Players will begin 'Cook Islands' game divided by race
'Survivor' host Jeff Probst
After previous editions in which contestants were divided by gender or age, "Survivor: Cook Islands," which premieres Thursday, Sept. 14, will stick its hand firmly on a very hot button and set up its tribes along ethnic lines. The 20 players will initially be divided into four groups based on their ethnicity -- Hispanic, African-American, Asian-American and Caucasian. The tribes will merge at some point later in the game.
The announcement was made on CBS' "Early Show" Wednesday morning, and anchor Harry Smith voiced what maybe you're thinking right now: Is this a good idea?
"I think at first glance, when you just hear about it, it could sound like a stunt, especially with the way reality [TV] has gone," "Survivor" host Jeff Probst told Smith. "But that's not what we're doing here. The idea for this actually came from the criticism that 'Survivor' is not ethnically diverse enough. ... We said, 'Let's turn that criticism into creative for the show, and I think it fits in perfectly with what 'Survivor' does. It's a social experiment, and this adds another layer to the experiment."
The new season will keep the "Exile Island" wrinkle from last spring's "Survivor: Panama," in which at least one person is separated from his or her teammates in each episode. The exiles will have a chance, though, to find a hidden immunity idol that they can use to save themselves at a Tribal Council session.
The 20 players range in age from 23 to 45 and include a heavy-metal guitarist, a cop, a couple of showbiz types and an attorney. Here's a bit about each of them:
Name: Rebecca Borman
Hometown: Laurelton, N.Y.
Occupation: Make-up artist
Name: Anh-Tuan "Cao Boi" Bui
Hometown: Christiansburg, Va.
Occupation: Nail salon manager
Name: Sekou Bunch
Hometown: Los Angeles (originally from New York City)
Occupation: Jazz musician
Name: J.P. Calderon