Archive for February, 2017

‘Survivor’ Debbie: “Aubry Doesn’t Trust Me and I Don’t Trust Her”

February 15, 2017

Debbie Wanner (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: Debbie Wanner
Age: 51
Hometown: Reading, PA
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Kaoh Rong” – Finished 9th and Jury Member
Best Known For: Nursing Aubry back to health.

Gordon Holmes: In your bio you say you’re much more aware of how people can see and hear the same conversation or event and have wildly different opinions on it. Is that based on something that happened in Kaoh Rong or in your personal life?
Debbie Wanner: In life in general I’ve long been fascinated by…let’s take a Supreme Court decision. Nine people hear a case and they’re split five/four. Most major landmark decisions are split five/four. So, even people that I consider to be intelligent, educated, erudite…can have very differing opinions. What surprised me the most out of “Survivor: Kaoh Rong” was how nobody thought they were edited fairly. They did not think that their depiction was even a 60% accurate portrayal of themselves. So, that was a surprise. I, however, thought I was an accurate portrayal. I am kooky, or eccentric if you will. And that’s cool.

Holmes: You are one of four people who is here from Kaoh Rong.
Wanner: Correct.
Holmes: Is that a positive or a negative?
Wanner: For me, it’s neither. That’s because everybody here knows a great deal about everybody else. We all know each other’s names without being told, so everybody is going to know that Aubry and I are not a couple. (Laughs) Aubry doesn’t trust me and I don’t trust her. It’s a race to see who takes out who first. We’ll pretend we like each other, but it’s B.S. all the way. If there’s any issues with who is going to be perceived as a couple, it’s going to be Caleb and Tai. They had a bromance that was brutally interrupted by Caleb going into shock, heat stroke.

Holmes: Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t you say you had wished you’d put on some weight before you came out here?
Wanner: (Laughs) You don’t hear this often, but gaining weight is not easy for me.
Holmes: I hate you so much.
Wanner: (Laughs)
Holmes: I look at food and gain weight.
Wanner: (Laughs) I did gain a couple of pounds more, but not as much as I wanted to. It’s OK. I’m a lean, mean, efficient machine. I’m a diesel motor. It takes a lot less fuel for me to get by then some of these 200-pound guys. When I get up in the morning I start working out, it’s my stress reliever. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t chew my fingernails. The way to make me feel balanced is push-ups, sit-ups, and running. So, I’m certainly not going to stop that. It keeps me feeling sane. Well, I feel I’m sane, anyway. I don’t go for junk like donuts. Why do you want to put that crap in your body?
Holmes: Cause it tastes so goooood.
Wanner: (Laughs) OK, I don’t look at it that way. I look at it like I’m putting crap in my body. So, I didn’t gain as much weight as I’d like, but I am three pounds heavier than Kaoh Rong.

Holmes: How do you feel you’ve changed the game?
Wanner: I thought my game change was instant. It was being approached by Aubry who was having a total psychological meltdown. We called in Probst, we called in the doctor. She wanted to quit. It was day one. And this went on for three days. I was approached by other members of the Brains tribe who said, “Let her quit. It takes us one step closer to a million dollars.” And I said, “You know, if your daughter, your sister, your wife…whoever you care about, would you really want somebody to rip them apart? To have them return to normal life devastated? Cowering in a corner thinking, ‘Why did I even try?’” I didn’t want that to happen to Aubry. My game changer was keeping her around so she could firmly insert a knife into my back and take me out.
Holmes: (Laughs)
Wanner: That was my game change! Et tu, Brute?

Holmes: When I heard the title, I was wondering if it meant people who were going to change their game the second time around. Are you going to change your approach?
Wanner: Yeah, the biggest thing, my daughter wrote me a note to remind me, and I knew it the first time I just didn’t stick with it; I’m just a Captain. And I’m only a Captain in the Air Force Auxiliary. That is not active duty. That is the volunteer branch of the Air Force who gets dispatched for search and rescue. I’m a Captain, there are Colonels, there are Generals, there are Majors. And when I played this game the first time, I did want that cohesive unit. And I loved the Brains. Nobody had a plan. When we lost the first time I had to come up with the plan. And I don’t want to be the person that comes to you and says, “OK Gordon, here’s the plan. Blah blah blah blah blah.” This time I want to come to you and say, “Gordon, what do you want to do?” And we’ll talk and I’ll say, “I think we should take out Big Sierra, Little Ciera, or Tony.” So, now I’ve given you choices to make. I’m not being dictatorial. I’m giving you an idea because you don’t have one. I’m going to be more diplomatic.
Holmes: It’s like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book.
Wanner: Yeah. (Laughs)

