Kristen Baldwin
January 10, 2001 AT 05:00 AM EST

Now that CBS’ ”Survivor: The Australian Outback” is hitting dry land, Fox has set its sights on the island based reality show crown. Undaunted by last year’s ”Who Wants To Marry a Multi-Millionaire” debacle, the network offers another game show with a deliciously twisted premise: a six week dating disaster series called ”Temptation Island” (Wednesdays, 9 p.m.). Four couples at a ”crossroads” in their relationship travel to a pair of tropical resorts off the coast of Belize — one is stocked with 13 absurdly attractive female singles, the other houses 13 unattached stud muffins. After two weeks of high stakes mixing and mingling, the previously committed couples decide if they want to stay with their significant other or upgrade to a newer, presumably hotter model. spoke with ”Temptation” creator and executive producer Chris Cowan about what could be TV’s guiltiest pleasure since ”Blind Date”:

When I heard about this show, I felt two things: an intense desire to watch it and an intense shame about wanting to watch it.
That’s a reaction we’re running into quite a bit. There are going to be those who snap to judgment and say this is the most heinous thing to hit network television in years. And there’s going to be others who think this is a really interesting social phenomenon. It’s somewhere in between. I understand the titillation factor of the show, but there is a lot of real emotion in the show, and the couples are not victims.

How does the show work?
The couples show up on the island, they spend one day together, and then they go their separate ways. Over the course of the 12 days, they end up going out on a total of five dates. The first three dates have to be with [different] people, but the fourth or fifth date, if they’re starting to find a connection, they can go out with the same person.

Do people get voted off the show?
Yes. The first day the guys get to vote off a guy and the girls get to vote off a girl. And then once the couples are separated, the girls vote off single guys who are least compatible for them and the guys in turn vote off single girls.

Who came up with this idea?
We were developing another concept called ”Marriage Boot Camp.” We thought it would be interesting if we created a format where married couples could go to a one or two week intensive therapy session where they’d have access to marriage counselors. You’d watch couples try to work through their marital problems, and at the end, they’d make a decision whether they want to stay together or not. That was a concept that we were developing for daytime, and somebody said, ‘What if couples were tempted?’ And we said ‘You could never do that with married couples,’ so then it became ‘What about singles?’ And it became kind of a combination of ”Change of Heart,” ”Blind Date,” and a lot of other things.

Who are the people who signed on for this thing?
There’s Ytoffie and Taheed, they’ve been together for five and a half years. They had an extremely loving relationship, but Taheed had, as Ytoffie says, stepped out on the relationship — meaning she busted him cheating. So she questions his commitment to her. For her this is a test for him, and I believe for him, it was an opportunity to show his resolve and commitment. And there’s Kaya and Valerie. They’re from Miami, and I think that Valerie’s motivation to go to the island was because she wanted Kaya to have an opportunity to meet another girl so that he has something to compare her with, because she wants him to realize that she’s the one. They’ve been together a year and a half, and when Kaya met Valerie he was only a week out of a two year relationship. He’s got questions about whether he raced into another long term relationship too quickly.

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