Survivor All-Stars Photograph by Nathaniel Welch
Dalton Ross
February 06, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

For the all-stars of the latest ”Survivor” edition, the game actually started before they even hit the beach. It’s three days prior — Nov. 1, the day of the dead — and the Casa Charlito villa on Contadora Island off the coast of Panama is housing a straight-up killer. Richard Hatch and his five Mogo tribemates are awaiting the start of their second adventure of a lifetime. Only they don’t know they’re tribemates, or when said adventure will begin. With so much uncertainty swirling around this highly anticipated ”Survivor: All-Stars” edition, you’d think Hatch — the man who told ”Survivor” producers the check was already written before he was even cast in the first season — would be slightly humbled. Think again. ”I’m gonna win it,” he says while sprawled out on his bed in a tank top and yellow mesh shorts. ”I just think I play the game well. I know all of the people that I’ll be playing with, and I’m not concerned.” As if on cue, he stretches his arms behind his head and cracks a wide grin. ”It’s like taking candy from a baby.”

Residing in the room next door, one ”baby” is not so sure. ”Survivor: Africa”’s Lex van den Berghe has already had enough of Hatch, and they’ve shared only a single breakfast together. ”Do I think there’s any chance Richard Hatch can win this game?” says the testy tattooed one, who’s sporting a brand-new ”can of whup-ass” tat for the occasion. ”No way. I just don’t see that happening.”

After three and a half years of rice-diet starvation, beach-bound deception, and torch-snuffing suspense, reality evil genius Mark Burnett has brought forth ”Survivor: All-Stars”: a veritable clash of the titans, an epic of egos, or, at the very least, a battle of fame-hungry, money-grubbing lunatics. ”We don’t want to be accused of jumping the shark, and we don’t think we are,” says host Jeff Probst, adding that the concept was discussed for air as early as 2002. ”It’s okay to take a time-out and bring some fun people back. And then ‘Survivor 9’ will be ‘Survivor’ again.”

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