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'Survivor' waives Amber

Friday, April 13, 2001

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

And then there were five.

But hometown girl Amber Brkich was not among them.

Amber Brkich, a 22-year-old administrative assistant from Brighton in Beaver County, was voted out of the group of competitors in "Survivor: The Australian Outback." Her ousting was televised last night. (CBS-TV)

After a valiant effort in a reward challenge (she came in a close second) and the heartbreaking loss of the Barramundi camp to a flood, Brkich received ousting votes from all but one of the remaining players.

Brkich, who was known for saying "Oh my God!" or "Wow!" and for seemingly being the best friend of the evil Jerri Mantey, survived 11 episodes of the No. 1 rated CBS program.

Brkich, a 22-year-old from Brighton in Beaver County, was one of 16 contestants who competed on "Survivor: The Australian Outback" for the top prize of $1 million. The contestants spent more than a month in the Outback filming the series last fall.

Brkich, a graduate of Beaver Area High School, graduated last year from Westminster College, where she majored in public relations and minored in speech communications.

"Survivor" contestants are not available for interviews until after viewers see them voted off the show, but in a CBS interview taped before leaving for Australia, Brkich said her strategy was "to try to have every person relate to me in a different way. ... At first, people think that I'm pretty charming, funny, kind of nice girl, easygoing, doesn't have a mean bone in her body. I can be mean, and I can be conniving, and I can be the kind of person who is going to have to kick you off."

That attitude appealed to "Survivor" executive producer Mark Burnett.

"I thought she had a real American apple-pie look," Burnett told the Post-Gazette in January at a CBS party in Pasadena, Calif. "She's very smart and she was on the dean's list in school and, as she explained, she may be a sweet thing, but she's got a very other side to her, and I like that."

CBS Entertainment president Nancy Tellem said Brkich made it into the cast because of her combination of traits.

"She has an innocence to her, she's fresh out of college, she's from a small town," Tellem said in January. "She's very competitive, though. You have a nice combination of innocence and competitiveness and that makes for a very interesting person."

Although she has been voted out of the Outback, Brkich will still be a part of the show. She is now a member of the jury that will ultimately select the ultimate survivor and winner of $1 million.

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