Published: January 29, 2003

BURBANK, Calif. -- January 29, 2003 -- There will be “Fear” and loathing -- and loving -- in February when NBC presents four special episodes of its hit reality series “Fear Factor” (Mondays, 8-9 p.m. ET) featuring an “all-gross” episode, an all-female episode, a Valentine’s Day version and a special 90-minute edition.

Through the first 18 weeks of the 2002-03 season, "Fear Factor" has averaged a 5.2 rating, 14 share among adults 18-49 and 12.2 million viewers overall. "Fear Factor" is a convincing No. 1 for its competitive hour among adults 18-49 and has generated a powerful 30 percent jump over NBC's average in the slot last season.

On Monday, Feb. 3 (8-9 p.m. ET), NBC unleashes a special “all-gross” installment (show #318). The episode features challenges even gorier and grosser than usual as host Joe Rogan leads the six contestants through a “blood bath” requiring them to bob for objects sunk deep in 50 gallons of cow blood. Later, they must consume tomato hornworms measuring five inches in length and then gather “roadkill” skunk carcasses from inside a pitch-black tunnel.

Then on a special night, Tuesday, Feb. 4 (8-9 p.m. ET), “Fear Factor” spotlights a shocking and high-flying females only” episode (show #319) as six female contestants recruited from across the nation must decide if they have the right stuff as they stare down their fears - and each other.

Highlights of the special “Valentine’s Day” edition (show #316) on Monday, Feb. 10 include one member from each of four couples (two married and two not) attempting to unlock and release his or her mate from a plexiglas box submerged underwater. Another example is transferring roaches from a candy-shaped box to another bin using only their mouths.

On an extended 90-minute version (show #309) on Monday, Feb. 24 (8-9:30 p.m. ET), the hardy contestants will be faced with four stunts for the first time. The challenges include submitting to piercing with long needles and eating stinking cheese covered with maggots.

The contestants (three women and three men) on the reality series are recruited from across the nation to see if they have the guts and determination to face their most primal fears when confronted with a series of challenging stunts under the supervision of professional Hollywood stunt coordinators. In each pulse-racing episode hosted by Joe Rogan, contestants compete against themselves, extreme challenges -- and each other -- in the hope of taking home a cash prize of up to $50,000 at the end of the hour.

John de Mol ("Big Brother") and Matt Kunitz ("Dog Eat Dog") are the executive producers of “Fear Factor,” from Endemol Entertainment USA.