Archive for May, 2010

‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Picks the Best Players of All Time

May 21, 2010

There’s been a lot of talk this season about which players are the best of all time. I have my opinions and you have yours (and I invite you to post your opinions in the comment section below) but nobody has seen more of the game than “Survivor” host, two-time Emmy winner, and owner of several sweet baseball hats, Mr. Jeff Probst.

I had a chance to get Mr. Probst’s thoughts on this sure to be hotly debated topic. What follows are his picks for the five best Survivors to ever wear a buff…

“Boston” Rob Mariano: If I had to choose, Boston Rob is the guy I’d put my money on every-single-time.  He’s a great strategist, great at challenges, can build an amazing shelter, can start fire, and only plays to win.  He’s the only guy that didn’t win but still got the money…and the girl.

Parvati Shallow: Hard to deny her ability.  Parvati is such a good flirt that even when you’re not interested, she can lure you in.  She uses her looks and charm to hide her amazing strategic abilities.

Sandra Diaz-Twine: Her simple strategy of “As long as it ain’t me” is an easy one to understand but very difficult to execute.  There is nobody better than Sandra at staying out of the fray. It’s amazing how she can disappear within a group of people.

Russell Hantz: Russell has some work to do on his social game, but his aggressive style of play, his ability to control others, often through intimidation, and his never-say-die attitude has been impressive to watch.  He’s so strong that I think if Russell plays a third time… he’ll probably be voted out first.

Cirie Fields: She went from a woman who sat on the couch at home watching “Survivor” to being one of the best players to ever play the game.   She uses her charm effortlessly to sway the vote.  She was sent home early in “Heroes Vs. Villains” but that comes with the territory when you’re a threatening player.

What Do You Think? Who are your picks for the best players of all time?

More “Survivor” Fun: Check out my interviews with Russell Hantz, Sandra Diaz-Twine, Parvati Shallow, and Jerri Manthey.

‘Survivor: H.V.V.’ Runner-Up Interview: Russell Hantz

May 20, 2010

Russell Hantz will never win “Survivor” because he has no social game.

Gordon Holmes will never play first base for the St. Louis Cardinals because he can’t hit a major league curveball…or fastball…or change up…

Both of the above statements are true, but you’re not going to see me lobbying Major League Baseball to have them put the ball on a tee.

That’s what drives people crazy about Russell. He’s never wrong, the circumstances and the people around him are wrong. If he can’t win “Survivor” (which for years has been considered a large social experiment) without a social game, then the rules should be changed so what he excels at is rewarded.

I had a chance to chat with the man many consider to be the biggest villain in “Survivor” history to discuss how he’d like to see the game change, which player he thinks might be better than him, and why Sandra burning his hat was different than when Russell burned Jaison’s socks.

Gordon Holmes: Good morning, Mr Hantz.
Russell Hantz:
Hey, how you doing?
Gordon: Good, how are you?
Russell: I’m fine.
Gordon: You’re in a much better mood then when I talked to you after “Survivor: Samoa.”
Russell: Oh, I’m still pissed off now. It might seem like I’m in a better mood, but I’m more awake now.
Gordon: It seems like you’re more at peace with what happened this season as opposed to last season.
Russell: Well, I’m not at peace with Sandra winning. Even Jeff asked me, he said, “What if Parvati had won?” I would have been OK with that. But, like I said at the live show, “There’s a flaw in the system.” And not only do I say that, but America says that. Cause they give me the vote at the end of the day. I lie, cheat, and steal to get to the end of the game. That’s how I play. I play aggressive and America loves it. How many people have such aggressive play as me and get fan favorite at the end of the day?
Gordon: You have back-to-back Player of the Season awards now. Since that award is voted on by the audience, does that mean more to you than the title of Sole Survivor?
Russell: It does to me because it makes my point. Mark Burnett and Jeff? I’m trying to make a point to them.
Gordon: But “Survivor” was designed to be a social game.
Russell: The only reason they said, “You don’t have a social game” is because it’s a weak jury. There’s three criteria on the sign; it’s outwit, outlast, and outplay. And in my opinion, the reason people talk about the social game is they have to give themselves a reason not to vote for me. But they didn’t vote for me because I hurt their feelings, because I kicked you when you were down. And if you can’t deal with it, then you shouldn’t even play the game. What can I do?

Gordon: If you had the opportunity to play this game from scratch, because obviously you can never play “Survivor” again because people will be gunning for you. But if you could go back, and nobody knew who Russell Hantz was, would you pay more attention to the social aspects?
Gordon: No?
Russell: No! I will play the game the same every time. Well, not exactly the same, but I’m going to play aggressive. And how can people say my social game is bad when everyone does what I tell them to do? Even in 19 (“Survivor: Samoa”) I had them all eating out of the palm of my hand. In 20 (“Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains”) I looked at Jerri like I was the mob boss and said “Danielle,” and she voted for her! What is that? Is that a bad social game? No, it was so good that when she got to Ponderosa, (where jury members wait for the next tribal council) that she realized what happened and she got her feelings hurt. You’re dealing with weak people. And hopefully in Season 21, I hope I changed the game for the better, I hope it’s like the first season where they voted for Richard Hatch. I hope that they vote for the person that played the game the hardest.

Gordon: You and Rupert had a fight where you called him “The second coming.”
Gordon: In hindsight, what purpose does something like that serve?
Russell: Everybody asks me, “Would you change something? Why did you do that to Rupert? Why are you that mean?” You know what? America likes the way I play. I play aggressive.  I’m not going to change the way I play for nobody. It serves my purpose. Everybody’s like, “Oh…you need to be nicer. Maybe just push them down. Why do you need to knock them out and then kick them?”
Gordon: (Laughs)
Russell: (Laughs) To be honest, man. In Samoa it was easy. It was easy. It’s almost laughable that Natalie won, that’s a joke. This season was amazing. The people were strategic players. Everybody. Even people that didn’t make the jury. It was tough.

Gordon: Speaking of strong players, Parvati really stepped up.
She competes with me. She is probably better than me, only because there is that social aspect. Now, I hope that I’ve changed that. I didn’t get one vote this year, but I got the Player of the Year vote. But Parvati’s social game is as strong as my strategic game. Her social game is by far the best in the game. She can make things happen socially. I make things happen strategically. When we aligned it was like the dream team. It looked like we fought all the time, but she’d calm me down. I’d be pissed off and she’d be like “Russell, calm down.” I didn’t play two times, I played one time, but I played for 80 days.

Editor’s Note: “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains” was filmed shortly after “Survivor: Samoa.”

Gordon: I was going to ask you that. What kind of toll did that take on you both mentally and physically.
If I had two back-to-back seasons like “Samoa” it would have been easy. But doing “Samoa” then doing “Heroes Vs. Villains” to play with these people that were that strategic, that were that good, I was mentally exhausted. I was whipped. And for me to say I was whipped, it’s pretty amazing. I’m a strong guy, and I don’t think I can get beat down by anybody. I just can’t. I never thought I could. But this game is tough. And hey, I did my best. And I was losing it at the end, I was making bad decisions.
Gordon: It seemed like it was easier for people to get under your skin toward the end, like with the dissension between you and Parvati.
Russell: It looked like I was getting rid of her, and she was getting rid of me, but I was so messed up that it was too my advantage cause she helped me stay in the game.

Gordon: Did working with Parvati make you think that maybe a better social game is a good way to not only get to the end, but to win over the jury?
For sure, but the thing is, and me and you are talking about Parvati right now, but we didn’t win. Sandra did, remember her?
Gordon: Indeed I do. Did you know Sandra was gunning for you?
Russell: I knew she was gunning for me and I kept telling her, “Why are you doing that? Just play with me!” It was weird to me because I wanted to play with her and she didn’t want to play with me. This is a fact, I played twice. And guess what? When I write someone’s name down, they go home. Every time.

Gordon: What’s your relationship with Sandra like now? It seemed like there was some animosity last night.
The game’s over, she’s a wonderful lady. She has a wonderful family, I’ve met them all. It’s a game, we played the game, and it’s over. It’s a tough game and now it’s over. For me it’s over. They can still be pissed at me. I don’t know how Sandra feels toward me, she was after me the whole time. I thought if I brought her there I’d win cause she’s a weak player…which she was. Same thing happened in season 19. Maybe I’ll never win.

