Fox 'Playing With Fire' on Temptation Island, TV Watchdog Says

By Lawrence Morahan | July 7, 2008 | 8:04 PM EDT

( - Fox Entertainment calls Temptation Island 3 a reality-based show aimed at a mature TV audience that features informed adults who explore boy-girl relationships.

But one media watchdog group calls it "exploitive" and "mean-spirited" and cautions that playing with people's emotions, as depicted in the program, could lead to violent and potentially life-threatening behavior.

Bob Peters, president of Morality in Media, a New York-based TV watchdog group, said broken relationships between young people is one of the primary causes of murder and other forms of violence.

"At one level, the Temptation Island series is like all too many other reality-based programming. It's sleazy, it's exploitive, it's mean-spirited, cruel. But what caught my attention...was to me something about playing with fire, and the fire being people's emotions, people who are involved with each other in a man-woman sexual relationship," Peters said.

"Here we have a major television network playing on people's emotions and putting them at risk for God only knows what in terms of when a relationship does break up," Peters stated.

Scott Grogin, a spokesman for Fox Entertainment, declined comment on Morality in Media's allegations.

"This is a relationship show. The participants - the couples that go on the show, go on knowing full well what the show is about - nothing is kept from them," Grogin said.

Like its two predecessors, the premise of Temptation Island 3 is to bring couples to an exotic location and test their commitment to one another by separating them and having them date other attractive partners.

The first installment in early 2001 attracted 16.6 million viewers a week. Despite its large viewer numbers, however, TV critics and pundits denounced the series as voyeuristic and exploitive. The second, which aired just after 9/11, attracted only a third of that number.

Buoyed by the success of Joe Millionaire, Fox decided to do a third installment, which is scheduled to run for six one-hour episodes beginning Thursday at 9 p.m.

Similar to the previous shows, this series features four couples, each having been together for between one and three years but who have yet to become engaged. Singles and couples have to be between 21 and 35 years of age and have no children.

Fox TV personality Mark Walberg greets the couples on one of the Bay Islands off the coast of Central America in the Caribbean. The couples are separated and over the weeks are tempted by 28 men and women singles until they decide, at the end of the series, to continue or end their relationships.

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