All-star ''Survivor'' will kick off on Super Bowl Sunday. Eighteen fan favorites from previous seasons will compete at a yet-to-be-revealed location

By Gary Susman
November 18, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST
Jerri Manthey: Glenn Weiner/ZUMA Press/NewsCom

Feb. 1 will be a night of kickoffs, not to mention fouls, penalties, and special teams. Not only is it the night of the Super Bowl, but it’s also the launch of the long-awaited all-star edition of ”Survivor.” CBS, which is airing both competitions, has been mum on who agreed to be stranded for the second time, but rumors on fan websites say the players will include such past champions and memorable personalities as Richard Hatch, Ethan Zohn, Rudy Boesch, Susan Hawk, Jerri Manthey, Colby Donaldson, and current ”Pearl Islands” breakout Rupert Boneham.

”We were simply casting for the most memorable characters we could find,” producer Mark Burnett, tells USA Today, adding that two contestants on his wish list turned him down. ”Because they’ve all played before, their whole mantra is to expect the unexpected. So their own imaginations are doing them in more than anything I might do.” Because they’re all experienced castaways, Burnett says he made the competition ”much, much harder,” offering no rations and more difficult immunity challenges. ”They got kicked in the butt from the very beginning.”

CBS has also been tight-lipped about the location where the all-star series is currently filming, though it’s rumored to be an island near the Panama location where the ”Pearl Islands” edition was shot. However, USA Today reports, there will be more of everything: 18 contestants instead of 16, 14 episodes instead of 13, and $25,000 for the first player voted off the island, instead of $2,500. (The winner’s jackpot, though, is still $1 million.)

CBS had success a couple years ago with the post-Super Bowl gambit. Some 45 million viewers stuck around after the football championship to watch the premiere of ”Survivor: The Australian Outback.” Now, if only CBS could convince the NFL to let the two conference champion teams vote players off the roster after each fumble?