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Baywatch premiered on NBC in 1989, but was cancelled after only one season, when it placed 73rd out of 103 shows in the seasonal ratings, and also because the studio, GTG, went out of business. Due to high production costs, GTG was unable to finance the series any further.
Feeling the series still had potential, David Hasselhoff, one of the principal actors, along with creators and executive producers Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz, and Gregory J. Bonann, revived it for the first-run syndication market in 1991. Hasselhoff was given the title of executive producer for his work on bringing the show back. The series was hugely successful, especially internationally.
Babewatch is a satirical term sometimes used in connection with the series, which has been used by Mad, by commentators, and as the title for a series of adult films with crossover characters which ran between 1994 and 1999 in 13 parts.
Baywatch Down Under
In 1999, with production costs rising in Los Angeles, and the syndication market shrinking, the plan was to move the show to Australia and launch Baywatch Down Under. A pilot was filmed, but the series was stopped when residents of Avalon put forth strong objections, including potential damage to a fragile ecosystem. Pittwater Council permanently barred all future filming.
As an alternative to Australia, Hawaii offered the producers large financial incentives to move the show to the islands, instead, and in season 10, Baywatch: Hawaii was launched.
Baywatch filmed for two seasons in Hawaii, from 1999 until 2001. The proposal to relocate Baywatch to Hawaii rather than Australia was initiated by April Masini in a telephone call to executive producer Greg Bonann. The deal to provide the incentives necessary to secure the series was presented to Governor Ben Cayetano by Al Masini and April Masini, Tony Vericella, president of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, and Cayetano's executive assistant, Joe Blanco. The agreement required the production to change its name from Baywatch to Baywatch: Hawaii, hire local leads, and film in the state for at least two years, guaranteeing 44 episodes, each at a cost of about US$870,000, 60% of which was to be spent in Hawaii.
Baywatch revolved around the work of a team of lifeguards and their interpersonal relationships, with plots usually centering on dangers related to the beach and other activities pertinent to the California (later Hawaii) beach lifestyle. Topics from earthquakes and shark attacks to serial killers served as plot conflicts on the show. Saving people from drowning was one of the most typical situations used in the shows.
On some DVD releases of the first series "Save Me" was replaced with "Above the Waterline" by Kim Carnes.
For the syndicated series, the new theme "I'm Always Here" (written by Jimi Jamison, Cory Lerios, John D'Andrea and Joe Henry, performed by Jimi Jamison of Survivor) replaced "Save Me". An instrumental version of "I'm Always Here" was used as the ending theme of seasons 6 to 9. A different instrumental version was used as the theme for season 10 (the first season of Baywatch: Hawaii). Some parts of the lyrics of "I'm Always Here" are written on Jimi's grave.
When the NBC episodes were added to the Baywatch syndication package, the opening theme was changed to a shorter version of "I'm Always Here", with some images of the original NBC opening retained.
David Hasselhoff sang the Kevin Savigar-Todd Cerney tune "Current of Love" as the ending theme of Seasons 2-4 (on Seasons 2 and 3, the version of this song has been fast and on Season 4, the version of this song has been slow). Together with Laura Branigan he sang "I Believe" as the ending theme of Season 5.
On the DVD edition of the second season, the original main title theme is replaced by the song "Strong Enough", performed by Evan Olson (from his album Audio).
The spin-off series, Baywatch Nights theme song was performed by saxophonist Alfonzo Blackwell. "The Nights Will Never Be the Same" (Baywatch Nights Theme) was also featured on his 1996 sophomore CD release. Alfonzo Blackwell was featured with David Hasselhoff each week in the ending credits of the TV series.
Other versions of "I'm Always Here" include:
An instrumental version of the song appears in the episode "Battles" of the UK television programme Spaced.
The Swedish electronic musical group Sunblock remixed the song and released it as a single.
A soundalike version was used in the Hey Arnold! episode "Summer Love" over the end credits.
Swedish group Konditorns recorded the theme with Swedish lyrics for their album K2 (2012), titled "Jag är alltid här" which is a direct translation of the phrase "I'm always here".