Holmes: What do you think of this cast?
Wanner: I love the cast! I adore 50% of these people. They’re people I’ve long admired. Ozzy, I respect Tony, I liked Brad Culpepper. He got a bum rap the first time around. Cirie has a great personality…the girl from 33…
Holmes: Michaela.
Wanner: Michaela. Fit, pleasant, smart, clean, I make these little subtle observations. Some of these people I’m surprised that they’re back. Other people, you can let them play from here until the show ends as far as I’m concerned, like Ozzy. (Laughs) JT! Good guys.

Holmes: Anyone you’re looking forward to working with?
Wanner: To my astonishment…I am drawn to Tony the cop and Brad. Simply because I saw Brad be polite. Not even for one of us, he opened the door for a woman. And, I saw Tony picking up trash that would’ve otherwise been sucked up into the ocean and taking it to a trash can. And these are the little things that make me think; I don’t care if other people say you’re a wanker, a liar, you’re a backstabber…you just kept plastic from going into the ocean and you were just a gentleman. I like that.
Holmes: My wife, long before she was my wife, and I were going for a walk in a park. She had a water bottle that she was looking to throw away. She walked into the woods for a second, and I was horrified because I thought she was just going to toss the bottle away. And I’m thinking, “Oh, if she just litters…this might be a deal breaker.” Fortunately, she came back out with the bottle, she had just gone in to smell a flower.
Wanner: Oh, thank goodness.
Holmes: It’s how you act when you don’t know anyone is paying attention.
Wanner: Yes! It’s a reflection of your larger character. If you opened a door for a woman who isn’t going to be in the game, you have no reason to impress her, you don’t know that anybody is watching. You’re a gentleman. I liked it.

Holmes: Do you have any early targets?
Wanner: OK Gordon, here it is. Aubry can’t trust me. I can’t trust her. I don’t care how nice she wants to make it be, I know Aubry. And I know Aubry is Woody-Allen neurotic. And what goes through her head is like a chess match. I screwed Debbie over big time and I made fun of her because she went to Julia. But, then I went to Julia and I orchestrated her blindside. And not only did I orchestrate it, but I tried to blame somebody else. And Debbie saw it all play out on TV. So, Aubry can’t trust me. I can’t trust her. I will not target her initially because she’s a strong girl, she’s a smart girl. And I genuinely like her as a human being. But, I know that she’s targeting me.

Holmes: What’s your relationship like with Tai?
Wanner: I adore Tai. There is something hysterical here, which is Troyzan, Tai, and myself are all wearing turtle necklaces. Tai knew that I have rescued tortoises because Aubry told him. I love that Tai is vegan, we’re both very athletic, and I think the change this time is that Tai and I will work together. We have so much in common. It just didn’t happen the last time because he decided to go with the big, bad boys.
Holmes: I know you and Caleb were never on the same tribe, but what is your relationship like with him?
Wanner: I think we have a special relationship because he saw me go down. Then I saw him go down far worse. I adore him. I know he’s Christian, I know he’s military. I have the utmost respect for him. And, say what you want about “Survivor,” it’s not climbing Mount Everest, but it takes balls to come out here. And when you almost die, and that kid, make no mistake about it…look…there wasn’t an ER out there. There was a medical bag. That helicopter took 45 minutes to get there at least. I applaud him for having the ability to come back out and try it again.

Holmes: I’m going to give you some reasons people might use to turn others against you. I need you to defend against them.
Wanner: That’s very creative, Gordon!
Holmes: I had a long flight to come up with all of this. Alright, Debbie is so good at puzzles. I don’t want her to sweep puzzle challenges after the merge.
Wanner: After the merge, your big problem is going to be these men. You have men here who could take Spartacus down. So, you better stop and think, mental ability is nothing after the merge. It’s brute force. Take one of the brute force guys now when you have a chance.

Holmes: Debbie was a member of the Brains tribe. Smart people have gotta go.
Wanner: Debbie is so smart that Aubry blindsided her and took her out. Maybe Aubry’s a little bit smarter. We should look at her. She blindsided so many people that she only got two votes in the end.

