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Image: New Survivor castaways
Monty Brinton  /  AP
The new castaways who will compete when "Survivor: Cook Islands" premieres on Sept. 14 are (back row from left) Cecilia Mansilla, Oscar Lusth, Cristina Coria, J.P. Calderon, Billy Garcia, Rebecca Borman, Nathan Gonzalez, Sundra Oakley, Sekou Bunch and Stephannie Favor, (front row from left) Adam Gentry, Jessica Smith, Parvati Shallow, Candice Woodcock, Jonathan Penner, Brad Virata, Becky Lee, Anh-Tuan Bui, Jenny Guzon-Bae and Yul Kwon.
updated 8/23/2006 4:45:09 PM ET 2006-08-23T20:45:09

The new season of “Survivor” will be a race among races.

At the start of the reality show’s 13th edition, “Survivor: Cook Islands,” 20 contestants will be organized into four tribes divided along ethnic lines — black, white, Hispanic and Asian, CBS announced Wednesday.

The tribes, as usual, will merge later in the season, which debuts Sept. 14, the network said.

Jeff Probst, host of the show, said the network was worried the racial divide might offend viewers.

“It’s very risky because you’re bringing up a topic that is a hot button,” Probst told asap, The Associated Press service for younger readers. “There’s a history of segregation you can’t ignore. It is part of our history.”

“For that, it’s much safer to say, ‘No, let’s just stick with things the way they are. Let’s don’t be the network to rock the boat. Let’s not have “Survivor” try something new,”’ he said. “But the biases from home can’t affect you. This is an equal opportunity game.”

Probst said he and the “Survivor” producers wanted to bring more ethnic diversity to the competition.

“The truth is 80 percent of the people that apply are white,” he said. “And television, in general, is white. So all these criticisms were valid.”

On each episode of “Survivor: Cook Islands,” at least one cast member will be sent to a separate island miles away from camp, where an immunity idol will be hidden. If found, this immunity idol could save a contestant from being voted off the show.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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