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Tropical punch

Survivor gathers 20 of its heroes and villains and invites them to get revenge and claim redemption

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For this one time only, the motto on the Survivor flag has changed.

This time, it isn't "Outwit. Outplay. Outlast."

This time, it's "Return. Revenge. Redemption."

And for a few of the 20 veteran castaways invited to take part in Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains (which premieres Thursday at 7 p.m. on CBS and Global), a second chance -- or, for a few, a third -- at television's most enduring reality/competition format brings a welcome shot at setting the reality-TV record straight.

"I was so happy when I saw on that sign, 'Return. Revenge. Redemption,' because redemption is what I'm going to claim this time around," self-described dragonslayer Benjamin (Coach) Wade said at a recent 10th-anniversary reunion party in Los Angeles, attended by more than 200 past and current Survivor contestants. "I don't care about the million dollars. I don't care about the money; I've never cared about the money. I care about redemption; I care about never compromising who I am inside."

Wade, 38, the erstwhile soccer coach and symphony conductor whom Survivor: Tocantins' editors turned into one of the series' quirkiest-ever bad guys, says he paid a steep back-in-the-real-world price for the way he was portrayed on TV, but still had no hesitation about going back into the Tribal-Council jungle a second time.

"It hurt, it really did," he said of the selective way in which Survivor's producers picked footage that made him look like a bit of a nutcase. "I'm a sensitive guy, and it almost broke me. I lost my job, my finances are (screwed), my career as a soccer coach for 13 years is (ruined). You type in my name on the Internet, and it says, 'Ben Wade: crackpot or crook?'

"I told everybody when I got back (from Brazil), 'You guys are going to be proud of me. I played with honour and integrity, and I changed the game,' and then they saw me that (negative) way... People in my inner circle saw it and said, 'Is that really how you are? Are you a manipulative (jerk) like that?' It was really tough on me. I'm a human being, and it almost broke me."

So why go back?

"Well, the thing is, out there, I feel like I'm in my element," he said. "I feel like I can push the extremes of my eccentric nature. I love being out in nature; I love being stripped of the shackles of society. There are no more distractions. Out there, we get down to who we really are, deep inside."

Here are a few insights from some of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains' most memorable players:

 

Rupert Boneham

Survivor: Pearl Islands; Survivor: All-Stars

"The only thing it took was a phone call to say, 'Do you want to play?' I have told them all along that I'll play again anytime they want. At the end of All-Stars, I had found freedom; if I had my wife and daughter with me, I would have disappeared into that jungle and never been seen again. I got to the point where I was catching fish with my bare hands, I was making fire in the rain; I was taking care of myself, and I loved it. I would play every darned Survivor if they'd let me."

 

Russell Hantz

Survivor: Samoa

"I was shocked (not to win last season). Shocked. Because I played so hard -- that was my Super Bowl, and I gave everything I had, and I didn't win. And I played the best game ever. Ever.

"It happened because nobody expected what had just hit them. Nobody expected a player like me. I was so dominant that it blew their minds. I embarrassed them so badly that they couldn't vote for me. They voted against me, not for Natalie. That was the vote. It didn't matter who was there with me; they were voting against Russell. Why didn't they vote for Mick? He was a social player, and he did way more than Natalie did, and he didn't get one vote. That's because they voted against me, not for anybody else."

 

Colby Donaldson

Survivor: Australia; Survivor: All-Stars

"This season was brutal. I mean, the elements, the weather -- Samoa is not a pleasant place, at least not where we were. And on top of that, you're dealing with the cagiest players ever to set foot in the ring. This thing was full-tilt boogie from the moment we landed on the beach. It was the most intense experience I've ever had, and the most difficult experience I've ever had. It tested me. You could take Australia and Panama and multiply them by 10, and Samoa was worse -- from the weather to the conditions around camp to the challenges. We had the most physical cast you've ever seen, in terms of being in shape and prepared, but you're going to see more injuries this year than you've ever seen."

 

Jerri Manthey

Survivor: Australia; Survivor: All-Stars

"Knowing you're going to be playing with a bunch of other 'villains' kind of levels the playing field. The way I looked at it was that if these people had done something bad enough to be called villains, then they were the people I wanted on my team. I wanted them on my side."

 

Randy Bailey

Survivor: Gabon

"There's several people who easily fit into one category or the other -- obviously, I'm a villain, and Boston Rob is a villain. Obviously, Colby is a hero. But there's some people who are in between who are going to surprise you this season.

"An all-star season is completely different. Nobody gets voted out of an all-stars season because they snore, or because they're bad at challenges, or because they eat more than their share of the food, or any of the reasons you see people voted out in a normal season. People get voted out of all-stars because of how big a threat they are. Period."

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca

 

SURVIVOR: HEROES VS. VILLAINS

 

The complete roster:

HEROES:

 

Rupert Boneham (Pearl Islands, All-Stars)

James Clement (China, Micronesia)

Colby Donaldson (Australia, All-Stars)

Cirie Fields (Panama, Micronesia)

Amanda Kimmel (China, Micronesia)

Jessica (Sugar) Kiper (Gabon)

Stephenie LaGrossa (Palau, Guatemala)

James (JT) Thomas Jr. (Tocantins)

Tom Westman (Palau)

Candice Woodcock (Cook Islands)

VILLAINS:

 

Tyson Apostol (Tocantins)

Randy Bailey (Gabon)

Danielle DiLorenzo (Panama)

Russell Hantz (Samoa)

Jerri Manthey (Australia, All-Stars)

Rob Mariano (Marquesas, All-Stars)

Parvati Shallow (Cook Islands, Micronesia)

Sandra Diaz-Twine (Pearl Islands)

Benjamin (Coach) Wade (Tocantins)

Courtney Yates (China)

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 6, 2010 C1

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