Archive for September, 2012

“You’re the One They Call ‘Mouth’ Aren’t You?” – Sassy “Goonies” Costumes

September 27, 2012

Two years ago I made a satirical blog post turning not-so-sassy “Ghostbusters” characters into uber-sassy Halloween attire. It was just a fun way to poke fun at the costume industry’s trend of sexifying (not a word) everything from Care Bears to Minnie Mouse to skunks.

Yeah, you read that last line correctly. Sexy skunks.

In fact, by the time I get around to making next year’s ‘Sexy “Karate Kid” Costumes’ post, I’m sure someone will be pimping some kind of trampy Cobra Kai attire.


‘Survivor: Philippines’ Castaway Roxanne: Angie Is ‘Bubble-Minded’

September 27, 2012

Roxanne 'Roxy' Morris and Jeff Probst (CBS)

XFinityTV is blowing up their coverage of “Survivor: Philippines.” Every Tuesday, I’ll be squaring off against “Survivor: One World” favorite Kat Edorsson in this season’s Power Rankings challenge. Every Wednesday briefly after the show we’ll have a full episode recap and every Thursday we’ll have an interview with the latest eliminated player. Also, starting October 1st, we’re bringing back the “Survivor” Question of the Week where Jeff Probst and I tackle a wide variety of “Survivor” topics. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for all the updates!

Getting romantically involved has been a no-no on “Survivor” ever since “Boston” Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich teamed up to dominate the “All-Stars” season. For them, it resulted in a million bucks, a marriage, and some cute kids. For every couple since then? Not so much. Just ask “Survivor: South Pacific’s” Elyse Umemoto.

Roxanne Morris got that part of the strategy right when she called out Malcolm Freberg and Angie Layton for their late-night canoodling. However, she missed the part where you shouldn’t go after the guy who has a secret alliance with the swing vote.

I spoke with Roxanne the morning after her elimination to get her take on Matsing’s tribe dynamics, Russell’s loyalty, and cookiegate…

Set Your DVR to Record “Survivor: Philippines”

Gordon Holmes: Alright, what’s going on with Malcolm and Angie?
Roxanne Morris: I think it was obvious. They were cuddling, and I get that that’s the game and that people become allies. But, there’s a difference between people who are partnering for the sake of the game and people who are building a romantic relationship. That’s going to put a pair of blinders on and I wanted to make sure that my tribe was making the best strategic move.
Holmes: So, it wasn’t just late-night cuddling for warmth, you think there was something romantic going on?
Morris: I think that it was something romantic going on, and in the game of “Survivor” a romantic relationship naturally becomes an alliance.

Holmes: Heading into Tribal last night, did you know that your number was up?
Morris: I knew I had Russell convinced because I could foreshadow to him exactly what was going to happen to him if he decided not to support me. I told him exactly how it would go and that fear was already there. But, I knew if Denise was not on our side that Russell’s best move was to vote against me.  I was fully aware of that. I was not going into that being naïve. I was prepared that I was going home if Denise wasn’t on my side. The tribe’s destiny was in her hands.

Holmes: It seems like the weather is starting to get to everyone, but it’s hard to tell exactly what it’s like with the editing.
Morris: The first day we got there it was sunshine, but it got so rainy. At one point it was three straight days of rain. I think Russell said it best, where after a while you don’t even want to hear the sound of a raindrop. It’s like we were facing some kind of water plague.
Holmes: Malcolm said that it seemed like you’d checked out and that you weren’t doing much around camp. Was that a fair assessment?
Morris: I don’t think that’s a fair assessment. You get to a fork in the road where you have choices to make. And when you watch your tribe lose the first challenge, you have to decide what’s most important. And when you’re not eating regular meals you decide to say, “Hmm…what should I be saving my energy for?” Obviously it should be for a challenge. I’m not going to be like Angie falling on the floor.
Holmes: Russell made the argument that you were conserving energy for challenges, then you ran only one of the three sled legs because you hadn’t had enough water. As an outside observer, I think he has a point. You conserved your energy then did less than Angie.
Morris: I think that whenever you’re going down on a sinking ship everyone is looking to point fingers and put the blame on somebody. And that, to me, was a clear case of that. Everybody’s trying to point to someone else. And honestly, Russell, I’m not the person you need to be saying anything about. So, he can give me that criticism if he likes, but at the end of the day, me being there was a strength to him.

Holmes: Before the show you said that God already knows how the game is going to end. What do you think you were supposed to learn from your time out there?
Morris: I learned that as a Christian I’m not afraid to share my testimony, tell my story, and show who I really am. You saw me go through all kinds of emotions on national TV. You saw me praying in ways that I only pray when I’m absolutely alone. You saw me cry. You saw me tell people how it is. You saw me be human. And being a Christian is not about perfection. If the expectation is perfection, then I’m not one to follow. But if you’re looking for raw, real people who are working on their salvation on a daily basis, then come and talk to me.

Holmes: Let’s do some word association. We’ll start with Malcolm.
Morris: Headless chicken.
Holmes: Zane?
Morris: Joy.
Holmes: Russell?
Morris: Another headless chicken. He goes in that category too. (Laughs)
Holmes: Denise?
Morris: Sneak, sneaky, snake-ish. And when I use the word “snake” I don’t mean it in an ill-mannered way. I think there’s wisdom that goes with that. A worldly wisdom.
Holmes: Angie?
Morris: Bubble-minded. Literally, I feel like I could just look in her brain and there’d be nice, well-scented bubbles just floating around.

Holmes: Everybody’s talking about Angie’s cookie-centric plan to make the tribe better. I know you and her had your differences, but you have to admit cookies make everything better.
Morris: Yeah. Winning a challenge and gaining some cookies would definitely be awesome. Absolutely, but I honestly don’t think it was given in a very intelligent way. I think it was more like, “Oh wow, I have nothing else to say and I’m very hungry.”

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor’ Recap: Lisa and the Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad, No Good Day

September 26, 2012

Lisa Whelchel (CBS)

XFinityTV is blowing up their coverage of “Survivor: Philippines.” Every Tuesday, I’ll be squaring off against “Survivor: One World” favorite Kat Edorsson in this season’s Power Rankings challenge. Every Wednesday briefly after the show we’ll have a full episode recap and every Thursday we’ll have an interview with the latest eliminated player. Also, starting October 1st, we’re bringing back the “Survivor” Question of the Week where Jeff Probst and I tackle a wide variety of “Survivor” topics. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for all the updates!

Last Week: Russell said he was going to avoid a leadership role and didn’t, Lisa Whelchel and Jeff Kent tried to keep their professional lives under wraps and didn’t, and Zane asked his tribe to send him home and they did.

Quick Note: Calling Jeff Kent “Jeff” on a show that has focused on one main Jeff for 30 years is throwing off my flavor. From now on, I’ll use some variation of “Jeff Kent,” “Kent,” or “Captain Motocross.”

Set Your DVR to Record ‘Survivor: Philippines’

39 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Let’s take a look at the tribes as they currently stand…

The Kalabaw Tribe (wearing red)
Carter – Track Coach, 24
Dana – Cosmetologist, 32
Dawson – Insurance Sales, 28
Katie – Student, 22
Jeff Kent – Former MLB Player, 44
Penner – Writer, 50

The Matsing Tribe (wearing blue)
Angie – Student, 20
Denise – Sex Therapist, 41
Malcolm – Bartender, 25
Roxanne – Seminary Student, 28
Russell – Environmental Attorney, 45

The Tandang Tribe (wearing yellow)
Abi-Maria – Business Student, 32
Artis – Computer Engineer, 53
Michael – Professional Speaker, Author, and Coach, 50
Lisa – Former ‘Facts of Life’ Star, 49
Pete – Engineering Graduate, 24
RC – Investment Banker, 27

Tonight’s shindig gets started off over at Casa de Matsing where Russell is thanking his tribe mates for not voting him out. Russell decides that he’s going to let someone else lead so he won’t be on the chopping block anymore. Funny, I’ve heard Russell make that plan before…

Later that evening, Malcolm and Angie get their cuddle on. If “Survivor” Hall of Famer “Boston” Rob Mariano is to be believed, that’s a sure way to tell when someone’s in an alliance.

Roxy calls this cuddling a “Booby Trap.” A joke from Roxy! Well done.

The next morning, RC stumbles over the hidden immunity clue. She immediately shares it with Abi-Maria even though she isn’t sure she can trust her. Abi-Maria proves that she probably can’t be trusted by letting RC know that she isn’t psyched about how close she is to Mike. A little too early for the paranoia there, Abi-Maria.

Over at Kalabaw, Jeff Kent is doing his best to make sure he doesn’t strain his injured knee. He proposes a leisurely game of island checkers so he can sit back and relax. This displeases Penner because he wants everyone to clear out so he can look for the idol.

When everyone eventually runs off to the cave to get out of the rain, Penner goes to town searching for it. He finally figures out that the Kalabaw logo on the top of the rice container is the idol. Unfortunately, that logo is hard to miss, others will probably notice that it’s gone…

Back at Matsing, Malcolm and Angie are still twisted up like a pretzel. Roxanne decides that one of them has to go. She approaches Denise and Russell with her concerns.

