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Who would have thought that little country girl Mandy Weaver, who recently played the part of MaryAnn/Mandy on the new “Gilligan’s Island” reality show, would parlay that experience into a starring role in the July 2005 issue of the ultra-sexy men’s magazine FHM? Not Dish, but as it turns out, there’s a lot more to this girl than first meets the eye.

As a young girl growing up, “Gilligan’s Island” was one of two shows Mandy Weaver watched constantly on the only American television station in Germany, where her dad was stationed in the military. It was her favorite show, and she often daydreamed about being deserted on an island like the “Gilligan” castaways. Little did she know that years later, she would end up playing her favorite character on a remake of that very show and get to be marooned on an island near Mexico, with the entire experience filmed for all the world to see!

“I grew up with Southern roots, and I always saw myself as MaryAnn on the show,” recalls Weaver. “And I used to have the biggest crush in the world on the professor growing up as a little girl! So to this day, I’m kind of pinching myself and thinking, ‘Did this all really happen? Did I really go on that island?’”

Although she didn’t last long on the show, being voted out on the second week (the show airs through July 8 on TBS) she did manage to fulfill her life-long fantasy regarding the professor. All that time on the island did lead to some island romance, according to Weaver, who ultimately fell for Professor Andy (Schuler), though the love would be short-lived. “There was a love triangle between the professor, me and my Gilligan (Zac),” she says. Gilligan acts like he has a crush on me, but I think a lot of that is just made up because Gilligan is really smart and wanted to make up as many stories as he could because he wanted the airtime. But the professor and I…there was a true bond between us. It was a short-lived romance -- it was passionate, but short lived. I mean in reality, a 40-yr-old scholar and a girl in her 20’s who is adventurous and is not as much a fan of reading as I am of being outdoors, isn’t quite as compatible as it was on the island!”

For those of you who think reality TV is kind of fake and manipulated, Weaver can confirm, sort of. “Oh, they did everything in their power to try and get me and the professor to make out! There was a competition and whoever won got endless amounts of champagne. Now, I can count on both hands how many times I’ve drank in my life. I’m not a big drinker, but if you haven’t eaten in so many days anything will taste good- but it’s not too smart, I found that out!”

“But I had champagne, and they were trying to get me prepared for a love scene with the professor and I fell asleep in my hut, it knocked me out. And they woke me up in the middle of the night telling me I’d better go say Hi to the professor. And I said ‘No, I’m sleeping.’ So later on they told me they had to do an interview in the hut, and set it up where I had to go and sleep in the professor’s hut, but I ended up just falling asleep anyway! I say in reality TV, the producers are kind of like news reporters…they know vaguely what storyline they want to create, but they see what’s already happening and they explode it.”

So what was the most unexpected thing to come out of the show for Weaver? A friendship with the other Gilligan (Shawn), whose acerbic wit rubbed some on the show the wrong way. “After the show the person who appears to hate everyone, the other Gilligan, this sarcastic guy from Boston who pretty much says what people are thinking but would never say – and it’s funny but it’s mean – it ends up me and him are really close friends. He invited me up to Boston, I had never been, to a ballgame at Fenway Park and we got to sit in the owners box and got star treatment. On the exterior people might hate him because he’s so direct, but he’s funny and is really a guy with a soft heart but he shows it through actions. That was an unexpected close friendship that developed that I would have never guessed.”

Those who become fans of MaryAnn/Mandy on the show will be seeing more of her in the coming weeks in that sexy spread in the July issue of FHM, and anyone traveling through New York can see her towering over Times Square on a billboard five stories high! She also recently completed commercials for WTBS and Snapple, and even appeared in a video for new country group 45 South. And though she has a degree and license to practice interior design, she hopes that her time on the island will catapult her to even bigger and better things.

“I’ve always known I had a passion for entertainment – I love being an entertainer and being in front of the camera. You know, it doesn’t matter what economic background people come from, or who they are when people are at home watching television they’re inviting people into their most personal spaces. So someone could be depressed and just by seeing you, you bring them a smile. That‘s one of the callings I have on my life is to bring a lightheartedness, a joy into people’s lives -- whether it’s on TV or at my job I’m working or wherever it is. We all have different qualities and gifts, and I think that’s one of mine, I really do enjoy life and enjoy meeting different people and I see the jewels in people.” / Issue 47 - September 9806
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