Archive for August, 2012

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Pre-Game Interview: Zane Knight

August 31, 2012

Zane Knight (Gordon Holmes)

XfinityTV.com sent me deep into the wilderness on a mission to bring you all kinds of “Survivor” stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

Name: Zane Knight
Age: 28
Home: Danville, VA
Occupation: Tire Repair
Tribe: Matsing

Gordon Holmes: Laziness is one of your pet peeves. What’re you going to do on Day 28 when someone’s lounging on the beach while you’re getting firewood?
Zane Knight: I told them before, I hope I don’t vote myself out.
Holmes: That’s very rare.
Knight: (Laughs) Yeah. I’m already looking around and seeing a bunch of supermodels. You’ve got people that spend ten and twelve hours a day in a gym. That’s the time I’m working. If you’re going to sweat, get paid for it. And we’re going to be on a show called “Survivor.” If you’ve got six-pack abs and you’re starving to death, what good is it? Put yourself some extra pounds on, have something to lose. Go about this game in a survivor mentality.
Holmes: But if you see somebody being lazy, are you someone who can weigh the social implications of going after them?
Knight: Oh, I’m on your ass. I’m not scared. Where I come from, you don’t live off the government. You go to work every day. If you can’t find a job you go to a staffing agency or you work under your means. People say that all the time, they say, “Oh, I’m a manager, I can’t go to work at McDonald’s.” If it comes to paying your light bill you can, you know what I mean? And I’m the kind of person, I’m going to sweep up around camp, I’m going to stack firewood. I’m going to do what I gotta do to make sure we’re a success. And if you’re laying around acting like you’re on a vacation, then you need to go home.

Holmes: You hate laziness and sprinkles. We share those pet peeves. I know why I dislike sprinkles, why don’t you?
Knight: Cause I’m a man. (Laughs) Sprinkles can be taken in any light. Sprinkles are life. You’ve got guys that can’t grip a tackle box. Don’t nobody color my hair. If I got a zit, I’m going to walk around with it for a couple of days until it goes.
Holmes: Oh, I was just going to say I don’t like sprinkles because they make such a mess.
Knight: Not only that, they’re hard and crunch and break your teeth. I hate ‘em.
Holmes: Like only 40% of them end up in your mouth.
Knight: They get everywhere. You find them in your pocket when you wash your clothes.
Holmes: My girlfriend gets these cookies that are awesome. They’re always soft and they’ve got frosting on them, but they’ve got these sprinkles on them.
Knight: Are you talking about the cookies they do in the seasons? The Walmart cookies?
Holmes: Yes!
Knight: Those are awesome.

Holmes: You’re wearing a Yankees hat. You have a Yankees tattoo.
Knight: I love the Yankees.
Holmes: You are from Virigina. How does that happen?
Knight: I don’t want to say that me and my daddy don’t get along. We have different paths. We didn’t go fishing and stuff like that. So, when I started my first real job the boss man kinda took me under his wing. And my daddy was working. He didn’t have time to spend goofing off because he was making money for the house. I respect that. I’m not saying he’s a bad dad. But this guy was paid. He had time to go to baseball games and stuff like that. My whole life I’d been a Baltimore Orioles fan. But he took me to a Yankees game and when I walked out on that field, man. It was right behind first base. The hot dogs and the vendors…it was just baseball.
Holmes: This is old Yankee Stadium?
Knight: This is old Yankee Stadium. It stuck with me man. And ever since then I’ve been a die-hard Yankees fan. I couldn’t let go of it.
Holmes: Non New Yorkers who root for the Yankees are often accused of being frontrunners.
Knight: No, no, no, I rooted for the Yankees even when we sucked. When (George) Steinbrenner died, I felt like he was my grandpop. I love the Yankees.

Holmes: Are you a “Survivor” fan?
Knight: Yes. I mean, I’m not a die-hard fan by any means. When I first met Jeff (Probst) I told him he was a (expletive deleted). The celebrity thing doesn’t do much for me. “Boston” Rob (Mariano) is what made me like this show. He showed me that there’s a callous way to do things and a repented way to do things. He came in here and he was cutthroat and then, the third time around (Editor’s Note: Technically his fourth) he was like “I need to win this money, this is my last shot.” He kind of made it his own.
Holmes: He had a real character arc, going from this brash kid to this seasoned adult.
Knight: Yeah! He learned the way of the game. From watching him, my hatred of Boston makes me want to throw that in his face. I want to win this money my first time with a Yankees hat on.
Holmes: They’re going to let you wear the Yankees hat?
Knight: I don’t know. That’s still up in the air.
Holmes: How do you feel about playing against people who do consider themselves to be die-hard “Survivor” fans?
Knight: You would not stay in my tribe knowing as much as you know about the game. You’re too much of a liability to me.

Holmes: You’ve been out here with the cast a few days. What are your first impressions?
Knight: No competition at all. It’s one guy, he’s a little bit taller than me. He’s got a shaved head and a mustache. He seems to be a good ol’ boy. He had on cowboy boots. He seems like he’s going to be my confidant. Me and him are going to run this game. But he’s the only challenge I see. Everyone else has six-pack abs and bleach-blonde hair. Not that I’m talking down on them. What we’re going out there for is not to be on TV, but to be the sole survivor.

