Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

updated 02/05/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/05/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

Mark Burnett

If viewers thought eating squiggly bugs and roasted rats was tough duty, just wait until the second season of Survivor premieres Jan. 28 on CBS (immediately following the Super Bowl). According to the show's creator and producer Mark Burnett, 33, the levels of torment reached new heights in the Australian Outback, where the series was shot. "It got really, really bad," he says. "There was enormous suffering."

Contestants on Survivor I's Pulau Tiga got extra rice when rations ran low. But the Down Under cast of eight men and eight women had no such luck. "There wasn't any negotiating on food without some major pain," says Burnett, a Brit who lives in Malibu with his wife and children.

Forced to eat an entire cow (tail and tongue included), the Survivor II crew also had to contend with scorpions, snakes, spiders, crocodiles and, of course, each other. "I've personally lived the anguish and conflicts between groups in the outdoors," says Burnett. "The effects humans have on each other are huge."

It's this interaction that attracts viewers, says Burnett, who is also creating a combat series for the USA Network. But, he cautions, Survivor isn't reality. "It is dramality: unscripted nonfiction drama. With real people."

Can this new bunch "outwit, outplay, outlast" the original cast? "They are very, very different," Burnett teases, "but no less compelling."

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