EXTRA: Can We Survive Without ‘Survivor’?

HOLLYWOOD, Aug. 9, 2000 – It’s the biggest thing to hit the tube since ABC hired some short guy to give away $1 million three times a week. It has no star power, no plot, and a comparatively meager giveaway of a million bucks over the course of 13 weeks. So, you’ve gotta wonder: what is it about “Survivor” that has kept our proud nation faithfully tuned-in? And, you’ve also gotta wonder: who among us is doing all the tuning-in?

Naturally, we took it upon ourselves to find the answer. Our findings: Yes, a lot of people might be watching “Survivor,” but hey, not everyone does it out of love. While the serious, die-hard “Survivor” camp embraces the show like a religion, for every fanatic there’s at least one person who finds the show to be — what’s the saying? — “so bad, it’s good.”

How do we know? Well, we talked to a couple of them.

Take, for example, survivorsucks.com, a smack-talking fan Web site dedicated to “those who love to hate ‘Survivor.'” This is also the same site that posted the Gervase-as-winner spoiler a couple of weeks ago, which turned out to be bogus after all).

With its up-to-the-minute news, episode analyses, chat rooms, message boards, and a section devoted to theories and spoilers, survivorsucks.com has by default become the place to go for anything “Survivor,” much more so than CBS’s own official “Survivor” site.

Dishy? Yes. Obessessed? Definitely. But, hate? Well, that’s hard to tell.

Survivorsucks.com (©www.survivorsucks.com) “I actually had a ‘Real World’ site, www.realworldblows.com, for two years,” Paul Sims, creator of survivorsucks.com, tells us. “And we knew ‘Survivor’ is coming out, so it’s a natural progression to do something similar.

“You know, there’s no hidden agenda here. It entertains us to make fun of the show. It makes us laugh. There’s no social reasons behind it.”

Sims says he spends 20 to 30 hours a week on the site. But, does he really think “Survivor” sucks?

“I think it has excellent production value and CBS did an excellent job in keeping a lot of people guessing,” says Sims. “I think it’s the unscripted human interaction with people that is fascinating about the show — it might not be fascinating in a good way, but it is still fascinating.”

Hmmm. Mystery and human conflict. Are these the keys to the “Survivor” obsession? Maybe we’re on to something here.

We next spoke to Leah Drennan who, as of yesterday, was the highest bidder in an Ebay auction for a newspaper autographed by Rudy the Navy Seal.

“It about seeing the human interaction,” Drennen, 26 and a resident of Washington D.C., tells Hollywood.com. “Seeing people forming alliances, seeing who hates who. Everyone’s sneaking around and conspiring. It’s just like witnessing people interacting and backstabbing in your office.”

“Not our office,” we say, knowing our co-workers will be reading.

Drennan likewise says her “Survivor” obsession is a guilty pleasure, and it’s not something that she takes too seriously. So, why bid on a worthless newspaper just because it’s got gung-ho Rudy’s John Hancock on it?

Simple. She thinks the newspaper will go up in value if her predicition is correct, and Rudy is the winner.

“This is an American show and they can’t have somebody win who backstabs and looks so bad. It can’t be Susan, because she lied when she was asked about the alliance and she said no. Sean looks stupid. Rich, they made him look too bad. It could be Colleen. But Rudy looks good, he is an ex-Seal, and I think it’s going to be Rudy.”

Still, Drennan has admittedly made “Survivor” part of her daily life. She checks chatrooms for news every day at lunch, and she is in a “Survivor” viewing group every week. And there is a tone of sadness in her voice when she ponders a life after “Survivor.”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do after the show’s over,” said Drennan. “But we’ll probably get together and make a big event out of it and call it ‘See, I told you so.'”