ALMOST PARADISE Key Art - Season 2 | ©2023 Electric Entertainment

ALMOST PARADISE Key Art – Season 2 | ©2023 Electric Entertainment

ALMOST PARADISE, the lighthearted action drama set and shot in the Philippines, is back for its second season, which premieres Friday July 21 on the free streaming service Amazon Freevee. The series, created by Dean Devlin and Gary Rosen, debuted on basic cable in 2020 (Season 1 is also now available on Freevee), but various issues, including COVID and other natural disasters, prevented it from returning until now.

In ALMOST PARADISE, Christian Kane stars as Alex Walker, a former American DEA agent who decided to open a gift shop at an idyllic Filipino island resort. Here, Alex hopes to get some peace and quiet that will help with his hypertension, but he is soon roped in to being a consultant for the local police. And Alex finds he can’t remain uninvolved when there are bad guys wreaking havoc in the town. This season, Alex is also visited by his teen daughter from a failed marriage, which doesn’t do much for calming him down.

Originally from Texas, Kane is a producer on ALMOST PARADISE. He can also be seen currently as a series regular on Seasons 1 and 2 of LEVERAGE: REDEMPTION, also on Amazon Freevee.

ALMOST PARADISE and LEVERAGE: REDEMPTION are both executive-produced by Devlin. Kane also worked with Devlin on five seasons of the original LEVERAGE, and four seasons of the action/fantasy series THE LIBRARIANS.

Additionally, Kane produced and starred in the 2017 feature TINKER’. His other film credits include HER MINOR THING (which earned him a Special Jury Prize at the Phoenix Film Festival), FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, and SUMMER CATCH. Kane was also a series regular on FAME: L.A., RESCUE 77, and CLOSE TO HOME, and had a recurring role on ANGEL. Kane is also a singer/songwriter/musician with a number of albums to his name.

In June, well before SAG/AFTRA went on strike, Kane gets on a Zoom call to talk this season of ALMOST PARADISE, as well as his other recent projects.

ASSIGNMENT X: You had some time off between seasons of ALMOST PARADISE. When did know you were coming back?

CHRISTIAN KANE: Yeah, we had a three-year gap. We couldn’t get into the Philippines, just because of COVID. They had a rough time out there.

It was over Christmas [in 2021], and I was actually in London, and we knew that LEVERAGE: REDEMPTION was going to go for another season, so we were gearing up for that. Dean called me and said, “Hey, we’re going to ALMOST PARADISE as soon as we can.” I was so excited. What a great Christmas present.

And we just didn’t know what we were going to go up against [laughs], so we started filming LEVERAGE: REDEMPTION. I had one day off [between the two series]. I flew from New Orleans after six months for one day in Los Angeles to pack and go to the Philippines. But during the whole time filming LEVERAGE, when the stories were being broken for ALMOST PARADISE, we were all gearing up for it, a typhoon came in and took out all our [sound]stages. We had to rebuild stages miles away.

 I am so proud of this show for many reasons, and one of them is just because what we were up against, with COVID, with the typhoon, with everything that was going on, what we put on the screen, I’m having a ball watching it.

AX: Now, in your capacity as a producer on that show, were you involved in any management capacity with rebuilding the soundstages – not physically going in there with a hammer, of course, but where they were going to go, what they were going to look like? Or was that all under Dean Devlin and the line producer?

KANE: That’s all under Dean and the line producer. I was giving some feedback on story beats, and possible actors coming in and stuff like that, but I was doing LEVERAGE, I was working every single day. So, there’s nothing I could have really done in the first place. And I probably wouldn’t have been a part of that, just because that’s such a well-oiled machine over there at [Devlin’s company] Electric Entertainment, with the people that Dean has hired. He needed boots on the ground, and he got them over there.

These are very, very hard-working people. It’s become my family. The people that we had entrusted with first season, they came back, and made everything happen. And I walked in, and instead of the gift shop being in Mactan, it was in Cebu, and it was exactly the same. I was like, “You guys are just unbelievable.” The art department is incredible, really fantastic.

AX: On Season 1, some of the ALMOST PARADISE crew actually got stuck in Mactan after shooting wrapped because of the COVID lockdown. Did they have any concerns about coming back this season?

KANE: It was the last day of shooting Season 1. I was going to stick around for a vacation for about two weeks. Dean Devlin was directing the last episode, and he called and said, “I need you to come in early.” We were blowing up a building – it’s Dean Devlin, there’s no CGI. When he wants to blow something up, he actually blows it up. We were blowing up a building at six in the morning.