Gordon: During “Survivor: Samoa” you mentioned a few times how you wanted to square off against the best players in “Survivor” history.
I know who the best players are because I played with them, we’re on the same (expletive deleted) tribe. I don’t know if I can say that.
Gordon: Say whatever you want. Go crazy.
Russell: And that’s rough. It was just me and Parvati against the world. Trust me when I say I didn’t think I could do anything.
Gordon: You had your back to the wall, down three to six against the Boston Rob alliance.
Russell: At one point I said to her, “I don’t think I can save you.” That’s when I made the move to Tyson to save her. But then I gave her an idol to save her. And people ask if I had a romantic fling with her, and no I didn’t. I was trying to save my alliance. I’m trying to save my people. I don’t care if it’s…James or Randy, I have to save my people. In Season 19 I brought Foa Foa to the finals; me, Mick, and Natalie.

Gordon: If someone had gotten the best of you and sent you to the jury, would you be able to vote for them to win the million?
I’m the kind of guy, you can stab me in the back, and in the end I’m going to vote for you.

Gordon: I’m excited, we didn’t get to do word association last time because we were under a bit of a time crunch. So, let’s start with Parvati.
She’s charming.
Gordon: Jerri?
Russell: Jerri was trustworthy out there.
Gordon: Colby?
Russell: Colby is a baby.
Gordon: Rupert?
Russell: Rupert is crazy.
Gordon: Coach?
Russell: Coach is honorable, and he really is.
Gordon: Tyson?
Russell: Tyson is just a jokester.
Gordon: Courtney?
Russell: Courtney is a sweetie. She’s just amazing. She’s a sweet little girl.
Gordon: JT?
Russell: JT… (Laughs) Like I like to call it, my dumb-a– girl alliance.
Gordon: Sandra?
Russell: Sandra was weak.
Gordon: Boston Rob?
Russell: A hell of a player.

Gordon: Do you appreciate the irony of Sandra burning your hat in light of what you did to Jaison’s socks?
That was pretty…uh…you see the thing is when you look at it Russell burned Jaison’s socks and now Sandra is burning Russell’s hat. But I burned Jaison’s socks as a strategic play because I knew if I could control the way he felt I could control the way he thought. Well, she burned my hat when the game was over. It was just me, her, and Parvati going to the finals. The game was over. That only shows me that she’s a vindictive person.
Gordon: Have you spoken to Jaison recently?
Russell: Aw no…Jaison’s pissed.
Gordon: Still?
Russell: I need to get some Fruit of the Loom sponsors to send him a box of socks or something. But who’s Jaison really? Jaison?

More “Survivor” Fun: Check out my interviews with Sandra Diaz-Twine, Parvati Shallow, and Jerri Manthey.

‘Survivor H.V.V.’ Castaway Interview: Jerri Manthey

May 19, 2010

One of the things that has kept “Survivor” relevant over its decade-long run is the way it has evolved over the years. And not only because of obvious additions such as Exile Island, hidden immunity idols, and surprise tribe swaps, but the mindset of the players has changed too.

In 2001, Jerri Manthey was considered the biggest villain in “Survivor: The Australian Outback.” Why? Because she was opinionated and abrasive.

In 2010, Russell Hantz was considered the biggest villain in the past two seasons of “Survivor.” Why? Because he’s an arrogant, foul-mouthed bulldozer whose scorched Earth policy resulted in a livid jury that was more likely to beat him to death with their torches rather than reward him with a million dollars. Heck, classic Jerri was a broken nail compared to the severed limb that was Russell.

But to dismiss Jerri as the lesser of two evils is to do her a great disservice. The Jerri we saw in Samoa was smart, personable, confident, and surprisingly likable. A far cry from the naïve youngster that prowled the Australian Outback.

I spoke with villain-turned-favorite Jerri Manthey the morning after the “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains” finale to discuss not only the evolution of a popular reality competition, but the evolution of a person…

Gordon Holmes: This may sound crazy, but it seems like you had a character arc over your three seasons of “Survivor.” To see you go from someone that America hated in “Survivor: Australia” to someone not dealing well with America’s hatred in “Survivor: All-Stars” to a woman who seems very comfortable with who she is and how people feel about her in “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains” was fascinating.
Jerri Manthey:
(Laughs) You know, I feel like “Survivor” has helped me become a more evolved person. And that’s a very strange thing to say about a reality show! But, I had a very rare opportunity to grow over the past ten years in front of millions of people. “Survivor” taught me so much about myself. I knew the first time that one of my biggest downfalls was I had a lack of patience. I’m a very competitive person, and watching myself the first time I realized that I can be very abrasive to other people. And I didn’t care. I was in it for an adventure and to win. And the harsh reaction I got really turned me off. But it forced me to look at myself in a different way. So I wanted “All-Stars” to be my redemption story, and that really blew up in my face. People were just not ready to accept that I was a different person. So this time out I didn’t care what people thought about me. I’ve grown into my own skin and I’m a much more patient person.

Gordon: Being a three-timer, did you have a specific strategy going in, or were you playing it by ear?
I picked the strategy that I thought was the most powerful and the most difficult, which is to position yourself as the swing vote. I stepped outside of the drama and didn’t instigate conflict. Just watching as it occurred, and knowing that at some point there would be an explosion and I’d be standing there ready to pick up the pieces that worked for me. And it worked. I feel like I played the game perfectly, I wouldn’t change a single thing. The only thing I would have changed was winning that last immunity challenge. I was so close!
Gordon: You were ridiculously close. That was a great finish.
Jerri: I remember how I felt going into that. I thought how is this going to work? It just seemed so impossible. But one by one I started finding the necklaces. And I knew I was close because I could hear Parvati and Russell right beside me. And I felt the immunity necklace as it was tumbling through the air and into Russell’s hands. And I have to say I’ve had reoccurring nightmares about that moment.
Gordon: If you catch that necklace, do you win the million?
Jerri: Oh yes. I knew if I could have made it to the final three I would have won. I somehow managed to get through this entire game without making one single person mad at me. The irony of the situation was I was so hated in my first season that everyone wanted to get rid of me and this season I was dangerous because I was so well loved.

Gordon: During your farewell confession you said that you were probably going to vote for Russell. What changed your mind?
To make it short, it was Russell’s arrogance. I knew that the speech I had put together for the final tribal council involved being gracious and showing gratitude to the people in the jury who had to leave the game in order for me to be sitting in that position. And that’s what I expected from Russell. Here’s this great player, sometimes he’s a little too aggressive and he’s rubbed people the wrong way, but here’s the perfect opportunity to show that he’s this humble, gracious person, and what I found was that he is basically an arrogant a— who can’t get out of his own way.
Gordon: (Laughs)
Jerri: He literally told all of us that he didn’t need luck. I saved his butt when I chose him over Rob. And I saved his butt when I didn’t take him to the reward. He could have been voted out with Sandra’s idol if I had left her on the beach with Rupert and Colby. I was completely floored by his arrogance. That’s why he’ll never win this game.

Gordon: At one point in the game you had a choice between keeping Colby in the game and keeping Candice in the game. What was your rationale behind that decision?
I liked having Colby around for one. We found such a great sense of comfort with each other. And we both felt the same about this season, just how cutthroat it was and how little fun there was. We had some really intense talks about the game and how it’s evolved and how we’ve changed as people. I just really enjoy Colby. And Candice, Sandra and I realized that Russell was becoming very close to her, and I wasn’t going to allow another girl that he could manipulate take a step above me in the ladder.

Gordon: I have to ask this one…Coach, are you two in love or was that totally fabricated?
Gordon: Do you looooove him?
Jerri: (Laughs) No, I do not know him well enough to love him. I find Coach to be a very fascinating person. And I knew going into the game that he was a very loyal, honest person. And those are the kinds of people you really want to keep around you in “Survivor.” So, I made it a point to bond with him immediately. I just didn’t realize I was going to have such a strong effect on him.
Gordon: Were there any romantic sparks?
Jerri: I don’t…think…I learned the first time that any feelings of attraction should be curbed because you don’t know what’s real or not. I look forward to getting to know Coach outside of the game and to find out what’s underneath that Dragon Slayer shell. If he’s willing to drop the act and be himself around me, I could see us being friends for a long time.

