Archive for February, 2017

‘Survivor’ Tai: “I’m Not the Flip-Flop Guy. If You Worked with Jason and Scot, You’d Want to Flip on Them Too”

February 28, 2017

Tai Trang (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Tai Trang
Age: 52
Hometown: San Francisco
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Kaoh Rong” – 2nd Runner-up
Best Known For: Being rewarded for befriending a chicken by singing star Sia.

Gordon Holmes: You seemed very conflicted with lying and backstabbing in Kaoh Rong. Have you come to terms with that?
Tai Trang: When I went to the shady side it made sense to me. I was playing the game. People say I shouldn’t have gone there because I’m a nice guy.
Holmes: I’m not saying whether you should or you shouldn’t. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do this. But when you did lie, you seemed uncomfortable.
Trang: I was uncomfortable. I go back and forth. Eventually I followed the way I felt instinctively and I went to the light. So, coming into this game, I’m going to play the way I am. That’s easy for me to do. I think who I am appeals to a lot of people. I’m understated, I’m nice. People like being around nice people. But then again, it’s a game and I need to be a little more focused on that. I think I lost focus toward the end of Kaoh Rong. How am I going to own my game? I didn’t do a good job of that last time.

Holmes: You turned on Scot and Jason in Kaoh Rong and it worked out for you then. However, everyone here saw that. How do you turn that to your advantage?
Trang: I’m going to have a conversation with everybody. I think they might say, “He’s a nice guy, but he’ll turn on you.” I need these people to understand that we’re all players. They’re all strategy players. I have to let people know that I went to the dark side. I need them to feel like I’m going to be a nice guy and play a straight forward game. But, if the opportunity comes and I need to do something to advance my game…for a reason…I’ll need a reason…but, I’ll do it. Some people think I flip-flopped around, but everything I did made sense to me. I just wasn’t able to explain myself well. I need to own it.

Holmes: Jeff told you guys that the theme is Game Changers. What was your reaction when he said that?
Trang: (Laughs) I said, “Really? How am I a game changer?” Seriously! Am I bringing out the softer side of “Survivor”? Because I think about our place on this Earth? Maybe he’s referring to I’m a little guy and I’m able to take a stand and follow my heart. I’m not afraid to make moves. But “Game Changer” is a really big term! I’m looking at everybody, and I’m a fan, and I don’t remember any of these people. I know them by their name. I know Cirie, Tony, Sarah…I don’t know who Sierra Dawn is…the tall Sierra. I remember Ozzy and Malcolm, they’re great players. But, I guess we all changed the game somehow. (Laughs) It is really scary.

Holmes: Is there anyone you’re hoping to work with?
Trang: Just looking around pre-game, Cirie seems to be really open. I know she’s really nice. Something about Michaela and the cop Sarah, JT…they all seem like sweet people. It’s tough for me to want to partner with someone like Tony. I don’t think we even speak the same language. I don’t want to repeat what happened with Scot and Jason. I don’t want someone to dictate to me how we’re going to play. Him and Sandra, there’s the same energy about them.

Holmes: You’re here with two players you’ve never seen play before. Does that worry you, does that make you want to work with them?
Trang: Michaela and Zeke…I like their energy. It doesn’t worry me. Maybe it’s naïve of me. But, I’m approaching the whole game…I don’t remember how everyone played, so I’m a blank slate, except for a couple of people. The new people, I’m basing it around what I’ve seen with them, and I would play with them. We’re not talking, but I am extending myself. You can feel who’s open and who’s not.
Holmes: Are you smiling at them? Giving them the double guns?
Trang: (Laughs) No no no. Aubry and Debbie, we went through the game before. I’m completely open. And Caleb, we definitely want to work together. It’s not a secret. Everybody assumes that. I promised his new wife. (Laughs)
Holmes: You’ve got three other people from Kaoh Rong here. Is that a positive or a negative?
Trang: I think it could be a positive thing. We didn’t do any pre-game alliance…other than with Caleb. Aubry, I talked to her last week, I said, “Hey, we’re playing again.” And she said, “Yeah, we’ll see how things fall.” We left it at that. I think people think we’ll be playing together. But, it’s a brand new game. It’s hard to promise things and then not break those promises. I even told Caleb, “If it’s between you and I, don’t get mad.” We both agree on that.
Holmes: But his wife can get mad.
Trang: (Laughs) Yes.

Holmes: Alright, I’m going to give you a reason someone might use to get rid of you. I’d like you to counter that argument.
Trang: OK.
Holmes: Like I said before; Tai turned on Scot and Jason. I don’t trust him.
Trang: I’m not the flip-flop guy. If you worked with Jason and Scot, you’d want to flip on them too. They were a two-headed monster I had to take out.

Holmes: Tai is good at challenges. He’s not the biggest guy, but he held his own after merge.
Trang: (Laughs) Oh, c’mon. Everyone here is good at challenges. I’m small. I got so lucky during the challenges. I was good at the beginning, but at the end I was depleted.

Holmes: Tai is a guy that will become best friends with your dinner.
Trang: (Laughs)
Holmes: I don’t want to hang out with chicken. I want to eat chicken.
Trang: But I will get you something better. Don’t you want to eat fish instead of chicken? We had so much food in Kaoh Rong. We had a lot of clams, mango, nobody wanted chicken. You have pets right? You don’t eat them.
Holmes: That’s true. I don’t eat dogs or cats.
Trang: When you call a chicken and he comes to you and spends time with you, that’s a pet. But, if people want to eat chicken, I’ll kill the chicken. I’ll cook the chicken. I make a really good Chinese chicken.
Holmes: Which pop star do you think will interrupt the “Game Changers” finale?
Trang: (Laughs) I don’t know. I didn’t even know who Sia was!

Holmes: If there is a twist, what do you think it will be?
Trang: There’s definitely a twist. I like the idea of Redemption Island. A second life. The super idol didn’t get played last time, but it was in the game. It was fun to have that. Maybe a twist with no idol?

Holmes: Alright, I hold in my hand a deck of cards that features your opponents, except for Michaela and Zeke who we don’t know yet. I’ll give you three cards at random. You tell me who gets voted out first, who you work with but eventually eliminate, and who you take to the end.
Trang: No Zeke and Michaela?
Holmes: Right, I didn’t think we’d be able to talk about them specifically. But then during my first interview, I asked someone what they thought of the new players and they said, “Oh well Zeke is like this and Michaela is like that.”
Trang: Yeah, Jeff told us their names.
Holmes: I didn’t know that. I thought that person was psychic.
Trang: (Laughs) I think Zeke is gay. And Jeff Varner is gay. Wouldn’t it be sweet to have a gay alliance?
Holmes: The first ever gay-lliance! I love it.
Trang: (Laughs) Gay-lliance! Jeff Varner talked to me about it. I have talked to him about us working together. Is Malcolm gay? He sounds so gay to me.
Holmes: I don’t think so. I know he’s been in relationships with females.
Trang: Oh, OK. He’s not, but the way he carries himself is very sweet.

Round One: Cirie, Andrea, and Brad
Trang: I’m going to vote out Andrea because I think she could be dangerous. I don’t remember much about her, it’s my instinct just seeing her around. And she’s not going to be great in challenges. I’ll work with Cirie because she’s very calm. I think she can work with a lot of people. And I’ll keep Brad because he’s going to piss off a lot of people. He’s a loudmouth.

Round Two: Caleb, JT, and Malcolm
Trang: I’m voting out Malcolm. He’s going to be really good in challenges and all the girls are going to like him. He’s good socially. I’ll work with JT. He’s good in challenges and he seems straightforward. I’ll take my bromance to the end. Not just because I promised his wife. I think it’d be really sweet if we went to the end together.

Round Three: Debbie, Sandra, and Hali
Trang: Sandra is out first. She’s annoying. I don’t think she’ll be good with challenges. She won’t carry me. And she’s won already. I’ll work with Hali. I don’t know anything about her, but she seems like she’d be my equal partner. I can talk to her. She’s small, we’re the same size. And I’ll take Debbie to the end. I think she’s going…she’s going to lose it. She’s going to piss off a lot of people. She tells people what to do.

Round Four: Ozzy, Troyzan, and Aubry
Trang: I’m taking Ozzy out. He’s a threat. I’ll work with Aubry, I’m not taking her to the end though. She can out talk me. I’ll take Troyzan to the end. He’s big, but he’s a little too out there. I can explain myself better. I think people are more drawn to me than him.

Round Five: Ciera, Tony, and Jeff
Trang: I’m taking Tony out. Same reason as Ozzy, they’re big threats. I’ll work with Ciera, I think she’ll be loyal. It’s just my sense. I know she voted out her mom. And I’ll take Jeff to the end, I’d like to see two gay guys sitting there. And Jeff is such a loner, people aren’t going to warm up to him.

Holmes: Alright, we’ve got two left. Work with one and vote out the other.

Round Six: Sarah and Sierra
Trang: I’ll vote out Sierra because she seems more simple. Other people can use her. And I’ll work with Sarah. But, I have to look out for her because she’s a cop. She’s good at observing. But, I like her energy.

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

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‘Survivor’ Cirie: “I’m a Game Changer for a Type of Person Who Didn’t Have the Self Esteem to Come Out Here”

February 27, 2017

Cirie Fields (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Cirie Fields
Age: 45
Hometown: Norwalk, CT
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Panama” – Finished 4th and Jury member
“Survivor: Micronesia” – Finished 3rd and Jury member
“Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” – Finished 17th
Best Known For: Convincing Erik Reichenbach to give up his immunity idol.

Gordon Holmes: You’re looking great!
Cirie Fields: Why, thank you.
Holmes: It says in your bio that you’re more physically fit, less emotional, less aggressive.
Fields: Yeah, that got me a little bit of trouble. (Laughs)
Holmes: I remember people in “Heroes vs. Villains” being very afraid of you.
Fields: I know! Isn’t that crazy? I’m just a flower. (Laughs)
Holmes: Just a delicate breeze blowing through camp.
Fields: (Laughs)
Holmes: Feel free to use that in the game.
Fields: Oh sure. They couldn’t see the forest for the trees. That’s why we have a two-time winner. Everybody’s after the least, well I’m not going to say least, but a less threatening player than some of the other people.

Holmes: You’re a very good player. But, a lot of people are good players. Why do you think you get singled out?
Fields: I think it’s because I am relatable. I’m old enough to be considered somewhat of an authority. But, I’m young and cool enough to still blend in with the younger people. That makes me a liability. I can go either way. If the young people ain’t feeling me, I can go hang out with the older crowd. And usually, not everybody, but usually people like me.
Holmes: Do you think part of it was that it was a “Heroes” tribe and a lot of people were really into being called heroes?
Fields: I think that may have played a part. Everybody wants to be hero and take out the threat Cirie. Why I’m such a threat is beyond me. You have winners there. I’m hoping that nobody wants to be the hero this time and take out Cirie. Bastards.

Holmes: Two days ago, Jeff Probst said to you, “Game Changers.” What was your impression when you heard that?
Fields: My first impression was kind of like “Heroes.” I’m not a hero. And I didn’t initially feel like a game changer. It took me some time to go and think about it.
Holmes: What’d you come up with?
Fields: I think of a game changer like, someone who found an idol without a clue. Someone who uses two idols on everyone but themselves. You know? I thought of it like major move kinda deals. Even though Erik was a major move, I didn’t think of it as a game changer. And then when I sat and thought of it, maybe I am a game changer. But, maybe I’m a game changer for a type of person who didn’t have the self esteem to come out here. Who cares what people are going to say, if you don’t try you’re not going to get anything.
Holmes: The way I’d look at it is; would someone like John Cochran have had the guts to come out and play without you?
Fields: That’s what I’m saying! It’s not the most glamorous thing, but I wear it proudly. That first time, I challenged myself. I was like any other fan thinking, “Are they going to bring us out some cots and sandwiches after they get what they need for the episode? Then they’ll haul us in a van out to a hotel.”
Holmes: That’s not what happens?
Fields: I think on the sixth day I was thinking, “They’re serious now. What the hell did I do?” And at that point two people were gone. I said, “OK, they can roll me out.”
Holmes: Remember Taj from Tocantins?
Fields: Yes.
Holmes: She told me that she was expecting craft services with fully catered meals.
Fields: I’ve watched since Richard Hatch, and because it’s on TV, I thought they can’t just leave you out there. (Laughs)
Holmes: They certainly can.

Holmes: What do you think of this cast?
Fields: I see some faces I recognize; I see some faces I don’t recognize. I see some, what I would consider veterans. I’m good with them as long as they’re good with me. I don’t feel the same I vibe I felt with “Heroes vs. Villains.”
Holmes: How so?
Fields: There’s this cartoon where two guys are stranded on a desert island. They’re cool, everything’s cool. Like Ponderosa everything is cool. Then on day three they look at each other and one looks like a steak and the other looks like a hotdog. (Laughs) That’s how I felt in “Heroes vs. Villains.”
Holmes: Like a hotdog?
Fields: Exactly. And I was like, “Don’t they see those steaks over there?”

Holmes: Is there anyone you’re looking forward to working with?
Fields: I’d like to work with Tai and Caleb, (expletive deleted) the whole Kaoh Rong four. We can be a Kaoh Rong five as far as I’m concerned. I like Caleb. I thought Aubry killed it on her season. I’d love to be the fifth Kaoh Rong and bring Michaela in as the sixth. I like Troyzan. I don’t mind Brad Culpepper.
Holmes: That’s a ringing endorsement. I don’t mind him.
Fields: (Laughs) You know, I’m open. I’m an equal opportunity employer.

Holmes: Any early targets?
Fields: There are some people I’m worried are wary of me. I feel like JT and Ozzy may, because we have history, may feel like I’m coming for them. It’s probably going to take blood to convince them that that’s not what I’m doing here. I’m a little worried about Sandra too because I have vocalized my opinion on her deserving or not deserving a second win. I was out there with her. And even though I went out early, we played a good amount of challenges that she sat out. I guess the ultimate goal is to make it to the end, so if you do that you should win. However, I’m a game player. I want to have something to say. I won because I did this, this, and this. But, if you want to win because you’re not Russell or Parvati, then I guess a win is a win. I’ve said that. I’m sure she heard it. Little Puerto Rican princess might be holding a grudge there. I get the hotdog vibe from her.

Holmes: You are the first-ever female four-time player.
Fields: I am!
Holmes: That’s something.
Fields: That is. I just have to make it count. I realized there are a handful of people who’ve done that…and when I thought about doing this again, my mind was in so many different places that I honestly didn’t think that I was the only woman to play four times. Even to think about the players it sounds crazy. It just escaped me. Damn!
Holmes: Do you worry that might put a target on your back?
Fields: (Expletive deleted). I hope not.
Holmes: I didn’t before now, Gordon!
Fields: What’re you doing to me? I really didn’t think about that until right now. But, I know they all know it. Bastards.

