Pass the dead rat, please

Anonymous AU student is among 25 finalists for CBS "Survivor" show in Australian outback

An AU student could be munching on dead rat in the 110-degree heat of Australia's Outback for the remainder of the fall semester if he is chosen as one of 16 castaways for the second season of CBS's "Survivor."

The student, who - under contractual obligation with CBS - must maintain anonymity for the next week or more while he and 24 other finalists await the producers' decision, says he is "extremely nervous."

Until the contestants are notified, CBS is taking stringent precautions to maintain the mystery surrounding the show's sequel. AU's finalist must make all telephone calls from a tapped cellular phone and his e-mail account has been bugged with a program that sends a copy of all incoming and outgoing messages to CBS.

The finalist's friends, family, fraternity and roommate have been kept in the dark all summer - and for good reason. He's gone through months of agonizing secrecy, applications and interviews.

"My parents thought I was nuts for trying out," he said in an exclusive interview with The Eagle. "I haven't told anyone that I've gotten this far."

His initial impression of Survivor: "I thought it was 'Road Rules' meets 'Gilligan's Island."

It wasn't until July Fourth weekend when he first watched the show with friends and became hooked.

Later in July, he surfed on to CBS's Web site where and downloaded the seven-page application-along with 10,000 other wannabes for Survivor's second season. Four pages were legal copy and three asked personal questions encompassing "mostly my entire life."

In addition to the application, he was required to send a photograph, a three-minute video and a passport.

"I did it all the day before it was due and overnighted it to L.A," he said.

Several weeks later, he received the first of a series of important phone calls. It was early August when the casting representative told him they were interested in learning more about him.

He traveled to New York - one of 15 locations across the country where follow-up interviews were being held. Two days after a grueling interview, he got another phone call inviting him to participate in an intensive physical try-out.

For two days he participated in a rigorous obstacle course in an undisclosed location that tested his physical and mental will.

"A lot of people saw the obstacle course and decided it wasn't worth it," he said.

One challenge was to construct a river dam out of a few wooden logs and a barrel of leaves. Another pushed his team of five to get a 55-gallon oil drum across a six-foot gap between two ramps.

The student, who admits to not performing very well at the obstacle course, engaged in a second in-person interview with 49 others last Wednesday.

And then, there were 25. All anticipate yet another phone call (on their CBS cellulars) in the next one to three weeks.

"It's on my mind all the time," he said nervously. "I think about it 23 hours a day - even when I sleep."

If chosen, the student will have to withdraw from AU and fly to the sweltering heat of the Australian Outback in mid-to-late October. Poisonous snakes, spiders, alligators and 110 degree heat will be among the obstacles faced by the new cast.

The finalist, who identifies most with last season's Rich and Rudy, said that if he's typecast for the show, he'll most likely be "the guy who gets along with everybody unless they're totally unproductive and pisses me off."

"I'd be the ingenious, creative, witty - well, not really witty - but tough, firm castaway," he joked.

Currently, the 24 finalists are unaware of each others' identities.

His chances of being chosen are as good as the 24 others' - with one small exception.

"I'm on a college campus, a small campus," he said.

Producers worry that word about his inclusion in the show will travel fast.

Another risk of roughing it: "absolutely no toilet paper." But, contestants can bring a single personal item in addition to the clothing on their backs and a bookbag.

While his decision isn't final, a notebook will most likely be his sole possession.

The implications of his "Survivorship" could mean a big boost in the AU student's checkbook and his future career.

First prize for the new season is reported to be $1 million after taxes, he said. Plus, CBS will throw in a new car-rumored to be a sport utility vehicle.

The premiere of Survivor will be televised in January on Superbowl Sunday. Approximately 59.2 million people tuned in to last seasons' final episode, he said.

When he returns to the United States. in December, he'll have to keep quiet about the show's outcome until its finale. The first cast was threatened with a $4 million fine if they disclosed the winners and losers prematurely.

"It's a huge jump...you go from 'nobody' to a 'star,'" he said. "Either I'd enjoy it a lot - having everyone look at me - or I'd despise it."

A handful of last season's survivors are now profiting from their 15 minutes of fame. Last season's sole survivor, Richard Hatch, has signed on to a lecture circuit, and Sean abandoned his career as a neurologist to pursue acting.

AU's "Survivor" candidate hopes to become a political candidate in the future. Being a celebrity castaway could help him get his foot in the door.