Holmes: There are four people here from Debbie’s season. You know they’re close. Gotta sends some of them packing.
Wanner: Within that group, two people can’t stand each other. We saw that on the show. One is being chased by a gay guy trying to kiss him and he just married a gorgeous young girl. That bromance needs to be broken apart. The relationships that are more cohesive and need to be broken up are whoever and whoever, even if I have to make them up.

Holmes: Debbie on TV is kooky Debbie. But Debbie in person is really likable. I don’t want to face her at final Tribal. Let’s boot her tonight.
Wanner: Why don’t you shut the (expletive deleted) up! (Laughs)
Holmes: (Laughs)
Wanner: You’re a dumb ass! Screw you! (Laughs)
Holmes: Well played.

Holmes: There are two unknown quantities with the duo from season 33. What do you do with that?
Wanner: I give them both a chance. A blank slate. Zeke is not physically fit. He’s going to be socially awkward, but that’s OK. He gets every chance in the book with me until I hear him whispering my name. Michaela, I’d love to work with that girl.

Holmes: Are you a part of any pre-season alliances? Have you heard any rumors?
Wanner: (Laughs) Pre-season alliances…I think that Hali and tall Sierra are going to go together because they had time at the reunion together. I would also think that Tai and I will go together. We’ve become closer. I think that every two people who have played a season together have the potential. However, let’s take Malcolm and Andrea who played together. If I needed to, I would persuade Malcolm that she is the reason he didn’t get an idol. So, for every reason people have to be cohesive, I can find a way to drive a wedge between them.

Holmes: You’re in lockdown now, but there’s winking and smiles…
Wanner: Yeah, but I’m not doing it.
Holmes: Who’ve you caught doing it?
Wanner: Is this really confidential?
Holmes: I do not mess around with the sanctity of this game.
Wanner: OK.
Holmes: What you say here stays here until next winter.
Wanner: Here’s what’s going on…I pick a strategic spot in the room, then I make myself invisible. I pretend like I’m sleeping. But really I have something over my face and I’m watching everybody. Tony and Sarah can’t stand each other. They’re both cops and had a shaky bond and Tony screwed her over. She has not forgiven him. She has not said one word. She has not picked up his plate, you drop something and someone picks it up? Nope. Little nods here? Nope. They’re going down the same path and she moves away from him. So, Sarah is out for Tony’s ass. Hali and Sarah have made a connection. Whenever they think nobody is looking they have a little bit of chit-chat. Which is cool. Two girls that I think I can work with and I like them both. Aubry has isolated herself and will make eye contact with nobody. She goes to the bathroom and if somebody else is in there, there are two separate stalls. She won’t even go in one of the stalls, she turns around and she walks out. Cirie is doing the same thing. They’re not communicating with anybody. And that’s at their own peril. And I was reading a book and somebody had written a note in it. It said, “Don’t judge me by my past, judge me moving forward. P.S. I read some of your book, it’s the best book out here. –B.” Now, there’s only one person who’s B out here and that’s Brad. For whatever reason, Brad is drawn to me and I am drawn to Brad. This is totally platonic, totally professional. I loved his wife, I love that he has his wife’s name tattooed on his arm. He’s a football player, now he’s a lawyer. And he’s a trial lawyer. Me and Brad…we have brought Tony into our group. Why? Tony is probably in the best shape. He’ll cut anybody’s throat, so we keep him till the merge. Tony has sought us out, probably because other people are shunning him. That’s what’s going on. Who else is close…JT jokes with everybody. Ozzy has been very friendly to me and Malcolm has shaken my hand twice. Just like reached out and did little things here. But, they’re probably doing it with everybody. Me, Tony, and Brad already have a threesome. Knowing who their enemies are makes me feel good.
Holmes: Game changer!
Wanner: (Laughs) The game starts when we get to the hotel before we even see each other. We stay clear of each other. But when we get a few seconds we give little hand motions. They want to bring in this one, they want to bring in that one.

Holmes: Any twist predictions?
Wanner: I think there are going to be even more epic twists. It’ll be the usual, the mix-up of the people. I expect to see the extra-vote again. There will be idols, they can’t live without idols. I’m expecting something dramatic like a Redemption Island, maybe.

Holmes: Alright, in this deck of cards are seventeen of your opponents. Zeke and Michaela aren’t in here because we don’t know them. I’ll hand you three cards at random. You tell me who you’ll vote out first, who you’ll work with but eliminate, and who you’ll take to the end.

