CBS re-ups with ''Survivor'' for two more seasons. The deal will keep the reality hit on the air through May 2005

By Gary Susman
January 20, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST
Mark Burnett and Jeff Probst: John Fido

You might imagine that most showbiz deals are negotiated in nerve-wracking meetings in corporate boardrooms, or over long power lunches at Hollywood hotspots. But sometimes, they’re casually struck and sealed with a handshake near a hotel escalator. One such escalator, at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, is where CBS chairman Les Moonves and ”Survivor” producer Mark Burnett renegotiated their contract and agreed to air two more editions of the reality hit.

According to the Associated Press, the two men quickly hammered out the deal there on Saturday, just moments after Burnett had complained to journalists assembled for the annual Television Critics Association winter conclave that the Eye network hadn’t renewed the show. Once the deal was struck, Moonves told reporters that Burnett was a ”drama queen,” since the renewal was all but inevitable. CBS owns the show, so Burnett can’t take it elsewhere, but the network wasn’t about to vote the show’s mastermind off the Eye-land.

The eighth edition of ”Survivor,” with an all-star cast made up of winners and fan favorites from all the previous contests, debuts Feb. 1 after CBS’ broadcast of the Super Bowl. The ninth and 10th editions will keep the show on the air through May 2005. After that, who knows? That deal might take a whole elevator ride to hammer out.