Holmes: Are you prepared to lie?
Knight: No. I don’t need to. Just like Brandon (Hantz). Brandon taught me a lot about this game. When they went to Tribal Council that night he said, “You know what, send me home. If this is how you want to play and how you want to do each other, I don’t need this.” And you see how long he stayed. You don’t have to lie to get ahead. You put your head down, you work hard, and people respect you for it.
Holmes: There are some lovely ladies here. Will you be flirting?
Knight: No, I’m married. My wife would kill me and all the chicks on this island.
Holmes: (Laughs) You’re setting up a lot of rules for yourself. That’s tough to stick to in this game.
Knight: Yeah, you gotta be in the moment in a game like this. But at the same time, you know what you’d do in the moment in front of your old lady.
Holmes: I guess you have to appreciate that anything you say could be broadcast on CBS.
Knight: Oh, you know it’s coming on TV.  Let’s put it like this. I’m not making any rules, but I’m not doing anything my wife would be ashamed to see.

Holmes: I’ve been asking everyone this question, if you could align with any former “Survivor” player, who would it be and why?
Knight: I would probably pick Phil (Sheppard) because “Boston” Rob was a genius. He kept Phil around, he kept making excuses for him. He took him to the end and when the jury voted Rob got the money. And that’s what we’re here for. You’re not going to get a lunchbox out of this. “Survivor” is about the money. We’re here to get that check.

Holmes: Ok, what’re  you going to do in December when you’re a millionaire?
Knight: That’s right, I am going to be a millionaire. My wife is probably the best southern cook you’ll ever meet in your life. It oughta be against the law that she doesn’t have her own restaurant. Girl can cook anything.
Holmes: What’s her specialty?
Knight: Anything! We had some leftovers from a Mexican restaurant, long story short, she threw in some rice and some cheese and whatever else and made a casserole dish that was better than the stuff we had at the restaurant.
Holmes: Why aren’t you fatter?
Knight: (Laughs) I gotta try real hard. It’s the job I work.

Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” – Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Vanuatu’ Episode 14

August 29, 2012

Image by @Survivor_BUFF

My Big Question: Back in 2008, Jeff Probst and I did a video segment called the “‘Survivor’ Question of the Week” where we’d debate the merits of a specific topic. One of those topics was, “Who was the least deserving winner in ‘Survivor’ history.” I chose Chris Daugherty because I felt like he was lucky that the female alliance fell apart when it did and I didn’t like how he misled people like Eliza before voting them out. The lying struck me as very unnecessary.

However, that was based on a four-year-old season I had watched before yapping about “Survivor” was my actual job. So for this rewatch, my main goal is to critique Chris’s performance to see if he deserved my worst-ever ranking.

And with that, lets wrap this business up…

(more…)

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Pre-Game Interview: ‘Facts of Life’ Star Lisa Whelchel

August 29, 2012

Lisa Whelchel (Gordon Holmes)

XfinityTV.com sent me deep into the wilderness on a mission to bring you all kinds of “Survivor” stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

Name: Lisa Whelchel
Age:49
Home: Dallas, TX
Occupation: Author, Speaker and a Mother
Tribe: Tandang

Fun Fact: Lisa starred in the ’80s comedy hit “The Facts of Life” alongside some guy named George Clooney.

Gordon Holmes: You look familiar…
Lisa Whelchel: (Laughs) Some of the younger people…I won’t look familiar to them.
Holmes: You obviously played the role of Blair Warner on “The Facts of Life.” Do you think your fame will be a detriment? Will it work to your advantage?
Whelchel: I don’t think it’s going to work to my advantage. But, I hope it’s not too much of a detriment. I think if one person recognizes me it’s going to spread around, but it’s not going to be something I’m going to volunteer. I’m not going to hide it. But I hope by the time it comes out the people will know me as me.
Holmes: The entertainment industry has a reputation for being a cutthroat business. Will growing up in the thick of that help you out?
Whelchel: I think I’m pretty naive when it comes to that. We were very sheltered on the show, I guess because we were kids. And it was different back then in ‘80s. It’s more cutthroat now and I’ve been out of it for so long. It might be a hindrance. I tend to trust people and think people have the best intentions.
Holmes: But that tends to be the opposite of what “Survivor” is about.
Whelchel: I’m not naïve enough to not know that this is a game. But I don’t know if I’ll be naturally good at seeing through agendas that are ruthless.
Holmes: It’s day one. You and I meet on the beach. I say, “Hi, my name is Gordon, I’m a writer for XfinityTV.com.” How do you respond?
Whelchel: “My name is Lisa, I’m from Dallas, Texas. I have three kids who are in college. I’ve been writing books for moms for the last ten years.”
Holmes: And what if I respond, “Do you know my friend Tootie Ramsey?” Do you own up to it?
Whelchel: (Laughs) Yeah, I say, “That was me.”

Holmes: You said you write books for moms. What does that entail?
Whelchel: I’ve written about 14 books and they’re resources for moms, encouragement for moms. Just in the trenches, have someone beside them to encourage them.
Holmes: What do your kids think of mom going on this crazy adventure?
Whelchel: Oh, they’re thrilled. We’ve watched “Survivor” as a family for the past ten years. They know it’s something I’ve wanted to do. And as my youngest said, “My mom’s never been on television in my lifetime.” So, it’ll be fun for them.

Holmes: In your bio it says you’d take a Bible with you on a deserted island. Religion has been a hot-button issue the past couple of seasons. Do you worry that being too outward with your religion could put a target on your back?
Whelchel: I think you run a risk when you’re overly vocal about your beliefs. There are so many negative ties to it, unfortunately. So, I don’t plan to. In my real life, I’ll pray with people and I’ll even pray out loud by myself. But I’m not going to do that on television because it’s too much of a gamble of how it’s going to be perceived.

