This article was in my local paper yesterday (9/26) written by Mark Schwed...I found it quite interesting.
1. They have met before. Contestants run into each other at auditions, and if they make the final cut, wind up spending days together before heading off to the location. For the Pearl Islands show, CBS locked them all up in a Miami Beach hotel, with strict orders not to speak to one another. Handlers would march the castaways in single file down to the resaurant for food or to the beach to pose for publicity photos. But the players communicate without talking: sizing one another up, winking, looking for strengths and weaknesses --- in other words they're already playing the game.
2. Their families know. Rupert didn't just kiss his wife and daughter goodbye and say "See you in 39 days." CBS allows contestants to tell immediate family members that they've been selected. But that's it. Many castaways have lost jobs because they couldn't tell their bosses.
3. They have weeks to prepare. Contestants know up to two weeks in advance that they are probably finalists. Some use the time to get lean and mean. Others daydream about how they're going to spend the $1 million prize.
4. They can be replaced. CBS makes it clear that if the contestants violate any rules---such as speaking to one another, before they actually begin the game, they will be dumped. Alternates are ready to fill any vacated spot.
5. They get tips from pros. When they get to the location, medical personnel brief them on local dangers. Even though there have been sharks, snakes and other creepy critters at various "Survivor" sets, the chief concerns are always the same: dehydration, severe sunburn and mosquitos.
6. They talk to Mark Burnett. The contestants are constantly trying to chat up crew memebers, but they're not allowed to talk. Only executive Producer Mark Burnett and host Jeff Probst speak to the castmates.
7. They can avoid the cameras. The 300-plus crew members have comfortable housing, a tasty buffet, even a rocking bar. But a small rotating "remote" crew endures much harsher conditions, camping near the contestants and watching them virtually around the clock. Still, there aren't enough crews to keep up with all the contestants if they split into small groups. If they want privacy, all they have to do is sneak off when the crews are busy with others.
8. Producers use stand-ins. For every challenge, stand-ins are used during rehearsal so the crew can set up shots. Sometimes, the stand-ins actually run the obstacle course or solve the puzzles to give producers an idea of where to place cameras.
9. They may not form pacts. All survivors plot to create that perfect alliance. But they may not form a pact to split the prize money. Violators face a $5 million fine from CBS.
10. They are bored out of their minds. In their first two days, they build a shelter. After that, they have absolutely nothing to do but replenish water, prepare food and compete in challenges, which gives them plenty of time to outwit, outplay, outlast and work on their tans.