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RealTime IT News

The Super Bowl of Soap

More than 30 gazillion addicts will be offline on Wednesday with eyeballs stitched to CBS' Survivor finale. With just four lucky contestants remaining, the late night soap plans to sign off with a bang. Air-brushed onto a tropical island in the South China Sea, the show's original cast of 16 has at times shown absurd ignorance and wicked back-stabbing that makes Silicon Valley look like summer camp. With Wall Street still fresh from delivering the Internet's most violent shakeout to date, Survivor's very premise has struck a meaningful chord amongst techies.

Who'll get booted off the island next? - is fast becoming the adopted euphemism for dot-com start-ups and their army of worker-bees. So, who better to speculate on who has what it takes to claim that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow than a cast of risk-takers panning for Net gold? Antigua-based gambling Web sites have even started taking bets on the remaining castaways with Rudy Boesch the odds-on favorite to walk away a millionaire.

The Sentimental Favorite

The 72-year-old former Navy SEAL narrowly escaped elimination in the early rounds. Rudy's tell-it-like-it-is attitude that nearly sent him packing is what ultimately kept him in the game and made him a runaway favorite with viewers. Older colleagues of mine started complaining bitterly when the seniors appeared to be systematically poached one-by-one in the early goings. But, sunburned Rudy outsmarted the young bucks, and whatever the outcome, the grandfatherly crabapple will have had the last laugh.

My gut instinct tells me two things. Since Rudy plainly told Rich he would break his stems if he were double-crossed by the alliance, that implies a toss-up between the two. No one has stayed under the jury pool's radar better than Rudy, which seems to leave him an inside track at the feel-good story of the year. :-)

Just Keeps on Truckin'

I enjoy the spice that Sue brings as the self-proclaimed redneck-playing-possum. She made a deal with Rich early on, and hasn't looked back since. Despite giving some serious consideration to a double-crossing coup, it looks like she's content to hold out hope for a nod from Rich to join him at the finish line. With a snowball's chance opposite Rudy, there's a strong likelihood that Rich chooses the next least palatable candidate to join him as he stands before the jury.

A Deal With the Devil

What can I say about Kelly? Except that we share the same name, and that she can't row a canoe for squat. The girl with the tongue ring certainly runs away with the "Nine Lives" award. I'm as shocked and indifferent about her as the rest of you; but, if she got this far, one final strange twist of events could easily find her in the winner's circle. Bottom line - if it's between her and anyone else on the island, the Pagong jury will undoubtedly put her in a new tax bracket.

The One You Love to Hate

Of the four jockeying to extend their fifteen minutes of fame, the comeback-of-the-year award has to go to Richard Hatch. Sure, he's downright obnoxious, but who didn't pencil the whiney corporate trainer's name in to get kicked to the curb during the debut episode? He also gets the nod for the don't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover award. After shedding some 80 pounds under 100-plus degree heat, the 39-year-old Rich showed he was pretty nifty with a spear and a pair of fins. But along with pulling his weight, he's also masterminded one of the most ruthless and sneakiest displays of office-island politics most have ever laid eyes on.

He'd definitely go far at any number of Web start-ups, but there's no chance in Hades that an angry jury of his peers will let him near that brass ring. My colleagues tell me that if Rich wins it all, it would be like the bad guy winning. Call him what you will,