Gordon: It seemed like you and Parvati had some tension early in the game. Did that dissipate as the game continued?
Yeah, Parvati drove me crazy at the beginning of the game. Her flirtation was just so evident and it was clearly working on everyone and it drove me nuts. Her laugh was just…ugh…I just couldn’t stand it. I’ve gotta say, I was going after her since day one and she really, truly earned my respect. I know she called me all kinds of names but you’re in a stressful game and you say things and do things that are not so nice. But, I think Parvati and I are definitely going to be friends. I really have to give her a high-five for her game play. She kicked some major butt. I think she’s one of the best players ever.

Gordon: Alright, Jerri. It’s time for word association.
Uh-oh, where’s the psychologist?
Gordon: Yes, I will be silently judging you.
Jerri: (Laughs)
Gordon: Let’s start with Rupert.
Jerri: Completely not self-aware. I know that’s not one word.
Gordon: I’m not going to rein you in. Do what feels right. Let’s try Sandra.
Jerri: Crass, but lovable.
Gordon: Parvati?
Jerri: Flirtatious and devious.
Gordon: Colby?
Jerri: Still hot.
Gordon: Russell?
Jerri: Yuck.
Gordon: The term “Cougar?”
Jerri: (Laughs) I’m ready to embrace it.
Gordon: You own it, girl.
Jerri: I mean, I’m really not old enough to be a cougar yet. But I’m looking forward to it.
Gordon: That’s a great attitude. Let’s try Candice.
Jerri: I really like Candice. She’s sweet. A very sweet person.
Gordon: Danielle?
Jerri: Scrappy.
Gordon: JT?
Jerri: (Laughs) Gosh…I guess I just have to say…ballsy but not so bright.
Gordon: And let’s finish this off with Coach.
Jerri: Fascinating.

Gordon: If you could hop into Doc Brown’s DeLorean and go back to 2001 and give some advice to Australian Jerri, what advice would you give her? About life, about the game, whatever…
I would tell myself to keep my mouth shut! (Laughs) It’s not necessary to always let people know what’s on your mind.

More “Survivor” Fun: Check out my interviews with Sandra Diaz-Twine and Parvati Shallow.

‘Survivor H.V.V.’ Runner-Up Interview: Parvati Shallow

May 18, 2010

Fun Fact: The “Survivor: Micronesia” finale where Parvati Shallow defeated Amanda Kimmel to claim the title of Sole Survivor aired exactly two years and one week ago.

It certainly seems like it was much longer ago, doesn’t it?

In that short amount of time, the player that was often dismissed as a one-dimensional flirt has blossomed into one of the most well-rounded (no pun intended) competitors to ever play the game. When you add a stronger social game, a flair for strategy, and surprising immunity challenge prowess to her already effective arsenal of eyelash batting and girlish giggles you have a player that went from being the person most targeted before the game started to the first runner-up.

I spoke with Parvati the morning after the “Heroes Vs. Villains” finale to find out if she thinks her association with Russell cost her, why she never trusted Amanda, and why “Cougar” is now considered a term of endearment.

Gordon Holmes: You obviously did very well with both the social and strategic aspect of the game to the point that people couldn’t make the argument that you were just grabbing onto Russell’s coattails.
Parvati Shallow:
Gordon: But do you feel like your association with Russell is what sunk you in the end?
Parvati: I think a lot of people on the jury definitely voted emotionally. I think it hurt me in a way that people were just very offended and upset with how he treated them out there. And I think that just came over to me too because I was his closest ally. They always saw us together, they saw us making calls together, making decisions. They knew we were the point people making decisions. I mean, Rupert said it at tribal council that Russell and I were calling the show. So yeah, maybe it lost me a few votes on the jury, but there was really nothing I could have done. He was the only guy I could have played with because nobody else would play with me. And the best thing I did out there was team with Russell because he played aggressively and he protected me. And then it turned out that we could protect each other in the end.

Gordon: You and I have something in common in that we both have a reputation for using our looks and flirtatious ways to get what we want.
Gordon: Was that something you were looking to get away from in “Heroes Vs. Villains” or was that still a big part of your game play?
Parvati: I think that, yes, the edit that I got gave me a lot of credit for being a strong strategic and physical player. My personality is just friendly and flirtatious anyways so there’s no real way you can edit that out. But I was very happy that they showed me as a multi-faceted human being instead of just a flirt.

Gordon: Russell has said many times that he wants to be considered the best player to ever play the game. Do you think he’s accomplished that, or has he come up a little short?
Gordon: No pun intended.
Parvati: I like you, you’re funny.
Gordon: Oh, stop it. Your flirtatious ways won’t work on me.
Parvati: (Laughs) I’m good on the phone, too!
Gordon: OK, fine. You’ve got my vote.
Parvati: Finally! Someone gave me their vote. (Laughs) I think that there are so many different ways to play this game, but the most important thing is to play a strong social game if you want to win. That’s what I do. I play 85% social, and this time I had to play so much more physical as well. In the end, to get the jury votes you have to have social grace, get the people to like you, and to respect your game as well. So, if you can’t do that, then you’re not going to win.

Gordon: Earlier in this season you referred to Jerri as a “Cougar” which is a term women hate.
Jerri and I know it’s a term of endearment. (Laughs)
Gordon: So I take it that your relationship with Jerri improved during your time out there?
Parvati: Jerri and I were always bickering. But there’s something about Jerri that I really love. She’s a really good person with a sweet heart. I think in the beginning she felt threatened by me, so it made her very standoffish. So I was like “Screw her!” But we grew on each other and we’ve grown to love each other.

Gordon: During the final tribal council, you kept going back to the statement that you had to stick with Russell because nobody else would play with you. Was there any other angle you could’ve taken that would have separated yourself from him?
I could’ve won the last challenge, because then I would’ve taken Russell and Jerri to the end and I may have had a better shot at winning the jury then. But, that’s out of my control. But other than that there was no move I made that I would have changed.
Gordon: As you were watching yourself stumbling around, looking for that necklace during the final challenge, was it driving you crazy?
Parvati: Oh my God, that challenge hurt so bad. I had bruises all across my stomach for months.

Gordon: Did you trust Amanda at all during the game? Your relationship seemed tenuous at best.
I think Amanda and I have a very weird relationship. So I don’t think I can play with her, but it’s five to five, so let me just see. So when I went to go talk to her my first thought was, “She doesn’t trust me.” I could tell she was holding back. So, I held back with her. I gave her a little bit of information to see if I could trust her. And I found out that all of the Heroes knew that I had an idol. So clearly Amanda told them. And I can read Amanda like a book. I played with her for 39 days and we’re so close I can read her mannerisms.
Gordon: Did you base your decision to give idols to Jerri and Sandra on the fact that Amanda told you you were in trouble?
Parvati: Going into that tribal, I hadn’t made the decision to play both of them until I was sitting on my stump. I realized I had to keep my people together. I knew it wasn’t going to be me based on how hard Amanda was saying “Play it for you, play if for you.” So I figured Russell was safe because they thought he was with them, Danielle was safe because she had immunity, and the only other options were Jerri and Sandra. And even if they had voted for me, there would have been a revote and I would have been safe.

Gordon: Early on in the season you referred to Russell as “The Devil.” And that’s before he had actually done anything. What were you basing that on?
I was basing that on, nobody knew this guy, he just got off of a game of “Survivor,” and he’s been labeled one of the top five villains of all time. This guy is clearly the devil incarnate.
Gordon: Where would you rank him now?
Parvati: Number one. Number one villain.

Gordon: There’s been a lot of talk this season about best ever, worst ever, dumbest ever. But at the end of the day is it better to be a “Survivor” winner or to have Coach consider you to be a warrior?
Aww…I love Coach considering me to be a warrior. Very nice of him. You know what? It was nice just being able to play as hard as I played and getting some respect. I mean it sucks not to win because I played so hard, but I wouldn’t begrudge the win from Sandra or Russell.

Gordon: Alright you, let’s do some word association. And let’s start with Russell.
Bologna…bologna sandwich. (Laughs)
Gordon: Jerri?
Parvati: Man eater.
Gordon: Colby?
Parvati: Debbie Downer.
Gordon: Rupert?
Parvati: Dirty pirate.
Gordon: Coach?
Parvati: (Laughs) Zen master!
Gordon: JT?
Parvati: Cowboy…I don’t know. (Laughs)
Gordon: There are no wrong answers here.
Parvati: (Laughs)
Gordon: The gross amount of hidden immunity idols in the game?
Parvati: Mass chaos.
Gordon: Boston Rob?
Parvati: Entertainment.