Holmes: You don’t know anything about Zeke or Michaela. How do you handle that in the game?
Fields: You’d be crazy not to have some questions. Like, what happened? Why didn’t you win? Are you a Russell Jr.? However, you kind of get a feel. Unless I’m completely off, I don’t get that I’ll-burn-your-socks-while-you-sleep vibe from them. Part of it is what you know, and part of it is you have to go with your gut. I’m not getting a hotdog vibe from them yet.
Holmes: I’m trying to figure out the alternate of that. They don’t view me as a hotdog, they view me as a dinner companion.
Fields: Exactly! I’m getting a bowling buddy vibe from them.

Holmes: Alright, pretend we’re on the same beach and I’m trying to get rid of you.
Fields: Bastard!
Holmes: I am. I’d like you to counter the arguments I try to use.
Fields: OK.
Holmes: Cirie is too smart, too savvy. If she got to the final three she would’ve beaten Amanda and Parvati. Let’s get rid of her now.
Fields: I was never on the Brain tribe. You’ve got two Brains here. Aubry made it to the end. I’m smarter than Aubry? I don’t even have good grammar. There are people here who are way more dangerous than me. Look at Aubry. She’s smart, she’s good at challenges. You watch like I watch, she’s way more of a threat than me. The people that I played with? The people I was true to? They won the game.

Holmes: Cirie isn’t the strongest challenge competitor. Let’s get rid of her now.
Fields: I’m not the strongest, but I’m not the weakest. Look around. There’s a two-time winner that’s weaker than I am. She won twice by being right under the radar while y’all are focusing on me.

Holmes: Cirie’s had three chances already.
Fields: I’m not the only person who’s had three chances. Didn’t JT win? Why are you looking at me? You’re going to let there be another two-time winner? A three-time winner? You can always get rid of me down the line.

Holmes: There’s always talk of pre-season alliances in returnee seasons. Are you a part of any? Have you heard any rumors?
Fields: I haven’t heard of any. I’m out of the loop. I went to “The Price Is Right” recently. I talked to Aras on Facetime and Shane wanted me to do his radio show. Other than that, I don’t really stay in contact with people…to my detriment. If there is one, they’re being more discreet than they’ve been in the past. I can’t pick it up. I did see Ozzy and Sierra at “The Price Is Right.” They were getting cozy together. They were like the presenters, the models. But outside of that, in Micronesia they had all kinds of plans I heard after the fact. And you saw how that turned out.

Holmes: You’re not allowed to talk because you’re in lockdown. But, people smile and wink. Is anyone smiling and winking at you?
Fields: You’re overly sensitive because you’re ready to play. Everyone is sitting next to someone. It isn’t overtly obvious. Maybe the people are smarter now. Or, it’s not happening. Everybody smiles at me. There are a few that don’t smile at me like Andrea. I don’t think she’s feeling me. I get the hotdog vibe from her. Oh, and Sarah…she’s giving me that look too. Other people are just now starting to come around. Varner and Debbie, they’ve softened towards me.

Holmes: Any guesses for twists?
Fields: I have no clue. Maybe Exile Island again…I hope it’s that. Maybe old vs. young? I don’t know. I never do.

Holmes: Alright, your opponents are in this deck of cards. Well, except for Michaela and Zeke because we don’t know them yet. I’ll hand you three cards at random. You tell me who’s out first, who you’ll work with and eventually eliminate, and who you’ll take to the end.

Round One: Ozzy, JT, and Tai
Fields: Oh…I like this. I’ll vote out JT because he came for me and he might think I’m coming for him even though I’m not. I’ll align with Ozzy because people would never expect it. They’d expect us to go against each other. I’ll take Tai to the end because I think I can outsmart them.

At this point, a CBS representative and Tai walk by.

Holmes: Let’s let these guys pass. I don’t want them to hear our strategies.
Fields: Are they saying something about me?
Holmes: You’re safe from Tai because he doesn’t eat hotdogs.
Fields: (Laughs) I don’t want him to think I’m a pickle.

Round Two: Troyzan, Sierra, and Jeff
Fields: I’ll vote out Sierra because I don’t know what Ozzy told her about me. I’ll align with Troyzan because he might be trustworthy. He seems to have that vibe. I’ll take Jeff to the end because I think he’s going to annoy people.

Round Three: Tony, Andrea, and Ciera
Fields: I’ll vote out Andrea. She sees me as a hotdog. I’ll align with Tony. I’ll hit him with we’re both from Jersey City. I’ll take Ciera to the end because I think I can beat her in front of the jury.

Round Four: Brad, Caleb, and Sarah
Fields: Ew…I’ll vote out Sarah. She’s looking at me like I’ve had enough chances. I’ll align with Caleb. I think he’ll be true to me. And I’ll take Brad to the end because he’s going to get on people’s nerves.

Round Five: Malcolm, Hali, and Aubry
Fields: Goodbye, Malcolm. Malcolm’s gotta go. He’s giving me the hotdog vibe, too. He’s not going to feel me. He’s into his self a lot. People who are fit like that view me as a charity case. If it came to a vote, I’d be an easy pick for him. Hali, she seems sweet and innocent. I would align with Aubry. I need numbers. And I don’t see much division with the Kaoh Rong four. And I would take Hali to the end. I think I could outtalk her. I could get the mother-with-kids sympathy vote.

Holmes: We’ve got two left. Vote out one and align with the other. I think I know which way this is going.

Round Six: Sandra and Debbie
Fields:
Three times? Sandra, I’m not going to let you slide under the radar. That’s my job. And Debbie’s good at challenges and she is annoying. And if we lose, I think her aggressiveness and refusal to change her votes might be detrimental to her and beneficial to me.

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Zeke: “Three of My Top Five Players Are Here in Cirie, Sandra, and Tony”

February 24, 2017

Zeke Smith (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Zeke Smith
Age: 28
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Previously Played On
“Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X” – Finished 9th and Jury Member
Best Known For: Having the greatest cast introduction video ever.

Note: This interview took place before “Survivor Millennials vs. Gen-X” aired.

Gordon Holmes: You’re here for a reason…and I don’t want to know this reason.
Zeke Smith: (Laughs) Right.
Holmes: I’m going to take a walk, and you tell this recorder why you’re here. Then, I’ll hear it next January.
Smith: You’re not going to get me in trouble, are you?
Holmes: Wouldn’t dream of it.
Smith: OK.

Holmes walks away, puts his fingers in his ears, and says “Lalalalalala.”

Smith: OK, Gordon. I’m here because I orchestrated a lot of blindsides. I started on a tribe that wanted nothing to do with me. I found people who wanted to work with me. I slit a lot of throats and I was the first person to ever force rocks at ten. I got people that I had blindsided just votes before to stick their hands into a bag of rocks for me. Isn’t that pretty (expletive deleted) cool?

Holmes: You were just out here. How long did you have to go home?
Smith: I got two weeks back in New York. And to be honest, they could have just left me on a beach with protein bars and clean water and I would’ve perfectly happy to stay here in Fiji. I love “Survivor.” I’m a huge fan. To get to play it once is a dream. To get to be a part of that epic back-to-back experience…that only a handful of people have gotten to do is a pretty big honor. I appreciate the significance of that.

Holmes: I’ve been doing this since Gabon. I interviewed Russell when he went back-to-back. I interviewed Malcolm when he went back-to-back. They both said that physically and mentally it might have been too much.
Smith: Physically I feel like I’m in good shape. I may not be in quite as good shape as I was when I left the first time. I don’t think that’s going to have too much of an effect on my game. I think it’s the mental fatigue, “Survivor” is a constant state of stress. It’s 39 days of mental stress. I had two weeks where I said, “I don’t want to see you. I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t want to have to cater to the needs of other people.” I’m feeling pretty excited. A lot of “Survivor” is riding the adrenaline wave. I’d say if there’s an element that worries me, it’s the mental fatigue.
Holmes: Russell and Malcolm came back alone. They could say anything they wanted about their previous performances. You don’t have that luxury with Michaela here. Without getting too spoilery, what your relationship with her like?
Smith: We weren’t super close in the game. We didn’t play with each other a whole lot. So, I think our relationship brings more of a target than it’s worth. I think anyone is an option. I want to work with anyone who wants to work with me. But I don’t think there’s any special relationship between Michaela and I that I’m we’re going to try to work in a swap or merge situation. For me, if Michaela goes home early? That’s better for me. It’s interesting in that everyone has shared a season with one other person. It’s sort of like a “Blood vs. Water” season where people whose loved ones go early tend to get farther in the game. I sort of see that as my relationship with Michaela.

Holmes: Alright, I’m going to tell you why I’m going to vote you out of this game. I’d like you to defend against it.
Smith: Certainly.
Holmes: I don’t know how Zeke plays this game. He’s an unknown quantity. Let’s just get rid of him now.
Smith: Look, I’m a goofy guy who tells a lot of R-rated jokes. That might be the reason why I was brought back. It’s not like everyone here is an actual game changer. And look, are you really telling me that I’m more dangerous than someone like Tony? Someone like Sandra? Someone like Cirie? And look, I’m in such a desperate situation. Everyone else knows each other. Everyone else has probably talked to each other. I don’t have anything. I’m looking for buddies. I’ll be more loyal because I have more of a need to be loyal than anyone else out here.

Holmes: For them to bring Zeke back so quickly…he had to do something big. I don’t want to worry about this guy making a big play.
Smith: Who here hasn’t made a big play? Well, maybe with the exception of Caleb who hasn’t been to Tribal Council. You’ve got Ciera, who I’m assuming is being upgraded to Eastin since there are two Sierras/Cieras this season. She voted out her mom. She was in the thick of the chaos of the merge of “Second Chance.” You’ve got Varner. Who knows what the (expletive deleted) he’s going to do. There are a lot of people who are known to be dangerous. And I think it’s better to take care of them.

Holmes: You’re good at this. But what are some of these R-rated jokes?
Smith: They’ll happen. I’ve been told to keep it down. They just arise.
Holmes: This is print, I can (expletive deleted) all of them out.
Smith: OK, I’ll turn it up for you.

Holmes: What’ve you learned from your first go around that you’ll apply this time?
Smith: I’m a student of the game and I play aggressively. When I was debriefing with some people from my season, they said I should try to play a little more subtly. But, does anything about me look subtle?
Holmes: I do like the shirt.
Smith: Thank you. But that’s not going to change. What I want to do in this game is I need to find advantages. I need idols, I need extra votes. I need to get my hands on some of that.

Holmes: What are your thoughts on this cast?
Smith: I’m so awe-struck to be here with some of these people. My first season was “Cook Islands,” so to be here with Ozzy…even though I don’t think super highly of him as a strategist…to be here with a “Survivor” legend? It’s amazing. Three of my top five players are here in Cirie, Sandra, and Tony. I think that’s pretty incredible. Two people are playing for the fourth time, six people are playing for the third time. Caleb has never been to Tribal Council before. It’s a really mixed bag. And a lot of people…I was trying to watch game tape when I was home, and I thought, “Should I watch ‘Worlds Apart’ and see what Hali and Sierra are up to?” There’s not a lot of game tape on these people. They might present some dangers. You have two smart women in a game of smart women. They’re going to want to prove that they belong out here. A lot of these untested players are going to want to show something early.
Holmes: I’m not a game changer? Screw you, watch me change this game.
Smith: Well, Jeff Probst came to talk to us yesterday and was like, “You all are game changers.” And I think there were a lot of people who were like, “I am a game changer.” And a lot of people who were like, “I’m a game changer? Well, if Jeff says I am, I’ve got to live up to it.” Those are the people who are going to make trouble early.
Holmes: You can’t trust that Probst as far as you can throw him.
Smith: I don’t know, those dimples are pretty charming.
Holmes: They should make some kind of molds of them. And when you’re having a bad day you can just rub them and feel better.
Smith: I tell you, when you get your torch snuffed, he looks you dead in the eyes. It’s a pretty epic moment.

Holmes: Is there anyone you’re hoping to work with?
Smith: Yeah, I’d love to play with Cirie. I’m a crazy ball of energy that wants to make a big move even when it’s not smart. I think Cirie is very calm, cool, and collected. I think she’d balance me out. I also think Cirie would be a great shield. Who’s more dangerous than the guy we know nothing about? Cirie. She can win it. Also, I’d love to play with one of my heroes. Aubry is someone I’m looking to play with. I think we play the game similarly. I like the symbiotic relationship she had with Cydney. That’s sort of how I like to play. JT is someone I’d like to play with, but his last taste of “Survivor” is getting embarrassed by Russell. So, you have to wonder how excited he’d be to play with me. I’d have to convince him I’m more of a Stephen.

Holmes: Do you have any early targets?
Smith: Varner makes me really nervous. There’s this anxiety about him. You saw it in “Second Chance.” He was running around wanting to play over wanting to make good relationships. I don’t think you can trust him. And the rumors are he’s pre-game chatting with everyone. I like the idea of keeping around people like Tony and Sandra and Cirie. They’re dangerous, but you have a read on them. People like Varner and Hali you’ve only ever seen these little snippets of them.

Holmes: Speaking of pre-game, that happens in any returnee season. Have you been talking to anyone?
Smith: I don’t know anybody. Well, I know Michaela obviously. We texted a little, but nothing more than that. It’s interesting, I’m a big fan and I know everyone is chatting. But, Michaela is not a big fan. Michaela, I don’t think knows about the pre-game stuff.
Holmes: Have you heard any rumors?
Smith: You just hear Varner talking to everybody.

Holmes: You guys are in lockdown now. You’re not allowed to talk, but people smile and wink. Are you doing any of that?
Smith: Before 33 everybody was smiling and winking because you’re all strangers. But here, nobody is doing anything. There are people who will sit together, and you notice that Malcolm and Ozzy always sit together. But a lot of people here have the poker face on. I try to smile at people just to seem non-threatening. But, for the most part it’s locked down. Brad Culpepper talks a lot. He will talk to everybody. I think he’s been segregated to the back of the sitting area because if you sit next to him, he’ll talk to you. Right now I’m reading his favorite book.
Holmes: Which is?
Smith: “Lonesome Dove.” So, I know that much. And Tai is very chatty also.

Holmes: When everybody is zigging, you stand out by zagging. I think that helped Michele last season. I’m talking to you and you seem likable, non-threatening in this season of big threats. Do you think they’ll work to your advantage?
Smith: Yeah. It’s an all-star season. Everyone is here to play. I’m trying to present to everyone that I’m a fun guy to play with. I’m not Russell, I’m just trying to fit in with everyone else. You look at Sandra and Cirie, they’re trying to fit in at Ponderosa.
Holmes: Sure you’re capable of making big moves, but as far as anyone knows, you’re good-time Zeke.
Smith: Yeah, I’m the fun guy with the mustache and the crazy shirts.

Holmes: We’ve got four Kaoh Rongers here. What’s your take on that?
Smith: I think I can see myself playing with the four of them. I think they’ll want to play with me because there’s a target on them. I think they might want to scoop me right up.

