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CBS reveals the cast of 'Survivor: Tocantins -- The Brazilian Highlands'


By Steve Rogers and John Bracchitta, 01/13/2009 

CBS has announced the identities of the 16 castaways who will be competing in Survivor: Tocantins -- The Brazilian Highlands, the eighteenth Survivor edition that will premiere on Thursday, February 12 at 8PM ET/PT.

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Survivor: Tocantins' castaways -- eight men and eight women -- range in age between 19 to 53 and include a cattle rancher, a U.S. Army sergeant, two multimillionaires, and not one or two but three female models, according to TV Guide Magazine, which revealed the cast in its January 19 issue.

In addition, Survivor: Tocantins -- which became the first Survivor edition to allow Under-21 applicants to apply for the show when CBS lowered the show's minimum age requirement from 21- to 18-years-old last spring -- will also include a 19-year-old college student who will be the youngest castaway in Survivor history.

Prior to Survivor: Tocantins, which was filmed last fall, former Survivor: China castaway Michael "Frosti" Zernow, a then 20-year-old student and parkour athlete that the show's producers had decided to waive the show's usual age requirement for, ranked as the long-running reality series' youngest contestant.

Tocantins, a state located in central Brazil with numerous rivers and an equatorial climate, was formally announced as the location of Survivor's eighteenth edition during the December broadcast of Survivor: Gabon's reunion show, with host Jeff Probst presenting a preview that confirmed the filming location.
 
"In the new year, Survivor is going to one of the most rugged locations yet: Tocantins, the Brazilian highlands," said Probst during the preview.

"Two tribes will be stranded in the majestic interior of Brazil for 39 days," he continued.  "The only relief in the midst of this unforgiving land is a river oasis [called] the Rio Novo.  Scorching temperatures, torrential downpours, dangerous wildlife -- who will have what it takes to outwit, outplay, and outlast all the others?  Find out on Survivor: Tocantins -- The Brazilian Highlands."

Survivor: Tocantins 16 castaways -- and their TV Guide-released biographical information -- are:

- Sandy Burgin, a 53-year-old bus driver from Louisville, KY

- Stephen Fishbach, a 29-year-old corporate consultant from New York, NY

- James Thomas Jr., a 24-year-old cattle rancher from Samson, AK

- Spencer Duhm, a 19-year-old college student from Lakeland, FL

- Sydney Wheeler, a 24-year-old model and interior designer from San Diego, CA

- Jerry Sims, a 49-year-old U.S. Army sergeant from Rock Hill, SC

- Candace Smith, a 31-year-old actress/model and event planner and former lawyer from Los Angeles, CA

- Tyson Apostol, a 29-year-old bike-shop manager and former professional cyclist from Linden, UT

- Sierra Reed, a 23-year-old model from Los Angeles, CA

- Erinn Lobdell, a 26-year-old hairstylist from Waukesha, WI

- Carolina Eastwood, a 26-year-old bartender from Los Angeles, CA

- Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George, a 37-year-old from Nashville, TN

- Joe Dowdle, a 26-year-old commercial real estate broker from Austin, TX

- Benjamin Wade, a 37-year-old soccer coach and part-time orchestra conductor from Bolivar, MO

- Debra Beebe, a 46-year-old middle-school principal from Auburn, AK

- Brendan Synnott, a 30-year-old entrepreneur from New York, NY

Surviving 39 days may be a piece of cake for Wade.  In 1996, he spent six months kayaking from Mexico to Columbia -- a more than 6,000-mile distance -- by himself, which set a world record for solo kayak expeditions.

"I'm in this game because I want to change it," Wade told the magazine in a pre-game interview. "[Survivor has] become survival of the weakest... I want to team up with worthy opponents."

Johnson-George was a founding member of SWV, a Grammy-nominated R&B trio that formed in 1990 and disbanded in 1999.  She is married to retired NFL football star Eddie George -- who earned tens of millions of dollars during an nine-year career with the Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys -- but rejects the idea that she leads a pampered life.

"There's a stigma that comes with being married to an NFL player," Johnson-George told TV Guide. "People think we're pampered.  But I'm not.  I'm a 5' 9", 190-pound tomboy. I'm gon' tear 'em up when I get out there."

Johnson-George also previously starred in I Married A Baller, a 2007 reality series that chronicled her life with George.  I Married A Baller aired on TV One, an African-American cable network, and was not renewed after its initial nine-episode season.

Synnott is a former high school quarterback who co-founded Bear Naked Granola, a granola company which was sold to the Kellogg's Company's Kashi subsidiary as part of a $122 million deal in 2007.

However Synnott and Johnson-George apparently aren't the only castaways who may decide to keep the details of their real-world success a secret from the rest of the castaways competing for the show's $1,000,000 prize.

"Money comes and goes," Reed, a blonde who was recruited from a taco stand and boasted that she'd turned down a Tommy Hilfiger campaign to compete on the show, told TV Guide.  "If I'd saved when I was just starting out, I'd be a multimillionaire by now."

(Photo credit CBS)


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