The film adaptation is a comedy, written and directed by Jeremy Garelick. Garelick's previous successes include the rewrite of The Hangover.
In September 2012, it was announced that Reno 911! co-creator and star Robert Ben Garant would direct the film version of Baywatch for Paramount Pictures.
In October 2014, it was announced that Paramount was moving forward with its big-screen adaptation of Baywatch and has loosely attached Dwayne Johnson to the project. The studio also hired Justin Malen to rewrite and attached the comedy writing team of Sean Anders and John Morris to direct.
In July 2015, it was announced Seth Gordon would direct with Damian Shannon and Mark Swift having written the latest script with Dwayne Johnson still attached to star.
On August 10, 2015, it was announced that Zac Efron had been cast in the film. Johnson also announced that the film will be R-Rated. The report stated, "The story centers on a by-the-book and very serious lifeguard (Johnson) who is forced to team up with a young rule-flouting hothead (Efron) in order to save their beach from environmental destruction at the hands of an oil tycoon." That same month, reports were saying that Kelly Brook was in contention to star in the film as C.J. Parker, with Kate Upton and Charlotte McKinney also on the shortlist, but Brook denied the rumor the following day on Instagram. Brook later confirmed that she had read the script but was still uncertain if she would appear.
On November 9, 2015, it was reported that several actresses, including Alexandra Daddario, Nina Dobrev, Ashley Benson, Alexandra Shipp, Shelley Hennig, Bianca Santos, and Denyse Tontz, were in the running for the female lead, with the possibility that some of them could join the film in different roles and other unnamed actresses could be in the running as well. On November 18, 2015, Johnson confirmed Daddario (who previously worked with Johnson on San Andreas) for the role of Summer, originally played by Eggert in the TV series, and revealed the casting of C.J. and other roles would soon be announced. On January 4, 2016, Johnson announced that actress and model Kelly Rohrbach was cast as C.J. for the film. On January 11, 2016, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Priyanka Chopra was in talks to appear in the film in a villainous role. On February 16, 2016, Chopra and Johnson released a video to confirm her participation in the above-mentioned role. On January 20, 2016, a release date of May 19, 2017, was announced and Ilfenesh Hadera joined the cast as Stef, the love interest of Johnson's character. On January 27, 2016, Variety reported that Jon Bass was cast as Ronnie, described as funny, awkward and a skilled disco dancer who falls in love with C.J. at the beach.
Australia: On May 1, 2013, Shock Entertainment released seasons 1-9 on DVD. They also released a complete series set on November 6, 2013, which features all nine seasons of Baywatch, both seasons of Baywatch Hawaii and both seasons of Baywatch Nights.
France: The reunion movie Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding was translated to French language as Alerte à Malibu: Mariage à Hawaï and has been released.
Finland: Seasons 1-3 have been released by Future Film.
Germany: Seasons 1 to 11 have been released. These releases are presented exactly as they originally aired, albeit with German language credits (these are also available in the U.K. from Amazon as imports). The reunion movie Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding was translated to German language as Baywatch: Hochzeit auf Hawaii and has been released.
UK: Seasons 1-6 have been released by Network. In 2017, to coincide with the release of the movie, Network released a DVD entitled "Best of Baywatch" which includes the two-part episodes "Nightmare Bay" and "River of No Return".
USA: In June 1999 a single disc DVD was released featuring two 2-part episodes from the show's original run ("Nightmare Bay" parts 1 and 2 from Season 2, and "River of No Return" parts 1 & 2 from Season 3). These episodes are absent from the U.S. box sets of their respective seasons mentioned below.
First Look Studios released the first three seasons on DVD in 2006/2007. Although the box sets are labeled "Season 1", "Season 2", etc., the sets actually feature episodes of the following season (i.e. the "Season 1" box set contains the episodes of the literal second season (1991-1992) of the show). The second and third sets were released on October 31, 2006. Each set features a disc with Season 1 episodes on it. These releases also do not contain any of the original music as it appeared when the episodes aired. They have been removed due to copyright agreements. However, these releases have been discontinued and are now out of print.