Holmes: If there is a twist other than Game Changin’, what do you think it will be?
Smith: I don’t think there’s going to be one twist. I think there are going to be a million twists. There’s going to be something with the idols. There’s going to be some kind of other advantages. It wouldn’t surprise me if we had four tribes of five. Which I think is great. I thrive when the game is chaotic. There’s also this pastime of speculating what’s going to happen next. And the thing is, you’re always wrong. You learn to trust your overlords and what they throw at you.

Holmes: I’m going to give you a twist, you tell me if it’s awesome or awful. Hidden immunity idols?
Smith: Awesome!
Holmes: Redemption Island?
Smith: Awful.
Holmes: Exile Island?
Smith: Awesome.
Holmes: Medallion of Power?
Smith: Awful.
Holmes: Extra votes?
Smith: Awesome.
Holmes: Steal a vote?
Smith: Awesome.
Holmes: Eliminate a juror?
Smith: Awful for the same reason as Redemption Island in that it takes away one of the basic tenants of the game, right?
Holmes: Right, you have to pay for your sins in the end.
Smith: Yeah. I think screwing with the votes? Sure. But you have to deal with everyone you voted out.

Holmes: Alright, I have another game.
Smith: Are these “Survivor” playing cards?
Holmes: Yes.
Smith: Do you have one for me?
Holmes: No, I didn’t think we were even allowed to discuss you, but I’m told Probst introduced you to everyone yesterday.
Smith: Yes, he did.
Holmes: OK, your opponents (except for Michaela) are on these cards. I’ll hand you three at random. You tell me who you’ll vote out first, who you’ll work with and eventually eliminate, and who you’ll take to the end.

Round One: Cirie, Tony, and Caleb
Smith: Tony is first out. He’s too dangerous and he doesn’t want to play with me. Tony likes to be the top dog in charge. He wants to play with people who are loyal. I’ll align with Cirie for reasons previously stated. And, I’ll take Caleb to the end.
Holmes: How do you beat him?
Smith: He’s not going to do anything. Whoever wins this season is going to have to have a resume. Caleb might vote with people, but he’s not going to have gallons of blood on his hands.
Holmes: Michele just won without a ton of blood on her hands.
Smith: Yeah, but you can’t account for the wrong person winning.
Holmes: The wrong person never wins. She was the right person to that jury.
Smith: No, no. Not in my view.
Holmes: They don’t say vote for the most strategic, they say vote.
Smith: I’d never want to win the way Michele won. To me the Michele win is similar to the Sandra win where there’s a heavy amount of gender bias. Guys don’t want to vote for the woman who outplayed them, they want to vote for the woman who was nicer to them. I think there’s a gender element there.

Round Two: Tai, Debbie, and Troyzan
Smith: Tai is first out. He’s a little unpredictable. He’s the most likely to flip. I’d align with Debbie. They’re the two craziest people on this season, so I have to align with one of them. Debbie’s very smart. I think the only thing with her is we’re going to get to a point where she wants to be top dog. And I’ll take Troyzan to the end because nobody is going to want to give this (expletive deleted) the money. Troyzan doesn’t wear a shirt at Ponderosa. Ozzy wears a shirt and Troyzan doesn’t.

Round Three: Sandra, Sierra, and Aubry
Smith: OK…interesting. I’m going to do something you wouldn’t predict. Sierra is out first because I don’t know enough about her. She’s also someone who won’t be driving strategy, but she’ll be a good pick-up. She’s not going to make moves independently. Align with Aubry, because I like the way she thinks. And I’ll take Sandra to the end and say, “I dare you to give her the money again. That’s how confident I am in the way I played.”

Round Four: Brad, Ozzy, and Sarah
Smith: I think Sarah’s out first because she’s on the top of the list of people who need to prove why they belong here. I think she’s going to want to stir things up early. I align with Ozzy. He’s going to feed me. I like to eat. Ozzy’s not good at the strategic element, but I can help guide him. And I’ll take Brad to the end for the same reason you take Troyzan. He’s also a non-shirt wearer.
Holmes: You’re like me. There are shirt situations and non-shirt situations.
Smith: Yeah, if I’m eating dinner? Put a shirt on.

Round Five: Jeff, Andrea, and JT
Smith: Varner goes first. He’s unpredictable. He’s playing to prove something and not playing smart. I’d love to align with JT. I think we’d have a fun duo. I’ll take Andrea to the win. She’s smart, she plays hard, there might be a chance that she beats me, but she’s the only card left.
Holmes: That’s part of the game. You play the cards you’re dealt.

Round Six: Malcolm, Hali, and Ciera
Smith: I take Ciera out first. She makes big moves. And, she almost exclusively plays with women. And not being a woman, I’m not going to be on the top of her list. I play with Malcolm. He’s a good shield. I can play in his shadow. And I take Hali to the end. I think she’s someone who’s going to try to make moves and none of them are going to be effective. My resume will be superior.

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Sandra: “If I Can Get to Day 4, I’ll Be There at Day 39”

February 23, 2017

Sandra Diaz-Twine (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Sandra Diaz-Twine
Age: 41
Hometown: Fayetteville, N.C.
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Pearl Islands” – Winner
“Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” – Winner
Best Known For: Being “Survivor’s” only two-time winner, burning hats.

Gordon Holmes: I remember the first time a winner was brought back in “Survivor: All-Stars,” and I said to myself, “There is no way a jury will ever let someone win twice.”
Sandra Diaz-Twine: Thank God that they did. That’s why I want to vote off JT and Tony so I can be the only two-time winner ever. There can’t be another king or queen. The queen stays the queen.

Holmes: It’s odd to me to have you back now. Because this isn’t really an All-Star season, and in my book, you’re the top of the list. You bring Sandra back when you mean business.
Diaz-Twine: Well, thank you.
Holmes: Is it weird to be back?
Diaz-Twine: It is, because when they told me it was “Game Changers” I looked around…and for instance…Hali Ford? I didn’t even know who that was. How is she a game changer? Sarah? How is she a game changer? Sierra Thomas? I don’t know the history of these two new players, which I don’t like not knowing what they’re all about. I don’t think it’s fair. We’re all an open book, people know our games and our strategies. And now we have two people…we don’t know anything about them. But, I’m scratching my head when there are people here who aren’t game changers and we have other people who could fill those shoes.

Holmes: In “Heroes vs. Villains” you had to play with an unknown quantity in Russell Hantz. How do you approach Michaela and Zeke when you get out there?
Diaz-Twine: I think these two players are not going to go far, just because of the fear that they might become another Russell. We don’t know what it is about them that makes them game changers. And I don’t think anyone is going to let them go too far in the game. They have to go home immediately.

Holmes: If someone didn’t watch “Survivor,” how would you describe how you’ve changed the game?
Diaz-Twine: I think my game has always been simple, “As long as it’s not me, I don’t care who goes home.” It’s pretty basic. People make it more than it is. It’s simple. Self-preservation is number one. My alliance is to myself and my family. Other people, they go off on, “I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do that.” As long as it’s not you, vote out whoever has to get voted off. If you’re in a bad spot, be glad that you’re still there. Be positive, and then tomorrow you can change things up.

Holmes: As the game’s only two-time winner, is there any concern that a loss could harm your legacy?
Diaz-Twine: I’m not worried about my legacy. If I can make it through the first Tribal Council, even if my tribe wins immunity, I’ve completed my first mission which is to not be voted out first. If I can get to day 4, I’ll be there at day 39. No doubt in my mind.

Holmes: Alright, let’s get you ready to survive day three.
Diaz-Twine: OK.
Holmes: I’m going to give you an argument that someone could use to get rid of you. I’d like you to counter it.
Diaz-Twine: Alright.
Holmes: Sandra’s a two-time champ. I don’t want her being a three-time champ at my expense.
Diaz-Twine: I won’t be a three-time champ. Who here would give me another million dollars? I’m the perfect person to sit next to because you don’t have to worry about how many votes I’m going to get. You only have to worry about the other person in the final three.
Holmes: Russell Hantz took Sandra to the end for the exact same reason and all he ended up with was another runner-up medal.
Diaz-Twine: That’s (expletive deleted). Russell had to take me to the final three because I told him, “If you don’t take me to the final three, I’ll vote for Jerri.” Then he started to do the math in his head. Jerri was going to have Coach’s vote, Rupert’s vote, my vote, and Colby’s vote. He had already lost. He didn’t have a choice. See, people don’t know the things I say to put myself in those situations. I told Russell, if you can take me to the merge, I’ll give you my million-dollar vote. That’s all I had to say. Courtney went home and I stayed. Then when it was time for me to go home and he was being an (expletive deleted) about it, he was saying, “I don’t know if it should be you or Jerri.” I told him if he got rid of me, I’d vote for Jerri and he just freaking lost.

Holmes: Sandra isn’t the strongest in challenges. Let’s get rid of her now and we won’t have to worry about her after the merge when she can blend in.
Diaz-Twine: There are so many people on “Survivor” who have never won a challenge. I want to be with the alpha males. Those guys, everybody loves them when they’re on a tribe. Once we get to the merge they want to take out the strongest of the alpha males. The weak outnumber the strong. That’s why I’m going to pledge my loyalty to that person. You take care of me in the beginning, and I’ll take care of you in the end. I don’t care who I’m sitting with in the end. I don’t care if it’s two alpha males. Ozzy’s playing for the fourth time. He knows what it’s like to be an alpha male and then get voted off. Malcolm, three times. Now we’ve got Troyzan and Culpepper. Those are the only four I think are alphas. JT’s not an alpha, Tony’s not an alpha. Those are the four. If I can just get in the ear of two of them and tell them, “You take care of me, I’ll take care of you.” They have to take care of me first, but when push comes to shove I won’t betray them.

Holmes: There are four people here from Kaoh Rong. What are your thoughts on that?
Diaz-Twine: Every time there’s a returning season…Amber won “All-Stars” because there were five players from “Australia.” Parvati won “Micronesia” and there were three from “Cook Islands.” In “Caramoan” Cochran won and there were three from “South Pacific.” Dawn went to the final three with him. And in “Second Chance” there were three people from “Cagayan” and Spencer and Tasha got to final three. If we don’t split up these four people, two of them will be in the final three.

Holmes: What do you think of this cast?
Diaz-Twine: Nobody here scares me. Either they’re going to send me home first because of who I am, or I’m going to get to the end and take them out one-by-one.
Holmes: Aside from the alpha males, is there anyone else you’re looking forward to working with?
Diaz-Twine: Definitely the alphas, although I’m worried about Malcolm. When I was doing my research, I was talking (expletive deleted) about him a couple of years ago. I didn’t even remember it. I said he wasn’t all that. I hope he didn’t do his homework. Culpepper, I want to work with him. I think players who are my age understand me more. Troyzan…if I can get my foot in the door, I think I could be solid with these guys. And they can kill it at the challenges and not worry about me. I can be their eyes and ears. I like Debbie. I don’t think her and Aubry are on speaking terms. We can pit Debbie against Aubry.
Holmes: Any early targets?
Diaz-Twine: Cirie, I want her gone. She was talking (expletive deleted) about me…which was the same thing I was doing to Malcolm. She was saying I didn’t deserve to win the first time, much less the second. She needs to go home, I don’t even know why she’s here. Why do they compare her to me all the time? We’re not the same. I don’t think we’ll be on the same tribe. Aubry’s a target too. She did really, really good last year. She’s got to go home. But, it all depends on who’s on my tribe. I’m guessing there will be two from Kaoh Rong on each tribe. Aubry can go home first. Tai, after we throw him in a tree and he can get us some bananas, he can go home too. He’s a blabbermouth. You need to give him as a little information as possible.

Holmes: With returnee season, there’s always talk of pre-season alliances. Are you a part of any?
Diaz-Twine: No, but those four just got off their season! There’s no way they don’t talk.
Holmes: You’re not allowed to talk because you’re in lockdown. But, people smile and wink. Have you been doing any of that? Have you caught anyone doing it?
Diaz-Twine: I think for the most part, everyone smiles and winks and tries to get a nod. But, if anyone is together, just my suspicion…yeah, Tony got rid of Sarah. But years have come and gone. They had to have talked. Same for Ozzy and Cirie, Cirie voted him out. You build friendships over the years, but there’s got to be a thing where, “I’ve got to get her before she gets me.” The paranoia is there. Like JT and Cirie, Ozzy and Cirie, Debbie and Aubry.
Holmes: What’s your relationship with JT like?
Diaz-Twine: I can’t forgive and I can’t forget because at the end of the day, he gave Russell the immunity idol to get rid of Parvati or Sandra. He didn’t give me a chance. So, if anything, he has to mend fences. I thought, I don’t care when I go home as long as Russell goes first. That’s all I wanted and look what happened.

Holmes: If there are any twists, any guesses as to what they could be?
Diaz-Twine: I don’t know, but that’s why we need to go after Kaoh Rong first. If there’s a Tribal swap after the second Tribal Council and those people are together? It has to happen and it has to happen fast.

Holmes: Alright, I’ll give you a twist. You tell me if it’s awesome or awful. Hidden immunity idols.
Diaz-Twine: Awesome.
Holmes: Redemption Island?
Diaz-Twine: Awful.
Holmes: Exile Island?
Diaz-Twine: Awful.
Holmes: The Medallion of Power?
Diaz-Twine: Awesome!
Holmes: (Silence)
Diaz-Twine: What?
Holmes: Sorry. Extra votes?
Diaz-Twine: Awesome.
Holmes: Stealing a vote?
Diaz-Twine: Awesome.
Holmes: Eliminating a juror?
Diaz-Twine: Awesome.

Holmes: Alright, I have a deck of cards with your opponents in it. Everyone is there except for Michaela and Zeke because we don’t know them. I’ll hand you three at random. You tell me who you’re voting out first, who you’re working with but eventually eliminating, and who you’ll take to the end.

Round One: Caleb, Debbie, and Andrea
Diaz-Twine: Let’s vote out Debbie first because we need Caleb to be the strong physical male. I’ll align with Andrea because she knows what it’s like to be voted off. She’ll be an asset. And I’ll take Caleb to the end, because he’s an alpha male. I didn’t like any of those cards.
Holmes: We don’t always like the cards life deals us, Sandra.
Diaz-Twine: I know.

Round Two: Sarah, Ozzy, and JT
Diaz-Twine: I’m voting Sarah out. She’s friends with Russell…and so is Caleb. They’ve got to go. They called him for advice, so I don’t give two (expletive deleted) about them. JT I would align with. We’re both winners, he’ll look out for me, I’ll look out for him. But, I want to be the only two-time winner, so eventually he’d have to be voted off. And Ozzy is my ideal final three.
Holmes: Can you beat him?
Diaz-Twine: No, but I just want to be there on day 39.

Round Three: Tai, Jeff, and Cirie
Diaz-Twine: Cirie is first out. I can’t stand Cirie. Tai…I would align with. I think he’s naïve to the game. He has a good heart. I could work with him. He could feed me. But Jeff deserves to go to the end because he’s funny.

