Garden Co-Founder Mrs Lutkenhouse with Pat Sajak and Vanna White
If you watch “Wheel of Fortune” regularly, then you know that the highly popular game show often leaves its familiar studio surroundings for exciting destinations across the country. You may also be aware that “Wheel of Fortune” is coming back for a third time to the Big Island of Hawaii.
Less known is the months of preparation it takes to make it all happen. Months ahead of auditioning contestants, Wheel of Fortune takes the time and expense to scout locations suitable to highlight the destination they are visiting. Hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White are then brought in to film promotional videos for the show and to give the TV audience a taste of what each location offers.
This year, the producers chose Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden as one place to showcase the lush natural beauty of Hawaii Island. Kona based location scout Nancy Erger first reached out to HTBG in January, and made her first exploratory walk through soon after.
Several subsequent visits also included producers and coordinators, who chose the best spots to film and also worked out the logistics of moving around a crew of over 40 and all the equipment they would need to film in three different areas. This was no easy task considering the terrain of our Garden Valley, and getting inside requires traveling down trails that descend about 90 ft. to the valley floor.
Because of this, tight shooting schedules and a large crew, HTBG was closed on Wednesday May 14th, to best accommodate the shoot. Fortunately, it was perfect day for filming and the crew and the Garden staff worked seamlessly together to move equipment and people to their posts and the filming proceeded efficiently over the course of several hours.
pat and vanna filming in the orchid garden
Seeing their operation up close was really quite impressive too. The whole team worked together effortlessly and although focused on their work, many took the time to stop and pay respect to Garden Co-Founder Pauline Lutkenhouse who had come to watch. Executive Producer Harry Friedman spent a while speaking with us and Pat and Vanna also made time to chat and take pictures with us. All of us at HTBG express our thanks to Mr. Friedman and the entire team for choosing the Garden to promote Hawaii Island and the show, and also for the professionalism and class they showed throughout the process.
“Wheel of Fortune” will host and record the shows in September at the Waikoloa Hilton Resort.
The Shows are scheduled to broadcast in November, the weeks of 11/3/14 and 11/10/14, and in February, the weeks of 2/9/15 and 2/16/15. Scenes from the Garden will appear throughout these weeks with a special closing segment about HTBG tentatively scheduled on 2/9/15.
More about HTBG in Television and Film
Also in May 2014, we were fortunate to host Dr. Niobe Thompson, a Canadian documentary filmmaker, anthropologist, and environmentalist.
At the time, the Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoes Hokulea and Hikianalia were in Hilo, one stop on their 47,000 nautical mile journey.
Niobe and his team came to film the canoes and the crew as part of what promises to be a fascinating PBS documentary “Human – The Miracle of a Species” which should air sometime in 2015. The film will explore how, in a time of natural disaster not witnessed since the extinction of the dinosaurs, humans emerged to settle the planet.
Niobe and team came to the Garden and spent the better part of two days shooting tropical scenes to be included in the film. We are glad that we could play a small part in this important study of our human origins.
In 2013 We were thrilled to host award-winning PBS documentary filmmaker David Grubin and his crew. Working on a documentary about dying languages and efforts to
David Grubin and Bob Holman
save them, they came to Hawaii to investigate the successful resurgence of the Hawaiian language and the impact it has had on the Hawaiian People.
They used their time in the Garden to film some establishing shots and scenic shots with the narrator to use with voice-overs.
We would like to thank Mr. Grubin for allowing the Garden to be a part of this important film and wish him much success with this propject.
We were also visited in summer 2013 by Mezamahi TV from Japan. Mezamahi is Japanese for alarm clock and it is a morning tv show along the lines of “Good Morning America.”
Mezamahi TV filming at the Garden Gate
They came to Hawaii Island to film several three minute long segments about the island’s highlights. We are grateful that they chose to film here and for the exposure the Garden will have on Japanese TV.
In October 2013, World Media came to the Garden and filmed a two minute spot for their Official Best of Hawaii 2013 TV production. They chose Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden as the Best Botanical Garden in Hawaii! The Official Best of Hawaii – 2013 aired on KGBM Hawaii and on KCBS or KCAL Los Angeles in December.