Russell proves that he’s a master at the art of stating the obvious by letting us know that Angie has “some boob thing going on.” Well, he’s not wrong.

At Tandang Nation, Lisa’s having trouble bonding with everyone. When she goes off to spend time by herself, the others assume she’s looking for the immunity idol.

However, we learn that she’s just really upset that she isn’t meshing well with her tribe mates. In a sad bit, that makes a ton of sense in light of the recent revelation that she got a divorce shortly before traveling to the Philippines, she has a bit of breakdown. She tells us how she’s always had to take care of herself and isn’t comfortable opening up to others. C’mon, Blair! Pull yourself together! Buddy up with Skupin! Make this work!

The rain continues over at Matsing. Russell’s on fire duty, Denise and Malcolm are working on the shelter…and Roxanne has mentally checked out. That’s weird from someone who was pushing hardcore strategy earlier.

Immunity Challenge Time: Two members from each tribe will run across the course while pulling a large sled. They’ll load up their sled with Tetris-shaped puzzle pieces and return. Then another pair will go out. When they’ve received three sets of puzzle pieces, one pair will work to complete the three puzzles. One member of the tribe will stand on a tower and shout out instructions. The first tribe to complete their puzzles wins immunity, blankets, and a tarp. The second tribe will receive immunity and a tarp. The third tribe…we’ll let’s just say it’s not going to work out well for the third tribe.

Abi-Maria will sit out for Tandang, Dawson will sit out for Kalabaw.

They show the pre-game strategizing and neither Roxanne or Angie want to pull the sled twice. Also, I love that they’re showing pre-game strategizing.

Carter and Kent, Russell and Angie, and Pete and Skup are the first sled pullers. Tandang and Kalabaw get their sets back first while Matsing is having trouble maneuvering the sled.

Artis and RC and Katie and Penner go next. Roxanne and Malcolm are behind them but manage to make up some time.

In the last trip out, Kent and Carter build a lead with Skup and Pete behind them. Russell and Angie are still having problems with their sled.

We finally get all of the pieces back and RC and Pete, Malcolm and Russell, and Penner and Kent are our puzzle teams. Dana, Denise, and Lisa are our tower callers.

Tandang gets their first two sections done quickly. Matsing is just behind them. Kalabaw is having troubles. Probst blames it on them not listening to Dana’s advice.

Finally, everyone’s working on the final puzzle. Tandang completes theirs first to win immunity. Kalabaw and Matsing are neck and neck, with Kalabaw managing to pull off the win.

Russell’s ticked. He chucks one of the puzzle pieces. Probably cause it’s the second time he’s lost a tarp on this show.

Once they get back to camp, Russell apologizes for blowing up again. That’s his second apology this episode. Angie proves she’s a glass-is-half-full kind of girl by saying at least they were close.

Politicking at Matsing centers around Roxanne trying to get rid of Angie. She accuses Angie of being the weakest link…which is weird because Angie pulled the sled twice and Roxanne didn’t.

Denise sums everything up as Angie and Malcolm on one side, Russell and Roxanne on the other and her in the middle. She hopes Malcolm isn’t blinded by the headlights, which might become one of my favorite “Survivor” lines ever.

This also marks the third person who has made reference to Angie’s…assets. It’s a hat rack trick!

That night at Tribal Council, Roxanne says the one thing she’d change about the tribe is that they spend too much energy working around camp.

Denise disagrees, she thinks they need to have fire, water, and shelter to be strong at challenges.

Angie says if she could change one thing about the tribe, it would be that they could have cookies. Probst has no response but to stare. Am I the only one who’s starting to like Angie?

Malcolm tries to play it off, saying they’re all hungry. Probst doesn’t buy it. Malcolm agrees that Angie didn’t give a phenomenal answer.

Next, Roxanne says something about Angie and Malcolm sitting in a tree. Oooo…

Malcolm says that Angie is like a sister to him. Roxanne finds that statement creepy. I’m saddened by the fact that Roxanne didn’t use Christy’s “creepy” sign language from “Survivor: The Amazon.”

Probst literally tells Angie to “wake up” and realize that being in a relationship puts a big target on their backs. It’s like he’s teaching “Survivor 101” and this is a lecture from the Ozzy Lusth/”Boston” Rob chapter.

Voting Time: Roxanne votes for Angie, Angie votes for Roxanne, and the rest of the votes gots some waitin’ to do.

J-Pro takes the votes, reads them, places them in a specific order, has a drink of water, and returns. We’ve got one vote for Roxanne, one vote for Angie, one vote for Roxanne, and the second person to be voted out of “Survivor: Philippines” is…Roxanne.

Verdict: I’ve got to tell you, the hardest part about going out to “Survivor: Philippines” was coming home and having to watch “Survivor: One World.” I was dying to see this cast play the game and they haven’t disappointed so far.

However, I would like to see Kalabaw and Tandang worry about Tribal for a change.

Who’s Going to Win: Boy, it’s tough to stick to my Malcolm prediction. If Matsing keeps losing, there’s bound to be a tribe swap or something and that rarely turns out well for strong people from the smaller tribe.

Power Rankings Results: “Survivor: One World” favorite Kat Edorrson had Roxanne in spot ten, while I nailed it, placing her in spot seventeen. So, the current score is Team Kat: 10, Team Awesome Thunder 17.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘One World’ Fave Kat Edorsson Accepts the ‘Survivor’ Power Rankings Challenge

September 25, 2012

Kat Edorsson (CBS)

XFinityTV is blowing up their coverage of “Survivor: Philippines.” Every Tuesday, I’ll be squaring off against “Survivor: One World” favorite Kat Edorsson in this season’s Power Rankings challenge. Every Wednesday briefly after the show we’ll have a full episode recap and every Thursday we’ll have an interview with the latest eliminated player. Also, starting October 1st, we’re bringing back the “Survivor” Question of the Week where Jeff Probst and I tackle a wide variety of “Survivor” topics. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for all the updates!

The Rules: Each week Kat and Gordon 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 players will earn. For example, if Artis is voted out this week, Kat will receive 4 points and Gordon will receive 14 points. The person with the most points at the end of the season will be crowned the ‘Survivor: Philippines’ Power Rankings champion!

Set Your DVR to Record ‘Survivor: Philippines

Kat’s Current Score: 0

Any advice for Kat? Drop her a line on Twitter: @KittenSWAG24

Gordon’s Current Score: 0

Any advice for Gordon? Drop him a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

 1. Michael: I hope he will be our sole Survivor. I feel like his team will be very competitive in challenges and will slide their way to the merge, putting him in a good position this early in the game.  1. Malcolm:  One of the keys to successful Power Ranking is this simple bit of strategy; you’re not ranking people based on whether or not you think they’ll win. You’re ranking them based on how safe they are that week. That being said, Malcolm’s the safest guy on this show. I think Matsing is in big trouble and they can’t afford to lose any challenge strength. That, and he seems to be in the middle of whatever alliance is going on there.
 2. Malcolm: He happens to be my favorite besides Skupin. Being a new player, I feel like he’s laid back with the ladies and hopefully he goes far. The fact that he has a pair inside their alliance, and it doesn’t look fake with great potential, I believe he could be in my final three. However, will you win against my Skupin? This will be interesting!  2. Michael: It’s super risky to put Skupin this high in the rankings considering the very real possibility that he might accidentally blow himself up while setting a trap for a road runner. But, Skup actually finds himself in an awesome position. He’s comfortable in an alliance that someone else is driving. All he has to do is be useful at camp, good in challenges, and figure out a way to keep Lisa around.
 3. Denise: Denise and Malcolm are my favorite pair of the season after one episode! I love her background and what she’s about. The fact that she really wanted to get to know Zane shows her true colors and now that she is a pair with Malcolm I can only hope for domination! Also, you would have no idea how important it is to let the game play in front of you and step back. Ultimately being a sex therapist will help her with this and get her to the merge!  3. Denise: If Matsing can string together some challenge wins, Denise and Malcolm could have a nice little foursome with Roxanne and Angie. However, they’ll have a tough choice to make if they lose. Do you bounce someone as strong as Russell who could cause strategic problems later?

  4. Artis: He hasn’t been fully introduced yet, so I am hoping for the best! I feel a connection with him fighting through cancer and beating it. I have high hopes for him and he’s a “Survivor” Super Fan. He reminds me of my Silver Fox “TroyZan the Great.” I’m hoping he will go far in the game!  4. RC: If we were ranking based on who we thought was in the best position to win the whole thing, RC would be at the top of my list. She leading the dominant alliance in what I think is the dominant tribe. RC is as sharp as a tack and is somebody I’d want on my side. But, I’d be sure keep an eye on her at all times…for strategic reasons, of course.

