Those tuning into CBS's Survivor: The Australian Outback after Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28 are sure to notice many of the new crew are, um, a little easier on the eyes. But as executive producer Mark Burnett and host Jeff Probst told attendees of the Television Critics Association's press tour in Pasadena, Calif., looks can kill. In fact, the latest batch of contestants to vie for the $1 million prize would give the scheming champ from Palau Tiga more than a run for his money.
"Where the first group were virgins, everybody here came to play," Burnett said of the new 16, who had the benefit of watching the first game and seeing which strategies paid off. "Richard Hatch would get eaten alive by this group."
Just how tough are they? To hear the show creator tell it, most are in it for the blood, not the money ? and the aim in choosing them was to find people who'd play the game even if it wasn't on TV. Still, both Burnett and Probst were stunned by how many of the Outback-ers lost their cool when the give and take of relationships came into play. "Here we have people who came in knowing everything," he said. "[Yet] they made the same mistakes... Even when we think we have a great strategy and a great plan, we mess up anyway."
Speaking of blowing it, Probst is hoping to avoid doing just that with his newfound "overwhelming" fame, after toiling in relative obscurity and now hearing the loud knock of opportunity. "I was a nobody ? literally nobody," he said, adding he went 18 months without a job before landing the Survivor gig. "I'm fully aware that this is my one shot in this business."
Looking ahead, as we reported, CBS has signed a deal with Burnett for a third and fourth edition of Survivor, with No. 3 set to premiere in the fall. Locales are already being scouted in Peru, Brazil and Africa, among other places.