Hillary Duff’s Kaua‘i special airs Sunday

She surfs, she kayaks, she braves Na Pali Coast aboard a boat. She’s Hillary Duff, Disney Channel’s “Lizzie McGuire,” who received the surprise of her 15th year when her friends decided to fly to Kaua‘i to celebrate her 16th birthday with her.

The one-hour “Hillary Duff’s Island Birthday Bash” airs for a final time at 7 p.m. this Sunday on WB (channel 5), and Nalani Brun, tourism specialist for the county Office of Economic Development, advises viewers to make sure they don’t miss the first 20 minutes of the show.

That’s when Duff arrives at Lihu‘e Airport, is astonished to be greeted by all her best buds from California, and engages in surfing, kayaking and taking in the spectacular Na Pali Coast and its sea caves, waterfalls and swimming holes, said Brun, who saw the premier Wednesday night right after the ice documentary.

Brun said the Duff you see on TV is the real-life Duff, too, a typical first-time Kaua‘i visitor who takes in the landscape with jaw-dropping awe.

“She had no clue about Kaua‘i. She shows up and gets a surprise birthday party with all her friends,” Brun said.

At a waterfall in Kilauea, Duff filmed a new music video. Her song “So Yesterday” is currently number three on the U.S. singles chart, and her CD “Metamorphosis” was number one on the U.S. album charts earlier this month.

The exposure Kaua‘i is getting from the WB special is difficult to calculate in dollar terms, but “it’s good to be associated with a star like that,” Brun said.

Duff helps promote “Kaua‘i as a family destination, and everything Kaua‘i wants to be to the world,” said Brun.

A few hundred Kaua‘i youngsters were lucky enough to be invited to the Hyatt for a live concert featuring Duff and her band. Included in the audience were Lauren Baptiste, daughter of Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste, as well as many members of Na Hula O Kaohikukapulani, under Kumu Kapu Kinimaka Alquiza.

The “closed-audience” party had around 400 youngsters in attendance on the beach near the Hyatt’s manmade, sand-bottom lagoon, said Claire Morris, head of public relations at the Hyatt. Duff’s band played nearly three hours.

Local casting agent Angela Tillson was hired to provide much of the young audience for the young star’s show, Morris added.

During the time Duff was on Kaua‘i, which was nearly a week, the word went out to the media: no interviews, no photographs.

She and her entourage stayed at the Hyatt, while some others associated with the filming stayed at other Po‘ipu properties.

Associate Editor Paul C. Curtis can be reached at pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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