  5. Dana: Love this girl and I hope she makes it to the end!  5. Abi-Maria: Speaking of keeping an eye on people, RC would be smart not to buy into Abi-Maria’s super-sweet façade. Those two should be interesting.
 6. Abi-Maria: I feel like she is in for a rude awakening. However, it looks like this tribe is the only one that could really make it far and play the game.  6. Pete: Hopefully Pete has learned a lesson from Zane’s exit and realizes that big moves aren’t always necessary. He’s a strong dude, on a strong tribe, in what seems like a strong alliance. Ride it out for a bit and see where it goes.
 7. RC: She might be the only one taking the game seriously on her tribe. Trust is important in this game, and who you trust is more important. I don’t believe her alliance of two is the best from the start, but we will see what happens.  7. Carter: Yes, there’s a kid on Kalabaw’s tribe name Carter. And he’s got to be the safest person on that tribe. While Kent and Penner are jockeying for position, Carter’s content to sit back and prove his worth in challenges. Right now, he seems like someone who won’t make any waves until he’s forced to.
 8. Pete: He didn’t really talk much the first episode. But, this could be a good thing!  8. Dana: Dana’s another one who might be best served letting the Kalabaw power struggle work itself out. Let the Kent/Penner showdown happen, then cozy up with the winner.
 9. Penner: As a returning player I put him higher then the others who don’t understand the game. However, he is putting a target on his back by not being a team player! I’m hoping things will turn for him and his tribe doesn’t take him out for being too sneaky! Great gameplay though!  9. Dawson: What’s the first thing someone inevitably does when they find an idol? Run off and tell someone. I’ve never understood that. It’s nice to have a little, personal, get-out-of-jail free card when you need it. That’s why I’m loving Dawson. She’s knows Jeff’s million-dollar secret and appreciates the value of it.
 10. Roxanne: Love her military background and at Tribal she held her own. I respect that.  10. Jeff: Kent’s knee has me worried. Nobody knows their bodies as well as professional athletes, and if he thinks something’s wrong, then something’s wrong. Here’s hoping the fact that he was OK pushing that boat across the sand was a sign that Mr. Kent won’t be carted off during the sixth episode.
  11. Katie: Again, too soon to know!
 11. Angie: A lot of people had Angie pegged as an easy first vote, but she seems comfortable in the Malcolm/Denise alliance. On another note, here’s hoping we learn more about these alliances this week so we can come up with sone clever alliance names.
 12. Angie: I like the scene she made. It’s good to stick up for yourself. She was right about Russell however, if she doesn’t make the merge and latch on to a boy, or someone she’s toast!  12. Katie: Miss Delaware might find herself in some trouble if Kalabaw decides to keep Penner’s puzzle ability and surviving skills around. Other than that, she’ll probably coast for a while.
  13. Dawson: She’s an under-the-radar player.  13. Russell: Russell and Penner both find themselves in a bit of a pickle. The funny thing is, both guys had plans to avoid the exact situations they now find themselves in. In Russell’s case. He swore up and down that he was going to do everything he could to avoid a leadership role. I don’t think it’s too late for him to turn things around, but he’s gotta be someone who’s hoping for a tribe swap.
 14. Carter: I didn’t see too much from him. I don’t think he’s playing the smartest game right now.  14. Artis: I like Artis, but when I was out there the weather was kicking this dude’s butt. If Team RC is going to stick together and Skup is going to play Coach to Lisa’s Edna Ma, then Artis is the one who’s going to be sent packing if Tandang loses immunity.
 15. Russell: Returning player. I love the guy, but here are my issues with him; how many times do you need to come back and play the game to understand you need to change! I’m happy his tribe gave him a second chance because like myself we all need one of those. However, Russell being so demanding and not using his experience in the game to his advantage will hurt him. Everyone knows LESS IS MORE in the beginning of “Survivor.”  15. Penner: Penner, you said the last thing you wanted to do was fall back into the “Penner and Probst Show” and yet, there you were during the marooning giving him grief. It’s too early in the game to be relying on idols. Find out who’s on the bottom of the Kent alliance and start working them.
 16. Jeff: If I made as much money as he did playing pro ball I bet it wouldn’t be easy for me to “follow the leader,” if you catch my drift! If this tribe loses I believe Jeff might be put on blast, especially after Sarah Dawson knew who he was from the start!! Come on Kent, motocross?  16. Lisa: I’m rooting for you, Lisa. Tandang is strong enough that it’s possible they could run the table between now and the merge. And if they don’t, you should be doing everything in your power to make sure Artis goes before you. And…you’ve got Michael Skupin in your corner, use him to your advantage!
 17. Lisa: It really is a shame! And it’s unfortunate I wasn’t born when “The Facts of Life” first kicked off because I am a huge Lisa fan! However, its looks like she has the case of the (Nina) from “Survivor: One World.” Jeff Probst is right, “Sometimes, it really is about luck and where you are placed.” I believe if this tribe loses she might be the first to go.  17. Roxanne: Matsing is in serious trouble. If they lose this next challenge, (which involves dragging heavy sleds) they will not be able to get rid of someone as strong as Russell. Angie and Denise are tight with Malcolm. Is Roxy? We certainly didn’t see it last week.

Watch ‘Survivor: Philippines’ every Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

A Sneak Peek at the Next ‘Survivor: Philippines’ Immunity Challenge

September 21, 2012

The 'Survivor' Dream Team (Gordon Holmes)

XFinityTV is blowing up their coverage of “Survivor: Philippines.” Starting next Tuesday, I’ll be squaring off against a “Survivor: One World” favorite in this season’s Power Rankings challenge. Every Wednesday briefly after the show we’ll have a full episode recap and every Thursday we’ll have an interview with the latest eliminated player. Also, starting October 1st, we’re bringing back the “Survivor” Question of the Week where Jeff Probst and I tackle a wide variety of “Survivor” topics. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for all the updates!

Set Your DVR to Record “Survivor”

The three key components to success in “Survivor” are having a strong social game, a strong strategic game, and prowess in immunity challenges. We’ve already discussed how our eighteen (now seventeen) players are going to tackle the social and strategic aspects. But, now I thought it’d be fun to ask “Survivor” Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer what he has in store for our beloved castaways. Not only did John spill the beans on the rest of the season, but he also gave us a look at how “Survivor” challenges are created…

Gordon Holmes: “Survivor” fans are going to be downright giddy now that water-based challenges are finally back.
John Kirhoffer: We haven’t had open water that we can do challenges in. We’ve had beautiful islands, but the water wasn’t safe. There was waves and coral. Here in the Philippines we have good shallow water areas. We have a beautiful lagoon that’s about seventy feet. We’re not going to go all the way down.
Holmes: They might not come back up.
Kirhoffer: (Laughs) Right. But we’ll send them down a bit. One of the first things I did was watch every water season of “Survivor” and took notes. I came up with a list of about sixty challenges that I love. I tried to figure out what the mechanisms are that made them fun. It’s not exactly Chinese arithmetic. Go out, collect puzzle pieces, then solve them. But it’s how you get those pieces, the journey back and forth has to be fun and physical. And the puzzles have to be interesting. But being back in a water location has opened out mind again.

Holmes: Very excited for the water challenges. Now, you probably know which questions is coming next…
Kirhoffer: You miss people eating gross stuff.
Holmes: I love the gross stuff.
Kirhoffer: Agh…so does my aunt. No, we don’t have any plans to eat gross stuff, and I’ll tell you why; we’re not “Fear Factor”…
Holmes: Whoa whoa…”Fear Factor” is gross stuff for gross stuff’s sake. “Survivor” always pulled actual food from the location.
Kirhoffer: Exactly. I’m sure we could find something, but in the Philippines the thing that is the most exotic and different is balut (fertilized duck embryo) and we did that in China and Micronesia. China had a lot of food that was indigenous. Although, we did cross the line, because we had people eat the smoothies.
Holmes: I’m going to hold out hope that you’re in town and see something on the menu that inspires you.
Kirhoffer: (Laughs) Maybe next season. People are mixed about it. My aunt says, “John Boy, how come we haven’t seen gross food in a while?!”

Holmes: Speaking of China, you guys did a great job working Chinese culture and symbolism into the challenges. Are we going to see some of that this season?
Kirhoffer: Oh yes. One of the cornerstones of coming to a new place is highlighting the culture. The way they fish with the nets, you’re going to see that in a challenge. The rice patties, we’re going to do some challenges in the rice patties that are beautiful. We’ve drawn a lot, not just from the set architecture, but also in the things we incorporate into the challenges.

Holmes: Between immunity and reward challenges, you’re probably on the hook for 20 to 30 challenges a season.
Kirhoffer: It’s around 25.
Holmes: I’d assume you take challenge ideas from everywhere. Where’s the oddest place you’ve taken inspiration from?
Kirhoffer: The title of a challenge has to be either a pun or the name of a rock band or song. We’ve got lots of them. But in China we started coming up with a title then making a challenge to fit it.
Holmes: That sounds like the exact opposite of what you should do.
Kirhoffer: It would inspire you! We had one called “Peking Duck.” We tested it, it was like dodgeball. You come up from behind a crate, and then you have to duck. So you’re peeking and ducking. We did that thing in Tocantins where the ball goes rolling down the roller coaster. That was based on an art project that one of our guys did.