Round Four: Malcolm, Hali, and Troyzan
Diaz-Twine: (Expletive deleted). Hali can get voted off. We don’t know too much about her. She really shouldn’t be here anyways. Malcolm and Troyzan…these are my guys. I want final three with one of these guys or even both. I want to be with alpha males. But I think Malcolm deserves it more. He’s put a lot of work into the game. I’ll take him to the end.

Round Five: Aubry, Brad, and Ciera.
Diaz-Twine: Aubry can go home and you know why. Ciera I could work with. She’s a wild card, if she doesn’t like something, she won’t put up with it. So we could work together briefly. People hold it against her because she voted out her mom, so they feel she’s not trustworthy. Brad’s one of my alpha males. Take him to the end.

Holmes: We’ve got two left. Work with one and eliminate the other.

Round Six: Tony and Sierra
Diaz-Twine: Tony’s gotta go. I want to be the only two-time winner. I’ll work with Sierra. I actually like this chick. I like her build, her physique. I think she’s a strong female. I don’t have no problems with her.

Diaz-Twine: Do you think I can win this thing?
Holmes: Like I said, I never thought anyone would win twice.
Diaz-Twine: If I can get to the end with the right jury.
Holmes: I’d never count you out.
Diaz-Twine: You think I’ve got skills?
Holmes: If I were playing, I could make a case for keeping you around. There’s a very devil-you-know kind of air about you.
Diaz-Twine: I wanna do some new things though. I want to find an idol, then make my own fake idol. A really nice one. Then wrap that (expletive deleted) up with the rules. I don’t know if I could keep a straight face if someone played it. Or, if someone’s going home and I hate them, I’m not even going to whisper. I’m going to be talking (expletive deleted) while I’m voting. “(Expletive deleted), you! You’re going home and I’m not.” Or, “I’m not going home, and this idol is the reason I’m not going home. I hate you both equally. I don’t know which of you to vote for. So…eenie, meenie, minny mo…” They’ll be freaking out. Maybe they’ll change their votes. What do you think?
Holmes: I’ve always thought, what do you do when you’re out of options? Do you try one of these outside-of-the-box moves or regret not trying.
Diaz-Twine: If I had an idol, I’d walk over to Jeff and if they’re smirking and laughing, then I know they didn’t vote for me and they want me to use the idol. But if they’re looking at me like, “Oh (expletive deleted),” then I know I need to use it. If I see Tony over in the woods looking for an idol, I’m going to say, “Hey! Tony has a clue!” He might and he might not.
Holmes: You’re amazing.
Diaz-Twine: People think I’m a dummy and I’m not. I’m here to defend my title. I’m here to get to day 39 and show them that the queen stays the queen. I hope JT listens to me this time. I don’t think my game is a nasty game. It’s about self-preservation.
Holmes: Well, you might burn a hat or two…
Diaz-Twine: Well, Russell was a (expletive deleted) (expletive deleted).

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

A Sneak Peek at the First ‘Survivor: Game Changers’ Immunity Challenge

February 23, 2017

“Survivor: Game Changers” (XFINITY)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

No visit to “Survivor” would be complete without three things; a sunburn in the part of my hair, bug bites in places where I didn’t know I had places, and an exhibition immunity challenge that both sides take a little too seriously.

For those of you who are new to my little adventures, it’s important to know that “Survivor” employs a team of young, fit, tan, buff production assistants affectionately known as “The Dream Team.” Their main job is to hang out on a tropical island and practice the challenges. This is done to make sure everything is fair, relatively safe, and entertaining.

Just so we’re clear; these people are professional challenge performers.

So, whenever we show up for a junket, Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer invites us to square off against his team of athletic cyborgs in a friendly contest. However, not unlike when Apollo Creed battled Ivan Drago in “Rocky IV,” we all take this exhibition very seriously.

The Dream Team takes it seriously because they don’t want to be shown up by a bunch of out-of-shape computer jockeys. And I take it seriously because after being blown out in my first-ever challenge in Gabon, Africa I’ve managed to put together an eight-challenge winning streak.

And I brag about that streak… a lot.

Quick Aside: Yes, I know it’s poor form to brag and it’s even less poor form (lesser form?) to brag about something as silly as a winning streak in a series of exhibition contests. But…you know…I have poor form.

Another Quick Aside: There were too many press members to have a straight-up press vs. Dream Team match-up. So, to honor the then-upcoming Summer Olympics, we decided on a Team Canada vs. Team USA battle. On one side, we had the good folks from “Entertainment Tonight Canada” and on the other we had myself, Parade Magazine’s Josh Wigler, Entertainment Weekly’s Dalton Ross, “Scorpion” star and “Survivor” super fan Scott Porter, and members of CBS’s publicity team. Dream Team members would fill in the empty slots on both sides.

The Challenge
Two teams of seven people will sprint across the beach and retrieve a boat. They’ll push the boat into the water, then paddle it to platform and retrieve a set of keys.

From there, they’ll abandon the boat and return to the beach by climbing over a series of obstacles.

Once they’re back at the beach, they’ll have to dig up two bags of puzzle pieces.

Once both bags have been retrieved, one member of the team will have to open a series of locks with the ring of keys. When all of the locks have been opened, the final bag of puzzle pieces can be removed from a chest.

Finally, the last two members of the team will have to complete a ship steering wheel puzzle. The puzzle is in three sections; an outer ring, the spokes of the wheel, and the handles of the wheel.

The first tribe to complete the wheel, mount it on a spindle, and then raise their tribe’s flag will win immunity. Err…bragging rights.

Note: Due to some tide issues, this challenge is a little bit different than the one the actual Game Changers will compete in. They’ll have to dock the boat at one point and then send a single swimmer out to retrieve the keys.

Another Note: This challenge is very similar to the opening challenge in “Survivor: Blood vs. Water.” You know, the one where Gervase almost passed out and yet still managed to scream “Don’t let that fool you!” when it was over.

The Dilemma
OK, my goal in all of this (aside from continuing my precious winning streak) is to learn what it’s like to be in a Survivor’s shoes. I’ve run plenty of obstacle courses in past challenges, so I decided against the first leg. And, the unlocking portion just seemed like a thankless position. You can’t win the challenge, but you can certainly lose it. So, I decided that I was going to tackle the puzzle. I’d done puzzles in the past, but I’d never done just the puzzle. The final outcome would all be on my shoulders.

Pre-Game Prep
Josh Wigler decided to be my puzzle partner. We figured between his having recently watched every season of “Survivor” for his acclaimed “Rob Has a Podcast: Evolution of Strategy” series and me actually having been in attendance for the original running of this challenge that we’d have an edge over the other team.

We were wrong.

We remembered that the puzzle pieces that went around the circle were kind of like jigsaw pieces, but other than that we were stumped. So much for being “Survivor” experts.

“Survivors, Ready? Go!”
For the first time in my challenge career, that phrase didn’t apply to me. Jeff Probst said the magic words and our team sprinted off to the boat while I just stood there and watched. It was terrible. All Josh and I could do was hum our psych-up songs to ourselves. (Josh’s being “Crossroads” by Bone Thugs N Harmony and mine being Shinsuke Nakamura’s NXT theme music.)

What was worse was, once they paddled off into the distance, we had no way of knowing how well they were doing. From the best I could tell, it was close but we were slightly behind. Our Canadian opponents were able to maintain that lead through the digging portion.

I did my best not to panic. I might not have remembered the intricacies of the puzzle from “Blood vs. Water,” but I certainly remembered that these kinds of challenges always come down to the puzzle. Always.

I managed to maintain my confidence up until the point that the Canadian team flew through the lock unlocking section.

To make a bad situation worse, our lock unlocker (CBS legend Robert Winsor) was having some serious problems. Probst delighted in giving Bob a hard time as he tried key after key. He only stopped his tirade to announce that Team Canada had completed the first part of the three-stage puzzle.

Oh man.

An observer would later tell me that while I kept cheering Bob on, I looked like I was going to vomit.

Fortunately, Bob eventually figured it out. Josh and I attacked the first bag like a couple of men possessed. We completed the outer ring in no time…or so I thought.

I was trying to dig into the second bag when Josh suggested that we calm down and make sure the pieces in the ring were lined up correctly. You see, if the holes are in the wrong place, the handles won’t fit in and we’d have to start over.

I knew we were way behind. I hadn’t heard Probst call out an update in a while. It’s possible he was talking, but I had zoned him out. For all I knew we were seconds away from losing. But, I begrudgingly agreed with Josh. And he was right. One of our pieces was actually in backwards. We would have been dead in the water if we had continued.

We tore into the second bag and were greeted by pieces of spokes, all in different sizes. I started furiously screwing them all together, paying no attention to what their final length should be. Once again, Josh was the voice of reason. He urged me to slow down and think about it.

I took a second, looked at the pile, and realized there were an even number of male and female components.

I said, “Line up the male pieces from smallest to biggest.” We did.

Then I said, “Line up the female pieces from biggest to smallest.” We did.

From there it was obvious that the smallest male piece went with the largest female piece and so on down the line. When we were finished we had eight perfectly even spokes.

As we screwed them into the hub, we heard Jeff announce, “There’s no way Team Canada is going to catch Team America now.”

Without a hint of sarcasm in my voice, I responded, “Seriously?”

Quick Aside: A member of the challenge crew told me that the lining-up-of-the-spoke-pieces method could conceivably make the puzzle too easy in the future. I broke a puzzle!

With our spokes in place and our holes properly aligned, the eight handles were easily put in place. We attached the wheel to the spindle and gave it a mighty spin to bring home a win for Team USA.

Photo Courtesy of “ET Canada”

And, in the ensuing victory celebration, Dalton Ross was sure to yell out, “Don’t let that fool you!”

The Aftermath
It wasn’t until after all of the hugs and high fives that I started to appreciate the unique perspective my silly little streak has given me. I want to win anytime I compete in anything, but the streak adds a real sense of urgency. Maybe it isn’t as intense as the urgency someone feels when they know they’re one Tribal away from elimination, but it’s urgency nonetheless.

And yeah, it’s poor form to brag about an eight-challenge winning streak becoming a nine-challenge winning streak. But like I said, I have poor form.

Terrible, terrible form.

Photo Courtesy of “ET Canada”

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Troyzan: “This Has Been My Dream to Play and to Win Since the Day I Saw the First Episode”

February 22, 2017

Troy “Troyzan” Robertson (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Troy “Troyzan” Robertson
Age:  54
Hometown: Miami, FL
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: One World” – Finished 8th and Jury Member
Best Known For: The only player to own the island he was competing on.

Gordon Holmes: You’re a swimsuit photographer, correct?
Troy “Troyzan” Robertson: Yes, but that’s not all I do.
Holmes: And you’re going to take me on one of these shoots, correct?
Robertson: (Laughs) Of course! When I win I’m not sure if I’ll stop working.
Holmes: That’s not a job I would ever retire from.
Robertson: (Laughs) Yeah, I can take you on one.

Holmes: You’re famous for saying, “This is my island.”
Robertson: Yes.
Holmes: What are you going to do with two islands when this is all over?
Robertson: (Laughs) I know!
Holmes: Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely.
Robertson: I’m going to change it to “These.” “These are my islands!” That could be the game changer right there.
Holmes: Speaking of game changing, how did you change the game?
Robertson: I changed it, not in one particular way. I didn’t do some special thing like make a great idol. I think it was overall. I’m a scraper. When my back was against a wall, I wasn’t going to just lay down like the girls thought I was going to. “It’s just a game, Troyzan. We’re going to vote you out next, so just take it like a man. You be a good boy.” Are you serious? There’s no way I’m doing that. I’ll go 1000% to win. In my mind, I’m winning everything from this moment on. I’ll find an idol. I’ll pretend that I found an idol. I’ll stir the pot. I’ll do whatever possible. That’s why when I yelled in that challenge, “This is my island. Do not (expletive deleted) with me. You can’t beat me.” I was trying to send a signal to their heads. And maybe put it into their heads that I’m so disliked now, maybe they should take me to the end. But, I was playing with a bunch of kooks who didn’t know the game.

Holmes: What’ve you been up to since “One World”?
Robertson: Just traveling, photographing around the world. Doing some stuff with Sports Illustrated swimsuit, but I do travel photography. Some boring stuff too that pays the bills. I still live on ten acres south of Miami in the middle of nowhere. My marmosets have all passed away since I played last time.
Holmes: I’m sorry to hear that.
Robertson: Well, they only live fifteen to twenty years. I have one dog, Taylor, he’s like my son. Still unmarried. I just travel too much to settle down. I’m to the point now where I’m 54 and I’m like, “Am I really going to get married?”
Holmes: Never too late. I was 39.
Robertson: If it comes, it comes. And I don’t mind dating.

Holmes: In your bio you mention that you wish you had done a better job of calling out top dogs. Take me back to “One World,” what was that in reference to?
Robertson: In general, I had my core group, people I thought I trusted. Then you had people who would say rumors or someone that was like, on an opposite alliance. I thought, “I don’t like them. I’m not even going to deal with them.” That was stupid. I should’ve confronted my enemies to make sure that they’re on the page that I’m hearing them on instead of taking it for granted. Kim or Chelsea or whoever is saying, “This person is saying this thing about you.” I didn’t even confront them. Like Mike, everyone was saying he was talking about me. Why didn’t I just walk up to him and say, “Mike, what’s your story, bro? Why do you have a problem with me?” I just didn’t do that.
Holmes: Aside from confronting people, are you going to do anything differently this time around?
Robertson: I like the way I played last time. Last time I made a good alliance right away. But people who have played many times know that’s key off the bat. But, I think I have a big advantage because there are a lot bigger targets than me this time.

Holmes: Speaking of which, what do you think of this cast?
Robertson: Amazing. I’ve been close to playing the last four years.
Holmes: I’ve heard your name come up a bunch of times.
Robertson: I was cast on “Fans vs. Favorites.” And then it didn’t work out. I was called to play on “Blood vs. Water” with my brother Todd. I was a week away from going. I’d sent my clothes in, and I’m like “Dude, we’re going.” But then they said someone else from my cast was cast. I think it was Kat. It was too many. Then last year I’m sitting in the audience for “Second Chance” getting ready to go and they’re like, “Sorry Troy, you’re getting on the loser bus.” (Laughs) If I could’ve picked a season, I would’ve picked this season.
Holmes: Because of Fiji or because of the cast?
Robertson: Because of this cast. I don’t care about the island.
Holmes: Who are you hoping to work with?
Robertson: I think the majority of the people are going to target the winners. But, those winners are going to be nervous as (expletive deleted). And everybody needs somebody. That somebody in the beginning. If I get approached by any of the winners, I’ll be into it. It’ll be fun to play with Ozzy and Malcolm. That new Michaela girl, I don’t know her game. She comes across as kind of OK. It’s hard to read someone when they just smile at you. I like Sierra Thomas because I don’t think people are going to look at her like she’s some threat. Brad Culpepper, Ozzy, Malcolm, those guys are all big shields. Just like Jeremy did last year.
Holmes: You played with Monica Culpepper. Do you and Brad have any kind of relationship?
Robertson: We played, but we never played together. We were never on the same tribe. Brad’s an intense guy. That could be a possibility. But, people are smart in this game. They’re going to wonder if there’s a connection. Like the four from last year. If people aren’t looking at them as a group, then they’re stupid. They are solid and just finished their season. They’re going to act like they’re not tight, but if I was coming out of my season, I wouldn’t care if we didn’t get along. I’d work with those people.
Holmes: So are they automatic targets or do you try to get in with them?
Robertson: Someone’s going to say we have to split them up and get down to one or two of them.
Holmes: Any other early targets?
Robertson: Well, Tony. Just the way he played…what he said…how he can lie so easily, finding idols, making spy shacks. He’s going to do everything in his power to fool you. And you look at his season, and what he did with Sarah? He could do that anyone.