Holmes: It’s crazy that you’re out here. I love that.
Whelchel: Aww…thank you.
Holmes: It says that you’re psyched to meet Jeff Probst. I’m assuming at this point you already have.
Whelchel: Yes, at final auditions.
Holmes: What do you think?
Whelchel: He’s fabulous. He’s got it all. He’s cute. I like that he’s interested about other people and their stories.

Holmes: You’ve been around the cast for a few days. Let’s hear your first impressions.
Whelchel: It’s hard to tell. I like everybody so far, but I’ve watched the show enough to know you have to cast the evil one, and the psycho, and the one who’s a little off, and the brash one, and the lippy one. They’re in the cast, I just can’t tell which one is which.
Holmes: It’s like poker. If you can’t figure out who the mark is at the table, it’s probably you.
Whelchel: (Laughs)
Holmes: Do you think anyone has recognized you?
Whelchel: I think so. There are a couple of people who are old enough to recognize me.
Holmes: You keep saying “old enough,” but I think “Facts of Life” is one of those shows that the younger generation might be familiar with.
Whelchel: But some of them are really young. Like 18, 19, 20…
Holmes: Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like you’re from the “Brady Bunch” era, but with the Internet those shows don’t go away. I feel like “Silver Spoons” people barely remember, but “Facts of Life” people remember.

Holmes: Do you have any problems lying to people?
Whelchel: It’s not my strategy to lie, or to be evil. But I know to play the game with respect and to honor your alliance, there are times where you cannot answer forthrightly. If someone asks if I’m voting for them, I’ll figure out a way to not answer directly. It’ll still be a lie, though.
Holmes: How about flirting?
Whelchel: No. (Laughs)

Holmes: They asked you which “Survivor” you’re like…you said Colby (Donaldson). What I want to know is, if you could align with a “Survivor” player, who would it be and why?
Whelchel: Russell Hantz, because you have to be ruthless to play the game well. And that is not a natural strength of mine. So, I’d like to align with someone who has a strength that I don’t have. He doesn’t have a social game, so I think we’d make a good team. And given his history, he’d take me to the end and I’d win.

Holmes: Any plans for that big check they’re going to give you in December?
Whelchel: This sounds like a beauty pageant answer…
Holmes: World peace, donate it all to charity…
Whelchel: Well, as a Christian it’s a privilege to give the first 10% to the church. And my brother just started a church in the inner city in California. So, it’d be a joy to give $100,000 to him. And before I left, I read a book called “The God Pocket” that captivated my imagination. You keep a certain amount of money in your purse, then you open your eyes to people who need it. I’d love to set aside maybe 10% for that. Just to give away when the need arises. My daughter is getting married, I’ve got three kids in college. And as far as fun, I’d love the freedom it’d provide me.

Holmes: OK, if there was a “Survivor” tribe made up of Blair Warner, Jo Polniaczek, Tootie Ramsey, Edna Garrett, and…wait…I know this…
Whelchel: Natalie Green!
Holmes: Natalie Green! So close. OK, you’re all on a tribe. Can Blair Warner backstab her way to a win?
Whelchel: No…she quits on the first day because she might get dirty.

Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” – Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Pre-Game Interview: Roberta ‘RC’ Saint-Amour

August 28, 2012

Roberta ‘RC’ Saint-Amour (Gordon Holmes)

XfinityTV.com sent me deep into the wilderness on a mission to bring you all kinds of “Survivor” stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

Name: Roberta ‘RC’ Saint-Amour
Age: 27
Home: New York, NY
Occupation: Investment Banker
Tribe: Tandang

Fun Fact:  RC was the 112th Wellesley Hoop Rolling Champion.

Gordon Holmes: Alright, what is hoop rolling?
Roberta “RC” Saint-Amour: (Laughs) It’s Wellesley’s most beloved tradition. When every senior graduates they participate in hoop rolling. And it’s said that the winner is supposed to achieve success however she defines it. So, I rolled my hoop in my cap and gown, one eighth of a mile, and I actually won.
Holmes: You’ve yet to explain what hoop rolling is.
Saint-Amour: Oh! You roll this big wooden hoop and you just bat it.
Holmes: With like a stick? I feel like that’s a thing.
Saint-Amour:  Oh, see…you would’ve done well, but it’s not as good as your hand. There were some girls there with the stick, but they didn’t win. The key is to go steady and not to get too anxious.
Holmes: Do you think your hoop-rolling prowess will serve you well on “Survivor”?
Saint-Amour: I don’t think the hoop-rolling prowess in general lends itself, but I think the techniques really lend itself to “Survivor.” I practiced hard, I went through the motions, I was mentally and physically prepared. And I think that’s how I’m going to be on “Survivor.”
Holmes: Say it’s day 38 and you’re at that final immunity challenge and Jeff Probst shows up with some hoops…
Saint-Amour: (Laughs) Done!

Holmes: It says in your bio that one of your pet peeves is annoying people…
Saint-Amour: (Laughs) I know! I didn’t realize that that was going to be published. And I work 15-hour days. That particular week I worked 20-hour days, so I didn’t care. You probably got the best of me there. Hopefully I’ll be able to stay tight-lipped around those people.
Holmes: You’re in the business world, you obviously don’t love everybody you have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Can you keep those things under wraps?
Saint-Amour: I think I’m better than I actually am. I’ve had so much practice at this time. I think you know going into this experience that you’re going to have to do it.

