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‘Gilligan’s Island’ gets real

The SS Minnow will sail again.

National cable television network TBS is bringing the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island” back to life … with a nod to reality TV.

The new version of this classic will feature the same seven characters: a skipper, first mate, millionaire couple, movie star, Kansas farm girl and professor. As on the original show, the castaways will work together to get off their “uncharted desert isle.” Episodes will include situations drawn from the series, with a hefty reward up for grabs.

“The Real Gilligan’s Island” is scheduled to air in the fall and is being produced by Mike Fleiss, who also produced “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette” and “High School Reunion.”

“I grew up watching the original ‘Gilligan’s Island’ on TBS, so being asked to executive produce this new reality series version is like a dream come true,” Fleiss told the Reality TV World Web site. “I look forward to working with TBS to bring this unique reality concept to life.”

Lloyd Schwartz, whose father, Sherwood, was creator of the original series, also produces the new show.

Producers spent much of the summer auditioning potential cast members in Kansas and Los Angeles. Castaway-wannabes also could apply online or by telephone. Producers say cast members didn’t have to look like the original actors. Instead, they wanted authentic characters with stellar personalities.

“Gilligan’s Island” began as a Saturday evening sitcom in 1964 and quickly became a hit. The show was centered around an eclectic group of passengers who set out with a captain and crewman on the SS Minnow for a sightseeing tour but were shipwrecked on an uncharted island in the South Pacific during a storm. It starred Bob Denver as clumsy first mate Gilligan; Alan Hale Jr. as the skipper; Jim Backus and Natalie Schafer as Thurston and Lovey Howell; Tina Louise as movie star Ginger Grant; Dawn Wells as Kansas farm girl Mary Ann Summers; and Russell Johnson as professor Roy Hinckley. The show aired for four seasons and continued in syndication for many years. A cartoon version of the series was made, and original cast members, except Tina Louise, later made reunion movies where they finally get off the island.