Apparently Mark Burnett is not above using child labor: The brain-teasing immunity challenge on ”Survivor: Pearl Islands”’ Thanksgiving-week episode had a youthful creator, 14-year-old Kylie Cusick of San Diego.
Earlier this year at a viewing party for ”Survivor: The Amazon,” Cusick approached challenge producer John Kirhoffer claiming she could easily create a competition for the show. Kirhoffer offered her $100 if she designed a game good enough to make it on the air. She did just that, conceiving one in which contestants compete to form the most words out of the show’s title. ”One of the challenges we wanted was a mental one,” host Jeff Probst says. ”Something we’d never done, and it was so basic.” So imagine Cusick’s surprise when she actually saw her idea on TV. (Score!) After the episode, she received a package including tiles from the game, the original tree mail, and, of course, that $100 bill. (Double score!) Throw in a call from Probst, and Cusick has the coolest story for show-and-tell…well, ever. But isn’t Kirhoffer a tad worried about losing his job to a sassy teen? ”Hey, if somebody has a good idea — I’m taking it,” he says. ”I’ll give them the credit, because I still have the job.” For now.