Burnett reveals 'Survivor' secrets
By JOHN POWELL -- Jam! Showbiz
If it was up to 'Survivor' executive producer Mark Burnett, he would cast Canadians to be on his blockbuster reality show series in a heartbeat. It is legal issues which prevent Canucks from joining in on the fun of eating bugs and starving to death for a million dollars.
" There is no reason why we wouldn't. One year, I would love to have an Australian involved, a Canadian and someone British. It is nothing discriminatory. It is honestly just legal issues. It has to do with contracts. You can't enforce the same things overseas. That is the only reason," Burnett told Jam! Showbiz. "You know me. I have worked in Canada a lot. A lot of my crew are Canadian. I mean in Eco-Challenge, half my crew are Canadian. I love working with Canadians. I could totally see a Mountie or a lumberjack on the show. There are so many great characters that would really work well."
Viewers who took in last night's shocking episode of 'Survivor: Pearl Islands", which finally beat rival 'Friends' in the ratings for the first time since May of 2001, saw the booted players return and win the right to re-enter the game while the Morgan and Drake tribes had to vote out a member each. Fans will have to wait until next week to see who the Outcast tribe votes back into the game. That special Tribal Council occurs right after the opening sequence. The question remains though will the resurrected players go back to their original tribes? Maybe not says Burnett who described how the process will shape up next week.
"After the vote, Jeff puts the two buffs, one of each colour, into the urn and one of the returning players gets to put their hand in and choose a buff and that's how they do it. It is totally random," he revealed.
Besides the twist of the Outcasts returning last night, the happening that really shook viewers was the treatment of Morgan pantywaist muscle-man Osten Taylor who was gutted by host Jeff Probst and his own tribe for quitting the game and requesting that Morgan vote him out. Taylor wasn't even granted the courtesy of some closing comments as the end credits rolled. Instead, all viewers saw was footage of Morgan departing Tribal Council. Though Burnett holds no grudge against Taylor now for quitting the game, he makes no apologies for the way in which Osten's departure was handled on the show.
"Osten had threatened to quit since like Day Four or something. He is a big huge guy who probably could kill me outside the game and yet he cried about the game all the time. Eventually, it came down to him quitting and he did it at the worst time. By the way, I totally support Jeff Probst's harsh stance. That Jeff did not put his torch up with the others. Jeff did not say..."The tribe has spoken." He said "Go home," said Burnett. "There was nothing new in his final words. Typically someone will say something new. Osten said the same stuff. So, it was kind of a waste of energy for the viewers. A waste of energy for me."
With some fans terming the twist as unfair and booted Drake player Shawn Cohen expressing his frustration with it on Friday morning's edition of 'The Early Show', Burnett defended bringing the booted players back saying that they lived on very limited rations, had very long days and had no idea they would be playing for the chance to return to the game until Probst made the announcement at the challenge. He did admit though that the Outcasts probably slept better than the Survivors still in the game. With prospective players knowing so much about the series before they even apply to be on the show, Burnett believes that the only way to keep new players on their toes is to introduce twists to the game.
"I've got people coming in now during the seventh season who have watched six seasons, they have bought the DVDs and they think it is THEIR game. They are telling me...'Isn't today Day Seventeen, Mark? Shouldn't there be like a rain cloud today? I am like, you know, shut the f--k up and just play. Don't assume anything. We tell them 24 hours before they start no to assume anything like there is going to be two tribes, there are going to be rations, there is gonna be buffs, there's gonna be Jeff. Don't assume anything. Just go there and have an open mind. The important thing for me is...shaking up. Don't assume that it is the same game every time. It is simply a game of social psychology and thinking on your feet no matter what happens," said Burnett.
In what will certainly be good news to 'Survivor' fans, Burnett disclosed that there will be no "recap" episode this year. This is due to episode seven being divided into two parts.
The finale of 'Survivor: Pearl Islands' will air on December 14th and will be broadcast live from Panama City. Burnett promises that Probst's traditional arrival on the set will be a sight to behold and that holding the finale in Panama was the only way to pull it off. Rumour has it that Probst will battle through pirates to arrive at the final Tribal Council where the winner of the 'Pearl Islands' edition will be crowned.
Burnett would not confirm rumours that the next edition of 'Survivor' - the All-Star series featuring former players - will also be filming in Panama quite soon. Burnett would also not reveal who the participants would be as he thinks it would take away from the attention the 'Pearl Islands' players deserve.
"The point is that these people on the Pearl Islands busted their asses. They went out there for 39 days, starved and fought hard for whatever the outcome ends up being. It would be disrespectful for Rupert, Jon and Christa to be overshadowed in the news because of the old Survivors. It was really a respect thing more than anything else."