Holmes: I’ve come up with some excuses people might use to try to get rid of you. I’d like you to counter them.
Robertson: Sure.
Holmes: So, Troyzan was really good in challenges in “One World.” Let’s get rid of him before he goes on a run after the merge.
Robertson: I’d go up to people and say, “I’m not sure what you’ve heard, but you’re telling me that I’m going to beat Ozzy and Malcolm? I’m the oldest guy here.”

Holmes: Troyzan had a whole alliance of women trying to take him out, but he was scrappy and fought the whole time. I don’t want someone around with that kind of resilience.
Robertson: Listen, being scrappy…don’t you think I would do that for you? I’d do it for us. Look in my eyes right now and I’ll tell you the truth. I’m 100% here for the adventure. I want to get to the end, but try me out. Show me how we’re going to vote together. I’ll show you.

Holmes: Troyzan is really emotional with his “This is my island!” Can’t trust him. Is he going to be cool when we need him to be cool?
Robertson: You want to base my personality on ten minutes of one episode? I’ll tell you, watch from the beginning to that part, I was a trustworthy guy, I stuck with my alliance. Crazy emotional? Watch me for the next few days.

Holmes: Any time there are returning players there’s talk of pre-season alliances. Are you a part of any?
Robertson: Not really. The thing is, and I’ve heard it from so many past players, the best thing to do if someone calls or texts you, is to say, “Congratulations, I can’t wait to see you out there.” Some people out here are going to get caught. If you’re talking to five people, where do I sit in that? I’ve met some people at different events. Past that, I think it’s a positive that I’ve met them. But, this is “Survivor” and I can’t think we’re best buddies due to just meeting each other. When it comes to “Survivor,” people’s characters change. In real life they try to show you their best self. But on the show, after a few days of starving, their true characters come out.

Holmes: You’re in lockdown now. You’re not allowed to talk to the other players, but people smile and wink and whatnot.
Robertson: Oh yeah, I do that. I smile at everybody, but I do that normally. Is it better to have a straight game face? This is a social game. In football, you can have a I’m-going-to-kick-your-ass face.
Holmes: Have you caught anyone else interacting?
Robertson: Some people you see. Not a ton, though. It’s been pretty quiet. Caleb and Tai sat down together. But they just ate their food, they didn’t do anything. Although, I feel like people are trying to put out their best personality. Even Tony, he wants to be looked at as a non-threat. So, he does little goofy stuff.

Holmes: You’re about to play with seventeen devils you know, and two you don’t. How do you approach Zeke and Michaela?
Robertson: It’s tough. This has been my dream to play and to win since the day I saw the first episode. Whatever that is, I want to do it. When I saw Richard Hatch running around naked, all I wanted to do was have Jeff call me the sole Survivor. The thing about those two is; they’re just two extra people. Thank you very much, you were part of my season. You helped me to win. I have no knowledge of what they’re going to do. Not knowing someone? That’s tough. You’re playing football and some new guy comes off the bench? What’s he going to do? Obviously they’ve done something big to come back. It makes me nervous.

Holmes: Any twist predictions?
Robertson: (Laughs) It’s beyond me. It’s the 34th season. I don’t know if they’ve ever started out with four tribes.
Holmes: They have.
Robertson: Oh yeah. There’s always a twist with an idol. Weird powers. I’m always thinking they’re going to come up with a way to help a certain group of people. Here’s the immunity beast idol. Or it’s like a pick-‘em thing. The ones who don’t get picked, you’re immune for two Tribals. Something crazy. I know these guys, they’re going to throw some serious (expletive deleted) at us.

Holmes: Alright, I’ll give you a twist. You tell me if it’s awesome or awful. We’ll start with hidden immunity idols.
Robertson: Awesome.
Holmes: Redemption Island?
Robertson: Awful.
Holmes: Exile Island?
Robertson: Awful.
Holmes: Medallion of Power?
Robertson: Awful.
Holmes: Extra vote?
Robertson: Awesome.
Holmes: Steal a vote?
Robertson: Awful.
Holmes: Eliminate a juror?
Robertson: (Laughs) I think that’s awesome. I’m in the final three and I say, “That son of a bitch there…you’re out of here!”

Holmes: Alright, I’ve got a deck of cards with your competition in it. Everyone except for Michaela and Zeke because we don’t know how they play. I’ll give you three at random. You tell me who you’ll vote out first, who you’ll align with and eventually eliminate, and who you’ll take to the end.

Round One: Tai, Ciera, and Debbie.
Robertson: First out is Ciera, she scares the crap out of me. She tells good lies. I’ll align with Tai. I think in the beginning he’s going to think I’m trustworthy. We have the nature thing, close to Earth, Mark the chicken, I love that stuff. I’d take Debbie to the end. I think I have a better speech prepared than she does. And the immunities I’d win.

Round Two: Caleb, Malcolm, and Cirie
Robertson: Caleb out first. I don’t think he’s played “Survivor” long enough. Golly, this is a tough one. I would align with Cirie. I can’t beat her at final three. And Malcolm, I’d beat him by saying, “We’re very similar with how we played. But, I’m 25 years older than that guy. And nobody loves this game more or plays it harder.”

Round Three: Ozzy, Tony, and Brad
Robertson: Tony’s out first. (Laughs) He just makes me nervous. He’s like a Russell Hantz. He’s a question mark. I’d align with Brad. He is obviously a bigger target than me. He’s intense. People are going to be like, “What are we going to do with Brad?” And I’ll take Ozzy to the end for the same reason as Malcolm. And he’s been here four times.

Round Four: Sarah, Andrea, and Sandra.
Robertson: I would vote Andrea out first. She’s a crafty little devil. Watching her “Fans vs. Favorites” season, she seemed paranoid. She’s good socially. I think she could stir up some stuff. Sandra I would align with because she’s going to be a huge target. She has to play with somebody. It’d be easy to control her because if she makes a move out of the ordinary, she’ll be gone. And I’ll take Sarah to the end. I think if I’m sitting with her, I don’t think she would have strategized enough and I don’t think she’s as likable as me.

Round Five: Aubry, JT, and Jeff
Robertson: I’d vote out Aubry. Super smart. Too smart. Great at puzzles, great socially. Probably should have won. I’m looking at a winner. I would work with Jeff. It’s his third time playing. He wants to redeem himself. He’s going to look for someone who’s not an alpha male. We’re older guys. I think he wants to make a merge finally. I’d take JT because he’s won. He’s likable, but he didn’t do what I did to get here.

Holmes: Two left, vote out one and work with the other.
Robertson: I’ll vote out Hali and work with Sierra. When Sierra was strategic, I don’t think she did enough to win.

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Andrea – “I Want to Be More Low-Key Aggressive.”

February 21, 2017

Andrea Boehlke (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Andrea Boehlke
Age: 27
Hometown: New York, NY via Random Lake, WI
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Redemption Island” – Finished 5th and Jury Member
“Survivor: Caramoan” – Finished 7th and Jury Member
Best Known For: Being the first woman to come back from Redemption Island.

Gordon Holmes: Alright, you know the deal, anything you say here stays here.
Andrea Boehlke: Right. Wait, stays here?
Holmes: Well, until January or whenever I publish it. I mean I won’t repeat anything you say to any of the other players.
Boehlke: (Laughs) You didn’t come out here just to catch up?
Holmes: I came out here for some us time. I brought pictures of my wedding. I’ve got to tell you about this house we’re trying to sell…
Boehlke: (Laughs) Nice of you to fly all the way out here for that.

Holmes: Also, Random Lake is my favorite hometown ever.
Boehlke: It’s just some Random Lake.

Holmes: It seems like you’ve turned to the dark side. You’re now a part of the press.
Boehlke: (Laughs)
Holmes: And People Now just gave you the summer off to come out here and starve?
Boehlke: It was a hassle. But, when I told them about it they were thrilled. They can use it, we’re starting to work on this relationship between People and CBS. And they just renewed my contract for another year for when I get back. It’s kind of all coming together.
Holmes: I’d imagine their fear is you aren’t going to come back after you win a million bucks.
Boehlke: (Laughs) But after taxes…
Holmes: And living in New York…
Boehlke: And after I give you $100,000…
Holmes: Which I totally deserve.
Boehlke: (Laughs) How long will half a million last?
Holmes: You joke, but I’d say I deserve that money because your experience as an XFINITY “Survivor” Power Ranker is probably going to put you over the top this season.
Boehlke: Exactly.
Holmes: It’s a level of training that you can not buy.
Boehlke: Right.
Holmes: Actually, that’s a lie. You can buy it for $100,000.
Boehlke: It’s opened a lot of doors. But, that $500,000 isn’t going to go far in New York.

Holmes: You left the game with an idol in Caramoan. Does it still work?
Boehlke: I have it with me. No, it’s actually sitting at work. I work with a lot of “Survivor” fans. So, I brought it in and they were overjoyed. They like to make fun of me though. They said, “We hope you’re voted out first.” And I said, “What?!” And they said, “Well, either first or win, I just think it’d be funny.”
Holmes: Thanks, guys.
Boehlke: No, it’s not funny! But, I guess my plan is to not get voted out with an idol.
Holmes: Smart.
Boehlke: And to not get blindsided.
Holmes: Smart.
Boehlke: And if neither of those things happen, I will have improved.
Holmes: How mad would you be if that idol was still eligible and it was sitting on a desk in New York.
Boehlke: (Laughs) Pretty mad.

Holmes: Yesterday you learned that theme for this season is “Game Changers.” How have you changed the game of “Survivor”?
Boehlke: Hmm…
Holmes: I bet you’ll have a better answer than a lot of people.
Boehlke: (Laughs) I’d say…game changers can mean a lot of different things. How did Caleb change the game?
Holmes: He didn’t die.
Boehlke: Yeah, he passed out in a reward challenge. I guess for me, I stick out because I was the first woman to win a duel and come back into the game. I believe I invented the puppy dog, following someone when they’re looking for an idol technique. Did that happen before me?
Holmes: They tried to chase down Russell when he was looking…
Boehlke: But not puppy-dog style.
Holmes: That’s true.
Boehlke: Puppy guarding. But after that there was a slew of people doing it. And I plan on doing a lot of that.

Holmes: I was wondering if it meant that people would be changing their personal games.
Boehlke: Oh?
Holmes: But it’s not. I asked Probst. But, are you going to change your personal game?
Boehlke: For me, my first season I was 21 years old. I was scared to make moves. The second season I went the other way. I was very aggressive and way too paranoid. I think this time is going to be a meshing of the two together and learning from my mistakes. I can’t be too paranoid, I can’t be scared. And then also, this game is not going to be the traditional big alliance, us vs. them. There are going to be voting blocs. It’s going to be more secret alliances and sub-alliances. I’ve never played a game like that. I’ve played where you see me strategizing on the beach with my big alliance. We don’t talk to the other people. This game is going to be very different. I’m excited because I don’t have to work with a Boston Rob or a Philip. I’m excited to explore the side alliances.

Holmes: What do you think of this cast?
Boehlke: There are a lot of threats, there are some winners. The people are way more threatening than I am. I hope other people see that.
Holmes: I’m sitting here feeling a little threatened.
Boehlke: (Laughs)
Holmes: I don’t want to say the wrong thing.
Boehlke: Well, in past seasons I felt like I could only go so far. I could win the game because I could win challenges and I was in a good alliance. But, I could only get to seven or five. But there are a ton of people who could win this game. I think we’re on an even playing field.
Holmes: So, with all of these threats it gives you room to maneuver because they won’t be targeting you immediately.
Boehlke: Yes. But I have to know exactly what’s going on. I want to be more low-key aggressive. I don’t want people to see me strategizing on the beach.

Holmes: Anyone you’re looking forward to working with?
Boehlke: I’m kind of thinking of maybe a girl thing this season. The last few seasons I got in trouble with my showmances. My show-mantics.
Holmes: I’m stealing that.
Boehlke: (Laughs) But I’m stoked to see people like Ciera. I loved watching her, I feel like I’d get along with her. And the other Sierra and Hali…I think there’s a good group of girls that I can work with who aren’t too strategic. I think it’d be fun to have a little girl group, but with something on the side with someone like a random…I don’t know…maybe Brad Culpepper. I don’t know. Looking at this group, there’s nobody I’m opposed to except for maybe Tony.
Holmes: What’s wrong with Tony?
Boehlke: He’s just so scary. I rewatched his season right before I came out here and I was reminded of what a lunatic he is. He’s one of the most dangerous people in this game. He’s better to get out right away.
Holmes: Who else is an early target?
Boehlke: Maybe Brad Culpepper because in his season he wasn’t very likable. He is kind of abrasive. I don’t see people targeting the non-offensive girls early. I think the big personalities will be first to go.

Holmes: You played with Malcolm in Caramoan. What’s your relationship like with him?
Boehlke: Eh…I don’t know! In Caramoan we were against each other the whole time. We tried to vote each other our four or five times in a row. And I really don’t know where he stands. My feeling going in is; why would we go after each other immediately when there are bigger fish to fry? My plan is to have a conversation with him and say, “Hey, let’s get on the same page or one of us is gone.” I just don’t know because we don’t trust each other. I feel like he’s my long-lost brother and we know each other too well. The thing about Malcolm is I know when he’s lying. So, if I do find myself in an alliance with him, I think I’ll be able to sniff out when he’s lying.
Holmes: Does he have a tell?
Boehlke: Yes. If he’s serious about something his voice is very low and he talks very fast. Malcolm is very smart. He’s one of the smartest people out here. But when he’s lying, he perks up and his voice gets high and he starts nodding. Like “Yeah, yeah, yeah, OK!”

Holmes: When Malcolm played in Caramoan, you didn’t know anything about him because his first season hadn’t aired yet. There’s something similar this season with Michaela and Zeke. How do you approach them?
Boehlke: It’s tricky. I think they’re going to be safe for the first couple of rounds. People are going to look at them as numbers, as an easy grab. Because they don’t have anybody. They’re probably really scared coming in, but I think they’re in a great position. If I have people I’m working with and then there’s Zeke, I’m going to be like, “Hey, come with us.” Once we learn more about their stories, that might change. But, I’m not too worried about them.

