Expect Racial Tensions to Rise on Survivor: Cook Islands

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As popular as Survivor has been over the years, the reality show has always suffered from one criticism: a lack of diversity.

That shouldn't exactly be a problem on the latest edition, Survivor: Cook Islands. Contestants will be divided by ethnicity. When it premieres September 14, the latest version of the CBS hit will feature 20 castaways divided into four tribes: black, white, Asian and Latino.

Jeff Probst Pic

"We're going to take some heat for it," says creator and executive producer Mark Burnett of the twist, which was announced Wednesday morning. "But it's a great cast."

Host Jeff Probst is certainly on board (although he's paid to be)

"Some people will think this is controversial. Others will think, 'What's the big deal?'" Probst told People. "Either way, it's going to be very interesting."

True. Of course, the performance of Kevin Federline was also "interesting."

Along with the usual real estate agents and struggling actors, the cast of characters competing for the $1 million purse this time around includes a heavy-metal guitarist, a female police officer who has been shot in the line of duty, a Vietnam War refugee who manages a nail salon and a gay fashion director for a denim company.

Only two of the Survivor's 12 winners so far have been minorities. As a result, Burnett says the show "has taken a lot of flack."

But Probst says the main reason for the Emmy-winning show's largely white complexion was a dearth of minority applicants.

"Most of the people who apply are white," he says. "That's just a fact."

ill this experiment pay off? It will certainly garner even more ratings for television's top reality show. Call us crazy, but CBS may have been planning on that, as well, with this idea.

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First of all, I've never seen a single episode of Survivor (no, really). But since this racial division thing has been all over the blogosphere today and I can't avoid it, I'd just like to ask why it's such a big deal to divide races into separate tribes? Do the tribes compete against each other or is it the individuals within the tribe that compete? I mean, will it matter that they're divided by race??