LBI Featured on Two Upcoming Episodes of HGTV’s ‘Island Life’
Over the bridge, then north or south, to our Island house we go. It’s a hope of many to own a piece of Long Beach Island’s incomparable 18 miles. On two upcoming episodes of HGTV’s program “Island Life,” the Heffernan family and the Clewell family, with the help of local real estate agents, do just that: They find their permanent place on LBI.
“Most people only fantasize about living on an island, but we’ll prove that an ‘Island Life’ is possible for anyone,” notes the program website, at hgtv.com/shows/island-life.
This was the first time “Island Life” filmed on LBI, explained Karen Sloan, a field producer for Left/Right Productions. “In order to keep the series fresh and introduce viewers to new islands and island living that’s found around the country, we are always searching for different and exciting islands for our episodes,” said Sloan, who produced the episodes along with David Grant.
“We’ve filmed in the Northeast before, but these were our first episodes in New Jersey, so we did some research and found that the Island is really a cool place. Since we also showcase the particular island and the lifestyle there, all the places and activities we found were also very friendly and open to our filming.
“It was my first time visiting in LBI ,and it was really charming! Our offices are based in New York, so it’s always a nice perk to find places that are close to home,” Sloan added. “The crew enjoyed our stay on the Island – the beaches were beautiful, we had some amazing meals, and enjoyed the view from Old Barney.”
After a show location is selected, HGTV’s casting department contacts real estate agencies in the area. “They reached out to Island broker/owners in the summer of 2016,” agent Theresa Jensen explained. “My broker/owner at Mary Allen Realty, Randy Sinor, sent me an email and said, ‘I think you’d be really good for this.’”
In a subsequent Skype interview, said Jensen, “they asked me about myself. I told them I was born and raised here, in Brant Beach. I told them a bit about my buyers, Deirdre and Noel Heffernan, and what they were looking for. Then I reached out to the Heffernans, and they did an interview over Skype as well. They were really excited.”
Similarly, Maryjean deSandes of the Sheridan Group at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Zack Shore, Realtors, noted, “My team leader, David Sheridan, shared an email with me asking me if I had any buyers who might be game for the experience. Immediately I thought of Anne and Tim Clewell; they are an awesome couple who enjoys life on our Island.”
The Heffernans said their family was familiar with “Island Life” prior to filming, particularly Noel, an avid viewer of HGTV. DeSandes, too, has “been a huge fan of ‘Island Life’ over the past few years, especially now that I am a real estate agent on Long Beach Island,” as well as an LBI homeowner.
“I watch a lot of ‘Island Life’ and other HGTV shows,” Anne Clewell noted. “They’re informative and really entertaining, so I was thrilled when we got asked to do an episode!”
Jensen and deSandes didn’t want to spoil the episodes’ endings for viewers, but they did mention a few general items that their respective clients sought in a home, including location, number of bedrooms and proximity to the water.
Noel, Deirdre and their four children, of Rockland County, N.Y., have spent many summers on LBI, and, with Jensen’s help, they hoped to find “a large home within walking distance to the beach,” as the HGTV site states.
“We started vacationing on LBI 16 years ago,” Deirdre stated. “We love it there, so we kept going back.” After renting for many years, the Heffernans decided it was time to buy.
Meanwhile, as the Clewells’ episode summary reads, “Owning a home on Long Beach Island has been a dream of Anne’s since she was a kid. After introducing the island to her husband, Tim, during college, the two knew they wanted to move there one day. … Anne would like to own a home on the water, but any water view will do as long as she and Tim can live the relaxed Long Beach lifestyle.”
The Clewells, of New Providence, N.J., sought a home large enough that “our children, Harry and Erin, could come down and bring friends,” said Tim, “with a view of the water, that we could afford. Not an easy thing.”
“I grew up renting houses on LBI,” Anne explained. “We rented in Barnegat Light, with our best friends, the Surridges and Scotts, when my brother and sisters and I were young, and then when we got older and wanted to be near the amusements, my parents rented in Beach Haven. I have so many memories of the Island. When we got married and had small children, we did the same thing: Barnegat Light to Beach Haven with some Surf City and Harvey Cedars sprinkled in.”
In early fall, the HGTV crew descended on LBI to film, and the home buyers and real estate agents readied for their television appearances, and traversed the Island looking at homes.
“It was a little stressful getting prepared, but once the weekend came to do the show, we were thrilled,” said Deirdre. “The whole crew was so friendly and really made us have a wonderful experience.”
“We were mostly excited, but a little nervous,” Tim remarked.
“I did my own hair, and of course it was windy every day!” Jensen said, laughing. As she also noted, she kept various clothing options in her car in case she needed to change for various scenes.
“The crew and producers were so wonderful,” Jensen added. “They made you feel comfortable. And the Heffernans were great.”
As deSandes pointed out, “The HGTV team guided us through our every step and made it fun! Anne and Tim Clewell were incredible and so much fun to work with. And David Grant and his team from Left/Right Productions were awesome, making our experience seamless and relaxed.”
Anne said filming “was a lot of fun, but also intense as we had a lot to cover in a short period of time. The crew was fantastic!”
“They filmed us looking at houses, going to the beach, pedal kayaking and in our new home,” Deirdre explained. “The kids liked being hooked up with microphones and were really excited when they set up the GoPros on our kayaks. They filmed us on the kayaks while they were riding ahead on a boat. That was really exciting. The kids also really enjoyed being filmed on the Boogie Boards and playing in the ocean. We all had a terrific experience.”
The Heffernans are extremely pleased with their new home. “We also lucked out with wonderful neighbors on our entire block,” said Deirdre. “We didn’t even think about that when we were buying our home. We had such a warm welcoming from all our neighbors, and we are so excited to live on the same block.”
And while the Clewells’ Island home won’t be a primary residence for now, said Tim, “someday, that would be great!”
“Both families and agents were so lovely to work with, and everyone really made us feel at home on LBI,” Sloan remarked. “Tune in to see the episodes!”
Sloan believes “Island Life” is engaging and popular because “it’s so approachable! It’s half real estate, half travel show – you can see homes in every price range and also learn something about a new place you’ve maybe never heard about. The show really strives to feature the island as much as the houses – it’s part of what also makes it such a fun show to work for. I love that I get to work with families making their dreams a reality and see beautiful and interesting places right in the U.S.”
“We are so excited to see how the show turns out, and we will have a party at our home next Sunday so family and friends can enjoy our experience,” said Deirdre.
“I hope the editors worked miracles!” deSandes quipped.
Anne concurred, and stated, “We will definitely have a viewing party with our local friends. They keep asking, ‘When is ‘Island Life’?! When is ‘Island Life’?!’”
Jensen’s mother, Elisabeth Kaszas, 86, is also very much looking forward seeing her daughter, and the familiar sights of LBI, on the show. “Oh yeah,” she remarked, “I’m going to stay up and watch it!”
Tune in to HGTV at 10 p.m. next Sunday, March 19, to see the Heffernans’ episode, “Long Live Long Beach Island.” A week later, at 10 p.m. on Sunday, March 26, the Clewells’ episode, “Long Beach Island Living,” premieres.
For more information on “Island Life,” visit hgtv.com/shows/island-life.
— Juliet Kaszas-Hoch