CBS reveals more 'Survivor: Tocantins' info, Jeff Probst dishes on cast
By Christopher Rocchio, 01/15/2009
CBS has revealed additional details about Survivor: Tocantins -- The Brazilian Highlands, including how the show's eighteenth season begins and host Jeff Probst thoughts about each of the 16 castaways.
Survivor: Tocantins -- which premieres Thursday, February 12 at 8PM ET/PT -- will begin with the 16 castaways being marooned in Tocantins, a state in central Brazil with numerous rivers and an equatorial climate.
"In the first episode we're focusing on first impressions and we're going to try to force those impressions out," said Probst in a CBS-released video. "They're going to have to work quickly to overcome first impressions."
The castaways will immediately be divided into two tribes -- the Jalapao tribe and Timbira tribe -- and forced to grab as many survival items as possible from a truck.
Then, prior to any formal introductions and before the castaways speak their first official words to each other, one person from each tribe "will be chosen to remain behind and will not continue with their group on the journey that lies ahead," according to CBS.
"Immediately we're going to force them to vote somebody out of each tribe," teased Probst, who along with CBS failed to elaborate on whether those chosen to "remain behind" are eliminated from the competition or simply sent to Exile Island.
Regardless of what type of first impressions are made, Probst said Survivor: Tocantins' cast largely consists of likable people -- which he added wasn't necessarily a good thing.
"The problem this season is there are a lot of likeable people," he said. "That's going to make it hard to vote people out."
Probst added that Survivor: Tocantins' castaways create one of the long-running reality show's "very best casts."
"It's going to be a completely different season from Gabon," he said. "From the beginning I think you're going to go, 'Wow! Like him, like her, like her, like him.' And we've got some fun twists coming up."
Survivor: Tocantins 16 castaways -- along with their CBS biographical information and Probst's comments -- are:
Tyson Apostol, a 29-year-old bike-shop manager and former professional cyclist from Linden, UT
Probst says: "Tyson is one of my favorites this season because he's maniacal. I don't know what he's going to do. The great thing about Tyson though is that he's smart enough and good looking enough that people are going to think he's normal. Some people will be attracted to him. They'll have no idea he's got that Richard Hatch sort of diabolical mind that's always working."
Debra Beebe, a 46-year-old middle-school principal from Auburn, AK
Probst says: "Debra's interesting because she's an 'older woman,' but she doesn't act like one, and her life experience of working with children all the time as a principal also helps keep her young. She has a very young energy. The question is will she get labeled with a first impression of, 'Ah, she's the old woman. Let's get rid of her.' Or will people think, 'She's got a lot of energy. She's got a lot of vitality. Maybe we should keep her around.'"
Spencer Duhm, a 19-year-old college student from Lakeland, FL
Probst says: "He was 10 when Richard Hatch won -- that's exciting and scary at the same time. I think the thing that might get in Spencer's way is that he could over think things -- he knows Survivor so well, he's such a super-fan that he could over think it. Had Spencer been a year older he would have been on Fans vs. Favorites. He just wasn't old enough."
Probst says: "Sandy will unfortunately be off very, very early. If her tribe loses the first Immunity Challenge I imagine she'll be gone first. There's just no way around it. She's country, she can swear with the best of them, she's very likeable and she's going to be angry when it happens -- but it's going to happen."
James Thomas Jr., a 24-year-old cattle rancher from Samson, AK
Probst says: "Likable kid, runs a ranch. He knows what hard work is. I think J.T. is okay being by himself, which is also good out here because there's a lot of lonely nights. I think J.T. is going to get flirted with and probably do some heavy flirting himself."
Joe Dowdle, a 26-year-old commercial real estate broker from Austin, TX
Probst says: "Joe is going to be compared to Colby. That's what I think people are going to say, 'Looks like a strong, fit dude. He's good looking, he's charming.' I think if Joe gets on the right tribe he'll be a leader, he'll be strong at challenges and he'll probably be in the game for a while."
Probst says: "She's small, she's cute and I think people will think, 'Aw, pretty little girl in the red dress.' I think she's really tough. It's going to be which alliance she ends up in. If she chooses wisely, she could be in deep, deep. If not, middle of the pack. Nobody's going to get rid of her early. She's too cute."
Probst says: "Stephen is going to have a big job to integrate well. The feeling on this season is of young, kind-of-hip -- and Stephen's a little outside of that. He's a little more of an intellect and if he can use those skills in the right way I think he could do really well."
Probst says: "Taj has a little bit of work to do because of appearances -- I think that happy smile only goes so far and I think people are going to start looking at her. If she starts hanging her head low and saying this is getting me down, she's an easy one to vote out. The flip side on Taj is that she's so likable. People find out she's married to a former NFL player and that could work against her because people like to look at success as a reason to get rid of you."
Probst says: "Erinn I'm on the fence on. She's got to make a first impression that is, 'I'm a worker.' Right away. Otherwise I think you look at her and you might judge her as a pretty girl who's going to fade early. That would be my advice -- pick-up the heaviest thing you can and start walking."
Probst says: "Sierra is one of my favorites. She's sassy, she did a lot of homework before she came out here. She will either dig deep and show people don't underestimate me or she will fade like yesterday's newspaper and she will be in Ponderosa -- which is where all the losers hang out."
Jerry Sims, a 49-year-old U.S. Army sergeant from Rock Hill, SC
Probst says: "Jerry's lovable, but there's so much more to Jerry than a big smile. This guy has been in Afghanistan, he's led troops. He's explained to me before his philosophy and it's not about who are my leaders, it's about who needs my help. That kind of leadership is really mature. Whether people recognize it or not, it could serve him really well."
Candace Smith, a 31-year-old actress/model and event planner and former lawyer from Los Angeles, CA
Probst says: "Candace is unfortunately on a season in which there are a lot of likable strong people, and she might fall victim to not being as strong. I think the heat and the bugs might get to her. What Candace will have to do though is show people that I am a warrior and not a princess."
Probst says: "He's a very successful businessman -- those skills can work in Survivor. He knows how to lead people, he knows how to take an idea and execute it. So he's going to have to overcome the burden on people figuring out he's successful and still wanting to keep him in the game."
Benjamin Wade, a 37-year-old soccer coach and part-time orchestra conductor from Bolivar, MO
Probst says: "Benjamin hands down is one of the most fascinating guys that's been on the show. He is so full of himself, and he's full of himself like Richard Hatch was. He wants to take the best to the end and he believes he's one of the best and there's three others. He's going to get them together and they're going to run this game and duke it out. I wouldn't want my sister to date him, but I love him on Survivor."
Sydney Wheeler, a 24-year-old model and interior designer from San Diego, CA
Probst says: "Sydney is beautiful. People are going to judge Sydney because typically on Survivor if you really pay attention, the hot blonde woman fades every single time. Sydney needs to break that cycle because otherwise they'll keep her around to look at and she'll be low on the totem pole in an alliance and she'll be middle-of-the-pack -- maybe jury -- and you'll forget whatever her name was."