Holmes: You returnees love your pre-season chatter. Are you a part of any pre-season alliances?
Boehlke: So, I’m not going to give you a lot of information.
Holmes: Nobody is going to know until January.
Boehlke: I don’t think I want to comment on any pregame stuff.
Holmes: (Silence)
Boehlke: (Silence)
Holmes: This is my puppy dog face.
Boehlke: (Laughs)
Holmes: I learned it by watching you.
Boehlke: The thing is, I don’t think I did as much as some people have. That can really get you. You hear the stories of people who pre-game too hard and then they’re gone, like Varner.
Holmes: The fact that you’re not talking about it makes me think something is going on.
Boehlke: There’s actually a pretty big thing.
Holmes: Really?
Boehlke: But, I’m going to keep quiet about it.
Holmes: Fine…whatever.
Boehlke: (Laughs)
Holmes: Have you heard of any other alliances?
Boehlke: There are a lot of connections. Like, Malcolm used to date So Kim who was on a season with Hali and Sierra. I’m sure he’s met them. And even meeting them gives you a connection. I feel like Troyzan is talking to a lot of people. It’s the people who reach out randomly that you have to worry about. I’m pretty sure Troyzan and Brad are close. I’m sure Varner is talking to a lot of people.

Holmes: You’re in lockdown now, so you’re not allowed to talk. But winking and smiling happens. Are you doing any of that?
Boehlke: I’ll be pleasant and if I’m alone with someone I’ll give a little smile. But JT, what is he doing? You’ll be in line for food and he’ll hand you a plate.
Holmes: What a monster.
Boehlke: (Laughs) No. I mean everybody saw you do that.
Holmes: I’ll get my own (expletive deleted) plate, dude.
Boehlke: He’ll make toast and be like, “Oh, there’s one for you too.” Everybody is seeing you do that, weirdo.
Holmes: So, say JT makes the final three and you’re on the jury; will that piece of toast sway your vote?
Boehlke: (Laughs) Yeah, probably.

Holmes: Does it concern you that there are four people from Kaoh Rong?
Boehlke: It’s very concerning. Even though Aubry got Debbie out and Debbie didn’t vote for Aubry…they’re going to work with each other. Especially in the beginning. I think that’s a good case for getting them out early.

Holmes: If there is a twist aside from game changing, what do you think it could be?
Boehlke: Maybe it’s going to be…another island? We’ve seen Exile Island and Redemption Island, this island will be different and something magical will happen there.
Holmes: “Survivor: Magic Island.”
Boehlke: Yes!
Holmes: I know you’re a unicorn girl.
Boehlke: (Laughs) I would die of happiness if it was unicorn island.
Holmes: You’d never come back.
Boehlke: Snuff my torch, I’ll spend the rest of my days there.
Holmes: That’ll be fun to explain to People.

Holmes: Alright, I’ll give you a twist. You tell me if it’s awesome or awful. Hidden immunity idol?
Boehlke: Awesome.
Holmes: Redemption Island?
Boehlke: Awful! So bad.
Holmes: Nobody knows that like you do. Exile Island?
Boehlke: That’s so tricky. I think awesome. I liked it on Micronesia.
Holmes: Extra votes?
Boehlke: Awful.
Holmes: Stealing a vote?
Boehlke: Awful.
Holmes: Eliminating a juror?
Boehlke: Awful.
Holmes: Unicorn Island?
Boehlke: Awesome!
Holmes: That’s what I thought.

Holmes: Alright, I’m not just here to chat, I’m here to prepare you. You’re a former Power Ranker, so you’re one of my super faves.
Boehlke: Yeah, but you like Malcolm better.
Holmes: I do love that guy.
Boehlke: What did he say? Is he against me?
Holmes: Can’t say.
Boehlke: Seriously?
Holmes: Can’t say.
Boehlke: I would be miserable if I went out first because of Malcolm.
Holmes: Can’t…say.
Boehlke: He wouldn’t be gunning for me early? That’d be silly.
Holmes: Can’t say.
Boehlke: Your voice got high.
Holmes: That’s my tell. OK, I’m going to give you a reason why someone should get rid of you. You have to counter it.
Boehlke: OK.
Holmes: Andrea can get it done in challenges…
Boehlke: Are you kidding me? I feel like compared to these people I am nothing. I’m bad at swimming. I hate swimming. Look at Caleb? He’s the Beast Mode Cowboy. Malcolm is still here, Tony is still here. They’re all bigger and better in challenges.
Holmes: Yeah, but she won her way back from Redemption Island…
Boehlke: By balancing a vase!
Holmes: Against so many people…
Boehlke: Against guys who are notoriously bad at balancing!
Holmes: She eliminated three people in one challenge!
Boehlke: By balancing a vaaaaaase!

Holmes: I didn’t expect this to get so heated.
Boehlke: (Laughs)
Holmes: Andrea is very crafty. She invented the puppy guarding method.
Boehlke: (Laughs) What good did that do me? I ended up with an idol in my pocket when I went home. I’ve been voted out three times. I’ve been blindsided twice. I’m not that crafty.

Holmes: I’m going to apologize for this one in advance; Andrea Boehlke? More like Andrea Smell-ky.
Boehlke: (Laughs) That’s true. But we all smell out here.

Holmes: Alright, I hold in my hand a deck of cards that has all of your competition in it. Well, except for Zeke and Michaela because we don’t know them yet. I’ll hand you three at random. You tell me who you’ll vote out first, who you’ll work with but eventually eliminate, and who you’ll take to the end.

Round One: Brad, Tony, and Hali
Boehlke: This is pretty easy. I’m going to vote Tony out first…the three idol thing, the spy shack, winning… He’s such a wild card. Even just watching his antics. He’s like Philip, but he’s really smart.
Holmes: Smart Philip.
Boehlke: Exactly. The thing is, I love watching him. I’ll align with Hali. I don’t know why she would come after me. We’ll get along, she seems like a down-to-Earth chick. And I’d love to bring Brad to the end. I’d die of happiness. I just feel like of anyone here, he’s the least likely to win. He’s offensive, people usually don’t like him. I don’t see him being some strategic mastermind. I actually might really like the guy, I just don’t think he can win.

Round Two: Cirie, Aubry, and Ozzy
Boehlke: This one is hard. I’m going to vote out Cirie first. As much as I love her, she’s just so smart and cunning. I’d be worried about her not liking me. Ugh…I think I’ll align with Aubry, but I’ll take Ozzy to the end. Aubry should’ve won last season, so if she gets to the end she’s going to win. Cirie, if she gets to the end, she’s going to win. Ozzy, I think viewers like him, but I don’t think the players like his as much. And he’s never played a strong strategic game. It’s not like he’s going to become some kind of mastermind. It’s his fourth time.
Holmes: Do you hold that against people?
Boehlke: If you’ve played four times you should be damn good.
Holmes: Says the girl playing her third time.
Boehlke: (Laughs) Fast forward three years and I’m saying, “Five times. If you play five times you’d better be good!”

Round Three: Tai, Debbie, and JT
Boehlke: This is tricky. I’d take Debbie out. I can’t get a read on her. I don’t know if she likes me. She’s gone. I’d align with JT. He probably feels like he was really stupid in his last game, which he was. So, I think he’ll probably try to play more a straight-forward game. He’ll try to overcompensate. And, I’ll take Tai to the end, because I don’t think he’s very strategic. You just have to control his flip-floppy ways.

Round Four: Sandra, Jeff, and Sarah
Boehlke: Oh gosh…Sarah Lacina. I don’t know what it is about her. There’s something about her pre-game that freaks me out. I just feel like she hates me for some reason. First out. I could be wrong.
Holmes: Part of the gig is being able to read people.
Boehlke: It’s crazy. Of all these people I’m scared of her? First out. I’ll align with Sandra and take Jeff to the end because if you take Sandra to the end she’ll win.

Round Five: Sierra, Malcolm, and Caleb
Boehlke: I’m going to do this first…I love Malcolm. He’s one of the smartest guys out here. But if I get a chance to get rid of him, I have to. I’d align with Caleb for a little bit. Then I’d take Sierra to the end because she didn’t really have strategic chops the first time around and I can outplay her.

Holmes: Two left. Align with one and boot the other.

Round Six: Ciera and Troyzan
Boehlke: I like them both. I’ll take out Troyzan because I think he’s talking to people. And Ciera is my girl crush of all time. I’ll keep her.

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Ozzy – “I’ve Got to Make Sure That I’m Friends with Everybody”

February 20, 2017

Ozzy Lusth (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Oscar “Ozzy” Lusth
Age: 34
Hometown: Venice, CA
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Cook Islands” – Runner-up
“Survivor: Micronesia” – Finished 9th and Jury Member
“Survivor: South Pacific” – Finished 4th and Jury Member
Best Known For: Being one of the most dominant challenge competitors ever.

Gordon Holmes: Are those tattoos new?
Ozzy Lusth: This one I got right the day after the game ended in Samoa. So, those were done on the island and this one I got in Thailand a few years after. That’s all done by hand, no machine. I designed it with one of the tattoo artists. It’s all symbolism…it’s how the show went and then my family and stuff like that.
Holmes: Which part of that represents Coach?
Lusth: (Laughs) None of it.

Holmes: Your bio mentions that you lost a member of your family this year?
Lusth: Yeah, my father died this past year.
Holmes: I’m sorry to hear that.
Lusth: Yeah, it’s a bummer. But he was ready to go.
Holmes: Did he watch the show?
Lusth: He was proud of me. He lived in Mexico, so he had to watch it on the Internet. He was definitely proud.
Holmes: As he should be. Grandiose terms get tossed around this show frequently, but I don’t think anyone debates that you’re one of the greatest challenge performers of all time.
Lusth: Yeah, thank you.

Holmes: This is your fourth time out here. What’s the approach?
Lusth: You just learn from your mistakes. I’m going to play a stronger game, but I’m going to structure it differently. I’m going to come out from day one and try to make the strongest bonds I possibly can with everybody I can. Even the people who seem like the weakest players, there’s nothing you can do in this game that’s worse than burning bridges too early. I haven’t had the strongest social game in my past seasons because I’ve relied on my physicality to keep me going. I can’t make that same mistake this time.

Holmes: Asking to be voted out of South Pacific so you can go to Redemption Island is one of the gutsiest moves I’ve ever seen. It’s been five years, do you still have that level of confidence in your challenge abilities?
Lusth: I feel good. I’ve packed on some pounds so that I don’t appear to be the biggest physical threat. I want to play that up as much as possible. I think there are some other very strong individuals out here. I hope they take the target off of my back. My abilities to fish, who knows? I haven’t been spearfishing since Samoa.
Holmes: You don’t do a lot of that in Los Angeles?
Lusth: Well, tropical spear fishing is a little different. And I haven’t climbed a coconut tree since Samoa. I’m hoping I can still do all of these things. But most importantly is the human aspect of the game. I’ve got to make sure that I’m friends with everybody.

Holmes: How have you changed the game of “Survivor”?
Lusth: I think I changed the game just based on the fact that I’m the most able survivalist. I’ve proven that I’m the best fisherman. That I can climb a 50-foot coconut tree. That I can dominate at challenges when I need to. And I’ve made some ballsy moves. I’m the first person to create a fake idol and have it be found and played at Tribal Council. The first person to volunteer to be voted out. Every single time I’ve played this game I’ve been an underdog. And I’ve always tried to change the way that I play. I try to take huge risks. I think that’s the hallmark of a great player, someone who’s willing to risk it all just to get to the next stage and show that they have what it takes to be at that final Tribal.

Holmes: Alright, I want to make sure you’re prepped for this.
Lusth: (Laughs) I need that.
Holmes: So, I’m going to give you some arguments people might use to get rid of you. I’d like you to defend against them.
Lusth: Alright.
Holmes: Ozzy is the original challenge king. I don’t want him to get to the merge and go on a long run of wins.
Lusth: Unless you missed the last season that I played, I didn’t win every challenge. I missed the last challenge and Sophie beat me. And, if you don’t have someone like me on your side in the beginning, there’s a very strong possibility that you’re not going to make it to the merge. I’ve been a loyal player and if you’re on my side, I’ll be loyal to you and take you to the end. And I’ll keep you fed, strong, and healthy until the end of the game.

Holmes: Ozzy asked to be sent to Redemption Island. That’s a big move. I don’t want to go to the end with someone capable of making those kind of crazy moves. I want someone I can predict.
Lusth: What I can promise is that I’ll be predictable in my loyalty. I’ll be one of those people that you can count on to not backstab you. To always vote the way you want me to vote. To give you a security in this game.

Holmes: Ozzy seems like a nice guy, but he’s had his chance. It’s his fourth time.
Lusth: There are winners here!
Holmes: (Laughs)
Lusth: And those winners have not only had their chance, but they’ve made their money and they’ve made their mark.

Holmes: What do you think of this cast?
Lusth: I think it’s great. There are so many different personalities and just trying to see how those puzzle pieces are going to fit together and what the group dynamics are going to be…I think it’s going to be a balls-to-the-walls competitive season. You’ve got someone like Malcolm who could possibly give me a run for my money when it comes to challenges and providing and strategic gameplay. He has all of the right tools at his disposal. He’s someone I’d like to work with. But, I have a feeling we’re going to be on opposite sides at the start. We have too many similar talents and skills.
Holmes: Anyone else you’re looking forward to working with?
Lusth: I want to work with some of these newer players. What they have going for them is that we don’t know anything about them. They can prove to us that they’ve got what it takes to be here. We don’t know why they’re Game Changers, but they did something to make their mark. It’ll be fun to play with them. It’ll be fun to play with Aubry and Tai. She’s been holding her cards really close at Ponderosa. I haven’t been able to get a feeling for her. But she was a conniving one on her season. And Tai is just funny, he’s seems like a cool guy. Caleb is another one, I think he’ll be a very loyal person. I’m also interested in working with the big egos. The strong dudes who are really competitive. They’ll think that they can beat me in individual immunity challenges. I was beat by a girl. People will look at that and say, “He choked in the end. He wasn’t able to perform under pressure.” And that’s the best thing I have going for me right now. But more than that, my loyalty is something I’ve kept strong the whole, entire time I’ve played. It’s something I can use now and if need be I can be disloyal. I can backstab. And done correctly, it can be a powerful tool. And I can find immunity idols.

Holmes: Is there anyone you’re going to target?
Lusth: Early targets…I can see Sandra and Cirie being early targets because they’re very strong strategic players. They’re people who may not be as necessary in the beginning of the game at challenges. Puzzles are always a place where you can put someone who isn’t as physically capable and they can shine in those moments. But, Sandra and Cirie and even Aubry are people I’m going to be wary of. Even Andrea, Andrea has got amazing physicality to her. She’s done well in challenges. I’ve just got to keep the alliances from being too cut-and dry, weak-vs.-strong in the beginning. I can’t have all-female alliances. I can’t have them thinking it’s going to be males vs. females. I think that’d be a mistake because that’s proven to be a lot of male players’ downfalls.

