Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains - Season 20
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Clash of the Titans
The Ultimate Survivor Showdown
(TV Guide 2.10.10)

By Scott Huver


"I was the first villainess of Survivor," says Jerri Manthey of her stint on the series' second season.  "But after me, there have been some real villains - and a couple of them are here. They make me a little bit nervous because people have learned how to play the game, and they play hard.  It's ruthless!"

Jerri faces off against 19 other fan favorites in Samoa for the 20th season of the decade-old competition.  The theme is one of good and evil.  Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains pits a tribe comprised of the noble and nice against one teeming with the notoriously nasty.

"I believe this will be hug." says creator Mark Burnett.  "Heroes vs. Villains is a great theme.  Survivor is about relationships.  It's a morality play.  No one is giving a million dollars to someone who is too ruthless."

The good guys include Rupert Boneham (who appeared previously in Pearl Islands and All-Stars), Jessica "Sugar" Kiper (Gabon), Cirie Fields (Panama, Micronesia), Candice Woodcock (Cook Islands), Colby Donaldson (Australia and All-Stars), Amanda Kimmel (China and Micronesia), J.T. Thomas (Tocantins), Stephenie LaGrossa (Palau and Guatemala), Tom Westman (Palau) and James Clement (China and Micronesia).  The bad guys are Russell Hantz (Samoa), Parvati Shallow (Cook Islands and Micronesia), Benjamin "Coach" Wade (Tocantins), "Boston" Rob Mariano (Marquesas and All-Stars), Tyson Apostol (Tocantins), Randy Bailey (Gabon), Courtney Yates (China), Danielle DiLorenzo (Panama), Sandra Diaz-Twine (Pearl Islands) and Jerri Manthey (Australia, All-Stars).

It's one of the big questions with Survivor that I'm always fascinated with," muses host Jeff Probst.  "If you play the game that says 'Outwit, Outplay, Outlast,' are you really a villain, or are you just a great player?"

This time around, players like Rupert are counting on intel from watching past seasons to give them a leg up on the competition.  "Knowing who's friends, who screwed who, who did what and who lied helps," he says.  "I don't know every little intricacy of it, but I'm pretty good!" Rupert didn't hesitate when he got the call for his third go-round.  "Every season I'm calling and asking them, 'Can I play?" When they finally called me, I was like, 'I'm ready to leave tomorrow!'"

Others weren't in such a rush to sign on again: Rob, who has a new baby at home, was ultimately swayed by a former Survivor winner - his wife, Amber Brkich.  "Amber sat me down and said, 'How could you not do this?'  To her, it was a no-brainer," Mariano says.  "I've got a feeling that this is the going-out party - going out with a win.  If they're smart they'll get rid of me right away.  But history has proven that these people aren't too smart."

Colby may have been a two-time Survivor, but he was bracing himself for the way the game has evolved. "You used to be able to sit back, look around, let things develop and see how you want to mold your strategy," he explains.  "Now if you do that, you run the risk of being eliminated - not because you're not helping out in challenges and not because you're annoying somebody - but because you may not fit into their game plan.

Because of the preconceived notions, Sugar says she has an unorthodox plan up her sleeve. "If it gets down to me and Rupert and J.T., I'm in a good position because I haven't won a million dollars, and both of those guys have.  I'll be like, 'You can't give them a million. Give it to me. If You give it to him, I'll have to marry him and then take half of it.

She might be kidding, but "villainess" Parvati remembered how well feminine wiles served her while packing her swimwear. "I don't think the bikinis could get smaller," she giggles.  "I might wiggle my hips, do a little dance. There will definitely be some flirting.  There will be some backstabbing.  And crying.  It'll just be the whole range of emotions."

But which emotions will rule after the players meet Russell, last seasons runner-up and arguably the most brilliantly devious player in Survivor history?  He's the wild card-none of the previous contestants had seen his season because it had yet to air.

"It was the most selfish think I ever did in my life."  Russell says of leaping immediately into a new fray after his Samoa season concluded. "I had 10 days rest and was right back on the same island.  It was a terrible feeling, a gut-wrenching feeling.  I had to focus and try to do it again.  As hard as I play, it's way harder for me than the norm because I step outside of who I am.  I step outside of my character to jump into this role to play with these idiots."

Even if the "heroes" don't prevail this time around, Rupert, at least, expects to have another shot down the line.  "My wife says, 'You are 45 now.'  I said, 'Yes and on Survivor 30, I'll be 50!'"





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