Archive for August, 2010

‘Survivor’ Announces Alliance with Stand Up to Cancer

August 17, 2010

“Survivor: Africa” winner and cancer survivor Ethan Zohn appeared on CBS’s “The Early Show” this morning to announce the launch of “Survivor’s” new initiative to raise money for Stand Up to Cancer.

Zohn, who recently overcame Hodgkin’s lymphoma, sat down with Fancast afterward to discuss this exciting new alliance, his own battle with cancer, and how “Survivor” fans can join the team.

Gordon Holmes: Former “Survivor” players teaming up with cancer survivors to raise money for cancer research seems like a perfect fit.
Ethan Zohn:
Yeah, pretty cool huh? For so long the “Survivor” family has been raising money for other charities, as they should, because the brand is so powerful and there are millions of fans that can help raise money. But, this is exciting because it’s the first real long-term initiative that “Survivor” is doing. It’s the first reality show, the first show to sign up for Stand Up to Cancer. It’s just awesome to be able to leave a legacy like this that will last long after the television show is off the air. The show’s great, don’t get me wrong, I love it. But it’s just a game and this is real life. We’re making an impact and we’re going to save lives.

Gordon: Now, you yourself had a fight with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and if I remember correctly, you kicked its ass.
I did! I kicked its ass, man! This last year of my life pretty much sucked. But I got through the stem-cell transplant. And I got some good news in April that the cancer was in remission.
Gordon: Excellent.
Ethan: The reason I mention the stem-cell transplant is because that is some really incredible modern medicine and science, and that’s really where the money raised by this initiative is going to go. It’s going to go to cancer research to get these new therapies out of the laboratories and to the patients as quickly as possible.

Gordon: What kind of support can we expect to see from your “Survivor” brethren?
It’s awesome that all of the television-show Survivors are coming together. We shot a PSA, we have people like Rupert (Boneham), Jenna Morasca, Jerri (Manthey), Boston Rob (Mariano), Russell (Hantz), Colby (Donaldson)…everyone came together to make an impact and help find a cure for this dreadful disease.

Gordon: Earlier this year we lost “Survivor: Palau” contestant Jenn Lyon to breast cancer. Does that add special meaning to this project for you and the rest of the “Survivor” family?
Yeah, that really is what sparked everyone to get this going. This is really in her honor. I live each day in her honor, and this is a way that everyone can give back. She’d be really proud of us, I know she’s really proud of us right now.

Gordon: I understand that there’s a special donation page that “Survivor” fans can visit to donate money and show their support.
It’s You can go there and join our tribe. You don’t have to donate to join our team. I’ll be blogging there, other Survivors will be sharing their stories as well. We produced a special limited-edition “Survivor” buff and 100% of the proceeds from donations and sales of the buff, all that will go to cancer research.

Gordon: Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve heard that the lovely Jenna Morasca had a hand in helping you overcome your challenging year.
(Laughs) Who was that? What’s her name?
Gordon: Jenna Morasca? I believe she won “Survivor: Amazon.”
Ethan: Oh, I know her, chocolate and peanut butter, right?
Gordon: Yeah, that’s her.
Ethan: Jenna has been a rock. She dropped her whole life and was there for every doctor’s appointment, pin prick, chemotherapy treatment. Without her, it would have been a horrible situation. She definitely gave me the power to make it through it.

Gordon: “Survivor: Nicaragua” is right around the corner. Have you been following it at all?
I saw the announcement of the cast. And, I like the concept of old vs. young. That’d kind of be like me vs. Jenna. It’s going to be exciting. I love the show.
Gordon: Who’s your early pick?
Ethan: Of course I’m going to lean toward the guy who could rival me for the best hair on television, Jimmy Johnson. (Laughs) It’s going to be a battle to see who’s got the better hair.
Gordon: I don’t mean to brag, but I got to see Jimmy Johnson a couple of days into the game and…well…I don’t know how well his hair holds up.
Ethan: (Laughs) Oh really? Alright, maybe I’ll switch my pick.

Gordon: You mentioned the PSA that is planned, are there other promotional stages you can share with us at this time?
Yeah, eventually we’re going to get as many Survivors as possible doing stuff. We’re going to be doing fun events across the country that people can get involved with. You know, it’s not just a one-time thing. This is a year-round initiative. People can get involved whenever they want, they can raise money whenever they want.

Gordon: Earlier we discussed the “Survivor” family, and it really is more than the 39 days you spent in Africa. There are tight bonds between the different seasons, and it’s become a very close-knit community. What does it mean to you to be a part of this extended family?
It’s incredible. When I was on “Survivor” I don’t think I understood the magnitude of the show and the actual power that it had. But ten years later to be a part of this movement is unbelievable. And now that we can all come together it’ll be unstoppable. We have millions of fans and everyone on the show is so excited to do this. And “Survivor,” granted it’s just a game, but it’s exciting to be a part of something so special.

