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12. Update: Survivor’s Mark Burnett

"Survivor may represent the zenith of manipulated, televised adventuring, a kind of Swiss Family Robinson as rejiggered by Machiavelli and MTV. The stakes are enormous, both for CBS, which is footing most of the multimillion-dollar cost of casting and filming the show in Borneo, and for Burnett, who has never produced a network show before. . . ."—"Master of the Ego Challenge," by Gretchen Reynolds, ADVENTURE July/August 2000

It seems almost silly at this point—as the 18th season of Survivor, shot in the Brazilian highlands, unfolds weekly—to note that the show has done pretty well for itself. But when ADVENTURE first profiled its creator, Mark Burnett, he wasn’t as certain about his chances of outwitting, outplaying, and outlasting the entire television industry as he seemed. "I had no idea it would go beyond the first season," he admits today. "We hoped it would break even." Burnett has done more than survive; he’s become the godfather of reality TV, whose love-’em-or-hate-’em productions include The Apprentice, Rock Star, and the forthcoming Toughest Cowboy.

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