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Mark Burnett reveals 'Survivor: China' won't have an Exile Island


By Christopher Rocchio, 07/23/2007 

Exile Island has been a Survivor staple since it was first introduced in Survivor: Panama, the long-running reality show's twelfth edition.  However the Exile Island concept has been banished from Survivor: China, the still-filming fifteenth Survivor edition that CBS will air this fall.

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"We got rid of Exile Island [for Survivor: China]," Survivor executive producer Mark Burnett told reporters attending the Television Critics Association summer press tour, Canada's Jam! Showbiz entertainment news website reported Friday.

While Exile Island may not be returning as a roadblock for Survivor: China's castaways, Burnett said the show's hidden Immunity Idol will return. 

First introduced during Survivor: Guatemala -- the show's eleventh edition that aired in Fall 2005 -- the hidden Immunity Idol has been tied to Exile Island since Survivor: Panama, which aired in Spring 2006.  In both Survivor: Panama and Survivor: Cook Islands, which aired in Fall 2006, the hidden Immunity Idol could be found somewhere on Exile Island and only those banished there were provided clues to its whereabouts. 

While two hidden Immunity Idols were present for Survivor: Fiji, neither was actually located on Exile Island -- forcing the exlied castaways that received clues about the hidden Idols' locations to search for for them back at their camps without tipping off their fellow castaways.

Since the hidden Immunity Idol or clues pertaining to its location cannot be located on Exile Island for Survivor: China, Burnett said a new more simple twist will be used.

"We still have a hidden Immunity Idol but it is right under [the castaways] noses," he told reporters, according to Jam!.

In addition to Exile Island's absence and the continuation of hiding an Immunity Idol, Burnett also revealed that Survivor: China will -- for the first time since Survivor: Panama and only the second time in Survivor's last eight seasons -- feature only 16 castaways.  Survivor: All-Stars, Vanuatu, and Guatemala each featured 18 castaways, while Palau and Cook Islands had 20.  Fiji was also originally supposed to have 20 but ended up with only 19 when Melissa McNulty had to leave the game a few hours after filming began due to panic attacks she was suffering from. 

Survivor: China is scheduled to premiere Thursday, September 20 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS, however viewers once again won't be allowed to enjoy it in high-definition (HD) format.  According to Television Week, although numerous other television shows have managed to film exotic location programming in HDTV, CBS -- citing "durability" issues with HD cameras -- plans to continue to keep filming both Survivor and The Amazing Race in standard definition due to equipment "durability," while Burnett claimed the "cost of upgrading the production" as his main problem with it.

"If CBS wants me to do it, I'll say yes," Burnett, citing the "cost of upgrading the production" as his main issue with an HDTV switch, told reporters on Thursday, according to Television Week.

A CBS spokesman confirmed with Television Week that Burnett's reasoning behind not using HD cameras is also a factor because of the higher cost of replacing them if they fail or are damaged.

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