Holmes: It also says in your bio…
Saint-Amour: (Laughs) Oh no…
Holmes: I feel like you’re coming into this with a negative attitude. We’re all friends here.
Saint-Amour: (Laughs) You know everything about me?
Holmes: And what do you know about me?
Saint-Amour: Nothing.
Holmes: See, but you’ll learn. That’ll be our goal.
Saint-Amour: Good.
Holmes: Because that will serve you well while you’re out there. Information about a random reporter guy.

Holmes: OK, back to the bio. Says here that one of the things you’d take on a deserted island is a puppy.
Saint-Amour: (Laughs) Yes.
Holmes: What are you going to do for 39 days with a puppy?
Saint-Amour: (Laughs) I tried to actually get them to change that answer.
Holmes: Follow-up question; why do you hate puppies?
Saint-Amour: I love puppies. How fun would a puppy be on an island?
Holmes: This poor puppy would starve. Now, it’s not right for me to judge you…
Saint-Amour: Cause we’ve just met!
Holmes: I’m not comfortable with your level of puppy hatred.
Saint-Amour: If you’re going to be on an island you have no other entertainment and a puppy is really cute. I’d get it food.

Holmes: What are your first impressions of the cast?
Saint-Amour: They seem like really with it. They really seem like they’re here to play a game. There are no softballs where you think that person is going to get voted out first. I’m trying to really reserve who I want to align myself with or vote off or anything of that nature because you really don’t know these people. So, I’m excited.
Holmes: What about their behavior makes you think they’re players?
Saint-Amour: You can tell some people with where they eat, what they wear, where they sit, what they read. You can tell some people are more careful about that than others.

Holmes: One of the things that always comes up is deception. Do you have any issues with lying?
Saint-Amour: No. Is that a question? (Laughs) This is “Survivor”!
Holmes: I can’t discuss this cast, but I can discuss past casts. Some people come here and claim that they aren’t going to lie.
Saint-Amour: Listen, I don’t lie in my regular life, but this is a game! You’re out here for a reason.
Holmes: I agree. I’m of the opinion that you know what you’ve signed up for.
Saint-Amour: Yeah.
Holmes: Like I wouldn’t lie to my mom. Unless we were in the game together and I needed to get her out.
Saint-Amour: (Laughs) I think I have a line drawn, and I’m willing to veer one way or the other. You never know until you’re out there.

Holmes: How about flirting? Is there a line drawn there?
Saint-Amour: Am I flirting with you? (Laughs)
Holmes: This won’t get you ahead in the game.  I’m talking about when you’re out in the wilderness.
Saint-Amour: Fine…yes, that would be the answer.

Holmes: Are you a big “Survivor” fan?
Saint-Amour: Huge!
Holmes: They asked you which “Survivor” player you’re like and you said you aren’t like any “Survivor” player.
Saint-Amour: Right. Who would you say I’m like?
Holmes: You’re very funny, like in a good way. You’re very personable. You remind me a little of Brenda Lowe (“Survivor: Nicaragua”) before she played the game. She was a lot more fun and carefree in her pre-game interviews than she was on the show.
Saint-Amour: Oh, very interesting.
Holmes: So, I’m not a fan of that question because it’s always “I’m like Parvati, except…” or “I’m like Brandon, but…” I’m interested in the way you’re going to play this game. So, my question is, if you could align with a past “Survivor” player, who would it be and why?
Saint-Amour: Oh…this is very telling. Stephen Fishbach (“Survivor: Tocantins”), I think he’s very strategic, I think he’s non-athletic. (Laughs) I think he’s a New Yorker. I think we’d get along very well. And I think I could get him to trust me. I think we’d do very well together.

Holmes: OK, last question.
Saint-Amour: Aww…does it have to be?
Holmes: Flirting with me gets you nothing!
Saint-Amour: (Laughs) It’s the gazebo.
Holmes: It is nice. Alright, what are your plans for that million-dollar check?
Saint-Amour: I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch. I think it’s very important for me, because I’m in finance, to have financial stability. So, for me it’s enough to put the money in the bank and have it when I need it.

Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” – Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Pre-Game Interview: Carter Williams

August 27, 2012

Carter Williams (CBS)

XfinityTV.com sent me deep into the Philippines wilderness on a mission to bring you all kinds of “Survivor” stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

Name: Carter Williams
Age: 24
Home: Shawnee, KS
Occupation: Track Coach
Tribe: Kalabaw

Gordon Holmes: Tell me about yourself, Carter.
Carter Williams: I graduated in May and I’ve kind of worked some odd jobs. My dad owns a company and I help him out full time. But, this “Survivor” thing kind of opened up and I’ve put everything on hold to pursue it. I’m happy I did, and I’m happy it’s working out. But as far as what I do, I spend a lot of my time doing CrossFit. I help out in CrossFit gym. I coach cross country, which is a blast. I work full-time as an assistant in sales with my dad.
Holmes: How do you think your coaching background will help you in “Survivor”? Are you going to try to be a leader?
Williams: I would say coaching is good because you have to deal with people and learn their strengths. You definitely have to get them to trust you. I’m only four years older than some of these kids I’m coaching. I had to get them to know that I wanted the best for them and to trust me. You have to get to know them on a social level and a friendship level. So, I think that will help me out here.

