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January 19, 2003

May the Best (Wo)man Win

From: Newsday - 19 Jan 2003

Diane Werts

January 19, 2003

Women vs. men! What took "Survivor" so long to figure that one out?

The tribes-by-gender setup of "Survivor: Amazon," premiering on CBS Feb. 13, creates an instant rooting interest in every audience member. That was clear last week when producer Mark Burnett and host Jeff Probst showed 10 minutes of first-episode clips to an audience of cynical TV critics who nearly rioted when the press-tour tease ended before revealing who won the first week's competition.

The men were "really pumped up," as one raved on screen, bragging "no way are women going to beat us, physically or mentally." Of course that was before the guys blew an enormous lead on that first immunity game.

The female tribe includes a deaf member - a decision the makers thought hard about during casting, knowing she'd be at a disadvantage in remote darkness. Probst said they asked 24-year-old Colorado resident Christy Smith if that was a fair situation for either her or her tribe, "and she thought about it, and said, 'No. But life's not fair.'"

The guys arguably had another leg up with Wantagh's Rob Cesternino. The 24-year-old "probably knows the game - no, definitely knows the game - better than anyone who's ever played it," says Probst. "He's kind of like that guy in 'Scream' that knew all the horror movie genre. He knows everything. He's telling me rules." Cesternino even wrote his college senior thesis on "The Impact of Reality Television." CBS reports he got an A.

Copyright © 2003, Newsday, Inc.