New Jersey has Jersey Shore, and now Connecticut's coast has its own controversial reality TV series in the works.
For weeks, rumors have circulated around the village of Stony Creek about a "top-secret" project on Belden Island, one of the 300 islands that make up the rocky grouping known commonly as The Thimbles off the coast of Stony Creek.
The Faith Middleton Show has learned what that hush-hush project appears to be about. We didn't learn it from the boat captains who ferry islanders and visitors around the Thimbles; they have refused to talk, and have supposedly signed confidentiality agreements. They have been busy hauling equipment to the island, including film cameras, large outdoor privacy screening panels, generators, fuel, cables, and more.
There is one lifelong Stony Creek resident who has been keeping a watchful eye on the island shipments and activity—Dick Howd, a sport fisherman around the Thimbles and former ferry boat captain. He told us that he was cruising the waters near Belden Island two days ago, and spotted a large flag waving at the top of the island's flagpole, with the words "Love Prison" on it.
Howd returned home and Googled the phrase, noticing a reference to a "reality series" in the works for A&E. Listen below as he describes what happened:
In a release this week, A&E gave a bare-bones description of a new reality series, "Love Prison," that it intends to air in ten half-hour episodes in August. From the release:
One in three relationships begin online, with many people not meeting for months or even years. But are these relationships real? In this unique social experiment, online couples meet for the first time on a remote island. Love Prison is a lone cabin rigged with fixed cameras; there are no visible producers, no visible cameramen and no escape! Cameras capture the couple for a week, with an all-access look at everything from their first kiss to their first fight. Each couple spend their week together determining whether or not the person they know online matches up with reality and if they want to continue their relationship or move on. At the end of the experiment, the new couple has a decision to make; will they leave the Love Prison together or call it quits?
Contacted by us, A&E said it prefers not to comment about whom they selected and how until the series begins airing in August. The series is produced for A&E by Leftfield Pictures, whose executive producers are listed as Brent Montgomery, David George, Jordana Hochman and Will Nothacker. Leftfield Pictures has produced a variety of reality series, including "Pawn Stars," "Pawnography," "The Governor's Wife," and "Blood, Sweat and Heels."
The privacy curtain surrounding the project could pose challenges for William Pitt Sotheby's International. Belden Island is posted with "for sale" signs, and is listed at $3.95 million. The owner of record is Christine Svenningsen, who also owns several other Thimble Islands. Whether A&E has purchased the island or is renting it has not been disclosed. The Connecticut Film Commission could not be reached for comment.
It should be noted that there are other Thimble Islands homes to rent for those who meet online and prefer to skip a first dinner date, proceeding directly to moving in together.