‘Survivor: Nicaragua’ Preliminary Rankings

August 11, 2010

It took months of begging and pleading, but the Fancast higher-ups eventually agreed to send me to Nicaragua to cover the 21st season of “Survivor.” Apparently they had two reasons for relenting. First, I’d be able to bring you exclusive interviews with the cast and crew, behind-the-scenes photos and videos, and other first-hand tidbits. And second, they enjoy it when Jeff Probst berates me (which he did…often).

To kick off our look inside “Survivor,” I’ve ranked this season’s players based on what I saw of them in the days before the start of the game.

NOTE: This preliminary ranking, while informative, will not count toward this season’s Power Ranking score. (Speaking of which, be on the lookout for one of my personal favorite villains as this season’s Power Rankings opponent.)

So without further ado, let’s see who’s in it for the long haul, who’ll be called for jury duty, and who’ll be forgotten by the time the reunion special airs.

Marty KellyB
#1 Marty – When I first sat down with Marty I thought, “This guy is right in my ‘Survivor’ wheel house. He’s physical enough to be useful early on, he’s not too strong where he’d be an obvious boot after the merge, and he seems cunning enough to come up with some sound strategies.” So, Marty is my pick to take home the million. The bad news for Marty? When I went out to “Survivor: Gabon” I picked Michelle Chase…and she went home first. #2 Kelly B. – Kelly’s prosthetic leg won’t be a factor physically during her time on “Survivor.” She’s already proven that she can successfully compete in athletic competitions while wearing it. That, and I barely even noticed it during our time together. It’s not a big deal to her, so it quickly won’t be a big deal to her tribe mates.  However, it could affect her game if people are afraid to go to the finals with someone who has such an inspirational story.
Yve Judson
#3 Yve – I think being successful in “Survivor” requires having several different weapons and knowing when to use them. Nobody has more weapons this season than Yve. She’s on the older tribe, but she’s only 41 and can still relate to the younger tribe. As a mother of two, she could easily slip into a mother role with some of the younger players (ala Tina Wesson). If that doesn’t work, she’s also quite beautiful and could use her feminine wiles to keep her around. I think she’s definitely one to watch. #4 Judson – It’d be really easy to write “Jud-weiser” off because he’s a good-looking, goofy guy. But while I was talking to him, I couldn’t help but think, “Here’s an easy-going fellow on a tribe full of alpha males.” While Benry, Shannon, and Sash are jockeying for position at the top of the tribe, Judson can just coast for a while.
Alina Tyrone
#5 Alina – I worry that Alina might be trying to play a character and isn’t being herself. I think she can survive in the game and may even make a run for it, but she’s going to have to curb the faux tough girl exterior. The pleasant, easy-to-talk-to young woman I met didn’t click with the “Don’t call me the girl next door” rhetoric that was in her biography. #6  Tyrone – I was told about the young vs. old twist the night before I met the players. My first instinct was, “The young tribe is going to decimate the older tribe in challenges.” That was before I met Tyrone. He’s built like a WWE action figure and is arguably the most physically fit competitor in the game.  Add to that the fact that he’s smart, he’s a motivator, and he has more life experience than his younger counterparts and you have an extremely dangerous player.
Jane Shannon
#7 Jane – Quick Jane Story: I did a bit with the players where I asked them how they’d get me to share the cast bios with them if we were in the game together. Jane simply said, “I’d tickle you, then take them.” I laughed, then continued on with my questions. At the end of the interview, she charged me, tickled me, and snatched the bios away. The whole thing took all of three seconds. Fortunately, I snatched the bios back before she could read them. But, that little incident proved to me that Jane is clearly evil and willing to do anything to get what she wants. It’d be foolish to underestimate her. #8 Shannon – The La Flor tribe has a powerhouse line-up of young studs. However, they also have a powder keg of alpha males. When the inevitable clash of egos takes place between Shannon, Benry, and Sash, I’m putting my money on Shannon to be the last man standing. Why? Because I think he can relate to Chase and Judson.
Jillian Benry
#9 Jillian – I’m not sure exactly what to make of Jillian. She’s obviously very fit physically and will be able to handle the Nicaraguan wilderness. But, she also told me she’s not afraid to speak her mind. She’ll need to keep that instinct in check if she wants to stick around. If not, she could be an early boot. I’m putting her in the middle of the pack for the time being. #10 Benry – My buddy Benry seems to pride himself on being a player. Which is fine…in real life. On “Survivor” when somebody is looking for a reason to get rid of you it could be just what they need to sway some female votes to go their way. If he can avoid getting stamped with that label, he could go far.