Gordon: You mentioned going back to earn some respect, and you’ve had quite the progression from your first season, to “Fans Vs. Favorites,” to “Heroes Vs. Villains.” How do you want people to remember your time on “Survivor?”
I would like people to remember me as (Laughs) the best player to ever grace this game…in the whole entire planet…and universe.
Gordon: I think there’s little doubt of that.
Parvati: (Laughs)
Gordon: But if you had to state your case for that title, what would your case be?
Parvati: I’d just like people to give a girl a little respect. Cause they think here’s this cute girl, and they always underestimate those girls. And you know what? Little girls can compete with the big boys. Not only can we compete with them, but we can also beat them.

More “Survivor” Fun: Check out my interview with “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains” winner Sandra Diaz-Twine.

‘Survivor H.V.V.’ Winner Interview: Sandra Diaz-Twine

May 17, 2010

I would have bet money that Parvati, Sandra, JT, and Tom didn’t have a shot at winning “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains.” Why? Because “Survivor” cast members hate the idea of someone being a two-time winner.

And yet here we are. Sandra Diaz-Twine managed to survive the stigma of being a former winner, the break down of Boston Rob’s alliance, and the hatred of “Survivor” juggernaut Russell Hantz to win the whole thing.

I had a chance to speak with an exhausted Sandra the morning after her record-breaking victory to find out why she won the jury vote, how she kept her nails so nice in the Samoan wilderness, and how Russell’s attitude ruined her second “Survivor” win.

Gordon Holmes: Good morning, Sandra.
Sandra Diaz-Twine:
Good morning!
Gordon: How are you doing, champ?
Sandra: I’ve got a little cold, but I’m going to do my best. My throat is sore.
Gordon: I figure a million dollars in exchange for a sore throat is a fair trade.
Sandra: Oh, it definitely is. I’m not complaining.

Gordon: So what are your plans for that second million?
You know I’ve gotta pay my taxes. I can’t be looking like Richard Hatch.

Gordon: Now, you’re the first-ever two-time champion in “Survivor” history. Which win meant more to you?
The first one.
Gordon: Why’s that?
Sandra: Because it was sweet the whole time. This one was bittersweet. It was tainted. I feel Russell kind of put a damper on things.
Gordon: What was he doing?
Sandra: There was just a bad vibe. It wasn’t a happy place over here because everyone is upset with him for the most part. And of course he always has things to say. And I was told by people that he said, “She’d better bring her A-game because I’m going to make her look stupid on TV.” So then I was already in my defensive mode. I guess I was ready. And the first time it wasn’t like that, it was serene, quiet, and pleasant. This time it was a bunch of All-Stars and everyone had gotten their feelings hurt.

Gordon: How were things left between you and Russell?
I really don’t speak to him, and he makes his little comments and I make mine. He feels like he got robbed. All he says is, “Millions of viewers got it right because I’m the player of the season.” Well then, you know what? You need to have been the real player of the season to get the million dollars.
Gordon: I spoke with Russell a few minutes ago, and he said once the game is over the game is over and that he wishes you well. He said he met your family and he enjoyed them. Is there a chance you two could make peace in the future?
Sandra: There’s a possibility for that, but it’s news to me that he said that. My daughters know who he is, and they took a picture with him. But when he does his interviews, all he does is talk smack so I don’t believe it. He’s really mad, his face is really sour. Yesterday (Sunday) we didn’t speak. I talk to everybody, I’m a very social person, but I feel like “Why should I have to go to you if you’re already badmouthing me?” Because I personally wouldn’t change a thing. But, whenever he’s ready for friendship, here I am.

Gordon: Former champions usually don’t do well in All-Star seasons. Did you think you had a chance heading into “Heroes Vs. Villains?”
You know how in the first “All-Stars” they got rid of all the winners first?
Gordon: Yes, absolutely.
Sandra: So, coming into this one I said, “If I’m nice, of all the winners there, they’ll keep me around for a while.” And not only that, I’m the kind of person where I play day-by-day and I’ll do what it takes to get to the end regardless. And I listen to what’s going on and I go from there. And a lot of the time they’d say, “They’ll never vote for you, you’re perfect to take to the end.” And I’d say, “Oh, definitely.” If that’s what you want to hear, that’s what I’m going to tell you.

Gordon: You said that performing badly in challenges was a part of your strategy…
Well, I’m not a physical person, so that’s natural for me. But I honestly feel like that’s a good strategy. Yes, everyone loves you when you’re strong, but the minute you’re on your own you’re going to go home when you lose a challenge because you’re outnumbered by weaker people. And that’s why Colby went to the end this time, because he didn’t dominate.
Gordon: Is there a concern that being weak in challenges might be a liability earlier in the game?
Sandra: It is, but at the same time remember Randy was there and so was Courtney. So among the weak you can’t be the weakest.

Gordon: Why did you have so much trouble getting the Heroes to go against Russell?
Because no one believed me. But I told Rupert, and he believed me, and he told JT, and JT told Russell. So right there and then my plan was foiled. The second time it was Candice who told on me to Russell. But when JT went home, everyone realized I was telling the truth. And when Amanda went home, she realized “Sandra was trying to help me.” So, when I go up against Parvati and Russell I got their votes. I got all five Hero votes and Courtney’s vote.

Gordon: So, last night when you burned Russell’s hat…it was almost like a perfect symmetry to Samoa where Russell burned Jaison’s socks. Now, of course you hadn’t seen “Survivor: Samoa” so you had no way of knowing, but do you think Russell appreciated the irony of that moment?
He might not have, but Jaison did, because when I saw him at the CBS 10-year reunion I went up to him and I said, “He burnt your socks, but don’t you worry because I’ll get him in the end.”

Gordon: I know you have a very busy day ahead of you, but this may be the most important question you’re asked all day; how did your nails stay painted throughout the game?
(Laughs) That’s the most important question?
Gordon: It is.
Sandra: My blue fingernails were from when they gave us the paint to paint the flag. But after a couple of hours it started to chip.

Gordon: OK, let’s do some word association. Let’s start off with Parvati.
Gordon: Russell?
Sandra: (Expletive deleted)
Gordon: Jerri?
Sandra: Difficult.
Gordon: Colby?
Sandra: Handsome.
Gordon: Rupert?
Sandra: Loving.
Gordon: Amanda?
Sandra: Sweet.
Gordon: Randy?
Sandra: Misunderstood.
Gordon: Danielle?
Sandra: Feisty.
Gordon: Coach?
Sandra: Confused.
Gordon: JT?
Sandra: Humble.
Gordon: Flammable hats?
Sandra: (Laughs) Polyester.
Gordon: It did burn up quick.
Sandra: That’s because it was sweaty and dirty and nasty.
Gordon: Boston Rob?
Sandra: Exciting.

Gordon: What was it like being in Samoa while your husband was serving in Afghanistan?
The first time my husband was home, and this time was different because he had left for Afghanistan. So I’m going to go all of these days without talking to him, whether I’m in the game or not. And I wonder if he’s OK, and if he wasn’t OK would they tell me, and when would they tell me? And how are my kids doing? It was rough.
Gordon: It seems like your Uncle Fernando has a bit of cutthroat game play in him too. He hadn’t been on the show for two seconds and he’s trying to swipe water from the other players.
Sandra: (Laughs) I kept throwing water and it wasn’t reaching him. And I told him the only way he was going to get water was to get it from the other people. So that was my fault.
Gordon: So that’s how the Diaz family throws down when it comes to challenges?
Sandra: I was hoping he’d have to do it himself because I didn’t want to do it.
Gordon: (Laughs)
Sandra: It should have been a bug-eating contest because he would have won hands down.

‘Survivor’ Headed to Nicaragua

May 17, 2010

Shortly after wrapping up what many consider to be one of the best “Survivor” seasons of all time, host Jeff Probst announced that the 21st season of the popular reality show will be filmed in Nicaragua.

Very few details are known at this time, however the promo that aired at the end of the finale promised, “A brand new set of Survivors, exciting and innovative challenges, and something that may surprise them all.”

Another tidbit that was revealed in Jeff Probst’s EW blog is the crew’s desire to make the hidden immunity idols more difficult to find. This is of course due to Russell Hantz’s uncanny ability to pluck idols from mid-air.

“Survivor: Nicaragua” will premiere in September of 2010. Be sure to visit Fancast Xfinity TV for behind-the-scenes interviews, analysis, and more.

