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Will 'Survivor' survive COVID-19 impact to produce a season 41?

Posted 5/13/20

By Kevin McDonough

Apparently, you can't outwit or outlast a virus. A winner emerges and receives a $2 million prize on the 40th season finale of "Survivor" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG). But production on the 41st season of the durable reality …

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Will 'Survivor' survive COVID-19 impact to produce a season 41?

Posted

By Kevin McDonough

Apparently, you can't outwit or outlast a virus. A winner emerges and receives a $2 million prize on the 40th season finale of "Survivor" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG). But production on the 41st season of the durable reality distraction appears to be on hiatus.

CBS delayed production of the new installment way back in March. Back then, they were planning to resume work in May. But that deadline has clearly come and gone.

Executives put safety first, not only for the usual band of knuckleheads who appear on screen, but for the more than 400 crew members who come from more than 20 different countries, each affected by the virus.

Series like "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race" are as difficult to produce as major sporting events. But they don't involve stadiums filled with tens of thousands of fans. The NFL, TV's highest-rated spectacle, has released its fall schedule. Is that a sign of a return to normalcy? Or wishful thinking?

There have been reports of baseball games returning to Taiwan. But games are played before empty seats filled with cardboard cutout "fans" and raucous robots. Is that a sporting event or a "Black Mirror" episode?

• In the absence of games, fans may turn to sports dramas. A young man (Sean Astin) overcomes challenges to play on the Notre Dame football team in the 1993 feel-good sports drama "Rudy" (8:30 p.m., Showcase).

An ESPN poll ranked this movie among the 25 best sports movies of recent years, and the American Film Institute lists it among the 100 most inspiring films of all time. Its production marked only the second time Notre Dame University allowed a film to be made on campus. The first was "Knute Rockne, All American," the film where Ronald Reagan played "The Gipper."

The same ESPN poll that cited "Rudy" ranked the 1986 basketball drama "Hoosiers" as the best sports film of all time. That film was created by Angelo Pizzo, who wrote the script for "Rudy."

Of the AFI's list of the 100 most inspiring movies, many are sports films, including "Rocky" (No. 4); "Breaking Away" (8); "Hoosiers" (13); "The Pride of the Yankees" (22); "Field of Dreams" (28); "Seabiscuit" (50); "Rudy" (54); "The Black Stallion" (64) and "The Karate Kid" (98).

While cynics may see them as sappy, inspiring sports films are perhaps the only entertainment genre designed to provoke emotions from viewers who otherwise see themselves as all-around tough guys. Growing up, I remember many a hardened coach or gym teacher who admitted to getting a little misty while watching "Brian's Song," a 1971 TV movie that doesn't make this list.

TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

• Bela Abzug (Margot Martindale) runs a major women's conference on "Mrs. America," streaming on Hulu.

• A crawfish boil brings the staff together on "Chicago Med" (8 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).

• Cameras hidden in animatronic critters capture South Pacific natives including the koala, crab and Komodo dragon on "Spy in the Wild: A Nature Miniseries" (8 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings).

• The unit bonds over adversity and learns to distrust Alder on "Motherland: Fort Salem" (9 p.m., Freeform, TV-14).

"NOVA" (9 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings) examines what we know about the COVID-19 virus.

• A murder in Little Bulgaria on "Chicago P.D." (10 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).

• Entrepreneurs share ideas on "Shark Tank" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).

• Laszlo vanishes on "What We Do in the Shadows" (10 p.m., FX, TV-MA).

CULT CHOICE

Director Sam Fuller made a reputation for churning out low-budget Korean War movies and Cold War thrillers including "House of Bamboo" (9:30 p.m., TCM, TV-PG) and "The Steel Helmet" (3 a.m., TCM, TV-14).

SERIES NOTES

Only four remain on "The Masked Singer" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) * Anticipation and anticlimax at prom time on "The Goldbergs" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-14) * Illusionists audition on "Penn & Teller: Fool Us" (8 p.m., CW, r, TV-PG) * Lainey must decide on "Schooled" (8:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) * Severide weighs his options on "Chicago Fire" (9 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14) * Putting life skills to work on "American Housewife" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) * A major reassignment on "Bulletproof" (9 p.m., CW, r, TV-14) * True confessions on "Single Parents" (9:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).

LATE NIGHT

Hugh Laurie and Benjamin Gibbard appear on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" (11:35 p.m., CBS) * Jimmy Fallon welcomes David Spade, Kathryn Hahn and the Killers on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) * Nick Kroll and Glenn Close visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC) * Daisy Edgar-Jones, Paul Mescal and Leslie Odom Jr. appear on "The Late Late Show With James Corden" (12:37 a.m., CBS).

© 2020, United Feature Syndicate