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'Survivor: The Amazon' Cast Introduced on 'The Early Show'by Ken Kellam III -- 01/14/2003
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Monday's Early Show featured CBS's official introduction of the cast of Survivor: The Amazon. As predicted on a few spoiler sites, we learned that for the first time the castaways will be divided up based on gender - an all-male tribe vs. an all-female tribe.
One of the males, Ryan Aiken, a model in his early 20s from Maryland, discusses some of the dangerous creatures he'll be sharing the terrain with (the ones that were already there, not his fellow competitors). Another male, restaurant designer Matthew Von Ertfelda, says he's not worried about his survival skills, but that he intends to keep those skills in the dark, using them only when they're to his advantage. Perhaps he remembers the fate of Pulau Tiga's Gretchen.
The eldest Amazon male is Roger Sexton, who bears a resemblance to the Outback competitor sharing his first name. He says he looks around at the young guys in his tribe and he wants to slap them, because they've got "macho" written all over them, and they're totally into themselves.
Then we meet the women of the jungle. Shawna Mitchell, a retail saleswoman from California, says give her a tent and propane gas and she's happy as can be. But throw her out in survival, and it's going to be interesting. Also part of the ladies' team is Survivor's first hard-of-hearing cast member, Christy Smith. The Colorado native and children's adventure guide says she's good with people, and if her team accepts her she'll go all the way. Of course her condition could prove to be an advantage if one of the other ladies starts shrieking loudly about self-gratification (a la Kimmi in the Outback), or starts taking after Jerri (also from the Outback) and yells fantasies involving chocolate at the top of her lungs.
We also meet 24-year-old gym teacher Heidi Strobel from Missouri. She says she thought she would be in a beach environment, where you can swim in the water (and given the show's past, she had an 80 percent chance of being right), but that possibility is highly unlikely in this environment, which really freaks her out.
After the introduction, Julie Chen interviews TV Guide writer Ileane Rudolph, who traveled to the location of the filming. She tells Chen that the male/female split-up brings back the old schoolyard fights between the boys and girls. Hopefully, we won't see another challenge involving physical contact, such as the one which landed Thailand's Sook Jai tribe into the Reality TV Hall of Shame.
Chen asks her how different the chemistry is this time with the battle of the sexes. Rudolph says the men were hard at work, while she refers to the women as, "A new age spa with machetes as an accessory." She goes on to tell us the women were braiding each other's hair, bathing, washing their clothes, and just not working too hard on their shelter, although she's sure the ladies will eventually kick some behind.
Chen says she imagines a lot of "type-A" personalities (now THAT'S a novel concept) made it onto the show. Rudolph says that while that is true, there are also a few that make your wonder why they're there. She cites Texan Daniel Lue, whom she claims is proud to be the show's first Asian-American male, but doesn't even like to use rest stop restrooms. [Daniel was also interviewed previously by RealityNewsOnline - click here for details.] She also mentions that 24-year-old New York native Rob Cesternino had never been camping before, leaving her to wonder why he's here.
Next, Chen says any fan of the show would advise you to lay low, but she asks Rudolph if any of the players took a leadership role early on. Rudolph mentions that 32-year-old triathlon coach Alex Bell seems terrific and bears a resemblance to Probst, but that early on, he was ordering people around, leading her to wonder if this would cost him an early exit.
Next, Rudolph mentions that Smith was worried about not having an interpreter, but that she's game, and that she's very happy to raise deaf awareness because she wants to show that someone with a hearing disability can do anything a hearing person can do.
When asked by Chen how tough it was in the Amazon, Rudolph mentions crocodiles and giant snakes that can eat people. Chen observes that on Survivor, people eat what's there, and this time it will be the other way around. One question comes to mind, however: Why have we yet to hear Probst, Chen, Rudolph or any of the players mention the word "Piranha"? Oh well, there no reason for it to be eating away at me.
Ken can be reached with any comments, criticisms, or money orders at YourNextOfKen@aol.com.
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