‘Survivor H.V.V.’ Finale Recap: Russell Vs. The World…Again

May 16, 2010

Last Thursday: Jerri upset Russell by not taking him on the reward outing, Sandra upset Russell by telling him she was against him, and yet Rupert was sent to the jury, thus upsetting Rupert’s legions of fans.

And then there were five…

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Here is the tribe as it currently stands…

The Yin Yang Tribe

Colby Donaldson – 35
Sandra Diaz-Twine – 34
Russell Hantz – 37
Jerri Manthey – 38
Parvati Shallow – 27

Quick Note: I’m a big believer that Russell should have won “Survivor: Samoa.” He was more deserving than both of the people (Natalie White and Mick Trimming) who were sitting in front of the jury with him. I can’t say the same for this season. He’s been more abrasive than ever and Sandra and Parvati have both played games that were as strategic as his.

Another Quick Note: The worst thing about holding the “Survivor” finale on Sunday? I have to sit through Andy Rooney at the end of “60 Minutes.”

Yet Another Quick Note: The opening for the finale featured an awesome recap of the final five’s previous “Survivor” experiences. It was awesome seeing all of those old clips. And it was a little sad see Australia Colby vs. this season’s Colby.

OK, let’s do this. We start up after tribal council and Russell is not pleased that Sandra lied to them about having an immunity idol in her bra. Sandra defends her play because Russell never told her when he had an idol. Ah…touché.

Russell isn’t so upset that Sandra lied to him, but he’s convinced that Parvati knew about it and didn’t tell him. He approaches the Australian crew and proposes voting out Parvati. Uh oh, trouble in the Samoan royal family…

The following morning the tribe is greeted by tree mail in the form of a bag of puzzle pieces. The clue makes it sound like a dish-related challenge. Maybe it’ll be dish spinning like on the “Ed Sullivan Show!” Hey, an old-school Nick at Nite fan can dream.

Immunity Challenge: Players will balance ceramic dishes on a balancing arm. (Darn it!) The more dishes they have, the harder it is to balance. When your dishes fall, you’re eliminated. Last player standing (or balancing, as it were) wins immunity.

The first several rounds go off without a hitch. Once we are nine dishes into it, Jerri and Sandra start to wobble. Sure enough, Sandra’s dishes fall eliminating her from the challenge. At the fourteen-dish point, Jerri continues to have problems with her entire stack eventually falling.

Down to three. On the sixteenth dish, Russell’s stack of dishes succumbs to the pull of gravity. The “Survivor” production crew then utilizes their power over nature to summon a huge gust of wind, but Colby and Parvati manage to keep it together.

After adding a large bowl, Colby’s stack falls. Everything’s bigger in Texas, except for the stacks of dishware. Parvati wins her second immunity challenge in a row.

Back at camp, Colby rolls over again, telling everyone that he’s not going to make an attempt to stay in the game.

Really, Colby? Did you just give something you called a “Surrender Speech?” All of that razor endorsement money must be making him soft.

Oh wait, I take that back, apparently he has one more move left in him. Colby approaches Russell with the idea of getting rid of Sandra so they’ll have a better shot of taking Parvati out at the last immunity challenge.

Russell seems interested, but he knows that if Colby gets to the final three that he’ll win. Honestly, Russell could get to the end with Andy Rooney and he’d still lose.

That night at tribal council, Rupert shows up in a new tie-dye shirt. I’d love to see his closet. I’m sure it’s more tie-dye than a Grateful Dead concert.

During the discussion portion of tribal, Colby feels bad about his lack of challenge prowess this season. Colby admits to trying to get Russell to take him over Sandra. He admits to Sandra that he thinks everyone wants to get to the end with her.

Sandra says, “This is ‘Survivor’ you can’t believe nobody.” Which is a double negative. She is crafty.

Parvati says it’s news to her that she’s someone nobody wants to face in the finals.

J-Pro asks Russell if there’s anyone that he trusts 100%. Russell gives a roundabout answer that doesn’t come close to answering Jeff’s question at all.

Voting Time: Parvati votes for Colby, Colby votes for Sandra, Sandra votes for Colby, and you know the other two votes are gonna have to wait.

J-Pro gets his tally on and is ready to read; one vote for Colby, one vote for Sandra, one vote for Colby, and the sixteenth person voted out and the eighth member of the jury is…Colby.

Once we’re back on the beach, Parvati confesses that she didn’t know that she was such a big jury threat. Really? That’s just hitting her? She’s won a billion immunity challenges. And she’s not Russell.

Tree mail arrives the next morning, and sure enough it’s an invitation to the Rites of Passage. Oh! They should call it the Torch Trek.

During the leisurely, respectful stroll, nobody has anything to say about Sugar. Well, they weren’t on the same beach as her.

Stephenie is the first person to be referred to as a “Tough competitor.” I’m putting the over/under on the word “competitor” during this segment at four.

Randy being decimated by James in the mud wrestling challenge is shown in slow motion. I don’t think I can do justice to that moment with words, but I’ll try…let’s say it was five-star awesome dipped in Christmas morning.

They say Cirie is underestimated as a physical competitor. The “competitor” count is now at two.

They all agree that Tom was very trustworthy.

Tyson is of course remembered for his sense of humor. And if you’re not following him on Twitter, you should be.

James is called a competitor by Jerri. That’s three.

During Boston Rob’s remembrance, Russell takes the time to brag about getting the best of him. Sandra takes the time to tell America about a borderline racist comment Boston Rob made about her.

Coach is referred to as “Jerri’s boyfriend.” I need to remember to ask her about that tomorrow.

Courtney’s moment is particularly poignant due to the fact that her physique resembles that of a bamboo torch.

As they walk by JT’s torch, they discuss JT’s give-the-idol-to-the-most-evil-player-in-the-game strategy.

Parvati makes a point of mentioning that “Heroes Vs. Villains” was the first time Amanda had ever been voted out of the game. I prefer to remember Amanda for her brief brawl with Danielle.

Candice’s legacy apparently revolves around stepping out of a challenge to get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Russell doesn’t think that’s worth a million dollars.

Parvati refers to Danielle as the Boston Brawler. Parvati’s very sad she’s gone. Russell is not.

Rupert’s moment revolves around his pirate-like ways. They also hope his toe heals quickly. (Actually, it was two broken toes.)

And finally, Russell refers to Colby as a true hero as they pass his torch. Yes, I’m reminded of that issue of Superman, where Superman gave his “Surrender Speech” to the Legion of Doom.

And with that, they arrive at an awesome (read AWESOME) Tiki bon fire set-up. Jerri sets it ablaze, and now all of their souls are at peace. Or something like that.

Quick Note: Before we get to this immunity challenge, my fingers are crossed for a stand-somewhere-until-everyone-quits challenge. You know, like the old-school ones that would go on for 14 hours. I love those.

Immunity Challenge 2: Electric Boogaloo: And…I’m out of luck. The players will each be blindfolded. They’ll make their way through a maze. At each corner of the maze they’ll have to retrieve a necklace. The first person with all four necklaces wins immunity.

And, if my memory is correct (and it rarely is) this is the same challenge that Fancast columnist Jenna Morasca won in the Amazon.

Russell gets off to a lead as the first person to get to two necklaces. Jerri manages to pass him though as she’s the first person to get three necklaces. Parvati is right behind her. Eventually, Russell and Parvati both get their fourth necklaces. They both stumble toward the exit. Meanwhile, Jerri has claimed her fourth necklace.

All three of them are groping around with the immunity necklace right in front of them. Russell just barely gets to it first. Russell wins immunity. Awesome finish.

Politicking around camp center around Jerri vs. Parvati. Russell tells Sandra he’s taking her to the final three because he knows he can beat her. Sandra says she’s cool with this because she’s happy with the $100,000. I love when those two are honest with each other.

Parvati makes the case that Courtney, Amanda, and Candice will all vote for Sandra.

Russell also seems to believe that Jerri will give him her vote if he sends her to the jury. He’s not sure if Parvati will do the same.

That night at tribal council, Jerri admits that she stuck around camp to stay on top of all of the political discussions.

Sandra discusses her strategy of cozying up to the immunity winner because she knows they’re not going home.

Parvati tells J-Pro that she feels very vulnerable without immunity.

Jerri tells us that she’s been pushing the agenda that Parvati is a huge threat. Parvati says she’s been pushing the agenda that he’ll have to take Parvati to prove that he’s loyal to the jury.