"Once I run for whatever office I decide to, hopefully I'll be seen on issues and not just as the guy from 'Survivor'."An AU student could be munching on dead rat in the 110-degree heat of Australia's Outback for the remainder of the fall semester if he is chosen as one of 16 castaways for the second season of CBS's "Survivor."

The student, who - under contractual obligation with CBS - must maintain anonymity for the next week or more while he and 24 other finalists await the producers' decision, says he is "extremely nervous."

Until the contestants are notified, CBS is taking stringent precautions to maintain the mystery surrounding the show's sequel. AU's finalist must make all telephone calls from a tapped cellular phone and his e-mail account has been bugged with a program that sends a copy of all incoming and outgoing messages to CBS.

The finalist's friends, family, fraternity and roommate have been kept in the dark all summer - and for good reason. He's gone through months of agonizing secrecy, applications and interviews.

"My parents thought I was nuts for trying out," he said in an exclusive interview with The Eagle. "I haven't told anyone that I've gotten this far."

His initial impression of Survivor: "I thought it was 'Road Rules' meets 'Gilligan's Island."

It wasn't until July Fourth weekend when he first watched the show with friends and became hooked.

Later in July, he surfed on to CBS's Web site where and downloaded the seven-page application-along with 10,000 other wannabes for Survivor's second season. Four pages were legal copy and three asked personal questions encompassing "mostly my entire life."

In addition to the application, he was required to send a photograph, a three-minute video and a passport.

"I did it all the day before it was due and overnighted it to L.A," he said.

Several weeks later, he received the first of a series of important phone calls. It was early August when the casting representative told him they were interested in learning more about him.

He traveled to New York - one of 15 locations across the country where follow-up interviews were being held. Two days after a grueling interview, he got another phone call inviting him to participate in an intensive physical try-out.

For two days he participated in a rigorous obstacle course in an undisclosed location that tested his physical and mental will.

"A lot of people saw the obstacle course and decided it wasn't worth it," he said.

One challenge was to construct a river dam out of a few wooden logs and a barrel of leaves. Another pushed his team of five to get a 55-gallon oil drum across a six-foot gap between two ramps.

The student, who admits to not performing very well at the obstacle course, engaged in a second in-person interview with 49 others last Wednesday.

And then, there were 25. All anticipate yet another phone call (on their CBS cellulars) in the next one to three weeks.

"It's on my mind all the time," he said nervously. "I think about it 23 hours a day - even when I sleep."

If chosen, the student will have to withdraw from AU and fly to the sweltering heat of the Australian Outback in mid-to-late October. Poisonous snakes, spiders, alligators and 110 degree heat will be among the obstacles faced by the new cast.

The finalist, who identifies most with last season's Rich and Rudy, said that if he's typecast for the show, he'll most likely be "the guy who gets along with everybody unless they're totally unproductive and pisses me off."

"I'd be the ingenious, creative, witty - well, not really witty - but tough, firm castaway," he joked.

Currently, the 24 finalists are unaware of each others' identities.

His chances of being chosen are as good as the 24 others' - with one small exception.

"I'm on a college campus, a small campus," he said.

Producers worry that word about his inclusion in the show will travel fast.

Another risk of roughing it: "absolutely no toilet paper." But, contestants can bring a single personal item in addition to the clothing on their backs and a bookbag.

While his decision isn't final, a notebook will most likely be his sole possession.

The implications of his "Survivorship" could mean a big boost in the AU student's checkbook and his future career.

First prize for the new season is reported to be $1 million after taxes, he said. Plus, CBS will throw in a new car-rumored to be a sport utility vehicle.

The premiere of Survivor will be televised in January on Superbowl Sunday. Approximately 59.2 million people tuned in to last seasons' final episode, he said.

When he returns to the United States. in December, he'll have to keep quiet about the show's outcome until its finale. The first cast was threatened with a $4 million fine if they disclosed the winners and losers prematurely.

"It's a huge jump...you go from 'nobody' to a 'star,'" he said. "Either I'd enjoy it a lot - having everyone look at me - or I'd despise it."

A handful of last season's survivors are now profiting from their 15 minutes of fame. Last season's sole survivor, Richard Hatch, has signed on to a lecture circuit, and Sean abandoned his career as a neurologist to pursue acting.

AU's "Survivor" candidate hopes to become a political candidate in the future. Being a celebrity castaway could help him get his foot in the door.

"Once I run for whatever office I decide to, hopefully I'll be seen on issues and not just as the guy from 'Survivor'"

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