He says, “I’ve got to talk to you,” and I go, “About what?” And he goes, “We’re both on a plane at twelve noon.” “Tomorrow?” I’ve been here for six months, I haven’t even packed. We blew the building up at six-thirty in the morning, and we both were on a plane at twelve, and the gates were shutting behind us in Manila as we left, so we were the last Americans to fly to Los Angeles out of the Philippines.

Half of our crew got stuck there for three months. Some of them were even there for five, stuck on the island. They couldn’t even get home. They all live in Manila. It takes an hour-and-a-half to get them [from the series’ base in Mactan] to Manila, and they were [in Mactan] for four months. So, it was very sad. We didn’t know that it was going to happen like that.

They came back anyway. Unless they were working on another project, we got almost every single person back. This is the first American TV series ever to be shot in the Philippines, and [the crew and most of the cast is] all Filipino. We worked really hard, and they saw the final product of Season 1; I think they’re going to be ecstatic to see what they all did on Season 2. I didn’t think we could get better than Season 1, and I’m going to be honest with you – I think Season 2 blows it away, and that’s hard to do. So, these people are going to be very, very proud. And like I said, we all just became a family, and when we were going back, I don’t think even one person said, “I’m not going to do it.” They were all like, “Let’s go.”

AX: Can you talk about any changes between Seasons 1 and 2 of ALMOST PARADISE? In the first episode of Season 2, we know Alex is worried that he may lose his disability benefits …

KANE: Yeah. We find out that Alex’s health problem probably was psychological, especially with his family issues. But I’m not so sure that it is, you know what I mean? I think he’s pretty proud of himself, because he’s gotten off of [his hypertension medication]. Let’s start off with something that’s happening to Alex. Let’s let Alex get sort of sick again – maybe not health-wise, but just worried. Let’s watch him think that he’s on top of the world now, and that he’s got everything under control.

Because the fun-est thing about watching Alex Walker is, he doesn’t have it under control. And he thinks he still does, and he’ll spend two or three episodes doing it, and that’s the comedy, that’s the fun, is watching him. You root for him, you want him to be in control, but you’re hoping that he isn’t, because that’s where he’s the best, that’s where the comedy comes in, is where he loses it, and I think that’s the show.

AX: And is anything different in either the types of stories you’re doing, or the way that production is running, three years after Season 1?

KANE: There’s a similarity [between ALMOST PARADISE and LEVERAGE: REDEMPTION], which is, I’ve grown up since about 2007 working with some of the best people in the world, man, [on both LEVERAGE and LEVERAGE: REDEMPTION] with Beth Riesgraf, with Aldis Hodge, with Gina Bellman, from Timothy Hutton [on LEVERAGE] to Noah Wyle [on LEVERAGE: REDEMPTION].

We did something that a lot of people don’t do, which is, when it was the other person’s time to shine, we don’t do it “just because,” we enjoy taking a step back and letting that person shine in a comedy scene, in a romantic scene, in more of an emotional scene, than anything. We always try to let that person shine. And there’s no animosity.

Taking that much time [between seasons] of ALMOST PARADISE just wouldn’t have worked, if I didn’t have that same rapport with the other actors, with Nonie [Buencamino, as local police chief Ike Ocampo], Sam [Samantha Richelle as police detective Kai Mendoza], and Art [Arthur Acuña, as police detective Ernesto Alamares] on ALMOST PARADISE. We love to do that, we love it when it’s someone else’s scene, someone else’s episode, to let that person shine. And as soon as we did that, which we had to do it pretty quick, right off the bat, on all three of our parts, you knew that we were back into it. So, it just didn’t feel like any downtime.

Story-wise, I’m working with Dean Devlin and Gary Rosen. I’ve been with Dean since 2007. A lot of times, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We really love some of the storylines. We love the chemistry, and we love the other stuff. And until we have exhausted this – this is one of the reasons why LEVERAGE was so successful, this is why ALMOST PARADISE still has a fan base that it does, is because we’ve asked you to come into the room, we’ve asked you to let us into the living room, and enjoy it with your family, and so, we want to give you what you want. We don’t want to throw you for a loop, trying to be artistic.

You’ve heard this before, I quote Garth Brooks, it’s not verbatim – it doesn’t matter where you were, if you were back, if you were in the nosebleeds, if you were in the middle, if you were front stage, if you had a backstage pass. Garth Brooks says, “I’m still the one having the most fun.” And I think that’s what we’re doing. We’re having fun, and it bleeds out into the living room, and it comes out of your TV, and we love doing it. So, we love the formula that we have on this show. We don’t want to steer too far from what we love and what we believe that other people love that are watching.

