04/01/2001 at 01:00 AM EST
Not only do we cover pop culture, we get captivated by it too. Among the 51 million people who glued themselves to the final episode of Survivor last August—in a tribal viewing experience topped in 2000 only by the Super Bowl—were many of us at PEOPLE. Could lightning strike again with Survivor: The Australian Outback? We thought so and organized a team led by special projects editor Eric Levin to create the definitive guide. "The show is part game, part soap, part psych-out," Levin says. "It's diabolical and addictive." Senior editor Peter Castro, who directs our TV coverage, likens the buzz to that of the 1980 Dallas cliff-hanger "Who Shot J.R.?"—"except this builds every week." Our correspondents and photographers trekked into the Outback and sat down with the new contestants' families, who shared stories and snapshots. We don't know who won, but we do know, thanks to the survival experts we interviewed, that rubbing two sticks together does work. But you're better off packing a lighter.