'Survivor: South Pacific': New cast and new twists revealed! | EW.com

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'Survivor: South Pacific': New cast and new twists revealed!

(Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS)

Russell Hantz may not be part of the new season of Survivor…but his nephew is. 19-year-old Brandon Hantz is one of 16 new contestants that will be competing for the million dollars when Survivor: South Pacific kicks off Wednesday, Sept. 14 on CBS. Among the players joining him is a former Miss America contestant, a country music singer, a Lingerie Football League player, and a medical marijuana dispensary owner. However, these players will not just have to battle each other. They will also have to take on two returning players, whose names will be revealed later in the week.

In addition to the two returning players, two of the new contestants already have experience on reality television. Country crooner Whitney Duncan placed fifth on the fifth season of Nashville Star, while former Miss Washington Elyse Umemoto appeared on Miss America: Reality Check, TLC’s reality show that accompanied the 2008 Miss America pageant, in which Umemoto was the second runner-up. (She later had to deal with a bit of controversy after photos surfaced of Umemoto partying and making sexually suggestive poses). Other contestants with notable occupations include lingerie football player (and Playboy cover girl) Mikayla Wingle and medical marijuana dispensary owner Jim Rice.

However viewers will no doubt be focused on the contestant with the last name of Hantz. “Unless I’m getting played, which I could be, Brandon is the opposite of Russell,” says host Jeff Probst. “I mean, he appears to be a pretty nice guy — a young kid who’s certainly a little rough around the edges, but well mannered, pretty good thinker. Although for a while his loved one was going to be Russell, and at the last minute he said, ‘You know what, I’ve been thinking about this. That may not be such a good idea to let people know I’m related.’”

Filmed in Samoa (the same location for seasons 19 and 20), Survivor: South Pacific will also feature a few twists to the format. The first involves the hidden immunity idols. “This year with hidden immunity idols, we’re hiding the clue,” explains Probst. “No clue as to where the clue is. Once you find the clue, then you have to find the idol.” And while the Redemption Island twist is back, there will be one major change to it, with the elimination of group duels — meaning each competition will truly be a win-or-go-home situation (as opposed to last season, in which players often simply did not have to come in last to stay alive). “We’re not having multi-person duels,” says Probst. “That was part of the experiment [last season]. We wanted to see how many people we could keep in the game until the end. And that’s why we let more people live out there. But we felt like it’s too many people and now we’ve got half the group still in it at the end. So it will only be a one-on-one situation. Loser’s out, winner stays. Otherwise, we’re playing it the same way.”

For exclusive video interviews and footage of each contestant, check out the video player below. (The full list of Survivor: South Pacific contestants is below the video player.) Also make sure to view our photo gallery of the new contestants with quotes from each. Finally, for Survivor news, views, and reviews all season long, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.

The new cast of Survivor: South Pacific:

Albert Destrade
Baseball/Dating Coach
Plantation, Fla.; Age: 26

Brandon Hantz
Oil Tanker Crewman
Katy, Texas; Age: 19

Christine Shields Markoski
Merrick, NY; Age: 39

Dawn Meehan
English Professor
South Jordan, Utah; Age: 41

Edna Ma
Los Angeles, Calif.; Age: 35

Elyse Umemoto
Dance Team Manager
Las Vegas, Nev.; Age: 27

Jim Rice
Medical Marijuana Dispenser
Denver, Colo.; Age: 35

John Cochran
Harvard Law Student
Washington, D.C..; Age: 24

Keith Tollefson
Water Treatment Tech
San Diego, Calif.; Age:26

Mark-Anthony Caruso
Retired NYPD Detective
Forest Hills, NY; Age: 48

Mikayla Wingle
Lingerie Football Player
Tampa, Fla.; Age: 22

Rick Nelson
Aurora, Utah; Age: 51

Semhar Tadesse
Spoken Work Artist
Los Angeles, Calif; Age: 24

Sophie Clarke
Medical Student
Willsboro, NY; Age: 22

Stacey Powell
Grand Prairie, Texas; Age: 44

Whitney Duncan
Country Music Singer
Nashville, Tenn.; Age: 27