NaOnka Chase
#11 NaOnka – I think NaOnka is going to surprise a lot of people. Physically she’s got the goods to hold her own in any immunity challenge and she has the outdoor experience to handle 39 days on a beach. If she can get in with a solid alliance she could go a long way. #12 Chase – Chase is big, Chase is strong, Chase is very likable. What Chase isn’t is a big fan of “Survivor.” He might not be prepared for the non-stop mental toll all of the paranoia takes on your psyche.
JimmyJ Holly
#13 Jimmy J. – If Jimmy Johnson was just a celebrity who wanted to extend his 15 minutes, I’d say he was dead in the water.  But, Jimmy has wanted to be on “Survivor” since the day it premiered. And, Jimmy confided in me that he’s going to tell people to take him to the end because he can’t possibly win. Seems like a good strategy. His main problem? Sandra used that exact same strategy last season and won. Sorry, Jimmy. #14 Holly – Holly has a lot of public speaking experience, being a pageant consultant and the wife of a politician. Now, maybe I’m reading too much into this, but it seems like society has trained us to find both of those pursuits to be somewhat disingenuous. If she starts dancing around with her words, she could find herself out of the game quickly.
JimmyT BrendaL
#15 Jimmy T. – I’m not sure if there’s a way to put this nicely so I’m just going to say it – Jimmy T. doesn’t quite know when to be shut up. He can get on a person’s nerves quickly. He’s a nice guy and obviously knows a great deal about “Survivor,” but I could see him being sent home if he starts to annoy the rest of his tribe. #16 Brenda – I love Brenda. Adore her. Anyone who claims to be “As deceptive as a Decepticon” in her interview earns serious points with me.  However, the same thing that makes me adore her is what’s going to have the older tribe gunning for her. Her youthful enthusiasm is going to put a major target on her back.
KellyS Dan
#17 Kelly S. – Kelly is a very sweet girl, but she’s lived a charmed life. If I’m on her tribe and I’m listening about how she was the captain of the cheerleading squad and is currently going to school in Hawaii, I’d probably be thinking that this young lady doesn’t need a million dollars. Besides, with the way her life is going, she’ll probably win the lottery several times. #18 Dan – Oh, Mr Connected! I love me some Dan Lembo. Couldn’t ask for a nicer, more welcoming guy. I wish he was my next-door neighbor and we grilled together every Sunday. That’s why it’s a shame his time in Nicaragua is going to be so brief. If the older tribe falls behind and they have to make choices based on physical prowess rather than people they like, he’ll be one of the first to go.
Wendy Sash
#19 Wendy – Not many people know this, but the Survivors get to see each other before the game starts. On the flight over, while waiting for their press interviews, while they’re having their pictures taken. Now, they’re not allowed to talk to each other, but that doesn’t mean they’re not reading the other players’ body language. What was the most common thing I heard from the players about Wendy? “The cowgirl has to go home first.” #20 Sash – The worst thing about living in a post-Russell world is that there are sure to be some imitators. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you my pick for Russell 2.0. Sash told me he was going to manipulate thoughts, smash dreams and about a dozen other things straight out of the Hantz Playbook. Fortunately, I don’t think tribes are going to fall for it any more. If they see someone acting too Russell-like they’re going to send him packing.

More “Survivor” Fun: Check out our exclusive cast interviews and learn about this season’s new twist, the Medallion of Power.

‘Survivor: Nicaragua’ to Introduce the Medallion of Power

August 9, 2010

Hot on the heels of their wildly popular “Heroes Vs. Villains” season, the crew at “Survivor” isn’t planning to rest on their laurels. They’re coming out swinging with some new twists and innovations that are sure to spice up their 21st trip into the wilderness…

The Young Vs. Old Experiment – This season the twenty competitors will be split up based on their ages. Players thirty years and younger will become members of the yellow La Flor tribe, while those that are forty years and older will be a part of the blue Espada tribe. In order to keep the younger tribe from decimating the older tribe in immunity and reward challenges, the competitions have been engineered to require strategy as well as physical prowess.

The Medallion of Power – No, the Medallion of Power isn’t what Princess Adora used to transform into She-Ra, it’s a way for a tribe to gain an advantage. One Medallion of Power will be available during the game. If a tribe has possession of the MOP and chooses to play it, they’ll receive a distinct advantage (like a head start or a puzzle clue) in the following immunity challenge. However, once the challenge is over the MOP will transfer to the opposing tribe.

