By SUZETTE LABOY
Associated Press Writer
MIAMI — These flight attendants are bringing sexy back.
‘Fly Girls,’ a CW reality show debuting 9 p.m. EDT Wednesday, follows the lives of five Virgin America flight attendants as they jet around the country.
The eight half-hour episodes will feature the attendants sharing a home in Los Angeles, working long hours while dealing with grumpy passengers and partying on their layovers in cities such as Las Vegas, Miami Beach and New York. The series promises stories filled with romance, family and friendships.
“Everything that you are going to see is real – all the relationships, all the reactions,” executive producer Jeff Collins said. “The series itself has a lot of twist and turns in it, some of it is very personal, and that’s all real. You can’t manufacture that.”
It’s that work experience producers hope will give ‘Fly Girls’ an edge over other reality shows.
“These women came to the table with a story, with a history,” Collins said, adding that they were already friends or acquaintances before filming began.
Tasha Dunnigan, 28, has worked for nearly three years with the San Francisco-based airline that launched in August 2007. “My No. 1 thing is to show people I am a single mother, I have a son and that everything is possible,” she said.
“My job makes me be away from my son, days at a time. But if that’s … what you have to do to make ends meet, that’s what you have to do. And at the end of the day, there is always a brighter side.”
Dunnigan filmed one chilly day with cast members Louise Nguyen, 28, and Many Roberts, 26, at the popular South Beach spot Nikki Beach, where they lounged on outdoor beds.
Virgin Atlantic President Richard Branson makes a cameo appearance on the series.
Capturing the work environment was a balancing act for the production crew, since they had to comply with federal rules and regulations, and airline requirements.
Federal Aviation Administration officials met with Virgin America representatives in October 2009 to discuss the airline’s involvement in the series. Virgin had to agree to include a management representative on board every flight when filming took place, and to brief the film crew on safety procedures and FAA regulations before the first onboard shoot.
The airline also had to notify all passengers that filming would take place on their flight. The cast served as extra crew so that the primary flight attendants could focus on their jobs, and the airline put on additional attendants during shoots. The film crew was barred from shooting cockpit footage when a plane was airborne.
This is not the first reality show in which cameras went behind security gates to film on a flight. A&E Television Networks followed Southwest Airlines employees and flight attendants for the reality show ‘Airline’ that ended in 2005 after three seasons. And CBS’ ‘The Amazing Race’ often shoots contestants before take off sitting in their seats.
For safety reasons, Virgin America made sure filming took place on flights that had fewer passengers. The film crew sometimes filled in the empty seats.
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