`SURVIVOR' producer admits to re-enactments

Wednesday, May 9th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ 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 _ 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.''