Parvati also thinks she’s been protecting Russell. Russell takes exception to this. She revises her statement to say they’ve been protecting each other. He takes exception to that too.

Voting Time: Parvati votes for Jerri, Jerri votes for Parvati, and the other votes are lost to the magic of editing.

Jeff goes to tally the votes.

Fun Fact: When Jeff says he’s tallying the votes, he’s actually getting in a quick game of Farmville. I may have made that up.

One vote for Parvati, one vote for Jerri, one vote for Jerri, and the seventeen person voted out of the game, and the ninth member of the jury is…Jerri.

As Jerri hugs Russell, she tells him she can’t wait to hear the story later. And during her farewell confessional, she admits that she’s leaning toward voting for Russell.

We meet up with the final three after tribal, and Sandra is having a tough time being away from her family. She admits that the only reason she’s on the show is to win the million. She won’t be satisfied with anything less.

The following morning, tree mail consists of all the food in the world.

Russell thinks he’s got the million in the bag. His strategy was to bring people that he thought he could beat. I’m not sure those people exist. Maybe if they cast Osama bin Laden.

Parvati admits that if Russell had voted her out that she would have voted for Sandra. Russell is shocked by this because he would have voted for Parvati if he were on the jury.

Sandra, for some reason, decides to burn Russell’s hat. Somewhere Samoa’s Jaison is giddy. Revenge of the socks!

Apparently Sandra’s strategy revolves around Russell’s bald head making him look bad in front of the jurors. Well, it’s certainly a unique strategy. Unfortunately for her, he still has his buff.

Wow, they’re showing a lot of Sandra. I wonder if that’s a clue…

Quick Note: Is the tribal council set supposed to be like the Ewok Village?

During Sandra’s opening statement, she admits to trying to get rid of Russell three times.

Russell makes the case that he played as hard as he could play. And that if he offended anyone, that he apologizes. For some reason his “Rupert as the second coming” speech just popped into my head.

Parvati claims to have partnered with Russell because everyone was gunning for her from the beginning.

J-Pro then throws it to the jury. Colby starts it off, asking Russell if he thinks he got to the end without any luck. Russell thinks he got there because of his strategy. Colby thinks he’s delusional for thinking he got to the end without luck. He then asks Parvati what makes her a better pick than the other two. Parvati says that everyone was gunning for her and she had to fight harder.

Coach goes next, he has a grand time bashing everyone. However, he gives Parvati credit for being good in challenges. He lets it be known that his vote will be based on what is said tonight.

Amanda takes the third slot, she asks Sandra how her strategy was better than Russell or Parvati’s. She admits that she wishes she had a better strategy because she couldn’t get Russell out of the game.

Courtney bats clean-up, and she has much love for Parvati and Sandra. She even gives Sandra the opportunity to talk about how loyal she was to Courtney.

Next up we hear from JT. JT wants to know if Russell thinks he did a good job getting jury votes. Russell hopes the jury respects his game. Parvati gets the same question and gives the same answer about how everyone was gunning for her. Sandra claims she would have given JT the idol back if he had given it to her.

Danielle is the next to go, and she’s sporting some weird accent to start. OK. Danielle claims that Russell has done a poor job with his jury management. Russell doesn’t regret that because if he didn’t make the moves he made he wouldn’t have made it to the end. She claims that he isn’t going to get any votes because nobody respects the way he played the game.

Next up we hear from Jerri. She claims to be undecided on who to vote for. Jerri calls Russell out on voting for her over Parvati. Russell claims that he didn’t take Jerri because he doesn’t think he can beat her. Parvati claims Russell wanted her on the jury because he thought he’d get her vote. Nice to see the cougar and the kitten getting along.

Candice takes the stage next. She thinks Russell went too far by telling “Dirty lies.” She compares Parvati to an abused wife who never got out from under her abusive husband. Ouch.

Rupert (and yet another tie-dye shirt!) gets to go last. He starts with Russell and reads him the riot act for lying and manipulating people. Rupert wishes he had listened to Sandra more. He thinks she deserves a “Thank you” because she tried to warn them about Russell. He starts on Parvati, but she claims that she didn’t have a choice but to side with Russell because everybody wanted her out. Rupert finishes by saying that Parvati deserves to be there for how hard she played in challenges.

My Take: That did not go well for Russell. Parvati did a decent job, but she didn’t have much to say other than, “I’ve always had a target on my back.” Meanwhile, Sandra’s “I tried to warn you about Russell” argument is very strong.

Voting Time: Jerri votes for Parvati, Candice votes for Sandra, Danielle votes for Parvati, Courtney votes for Sandra, Coach votes for Parvati (because she’s a warrior), Rupert votes for Sandra, and the rest of the votes are gonna have to wait till we get to New York.

Wow, I’m assuming that means no votes Russell.

And we’re in New York…and Gabon’s Charlie Herschel is in the house!

And, Russell does not look pleased, but he does have a new hat.

One vote for Parvati, one vote for Sandra, one vote for Parvati, one vote for Sandra, one vote for Parvati, one vote for Sandra, two votes for Sandra, and the winner of “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains” and the first ever two-time winner is…Sandra!

Verdict: I think “Survivor” has been on a major roll since “Survivor: Micronesia” and this season is no exception. I won’t go so far as to call it the best ever, but it’s definitely up there. It probably comes down to how you feel about All-Star seasons, and as I said earlier in the year, I’m all for them.

Notes from the Reunion Special:

•    Parvati and Sandra both made their cases for being the best player ever. Sandra’s case was way stronger.
•    Russell thinks Sandra is a terrible player as she has no social or physical game. He also makes the point that there must be a flaw in the game of “Survivor” if Sandra can win the game twice.
•    JT tried to throw the letter he gave to Russell into the fire, but Russell was able to save it.
•    Russell admits to not caring about the social game at all, he just wants to get to the end.
•    Tyson looks like Jesus. Well, if Jesus ever wore bright pink shirts.
•    The Dumbest Move in “Survivor” History Award went to JT for giving the idol to Russell. I absolutely disagree with that call. Erik Reichenbach giving up immunity, Colby taking Tina Wesson to the final, and Tyson screwing up the Boston Rob alliance vote were all way worse.
•    Rupert and Russell were the top vote-getters for the Sprint Player of the Season award…and Russell won.
•    Randy Bailey is now bald.
•    The next season of “Survivor” will be held in Nicaragua.

More “Survivor” Business: We’re going to have interviews with all of the final five this week as well as Jeff Probst’s surprising thoughts on the best “Survivor” players of all time.

What Do You Think?
Where does this season rank? Should Sandra have won? What changes would you like to see for “Survivor: Nicaragua?”

‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview: Rupert Boneham

May 16, 2010

OK, I’ve got a confession to make…

I’ve never been a Rupert fan.

With the exception of his hilarious shoe-selling maneuver at the beginning of “Pearl Islands,” I’ve never seen his appeal. I never thought much of his game play, I never liked how brutish he was toward Jonny Fairplay after he thought he had voted for him, and I never bought into his good-guy image.

And quite frankly, the beginning of “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains” was proving me right. His injured toe made him a grump around camp, his inability to make fire made him appear useless, and sticking with James seemed to go against the Heroes mindset.

But, a funny thing happened on the way to tribal. He saw right through Russell when he arrived at the Heroes camp, he cleverly tricked the Villains into thinking he had an immunity idol, and he competed with all his heart to try to win immunity (while Colby would quit).

And as for his good-guy image? What follows is my second-ever interview (you can read the first one here) with the man many consider to be the most popular Survivor ever, and I truly believe that what you see is what you get with him. He’s a good-natured guy with an upbeat attitude who feels blessed to do what he loves.

Am I becoming a Rupert fan? Maybe a little. I’ll wait to see how he does in “Survivor 30” before deciding.

Gordon Holmes: Let’s get this out of the way immediately, you didn’t believe for a second that Russell was going to side with you and Colby, did you?
Rupert Boneham:
I was sure hopeful, and I wanted Russell to believe that I believed him, but no. I looked at Colby right afterward and I said, “You know it’s still just you and I.”

Gordon: So, I take it you don’t have the highest opinion of Russell?
Russell is one of the most evil people I have ever met. He is the epitome of the manipulative, self-centered kind of guy who just looks at people for what he can get out of them. I tried to show them that when you use people to get to the top that you’re still never going to be a winner.