Holmes: Speaking of peeking, that rhyme was unintentional, peeking at other people’s puzzles and strategies has been happening a lot lately. Is that something you guys even care about? Seems like it’d cause ill will between the contestants which I know is encouraged.
Kirhoffer: In the early days we used to set up barriers. Now? If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying. Are you smart enough to look at someone else’s strategy? When it gets down to individuals and you have stuff like mathematics, that kind of cheating can’t be tolerated. But you can only cheat so much with a puzzle.

Watch Full Episodes of ‘Survivor: Philippines’

Holmes: OK, let’s get into this sneak peek.
Kirhoffer: Let’s talk about episode two, a challenge called “Manila Folders.” The most important thing in a challenge is that you give it a cute name. And the cutest names, of course, are of rock-and-roll bands or rock-and-roll songs. Or, something that’s a pun on the area. Manila Folders. (Sarcastic Laugh) You see, Manila is a city…
Holmes: I see what you did there.
Kirhoffer: The way most challenges start is…back in September a handful of us came out here to scout the location and look for the areas and try to figure things out. Then we go back to Los Angeles. I get a few friends together and we sit together and say, “What’ve you got for puzzles?  What kind of new challenge ideas?” In the brainstorming process there’ll be five of us in the room. More of a brain breeze than a storm. Our friend Miles came up with this Tetris-like puzzle. It was Miles Tiles! But we changed it to Manila Folders. And, what we came up with is, we were looking for areas, we found this beautiful field that we can do challenges in. Miles pitches this challenge, then we all sit around and massage it together. We talk about what it could be. They’d race off into the jungle, then they’d bring back these folding pieces. You lay them down, and they all fit together.

Note: John was kind enough to share with us the sketches that were used during the planning of the challenge.

Holmes: And the sled?
Kirhoffer: We thought, we’d get one of these things that we’ve all seen out here. You’ve seen the big…buffalo, whatever they are, they pull these sleds that are for rice or grain or whatever. So we came up with our own sleds that our people would pull. We found the field, but we didn’t have a jungle. So instead of going out into a jungle we’re just going out into a field.

Holmes: OK, break this down for us.

Kirhoffer: There are three tables with all the puzzle pieces.

Kirhoffer: You race out there with your sled. You stack  ‘em up and then drag ‘em back. Then you have to go out further to the second stack.

Kirhoffer: It’s tough too, because once you load them up you have a couple hundred pounds of plywood. Then they have to go out to the farthest one.




Kirhoffer: With the puzzle there are three zones. The two pairs take turns completing a zone. The tribe to complete the puzzle first, wins.

From there, we watched the Dream Team (a group of young, fit production assistants whose job it is to run the challenges to make sure they’re interesting and relatively safe) put Manila Folders through its paces. Everything seemed to go as planned with the Kalabaw stand-ins taking the win.

Holmes: OK, what did we learn from the Dream Team’s test run?
Kirhoffer: We learned that having two pairs of people switching out and doing the puzzles was confusing. Jeff was up on the tower and saw it for the first time, he decided to have one pair do the puzzles. That way it’s easier for the people at home to understand and it puts more pressure on that pair.
Holmes: What about the tower? It seemed like they weren’t doing much coaching.
Kirhoffer: We learned a long time ago that having someone in a tower, that it’s good to have a bird’s-eye view on a puzzle like this. But sometimes that person just confuses the issue. Everyone feels the need to put in their two cents, when sometimes the smartest move is to have one voice do it.
Holmes: Alright, and that’s how a “Survivor” challenge goes from inspiration to immunity.
Kirhoffer: From inspiration to perspiration.
Holmes: Oh, that’s way better.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor’ Castaway Zane Knight: ‘I Thought I Had it Locked’

September 20, 2012

Zane Knight and Jeff Probst (CBS)

XFinityTV is blowing up their coverage of “Survivor: Philippines.” Starting next Tuesday, I’ll be squaring off against a “Survivor: One World” favorite in this season’s Power Rankings challenge. Every Wednesday briefly after the show we’ll have a full episode recap and every Thursday we’ll have an interview with the latest eliminated player. Also, starting October 1st, we’re bringing back the “Survivor” Question of the Week where Jeff Probst and I tackle a wide variety of “Survivor” topics. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for all the updates!

There might not be a more obvious “Survivor”  case of “Woulda, coulda, shoulda” than Zane Knight. The 28-year-old tire treader was all over the map last night making alliances, planning back-stabbings, and wreaking havoc when all he really needed to do was be himself.

I talked to Zane the morning after his elimination and found out about the crazy weather, the secret alliances, and how close he came to getting Russell Swan out of the game…

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Gordon Holmes: What happened? I thought I wasn’t going to get to talk to you until December after the finale.
Zane Knight: I was looking forward to talking to you in December! (Laughs) After they wrote my check. You know, you only get one way to play this game and I feel like I played it the best I could. I was a little premature, maybe if I’d put a little more forethought into Russ’s way with the court there. I said from day one,  “No celebrities,” so I went after the celebrity. I take pride in what I did.
Holmes: I feel like you crammed 39 days of “Survivor” into one episode.
Knight: (Laughs) I’ve been watching “Survivor” for a while now. I tried to take key components from the best players. Just genuinely awesome TV. You know, in life you’re not promised tomorrow, so why would you think you were promised tomorrow on “Survivor” island? I tried to break it in as hard as I could.

Holmes: You said, “Vote for me” to the Matsing Tribe. Was that your Brandon Hantz moment where you were testing everyone’s loyalty?
Knight: Exactly, you build this rapport with people, and I was going to make them work for me. It’s a character thing. Russ’s been in this game before. He knows how to play with people’s emotions. And like he said, “You don’t know how something you say is going to affect any other person.” So who was to know that he’d play ‘em like that. And I can’t put it all on him, I was too cocky. I thought I had it locked. The rest of the day I spent gathering fire wood until we went to get rid of Russ.

Holmes: Looking back, what would you have done differently?
Knight: The only thing is I would’ve been quiet.
Holmes: (Laughs) Well played.

Holmes: They didn’t touch on this too much, but the weather was insane during those first three days. Tons of rain, I remember your hands were all pruned-up and water-logged.
Knight: Aww man, just sheets of rain pelting you. You’re sitting there trying to build a shelter or pick up firewood, and like you said, your hands are so water-logged you can’t hold onto a piece of wood. The weather always comes with “Survivor.” You’re going to have heat, or cold, or rain. So, it’s expected. It adds to the game.
Holmes: You looked miserable when we were there.
Knight: The weather always comes with “Survivor.” You’re going to have heat, or cold, or rain. So, it’s expected. It adds to the game.

Holmes: What’re the tribe dynamics right now at Matsing? Did you know Malcolm and Denise were partnering up?
Knight: No idea at all. Malcolm, you build a camaraderie with people and you think you’ve got them locked. At the end of the day, he was playing his own game. I never saw Malcolm sneaking in like he did. Like I said, I was too cocky. I gathered wood till it was time to send Russ home.
Holmes: You were convinced that Russell was going home?
Knight: I was convinced! It was locked. That’s my game. (Laughs) It was as a big a surprise to me as anybody.
Holmes: Are Roxanne and Angie a unit?
Knight: Not that I saw, but that’s the way the game works. At one moment you’re best friends, the next you hate their guts. You have to watch the season to see how they vote.
Holmes: OK, if you insist, I’ll watch the season.
Knight: (Laughs)
Holmes: But now that they’ve voted you out, why bother?
Knight: You know what, a lot of America felt the same way. And I don’t think that’s me having a big head.
Holmes: Well, I think a lot of people pre-judge you based on your appearance. But I certainly enjoyed you. I was genuinely disappointed to see you go.
Knight: Hopefully if I made my mark and Jeff appreciated me and y’all appreciated me, you might get to see me again.

Holmes: I liked seeing you and Angie getting along. It’s one of those things on the show where two people from different walks of life, once you strip them of their comforts, they can get to know each other and enjoy each other.
Knight: I can pretty much get along with anybody. Angie reminded me a lot of my sister. She seemed kind of…at home for me. She’s pretty easy to get along with.

Holmes: Alright, first word association of the year. Let’s start with Angie…
Knight: Free.
Holmes: Malcolm?
Knight: Funny.
Holmes: Denise?
Knight: Hard to get along with.
Holmes: Roxanne?
Knight: Casual.
Holmes: And Russell?
Knight: Hardcore.

Holmes: Alright, jumping back into that. You said Denise was hard to get along with, when it seemed like she was making strides to get to know you better. What am I missing?
Knight: She’s one of those people that you don’t ever know. In the back of your mind you’re always thinking, “Maybe.”  It’s not that you can’t trust her, you just can’t assess her.

Holmes: A lot of people leave “Survivor” changed people. Has your time out there affected your outlook on life?
Knight: Oh my goodness, I am proud to be an American. It changed my whole philosophy. It changes the way I sweep the floor at work, the way I shop for groceries, the way I cut my grass. There is no aspect of my life that wasn’t impacted. I don’t care if you come of 1st or 26th, if you can say anything bad about this game, you didn’t play it right.