AX: Speaking of where it comes out, ALMOST PARADISE went from being on cable to Amazon Freevee. Has that made any kind of a difference?

KANE: I think it’s going to make a huge impact on it. Freevee has done so much great stuff for us. People are going to be able to access it a little bit easier. It’s very simple to get Freevee. You can get it on smart TVs, you can get it through so many things, you can just go to Amazon.

The great thing is that if you watch LEVERAGE: REDEMPTION, then you know exactly how to get ALMOST PARADISE. Freevee is a great home for us to be at right now. More people can have access to it, and we’re able to do a little bit more stuff, we have a little bit more freedom with them, and they’ve been so kind to us.

And the great thing about it is, Freevee also runs the first season of ALMOST PARADISE. And so, on July 21 is when it comes out on Freevee, and I would encourage people to please feel free, vee – that was stupid, but I’ll say it anyway – to go and watch the first season, just to catch up a little bit, so that you can roll right into the second one. That’s something they’ve done for us, which I really appreciate.

AX: And a viewer can toggle easily between ALMOST PARADISE and LEVERAGE: REDEMPTION, if they so desire.

KANE: Yeah. I’ve got two shows [on simultaneously in first run] at the same home. I mean, it’s crazy. I don’t know a lot of other actors that are that fortunate, that are that blessed, to have that happen to them. I had dinner the other night with Noah Wyle, and he said, “Do you realize what you’re doing right now in television, with Freevee?” And I was like, “You’re absolutely right. I’m very fortunate.”

AX: To ask a grooming-related question, your hair changes between LEVERAGE: REDEMPTION and ALMOST PARADISE. Did you just get a haircut when you hit the ground for ALMOST PARADISE, or are you wearing a wig for any of LEVERAGE: REDEMPTION?

KANE: [laughs] No. Like I said, I only had one day – barely a half-day – in Los Angeles [between shooting on the two series], and I flew with the long hair. I had a new hair person [on ALMOST PARADISE] named Leo. I don’t know how he knew it, but some people know how important Eliot Spencer’s hair is, and to give that kid the scissors, you go, “Okay, cut my hair,” he was shaking in his boots. But he did such a good job, we became good friends. He’s a heck of a stylist, and there’s not a lot you can do with my hair. It’s like, when you’re in a hundred and ten degrees, with the humidity we had in the Philippines, at one point, I’m just like, “Whatever it looks like, it looks like.” And with the fights, it just gets all messed up, and it’s like, “We’ve got to fix it” – “Just let it go.”

AX: Do you know if either ALMOST PARADISE or LEVERAGE: REDEMPTION or both are coming back? Is it too early to tell?

KANE: Right now, with the writers’ strike happening and everything else, every single thing we’ve got going on is put on hold. That’s why I’m really excited about this show coming out on July 21, because we’re going to start losing shows. You’re going to be watching reruns for the next six months of your life. So, we’re going to need some content, and it’s going to be fun to put this one out there, and give people something new to watch.

AX: What’s going on with your music?

KANE: I just got back from Nashville, I went out and hung out with Henry “Hank” O’Connor, my guitarist, went to my restaurant, Sunda, down in the Gulch, it’s fantastic. Shameless plug, we have one in Chicago, but the new one in Tampa [opened the week of July 3].

I went to see that, and sat down with Hank for a few days, and we wrote about three songs, and I kind of got the bug back again. And then, some of the songs I write, they’re also with Riley Smith. Me and Riley write quite a bit together. Riley is the dad on NANCY DREW. As soon as I’m done with some other stuff that I’ve got going on, I believe I’m going to get back to Nashville, and we’re going to put some of these things down in the studio, and hopefully get them out to the people. I’m excited about it.

AX: And what would you most like people to know about ALMOST PARADISE Season 2?

KANE: I can’t wait. I hope everyone gets to see it. I was there, I know what happens, I read the scripts, I was acting in it. But when I sit down with Dean and Sam, and we watched about three or four episodes, I was awestruck. After the stuff that we had gone through, and the turmoil that we were dealing with, to come together as a family, this is one of my favorite things that I’ve ever done. I’m very, very proud of it. The action is a little bit higher than what I’m used to. Some of the fights are just absolutely brutal, not in a bad way, and fun to watch. I’m just really excited to bring this to people, and I can’t wait to hear what they think about it.


CLICK HERE for the ALMOST PARADISE Facebook Live page

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