Holmes: Do you have any experience living outdoors?
Williams: A little experience. Nothing like we’re going to do out here. I’ve been camping with friends. I’ve slept outside, slept on floors, but I’ve never been too far from a grocery store.

Holmes: It says on your bio that one of your pet peeves is laziness. Actually, it’s laziness with an exclamation point at the end. I’ve seen quite a bit of “Survivor” in my day, and I’m willing to bet you’re going to see some of that out there.
Williams: That’s fine. This is a game. I don’t think I’ll get on people’s cases. But if they’re being lazy that puts a target on their back. We’ve seen it in games before where they need to get rid of people because they do nothing. And other times they keep those people around because they can get rid of them later. But I’m going to go out there and work really hard and show people I can contribute.

Holmes: You’ve been around the cast for a few days now. What are your first impressions?
Williams: I think everyone out here is mentally and physically with it. We’re going to be on the 25th season, people understand this show. It’s not like the first two seasons where people didn’t know what they’re doing and they’re just trying to live out there. I think from a social standpoint, I think everyone is very sharp. Everyone looks like they can pull their own weight. So, I definitely don’t want to go in there with a big ego and think I’m some macho man. That’s a quick way to be sent home.

Holmes: Will you lie to get ahead?
Williams: Yeah. It seems like at the end of this show every season, the jury says, “I can’t believe you lied to me.” And you’re kind of going, this is a game. And they’re saying, “You’re a terrible person, shame on you.” One girl was like, “I’d be so ashamed to have you as a daughter.” This is a game, guys. You’re not going to go on a sports game with someone and be like, “I can’t believe you played rough.”
Holmes: Or a poker game and say, “I can’t believe you bluffed.”
Williams: Yeah, I can’t believe you bluffed! It’s “Survivor”! I mean, if you’re going around and saying nasty things about people, and spreading gossip and stuff, that’s one thing. But if you blindside someone? That’d suck to happen, but to me that’s like saying, “I respected your game so much that I had to get rid of you.”

Holmes: You’re a handsome young man, are you prepared to flirt to get ahead?
Williams: You know, I kind of think girls are better flirts than guys, so maybe that’s the kind of game I don’t want to get into.
Holmes: But if a girl flirts with you, would you reciprocate?
Williams: I’m definitely going to try to be on my guard and not fall victim to that. We’ve seen that. Ozzy went home early the second time he was on (“Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites”) and there were girls behind it. Lots of guys on that season went home early because the girls were smiling and winking at them.

Holmes: Are you a “Survivor” fan?
Williams: Yeah, a big fan.
Holmes: It’s tough to figure out how someone is going to play the game at this stage of the proceedings. So, this next question is designed to shed some light on things. Which former “Survivor” player would you align with and why?
Williams: I would probably align with Yul (Kwon). He seemed to have a sense of integrity. We could figure out how to win the game from an intellectual standpoint. And this may be like a little kid saying he’s like Michael Jordan, but I think I’m more like Ozzy (Lusth). I need to work on the social aspect, but I love the physical aspect. I want to be a provider, I want to fish, get coconuts, do well in the challenges. Where Yul is like, “We’re going to be one step ahead of everyone.” Yul and Ozzy went all the way. He was the godfather in that game.
Holmes: I think Yul is wildly underrated.
Williams: Oh yeah, Ozzy gets a ton of credit, and he’s probably more fun to watch, but Yul played a great game.

Holmes: Next December when they hand you that huge check for a million dollars, what are you going to do with it?
Williams: I’m really into CrossFit, I don’t know if you know what that is…
Holmes: What is it?
Williams: It’s like this high-intensity form of fitness. It’s pretty much exploding onto the scene.
Holmes: Is it like that Insanity workout?
Williams: It’s kind of like that.
Holmes: That scares the crap out of me.
Williams: (Laughs) People think it’s the hardest thing.
Holmes: You get me on a treadmill for thirty minutes and I’m proud.
Williams: (Laughs) That’s been a dream of mine. I have a family that’s really into fitness. I’d love to start a CrossFit gym and have my mom involved in it. My brother, he’s a yoga instructor who’s really into fitness. My sister-in-law, she’s a massage therapist. I’d love to find a way to start a small business and run it with my family.

Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” – Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Pre-Game Interview: Jonathan Penner

August 23, 2012

Jonathan Penner (CBS)

XfinityTV.com sent me deep into the Philippines wilderness on a mission to bring you all kinds of “Survivor” stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

Name: Jonathan Penner
Age: 50
Home: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Writer
Tribe: Matsing
Previous Season: “Survivor: Cook Islands” and “Survivor: Micronesia – Fans Vs. Favorites”
Previous Results: Jonathan was the 14th person voted out of “Cook Islands” and was evacuated from “Fans vs. Favorites” after contracting a knee infection that had the potential to cost him his leg.

Gordon Holmes: Anyone who goes on “Survivor” assumes they’re going to get voted out, they’re going to lose to the jury, or they’re going home with a million dollars. Nobody ever thinks they’re going to be carted out due to an injury. What does that do to you when the game ends like that?
Jonathan Penner: It was devastatingly painful. I really had the game pretty well in hand. I was going to go deep in the game. And then an accident that was no fault of my own…it was infuriating. But, accidents do happen, it was bad luck on me. The fact that I was able to get out of the game when I did and not lose my leg, which is what they told me I was in danger of doing, it turned out to be good luck. I’m not going to limp for the rest of my life like they told me I might.
Holmes: You had to determine how fond you were of that leg.
Penner: I was very attached to that leg. I’m attached to walking without a limp. I’m attached to my life. And, so all of those things were saved. It was horrible, but at the end of the day it is a game. My safety is much more important. So (expletive deleted), stuff happens.

