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‘Survivor’ thrives with more tribes

Skein will feature groups divided by age and gender

The locale may look a tad familiar, but the twist behind the next edition of “Survivor” is all new.

Exec producer Mark Burnett and his team once again traveled to Panama for the 12th edition of the hit CBS reality skein, but they dreamed up a new wrinkle as yet another round of contestants scheme, lie and backstab to win the $1 million prize.

“Survivor: Panama — Exile Island,” which launches Feb. 2 at 8 p.m., will kick off for the first time with four tribes, divided by age and gender.

The show’s older men, older women, younger men and younger women will go toe-to-toe for at least the first week of the competish. The four tribes then will reform into two in the second episode.

In the edition’s other spin, one castaway each week will be banished alone to a separate island, where they’ll have a shot at actually prolonging their stay on the show by finding a hidden “immunity idol.”

This edition’s round of contestants, which CBS will announce Monday, include several players who have already seen their fair share of the public spotlight. Southern California is also well represented, with five contestants hailing from the region. Castaways include retired astronaut Dan Barry, who flew on three Space Shuttle missions, including the first to dock with the Intl. Space Station.

There’s also North Carolina native Austin Carty, who has appeared on the WB’s “One Tree Hill” and ABC Family’s “Switched” and wrote the book “Somewhere Beyond Here.” Another player, Tina Scheer, is a logging sports promoter and performer who has been featured in magazines such as Sports Illustrated.

Other contestants include a retired Navy fighter pilot, a registered nurse, a yoga instructor, a performance artist, a singer, a social worker and a high school art teacher.

“Survivor” previously traveled to Panama for seasons seven (“Pearl Islands”) and eight (“All-Stars”).

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