Holmes: When you were out there, you mentioned that your wife is a fantastic cook. When you got home did she have something special waiting for you?
Knight: Oh my goodness, I come home and the first thing I had was meatloaf. Good old southern cooking. I had an awesome meal waiting for me. I couldn’t get it all in me there was so much there.
Holmes: What?! I love meatloaf and my girlfriend never cooks it.
Knight: You need to come on down here, bro.
Holmes: Deal.

Any Questions? Ask me on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Recap: Blair’s in Trouble, Skupin Tries to Warner

September 19, 2012

Lisa Whelchel (CBS)

XFinityTV is blowing up their coverage of “Survivor: Philippines.” Starting next Tuesday, I’ll be squaring off against “Survivor: One World” champ Kim Spradlin in this season’s Power Rankings challenge. Every Wednesday briefly after the show we’ll have a full episode recap and every Thursday (including tomorrow) we’ll have an interview with the latest eliminated player. Also, starting October 1st, we’re bringing back the “Survivor” Question of the Week where Jeff Probst and I tackle a wide variety of “Survivor” topics. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for all the updates!

Quick Note: I was on location for the first episode of “Survivor: Philippines”, so this recap features all kinds of behind-the-scenes goodies.

Another Quick Note: I am so sorry about that headline. It was between that and the possibly worse “Matsinging in the Rain.”

Set Your DVR to Record “Survivor”

39 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

We kick this season off with Captain Probst aboard the S.S. Snuffer-upagus. He deftly navigates the beautiful waters surrounding the scenic Caramoan Islands.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: This can’t be emphasized enough; this place was designed to host “Survivor.” The water is amazing and there are a billion tiny little islands. I’m psyched.

J-Pro lets us know that a collection of 15 newbies are on their own boat on their way to the adventure of a lifetime.

We get to meet former National League MVP Jeff Kent, former child star Lisa Whelchel, and some dude with a Frankenstein tattoo.

What these newbies don’t know is they’ll be joined by three former players who were forced out of their previous seasons due to injuries. We’ve got Michael Skupin who famously fell into the fire in “Survivor: The Australian Outback.” Jonathan Penner who suffered a severe infection during “Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites,” and Russell Swan who passed out during an immunity challenge in “Survivor: Samoa.”

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Production went to great lengths to hide Penner, Michael, and Russell from each other. I find that odd, because they didn’t do a big on-camera reveal and other returnees (Russell and Rob, Coach and Ozzy) knew who they’d be facing in advance.

Captain Probst finally meets up with our new color-coded friends. Jeff Kent is a bit worried that only four other people are wearing the same color as him.

Zane (aka, Mr. Frankenstein tattoo) is psyched that there aren’t any returning players (or as he calls them, “celebrities”). He’s wrong on both counts.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: This marooning was pretty tame compared to most. The only questionable thing that was said was Katie dissing Angie by saying that she didn’t think she was prepared for the game.

J-Pro asks Roxanne what the worst thing she’s seen on the show is; she describes Russell’s fainting elimination. Apparently she never saw “One World.” Too soon?

Now Probsty’s psyched because he has the perfect segue way to bring in our returnees. Dawson is giddy that they’re there.

Probst assigns the returnees to their tribes. Skupin immediately recognizes Lisa but doesn’t out her. Jeff Kent had better hope Penner isn’t a Dodgers fan.

The marooning starts as the players are given a minute to salvage anything they can off of the boat. Penner immediately starts shouting out instructions to his tribe. He also gives Probst some grief. So much for his pre-game plan of avoiding the “Probst and Penner Show.”

There’s some awkwardness as Kalabaw’s raft flops into the sea, in the confusion Jeff Kent is worried that he may have blown out his knee.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: When Penner was in the water, he managed to lure a chicken off of the boat and into his waiting arms. That chicken was never seen again…

So, the tribes as we start off are…

The Kalabaw Tribe (wearing red)
Carter – Track Coach, 24
Dana – Cosmetologist, 32
Dawson – Insurance Sales, 28
Katie – Student, 22
Jeff – Former MLB Player, 44
Penner – Writer, 50

The Matsing Tribe (wearing blue)
Angie – Student, 20
Denise – Sex Therapist, 41
Malcolm – Bartender, 25
Roxanne – Seminary Student, 28
Russell – Environmental Attorney, 45
Zane – Tire Repair, 28

The Tandang Tribe (wearing yellow)
Abi-Maria – Business Student, 32
Artis – Computer Engineer, 53
Michael – Professional Speaker, Author, and Coach, 50
Lisa – Former ‘Facts of Life’ Star, 49
Pete – Engineering Graduate, 24
RC – Investment Banker, 27

At Matsing beach, Russell says there’s no way he’s going to let himself become the leader. He plans to pawn it off on someone else, but I’m not sure who on that tribe he can pawn it off to. Sure enough, we cut to Russell bossing everyone around.

Later on, Malcolm and Russell are able to create fire. This is important because it rained a lot during those first days. I was miserable, and I had a poncho and an umbrella. They had nothing.

Meanwhile at Kalabaw beach, Jeff Kent is having serious knee problems. He says he’s played hurt before and he’s going to do his best to tough it out. You’re a baseball player, rub some dirt on it!

Later on, Jeff Kent leads a meeting. The main topic of conversation? Not letting the returning player win. Uh oh…Penner’s got problems.

Over at Tandangia, Ani-Maria and RC hit it off immediately. However, they don’t hit it off well enough for RC to admit that she’s an investment banker. Probably smart, not the most popular occupation these days. Later, the two decide to bring Pete and Skupin on board. That was quick.

Back over at North Kalabaw, Jeff Kent is worried that he’ll be in trouble if people realize that he’s a former baseball player. Unfortunately for him, Dawson’s watched some baseball in her day. However, she probably underestimated his career earnings when she pegged it at around $30 million. She smartly decides to hold onto this information for the time being.

We meet up with the Tandang women standing in the ocean. Lisa decides to do so in her jeans. This is a person who is very aware that she is surrounded by cameras. Good for her public image. Not great for her game.

They follow this with a montage of Lisa trying to start a fire. They forget to show her getting mad at Tootie when she accidentally unplugged the alarm clock when they were cramming for an exam.

RC doesn’t trust Lisa. Skupin thinks she should admit who she is because he thinks that will impress the younger people. I think I agree with Skup. Jimmy Johnson’s time on the show has made famous people gun-shy about saying who they are. But, he was voted out because he wouldn’t align with anyone, not because he was rich.

That night, Skupin lets Lisa know that he thinks it’d be helpful to open up to the kids. She doesn’t go for it.

Over at Matsing, Zane’s trying to put an alliance together. They show him hustling with everybody. No lie, dude made alliance with all five people. Although, he claims his real alliance is with Malcolm and Russell. Yikes, that’s very messy for the first cycle. He has very Hantz-like tendencies.

Malcolm quickly rats him out to Denise. They bond over this issue. They even create a secret handshake. It’s best described as the result of Lonestar asking Barf to “Give him some paw.”

Aww…rest in peace, John Candy.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: During our visit there on day two; Malcolm and Denise were hard at work building a shelter, Russell and Roxy were working around the fire, Angie was weaving palm fronds alone, and Zane was off on testimonial interview. When Zane finally returned he looked miserable. He was visibly shaking and his hands were freakishly pruned-up.

Later at Tandang, the rain is pouring and Skupin is doing his best to injure himself again. He busted up his hand and scraped his head and foot.  The dude’s skin is made of tissue paper.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Everyone was in good spirits during my visit to the Tandang camp except for Artis. Michael, Lisa, RC, Abi-Maria, and Pete were all laughing and sharing stories while Artis kind of looked depressed in the corner. I think the weather was probably getting to him, his hands were also severely pruned.

At Kalabaw, Penner is hard at work searching for the immunity idol. Unfortunately for him, everyone knows he’s looking for it. I was there for this, and the other five members of his tribe were not pleased.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Penner broke the “Don’t speak to the press” rule when I was there when he told us that he was gathering things in case he needed to make a fake idol.

Sure enough, Penner finds the clue in the rice. He’s gonna need it.

Cut to…Russell finding the Matsing clue. Returnees on fire. Except in this case, Zane saw him find it. Zane confronts him and Russell denies it. Russell even goes so far as to say he’d target anyone he saw looking for the idol.

Immunity Challenge Time: The teams will be split up into three pairs. The first pair will sprint into the jungle while tethered together at the waist. Once they come to a clearing, they’ll have to scale a cargo net that leads to a platform. On that platform there is a box that is held closed by three sets of knots. Once the teams have untied their knots, they’ll open the box, retrieve two oars, then head back the way they came. When the players get back to the starting point, they’ll pass the oars off to the next pair.

That pair will then push their boat from the beach into the water. They’ll paddle out to a buoy, then dive down to retrieve a giant chest. From there, they’ll push the crate back to the shore.

