Lots of ordinary people dream of being on TV, and thanks to Survivor—the 11-year-old CBS reality show that strands ordinary people on a tropical island and reliably draws out savage behavior in all of them—most people actually have a shot at it.
Chris Ellison, however, does not. And he’s pissed.
The 44-year-old Ellison seems just the sort of guy central casting would kill for. He’s an M.A.-level social worker, an auxiliary police officer, a scuba diver, an outdoorsman who’s confronted grizzly bears and he’s got a black belt in three martial arts. But Ellison is also a Canadian, which means CBS won’t consider his application. “Three million Canadians watch this show,” Ellison told us, “but after all these years, they still don’t allow Canadians on.”
We checked this out, and, sure enough, it looks like the man’s right. Nestled in the nine pages of fine print for Survivor’s casting call (all applicants must submit a minute-long video explaining why they believe they’re worthy of being banished to a hellish jungle with the cameras rolling) is this little ditty in subsection 2: “This Contest is void outside of the fifty (50) U.S. [states]…” Translation: Non-Yankees, no island for you.
In true Survivor-like fashion, Ellison has massed his troops for a fight. His Web site features his application video (which, by the way, recently ranked 13th among U.S. viewers), plus the sort of resumé one presumably needs for a show like this: lots of pics of Ellison in action, including a shirtless shot. (C’mon, CBS, you’d even get beefcake out of it!) Canadians have rallied behind their local boy who’s been racking up radio and newspaper interviews across the country. “I’m what they’re looking for, and I’d be great for ratings,” Ellison said. And—not for nothing—he added, “Some people have been saying that if there’s no Canadian on [the show], Canadians will just stop watching.”
We have a couple of e-mails in to CBS Tribal Council about this. Stay tuned.
The latest season of Survivor, No. 22, premieres this Wednesday at 8 p.m.