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Survivor Hype

Saturday, April 14, 2001

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Brace yourselves, "Friends." And "Will & Grace." And "ER. " CBS will air the "Survivor" finale from 8 to 10 p.m. May 3, with a one-hour live reunion show hosted by Bryant Gumbel immediately afterward. But this time, no one knows who will walk away with the million.

The votes cast during the last tribal council "have been kept under lock and key so that the outcome can be unveiled live during the final show," the network says. That should juice interest in the series, which has lost some of its more intriguing characters -- the survivor we all loved to hate and, alas, the one with the Beaver County roots.

AMBER AWAY: Amber Brkich was booted from the Outback after failing to crack established alliances. Tina and Keith are joined at the hip, and so are Rodger and Elisabeth. That left Amber and ironman Colby, whose own days seem numbered but who is favored to win by http://www.Intertops.com.

LET THE GAMES BEGIN: Elisabeth suggested at the opening of Thursday's show that the game had become "drastically primal." It was all about the food. Or lack thereof. It also was about the rain that ravaged the Barramundi camp, the muck and the retrieval of a rice can that was as foolhardy as it was necessary.

Perhaps to spare us lingering shots of lethargic, starving players, the episode quickly introduced a ropes-course reward challenge won by Colby. He earned a night at a ranch, a dinner of beef stew, the chance to share a beer with increasingly smarmy host Jeff Probst and a hearty breakfast.

In the TMI (Too Much Information) category, Colby reminded us what happens when a stomach accustomed to teeny amounts of bland rice suddenly encounters real food. Doesn't sound pretty. Later, Colby won immunity by proving himself a slingshot sharpshooter.

That opened the door for Amber's exit. She had struck a deal with Mitchell and Jerri, now long gone. Tina criticized Amber for acting like a spy plane -- in other words, flying under the radar.

CLASSY CLOSE: Say what you will about Amber's friendship with Jerri. When her time came, she went out on a high note. "I'm going to be thinking about you guys a lot. You're going to be in my prayers and thoughts, and I just hope you guys stay warm and keep your spirits up," she said.

BACK AT HOME: The Web site http://thesmokinggun.com/ reports that Keith ran up debts close to $275,000 and filed for bankruptcy in June 1998. ... Elisabeth is engaged to her Boston College quarterback boyfriend, Tim Hasselbeck.

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