Only one will become the 'Survivor'
By Gary Levin, USA TODAY
Survivor wraps up its 11th season Sunday as TV's most durable reality franchise.
After zookeeper Cindy Hall was eliminated in Thursday's episode, fans will find out in Sunday's two-hour finale and hourlong reunion special (CBS, 8 p.m. ET/PT) which of four remaining Guatemala contestants will prove most durable.
So far, Stephenie LaGrossa wins the longevity prize. This is the Philadelphia sales rep's second consecutive Survivor season: She outlasted 11 other contestants in Palau —where she became the lone remaining member of the Ulong tribe — and is improbably in Guatemala's final four. (Fellow returnee Bobby Jon Drinkard was dispatched three weeks ago.)
"It's rare to have so many physically competitive players still left," host Jeff Probst says via e-mail of what he calls a "feisty" season. "The difference will come down to the 'outwit' portion of this game. If you're not a good strategist, you can quit now and take a seat on the jury." (Related story: Probst inks new contract with CBS
After a sluggish start, Survivor's ratings climbed to a season-high 19.8 million viewers last week, close to the series's average for the past few years. The entire season, however, is averaging 18.1 million — the lowest yet — though it still ranks seventh among all prime-time series.
Season 12, due in March, will return to Panama's Pearl Islands, home for the seventh and eighth installments. Probst is back, too: He has renewed his contract, which was due to expire this spring, and will host the show at least through May 2008
The finalists All about 'em
Danni Boatwright, 30
Sports radio talk-show host, Tonganoxie, Kan.
About Danni: A former Star Search and Miss USA contestant, she has seven brothers and is, naturally, a big sports fan.
Probst says: "How is Danni still in this game? She was supposed to be gone a long time ago. I think the others underestimate Danni's physical abilities. And if they aren't careful, that could come back to haunt them. Danni's big challenge is going to be convincing the others to get rid of Lydia before they get rid of her. On the plus side, Danni hasn't had to betray anybody, and when it comes time to vote, that is critical."
Rafe Judkins, 22
Wilderness guide, Pittsburgh
About Rafe: Voted "most likely to appear on Survivor" in high school, he's from a large family of Utah Mormons and claims 60 first cousins.
Probst says: "He's been surprisingly strong in the challenges. Rafe's biggest threat is himself: He might be too likeable. He has very few enemies, and not many people would want to go up against him in the final two."
Stephenie LaGrossa, 26
Pharmaceutical sales rep, Toms River, N.J.
About Stephenie: Earned a second chance after competing last season on Survivor: Palau. She's an avid lacrosse player and formidable Survivor schemer, though she has yet to win an immunity challenge.
Probst says: "Who would have ever guessed Steph would make it this deep into the game? She seems to be running things at this point, but her big challenge will be getting to the final two and still having enough friends on the jury to get four votes."
Lydia Morales, 42
Fishmonger, Lakewood, Wash.
About Lydia: Marine Corps brat born in Japan, she has lived in Puerto Rico and West Germany.
Probst says: "Is she just an innocent bystander being dragged along for the ride, or is Lydia playing a much more savvy game than anyone is giving her credit for? Lydia will probably not win any challenges, but she has become very adept at staying out of the way of the vote. Her best bet is to let the other big dogs slug it out and slide in under the radar." http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2005-12-09-survivor_x.htm