Holmes: You’re here now and you’re 100% ready to go.
Penner: 110%, man. I’m going to stomp this game.
Holmes: And you’re 50 now?
Penner: 50 years old.
Holmes: And you’re ready to go toe-to-toe with whoever they throw at you?
Penner: Yeah, I’m ready to go toe-to-toe. But you know, I’ll side step. I’m wise enough to know that I can’t go toe-to-toe. They’re going to come straight at me and I can’t win that game, but I can let them go by…”See ya. Run ahead, my friend.” And when you’re running ahead I see a target on your back. I’m happy to go a little slow and play the old man card to whatever degree I can. I’ll save my energy for the challenges.

Holmes: You were name dropped by Cochran in “Survivor: South Pacific.” He said, “All the greats go by their last names.”
Penner: (Laughs) I didn’t know who he was at the time, I’ve subsequently met him. He’s a very nice guy. Very smart guy. Smart enough to drop my name. Was I happy that he dropped my name? Sure. Because that means he respected my game. In the end, we actually wound up in a similar situation where he found himself scrambling. He had no other lifeline and so he flopped and tried to get to the team that would help him go further. That was a great lesson for me to watch in tandem with the mistakes I made the first time I played. And that was, you have to take care of the person on the furthest reach of your alliance. You have to make sure that they are tied in tightly and feel happy and secure. And that’s what I’m going to do.

Holmes: You have a reputation for being a very savvy player. Will that work in your favor? Will it put a target on your back?
Penner: I don’t know how savvy a player I am, man.
Holmes: No, I said you have a reputation for it.
Penner: (Laughs) I appreciate it. My savvy, I’ve never gone that far in the game. But I think I’m not a stupid person so I’m going to try to use whatever smarts I have out there. But I also, you’re right, it’s a double-edged sword. I don’t want to be so smart and play so hard that people say, “Oh my God, he’s a threat!” To me, the thing that I’m going to do differently this time is really play the long game. It’s a 39-day game. I played too hard, too fast and ended up playing a middle game in the beginning and an end game in the middle. I had nowhere else to go.

Holmes: Last time we saw you was in Micronesia. There’ve been quite a few changes since then with Redemption Island, One World, new immunity idol rules. Are you prepared to deal with whatever they throw at you?
Penner: I’ll have to. I hope that I can. I think the idols have gotten incredibly simple to find, it seems. Go to your beach and look under a rock. There will be a funny-looking tree somewhere. That plays to my advantage because they have to put it where anybody could find it. Anybody who gets the clue could get to the idol. So, I’m hoping to get to it first or align with whoever finds it.
Holmes: If there’s a twist to this season, what do you think it’s going to be?
Penner: I have to assume this is going to be about folks who got blown out of the game or med-evaced out of the game getting a second chance. It’s either that or Penner vs. the twenty four most beautiful women from the first twenty four seasons of “Survivor.” I actually like the second version better.Holmes: As would I.
Penner: But I think the first version makes more sense.

Holmes: What’ve you been up to since we last saw you in Micronesia?
Penner: I write. I write and produce, I’ve been making TV shows, I wrote a lot of scripts. I wrote a book right after Micronesia. I’m working on another book now. I’m working on a kids show with my wife. I’m attached to direct a movie. We’re rewriting a movie for her to direct. We’re going to co-direct a movie. But, you know, we’re doing the Hollywood hustle. That and loving my kids.

Holmes: Some people go into the game with some lines in the sand. They won’t lie, they won’t flirt, they won’t whatever. Do you have any boundaries you won’t cross?
Penner: I will lie, I will flirt.
Holmes: With the twenty four most beautiful women in “Survivor” history.
Penner: With whoever is out there. The mistake I’ve made with “Survivor” is forgetting that it’s not my life. I’m actually a pretty honest, straight-forward person and felt that these people would treat me the same way. That’s a mistake. These are not my friends, I do not know these people. I can lie to their face with impunity. I have no intention of hurting them like Russell (Hantz) did. That’s not the point. The point is it’s a game and this is my job for the next 39 days. So yeah, I’m prepared to do almost anything.

Holmes: Any plans for that million-dollar check they’re going to be handing you?
Penner: My kids.
Holmes: Tuition?
Penner: Yeah, my kid wants to be a doctor. He wants to go to medical school.
Holmes: Then you’re going to need every penny of that check.
Penner: I’m going to need all of it. I’d love to give my wife some fantastic present, because she has sacrificed. It’s easy for me. I’m out here having fun. It’s hard, but it is paradise. She’s at home taking care of business. My father is an older gentleman, but I’d love to buy him the car of his dreams. He’s always wanted an Avanti, which is a fabulous American car. My mother, I’d give her something cool. Then tuck some away for a rainy day.

