Hawai’i”s Creator and Executive Producer, Greg Bonann, was born and raised
in Los Angeles, California. Despite
a number of physical challenges, Bonann was determined at a young age to become
an expertswimmer. He soon excelled at the
sport and went on to break many records for the swim team at Pacific Palisades
High School. As soon as he was old
enough, he focused his efforts on qualifying to join the elite team of men and
women that make up the Los Angeles County Lifeguards.
Bonann’s dream came true in 1970, and he’s been a dedicated lifeguard
for over thirty years.
high school, Bonann never strayed far from home, graduating from Cal. State Long
Beach with a B.A. degree in Journalism in 1974 followed by an MBA from UCLA in
1976. From there, Bonann combined
his business education with his gift of storytelling and began pursuing a career
as a filmmaker. His first major
effort producing and directing award-winning documentaries for PBS took him to
Saudi Arabia, North Africa, Alaska and other locations all around the world.
His love of sports, especially Olympic competition, eventually led him
back to America in the winter of 1980 to produce and direct the official film
for the U.S. Olympic Committee in Lake Placid.
“FIRE AND ICE” went on to win eight prestigious awards including the
coveted Cine Golden Eagle. More
importantly, the honors gave him the impetus to produce and direct the official
films for the 1984 Winter and Summer Olympic Games in Sarajevo and Los Angeles
(FROZEN IN TIME and ELEMENTS OF GOLD) and the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary (CITY
OF GOLD). Bonann won countless honors for his work and would have
continued to follow the Olympic Games for the rest of his life if it weren’t
for the show business break of a lifetime.
1988, Bonann created a music video featuring his lifeguard buddies doing what
they do best on a hot beach day to the beat of Don Henley’s hit “Boys of
Summer.” This “montage”
served as the blueprint for what would become “Baywatch” on NBC a year
was during a routine scout to the beach that first season of “Baywatch” when
a young boy ran up to Bonann pleading that his brother was drowning 200 yards
offshore. Bonann quickly jumped
into action and swam with the rip current to where the boy was last seen.
He had to make three dives to find the unconscious boy who had been
submerged at the murky bottom for over five minutes.
Performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while treading water, Bonann was
able to save the boy’s life and was awarded the prestigious Medal of Valor for
his heroic effort.
in his eleventh year as executive producer, Bonann was instrumental in
relocating “Baywatch’’ to Hawai’i”s
beautiful shores last year, where it
plans to stay for many seasons to come. Bonann
has personally directed over 70 episodes of “Baywatch” in the last ten
years, including most of the action and rescue scenes, as well as 400 of his
signature music montages.
series today remains one of the single-most watched shows in the world, seen on
a weekly basis by an estimated 1 billion people internationally.
It airs in 140 countries on six continents and in 33 languages. It has also been a staple in rerun syndication as a weekday
strip, and, in its eleventh year, is currently the longest running show on
television. It remains a flagship
show for many stations, still boasting a 95% domestic market-penetration level.
overwhelming international response to “Baywatch” inspired Greg to use this
platform for a good cause. In 1992,
Greg Bonann and Tai Collins founded “Camp Baywatch,” a “Baywatch
theme-related summer camp” that would give homeless and at-risk youth a chance
to experience the beach, fresh-air, and an opportunity to learn how to swim and
be safe at beaches and pools. For
many of the children, whose lives have been filled with hardships, danger and
struggle, Camp Baywatch represents the dawning of hope for a better life.
vision of educating and inspiring children has expanded recently into Greg
Bonann’s latest project - an international Learn to Swim program, dedicated to
drawing awareness to the dire need of teaching our children how to be safe in
and around the water. The goal of this program is to take drowning off the top of
the Center for Disease Control’s list of killers of children.
Camp Baywatch Hawaii will bring this educational program across the
country to schools, recreation centers, YMCA’s and American Red Cross Centers.
“Baywatch,” “Baywatch Hawai’i,” and Camp Baywatch are all the
vision and now the reality of Greg Bonann, and will certainly leave a lasting
legacy for years to come.