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Canuck Survivor stalled by ‘rights’ issue

<p>Ian McKenzie is the B.C. native who’s been trying for almost two years to get on one of the incarnations of Survivor.</p>


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Survivor host Jeff Probst says “We can’t take a Canadian on, because Canada could do its own show.”



SURVIVOR: FROBISHER BAY: Ian McKenzie is the B.C. native who’s been trying for almost two years to get on one of the incarnations of Survivor.


His ambition — not exactly a leviathan thing, but hey, he’s only 25 — has turned into a website (letmeonsurvivor.com) and a vocation of sorts, and while the series has been to Panama, Guatemala, Palau and the Cook Islands while he’s been on his quest, Ian has remained in Vancouver, trying to figure out just what Jeff Probst has got against him.


Until now, apparently. Yesterday, Ian sent out a press release revealing the obstacle standing in the way of seeing a sweaty, dirty, sunburned and emaciated Canadian squatting in some squalid piece of jungle, explaining just why they’re going to still be there when every other manky, greasy contestant is gone. In a phrase: “television rights.”


“We don’t have the rights to take people from other countries,” McKenzie quoted Survivor host Jeff Probst telling a radio interviewer on Loveline. “They can sell the show to Canada but we can’t take a Canadian on, because Canada could do its own show.”


“Just as we have (inexplicably) acquired homegrown versions of American Idol and America’s Next Top Model,” said McKenzie, “the first step for a Canadian Survivor is for a television network to purchase rights to the show ... I’m looking at you CanWest Global.”


Let’s give Ian props for a second — it’s not a bad idea. While I regard Canadian Idol as a form of torture — death by Great Big Sea covers — and have yet to be convinced by Canada’s Next Top Model, there’s no reason why a Canadian edition of Survivor couldn’t be a hit, and perhaps even fulfil its real reason to exist: foreign sales.


Say what you will about this country, it isn’t lacking in brutal, inhospitable environments. From the sodden forests of B.C. to the flyblown, treeless tundra to the leafy desolation of Labrador, there’s no shortage of picturesque yet utterly unforgiving nature. It might be glorious to some vocal minority, the spiritual essence of this country, but I’ve got to be frank — this country’s vast, glorious wilderness scares the crap out of me.


Once you get away from the densely populated fringe of the map that borders our American neighbour, and the handful of isolated outposts of civilization, there’s no shortage of places where a dozen or so luckless fame junkies could get scrofulous and insect-bitten for the cameras. Two weeks of crotch-rotting dampness in the B.C. interior, or under the looming sky on the treeless tundra would strip away any residual Canadian “politeness” in no time.


And hey — it’s not like Jeff Probst has ever hosted Survivor: North Dakota or Survivor: Everglades. A Canadian Survivor could truck its victims to any lice-ridden tropical craphole in the world. I’m with you, Ian — time to pull out your finger, CanWest.



rick.mcginnis@metronews.ca