A closer look at the cast of CBS's hit reality TV series

By Josh Wolk
December 23, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

Conventional wisdom says that original programming never works in summer, since nobody’s at home watching TV. Then again, conventional wisdom says that a naked, jiggly Machiavellian would never be awarded a $1 million prize by seven people he had spent 39 days screwing over. But Survivor, TV’s ultimate game show, outwitted, outplayed, and outlasted all traditional rules, becoming the Thursday-morning topic of conversation around watercoolers and water holes alike, and climaxing with 51.7 million people tuning in to watch the last torch flicker.

While the show’s masterful editing and elaborate challenges were integral to its success, the whole project would have been a shipwreck if not for the 16 squabbling strandees, the perfect melting pot of selfishness, naivete, and cunning. Survivor‘s Dysfunctional Family Robinson knew how to put on a show, whether it was Rudy, the human Speak-and-Slur (pull his string and hear him slander); Colleen, who proved that you can be adorable and pustulant; Gervase, who wore his sloth like a Purple Heart; and so on. And the shrewdness of exec producer Mark Burnett’s recruitment strategy became all the more clear after watching the boring barnacles of Big Brother.

Upon their return to home shores, the cast was rewarded with a showbiz welcome of Target proportions, with interviews, guest-hosting gigs, and even a movie deal that put the Pontiac Aztek prize to shame. Since so much has been written about them, our own personal reward challenge was to sum it all up in 17 syllables — below, Survivor wrap-up haikus. Now where’s our damn spice rack?

Richard Hatch
Newly svelte victor
Becker, book deal, H-wood Squares
Viva la lipo!

Kelly Wiglesworth
Last speech on honor
Later nearly wrestled Sue
So that’s dignity?

Rudy Boesch
Queers! Homos! Fairies!
Hate speech from Buchanan, but
Fun from old salt. Huh?

Susan Hawk
When talking to Bush
As cohost of Regis show
Why no snake, rat speech?

Sean Kenniff
Ditched scrubs for showbiz
Thank God: Would you trust your health
To Alphabet Boy?

Colleen Haskell
Said, ”No actor, I.”
Now stars in Rob Schneider film
And you thought Rich sly

Gervase Peterson
Anyone can charm
But to make Gumbel high-five?
Now that’s fame-worthy

Jenna Lewis
Flirted with Playboy
But said no: Survivor, 1 —
Darva C., 0

Greg Buis
Coconut phone chats
Don’t make him useful spokesman.
Except for Prozac

Gretchen Cordy
So sweet! So helpful!
But no win, no commercials
Smart man, that Darwin

Joel Klug
He cooked up some rat
Which doesn’t translate to much
In endorsement world

Dirk Been
Like many athletes
Dirk thanked the Lord in postshow
Should have prayed to win

Ramona Gray
Says wants showbiz opps,
But missing easy tie-in:
Pepto-Bismol ad

Stacey Stillman
Gone back to the law
Ah, to prosecute Rudy
The dream comes nightly

B.B. Andersen
Grandkids on his shirt
Hawked Reebok in SAG strike: No
”World’s Greatest Scab” mug?

Sonja Christopher
We hardly knew ye
Just one ukelele tune
Uh…that was enough