When the crate is to the beach, all of the tribe members will help carry the chest back to the starting point.  Once it’s in its proper place, the final pair will crack open the chest and retrieve puzzle pieces. The first tribe to complete their tower-shaped puzzle wins immunity and a fire-making kit. The second place tribe wins immunity, flint, and a slight feeling of inferiority. The losing tribe gets to visit Jeff at Tribal Council.

The tribes take a minute to discuss strategy. Russell takes over and basically assigns his team roles. He then chooses a handful of magic beans over a tarp.

Our running pairs will be Russell and Zane for Matsing, RC and Artis for Tandang, and Dana and Katie for Kalabaw.

Our rowers are Denise and Malcolm, Pete and Michael, and Jeff and Carter.

And finally, our puzzle teams are Angie and Roxanne, Lisa and Abi-Maria, and Penner and Dawson.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: I started an unofficial pool before the challenge. Most people had Tandang or Matsing winning. Nobody thought Kalabaw had a chance.

Survivors are ready…and they go.

RC and Artis retrieve their paddles first. Russell and Zane are right behind them.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Poor Zane was a wreck after running through the woods, which was weird because it had to have been only 150 yards each way.

Dana and Katie finally get their oars to their rowers.

Skupin and Pete are the first ones to get to their chest, Jeff and Carter made up a lot of time and pass Matsing.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Pushing the crates back to shore took forever. It had to be exhausting.

Tandang gets their chest to the shore first. It’s full of water and too heavy to carry, so they start flipping it end over end. Kalabaw is right behind them. Matsing is finally back in the game too.

Penner and Dawson plow through the puzzle to win the first immunity, Abi-Maria and Lisa finish theirs shortly after to take the second idol. Matsing earns a date at Tribal Council.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Challenge producer John Kirhoffer claims he knew Kalabaw was going to win. I still don’t believe him.

Russell tells Probst that he isn’t too worried because there is always a next time. Probst corrects him, saying there’s a next time for five of them. Snap!

Matsing decides to have a tribe meeting once they’re back at camp. Zane confesses that he wasn’t physically prepared for the challenge and that he deserves the vote. Zane thinks this’ll show if he’s in control, Russell thinks this makes the vote very easy.

Quote of the Night: “I’m playing chess the best way I know how, and hopefully, I’m going to king me.” – Zane Knight

Yes, “king me” is a checkers term…

Angie and Roxanne aren’t sure they want Zane to go; they were not thrilled that they were assigned to be puzzle players. Angie even goes so far as to beg Zane to stay.

Malcolm could be on board with voting out Russell, but he’s worried about losing Russell’s strength and he thinks Russell might have the idol.

That night at Tribal Council, fire represents life. It tends to do that.

Denise didn’t want there to be returning players, but she thinks Russell is an asset.

Zane admits that Russell is better at the game than he is. He then breaks into an onion analogy that makes no sense. It’s like when your bishop lands on Park Place.

Russell admits that he blew it by jumping back into the chief role. Malcolm agrees with him.

Angie is upset that she didn’t get to run because she was on the track team in high school. And that was totally like three months ago.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: This is the first Tribal Council I’ve ever been to where the result was in doubt. Most of the crew at this point assumed Russell would be taking the walk of shame, but nobody was sure like with Semhar or Wendy Jo.

Voting Time: Russell votes for Zane, Zane quotes Ricky Bobby, then votes for Russell, and the rest are secret.

J-Pro tallies and returns. We’ve got one for vote for Zane, one for Russ, two more for Zane, and the first person to be voted out of “Survivor: Philippines” is…Zane.

Verdict: As always with the first episode, it was a lot of getting to know people. Now that that’s out of the way, there are at least eight people I’m genuinely excited to see play. I have high hopes for this season. I also hope Mike Skupin doesn’t die.

Who’s Going to Win: Malcolm’s my pre-season fave, but his tribe is a mess. I’ll stick with him for the time-being, but as usual, I’m prepared to change my mind at a moment’s notice.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

Official ‘Survivor: Philippines’ Pre-Game Rankings

September 19, 2012

'Survivor: Philippines' (CBS) 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.

Well, “Survivor” host and talk-show superstar Jeff Probst had his say as to who he thought would run away with this season of “Survivor.” Now I get my turn…

Quick Note: These rankings were done before the filming of the first episode, although a few minor things that took place in the premiere were sprinkled in later. Enjoy.

Another Note: As always, betting on my official “Survivor” pre-game rankings probably isn’t illegal, but it is frowned upon.

DVR the “Survivor” Premiere

Read Malcom’s Pre-Game Interview Read Denise’s Pre-Game Interview
1. Malcolm: Poor Malcolm is the recipient of my traditional pre-game curse. Why’d I curse Malcolm? He’s the player I’d create if I could make one in a lab. He’s good-looking, but not too good-looking. He’s fit, but not too fit. He knows how people view him. He’s a smartass, but knows when to be serious. Anywho, enjoy your early exit from the game, Malcolm. 2. Denise: I love that Denise is a sex therapist. There’s something about that occupation that seems perfect for “Survivor.” You have to deal with a wide variety of interesting folks, you can’t judge, you have to be able to keep your mouth shut. Add that to a genuinely nice person who can hold her own in challenges and you have a real contender.
 Read Michael’s Pre-Game Interivew Read RC’s Pre-Game Interview
3. Michael: Maybe this is wishful thinking from a “Survivor” fanboy, but I think Skup’s got a shot at taking this. I imagine he’s been watching every episode of this show for the past decade, breaking down every move and figuring out what he would’ve done in that situation. Also, if he’s going to fall into the dad role again, he has two fit kids (RC and Pete) and a confidant his age (Lisa). 4. RC: From our one-on-one chat, I found RC to be delightful. She’s quite the charmer. She also has a background as a competitive swimmer. Lucky for her, she was cast on the first season since ‘Fans vs. Favorites’ to have water challenges. I look for big things from her. She could end up with a big novelty “Survivor” check next to her hoop-rolling trophy.

Read Dawson’s Pre-Game Interview Read Carter’s Pre-Game Interview
5. Dawson: Here’s one pick where Jeff Probst and I disagree. He thinks Dawson’s an early boot because she’s going to annoy Penner. I think Kalabaw is headed for an early power struggle and she’s going to be sure to side with the winner. And besides, if she can survive nearly being given a concussion during a pre-game interview, 39 days on an island will be a piece of cake. 6. Carter: I like to think of Carter as the faux Fabio. With Fabio, what you saw was absolutely what you got. He was just a fun-loving kid who had a good time and kind of stumbled into a chance to win a million dollars. Anyone who sees Carter the same way might find themselves on the next 70-hour plane ride home.
Read Lisa’s Pre-Game Interview Read Pete’s Pre-Game Interview
7. Lisa: (Let’s see if I can write this blurb without a ‘Facts of Life’ pun.) Lisa’s tribe is such an a-team when it comes to challenges that Tandang may have a full house when they get to the merge. From there, if Lisa is bosom buddies with her alliance, she could win and join Tina Wesson and the rest of the sole surviving golden girls. However, one thing that could hurt her is if others are concerned that her kids were born with silver spoons in their mouths. (Success!) 8. Pete: You’re probably wondering why I have so many Tandangers so high in the rankings. It’s because they seem like a challenge juggernaut. You’ve got Michael, Peter, and Artis who are all jacked. And you’ve got RC who’s probably the best swimmer on this season. However, Pete has said he wants to make some big moves. Hopefully he’ll be smart enough to realize those moves aren’t always necessary. (See: Clarke, Sophie)
Read Dana’s Pre-Game Interview Read Abi-Maria’s Pre-Game Interview
9. Dana: Dana’s a bit of a wild card for me. She seems like she’s got the laid-back thing down, which is perfect for flying under the radar. However, she also said she’s just there for a vacation. Sometimes that leads to big things (See: Crowley, Bob) but usually it leads to an early exit. Here’s hoping she’s up for the game. 10. Abi-Maria: I like Abi-Maria a lot. She’s a ton of fun. She also has the advantage of being in her thirties, but looking like she’s in her mid twenties.  Mix that with her accent and people could underestimate her quite a bit.
Read Zane’s Pre-Game Interview Read Denise’s Pre-Game Interview
11. Zane: My buddy Zane’s first day on the island is going to be huge. Either people are going to accept him and enjoy him as the funny, personable guy he is, or they’re going to avoid him due to his appearance. Of course, it’s also possible he might start playing too aggressively. If he can keep his cool and find the right alliance he could make a serious run. 12. Russell: If ever there has been a tribe of misfit toys, it’s Matsing. Russell is going into this swearing up and down that he isn’t going to be a leader, but what if he has no choice? Denise is the second-best pick, but she’s probably smart enough to pass it off. Either way, as long as the dude stays hydrated, I’ll be happy.
Read Katie’s Pre-Game Interview Read Roxy’s Pre-Game Interview
13. Katie: If this was a ranking of people I’d like to go to Delaware Park Casino with, Katie would be an easy number one. However, for her “Survivor” game I have some concerns. First, she wasn’t quick on her feet when I presented her with some game scenarios. And second, she didn’t have a problem calling out Angie early in the game. And, early in the game is the best time to keep your mouth shut. Just ask Francesca Hogi from “Redemption Island.” 14. Roxy: Religion has been a huge part of “Survivor recently with Coach Wade and his Upolu tribe and Matt Elrod. This topic can be quite the lightning rod. Lisa seems to be on the right track of being mindful of what she says and who she says it to. Some people will receive it well, others won’t. Roxy doesn’t seem to have that same concern. She should be wary of how those things can be viewed in a post-“South Pacific” season.

