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The envy. The rancor. The cutthroats.

SPOILER ALERT: This story is about people who claim special knowledge about CBS's highly anticipated "Survivor: All-Stars." So expect the following passages to offer lots of "spoiler" information on what may happen. For those afraid to learn too much, this is your only warning.

She has heard all the rumors: talk of three-way romances, long-held rivalries and so much bitter anger that those who once loved the game vowed they would never play it again.

Still, ask first-grade teacher Jan Gentry if she wishes Survivor mastermind Mark Burnett had called her to participate in the show's All-Star edition, and her answer comes, like so many of her comments, honestly and without a moment's hesitation.

"I'm bummed out. . . . All of us are bummed out," said Gentry, 55, the Tampa resident whose bubbly good nature and girlish pigtails won a legion of fans during her stint on Survivor: Thailand just over a year ago. "Some of the others had gotten calls saying, "You're going to be considered,' so they were more disappointed than me."

Turns out, Burnett picked just one castaway from the Thailand edition: cantankerous New York executive recruiter Shii Ann "Shii Devil" Huang, the seventh person booted from the game _ ejected so early, she didn't make the jury of rejects that picks the winner.

Indeed, Gentry said Thailand's $1-million winner, onetime soft-core porn actor Brian Heidik, wasn't even asked to consider joining this game.

She should know. Because Survivor alums often work the same circuit of charity events and speaking engagements, Gentry regularly trades e-mails and phone calls with a host of ex-contestants, special friends who understand the peculiar nature of reality TV fame.

Gentry said Heidik wasn't the only former castaway who mistakenly thought he was among the 18 chosen ones headed to Panama's Pearl Islands late last year.

Brash New York teacher Sean Rector (Marquesas), Navy swim instructor Helen Glover (Thailand) and even Michael Skupin, whose fall into a campfire and severely burned hands provided the most dramatic footage of the Australian Outback edition, thought they might be tapped to try again.

Instead, Burnett built a crew heavy on Outback survivors (five in all, including winner Tina Wesson), light on people of color (no black men and neither of the two minorities who have won the $1-million prize) and thick with the sort of pushy, Type A personalities who fed past series' golden moments.

"(We went for the) most memorable people," Survivor host Jeff Probst told reporters last month. "The reason Brian isn't there, is you've already got (a super-manipulative champ) in Richard Hatch," Probst said. "A lot of people asked, "Why Shii Ann?' (But you're) going to your producers and saying "Who drove the drama?' _ not necessarily who won the show."

(Burnett claimed he chose the final lineup from a list of 24 names he jotted down on a yellow legal pad in a burst of inspiration. But he also told reporters he "hadn't even thought about" whether there would be another Survivor edition, a shrewd negotiating move that prompted CBS to seal a handshake agreement for two more editions minutes later.)

Gentry said Heidik was "very upset" when he realized he wasn't even considered, a disappointment she shared for a while. Then, one castaway who did compete told Glover the contest was so cutthroat that both women should be glad they never got involved.

"I don't want to ruin what I experienced. . . . I don't want to be bitter or mean," said Gentry, who still teaches at McKitrick Elementary in Lutz and would have felt obligated to provide a good example for her students. "Everyone who is doing the show now is still kind of looking to be discovered. Probably the older people do it for the competition . . . to see if they can still hang. But I think a lot of people did it to get back in the spotlight."

Burnett and Probst contend that the All-Star edition is more grueling than any previous version, segregating participants into three teams and depositing them on three islands off Panama's Pacific coast.

In an excerpt provided to critics of tonight's debut episode, an armed force wearing Panama's flag escorts three boats to separate islands, where members of the Chapera, Saboga and Mogo Mogo tribes are given a machete, a cooking bowl and access to contaminated water. The bickering and plotting starts immediately, as tribe members struggle to create fire, build shelter and avoid looking at original Survivor winner Richard Hatch, who often insists on walking around naked.

"We're such morons," said Amazon winner Jenna Morasca. "We left everything we love to come here and starve."

Perhaps because this version's participants know each other and are known by the world (or because CBS wants to stoke interest in its 3{-year-old reality franchise), the Internet is thick with revelations about the action, known as "spoilers" to hard-core fans.

Well-practiced in the art of sidestepping questions, producers refused to offer any big revelations. Yes, the teams compete for immunity during challenges, and the last-place team must eject a member. Yes, there was romance (no word on the rumor they left behind a bag of condoms, though). Yes, even though they have two more contestants than usual, filming wrapped in the usual 39 days.

Brandishing a cocky, macho attitude that echoes Burnett's approach to life and television, Probst grasped for some perspective: "Colby (Donaldson, Outback alum and the host's close pal) said . . . it's that feeling of when you dated somebody and God, it really wasn't all that great. But somehow, over time, it seemed better. Then you see them again and remember how lousy it was.

"There's no excuses this time," Probst said. "The "under the radar' thing? Don't bitch about it. (Someone) is too likable? Get rid of them. Whoever wins this game, they beat (who) we consider 17 of the best people to ever play this game. And I'm sure they'll take bragging rights for life."

For months, fans have debated the validity of a host of spoilers, including information from a guy with the online handle TheChillOne, a man who claims to know the final seven people in the game, based on a trip to the islands just after filming completed.

Offline, ChillOne is Boston software analyst Bill Marson, who got into the Survivor spoiling business after visiting the set of Amazon and correctly predicting the final four before the show began airing.

This time, he spent two days rooting around the Pearl Islands, questioning locals who worked with the production or knew people who worked with the production (in speaking about the All-Star Survivor, he uses an acronym that's unprintable in a family newspaper).

His predictions: that Outback alum Amber Brkich and Marquesas' Rob Mariano are the final two; that original Survivor Jenna Lewis and Pearl Islands alum Rupert Boneham round out the final four; that Amazon winner Morasca leaves early because of an illness in her family; and that Africa winner Ethan Zohn is eliminated early, perhaps first.

"People think I'm going out and ruining the show, but there's no difference between me and (ESPN anchor) Chris Berman talking to 100 coaches to give the prediction that New England will win the Super Bowl," said Marson, who admits he doesn't know if his information is accurate (though he is using publicity from it to highlight a print-on-demand book he wrote about the Amazon experience).

With Survivor in its eighth incarnation, there's little doubt spoilers can lend a new dimension for longtime viewers.

"A lot of the game dynamics don't come along with this information, so it's still a revelation how or why everything turns out the way it does," Marson said. "I'm just one of many people who have enjoyed trying to bring the show to another level."

San Francisco-area software writer Tim Gilman posted the list of All-Star participants two months before CBS released the names, noting the three tribes and their location in the islands. Since then, he has reported the final two will be male and female, among other details.

Like Marson, much of Gilman's information comes from people who know people working on the production (fearing disinformation or a huge lawsuit from CBS, he wouldn't trust information coming from an employee of the production, he said).

"In the first Survivor, they were unaware of the cameras and the fame. . . . Now I'm not sure if they're playing for the game or for the notoriety and attention," said Gilman, who expects past winners to fare badly and former losers to take their revenge. "A lot of them already have careers based around Survivor . . . so there's lots of reasons for doing this."

Gentry, who theorizes Burnett didn't pick her because she was too nice and even-tempered, eagerly anticipates seeing all the friendships and animosities that have developed among Survivor alums play out during the All-Star show.

"This time, because so many fans have people they know and like from past shows, it makes the contest even more real for them . . . much more personal," said Gentry, who expects the All-Star shows to draw a sizable viewership. "It's all about controversy and spontaneous escalations (of anger). I can't wait."

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