Holmes: You’ve played with Cirie before. What’s your relationship with her like these days?
Lusth: There’s a relationship there, sure. She had a hand in my downfall. But, she wasn’t the architect of that. Parvati and Amanda created that. Cirie just went along. I’m going to say it’s water under the bridge. If I’m playing with her, I’m going to approach her right away and try to make a strong bond with her. I don’t want her to feel like I have a target on her because I don’t want a target on me. I want to play with her until there’s an opportunity to blindside her. I don’t trust her later in the game. Cochran is a great person to learn from. He made strategic moves right before people started gunning for him. And that’s something you’ve got to take into account. I might have to sacrifice a stronger player first just to make an example that it’s not going to be strong vs. weak in the very beginning. Somebody like Tony who is strong and could be a valuable asset might be a great first sacrificial lamb. Or maybe someone like Troyzan. I have a feeling that Fiji is going to be full of water challenges, so maybe people who can’t swim will be easy targets. But, I think it’s a mistake to go after the weakest player first. It might set up a pattern that I don’t want people to catch on to.

Holmes: Whenever you have returnees, there’s a chance to pre-season alliances. Are you a part of any?
Lusth: No. I think there’s a strong likelihood that the players from Kaoh Rong have done that. There are four of them. The last season’s returning players too. I think Troyzan played with Andrea.
Holmes: Andrea played with Malcolm.
Lusth: That’s right. Malcolm and Andrea are possibly an alliance. Those all need to be broken up or at least scrutinized.

Holmes: You’re in lockdown now. Have you noticed people sitting next to each other, winking at each other?
Lusth: There seems to be something between some of the ladies. I think it’s natural that they feel comfortable with each other. The same thing goes for the stronger guys. We can’t let that get out of hand because if it seems like weak vs. strong, then it’ll be bad for me. I’ve noticed there are some people who make no eye contact or have any interactions. That’s Aubry and Ciera. They’re iffy. Debbie looks like someone who could be worked with. Cirie seems very blank. Barely acknowledges anyone.

Holmes: If there is a twist, any guesses as to what it could be?
Lusth: I don’t even want to try to guess. The producers are good at throwing curveballs. The trick is to be observant. Keep your eyes open not only at camp, but at challenges. There could be clues anywhere. There could be an idol at any possible turn.

Holmes: Alright, I’ll give you a twist, you tell me if it’s awesome or awful. Starting with hidden immunity idols.
Lusth: Awesome.
Holmes: Redemption Island?
Lusth: Awesome.
Holmes: Knew you’d say that. Exile Island?
Lusth: Awesome.
Holmes: Medallion of Power?
Lusth: Awful.
Holmes: Extra vote?
Lusth: Awesome.
Holmes: Steal a vote?
Lusth: Awful.
Holmes: Eliminate a juror?
Lusth: Awful.

Holmes: Alright, in this deck of cards I have all seventeen of your opponents except for Michaela and Zeke, who we don’t know yet. I’ll hand you three at random. You tell me who you’ll vote out first, who you’ll work with but eventually eliminate, and who you’ll take to the end.

Round One: Cirie, Sarah, and Malcolm
Lusth: I like this. Oh (expletive deleted). I forgot about her. Who is she?
Holmes: She was in “Survivor: Cagayan.”
Lusth: I don’t know her at all. So, Cirie will be the first out. She’s a strong strategic player and she won’t take me to the end. I’d love to work with Malcolm. He’s a force to be reckoned with. He’s a good player and a good provider. He’ll take the heat off of me. And I’ll take Sarah to the end.
Holmes: How would you beat her?
Lusth: I’ll feed people, kill it at challenges, and be everybody’s friend.

Round Two: Caleb, Sandra, and Tony
Lusth: Tony is the first out, it’ll show that it’s not about weak or strong. He’s won, he’s strong, but he’s gotta go. I’d work with Sandra. If I can gain her trust, she can help me develop strong strategy. And I’ll take Caleb to the end. I think I can beat him. He’s going to make mistakes and burn bridges.

Round Three: JT, Debbie, and Brad
Lusth: Debbie is the first out purely for a challenge advantage. JT…I’d work with. I think he’s a really funny, fun guy to have around camp. He’s the kind of person that makes camp life go by faster and keeping morale up is important for the game. And I’d take Brad to the end because he’s a (expletive deleted) NFL star. He doesn’t need the money.

Round Four: Ciera, Jeff, and Andrea
Lusth: Ciera will be the first one out. Mostly because I don’t know anything about her. I want to work with Andrea if it’s possible. She’s a strong strategic player. And I’d take Jeff to the end. I think I could beat him in front of the jury. I could prove that I’ve done more in the game than he has.

Round Five: Aubry, Tai, and Sierra
Lusth: Aubry is out first. I don’t trust her at all. I think she’s a sneaky player and she can get out of sticky situations. She’s proven that she can make it to the end, even when she’s on the bottom. I’d work with Tai. He has an ability to prove himself in challenges. He’s a funny guy. But, I wouldn’t go to the end with him. I think he’s learned his lesson on how to talk to a jury. I’d take Sierra, she’s always seemed stuck up. When she played on “Worlds Apart,” she seemed like a downer. I don’t think she’ll get votes.

Holmes: We’ve got two left. Work with one and boot the other.

Round Six: Troyzan and Hali
Lusth: I’d work with Troyzan because I think he wants to work with strong players and people that will take him to the end. I’ll vote out Hali…there’s something about her that I don’t quite trust.

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Hali: “I Don’t Have Any Intention of Working with Sierra. Our Trust Is Pretty Much Gone”

February 17, 2017

Hali Ford (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Hali Ford
Age: 26
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Worlds Apart” – Finished 11th and Jury Member
Best Known For: Loving nature.

Gordon Holmes: First and foremost, do you still love nature?
Hali Ford: (Laughs) I do still love nature.
Holmes: That was for Jenn, your Dirty 30 sister.
Ford: (Laughs) Dirty 30 for life! Four of us got tattoos together.
Holmes: Oh boy…that’s horrible. What is it?
Ford: It says “Whatever,” and it has a little 30. I’m not fully committed.
Holmes: Is it in a place that’s OK to show to a married man?
Ford: (Laughs) Yes, it’s on my wrist.
Holmes: Look at you! Will 34 get a cool cliquey name?
Ford: No, when your last tattoo says “Whatever,” it’s probably time to stop.

Holmes: How did you feel about this Game Changers title?
Ford: I was shocked to hear that I was grouped with a bunch of game changers. I thought I played a bad game. I never really got started. I wanted to change the game. Right as I was leaving I wanted to start a girls’ coup and overthrow the Blue Collars and switch up the game, but nobody would go with me. I think I acted too late. I changed the game a little bit on Nagarote because Max went home because of me. I lobbied for Shirin to stay. Besides that, I don’t think I did much of anything.
Holmes: As somebody who feels like she didn’t do enough last time, does that inspire you to come in here and kick ass?
Ford: Absolutely, I was pissed off after my last season and I couldn’t wait to get back out here. I just didn’t think I’d be given the opportunity. I need to be proud of what I do out here because I wasn’t proud of my last game. I have really high standards in anything I do. I need to get “Survivor” into a good place.
Holmes: Is that a million dollar check?
Ford: Not necessarily. There’s too much luck in “Survivor” to bet on winning. But I need to play a game I’m really proud of. I want to do big moves. I want to play a subtle game, but I want to have a big effect. I want to be very influential in this game.
Holmes: Game Changer is kind of a grandiose term. Does the weight of that concern you?
Ford: No, in my life I’ve been thrown into situations where I don’t feel competent, and then that gets me excited enough to become competent. When I was in the No Collar tribe, it didn’t take anything for me to be in the core of that alliance. It was just making friends. And the second you showed strategic thoughts you got voted out. I don’t know if I’m the turtle that stays the same size of the aquarium it’s in or not. But, I think that pretty immediately out here I’m going to become a peer among these people.

Holmes: You’re a lawyer now? You passed the bar?
Ford: Yes I did.
Holmes: So, you’re white collar now?
Ford: (Laughs) I don’t know. I work for criminals, so I don’t know what that makes me.

Holmes: How do you feel about this cast?
Ford: I think everybody out here is going to be super fun to be around. It’s an intimidating cast. I’m excited about the caliber of people I’ll be working with. There aren’t any easy boots. There aren’t any weakling stragglers. Maybe one or two…
Holmes: Who are our weakling stragglers?
Ford: The big guy Jeff. I don’t think he’s going to hold up. But I haven’t seen every season. I haven’t seen him play, I don’t know what he’s about. I don’t see him going far. And Debbie, I don’t see her being too strong. She looks like the oldest person out here.

Holmes: Anyone you’re hoping to work with?
Ford: Aubry. I think she’s cool, she’s kind of nerdy. I like her style. The brown-haired Ciera I could work with. And some of the veteran players like Cirie. You’ve got to look out for her, but I’d rather be with her than against her. I like her as a person. And I think I could work with Malcolm or Ozzy, but probably not both.
Holmes: What’s your relationship like with blonde-haired Sierra?
Ford: I don’t have any intention of working with Sierra. Our trust is pretty much gone. The minute I found out she was on, I was like, “Oh great! I’ve got a shoo-in alliance.” But it didn’t take ten minutes to think back about how she played. I don’t want to play with someone who played like she played. I obviously can’t read her or persuade her. Maybe I did read her and she changed her mind?
Holmes: Malcolm dated So from your season. Do you and he have any kind of friendship?
Ford: We’ve hung out a couple of times. We all went to an arcade one night and hung out. He’s cool, he’s fun. He’s wise, too. I’d like to be good friends with him.

Holmes: There are two people here you don’t know. How do you deal with Zeke and Michaela?
Ford: I didn’t stack my deck as thick as I could because I haven’t seen the past three seasons.
Holmes: Blasphemy.
Ford: I don’t have a TV! I live in a trailer. My trailer park Wi-fi can’t stream that stuff. I think it’s an advantage though. It’s good to know your enemy, but it’s also good to take first impressions of people. I might have a fresh approach that could be an advantage.

Holmes: There are four people from Kaoh Rong. How do you deal with that?
Ford: I don’t know! I need to get some intel from people who saw that season to see if they like each other. It’s really easy to see on “Survivor” who likes each other and who doesn’t. They sit together, they sleep by each other, it’s not going to be hard to figure that out. I don’t like the idea of four people who’ve played together, but if it’s like me and Sierra…I don’t think we’re going to work together. It’s like Sarah and Tony. It seemed like they hated each other at the end. But four people? They’ve got a target on their back.

Holmes: Alright, I’m going to give you arguments that people will use against you. I need you to counter them. I want you gone, you tell people why they should keep you around.
Ford: (Laughs) I don’t think you want me gone.
Holmes: I had to dig deep to find these reasons because you’re delightful.
Ford: And I’m not a threat.
Holmes: Hali’s a lawyer though. I don’t want to go to final Tribal with a lawyer. Let’s boot her.
Ford: First of all, you can’t play the first half of the game like that. You can’t think that far ahead. And my whole personality is fairly disarming. I become a different person in front of a judge. But, that’s not my personality. I thought of lying to everyone and saying I failed the bar, but a lie is more detrimental that the truth.

Holmes: Hali is way too likable. I don’t want her to get into the finals.
Ford: Look at me! I’m totally docile. I’m going to fly under the radar.
Holmes: That was my next one! Hali’s going to fly under the radar and take my million!
Ford: (Laughs) I guess I’ll have to fly under the radar even more.
Holmes: Under under the radar?
Ford: Exactly.

Holmes: Are you a part of any pre-season alliances? Have you heard any rumors?
Ford: People talk. Everyone talks in the “Survivor” community. But, I’m pretty removed from that. I did that purposefully. People make pre-season alliances and maybe they don’t turn into anything…or maybe they do. But, you’re still going to need other numbers. I wanted to start fresh. The beach is going to be my day one. I’ve already identified people I’m going to approach first.

Holmes: You’re in lockdown now. But, people wink and smile at each other. Have you been doing any of that?
Ford: Oh, totally. I’m working it. I’ve had talks mostly with Cirie. I really do want to work with her. Ozzy and Malcolm I’ve shared some words with and glances. Oddly enough, I’ve laughed with Tony a lot and Sarah.
Holmes: Have you caught anyone else sharing glances?
Ford: You know who’s going around and talking to everyone? Tai. He just walks up to people and starts conversations. You can’t do that. Everytime I see him, he’s talking to someone.

Holmes: Alright, I have a deck of cards with every player here except for Zeke and Michaela, because we don’t know them yet. I’m going to take this lawyer who doesn’t watch enough “Survivor” out as well. I’ll hand you three at random and you tell me who you’re going to vote out first, who you’ll work with and eventually eliminate, and who you’ll take to the end.

Round One: Sandra, Aubry, and Troyzan
Ford: This is perfect! I’m going to work with Aubry. She doesn’t seem too threatening. She’s smart. She’s a good person to talk things through with. But, I can beat her. Troyzan will go to the end. He’s not going to win. He’s older and he’s kind of coo-coo. Nobody’s going to give him a million dollars and he can’t get to the end unless I take him. And I’m voting out Sandra because she’s won twice. She obviously knows how to do something right.

Round Two: Ciera, Malcolm, and Tai
Ford: Tai is my first boot. He’s already sneaking around talking to everyone and he’s too likable. He’s probably not that great in challenges. I can’t take Malcolm to the end. He might just win, but I would work with him. Ciera, I don’t know a lot about her. But I bet I could outtalk her any day. I’ll take her to the end.

Round Three: Caleb, Ozzy, and Brad
Ford: I’ll work with Ozzy, but I won’t take him to the end. I can already see us…we’re on the same page. We’re really similar. We both love nature, we can go fishing. I’d take Caleb to the end. I don’t think he’s going to play a better game than me. I’m not concerned about him. I’d boot Brad because I’d rather take Caleb to the end. I think Brad is more wise.

Round Four: JT, Andrea, and Tony
Ford: Ahh! Tony and JT are my first two boots.
Holmes: That’s not how it works.
Ford: OK, Tony is my first boot. I don’t want him slinking around. I’d take Andrea to the end. I don’t know a lot about her. She seems sweet enough, but I wouldn’t be concerned about going to the end with her. I’d work with JT. He’s a good guy.

Round Five: Cirie, Sarah, and Jeff
Ford: Jeff would be my first boot. I don’t really want him on my tribe in the first part of the game. His personality is already rubbing me raw. People cuss all the time, that’s fine. But he just cusses at odd times.
Holmes: You’ve got to earn your curses?
Ford: Exactly! Use them nicely. It’s ill-mannered. I already said I wanted to work with Cirie. I’d take her to the end, because I’d feel like I really did something if I beat Cirie. That may be kind of like…who’s that Asian guy that lost to Tony?
Holmes: Woo.
Ford: It might be kind of a Woo decision. But, I don’t think it would be. But just in case, I’ll just work with her. And I’ll take Sarah to the end because she’s a safer bet than Cirie.

Holmes: We’ve got two left. Work with one and boot the other.