Read Jeff’s Pre-Game Interview Read Penner’s Pre-Game Interview
15. Jeff: Why do I have a former professional athlete and probable challenge horse so low in the rankings? Because I truly believe that there will be an immediate power struggle in the Kalabaw tribe with Jeff Kent on one side and Jonathan Penner on the other. If Kent can win friends an influence people he could be on his way with a nice little alliance. If not…he’s out. 16. Penner: It kills me, KILLS ME to put Penner this low in the rankings. But like I said with Jeff Kent, I really think there is going to be a power struggle early at Kalabaw and one of them is going to be the first to go. Based on everyone’s appreciation that returning players have an advantage, Penner’s reputation as a strategist, and the fact that Penner doesn’t bring as much to the table physically as Kent means that he might be the first person in a red buff who is sent packing.
Read Angie’s Pre-Game Interview Read Artis’s Pre-Game Interview
17. Angie:  Angie was easily the most talked about person before the game started. Although, with her looks and…uh…figure…she certainly does stand out. Malcolm, Katie, and others had already made assumptions about her intelligence before she even had a chance to speak. She’s a sweet girl, but she might not have enough life experience to overcome that disadvantage. Although, if she gets in with the right group, she could surprise us. 18. Artis: What can I say about Artis? He’s a nice guy. He’s an absolute inspiration for the way he defeated stage-four cancer. But, right now I see him as the first member of Tandang tribe to go home. I think his social game is really going to be his weak point. He doesn’t seem to be very good at reading other people, which is huge in a game like “Survivor.”

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

‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Shares His Pre-Season Picks

September 18, 2012

Jeff Probst (CBS) 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.

DVR the “Survivor” Premiere

Holmes: Alright, we just got back from the…the launch? That’s not the right term.
Probst: The marooning.
Holmes: That’s it. Who’s your favorite so far?
Probst: I’m a little biased because I like all three of our returning players a lot. Penner’s one of my all-time favorite contestants and he reminded me why in the opening moments. I said you’ve got to be off this boat in ten seconds and in the scramble of him trying to get stuff he said, “Or what happens?” He lips off at every possible opportunity. It’s almost wrestling and he’s a foil. It’s this unscripted relationship we have in that whatever I say to him, he will challenge me. And sometimes I don’t know how to reply. Sometimes he wins, and I love that.
Holmes: How do you keep from pushing him into the water? Professionalism?
Probst: Yes, professionalism. Thank you.  I’m really excited to see Skupin back. He’s really the most famous memory of early “Survivor.” The guy who fell in the fire, that’s how people remember him.

Meet the New Castaways:

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Holmes: I’ve been nagging you about bringing back Skupin for years. I just want to take this time to say, “Thanks.”
Probst: We’ve tried. We wanted to bring him back so many times and have talked to him so many times that when we finally brought him back he didn’t believe us. I’m surprised he came on a plane to come out here. But he’s old school “Survivor,” I’m really curious to see if Skupin will be able to keep up with the game the way it is now. If he sits around and waits for a week to make an alliance, he’ll probably be in trouble. And then Russell Swan, it’s great to see him back because that was, no lie, no hype, that was the most afraid I have ever been. I seriously thought he was dying.
Holmes: Absolutely. I was watching it on TV and I knew he was fine and I’d be speaking to him the next day, and I was still pretty freaked out. I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like to see that live.
Probst: He was so pissed at us. He was so frustrated that we pulled him from the game, for months. I finally called. I said, “How are you?” He said, “I’m not happy with you guys, you pulled me out. You took away my shot at a million dollars.” I said, “Russell, you have no idea what happened. Your heart rate dropped like 30 beats in like half a second.” He really wasn’t having it. So, after the episode I called him and he was crying. He said, “I’m here with my wife. I have no recollections of that happening. And my wife just went through this near-death experience with me on the couch and I get it.”
Holmes: I talked to him yesterday. He said if anything happens to him his wife is going to kick your ass.
Probst: (Laughs) My ass!
Holmes: She’s holding you responsible.
Probst: (Laughs) Oh wow!
Holmes: That’s a lot on your shoulders.
Probst: I have no fault in this at all. I have no fault insurance.

Holmes: Which of the new players are in trouble?
Probst: Angie is going to fall into the unfortunate, young, attractive blonde who has no business being out here and has no idea that she shouldn’t be out here. Clueless. Beautiful tan though.
Holmes: Lovely young woman.
Probst: During the marooning I asked, “Who out here seems the most out of their element.” And, one girl turned around and said, “The blonde girl.”
Holmes: I believe that was Katie, Miss Delaware.
Probst: Yeah, Miss Delaware. Who else is in trouble? Dawson. Where the (expletive deleted) she came up with the name Dawson I have no idea.
Holmes: It’s her last name.
Probst: Oh…there you go.
Holmes: It’s better than G.C., I’ll give her that.
Probst: Who’s G.C.?
Holmes: G-Cizzle from “Survivor: Gabon”?
Probst: Oh my God…G.C… Dawson could last because she’s on a really good tribe. But if her tribe has to get rid of someone…she’s a nutcase and I don’t think Penner will have any time for it.

Holmes: Who are your favorites thus far?
Probst: I like Abi-Maria a lot. I hope she lasts. She could be a great winner, she could win.
Holmes: I think she could be in trouble.
Probst: Oh yeah?
Holmes: When they were paddling away she was just sitting in the middle holding stuff down and barking orders.
Probst: Oh really? She does have that little…Brazilian flame. And she’s probably used to getting things her way. But, I really like her. I think she’s charming and funny. And she brings a point of view that I don’t think we’ve had from a woman. I also like Zane. On paper he seems like he should be a total fish out of water here.
Holmes: I like him a lot.
Probst: Yeah?
Holmes: Absolutely.
Probst: But his personality is so engaging and he’s so funny and it’s so hard to understand him that I think he’ll be a very memorable character. I also like Malcolm a lot. He’s sort of the “Survivor” prototype Ozzy (Lusth) kind of guy. If he gets off to a good start he could really last for a while.

Holmes: How do you feel about Lisa?
Probst: Lisa is one of the people this season that I genuinely hope gets the full experience. I know she wants it, she’s so enthusiastic. She has a great attitude. But, she’s fighting one big obstacle in this game in that if you’re over 40, you’re like a fossil. And so, her biggest challenge is going to be, how do I prove to them that I’m worth keeping around?
Holmes: Especially in three tribes of six people, it seems like there’s much less wiggle room. Also, it seems like challenge strength is going to be a huge asset early on.
Probst: Yeah. But Lisa’s enthusiasm is contagious. I love it. I loved it the minute I met her. I’m so glad she’s out here and I really hope she lasts. Pete, I’m not sure about. He’s a little bit of a lost puppy. And, I think he knows it. He doesn’t want anyone else to know it. So, I don’t look for him to be a strong player and win. But, his bulk might keep him around. RC is a big question mark for me. I root for her. She’s the kind of woman I would align with. I’m not sure that’s going to be the case with anybody else.

Holmes: Who has villain potential?
Probst: Good question. Jeff Kent could be a villain. I like Jeff because he’s a no (expletive deleted) kind of guy. But he could rub people the wrong way. This is a dude who played in the Major Leagues for two decades. He’s used to playing at a certain level and if you can’t keep up, I imagine he’ll be the guy saying, “You know what, I’m going to cut you lose.”
Holmes: Jeff came really close to guessing the twist.
Probst: Did he? So did Carter. Carter is another guy I love.
Holmes: Really? Great kid, but he seemed kind of low-key to me.
Probst: Love him. He’s super smart. He looks and sounds like Jeff Spicoli, but in my interactions with him he plays at a much different level.

Holmes: This isn’t my first rodeo being out with you guys. But, this is the first location where I look around and everything screams “Survivor.” The water is beautiful, there are jungles to run through, and a million tiny islands.
Probst: You came in the period of time that we were inland so much. “Survivor” in the Philippines is really back to the roots of the show, which is being abandoned in the middle of the ocean. You’re going to have a lot of water challenges. People fishing, hopefully finding clams. This is where we like to be, it’s just, you can’t always find water in places that don’t have political unrest, or places you can afford with the shrinking dollar. So, the Philippines has been a very welcoming spot for us both financially and crew-wise. The area we’re in here, we’ve got somebody from every family working here and most of the entire community. And they couldn’t be nicer, they couldn’t have a better work ethic. If we could take them with us and have them be our crew everywhere, we probably would. They’re that good.

