Attorney's daughter finds true love, and fame, on CBS's 'Love Island'



by Tom Kirvan
Legal News

Craig Weber, a partner in The Googasian Firm, has grown accustomed to the occasional glare of the legal profession where high-profile cases play out on a courtroom stage.

Yet, as the father of a 24-year-old daughter, Weber wasn’t quite prepared for the intensity of the social media spotlight that has been trained on the oldest of his four children after she and her boyfriend won the top $100,000 cash prize in the CBS reality show Love Island.

“To say it has been a ‘whirlwind’ would be a gross understatement,” Weber said in the wake of his daughter Elizabeth’s newfound celebrity status. “It’s been absolutely nuts – but in a good way.”
Elizabeth, a 2018 graduate of Central Michigan University,  and her love interest Zac Mirabelli of Chicago saw their lives change dramatically the evening of August 7 when they were crowned by fans as their favorite couple on the 22-episode show, which was spawned from a British series of the same name.

On Sunday, Aug. 18, while spending the weekend visiting with Weber and his wife Sue at their Birmingham area home, Elizabeth and 22-year-old Zac got a taste of celebrity life when they paid a visit to Somerset mall in Troy.

“They were absolutely mobbed by their fans, mostly teen-age girls who loved them on the show,” Weber said in amazement. “The police had to be called to usher them out of there because it was causing such a scene. It’s a whole new world for them.”

More fans descended upon them at Hyde Park restaurant in downtown Birmingham, where the lovebirds went to enjoy a meal with Elizabeth’s family, which includes younger sister Caroline and younger brothers Kurt and John Paul.

“All it takes is one person with an Instagram account to spot them and then the word is out all across social media,” Weber said of the couple’s sudden surge in popularity. “And when they come, they are not looking for autographs. They want photos and videos – all of which they post on their social media accounts. It’s really amazing how fast word can spread. It can go viral in a matter of minutes.”

Elizabeth, who earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising from CMU, spent much of the past year working for a major ad agency in New York until deciding to quit her job after being notified that she had been selected as a contestant on Love Island.

Not surprisingly, her decision to give up a plum job initially didn’t set well with her father.

“I wasn’t too keen on her giving up a good job, but she took a leap of faith and it worked out,” said Weber, who has spent his entire career as a plaintiff attorney with The Googasian Firm. “She deserves a world of credit for following her dream.”

Elizabeth, who graduated from Birmingham Seaholm High School, passed on an earlier chance at stardom when she elected not to appear on another CBS hit reality show.

“She tried out for Survivor, but had a conflict and decided not to follow through on it,” Weber related. “But this time, things fell into place and it obviously paid off.”

The Love Island show revolves around a group of 16 contestants, known as “Islanders,” who come together “in a stunning villa on a beautiful tropical island, ready to embark on a summer of dating, romance, and ultimately, relationships,” according to the CBS publicity machine.

In this case, the South Pacific country of Fiji served as the setting for the love nest, where contestants shared one bedroom, two unisex bathrooms, and 24-hour a day exposure by CBS cameras.

“Virtually everything they did, everything they said was on camera,” Weber explained. “Fortunately, the CBS censors cut out some of the stuff that would have been too much for a parent to bear.”

The same can’t be said for the British version of the show, which reportedly revels in the bedroom theatrics that go far beyond mere pillow talk.

“Fortunately we live in the U.S.,” Weber said with a wink.

According to Weber, Elizabeth and Zac enjoyed almost an “instant connection” on the show, cementing a bond that other contestants were unable to break over the course of the series that ran July 9 through August 7. The final episode drew an audience of more than 2.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen ratings.

That bond was put to the test in the season finale when the winning couple was revealed and Elizabeth was given the option of keeping the entire $100,000 top prize or sharing any portion of it with Zac.

“She could have taken the whole prize, but she obviously did the right thing,” said Weber of his daughter, with whom he has enjoyed a special bond since she was an infant.

Elizabeth was born six weeks prematurely in September 1994, according to Weber.

“She spent three weeks in a bubble at Beaumont [Hos-pital],” Weber said of his and his wife’s firstborn. “It was touch-and-go for awhile, and we obviously spent many days and nights at the hospital until she was out of danger.”

While there during that trying time, Weber developed a lasting connection with his daughter.

“It began with me sticking my hand in the incubator and letting her latch on to my finger,” Weber said. “Maybe I imagined it, but she’d squeeze my finger three times. We kept doing that to each other throughout her childhood and we still do it today. Three squeezes to say, ‘I love you.’ She started to do it to Zac on the show and then she finally told Zac what it meant when they were on their last date – aboard a beautiful yacht.”

In another episode near the end of the series, Weber’s wife Sue and daughter Caroline put in a particularly emotional appearance on the show. “I also sent a letter with my wife that ended up being read on the show,” Weber said. “I felt bad because I didn’t go, so I wrote Elizabeth a letter to tell her how proud I was of her and that I gave up my spot so that her sister Caroline could go in my place. It was emotional for me.”

Those emotions were stirred again on the show’s final night when more than 200 friends and relatives gathered at the Weber home for a festive Love Island viewing party.

“We had TVs everywhere, even in the backyard,” Weber said. “We went through 33 bottles of wine and various bottles of champagne to toast [them].”

In the coming weeks, the newly minted couple is scheduled to continue their victory lap in the Chicago area, where Zac grew up and graduated from nearby Aurora University. Then they may head west to seek further fame and fortune in Los Angeles, the so-called “Entertainment Capital of the World.”

In the meantime, Weber will do his best to keep the paparazzi at bay.

“They’ve been camped out on our sidewalk for the past couple of days, waiting for any chance to start snapping photos,” Weber said of the photographers who sell to the highest bidders. “I’m so glad I have this app that allows me to turn on our sprinkler system from the touch of my phone.”