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Reality TV a Little Too Real

Aired March 2, 2001 - 4:31 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: On other showbiz news of the day, Laurin Sydney joins us now from New York -- Laurin.

LAURIN SYDNEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Joie, and good afternoon, everybody.

Reality TV got a little too real for one "Survivor" contestant on last night's episode, although it didn't seem to bother viewers. Overnight ratings show about 31 million people tuned in to see Michael Skupin get burned by a fire. That's the biggest audience since the show's first episode after the Super Bowl.

Skupin had to be evacuated from the show's remote Australian location after passing out from smoke, falling into a fire, and severely burning his hands. He was the first "Survivor" contestant to leave the game without getting voted out.

Skupin and executive producer Mark Burnett told "Showbiz Today Reports" that there was video of the accident that could not be shown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL SKUPIN, "SURVIVOR" CONTESTANT: CBS and "Survivor" -- very classy portrayal of that scene, because it was very unedited. It was very much worse than what they showed, and they did that because, you know, children are watching the show.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK BURNETT, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: And we didn't show those terribly burned hands more than once, and there was no reason to. I thought that the anguish on the face of these tread mates showed everything, and that was the way to do a good story-selling, not to be gratuitous and focusing on the burns and blisters. That would have been sick.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYDNEY: Here, here.

And for those keeping track, next week the two tribes merge with five members from each team. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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