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.