Wade on Birmingham

EXCLUSIVE: Alabamians to compete on ‘Survivor’


Survivor Tocantins - Debra Beebe - James Thomas Jr.

Auburn principal and Samson cattle farmer battle in Brazil for 18th season

CBS’ warhorse reality competition “Survivor” has reached its 10th year on the air. And yours truly has recapped two of those glorious 17 seasons, starting back in 2002. Well, guess what? Four weeks from tonight, we’re going to do it again.

Yes, not one but two Alabama contestants will battle for the $1 million grand prize in “Survivor: Tocantins – The Brazilian Highlands.” Debra Beebe, a middle school principal from Auburn, and James Thomas, Jr., a cattle rancher from Samson, are part of the 16-member cast for the 18th season.

Meet the pair, and see their intro videos, after the jump …

Debra, or Debbie, has served as principal of J.F. Drake Middle School for 10 years, having won National Association of Secondary School Principals’ 2007 State Principal of the Year for Alabama middle schools. The 46-year-old wife and mother of five is starting out on the Timbira tribe.

In her intro video, Debra says “I think I have a huge advantage because I’m a middle school principal. I have 908 sixth and seventh graders. I deal with a diverse group on a daily basis.”

Competing against her on the Jalapao tribe is James, or J.T., who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. The 24-year-old Mobile resident operates a cattle ranch, including working the land and marketing.

But he almost gave in too soon: “I actually thought about leaving when I got there, because seeing so many people, I was like, ‘Why would they pick me out of all these people?’ But I’m already here, I’ve already filled out the application, let’s just do it and get it over with.”

He has more in his intro video …

The last Alabamian to compete on the show was Bobby Jon Drinkard of Troy, who returned for a second chance shot on “Survivor: Guatemala” in 2005, finishing ninth. He currently serves as host for “On the Job” for Alabama Public Television.

The latest season, filmed last fall, will air at 7 p.m. Thursdays on CBS 42, starting Feb. 12. We’ll have recaps and features following Debra and James throughout the competition.

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Back up for grabs … more “Survivor: Tocantins” at survivor.wadeonbirmingham.com.

2 Yips for “EXCLUSIVE: Alabamians to compete on ‘Survivor’”

  1. Jen
    Friday, January 16, 2009, 8:59 am

    I don’t know if she’ll win, but I bet she loses her principal job.

  2. Wade
    Friday, January 16, 2009, 11:07 am

    As with many contestants, she had to fib to get the time off (I believe she said she had to do physical rehab). So there’s strike 1.

    It really depends on the edit, doesn’t it? But if Propst (secret family, ineligible players, academic shenanigans) can get another job, who can’t??

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