Round Six: Sierra and Debbie
Ford: Boot Sierra and work with Debbie. I’m not working with Sierra.

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Jeff: “I Feel Like If I Keep My Mouth Shut I Might Make a Jury For a Change”

February 16, 2017

Jeff Varner (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Jeff Varner
Age: 50
Hometown: High Point, NC
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: The Australian Outback” – Finished 10th
“Survivor: Second Chance” – Finished 17th
Best Known For: Trying to make Tina Wesson vomit.

Gordon Holmes: You played 15 years ago, they bring you back…and here you are again almost immediately. Holy crap.
Jeff Varner: Out of everybody here, I am part of this family the longest. And that didn’t hit me until yesterday. It never crossed my mind. I’m the O.G., literally.
Holmes: With the exception of the newbies from season 33, you’ve played the latest and the most recent.
Varner: Yeah, you talk about Game Changer…this game was changed by the time I got back into it.
Holmes: When you first heard that Game Changer subhead, what did that mean to you?
Varner: It meant a lot, I was flattered by it. Then I started thinking, what did I do to change the game? Well, I did a lot more than you did.
Holmes: Me?
Varner: (Laughs) No, I was looking around the room going. What’d you do? Who’d you sleep with to get here because you didn’t change (expletive deleted). Since when did a goat become a game changer? The way I look at is; I as a human am a game changer. I am ballsy, I have a lot of courage, I’m afraid of very little. I’m like Donald Trump in a way in that even though the rules say this is how you do it? This is how we’re going to do it. If everybody goes this way, I go that way. I’m looking more for how I’m going to change going forward. I feel like this is a good time for me.

Holmes: Let’s talk about “Second Chance.” It’s better to burn out than fade away.
Varner: (Laughs) Like a shooting star.
Holmes: To quote Def Leppard. How do you take the lessons from “Second Chance” and apply them to your future victory?
Varner: I learned a lot in “Second Chance.” Don’t go too hard, too fast. Don’t show all your cards right out of the gate. Don’t pre-game. Keep your mouth shut. When you get information, sit on it. Figure out the best way to use it. I would immediately go where my instincts told me to.
Holmes: You said, “No pre-gaming.” I asked everyone before “Second Chance” if they pre-gamed and everyone said, “No, but everyone else is.”
Varner: Liars.
Holmes: Everyone except for you.
Varner: They’re all lying. I have nothing to hide. Why not tell you the truth? And I was the only one who did. When it all came out and I was the only one talking, it pissed me off. If I’m talking to fifteen people, fifteen people are talking to me.
Holmes: Before every interview I say, “Whatever you say here, stays here. Nothing gets shared with the rest of the cast. This won’t see the light of day until a month before the season airs.” You tell me you’re working with Kelly Wiglesworth. Then I ask her if she’s working with anyone and she says, “No.”
Varner: Liar.
Holmes: Yeah, in my brain, I’m saying, “Really?” But, to her I have to keep my mouth shut.
Varner: Fishbach asked me about it when we got back. And I had to show them the text messages. I have text messages from all of these people. I want you to see that I’m not lying. But the problem is; now I’m the poster child for pre-gaming. And, it’s the reason why this time I didn’t do any. I’ve talked to some people. I have relationships already started with a few people, but I have no alliances, I have no deals. I can hit that beach as a free agent and hopefully being honest with you won’t come back to bite me.
Holmes: I hope not. But, who would’ve dreamed you’d be back so quickly?
Varner: I certainly didn’t.

Holmes: Are there any rumors of anybody else trying to set something up before the game?
Varner: I know that Sandra’s talking to a lot of people because she’s talking to me. I know that Andrea is talking to a lot of people. I started talking to Malcolm who I know is talking to Andrea and a lot of other people. It’s going on. It’s out there. I met Tai at a party. So, he’s reaching out to me and he’s talked to Caleb about protecting me. And so, I have some relationships started. If I lined up twenty people, there are maybe twelve that I’m not in an alliance with, but they like me. And everybody’s doing it. I don’t care what anybody says.

Holmes: What’re your thoughts on this cast.
Varner: It’s random. It’s a random group of people. I couldn’t figure out what the theme was. There are some people that I don’t know why they’re here. I never would have expected them to play a second time, much less in a Game Changers season. And there are some good people too. There are a lot of targets, a lot of threats, and I’m not one of them. I feel like I’m in a good spot. You have three winners, challenge beasts, you’ve got Cirie who everyone is terrified of. Sandra who’s has two million dollars. Who’s going to let her get close to a third? I feel like if I keep my mouth shut I might make a jury for a change.
Holmes: It’s admirable to have goals.
Varner: I intend to make it much further than that.

Holmes: Anyone you’re hoping to work with?
Varner: Everybody. That’s my strategy this time around. In Cambodia I came in with hit lists and these are my partners and this is who we’re going after. It was a mistake. Here, everybody is my partner. I’m nervous about a handful of people, but I’m still looking at it like, “I’m going to do what you need me to do.” Wentworth played a brilliant pre-swap game and I’m going to tailor a lot of what I do after her. She never made a decision. She never made an enemy. She never made a wave. She got into a little alliance, but she was very careful.
Holmes: She did use some harsh language.
Varner: What do you mean?
Holmes: I’ve heard her say (expletive deleted) before.
Varner: (Laughs) She does say that.

Holmes: Any early targets?
Varner: No. For that same reason. However, I am nervous about Tony. I’m nervous about Debbie. I’m nervous about Sandra, although I’d partner with Sandra. I feel like people can get rid of Sandra at any time because she’s not a challenge threat. Maybe that’s a big mistake. But you can’t leave Tony around. He’s too dangerous. Debbie seems like she’ll vote people out for random reasons. I want to make sure I’m aligned with people who’ve proven loyalty in the past. But, I want people who I can sit next to at the end and win. I want my Abi, I wanted to get to the end with them. This time I am confident enough with myself to know no matter who I’m sitting with, I can beat them.

Holmes: Anyone tipping their hand at Ponderosa?
Varner: Tony’s walking around Ponderosa with a stick. Like a big old stick. Like he’s going to spin it over his head. I don’t know what he’s doing. And JT is a wreck. Just pacing constantly. And I’m writing letters. The psychologist the other day told me I am projecting calm and peace. I’m hoping that will draw people to me.

Holmes: You’re going to be dealing with two unknown quantities in Zeke and Michaela. We don’t know anything about their games.
Varner: I’ve really been studying them. But, they’re going to be my buddies too. I think I’ve got them down. I’ve never said two words to them, but Michaela comes across as athletic, strong, she’s a winner, she doesn’t like to lose, and she doesn’t like people who make her lose. I feel that from her. She seems like she could be confrontational. We were having lunch and she’s standing there and she just wheels around and sits her plate in front of me and looks at me. I’m like, “OK, that’s a ballsy bitch right there.” I like that. And she makes eye-contact with me. I feel tied to her. It’s like Tasha 2.0…who I hated. If I had a chance to start over with Tasha, how would I go? Zeke, when I first saw him I thought, that’s a lesbian with a mustache. He watches all of us, but he seems to look at Tony with an adoration. I feel like he loves Tony in a way that he doesn’t love JT. He sits next to Tony, he may be the new Woo.

Holmes: You had four Cagayaners in “Second Chance.” Now you’ve got four Kaoh Rongers.
Varner: Two of those Cagayaners went to the end and I tried my best to get rid of them. That didn’t go over very well. I’m not going to go out on a limb to get rid of them. Maybe I’ll partner with them. Who knows? But, that’s a card to play.

Holmes: You had some health issues last time. How are you feeling now?
Varner: Great. I’ve been preparing to get a call a year down the road. I’ve been going to yoga and spin class three days a week. Then I got the call in January and I thought, “Oh (expletive deleted), this is happening faster than I thought.” So, I joined crossfit. And in the last two months, my crossfit has been private lessons. He’ll set up obstacles courses ending with a puzzle.
Holmes: Nice.
Varner: Oh, it’s intricate (expletive deleted). I had to do the whole obstacle course, then he’d give me three minutes to do the puzzle. And if I didn’t, he’d make me do it again. And as we got closer, he’d bring people in and I’d start competing against people.
Holmes: Your own private John Kirhoffer.
Varner: (Laughs) I’m ready for this. I wish I had another year, and the damage to my lungs is done, but I feel great. Yoga has made my feet strong, and I’ve got abs. I feel great.

Holmes: This is totally unprofessional, but I just noticed you have really pretty eyes.
Varner: (Laughs) Well, thank you.
Holmes: Totally unprofessional.

Holmes: Alright, I’m not just here to reacquaint the world with Jeff Varner. I’m here to help you get ready.
Varner: Which means you’re helping everyone else too.
Holmes: Some of these people can’t be helped.
Varner: (Laughs)
Holmes: I’m going to give an argument someone might use to get rid of you. You need to counter it.
Varner: Excellent, I could use this.
Holmes: Jeff was very erratic in “Second Chance.” He was back and forth, they targeted Vytas, then targeted Shirin. I can’t tell which way he’s going and I don’t want to have to worry about him. Let’s send him home tonight.
Varner: Well, in Cambodia you had to flip-flop. It was the game of voting blocs instead of alliances because everybody was so smart and everybody was so good. You just didn’t know where to go and what to do. Wherever the vote was at that moment, that’s where you went. And then you had a chance to regroup and get back together with who you needed to be with. That’s how that game went, so if you say that about me you have to say that about Ciera, cause she was the voting bloc queen. She went further than I did. I’ve never made a jury. Why are you worried about me?

Holmes: They said Jeff wasn’t helping out around camp enough and we need to stay strong for challenges…
Varner: Listen, I wasn’t helping out around camp because I was working with Wiglesworth who was dominating. That’s her thing. Wiglesworth, Terry, that’s their thing. They’re old-school. The second I’d try to help they’d take my head off. Watch me now.

Holmes: He almost passed out during that challenge with the puzzle pieces. I’m worried he’s going to be a challenge liability.
Varner: None of us had anything to eat and the heat was crazy. You saw Caleb have a heat stroke, right? Same kind of (expletive deleted). I was trying to solve the puzzle while everyone else was sitting on their ass. Hopefully you as a partner will help me and not sit and watch me.

Holmes: I’m pretty sure Varner went into Cambodia with pre-game alliances. I don’t want to have to deal with that.
Varner: I did. And if you think they’re not here on this island, you’re crazy. I chose not to do it this time. It didn’t help me. It was a problem for me. It was a weight that I had to carry around. And so, I’m not aligned right now. I didn’t have a conversation with you before the game started, did I? You can ask anybody. My loyalty is to you right now. How’d I do?
Holmes: Killed it.
Varner: Thank you for that, I hadn’t been thinking about that stuff.

Holmes: Ciera and you were never on the same tribe. Is there any kind of relationship there?
Varner: No, I love her gameplay. One of the things that irritating me about Cambodia was nobody played. Those alpha guys got together and they just stuck with Tasha up their ass. That’s what irritated me about Angkor. Tasha and Andrew just didn’t play. Once they had Abi they wouldn’t talk to anyone. Ciera and I are kindred souls that way. All she wanted to do was play and that’s all I wanted to do. At the same time I don’t trust her because of that. She’s sharp. Wentworth, Kass, all the people say she’s a little liar and she’s very subtle about it. I hope to work with her, we’ve texted, but I’ll vote her out in a second.

Holmes: Any thoughts on potential twists?
Varner: You can’t have a show called “Survivor: Game Changers” without changing the game. I’m anticipating Probst to show up with all new rules and all new everything.

Holmes: Alright, I’ll give you a twist. You tell me if it’s awesome or awful. Hidden immunity idols?
Varner: Awesome.
Holmes: Redemption Island?
Varner: Awful…both.
Holmes: Exile Island?
Varner: Awful, but it’s good too.
Holmes: You’re very bad at this.
Varner: Maybe that’s how I see the world; the good and the bad.
Holmes: Medallion of Power?
Varner: I don’t even know what that means.
Holmes: That’s probably for the best. Extra vote?
Varner: Both.
Holmes: Steal a vote?
Varner: Both.
Holmes: Damnit. Eliminate a juror.
Varner: Awful. That’s horrible.
Holmes: Finally.

Varner: Alright, are we playing Align or Malign?
Holmes: No, but it’s similar. All of your opponents are in this deck of cards except for Michaela and Zeke, because we don’t know them. I’m going to give you three at a time at random. You tell me who you’re going to vote out first. Who you’re going to work with, but eventually eliminate, and who you’re going to take to the end.

Round One: Sarah, Ciera, and Caleb
Varner: I’m going to vote Ciera out first just because she’s sharp. I’m going to align with Caleb because he’s strong and when we get to the merge he’s a meat shield. And I’ll take Sarah because she’s loyal, she’s smart, she’s cool as hell, and she’s the one here in pre-game who I feel like I click with. She’s joking, cutting up, I like her.

Round Two: Tai, Sierra, and Hali
Varner: Hmm…I love Tai so much, but he can’t keep his mouth shut. He keeps making eye contact with me here and he doesn’t care who sees him do it. That makes me so nervous. Tai’s one I have phone conversations with. He came to my birthday party. He’s such a great guy. Hali is a wild card. But, I find her to be… I love the social justice in her. She’s reading the book “Roots” at Ponderosa. She takes time out of her day to have conversations with the help. And I love that. I think she could beat me, so I’m not going to take her to the end. Let’s vote out Sierra because I don’t even know why she’s here. Let’s take Tai to the end, cause he’s proven he’ll go to the end and lose. Hali, we’ll align with.

Round Three: Brad, Cirie, and Aubry
Varner: Ooo…bitches. Brad is a bitch and I love him for that. Cirie, I fan-girled when I saw her. But I don’t trust her so we’re going to vote her out now. We’ll align with Aubry because we’re kindred souls. But we’ll take Brad to the end because he’s stupid. I can beat him in the end, I don’t think he can carry an argument.

Round Four: Debbie, Tony, and Troyzan
Varner: I’m going to the end with Troyzan. I like him, he’s loyal. Of these three, I feel like I could argue against him and win. I feel like I could argue against Tony and Debbie and win too. They both seem like they’re very unpredictable. They’re all over the place. Let’s vote out Tony because he’s already got a million bucks. And let’s align with Debbie, but keep her on a short leash.

Round Five: Malcolm, Andrea, and Sandra
Varner: I love all three of these people. Let’s go to the end with…Sandra. Nobody will give her a third million, but you know how that goes. So…let’s vote out Sandra. Let’s go to the end with Andrea because she’s loyal. She and Malcolm are the same person to me. They’re good at challenges and strategic. I just feel like Malcolm is a better arguer.

Holmes: We’ve got two left, so give me a classic Align or Malign.

Round Six: JT and Ozzy
Varner: Align with JT and let’s get rid of Ozzy. Ozzy is too strong and there’s an air of cockiness to him that’s uncomfortable. Ozzy feels like he is “Survivor.” He thinks he’s the best there is ever. And he’s also set the precedence that people who aren’t challenge threats need to go. And that would be me. (Laughs)

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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


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