'Survivor' challenge - TV Guide gives local cover to Pitt basketball over Amber
Scott Tady, Times Staff 03/17/2004
Flashing what might literally be a million-dollar grin, local television star Amber Brkich graces the primary cover of this week's TV Guide.
America's best-selling entertainment magazine shows the blue-eyed, bathing suit-clad Brkich standing closely next to bare-chested "Boston" Rob Mariano, her romantic interest on CBS's "Survivor: All-Stars."
The headline "Survivor Romance!" leaps from the glossy cover amid a flourish of pink hearts. The inside cover story chronicles the on-screen sparks between Brkich and Mariano, including a steamy smooch they share in tonight's episode of the hit reality show.
"Survivor" usually airs on Thursday nights, but CBS moved this week's show to Wednesday because of the network's coverage of the college basketball tournament. In a local twist, the success of the University of Pittsburgh Panthers, who are competing in the tournament, bumped Brkich off the cover of her hometown TV Guide being sold in southwestern Pennsylvania.
In one of its common sales ploys, TV Guide has printed magazines with nine separate covers, including one sold regionally that depicts the Pitt Panthers. Regional basketball covers also are being sold in Cincinnati; Connecticut; Spokane, Wash.; Philadelphia; Durham, N.C.; Louisville; Lexington, Ky.; and Austin, Texas.
Throughout the rest of the nation, and as close as Boardman, Ohio, TV Guides feature Brkich and Mariano on the cover. The Brkich cover may be viewed at tvguide.com.
TV Guide writer Shawna Malcom's cover story dubs the 25-year-old Brkich a "babe" and runs a November quote from the cocky Mariano praising the physique of the 1996 Beaver Area High School graduate.
In terms of a Brkich-Mariano romance, "Survivor" host Jeff Probst says "this appears to be a full-on relationship." That would be a first for the "Survivor" franchise, which averages 21 million viewers weekly.
Mariano, a 28-year-old construction worker, spent a weekend with the Brkich family a month ago. The couple was spotted strolling through the Beaver Valley Mall and dining at the Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe in Vanport Township.
Brkich visited Mariano in Massachusetts a few weeks ago.
CBS prohibits "Survivor" cast members and their families from publicly commenting on anything relating to the show as long as they remain contestants. So, for now, fans and gossip hounds can only speculate if Brkich and Mariano are an item.
There's always the possibility that either Brkich, Mariano, or both of them, were pretending to be hot and heavy as a strategic move to win the $1 million grand prize on "Survivor," a show in which treachery and alliances are more important than stamina and athletic skill.
Meanwhile, TV Guide certainly changed its tune by putting Brkich on this week's cover. The magazine blasted Brkich in its January "Survivor" preview issue, questioning if she belonged with the other 17 alumni on the show's all-stars edition. That preview article listed Brkich as the biggest underdog, at 50:1, and claimed she had no strengths.
"Even if she lasted, she'd have no end game," the article said.
The winner of the previously taped "Survivor: All-Stars" will be announced May 9 in a live telecast from Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Scott Tady can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org
ęBeaver County Times/Allegheny Times 2004
I can't wait untill the Donald finds out about Amy and Nicks "flirting" tonight..I like Nick and Amy too..Although Nick seems a little sneaky to me? Maybe thats a good thing?