Jessica "Sugar" Kiper
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
An actress who's appeared on shows as popular as "Gilmore Girls," Sugar planned to tell the other contestants that she's a pin-up model, work that she has, in fact, done. She's apparently worried that being an actor will work against her, in the same way that Charlie plans to lie about his profession. But she didn't plan to conceal her flirtatiousness or sex appeal, wearing bright red lipstick and a leopard-print bikini on the day of the cast's press interviews and official CBS photo shoot. How that pin-up persona will be received by the other players will definitely help determine her fate in the game.
Hometown: Naples, Fla. (raised in London)
Ace isn't as arrogant or evil as the previews for the series have suggested that he actually is. Instead, he's actually quite grounded and engaging, and is the product of many life experiences, from living in India to studying eastern medicine. He lives in Florida to be near family, with whom he watches "Survivor." Still, he was ready to play the game, excited to both compete and manipulate people in the context of his game. That combination of charm and cunning could take him far.
Occupation: Pharmaceutical sales rep
Hometown: Los Angeles
Corinne was recruited for the show and actually argued with the casting producer about why she should do "Survivor" instead of a show like "The Bachelor." The answer: $1 million, and that's pretty much why Corinne is on "Survivor," to win the prize. That's it. She didn't have a reason why she wanted the money or have something to spend it on, she just wants the cash. As a self-described "bitch," she's ready and willing to manipulate those around her. But if she can't answer a question about why she wants the money, can she really convince 17 other people to let her win it?
Occupation: Pro video gamer
Hometown: Westminster, Calif.
Ken became a fan of "Survivor" with the Cook Islands season, and plans to model his game after people like winner Yul, leveraging his intellectual abilities in challenges and in other aspects of the game. However, Ken is much more outgoing and expressive than Yul was, so he'll definitely be playing a different sort of game. Although he's physically the smallest male this season, he worked out to prepare for the show, and also says he has other skills (such as balance) that stronger men might not have.
Occupations: Retail sales
Hometown: Buffalo Grove, Ill.
Jeans salesperson Kelly wasn't exactly a great conversationalist, but perhaps she'll be an outstanding player, because she's "one of the top salespeople" at her Chicago store, and that must require some social skills. She views Parvati, the winner of "Survivor Micronesia," as a model for her game play, and thus plans to "get all the guys on my side." Kelly didn't have much of a strategy beyond that, and couldn't articulate any challenges she'd be facing in the game, so just how she'll survive in the game will be interesting to watch.
Hometown: Eagle Rock, Minn.
Although Randy has a solid understanding of "Survivor" and how to play the game, his survival in the game may depend upon a single
thing: his ability to keep his mouth shut around his tribemates.
He's brutally honest ("I was going to say that I get laid every now and then, but that's not true," he told me), and also hysterical, offensive, and profane. Depending upon his tribemates, that could make him an easy early target, unless he manages to keep his comments to his confessional interviews only, which he planned to do.
Occupation: Olympic athlete
Hometown: Durham, N.C.
Crystal Cox won a gold medal as part of the 4x400 meter relay team at the 2004 Olympics, but she's also been a "Survivor" fan "since day one." As an Olympic athlete, Crystal appears to have the physical game under control, but her life has also prepared her for the social game, as she's a teacher, coach, and mother. Even before the game started, other contestants perceived her as a physical threat, perhaps because she's 6'3" and looks athletic. She'll have to use her knowledge of the game to keep herself in it.
Hometown: New York
Both casting producers and Charlie were concerned about his resemblance to Todd, the winner of "Survivor China." But as Charlie told me, while they both are gay and do look somewhat alike, they're actually very different: Charlie's older, not religious, tall and athletic (he runs marathons), and works as a lawyer, although he planned to lie about that. "I want to be like the gay, white, athletic, male Cirie," he said. His game plan is to be flexible and low-key, remaining calm even though he insists he'll never be comfortable in the game. Definitely a good approach.