Round One: Hali, Ozzy, and Troyzan
Wanner: You’re the most original. You deserve a raise. I’ve been through 150 interviews and this guy is the best. I’m not just saying that because you’re from Pennsylvania.
Holmes: Sinking Springs, PA represent.
Wanner: OK…Ozzy’s going with me to the end. Hali is gone and Troyzan I can work with. Hali is physically and mentally weak. Couldn’t fight her way out of a wet paper bag. Too sweet. Troyzan is adaptable and older. He can relate to me. Ozzy…why would you get rid of this man unless you’re a corpse. I don’t care if I’m married, I’m not dead. This man can climb a tree like a chimp.
Holmes: How do you beat him at final three?
Wanner: I don’t care if I lose to Ozzy. He’s a good guy.

Round Two: Tai, Aubry, and Sierra
Wanner: This one’s easy, Aubry? Et tu, brute? This is a toughie…Sierra I’m taking to the end. Decent human being, loves horses, I can work with this girl. Tai, I can work with. We both have turtle necklaces.

Round Three: Jeff, Andrea, and Caleb
Wanner: Andrea’s out of here. This girl thinks she’s on a Playboy shoot. She has a bag of makeup as big as my bag of clothing. She’s worried about her hair, her makeup, and her jewelry. Nobody gives a (expletive deleted). Caleb I can work with, but wouldn’t take to the end because he’s got a sympathy vote. This guy I can’t beat. He deserves a million dollars from Cambodia. Love him. Jeff I can work with. Again, the older thing. This guy is a crackpot. We can goof off and have a good time together. Nobody’s giving him a million dollars because he doesn’t have the strategic chops to pull off blindsides.

Round Four: Ciera, Brad, and Sandra
Wanner: Ciera’s gone in a heartbeat. She’s narcissistic, she is really into herself. She’s made no friends around camp. She’s self-absorbed, clueless, I don’t think she’s going far this time. Physical, mental, nothing. Sandra I’m not taking to the end just because; why chance fate? I don’t know what it is about her that she’s won twice. I’m staring at her trying to figure it out. I can’t. She couldn’t run a mile, much less a half marathon. You have no muscle tone, your cellulite is the biggest part of your body. You’re not friendly, fuzzy, lovable, nothing. I don’t get it. But I’d work with her. I’ll take Brad to the end because most people find him abrasive. NFL player, now he’s a lawyer…what do you hate more than a rich lawyer?

Round Five: Tony, JT, and Sarah
Wanner: This is the hardest one. I’ve gotta get rid of JT because it’d be really good to have Tony and Sarah around who have animosity between each other. So, as much as I love JT…he chews tobacco and he’s already won, so he’s out of here. I want to take Tony to the end. And I want to work with Sarah. Wait, I’ll switch that. I’ll take Sarah to the end because Tony’s not voting for this girl.

Holmes: Two left; work with one and vote out the other.

Round Six: Cirie and Malcolm
Wanner: Cirie is gone. I don’t even know why she’s here. If she was really stranded on an island, she wouldn’t last 24 hours. I’ve never seen her get the food, I’ve never seen her get the water. I could be wrong, but I don’t think she’d last a day out here. Malcolm, fun…good…fit…cool to be around. Great hair, good smile.

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’ Brad: “I’ve Never Played Real ‘Survivor,’ I Had to Play with My Loved One Which Is Totally Different”

February 14, 2017

Brad Culpepper (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: Brad Culpepper
Age: 47
Hometown: Tampa, FL
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Blood vs. Water” – Finished 15th
Best Known For: Being cursed out by Marissa Peterson

Gordon Holmes: So, what’ve you been up to since “Blood vs. Water”?
Brad Culpepper: Well, I played 1/22 of “Second Chance.” And I’ve been a dad since then. Of course I got sued because I was on “Blood vs. Water.”
Holmes: And that’s been worked out?
Culpepper: Worked out? (Expletive deleted) no, the judge threw it out. I won that. It was (expletive deleted). My oldest son got a full scholarship and is playing quarterback at Syracuse. That’s the hat I’m going to be wearing this season.
Holmes: Congratulations.
Culpepper: Thank you. My other one is going to be a junior, he’s been recruited by a bunch of places. But I’ve just been being busy being a dad. Now I’m trying to follow into Monica’s wake.
Holmes: She made a run for it last time
Culpepper: She sure did. As difficult as it is for me…and we can get into that scenario as if you want. I wouldn’t change anything because she got a full run at it. She stayed the full 39 days and played awesome.
Holmes: Did she give you any advice?
Culpepper: She did. I live with a Survivor, so we talk “Survivor” all the time. She said, “You need to wake up every single morning thinking you’re going home. And at the end of the day, don’t be the guy on the bottom. Don’t ever get complacent.” And quite frankly, when I got voted out, one of my alliance turned at Tribal Council. He didn’t go in there thinking he was voting me out, and if I had been more cognizant of his worries and made sure he was confident that he wasn’t going home, I’d wouldn’t have gotten voted out. I’m going to be more dogged on thinking I need to reassure who I’m with that I have their back.

