''Survivor: Thailand'' contestants nearly come to blows. Watch for a fight to break out among the islanders in the third episode

By Gary Susman
Updated September 18, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Even on a tropical island, a contest in which scheming Richard Hatch is a winner is no lighthearted day at the beach. Still, the violence on past seasons of ”Survivor” has been almost entirely verbal and emotional. No more, apparently. Contestants on ”Survivor: Thailand” got physical and, in the third episode, were filmed nearly coming to blows, host Jeff Probst told the Associated Press on Monday.

Okay, there was that tussle between Alicia and Kimmi in the Australian season over who would have to kill a chicken. But the islanders of the new season, which premieres on Sept. 19, surprised producers with how belligerent they were, Probst said. ”There’s a part of you that’s excited because it’s new,” he told AP. ”Then there’s a part of you that says, ‘I hope this is ‘Survivor’ and not ‘American Gladiators.”’ During a physical challenge in the third episode, two competitors mixed it up, with Probst caught in the middle. ”I enjoyed that,” he said, ”because I enjoy people who are playing for real.”

Talking to a group of Entertainment Weekly reporters on Tuesday, Probst described a reward challenge during the Oct. 3 episode in which, for the first time in ”Survivor” history, opposing contestants were allowed to confront each other physically. Probst said he had to break up an impending fight, telling one contestant, ”Is your name Jeff? Then shut the f— up.”

Asked to comment on Probst’s account, a CBS spokeswoman told EW.com, ”We can’t elaborate” on the contents of yet-to-air episodes. ”Stay tuned,” she said.

Survivor: Thailand

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