Latest ‘Survivor’ features fan favorites

Allison Corneau

While the snow and ice prevail outdoors, television fans can escape the harsh reality of the inclement weather by tuning into the latest installment of the CBS hit television phenomenon, “Survivor.” Debuting this Sunday following Super Bowl XXXVIII, “Survivor: All Stars” features eighteen former cast mates from the seven previous seasons, filmed in such exotic locales as the Australian Outback, Pearl Islands, Africa and Thailand.

The fourteen new episodes will feature the cast of contestants battling for the grand prize on the Pearl Islands in Panama, the very same location where the most recent season was filmed, starring “All Stars” castaway and fan favorite Rupert Boneham. Boneham will try to outlast this season’s competition as a member of the Saboga tribe, which also features “Australian Outback” winner Tina Wesson.

Viewers can reminisce about their favorite cast members, including season one victor Richard Hatch, who made his presence known on the Pulau Tiga show with his formation of backstabbing alliances, as well as fellow inaugural survivor Rudy Boesch. Winning the award for the oldest survivor, at 76, Boesch will give the other much younger cast members on his Saboga tribe a run for their money.

Split into three tribes this time around, differing from the normal two competing tribes, contestants will try to outwit, outplay and outlast their competition to walk away victorious with the $1 million reward. USA Today reports that one change in the newest series involves the payout of the ousted tribe members, who will now receive a cash prize that increases tenfold over the course of the series beginning with the first member receiving a $2500 stipend.

“Survivor” creator Mark Burnett and fellow CBS executives are hoping for a successful run of the all-star reality series, which will settle into its normal time slot on Thursday at 8 p.m., opposite NBC’s powerhouse comedy “Friends.” As for its initial debut, “Survivor: All Stars” has a tough act to follow, since a previous season, set in the Australian Outback, set a record for the second highest rated program airing after the Super Bowl in 2001, according to published Nielsen ratings.

A healthy number of contestants on the new series got their start with the “Survivor: Australian Outback” season, including the tough as nails Alicia Calloway, 33-year-old reality star turned Playboy cover model Jerri Manthey and heartthrob runner-up Colby Donaldson, who teams with Hatch on the Moga Moga tribe.

“Survivor” diehards will quickly remember the wit and blunt nature of another all star castaway, Susan Hawk, when she lends her support to the Chapera tribe. Hawk, the fourth place finisher on the first “Survivor,” is best known to America for verbally attacking fellow tribe member Kelly at an impassioned Tribal Council eviction.

Reality television fans can see if Hawk and the other contestants on “Survivor: All Stars” live up to the hype generated by CBS, when it debuts Sunday night following the Super Bowl.