'Survivor' conducts racial experiment

Aug. 23, 2006 at 8:04 PM

COOK ISLANDS, Cook Islands, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- The 20 castaways on "Survivor: Cook Islands" will be grouped into tribes of Asians, blacks, whites and Hispanics to demonstrate "ethnic pride," its host said.

"Survivor" host Jeff Probst said on CBS' "The Early Show" Wednesday the creators had attempted to respond to criticism the show was not ethnically diverse, E! Online reported.

"We always have a low number of minority applicants apply for the show," Probst said.

He called the segregation a "social experiment" which is adding "another layer" to "Survivor" -- not intended to "incite controversy" or "add to tension."

"If I had been a producer of this show, it is not an idea I would have come up with or given approval to," said Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University.

"It's like a return back to segregated leagues in sports," Thompson told E! Online. "The unseemly interest this will invite certainly is not worth the dramatic elements it's going to bring."

Executive Producer Mark Burnett said the show had weeded out all the racist candidates, though Probst said the players had some "mixed reactions."

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