Survivor boss Mark Burnett knows about alliances. And so it's no surprise that in Gold Rush (, the online reality game in which he's partnered with AOL, there's an element of teamwork  up to a point. "Not unlike how you play Survivor," explains Gold Rush exec producer Ted Smith, "you sometimes depend upon the collective to advance yourself."

The collective in this case is the Gold Buddies you pick, who you can instant-message for help as you compete in the pop-culture challenges. And if you're one of three finalists to get to the coveted vault, you can actually phone as many as five of those comrades to help you win one of the $100,000 awards, or even the million-dollar grand prize.

But who should you pick? "You want the guy who's sitting behind his desk waiting for your call," Smith says. "An air-traffic controller or a surgeon are probably not good ideas. A video-store clerk probably works." But, more important, he adds, "If somebody thinks that CSI is an actual federal agency and doesn't know that it's the title of a TV show, that's not the person you want either."

Find a Gold Rush clue in the Sept. 18 issue of TV Guide, on sale Thursday.