binoculars trying to see a photoshoot on the beach,” said Berk in 2012. He also revealed that the scenes were never shown.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

NICOLE EGGERT’S IMPLANTS

People always questioned if the girls on the show got plastic surgery. Nicole Eggert had to compete with Pamela Anderson, and in the middle of Season 7, she got breast implants. The problem was that they shot part of a scene before her operation, and when she returned with her new body, it created a continuity error.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

SHE WAS NOT FORCED TO HAVE SURGERY

Interestingly, Eggert regretted her time on the show, although she was there for only two seasons. Many people speculated that it was because producers had made her get the chest enhancement, which the actress denied. "I did the breast implants on my own. That was all me," Eggert revealed to Oprah in 2015. "They never asked me to do that."

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

THE PRODUCER WAS LEGALLY BLIND

One of the producers of the show was Douglas Schwartz, who is considered legally blind. He is actually the only blind person in the Director’s Guild of America. His condition is called retinitis pigmentosa, which left him with 10% vision. However, the producer thought it was a blessing. "Everything I could see was in-camera," Schwartz once said.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Ron Galella

YOU HAD TO WEAR THE SUIT WHILE AUDITIONING

Considering that the girls had to be in swimsuits most of the time, it’s not that farfetched to know that they auditioned in their bathing suits as well. Shawn Weatherly revealed on ‘E! True Hollywood Story’ that they told her to change right away. Meanwhile, Carmen Electra recalls that she hadn’t shaved her legs back then. Additionally, Electra said that she framed her swimsuit.  

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

GENA LEE NOLIN HAD STAGE FRIGHT

Gena Lee Nolin was cast on the show as a sort of replacement for Pamela Anderson. She was a blonde beauty as well. Unfortunately, Nolin suffered from stage fright. The producers solved that issue by having her in hypnotherapy. It worked long enough for her to film the show.

Image Credits: Getty Images/James Aylott

ALL THE BATHING SUITS FOR TAILORED DIFFERENTLY

All the suits would be adapted for each particular actress so that she could look her best. Greg Bonnan told the New York Times, “I wanted them to be real and practical and actually work in the surf.” But according to Kelly Packard, the swimsuits would get smaller every year.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

CHANGING FROM RED TO YELLOW

You might remember that when the show changed to Hawaii, the famous red bathing suits changed as well. The women were now using yellow attire, which is the color lifeguards use on the island. "I like to mimic the real lifeguard uniform wherever we set the show," Bonann said in 2014.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch Hawaii

NBC ADMITTED THEIR ERROR

‘Baywatch’ was the biggest show in the world around 1994, and NBC actually admitted that canceling it had been a huge mistake. They even bought an ad in the Hollywood Reporter to say it. Obviously, they would have made so much money. Then again, it might not have worked on the network.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch Hawaii

NBC PRESIDENT REALLY WANTED HASSELHOFF

It took a long time before anyone at NBC actually thought the show had potential. The network president at the time was Brandon Tartikoff, and he was the first who decided to go for it. He asked the creators to make a TV movie, which would be the pilot. It was written in 3 months. Additionally, Tartikoff was the one that wanted Hasselhoff for the main role.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Aaron Rapoport

THE OCEAN WAS HEAVILY POLLUTED

You might be surprised by this detail, but the ocean they filmed in California was apparently extremely polluted. People were not as conscientious as they are now, and the laws were also different. On the ‘E! True Hollywood Story’, Billy Warlock revealed that they would disinfect the actors after they got out of the water.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Handout

THE INFAMOUS TAPE

While Pamela Anderson became a huge star thanks to ‘Baywatch’, she had another claim to fame around her time on the show. An adult movie she had filmed with her ex-husband Tommy Lee Jones was leaked. Many execs wanted her booted from the show afterward, but at the same time, they had the highest ratings because of the scandal.

Image Credits: NBC/Baywatch

It’s interesting to discover these details so many years after it ended, and its popularity cannot be replicated. Let us know what you loved best about this show. If you liked this article, share it with your friends that watched it too. See you next time!

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