Somehow it makes sense that Mindy Burbano Stearns is portraying the wealthy and wacky Lovey Howell on the new TBS reality show, “The Real Gilligan’s Island.”
After all, this is the woman who cock-a-doodle-do’d her way to fame on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” eight years ago after audience members were asked to share an interesting talent.
Since then, life’s been something to crow about for Stearns, a former Forest Grove dental hygienist whom Oprah dubbed “the Rooster Lady” — and still considers one of her favorite guests.
Stearn’s portrayal of Mrs. Howell caps a six-year run as an entertainment reporter for KTLA in Los Angeles and last year’s fairy-tale wedding to Glenn Stearns, who’s playing Thurston Howell III in the show.
The role of the lock-jawed tycoon is hardly a stretch for the 40-year-old entrepreneur, worth an estimated $500 million.
Two sets of castaways mimic the original seven-member cast of “Gilligan’s Island” on the reality show, filmed on an unidentified island in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.
Part “Survivor” and part sitcom, the show has 14 contestants who undertake a series of competitions based on original episodes that will produce one rescued castaway — or one couple, in the case of the Stearnses and the other couple portraying the Howells.
The Stearnses dismissed the idea of applying for the show when they first learned of it.
“We originally thought it would take us away from work for too long,” she says. “So when we heard it was only going to be three weeks, we decided to go for it. The next thing we knew, they had called us, we interviewed and we were on an island. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that money couldn’t buy.”
Money also couldn’t buy a Marriott hotel on the undeveloped atoll near Cozumel.
“The tropics are wonderful, but it’s a whole different thing when you’re stranded with no mattress and no creature comforts — none of the usual things you take on a nice vacation,” says the 35-year-old Stearns.
Her husband did enjoy some comfort in the form of an outdoor shower taken with Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Rachel Hunter, one of the two B-list celebs on the show. She and “Baywatch” babe Nicole Eggert are the show’s two Gingers.
“Glenn got to take a shower with Rachel while I pedaled a bike to make the shower flow,” Stearns says without a trace of bitterness.
There was, however, no love lost between the two sets of Howells.
“They were definitely the biggest challenge for us,” she says of the contentious relationship they had with the Kentucky couple worth a measly three mil. “She absolutely hated my rooster call, so of course I had to do it all the time.”
Like the original Thurston and Lovey, the Stearns were the only castaways wise enough to overpack for the three-hour tour.
“Glenn and I each had a trunk full of clothing; he wore a different ascot every day,” Stearns says. “Everyone else had to wear the same thing the entire time.”
A parasol and white gloves helped her channel the social-lite.
“You can’t help but get into the character when you have the whole wardrobe,” Stearns says. “But even though I had my ditzy Lovey moments, I got down and dirty, too. I helped with the fishing, building and cooking.”
And now that she’s a wealthy woman herself, Stearns feels qualified to confirm the old adage’s truth: Money can’t buy happiness.
“Whatever you were before, you’ll have more of it afterward,” she says. “If you were a happy person before you had money, then you’ll be a happier person afterward. But if you’re miserable before you get it, you’ll be even more miserable later.”
‘The Real Gilligan’s Island’
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday through Dec.