“The whole idea is to create some conflict and a dilemma,” said “Survivor” host Jeff Probst. “What do you go for? If immunity is on the line do you play for the advantage, or are you cocky enough, like the young people could be, and say, ‘We don’t need the advantage, we can take them without it.’”

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Russell-Proof Idols – Russell Hantz’s turn-the-camp-upside-down-looking-for-hidden-idols strategy in “Samoa” and “Heroes Vs. Villains” saved him from a few early exits. However, fans were nearly unanimous in their distaste for the ease in which these hidden immunity idols were discovered. The “Survivor” team has heard your concerns and has reacted by making the idols much more difficult to uncover.

“Survivor: Nicaragua” premieres Wednesday, September 15, 2010 on CBS at 8 p.m. ET.

More “Survivor” Fun: Meet the members of the La Flor and the Espada Tribes.

Even More “Survivor” Fun: Xfinity TV sent “Survivor” Know-it-All Gordon Holmes to Nicaragua to get a first-hand look at the filming of the latest edition of “Survivor.” Be sure to check back for exclusive interviews with the cast and host Jeff Probst, behind-the-scenes photos and videos, and Gordon’s personal (and somewhat muddy) account of what it’s like to compete in an actual immunity challenge.

‘Survivor: Nicaragua’ Contestants Revealed – Meet the Espada Tribe

August 9, 2010

The contestants for the 21st season of “Survivor” were unveiled by CBS this morning. The twenty players, who will compete for a million dollar prize, have been divided into separate tribes based on their ages. Contestants under the age of thirty will compete as part of the yellow La Flor tribe, while those who are forty years and older will join forces as the Espada tribe.

To view the members of the La Flor tribe, click here.

Jillian Jane
Name: Jillian Behm
Age: 43
Current Residence: Erie, PA
Occupation: Emergency Room Doctor

Jillian is a national-caliber cyclist and prides herself on being able to hold her own against the best male and female riders.

Watch Jillian’s Interview

Name: Jane Bright
Age: 56
Current Residence: Jackson Spring, NC
Occupation: Dog Trainer

Jane is an accomplished dog trainer and runs her family’s 134-acre farm. She enjoys water skiing, snow skiing, and showing her dogs.

Watch Jane’s Interview

Tyrone Wendy
Name: Tyrone Davis
Age: 42
Current Residence: Inglewood, CA
Occupation: Fire Captain

When Tyrone isn’t leading his fire fighters through dangerous situations, he teaches a spin class, snowboards, dances, and writes songs.

Watch Tyrone’s Interview

Name: Wendy DeSmidt-Kohlhoff
Age: 48
Current Residence: Fromberg, MT
Occupation: Retired Army Officer

Wendy ascended to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army. In her 22 years of service she oversaw nearly 200 nurses in her clinics.

Watch Wendy’s Interview

Holly JimmyJ
Name: Holly Hoffman
Age: 44
Current Residence: Eureka, SD
Occupation: Swim Coach

Holly splits her time between being a volleyball official, swim team coach, a pageant consultant, and a campaign manager for her husband’s political career.

Watch Holly’s Interview

Name: Jimmy Johnson
Age: 66
Current Residence: Islamorada, FL
Occupation: TV Sports Broadcaster

The two-time Super Bowl champion has been trying to get on “Survivor” for years. He was originally slated to compete in “Survivor: Gabon” before a medical condition took him out of the running.

Watch Jimmy’s Interview

Dan Marty
Name: Dan Lembo
Age: 63
Current Residence: Watermill, NY
Occupation: Property Management

Known as “Mr. Connected,” Dan claims he’s going to lie, cheat, and steal to get to the end of “Survivor.” Dan’s also known to date much younger women…maybe he’s on the wrong tribe?

Watch Dan’s Interview

Name: Marty Piombo
Age: 48
Current Residence: Mill Valley, CA
Occupation: Wine Industry Executive

Marty rose to the top of the corporate world as an executive at Yahoo! He feels the dirty political moves that are necessary to rise in business will serve him well in “Survivor.”

Watch Marty’s Interview

Yve JimmyT
Name: Yve Rojas
Age: 41
Current Residence: Kansas City, KS
Occupation: Stay-at-Home Mom

Yve isn’t your ordinary married mother of two. She spent her 40th birthday sitting topless by a pool and enjoying a quarter-pound hamburger.

Watch Yve’s Interview

Name: Jimmy “Jimmy T.” Tarantino
Age: 48
Current Residence: Gloucester, MA
Occupation: Fisherman/Government Seafood Inspector

“Jimmy T.” was the winner of the first-ever CBS/Sears “Survivor” Online Casting Call. His hometown was instrumental in rocking the vote and earning him the coveted slot in the game.

