ĎSurvivorí takes a page from ĎIdolísí book
Only three ĎAll-Starsí really have shot at second million
Monty Brinton / CBS
Will Rupert or Boston Rob take the additional million? Sorry Jenna and Amber, you don't really have a chance.
By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Updated: 1:02 p.m. ET May 10, 2004"Survivor All-Stars" had promised a big surprise to go along with Sunday's finale, but really the show offered about half a dozen surprises, some bigger than others.
Boston Rob proposed to Amber, and she accepted. Wisconsin Sue showed off her new Extreme Makeover face. Ethan and Jenna Morasca confirmed the long-spread rumor that they're dating. Jenna Lewis confirmed she'd gotten married. Richard Hatch admitted that he too had a new boyfriend. Host Jeff Probst didn't seem to quite know how to take all this news, and the show's own surprise seemed almost secondary to the proposal.
Probst finally announced the twist: Another "Survivor All-Stars" contestant would receive another million dollars, and that person would not be chosen through immunity challenges and jury voting, but by the votes of American viewers. It's a twist ripped straight from "American Idol," which, "Survivor" producers cannot have failed to notice, regularly tops "Survivor" in the Nielsen ratings. (Now if only John Stevens, red-haired Teen Martin of "Idol," could be eligible for the million . . . those phones would just light up.)
Technically, all of the 18 "Survivor All-Stars" contestants are eligible to be voted the new millionaire, but really, the vast majority of them don't have a shot. It's unlikely that players like Jerri, Lex, Ethan and Tina are going to have a John Stevens-esque following wearing out their fingers text-messaging votes. Realistically, there are three players who have a chance at bulking up their bank accounts. Here's a look at those contenders:
Monty Brinton / CBS
Rupert is a heavy favorite to take home the money.
You have to start with the bulky bearded one. He earned a vast following during his first season, "Survivor: Pearl Islands," when he fit the pirate theme better than someone sent over from Central Casting could have. For many fans acquired during that season, Rupert could simply do no wrong. He's consistently led the CBS.com popularity polls for his two seasons, and when "Survivor" featured a live audience, many dressed in Rupert-inspired tie-dye and screamed his name.
Later in "Pearl Islands" and more obviously during "All-Stars," some less-than-pleasant aspects of the Big Guy's personality began to emerge. He had an ego the size of Panama. His fishing and food-gathering, it turned out, was as much a strategy ploy as it was done from the goodness of his heart, and his possessiveness over fishing tools and his role as tribe provider began to wear on the others' nerves. (Boston Rob joked about it after Rupert had been voted off, saying something to the effect of "Who knew I wouldn't starve to death without Rupert?")
There's even an organized campaign over at Television Without Pity.com (full disclosure: the site's founders also write for MSNBC.com) to try to send votes to Boston Rob, in the hopes that he's the only one who can unseat Rupert's impending millionairedom. Will it work? You never know ó look how long John Stevens and Jon Peter Lewis stayed around on "American Idol."
Likelihood Rupert will win: 75%
Working for him: "Pearl Islands" season, people see him as loyal.
Working against him: "All-Stars" season, people see him as egomaniacal.
Group he should round up to vote for him: The Troubled Teens he counsels.
Monty Brinton / CBS
He didn't win the million, but Boston Rob won where it counted.
No one, not even eventual winner Amber, controlled "Survivor All-Stars" like Boston Rob. (See Kim Reed's "Survivor All-Stars was all about the Robfather" for more details.) When All-Stars was announced, first-season winner Richard Hatch was a heavy favorite, but players gunned for past winners early, and Richard bit the dust somewhat quickly. No one expected Boston Rob, who finished ninth in his own original season, "Survivor Marquesas," to so thoroughly dominate.
Some of his domination was luck ó finding a fellow player who ended up as his fiancť is hardly something a "Survivor" player can anticipate. But most of his domination came from sharp gameplay, thinking on the spot, and a little tiny bit of luck. He lucked out that Lex was too stupid to vote Amber off when he had the chance, but it was Rob's smart gameplay that inspired him to ask.
Working against Boston Rob are two major things. The undeniable popularity of Rupert, who has yet to win the big bucks, and the fact that Rob and Amber are already doing quite well, thank you. They have each other, they have Amber's million dollars, they have Rob's $100,000 second-place prize, and they have not one, but two new cars, won in a reward challenge. So while many voters may feel Boston Rob deserves to be recognized for his superior gameplay, it's probably true that if he doesn't win the million, he really won't be too disappointed.
Likelihood Boston Rob will win: 20%
Working for him: His smart gameplay on "All-Stars."
Working against him: He and new fiance Amber already have $1,100,000 and two new cars from the "All-Stars" season alone.
Group he should round up to vote for him: The Boston Red Sox, since he gave them publicity by constantly wearing their hat.
Robert Voets / CBS
Rudy Boesch probably won't win the money, but wouldn't it be hilarious to see his reaction if he did?
Yes, Rudy. Remember Rudy? The grizzled military man who went so far in "Survivor's" original season, and who grudgingly came to respect winner Richard Hatch despite his disagreement with Hatch's ***uality? There's definitely a groundswell of support to see Rudy get the viewer-awarded million.
At 76, he came back to do "All-Stars," thus taking on for the second time an ordeal that taxes people one-third his age. And he did it with style and that inimitable Rudy grace. He didn't last long, but who can forget his downing the contaminated water and shrugging it off? He'd drunk worse water in Vietnam, anyway. That was what was so great about Rudy: When the more spoiled players whined and complained, he had no patience with them. He'd seen real agony, and it sure wasn't sitting on a reality TV show losing a little weight for a few weeks.
Admittedly, Rudy's unlikely to take home the cash. He wasn't on "All-Stars" very long, and he never developed the devoted fandom that Rupert and, to a lesser extent, Boston Rob acquired. And it's probably for the best. Rudy's not the kind of guy sitting home making lists of what he'd buy with his million. You get the sense that as long as he has a working car, food on the table and a roof over his head, he's pretty much set. You're not going to see him in line at a Porsche dealership anytime soon, and that's why his fans love him.
Likelihood Rudy will win: 5%
Working for him: At 76, no-nonsense veteran Rudy is perhaps the most real of all the players who've ever been on "Survivor," in any season.
Working against him: He was kicked off "All-Stars" so early he's faded from some memory banks.
Group he should round up to vote for him: The U.S. military. Although they are perhaps a bit busy at the moment.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is MSNBC.com's Television editor
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