History does repeat itself but not in the same, exact way. I was present during most of the "Love Boat" years at Princess Cruises, a milestone in the recognition that cruising was, in fact, not at all limited to the very wealthy.
The concept, developed by TV producer Douglas Cramer, was initially rebuffed by two other cruise lines. But with its corporate headquarters in Los Angeles' Century City, not far from the back lots of Hollywood, there was an understanding at Princess that this could do wonders for a new industry and particularly for the brand whose ships were the stars of the show.
The pilot was filmed aboard the Sun Princess in 1976, when famed producer Aaron Spelling was brought aboard. The original series ran for 10 years, finishing as one of television's highest-rated programs.
It was an unusual time to be a sales manager in California and later a regional vice president handling the East Coast and the Midwest for the Princess. It was unusual in the sense that I rarely had anything to actually sell, as the power and reach of the show meant ships were sold out far in advance.
There was one hour I remember from the "Love Boat" years that has never left me. It wasn't what you might imagine. Yes, I once spent a good half-hour talking privately with Cary Grant and his wife on the pool deck. Yes, I remember being with Steve Martin as his Hollywood pals surrounded his table. But the hour I remember most was a presentation at our annual sales meeting in a hotel ballroom in L.A. by our vice president of marketing.
He started explaining that "The Love Boat" was a worldwide phenomenon and was at that time being viewed in prime time in 81 countries around the world. And then he added something I have never forgotten: The show had become, according to a new study, "the most shared common experience in the history of the English language."
Years later, I learned that "The Love Boat" had been replaced: The most shared experience in the English language had become "Baywatch."
Soon, hundreds of employees at Princess will come to feel the sense of pride that I felt with the news that "The Love Boat soon will be making another run," as CBS has finalized a U.S. version of the show along with a version for Australia's Network 10.
Production begins this summer using Princess ships in the Mediterranean. Expect episodes to begin airing this winter -- and expect your phones to be ringing within days of the first episode.
But let's be clear: This concept is far different than the original. This time, "The Love Boat" will be a reality show for singles who sail the Med for a month while going on dates, seeking compatibility, engaging in challenges ashore and interacting with the real onboard Princess crew.
I expect a real emphasis on the beauty of the European port experiences. Expect a fairly high percentage of filming to take place off the ship. We are told that the captain and the cruise director will "play pivotal matchmaking" roles. After a month at sea, one lucky couple will make it to the final port, where prizes including a lengthy cruise await.
History repeats itself, but this time, 45 years later, "Love Boat" will test couples' compatibility and chemistry in real time. This time, the show will be largely unscripted. It will be, as Jack Jones once sang, "exciting and new."