Watch Jimmy T’s Interview

More “Survivor” Fun: Check out some of the new twists in store for the “Survivor: Nicaragua” contestants.

Even More “Survivor” Fun: Xfinity TV sent “Survivor” Know-it-All Gordon Holmes to Nicaragua to get a first-hand look at the filming of the latest edition of “Survivor.” Be sure to check back for exclusive interviews with the cast and host Jeff Probst, behind-the-scenes photos and videos, and Gordon’s personal (and somewhat muddy) account of what it’s like to compete in an actual immunity challenge.

‘Survivor: Nicaragua’ Contestants Revealed – Meet the La Flor Tribe

August 9, 2010

The contestants for the 21st season of “Survivor” were unveiled by CBS this morning. The twenty players, who will compete for a million dollar prize, have been divided into separate tribes based on their ages. Contestants under the age of thirty will compete as part of the yellow La Flor tribe, while those who are forty years and older will join forces as the Espada tribe.

To view the members of the Espada tribe, click here.

Judson KellyB
Name: Judson “Fabio” Birza
Age: 20
Current Residence: Venice, CA
Occupation: Student/Model/Musician

Judson is a self-professed goof ball who surfs and plays drums for his band, Space Funk Odyssey.

Watch Judson’s Interview

Name: Kelly Bruno
Age: 25
Current Residence: Durham, NC
Occupation: Medical Student

Kelly hasn’t let the fact that she lost her leg to a birth defect stop her from doing anything. Today she is a medical student and a world class disabled tri-athlete.

Watch Kelly B’s Interview

Shannon Benry
Name: Shannon Elkins
Age: 30
Current Residence: Lafayette, LA
Occupation: Business Owner

Confidence has never been a problem for Shannon. His “Survivor” audition video started with him saying, “I hear it’s your tenth anniversary. Well here’s your present. My name’s Shannon.”

Watch Shannon’s Interview

Name: Ben “Benry” Henry
Age: 23
Current Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Bar Owner

“Benry” prides himself on being a player, and is confident that he can manipulate any woman into doing whatever he wants them to do. However, he has a younger sister, so he’s careful not to go too far.

Watch Benry’s Interview

Sash BrendaL
Name: Matthew “Sash” Lenahan
Age: 30
Current Residence: New York, NY
Occupation: Luxury Real Estate Broker

“Sash” believes his career has perfectly prepared him for “Survivor.” In his job he has to “manipulate people’s thoughts and dreams while crushing the competition.”

Watch Sash’s Interview

Name: Brenda Lowe
Age: 27
Current Residence: Miami, FL
Occupation: Business Owner

This former Miami Dolphin cheerleader isn’t just another pretty face.  Brenda owns her own paddle boarding company and is the assistant to a CEO of a music licensing company.

Watch Brenda’s Interview

NaOnka Chase
Name: NaOnka Mixon
Age: 27
Current Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Physical Education Teacher
Don’t be fooled by NaOnka’s smiling exterior. She may get to play around and be a kid in her day job, but she’s prepared to be a cunning competitor once the game starts.

Watch NaOnka’s Interview

Name: Chase Rice
Age: 24
Current Residence: Charlotte, NC
Occupation: NASCAR Jackman/Country Singer
Chase isn’t concerned with the attention he may receive from female contestants. As a NASCAR pit crew member, he’s been dealing with female fans (known as “pit lizards”) for years.

Watch Chase’s Interview

KellyS Alina
Name: Kelly Shinn
Age: 20
Current Residence: Mesa, AZ
Occupation: Student
As a former captain of her high school cheering squad and homecoming queen, Kelly is used to being the center of attention. Now the pre-med college student spends plenty of time outdoors hiking, surfing, and paddle boarding.

Watch Kelly S’s Interview

Name: Alina Wilson
Age: 23
Current Residence: Downey, CA
Occupation: Student/Model

Alina hopes people make the mistake of writing her off as a pretty girl. She believes she was made for “Survivor” and is prepared to have “wars.”

Watch Alina’s Interview

More “Survivor” Fun: See what twists and turns the “Survivor” crew has in store for the new contestants.

Even More “Survivor” Fun: Xfinity TV sent “Survivor” Know-it-All Gordon Holmes to Nicaragua to get a first-hand look at the filming of the latest edition of “Survivor.” Be sure to check back for exclusive interviews with the cast and host Jeff Probst, behind-the-scenes photos and videos, and Gordon’s personal (and somewhat muddy) account of what it’s like to compete in an actual immunity challenge.

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