Ojai-Sweden Convergence

by Bret Bradigan

‘Swedish Hollywood Wives’ takes over Ojai Retreat for classes, clashes’

If the Ojai Valley had a navel, it would be at Ojai Retreat, and it would be an “out-ie.” Situated on the knoll that separates Ojai from both Meiners Oak and Mira Monte, the 12-room center hosts a wide variety of programs and events. In late March, it hosted one of the top-rated Swedish television shows.

Called “Svenska Hollywood Fruar,” or “Swedish Hollywood Wives,” it is one the top-rated shows in Scandinavia, and is now filming its 11th season. The show follows five Sweden-born women, who are married to wealthy Los Angelenos, featuring dramatic twists and turns with the glamour and glitter their ardent fans have come to expect. Unlike many shows in the “Real Housewives” genre, “the woman are not given any assignments by the producer, and the series only follows their regular lives,” said Anders Knave, program director.

Producer Camilla Granasen said, “The reason we picked Ojai was because of its luxe vibe and retreat feel, and the Ojai Retreat was perfect for the crew and cast since it is close to everything, set in a stunning location.”

Ulrich Brugger, retreat director, said that he’s had an increasing number of requests from Hollywood producers, seeking a tranquil, beautiful setting against which to play out their inter-personal dramas.

During their stay, the women visited Sonic Butterfly, a musical invention by Andrea Brook, a 26-string acoustic, chromatic long-string harp, with two resonating chambers with butterfly-shaped projection screens. The strings are at least 60-feet-long and are situated out over the audience.

They also had a yoga class at the retreat and a worked with a life coach, Sukhdev Jackson, on communication and personal development. “For each episode, they have another topic of study. It’s a combination of study and fun,” said Granasen. “They finished off the day with a dinner al fresco under the oak trees.”

The “Swedish Wives” stay also featured some drama about a missing necklace, said Brugger. “For us, it was quite stressful but the combination of drama and fun made it easier!”

The Ojai episodes will air during the Fall season on Sweden’s TV3.