Thursday, May 10, 2001
New York The producer of "Survivor: The Australian Outback" has admitted to staging scenes with stand-ins for the show's contestants.
Executive producer Mark Burnett readily admitted to employing the cinematic technique of the "pickup shot" to capture wide-angle views after the fact, when the scene is uncluttered by close-up camera crews shooting the actual contests.
As an example, Burnett explained that a river-swimming race was later re-staged with "body doubles" so that a helicopter crew could shoot uncluttered aerial shots.
Burnett made his comments Monday at a panel on "reality television" at the Museum of Television & Radio in New York.
The "Survivor" competition took place over 42 days in northeast Australia last fall.
While use of staged scenes, even as brief inserts, may give ammunition to critics who argue that "Survivor" is less than reality TV, Burnett said the technique was merely cosmetic and denied it had any impact on the outcome of the games themselves.
"I couldn't care less ï¿½ I'm making great television," he told The New York Times.
CBS, which scored huge ratings for the 14-week series that concluded last week, apparently agrees. Network spokesman Chris Ender called Burnett's technique "nothing more than window dressing."