What’s New for ‘Survivor: Philippines’?

'Survivor: Philippines' (Gordon Holmes)

The first fifteen members of the cast of “Survivor: Philippines” were announced by CBS this morning. These 15 strangers (including 2000 National League MVP Jeff Kent and former “Facts of Life” star Lisa Whelchel) will be divided into teams of three and joined by three returning “Survivor” favorites.

XfinityTV.com sent me deep into the Philippines wilderness on a mission to meet these folks and bring you all kinds of “Survivor” stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

But, first and foremost let’s a look at how this season of “Survivor” will differ from previous incarnations…


A Trio of Tribes
For the first time since “Survivor: All Stars” the game will start with three separate tribes. What this means for the game is; the winner and second-runner-up for each immunity challenge will be safe, while the losing tribe will go to Tribal Council. This twist does limit each tribe to only six members, so it should make challenge prowess more valuable than it has been in the past.
  Three Returning Players…But Who?
Each of the three tribes will be joined by a classic “Survivor” player. The identity of these three players can’t be revealed at this time, but can be said that the three players were all removed from a previous season due to an injury. We will have exclusive interviews with all three of the returning players once their names are made public.
It Looks Like “Survivor”
The first thing that struck me upon arriving at the Caramoan Islands in the Philippines was, “This place looks like ‘Survivor.’” There’s water as far as the eye can see and seemingly hundreds of tiny tropical islands. Host Jeff Probst agreed with me, “’Survivor’ in the Philippines is back to the roots of the show. You’re going to have a lot of people fishing and finding clams. This is where we like to be, it’s just you can’t always find water in places where there isn’t political unrest.”
An Immunity Idol at Each Camp
Now that the days of two tribes living on the same beach are gone, so too is the “You have to give the idol to someone on the opposing tribe” twist. I’ll let future talk-show mogul Jeff Probst fill you in the on the rest, “There are three immunity idols, one in each camp. And, they’re hidden in plain sight. You just have to look in the right spot. And there will be a clue hidden in the bottom of the rice container. And if someone finds that clue and really pays attention to it, they’ll find the idol.”
Water Challenges Are Back
One of the major complaints about recent “Survivor” seasons is the lack of water-based challenges. The “Survivor” production team was aware of those concerns, however locations like Gabon, Tocantins, Samoa, and Nicaragua didn’t have the kind of beaches that lend themselves to safe water activities. I am pleased to announce that “Survivor: Philippines” will be full of swimming, diving, boating, and other water activities. In fact, the first immunity challenge features quite a bit of in-water fun.

Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET.

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