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February 12, 2003

'Survivor 6': It's a jungle out there

From: St. Louis Dispatch, MO - 12 Feb 2003

By Gail Pennington

Officially, it's "Survivor: The Amazon." But let's think of it as "Survivor: The St. Louis Edition."

That's only fair, considering that the metro area - after being stiffed on five previous "Survivors" - has not one but two players for whom to root this time around. As a bonus, a third lives just 150 miles away.

More on Janet, Butch and Heidi follows. But first, everything else you need to know about "Survivor 6."

The setting: The rain forest of Brazil. Specifically, the equatorial state of Amazonas, 1,700 miles northwest of Sao Paulo.

The tribes: It's gals vs. guys this time in the first "Survivor" battle of the sexes. The women form the Jaburu (stork) tribe; the men are Tambaqui (a local fish).

The weather: Steamy and rainy, making for possibly the wettest "Survivor" yet.

The terrain: Executive producer Mark Burnett describes it as "huge, vastly diverse, with sunken forest, beaches at times, open glades, jungle, absolutely incredible."

The food: Contestants were supplied with manioc, a starchy root that's a staple of Amazonian Indians. They also fished, but hunting was restricted because many species in the area are protected.

The dangers: "Piranha everywhere," Burnett says of the flesh-eating fish. "The amount of piranha is astounding. ... One of my cameramen almost got his finger bitten off."

The challenges: Burnett says the competition wasn't specifically tweaked to put the women on equal footing with the men, who presumably excelled in upper-body strength. "We'd already learned that you can't just have tests of strength or speed," Burnett says. "It's not interesting. Every challenge is much better off when there's some element of mental and physical and agility."

The (other) contestants: The women are Deena Bennett, 35, a deputy district attorney from California; Jeanne Hebert, 41, a marketing director from Massachusetts; Shawna Mitchell, 23, an outdoor-gear salesperson from California; Jenna Morasco, 21, a student and model from Pennsylvania; Christy Smith, 24, a children's adventure guide from Colorado; and Joanna Ward, 31, a guidance counselor from South Carolina.

The men are Ryan Aiken, 23, a model and actor from Maryland; Alex Bell, 32, a product manager from California; Rob Cesternino, 24, a computer projects coordinator from New York; Dave Johnson, 24, a rocket scientist from California; Daniel Lue, 27, a tax accountant from Texas; Roger Sexton, 56, a construction boss from California; and Matthew Von Ertfelda, 33, a restaurant designer from Washington, D.C.

Current favorites: Lue has a 90 percent popularity rating in a poll on CBS' Web site (, followed by Mitchell with 80 percent. One online betting site picks Bennett and Ward (two women, you might note) as favorites to win the whole thing, with current 3-1 odds. Getting a lot of buzz on "Survivor" fan sites is Smith, who is deaf, reads lips and works as an interpreter for the hearing-impaired. Host Jeff Probst says Smith knew going in that the competition might not be completely fair for her, but he quotes her as saying, "No, but life's not fair."

"Survivor: The Amazon"

When: 7-8:30 tonight

Where: CBS (Channel 4)

© 2003 St. Louis Dispatch