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Steve Frame
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Palmetto Bluff gets airtime on CBS soap opera

Along a pristine lake somewhere in the dense woods of northern Wisconsin, another Palmetto Bluff is taking shape.

Just a short trip from Genoa City, Wisc., by car or private jet, the elite resort community known to locals as "Clear Springs" is patterned after Bluffton's 18,500-acre development.

And much like the formative days of the Bluffton community, Clear Springs is rife with conflicts that pit developers against developers and citizens against citizens.

The only difference: It's fake.

Clear Springs is the invention of writers for the long-running CBS daytime soap opera "The Young and the Restless."

In a late-September episode of the weekday soap opera, Nikki Newman (Melody Thomas Scott) and her daughter, Victoria Newman (Amelia Heinle) present Clear Springs plans to a reporter for -- you guessed it -- a fictional news station.

Standing in front of photos and computer images, they tell the news station how their planned community will be patterned after "Palmetto Bluff near Hilton Head, South Carolina."

"They take pride in connecting the area's history into their future. That was the mindset we were going for in Clear Springs," Nikki told the reporter, pointing to photos and renderings supplied by the Bluffton community.

While the story line is pure fantasy, the marketing boost the program gave the real Palmetto Bluff is genuine.

Instead of traditional arrangements where companies pay for product placement on television programs, Palmetto Bluff got free publicity in exchange for providing the show with artwork to use as a prop.

It's generated business for the Inn at Palmetto Bluff, said Tom Gardo, a Palmetto Bluff spokesman. "It's been great for us."

The Clear Springs story line will play a central role in the drama for weeks to come, said the show's coordinating producer, John Fisher.

So why Palmetto Bluff? Fisher's real-life brother, David Fisher, is a Charleston architect whose firm helped develop some Palmetto Bluff properties.

"Once he pointed me to the Web site, the rest all fell into place," John Fisher said. "It was a nice touch to be able to bring in something authentic to the show."

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