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‘SURVIVOR’ UPDATE: Upping the Ante

The cost of riding the “Survivor” bandwagon just got higher. Advertisers who bought air time during the first 13-episode season paid about $4 million, but a report in this week’s Advertising Age says the price tag will likely triple to $12 million for the upcoming “Survivor II,” which will follow the exploits of a new group of contestants in the Australian outback.

EXONERATED: Richard Hatch has another reason to celebrate.

Just days after it was revealed that he walked off Pulau Tiga with the $1 million “Survivor” booty, prosecutors in Providence, R.I., dropped a second-degree child abuse charge against Hatch. No explanation for the reversal was given, according to an Associated Press report.

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Hatch’s 9-year-old adopted son told police in April that Hatch wrapped his hands around his neck when the boy got tired while jogging. The incident occurred just a few days after Hatch concluded filming his “Survivor” stint.

Hatch told authorities that the kid made up the story because he was mad that Hatch had forced him to exercise. Even though the charges were dropped, the story isn’t over: Hatch is suing his hometown of Middleton, R.I., for $1 million, alleging false arrest and defamation, and he has also sued the state child welfare agency.

Hubba hubba! HOT HOT HOT: Meanwhile, other ex-“Survivors” continue to extend their 15 minutes of fame. Colleen Haskell, the island’s 23-year-old sex symbol, has reportedly signed with agent Toni Howard of ICM.

RICHARD FIGHTS FAT: If you’re wondering what Richard’s going to do with that $1 million, wonder no more. TV Guide Online is reporting that Hatch is undergoing nip and tuck cosmetic surgery to further reduce his unsightly gut (which, admittedly, shrunk somewhat).

Trapped in the belly of the whale “If you saw that flopping around stuff on the last episode, I had that removed. It’s called resection and it’s skin from having lost over 140 pounds that could not retract.”

In other news, Hatch is also trying to sell a book about his island adventure.

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WAR HERO’S WELCOME: Rudy Boesch, the 72-year-old retired Navy SEAL who probably would’ve prevailed on “Survivor” if he’d kept his hand on that pole, is traversing the continent on his own personal post-“Survivor” publicity tour. He’s accompanied by his wife, Marge, on the trip.

The tour includes Rudy Boesch Day at a military base and personal appearances in Minneapolis and Chicago. Today, Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura praised Boesch, saying, “It’s amazing how Rudy and I come from the same background. … Me and Rudy say it like it is, regardless if you like it.”

Here’s hoping Rudy doesn’t spend all of the $85,000 he won on “Survivor” along the way.

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