CBS's Segregationist 'Survivor' Plot

August 23rd, 2006 1:44 PM

The new season of CBS’ hit show "Survivor" was previewed on this morning’s "Early Show," and viewers learned that the show will have a segregationist beginning as contestants will be divided according to their race. In the past, tribes on the show have been determined by age or sex or by choosing sides, but this is the first time they have been determined by race, a fact which seemed to appall the co-hosts of "The Early Show."

At the top of the 8:00 hour, Harry Smith asked a random man gathered on the plaza for his reaction to this news, and the response was "it should be pretty interesting." Harry Smith, declared that a "safe" answer, which caused co-host Rene Syler to exclaim:

"I’m glad you asked him and not us, because we want to keep our jobs. We would like to keep our jobs."

Later in the 8:00 half hour, Smith sat down with the host of "Survivor," Jeff Probst. Smith admitted he was dismayed by the racial tribes idea:

"I've got to tell you, when I woke up early this morning and started reading through this stuff, I was stunned, and quite frankly, I was dismayed. I don't know from where I sit that this sounds like a good idea for a reality show."

Probst responded and defended the premise as a "fresh" idea:

"Well, that's probably one of the reasons it will be interesting and controversial, maybe, as you say. I know, from where I sit, I find it and found it to be one of the freshest ideas we've had going back to the beginning of this show in season one."

So, segregation is a fresh idea? How would CBS react if in any other walk of life, segregation was used as a "fresh" plot line? When even its own employees, on air, are expressing discomfort with this particular idea, shouldn’t it be obvious to CBS that this is a bad idea?