Holmes: Remember that show “Temptation Island”?
Probst: Yeah. I do.
Holmes: I remember when I first started watching that show, I was in a very good place with my then-girlfriend.
Probst: (Laughs) OK.
Holmes: I’m watching this show, just having a good old time laughing at these crazy people.  Then, in no way related to the show, things start to turn bad in my relationship. I start watching the show differently. They’re all jerks, why can’t they just be happy? The point is; the show didn’t change. I changed. You’ve been doing this for twelve years?
Probst: Thirteen.
Holmes: As your life has changed, you’re happily married, you’ve won Emmys, has your attitude toward “Survivor” changed at all?
Probst: Probably. I never thought about it. I guess it would have to. Yeah, because I’m pretty much myself out here, so when I’m asking questions they’re skewed from my viewpoint of human behavior. I think, despite what a lot of people who watch this show would say, I think I pick on people a lot less. I look for opportunities, but I feel like if you’re clever you’ll get out of it, if you’re not, you’ll sink. That’s your problem, not mine. I think that’s changed over the years. I think earlier on I was looking to make moments happen. I think that’s maybe because I was trying to prove myself and now I don’t feel like I have to prove myself as much so I’m more relaxed and ready to see what happens. And, I ask way less questions at Tribal Council than I did in the beginning. Now I’ll just stare you down. And I’m pretty sure I’ll win, and usually I do.
Holmes: That’s a trick of the trade, if you could go back and talk to Jeff in Borneo…
Probst: Well, I didn’t have any respect in Borneo, and rightly so. I had no (expletive deleted) clue of what I was doing. We were making the show up at lunch. OK, what if we give them a reward of…we have spaghetti here, what if we give them spaghetti. Richard Hatch was making the show up with us as much as we were making it up with him.
Holmes: Where’s his producer’s credit?
Probst: (Laughs) Good point. I still remember Richard Hatch in the middle of a challenge that he was sitting out basically telling me about an alliance with Sue (Hawk). I said, “Richard, I don’t want to know about this.” There was this idea that I shouldn’t know anything at all. And he looked at me and said, “I’m in an alliance with her and we’re going to stick together and always vote the same way.” It was mind-blowing. Oh my God! Two people are going to vote as one. We never had any idea there was going to be an alliance.

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

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Pre-Game Interview: Malcolm Freberg

September 17, 2012

Malcolm Freberg (CBS) 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: Malcolm Freberg
Age: 25
Home: Hermosa Beach, CA
Occupation: Bartender
Tribe: Matsing

Gordon Holmes: Being a bartender, you tend to have to deal with a wide variety of people. Is that going to help you in the game?
Malcolm Freberg: Oh yeah. Anybody who doesn’t think this is a social game at this point is an idiot. My job is making people feel comfortable and happy with me. If people don’t like me, I can’t pay my rent. So, that’s every day of my life. And it’s changing pace quickly too. Somebody can be at this end of the bar being loud and obnoxious and telling jokes, then there’s some discreet woman sipping some crap sauvignon blanc over here and I have to be polite. So, being able to change your attitude real quick, being the guy that everybody wants to see is definitely going to come in handy.

Holmes: It says here in your bio that you don’t like dumb people. I don’t mean to ruin Christmas, but there have been a few of those in past “Survivor” seasons.
Freberg: OK, I like dumb people when I’m sitting home watching them on TV. Don’t get me wrong. Erik Reichenbach is like my favorite guy. But, it’s when it affects you, that’s my biggest worry is that I’m going to put my trust in the wrong person to do a simple task. They’re going to screw it up or run there mouth. When somebody does something that makes no sense. If I get backstabbed, and it was in their best interest? I’ll be pissed, but I’ll get over it because they made a good move. If somebody does something idiotic and it hurts me and ruins my game? That’s when you’re going to see me flip (expletive deleted) on national television.

Holmes: It also says here, three words that describe you are charming, brilliant, and cocky. There are so few guys like us…
Freberg: (Laughs) We’re rare, aren’t we?  We’re a dying breed.
Holmes: It’s a little embarrassing to be so good at everything.
Freberg: When everything falls in your lap. When you never fail. There are no challenges left for us. Maybe that’s why I’m on “Survivor” to get away from all these people who are lavishing praise on me.
Holmes: I wouldn’t be willing to subject myself to lack of constant praise.
Freberg: Actually, I’m pretty sure I can get those 14 people in there to do it, so I’m not too worried about it.
Holmes: You’re crunching the numbers already. That’s good. What do you think of these folks?
Freberg: A lot of big guys, which is good. I’m going to be able to blend in more that I thought. Girls…a couple of cute ones. I was hoping for more from a network television show. I’m assuming everyone else has figured out there’s only six guys sitting in there. So, there’s still a variable. But it’s hard to make an assumption on how to play when there’s a big x factor out there.

Holmes: You’re a Russell Hantz fan…
Freberg: Alright, just stop. I’m not.
Holmes: It says in your bio that you love Russell Hantz. You can’t get enough of Russell Hantz.
Freberg: Don’t go putting words into my pre-game interview! Actually, that’s from the application. I put MF, my initials…hearts RH.
Holmes: That’s adorable.
Freberg: That’s why they picked me for the show. Actually, it’s tattooed on my left ass cheek. I think Russell is an idiot, you can control more than just your actions, you have to keep your hands clean and be more than just a miniature egomaniac, cracked-out (expletive deleted). If you know how to play mind games with people, you can play them against each other. Jonny Fairplay (Dalton) did it in Pearl Islands successfully.

Holmes: Guys like you and I who are cocky, charming, and brilliant can come off as villains. Is that something you’re worried about or is that something you’ll embrace?
Freberg: The only thing I care about being portrayed as is being a millionaire at the end. I don’t care what I look like. I want to play this game. I want to play it borderline sociopathically.  Emotion-free. The guy I want to play it the most like is (Brian) Heidik. He was…he’s not a nice guy (laughs) but he was liked by everyone. He was charming enough that he stabbed everyone in the back and still got the money in the end. Mr. Freeze, stone cold, that’s how I want to play.

Holmes: I know how this question is going to be answered…
Freberg: Go ahead.
Holmes: Are you prepared to lie?
Freberg: Yeah. I see it…and one of my favorites of all time (Jonathan) Penner saw it as a game of Monopoly. In my opinion it shouldn’t hurt your feelings if you land on Boardwalk and I have two hotels on it. It just sucks for you. Go watch TV while I go win the game. Do whatever it takes, lying, deceiving, manipulating, whatever other synonyms you can come up with.
Holmes: I didn’t bring my thesaurus.
Freberg:  But yeah, no problem lying.
Holmes: I agree with you. I’m a big believer that if you stab me in the back, I’ll be the first to shake your hand. But so many people have been hammered at a final Tribal over a lie.
Freberg: If it got to that point, then I haven’t played it right. You shouldn’t be hated at the final three. I read this in some essay that the entire point of “Survivor” is to create a jury that wants you to win. Sit next to a villain or sit next to someone who did nothing. Just don’t be the worst option. That’s how I’m looking at it.
Holmes: Will you flirt to get ahead?
Freberg: Oh yeah, that won’t be a problem. That little blonde’s already checking me out. What were those adjectives that described me?
Holmes: Us.
Freberg: Us, sorry.
Holmes: Cocky, charming, and brilliant.
Freberg: (Laughs) I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to leave you out of my adjective list. We’re in this together.
Holmes: It’s missteps like that that are going to send your ass to the jury.
Freberg: (Laughs) I should’ve used the plural, I apologize. But yeah, I’ll flirt, but I’ll steal Heidik’s line; this is a business trip. I’m out here to play the game and win the game. If that helps me? Great. I’m not out here to get booty blinded.
Holmes: So for “Survivor” catchphrases, Heidik has “business trip,” you have “booty blinded.”
Freberg: There’s my term. But if I can manipulate one of these little empty heads, I will.

Holmes: Anyone who tosses around the name Heidik as often you do is probably going to be branded a super fan. Is part of your strategy highlighting that or hiding that?
Freberg: I don’t think I need to pull that out like (John) Cochran or (Stephen) Fishbach do. They’re super smart guys, they’re strategic and they can help you in that way. The idea is to downplay my strategic and super fan status, actually, never tell the super fan stuff. At some point if you’re going to play dumb, you have to change gears and take over the game. And that’s the story that needs to happen for me.  If I look dumb and get voted out, I’m going to be remembered as the dumb guy. (Laughs) I’ll need to know when to go into Machiavellian beast mode.

Holmes: I already know you love Russell Hantz, but from a strategic standpoint, if you could align with any former “Survivor” player, who would it be and why?
Freberg: Gimme a second, cause you’re going to love my answer.
Holmes: There’s that cockiness.
Freberg: Let’s say Corinne (Kaplan) from Gabon. Total bitch. I used to date a girl exactly like her from New York. I know how to deal with it. Nobody likes her, so they’re not going to vote for her in the end. And I know how to get along with a person like that.

Holmes: OK, what’s the plan for the big check Jeff Probst is going to give you in December?
Freberg: The first purchase will be completely selfish. Just grandiose and indulgent. But after that, some will go to charity. I worked with Special Olympics in college and I did volunteer work in Micronesia. A portion of the winnings would go to that.

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

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