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Survivor Goes Back to the Well Again, Casting Villain Russell’s Nephew

Survivor threepeater Russell Hantz.

As it has aged, CBS’s Survivor has come to rely more and more on recycling memorable players from its storied history rather than betting solely on the cleverness of L.A.'s dwindling supply of unmined bartenders. (Case in point: Über-villain Russell Hantz’s three appearances in the last four seasons.) And it looks like they'll continue that practice in this fall's season 23: According to a leak by the usually reliable Survivor Sucks website, the show has once again recruited two old favorites as ringers, Benjamin "Coach" Wade and Ozzy Lusth, both in for their third times. But there will be a third familiar name on the show … or, at least, surname: Brandon Hantz, Russell's 19-year-old nephew, will be playing this season.

Though the show's eligibility requirements still prohibit any ex-contestant's "immediate family" from playing, apparently skipping one branch of the family tree to the left is just fine. On EW.com, Jeff Probst says that Brandon is "the opposite of Russell … a little rough around the edges, but well mannered,” but we’re giving him two episodes' worth of screen time before he’s digging for idols all over and losing count of his alliances. CBS must be banking that a Machiavellian, if not megalomaniacal, streak runs in the family.

Also among the first-time players is country music star Whitney Duncan. Though she's new to Survivor, she has reality-TV experience of a different kind under her giant belt buckle, as a contestant on the fifth season of Nashville Star.

Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images