Holmes: This is your third go round on this show. What is it about Jonathan Penner that makes fans want to see him again?
Penner: Dude, I have no idea.
Holmes: OK, I’ll give you my take when you’re done with yours.
Penner: I talk a lot. I’m not stupid. I play hard. I made some big mistakes. I played a swashbuckling game just to stay alive. I never meant to hurt anybody. All I wanted to do was stay alive as long as I could and have as much fun as I could. Maybe that’s what it is. I’m out here trying to experience as much as I can.
Holmes: I think it’s because you give Probst so much (expletive deleted).
Penner: (Laughs)
Holmes: And far be it from me to condone anyone giving Jeff Probst grief. He’s a prince of a guy. But, are we going to see more of that?
Penner: Turn over a new leaf? Not at all. I’ll certainly give him (expletive deleted), but I can’t do it too soon. I can’t seem too familiar. I have to play as new as they are. But if he gives me any (expletive deleted), I’ll give him (expletive deleted). Because he deserves it.
Holmes: I think he appreciates it.
Penner: He does!
Holmes: If you go in there and suck up to him, he doesn’t buy it.
Penner: He’s a real guy’s kind of a guy. I take no guff from him, but I don’t want it to seem like it’s the Penner and Probst Show.

Holmes: This is your third and possibly final rodeo. How do you make this the one people remember you for?
Penner: I’m going to win. It may not be the same kind of TV that it was the first two times. My exit couldn’t have been more dramatic the second time. My gameplay couldn’t have been bigger and more antagonizing the first time. I seemed to polarize everybody. So, it ain’t going to be like that. I’m going to win this time.

Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” – Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Vanuatu’ Episode 13

August 22, 2012

Image by @Survivor_BUFF

My Big Question: Back in 2008, Jeff Probst and I did a video segment called the “‘Survivor’ Question of the Week” where we’d debate the merits of a specific topic. One of those topics was, “Who was the least deserving winner in ‘Survivor’ history.” I chose Chris Daugherty because I felt like he was lucky that the female alliance fell apart when it did and I didn’t like how he misled people like Eliza before voting them out. The lying struck me as very unnecessary.

However, that was based on a four-year-old season I had watched before yapping about “Survivor” was my actual job. So for this rewatch, my main goal is to critique Chris’s performance to see if he deserved my worst-ever ranking.

And with that, it’s time for Uncle Probst to tell us a bedtime story…

(more…)

Three Former Favorites Return for ‘Survivor: Philippines’

August 22, 2012

'Survivor: Philippines' (Gordon Holmes)

The final three members of the cast of “Survivor: Philippines” were announced by CBS this morning, and as previously stated, they were a trio of returning players who were medically evacuated from an earlier season. However, for as different as their unfortunate injuries were, they all shared an eerie similarity…

They all occurred on their season’s sixth episode.

Dun dun dun…

XfinityTV.com sent me deep into the Philippines wilderness on a mission to meet these men and bring you all kinds of “Survivor” stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

But first, let’s meet these recovered returnees…

Name: Michael Skupin
Age: 50
Home: White Lake, MI
Occupation: Professional Speaker, Author, and Coach
Tribe: Tandang
Previous Season: “Survivor: The Australian Outback”
Reason for Evacuation: Michael inhaled too much smoke while trying to keep the Kucha tribe’s fire going and passed out face first into the coals.
Name: Russell Swan
Age:
45
Home:
Glenside, PA
Occupation:
Environmental Attorney
Tribe:
Matsing
Previous Season:
“Survivor: Samoa”
Reason for Evacuation:
Russell fainted multiple times during a challenge in which he was blindfolded and made to push a giant ball around an obstacle course. Jeff Probst has described this as, “The scariest moment I’ve ever had on the show.”
Name: Jonathan Penner
Age: 50
Home: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Writer
Tribe: Kalabaw
Previous Season: “Survivor: Cook Islands” and “Survivor: Micronesia – Fans Vs. Favorites”
Previous Results: Jonathan was the 14th person voted out of “Cook Islands” and was evacuated from “Fans vs. Favorites” after contracting a knee infection that had the potential to cost him his leg.

Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET.

‘Survivor: Philippines’: Did the New Players Predict the Season’s Twist?

August 21, 2012

'Survivor: Philippines' (Gordon Holmes)

XfinityTV.com sent me deep into the Philippines wilderness on a mission to bring you all kinds of “Survivor” stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

When I met up with the fifteen new “Survivor” cast members, they didn’t have the benefit of having seen the trailer that aired after the “Survivor: One World” reunion. They didn’t know they’d be split into three tribes. They didn’t know they’d be joined by three former “Survivor” players who had been evacuated from the game. The only thing they did know is that there were nine women, six men, and they weren’t allowed to talk to each other. I thought it’d be fun to see whose power of perception was able to give them an early advantage in the game…