Gordon: Last episode was a family visit episode. You were very emotional when you got to see your wife, Laura. What does it mean to have her out there during such an intense game?
I was crying just watching the video and thinking about her being there. This is the first anniversary that we haven’t spent together, so that was like our anniversary celebration. That was a big deal. I have to say, even though it’s only thirty days it feels like a lifetime because of all the craziness going on. Everything is intensified.
Gordon: Laura’s been out there twice to visit you, when are we going to see her as a contestant on the show?
Rupert: (Laughs) I don’t know that Laura will ever be a contestant. We’ve talked about being on “The Amazing Race” but the “Family Survivor?” My wife and daughter would not really be too happy to be out there playing “Survivor.”

Gordon: There’s been a lot of talk this season about Heroes acting like Villains and Villains acting like Heroes and you haven’t been immune to that. There were some things that you did that could be considered villainous, such as sticking with James and JT early in the game. Did you worry that your moves could tarnish your reputation as one of “Survivor’s” biggest heroes?
If you go out there as a complete good guy you’re not going to win the game. But you have to show that you don’t have to be such an evil villain. It does matter how you treat yourself and the people around you. And when you’re using and manipulating everyone, of course you’re going to be seen as a villain. But, I’m no angel. I went to some people and said, “They’re coming to get you.” That’s part of the game.

Gordon: How much of an affect did your broken toe have on your ability to play the game?
I finally found out after I was voted out, it wasn’t just one broken bone in my toe, it was two broken bones in my toe, and the toe we were taping it off to was broken also! I am out of my mind in pain every day on “Survivor.” When my toe was looking back at me, and I straightened it and taped it off to another broken toe, I was in more pain than I’ve ever felt in my entire life.
Gordon: Was it affecting your mood around camp?
Rupert: Even my daughter when she’s watching it on TV says, “Oh Dad, you looked a little mad last night.” And I told her, it’s not that I’m mad, I’m just in pain. I’m a little shorter with my “Survivor” cast mates. The pain in my toe definitely affected my attitude.

Gordon: Last week when your rock-in-the-shorts gamble worked. How many high fives and fist bumps were exchanged around the Boneham household?
(Laughs) Oh my God! My wife and daughter were so proud of me. And they never showed it, but I never said I had the hidden immunity idol. I wasn’t being a big liar about it. But I made sure everyone saw the big rock in my pocket. That was a great moment in our household.

Gordon: OK, let’s do some word association. Let’s start with Jerri.
Mean cougar.
Gordon: Colby?
Rupert: I want to say good guy, but I’ll say good soft guy. Cause he was kinda soft.
Gordon: James?
Rupert: Toughest man I’ve ever met.
Gordon: Amanda?
Rupert: Sweetest Survivor in history.
Gordon: Parvati?
Rupert: A little girl who’s used to batting her eyes and getting what she wants.
Gordon: Danielle?
Rupert: Glad she was gone before me.
Gordon: Sandra?
Rupert: Not what you think.
Gordon: JT?
Rupert: Silly…silliest move ever!
Gordon: And your buddy Russell?
Rupert: Evil…pure evil.

Gordon: We talked earlier about your reputation, and a lot of that ties into your Rupert’s Kids charity, what do you hope your kids learn from your performance on “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains?”
That I’m still tough. I’m 46 years old, but I’m still the tough guy on “Survivor” and it still counts how you play the game. My kids love seeing that

‘Survivor H.V.V.’ Episode 13 Recap: Family Matters

May 13, 2010

Last Week: The rock in Rupert’s shorts was a successful ruse, Sandra finding an idol was welcome news, Russell proved once again that he has a short fuse, and both Candice and Danielle were left singing the blues.

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Here is the tribe as it currently stands…

The Yin Yang Tribe

Rupert Boneham – 45
Colby Donaldson – 35
Sandra Diaz-Twine – 34
Russell Hantz – 37
Jerri Manthey – 38
Parvati Shallow – 27

Quick Aside: I’ve always been of the belief that no jury would ever let someone win “Survivor” twice. It’d be like admitting that someone was better than all of them. And here we are, with a two-in-six chance (three-in-six if you count Rupert…which I don’t) of that happening.

We start off after tribal council and Rupert is giddy to still be alive and kicking. Parvati, on the other hand, is very concerned. She lets us know that she’ll continue to play with Russell so she can get rid of Colby, Rupert, and Rupert’s beard.

The next morning, the Yin Yangers are greeted by tree mail in the form of a Palm Pre by Sprint.

Sprint – the Now Network

The phone features a cryptic clue as well as videos from each of the remaining players’ family members. Colby’s brother Reed, Parvati’s dad Michael, Sandra’s uncle Fernando, Russell’s wife Melanie, Jerri’s sister Jennifer, and Rupert’s wife Laura are all featured in the videos.

Reward Challenge: Before the challenge is introduced, we get to meet the family members behind the videos. I can neither confirm nor deny the rumor that it got a little dusty in the Holmes family living room during this segment.

With that being said, I’d have to rank Russell’s reunion with his wife a solid eight on the creep-o-meter. It’s just weird to think of him as a functional member of society with a wife and family. I now have both the heebies and the jeebies.

The Rules: The Survivors will have to go to the ocean to fetch a pail of water. They’ll throw that water toward their family member who will dump the water they’re able to catch into another bucket. First team to fill that bucket with enough water to trigger the cool see-saw wins reward. Reward will be a trip to the Blowholes, which if I’m not mistaken is where the “Survivor: Samoa” opening was filmed. They’ll also be given a Palm Pre by Sprint to record the day’s events.

I haven’t commented on J-Pro’s hats this season, but that orange number is awesome. I have a birthday in August if anyone is contemplating getting me a gift.

The challenge gets underway and there’s not a lot to describe except for water being tossed and caught.

I take that back, I’ll describe how Colby was angrily chewing out his brother for his lack of water-catching ability. I’ll also describe how Fernando was trying to swipe the water Russell was throwing to his wife…which was awesome.

It looked like the Hantzs were going to take it, but the Mantheys surpassed them to win the reward.

Jerri is given the opportunity to take two people with her, she chooses Parvati and Sandra. Russell is not amused. As he hugs his wife goodbye he says, “She screwed up.”

While the ladies and their family members are enjoying their reward, they learn that they can toss a coconut into the blowhole and it’ll launch into the air with the water burst. No word on if a drunken Iron Man would try to shoot it out of the sky afterward.

Next up, they were treated to a delicious picnic lunch. They were also each given four immunity idols. I may have made up that last part.

Afterward, Jerri expresses concern that Russell may try to get revenge on her for not taking him on the reward. Overreacting to something small? That doesn’t sound like Russell at all.

Sure enough, back at camp Russell is furious over who Jerri chose to take on the reward. Rupert, showing that he’s a much better competitor than I’d given him credit for, is totally feeding Russell’s anger. Go Rupert.

Russell is so frustrated that he makes a deal to go to the final three with Rupert and Colby. I don’t buy this for a second. There’s no way Russell thinks he could beat Colby or Rupert in front of a jury.

That night, Rupert decides to do some carpentry while the other members of the tribe are trying to sleep. He’s sawing wood, breaking things, blowing an airhorn, setting off explosives, scratching blackboards. Seriously, Rupert? That’s like an entry-level “Survivor” mistake.  That’s sneaking-beef-jerky or washing-your-underwear-in-the-water-pot level stupid.

Immunity Challenge: Players will stand against a post with their hands out. On the back of their hands will be a pole. If their hand drops, their poles drop. Last person with both of their poles up wins immunity.

Fun Fact: Crystal Cox was eliminated from this challenge in one second in Gabon.

Another Fun Fact: Colby is eliminated from the challenge in 15 seconds. Crystal’s record is safe!

Sandra is out next, followed by Russell and Jerri. It’s down to Parvati and Rupert.

Rupert struggles to keep his pole standing (Oh, grow up!) and is eventually eliminated. Parvati wins immunity.

Back at camp, Russell is relieved that he doesn’t have to get rid of Parvati. He decides to flip on the guys.

Meanwhile, Sandra approaches Rupert about getting rid of Russell. Rupert immediately shares this information with Russell.

Russell, who is unhappy with this latest development, flat out asks Sandra if she’s with him or against him. She bluntly replies, “I’m against you.”

I think the most under-appreciated highlight of this season has been when Russell and Sandra are brutally honest with each other. Good times.

