'All-Star' Rupert Boneham wins million dollar viewer prize, as 'Survivor 9' heads for Vanuatu
By Wade Paulsen, 05/14/2004
In the wrap-up to Survivor: All-Stars, fourth-place finisher Rupert Boneham was awarded $1 million thanks to his popularity with the majority of the viewing audience.
As discussed here, CBS, with the aid of sponsors Cingular and Proctor & Gamble, awarded $1 million to the contestant on Survivor: All-Stars who won an audience vote conducted via the Internet and text messaging between Sunday night and Wednesday at midnight. Ultimately, the top 4 vote-getters were Rupert, All-Stars runner-up "Boston Rob" Mariano, who lost the $1 million first prize by 4-3 to his fiancee Amber Brkich, All-Stars fifth-place finisher "Big Tom" Buchanan, and Colby Donaldson, the runner-up in Survivor: The Australian Outback. Despite organized campaigns among hard-core fans of the show to vote for "Boston Rob," Rupert's popularity among the masses was enough to give him the victory and the $1 million.
Now that All-Stars has ended, Survivor has announced its next filming location: the troubled Pacific island chain of Vanuatu (formerly known as New Hebrides). Vanuatu consists of about 80 islands, mostly of volcanic origin and mostly uninhabited. The country is so underdeveloped that the U.S. does not have a separate ambassador to it -- instead, the U.S. ambassador to Papua New Guinea doubles as the ambassador to Vanuatu, which has only about 200,000 people and is primarily centered on three islands (Efate, home of the capital (Port Vila), Espiritu Santo and Malakula). Just the place to find some nice isolated campsites...
Vanuatu was jointly administered by the U.K. and France until its independence in 1980, and the split between Anglophones and Francophones rivals that of Canada. As a result, its politics have become increasingly contentious.
In April, a new president, Alfred Maseng, was sworn in -- but the Vanuatu Supreme Court ousted him from office on May 10, a result of the fact that he was serving a suspended sentence for several crimes at the time of his election and thus was ineligible to be president. After his removal, the speaker of Parliament - a member of the opposition to Maseng - became acting president. In response, Masang's allies managed to gather enough signatures to hold a vote of "no confidence" in Prime Minister Edward Natapei and collapse the government, which had ruled for two years. But then the acting president dissolved Parliament before the no-confidence vote could be held. After a week of litigation, the dissolution was supported by the Vanuatu Supreme Court, meaning that the current administration can continue in power until a new Parliament is elected.
Gee, the U.S. electoral system suddenly looks a lot better to us.
In addition, Vanuatu, which was devastated by a cyclone last February, has been the site of local violence between Christians and followers of the "cargo cult" of John Frum. We wonder if the "cargo cults" -- groups which believed that trade goods showed up by magic and which, on Vanuatu, were overtly pro-American -- will make their way onto Survivor 9.
According to the April/June issue of the "PITCO Vanuatu Update," the filming will actually take place on a small island near Efate (according to Survivor Maps, the island will be Moso, which is a nature sanctuary -- anyone for turtle soup? -- and features a "taboo" burial cave), and the crew will stay in Port Vila -- site of the country's only world-class hotel, the Le Meridien Port Vila Resort and Casino.
We have to admit that we wonder whether the subtitle of Survivor: Vanuatu -- "Islands of Fire" -- means anything. Frankly, we'd love to see the cast have to battle molten lava, which is about 1500 degrees Fahrenheit (800 degrees Celsius) in its coolest form -- but perhaps that might be a little TOO "cruel and unusual" of punishment for Survivor executive producer Mark Burnett's tastes.