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'Survivor' FAQ

Thursday, January 25, 2001

Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Did you know Sue would give that speech at the end of the first "Survivor"?

Executive producer Mark Burnett said he originally planned to veto statements by contestants at the final Tribal Council. That changed.

"Four hours earlier that day she came to me with an idea of what she wanted to say," Burnett said. "I had told [host] Jeff [Probst] no statements, just ask questions. When I heard what she wanted to say, I thought, you know, I think we should have statements."

So what was the deal with the "x theory" the last time?

Computer experts figured out a way into the background of the CBS Web site where they saw Gervase was the only person without a red "x" next to his picture. Did Burnett plant that as a way to divert attention from Richard Hatch, the ultimate winner?

"Why would I get specific about what we did and didn't do, because we've got to do it again," Burnett said. "I'm not going to talk about whether we're on survivorsucks.com or whether we put the red 'x' or whether we did other stuff. It's a fun game."

So, he's saying he could have deliberately planted misinformation on the sites?

"Yeah, we had great fun with it," Burnett said. "It's a game and it's all in good taste and good fun. As long as the audience is having a great experience each week, that's our job."

What does Burnett think of the spawn of "Survivor"?

Though he jump-started the reality TV trend, Burnett is not enamored of its imitators, particularly "Temptation Island."

"I think that sex sells, and I won't ever make a show like that," Burnett said. "Never, ever. It's not what I want to do. All my shows relate to adventure and I think that imitation is the highest form of flattery, including the same music, the same shots..."

How many people applied for the "Survivor" sequel?

"49,000 and change," according to Burnett. That doesn't include the 10,000 applications that came in after the deadline. It dwarfs the number of applications for last summer's "Survivor," which only totaled about 6,000.

Since they're no longer on an island, "voted off the island" can't be a catch phrase. What do they say now?

"Voted out of the tribe" is the new line, host Jeff Probst said. "I had to catch myself a couple of times because 'voted off the island' became such a mantra."

Will alliances be banned this time?

No. Every office has alliances, why wouldn't "Survivor"? Burnett asked. Nothing changed in the rules.

Do any cast members from the first "Survivor" make cameo appearances?

No. And viewers won't hear the cast talking about them either. "It's gone, it's ended, move it forward," Burnett said. "I don't want to hear about what was. I care about today and tomorrow."

So will "Survivor" continue to survive?

Oh, yes. Burnett has made a deal with CBS for a third and fourth installment of the show. Location scouts have visited the Amazon, Peru, Brazil and Africa and will soon select a site for "Survivor 3," which is expected to premiere this fall.

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