"All my shows are green. The studios are so strict about that now," says reality TV mogul Mark Burnett, who works with local governments on "Survivor" to ensure that the locations are left as pristine as they found them. Staged once again in Nicaragua, the 22nd installment of the venerable "outwit, outplay, outlast" competition premieres on CBS Feb. 16, with the subtitle "Redemption Island," as it's all about second chances — or third or fourth, as it is in the case of returning archrivals Russell Hantz and "Boston Rob" Mariano, back to head opposing tribes. Having squared off acrimoniously on "Heroes vs. Villains," the two alpha males could be early targets — but that doesn't mean they'd be gone.
A new twist will send the voted-off player to Redemption Island, where they will compete in a challenge against the second eliminated contestant the following week — in view of other tribemates — to see who gets to stay, and ultimately, return to the game. "Technically, the first one out could win every challenge on Redemption Island and come back," Burnett points out, noting how the new wrinkle affects strategy. "Smart players start to realize the consequences of blindsides, the consequences on how you treat others. In the past only the jury mattered. Now, you [consider that] from the very beginning. That really adds a layer to the social game."
Burnett is already thinking ahead to future "Survivors," and would consider a celebrity edition, "if CBS wanted to and it was a really good reason, and it was a shortened version for charity, that wouldn't be such a bad thing."