Hometown: Downey, Calif. (born in Chile)
Living without any modern conveniences in Africa won't be that unusual or surprising for Paloma, who moved to Kenya just for the experience, and lived there among native Kenyans for three months. That, and growing up with missionary parents, explains a lot about her personality and experiences. Besides being a student, she plays poker, and her card-playing social skills might just work well with her outdoor survival skills to help her go far.
Danny "G.C." Brown
Occupation: Maintenance supervisor
Hometown: Portland, Ore.
GC was extremely enthusiastic and excited about being on "Survivor," which he planned to play from any angle he could. His childhood experiences, from going to boot camp and not graduating from high school to being homeless, have introduced him to kinds of adversity he won't face on the show, so he's probably prepared for whatever happens.
Occupation: Retired nurse
Hometown: Temecula, Calif. (raised in South Africa)
Many contestants seemed to just be thrilled to play the game, and Gillian is one of them, having applied to be on the show 15 times. She also seemed happy just to be back in Africa, as she grew up in South Africa. During her life, Gillian has traveled to 46 countries, backpacking through many of them, and her sense of adventure and enthusiasm make her seem far younger than she actually is. But if she's too eager and over-excited, she may annoy or alienate others.
Occupation: Personal trainer
Hometown: Pacific Palisades, Calif.
With family members in show business and an educational trust fund he burned through during his early 20s, Matty Whitmore is no longer interested in money, and has been self-sufficient since he was 23. As a result, he has a philosophy about life that includes not taking himself or anything seriously. How that plays in the game will be interesting, especially since Matty said that what he wanted out of his experience on "Survivor" was just "more self-awareness, more self-understanding."
Occupation: Medical device sales rep
Hometown: Santa Barbara, Calif.
From water polo to gymnastics, running to surfing, Jacque actively seeks out sport and adventure, and is prepared for athletic aspects of the game. But as a young but successful salesperson, she's also skilled at interacting with people, and had various strategies, like planning to "hold back" until the end so she didn't become a "dominating leader." She's also willing to be ruthless and scheme against others.
Hometown: Walpole, Mass.
Dan is an extremely likable, friendly person, and not at all like a stereotypical lawyer. In fact, a breakup and reevaluation of his life about a year ago led him to leave his job at a law firm. But that also makes him appear somewhat vulnerable; he may be too nice, and could be easily played. But along with his demeanor, his intelligence and preparation for the game -- he lowered his calorie intake to prepare for the lack of food -- could take him far.
Occupation: Hairdresser/assistant teacher
Hometown: Charles City, Iowa
Susie has a mix of interesting personality traits: She's an extremely nice person, and also a self-described "potty mouth."
Her tendency to speak rapidly and think her way is the best way could work against her, but her charisma and warmth will probably draw tribemates to her. Throw in competitiveness but also a tendency to be brutally honest, and Susie has everything it takes to either make an early exit or to win it all.
Marcus is an Atlanta-based doctor who in 1996 was named Georgia's hottest bachelor by Cosmopolitan. Thus, he knows he's attractive and desirable, and says he will probably flirt during the game. He's also very intelligent and aware of how others view him. He admires two strong "Survivor" winners: Richard Hatch and Yul Kwon, and plans to play the role of "arbiter" in order to fly under the radar, if he can get others to look past his external characteristics and resume.
Occupation: Music production assistant
Hometown: Los Angeles
A triathlete who boxes and surfs when she's not working as a DJ, Michelle is athletic and strong. She has faced challenges in her life, from getting married at 16 and divorced at 19, to growing up without a father. That's made her independent and resilient, but perhaps also abrasive. She tends to be brutally honest, which could alienate others, unless her physical strength is enough reason to keep her.
Robert "Bob" Crowley
Occupation: Physics teacher
Hometown: South Portland, Maine
Bob is a nice, enthusiastic guy -- he's just not enthusiastic about actually competing for $1 million. "I'm not playing the game, I'm here to have a good time," he told me. Although he was taking notes on the other contestants before the game started, he didn't really have a plan for that information. Because he's not a physical threat, Bob may last a while, but unless he decides to start playing, it'll only be because others kept him around.