CBS's still-popular "Survivor" reality program launches its sixth edition this week, featuring a gender twist on its usual format and two contestants from the Washington, D.C., area.

"Survivor: The Amazon" debuts Thursday at 8 p.m. with a 90-minute opener set in South America.

This edition of the forerunner of contemporary "reality" shows will divide the 16 contestants into two tribes, one all-male, the other female.

The premise remains the same: Each week one of the contestants will be voted off the show. Last person left wins a cash prize.

Two local men will team up, up to a point, in the competition. Matthew Von Ertfelda from Washington and Ryan Aiken from Ellicott City, Md., will be part of the men's Tambaqui tribe.

The women will form the Jaburu group.

As always, Jeff Probst will be on hand to set up various contests of physical derring-do and to count the votes.

After this week's 90-minute introduction, the series will air for 60 minutes Thursday nights at 8.

Thumbnail Sketches of the Area's Contestants

Ryan Aiken is an avid sports hobbyist. Among his favorites he lists lacrosse, swimming and wrestling.

The Ellicott City actor used to be overweight and says he still enjoys eating pizza. But he adds that he has taken responsibility for his health and physical well-being.

Aiken brought along a baseball and bat to the Amazon as his luxury items.

His 24th birthday coincides with the premiere episode of the new season.

The basics:

NAME: Ryan Aiken

AGE: 23

BIRTHDAY: Feb. 13

MARITAL STATUS: Single

OCCUPATION: Model and actor

FUN FACT: He appeared in the television show "Young Americans" in 2000.

IF HE WINS: He wants to buy a house.

PET: A dog, Pudgey

He's lived in Hong Kong and Paris, trekked through the jungles of Panama, Colombia and New Guinea and went diving for sunken treasure in the Northern Mariana Islands.

Matthew Von Ertfelda also is an accomplished cook, having earned a culinary diploma and served as a chef's apprentice in Europe.

Last year he was voted one of People Magazine's top 50 bachelors.

The basics:

NAME: Matthew Von Ertfelda

AGE: 33

BIRTHDAY: July 24

MARITAL STATUS: Single

OCCUPATION: Restaurant designer

FUN FACT: He studied Mandarin Chinese.

IF HE WINS: He will buy a bottle of 1929 Chateau d'Yquem to share with close members of his family and friends.

PET: A fish called Reggie