Sandra lets Rupert know how she feels about him by saying, “Loose lips, sink ships.”

Jerri sums up the bizarre strategy around camp by saying, “This camp has turned into crazy town.”

That night at tribal council, Sandra makes the case that Rupert was trying to cause problems between her and Russell. Russell isn’t sure if he buys that.

Parvati tells Jeff that the Villains need to stick together because they can’t beat a Hero in front of the Hero-heavy jury.

Jeff announces that tonight is the last night a hidden immunity idol can be played.

Voting Time: Sandra votes for Rupert, confident that he’ll vote for her to win the million, Rupert votes for Sandra, and the rest of the votes are secret.

Jeff goes to tally, tallies, then returns. Jeff asks if anyone wants to play the idol, Sandra stands and retrieves it from her bra. That’s a popular hiding place this season.

One vote for Rupert, one vote for Sandra, one vote for Rupert, one vote for Sandra, the fifteenth person voted out and the seventh member of the jury is…Rupert.

The tribe has something to say, and that something is that they don’t want you in the game anymore. Maybe that’s why I don’t get to write catchphrases.

In Other News: When the voting was showed, the final tally would have been four to two in favor of booting Rupert.

Verdict: It seems like there’s a pretty definitive jury-voting pecking order. Colby would win over Jerri, who’d win over Sandra or Parvati, who’d win over Russell.

The one thing that would make the finale mind blowing? If Colby had been faking it all season. If he turned it on in the last two immunity challenges and won the whole thing. I doubt that will happen. But it’d be cool.

Who’s Going to Win? If Jerri can get into the final three she’s a millionaire. If I’m Russell, I want to take Parvati and Sandra because they’re former champions. If I’m Parvati or Sandra, I want to take Russell and the other champion. If I’m Colby, I feel terrible for yelling at my brother on national television.

Power Rankings Results: Tocantins favorite, S.W.V. superstar, and former Power Rankings champion Tamara “Taj” George had Rupert in spot six, so did I. Rocky and Apollo tie at six points apiece. The final score for the season is All Stars 111, Team Gordon 124.

I’d like to thank my family, my friends, and both of my fans for supporting me. This Power Rankings victory is for you.

Even More “Survivor” Business: We’re going to have interviews with all of the final five next week as well as Jeff Probst’s surprising thoughts on the best “Survivor” players of all time.

What Do You Think? Who’s going to win this thing? Who are your picks for the best “Survivor” players of all time? Did seeing Russell with his wife give you the creeps?

‘Survivor’ Power Rankings: Tocantins Favorite Tamara ‘Taj’ George

May 12, 2010

Apollo Creed: When you won that last fight you won by one second, you beat me by one second, one second that’s very hard for a man of my intelligence to handle.
Rocky Balboa: Didn’t you say after I beat you that you learned to live with it?
Apollo Creed: I lied.

Last season, Tamara “Taj” George beat me by one point to claim both the title of “Survivor: Samoa” Power Rankings champion and the coveted Probsty Award. That makes her the Italian Stallion and me the Count of Monte Fisto

The Rules: Each week a member of our “Survivor” All-Star team and your beloved “Survivor” recapper Gordon “Truth Seeker” Holmes will create separate power rankings. The ranking of the person who is voted out of the next episode will determine the number of points the two combatants will earn. For example, if Jerri is voted out this week, Fancast’s “Survivor” All-Star Team and Gordon will both receive 4 points. At the end of the season, the person (or team) with the most points will be named the “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains” Power Rankings Challenge Champion.

Last Week: Tocantins finalist Stephen Fishbach had Candice in spot eight and Danielle in spot six for a total of fourteen points while I had Candice in spot five and Danielle in spot two for seven points. The current score is now All Stars 105, Team Gordon 118.

OK, before we get into this anticipated rematch, let’s check in with the lovely and talented Tamara “Taj” George

Gordon Holmes: Where do you keep your Probsty Award?  I’m going to assume it has a place of honor on the mantle.
Tamara “Taj” George:
I keep my Probsty Award over my fireplace with a light shining on it so everyone can see my accomplishment!
Gordon: Really?
Taj: Honestly, there’s no light.

Gordon: What’ve you been up to since your glorious Probsty Award victory?
First, I left that night for Asia with SWV, then I had to go back and forth between Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York for work.  I finally landed back in Nashville just in time to have knee surgery for a torn ACL that I suffered fighting over a candy cane on December 26th.  Before you ask, it was organic!

Gordon: Russell was responsible for all of your Tocantins buddies being voted out of “Survivor.” Do you think he has what it takes to win this season?
Russell convinced everyone to vote out my guys and everyone else.  He’ll never win the million dollars if he continues to make enemies on the jury. JT and Stephen were mostly worried that everyone liked me too much in the end and were convinced the jury would vote for me.  So, as much as I hated being blindsided by my younger brothers, I did understand. I still love them and I’m so happy for JT’s win.

Gordon: By my count there have been 147 immunity idols in the past season.  Do you think that’s too many?
I definitely don’t think there could ever be too many immunity idols.  They keep the game interesting.  I especially loved the move that Parvati pulled with the double idols.  Sweet!

Tamara ‘Taj’ George’s Picks
All-Star Team’s Current Score: 105

sandra #1 Sandra: I think Sandra is going to hold onto that idol until she absolutely needs it.  She’s a great player and very underestimated.
parvati #2 Parvati: If Russell is the “Prince” of “Survivor,” Parvati is the “Queen!”  She’s going toe to toe with Russell and it’s driving him crazy.  Since she’s already won a million dollars I doubt the jury will award her twice.
russell(2) #3 Russell: Russell is sneaky enough to maneuver his way back into the final two or three.  Because of his aggressive play, I would be shocked if someone can pull a fast one to put him on the jury.
jerri #4 Jerri: With Jerri voting out Parvati’s sidekick her loyalty to anyone is up in the air.  With that being said, she’ll be around until no one needs her vote which does not included the final two or three.  She was always on the tail end of Parvati, Danielle, and Russell’s original alliance anyway.
colby #5 Colby: Simply because he’s a “Hero” and worked against the “Villains” since the merge. Russell will use him to try to rally against Parvati according to last week’s preview.  Colby is just not cold-hearted enough to play with Russell and Parvati.
rupert #6 Rupert: This guy is becoming one of my favorite Survivors.  I would’ve loved to play with him.  I loved the way he stood up to Russell and creates ways to stay alive.  The fake idol was priceless.  Unfortunately, he’s way too nice of a guy to play hardball with Russell and Parvati.

Gordon Holmes’s Picks
Gordon’s Current Score: 118

sandra #1 Sandra: Sandra’s been up and down this list more times than I can count. Just when I think she’s finally on the outs, she manages to stick around. And now that she’s got that immunity idol she’s an easy pick for the final four. Add to that the fact that she’s a former champion and that makes her an attractive pick to take to the end.
russell(2) #2 Russell: Russell will not be receiving a check from Jeff Probst at the end of this season. His little rant against Rupert is just the latest piece of damning evidence in the case of Russell vs. The Feelings of the Jury. In fact, if I were in the game, I’d be doing everything I could to take Russell to the end.
parvati #3 Parvati: I was tempted to put Parvati lower on this list, but there’s a reason Russell went after Danielle instead of her. I don’t know what that reason is (maybe he wants to take a former champion to the end) but there’s some reason.
jerri #4 Jerri: I think Jerri is going to walk out of “Heroes Vs. Villains” a rich woman. I don’t know how the fallout from the Russell/Parvati feud is going to be settle, but I’m pretty sure the order of vote-ability (meaning the likelihood that person will win if they get to the final) is Colby/Rupert/Jerri/Sandra/Parvati/Russell. And I don’t think there’s any way they’ll let Colby or Rupert get to the finals.
colby #5 Colby: I never thought I’d hear the words “Colby sucks at challenges” in the game of “Survivor,” but I think I heard it about 40 times last week. Nobody is worried about him or his game, and if Danielle and Candice are to be believed, he checked out a loooong time ago. However, getting Colby out of the game isn’t the Villains’ top priority.
rupert #6 Rupert: Right now getting Rupert out of the game is the Villains’ top priority. In a Hero-heavy jury he’d be sure to garner a lot of votes. I’m thinking his time is probably up.

More “Survivor” Fun: Check out my Exit Interview with Danielle DiLorenzo and Candice Woodcock and find out Who Former Survivors Picked as the Worst Villain of All Time.

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