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In Search of the Castaways? Here they ALL are!

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Saturday night was Survivor geek heaven here in sunny L.A., as CBS's portion of the semi-annual TV press tour ended with a full-on reunion of the castaway class to celebrate the reality-TV institution's 10th anniversary. The event, held at CBS's Television City studios, took place in a massive soundstage decorated in full tiki-torch-kitsch Survivor trappings. In attendance were more than 200 current and former contestants from the show, most of whom had paid their own way to L.A. to take part in the get-back-together (CBS paid for hotels and ground transportation), including the couple of dozen whose names and faces are memorable from the show (Richard, Rupert, Rudy, Russell and a bunch whose names don't start with "R"), and scores upon scores of erstwhile islanders who clearly made no lasting impression whatsoever.

Among the highlights of the evening for this not-ashamed-to-admit-it faithful Survivor follower were chats with last season's bad boy, Russell Hantz, who STILL can't believe he didn't win, second-season runner-up Colby Donaldson (who's among the good guys in the upcoming Heroes vs. Villains season, but showed up wearing a dastardly-dark black stetson), Outback uber-bitch Jerri Manthey (who's set aside her once-professed bitterness toward the show and rejoined the fold for HvV), shoe-stealing favourite Rupert Boneham (who's still so hyper-intense about the show that he swears he'd be in EVERY season if they'd let him), self-described Dragon Slayer "Coach" Ben Wade (who really does like to refer to himself in the third person) and a couple of Survivor standouts whose omission from HvV is quite surprising -- Ozzy Lusth (who's more focused on starting an acting career) and Yau-Man Chan (who's disappointed that he wasn't chosen, but says it's probably because HvV casting was focused more on brawn than brains).

Richard Hatch, who wasn't allowed to leave U.S. soil (parole conditions and all that) to participate in HvV was at the reunion, as was Sue Hawk, Rudy Boesch, James (Gravedigger) Clement, James "JT" Thomas Jr., Jonny (Fairplay) Dalton, Cirie Fields, Parvati Shallow, Jessica "Sugar" Kiper and Amanda Kimmel. And more. And more. And more.

The evening included a couple of heartfelt toasts, from series creator/producer Mark Burnett and host/producer Jeff Probst, who tipped their hats not just to the contestants and crew but also to all the loved ones who have stayed at home while all the Survivor-ing -- 20 seasons, counting HvV -- has taken place.

I'll have more on this in an upcoming column in the real-world edition of the WFP, but for now, let's just say Saturday night was as cool a place -- other than the actual island, perhaps -- as a Survivor watcher could ever hope to be.

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About Brad Oswald

Way back when Brad Oswald was TV-inclined little kid, his exasperated mother used to say things like, "Would you PLEASE turn that thing off and go OUTSIDE and play? If you insist on watching that IDIOT box day after day after day, you will NEVER amount to ANYTHING in this world!"

Well, go figure.

Brad joined the Free Press in 1987 and has spent most of the last two decades getting paid to watch the television as the paper’s resident TV critic. In addition to previewing and reviewing all the latest prime-time shows and covering the local TV industry, he also usually spends a few weeks per year in L.A., interviewing TV stars and attending Big Phony Hollywood Parties.

Brad also writes about comedy and other assorted entertainment topics, and has been known to wander onto local stages try out his own standup material as part of an ongoing quest to satisfy his deep-rooted need for affirmation. He was the winner of Rumor’s Comedy Club’s first Funniest Person With a Day Job contest.

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Brad grew up in St. Vital, attended Dakota Collegiate and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Manitoba before enrolling in Red River College’s Creative Communications program. He played rugby for more than 20 years, which, quite frankly, amounts to a whole lot of blows to the unprotected noggin.

Despite that, during his two-decades-plus at the Free Press, he has accumulated a wealth of knowledge about television and other pop-culture topics, and would certainly not be the worst person to pick for your trivia-contest team.

For some reason, he firmly believes his Mom really would be proud of all this.

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