Sarah Dawson: “I think they will change the tribes at least three times. People are feeling too safe. On day one they make a final-five alliance and they’re going to pick everyone off with their majority, then sit with a goat at the end.”
Katie Hanson: “I don’t have a guess. I’m excited to see what it is!”
Jeff Kent: “My best guess a couple of days ago was that they’d bring two more guys in and one of the girls would be an alternate. Now I’m thinking there’s going to be three guys and there are going to be three different teams. My guess is they’ll bring three guys in and they’ll be captains of some sort and they’ll pick teams to make them fair.”
Dana Lambert: “I have no idea what it will be. Who knows? There are a lot of blondes, and brunettes, and some left handers. I don’t know how they’ll divide us. They could bring back some all-stars. “
Carter Williams: “I’ve wracked my brain thinking of who they’re going to bring back. “Survivor” throws twists in there, so it could be something that I’m not anticipating. I’m thinking three guys. Ozzy (Lusth) is one of my favorites, but he’s been back recently.”
Abi-Maria Gomes: “I think they’re going to bring two more past players. I’m good at reading situations.”
Roberta ‘RC’ Saint-Amour: “I think it’s returning players. People that you really rooted for that had to leave the game early or were voted out early. I’m hoping for that instead of hated players.”
Artis Silvester: “There is a two-to-one ratio of women to men. This could be the shortest run of men in “Survivor” history if these girls decide to say, “Girl power.” There’d be nothing we could do about it. So, I think they’re going to bring in two guys to even it out or have an elimination challenge right off the bat.”
Lisa Whelchel: “There has to be more than one twist because the strategy of making an alliance of five and keeping it to the end is boring. The producers have to put an end to that. I’m thinking at least one tribe swap, maybe more to keep it unpredictable. Just doing the numbers here, there are six guys here and nine girls. (Gordon’s Note: Sounds perfect.) So, I think the obvious conclusion is they’re bringing two people from a previous season, but the odd number is throwing me off.”
Peter “Pete” Yurkowski: “I don’t know, I don’t think they’re going to do the male vs. female stuff because nobody likes it. I don’t think they’ll do old vs. young. I’ve been counting the numbers and I don’t think they have the numbers for it. The only twist they could do is bring people back, but I don’t think they’re going to do that. I think it’s going to be twist-free.”
Malcolm Freberg: “There’s only six guys sitting in there and nine girls, so there’s another variable. It’s hard to decide how you want to play the game when there’s such a big x-factor out there. There’s never been a season where the genders weren’t equal. Well, there was one, but that was because someone got pulled. So, unless this is “Survivor: Men Start Down” (Gordon’s Note: That’s a terrible subhead.) they have to even out the guys. I hope it’s not returning players. That’d just piss me off if I had to deal with that.”
Zane Knight: “It’s just my luck that here come these celebrities. You know how they bring in the former players? If you come on my island, you’re leaving. You don’t deserve another opportunity. I’m not going to run to you and go, “What do I do?” I don’t need you to show me how to fish. I don’t need you to show me how to build a shelter. Like Coach (Wade)? He comes in and handles this show. This wouldn’t happen with me. I would corrupt the whole tribe to get rid of Coach.”
Angie Layton: “I know there’s going to be two returning players and they’re going to be guys because there are eight guys and ten girls and that’s an odd number. They’ve returned so many, Russell is gone, Boston Rob (Mariano) is gone. Maybe that one dude who does all the yoga? Coach?”
Roxanne “Roxy” Morris: “There’s always a twist. It could be past members coming back to be leaders. I pray it’s not like “One World.” I pray it’s not all girls against guys. I’m not a sorority girl, I’m not used to hanging out with all girls. That would be God totally giving me an experience like “Get through this!”  I kind of hope they bring back Matt (Elrod) because I admire him and his faith.”
Denise Stapley: “I’m trying to read and look at the cast make-up. I honestly don’t know. I look across the tribe and it doesn’t look like it’s split by age. I see a lot of big boobs. So is it playmates vs. flatties? I don’t know. I’ve tried not to think too much into it.”

Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET.

What’s New for ‘Survivor: Philippines’?

August 20, 2012

'Survivor: Philippines' (Gordon Holmes)

The first fifteen members of the cast of “Survivor: Philippines” were announced by CBS this morning. These 15 strangers (including 2000 National League MVP Jeff Kent and former “Facts of Life” star Lisa Whelchel) will be divided into teams of three and joined by three returning “Survivor” favorites.

XfinityTV.com sent me deep into the Philippines wilderness on a mission to meet these folks and bring you all kinds of “Survivor” stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

But, first and foremost let’s a look at how this season of “Survivor” will differ from previous incarnations…

 

A Trio of Tribes
For the first time since “Survivor: All Stars” the game will start with three separate tribes. What this means for the game is; the winner and second-runner-up for each immunity challenge will be safe, while the losing tribe will go to Tribal Council. This twist does limit each tribe to only six members, so it should make challenge prowess more valuable than it has been in the past.
  Three Returning Players…But Who?
Each of the three tribes will be joined by a classic “Survivor” player. The identity of these three players can’t be revealed at this time, but can be said that the three players were all removed from a previous season due to an injury. We will have exclusive interviews with all three of the returning players once their names are made public.
It Looks Like “Survivor”
The first thing that struck me upon arriving at the Caramoan Islands in the Philippines was, “This place looks like ‘Survivor.’” There’s water as far as the eye can see and seemingly hundreds of tiny tropical islands. Host Jeff Probst agreed with me, “’Survivor’ in the Philippines is back to the roots of the show. You’re going to have a lot of people fishing and finding clams. This is where we like to be, it’s just you can’t always find water in places where there isn’t political unrest.”
An Immunity Idol at Each Camp
Now that the days of two tribes living on the same beach are gone, so too is the “You have to give the idol to someone on the opposing tribe” twist. I’ll let future talk-show mogul Jeff Probst fill you in the on the rest, “There are three immunity idols, one in each camp. And, they’re hidden in plain sight. You just have to look in the right spot. And there will be a clue hidden in the bottom of the rice container. And if someone finds that clue and really pays attention to it, they’ll find the idol.”
Water Challenges Are Back
One of the major complaints about recent “Survivor” seasons is the lack of water-based challenges. The “Survivor” production team was aware of those concerns, however locations like Gabon, Tocantins, Samoa, and Nicaragua didn’t have the kind of beaches that lend themselves to safe water activities. I am pleased to announce that “Survivor: Philippines” will be full of swimming, diving, boating, and other water activities. In fact, the first immunity challenge features quite a bit of in-water fun.

Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET.


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