Holmes: The theme this season is Game Changers. How did you change the game?
Culpepper: I don’t know. It’s 19 Game Changers and Brad.
Holmes: (Laughs)
Culpepper: I almost made the jury. Does that count? I’d say this; our whole season was a bit of a Game Changer. “Blood vs. Water” was all Culpepper from beginning to end with myself and Monica. When you’re playing with your wife, it’s harder than playing with your brother or your boyfriend that you’ve had for two weeks. The dynamics that I had to go through so as not to upset my wife’s tribe and yet try to propel myself was a whole other kind of concept. The game has morphed from where it was to where it is now and that whole “Blood vs. Water” concept added a whole new layer. And I was a big part of that. And, I eliminated the Codys so Monica could get to the end.

Holmes: What do you think of the cast so far?
Culpepper: A lot of alpha people, which is OK. I think it’s a situation where, even though I’m an A personality, I don’t know that I’m out-of-the-box the threat that everyone else is. There are so many people who have won, who have won twice, that are named Ozzy, that are named Malcolm…there are so many guys and girls who are big-time players. And if I was one of them, I don’t know if I’d necessarily be worried about me. Which is good because I’m going to play that card. And I’m definitely going to play the card that, “You guys have forgotten more about ‘Survivor’ than I know.” I don’t think that, I’ve never played real “Survivor,” I had to play with my loved one which is totally different. It’s a little bit intimidating, but I can play indian for a little while. I couldn’t do that in “Blood vs. Water.” I had to be a chief. I was the oldest one there and everyone else was in their twenties. I’m not trying to be the chief here, but eventually I’ll have to be.

Holmes: Is there anyone you’re looking forward to working with?
Culpepper: There is nobody I would rule out. My biggest thing is; I’m going to reach out to people who wouldn’t think I would reach out to them. I think it’s obvious that I’d work with athletic male types. That’s not going to be the first person I’ll approach. I’d go to a Crazy Debbie or a Sandra or a Cirie. I’d go to a Michaela…a Varner. I’d say to Varner, “Hey, I know you make your decisions so fast. You don’t know me. Don’t judge me based on what you’ve seen and what you think I’m all about. Judge me on the next three days and see what kind of person I am. And if you want to play with me, I’ll play all day long.” If you’d have asked me before “Blood vs. Water,” “You’re going to get voted out and Monica is going to go to the end with two people, who do you think they will be?” The last people I would have said are Tyson and Gervase. In hindsight, I know both of those guys. Gervase is great, Tyson is one of the funniest guys I know. I’m kind of a little bit like both of those guys, so I see why Monica gravitated to them. I think for me to get to the end, I’m going to end up with two people I never expected to be with. Talk about a Sandra, who can Sandra sit next to and really win? I’m going to convince her that she can sit with me and win. If she goes with Ciera who has never won, there’s going to be a sympathy thing. Where with me? I’ve got a million dollars. I’m not the Jeremy effect of, “I’ve got a pregnant wife.” I don’t think it’ll come down to that, but that’s how I’ll sell it to her.

Holmes: Speaking of Ciera, you and her have been on the same tribe before. What’s your relationship with her like now?
Culpepper: I went home the night she was supposed to go home. I’ve watched her play, she seems very devious. She should have gone home. She upped her game after that, but up until that point she was a little bit milquetoast. I’m immediately going to go to her and say, “You think I’m bitter towards you, I’m not. Let’s bury any kind of hatchet. You’re a different person, I’m a different person and it’s a different game.” I would try to build an alliance with her, but then again, she seems very slippery.

Holmes: Monica played with Troyzan. Is there any kind of relationship there?
Culpepper: A little bit. They didn’t play much together. I’ve met him at finales and stuff like that. We’re friendly. I like Troy. I would definitely team up with Troy. He seems pretty straight. But, she never was on a tribe with him.
Holmes: They were on the same beach.
Culpepper: Yeah, but they might’ve only said a couple of words to each other. And she was gone after 15 days.

Holmes: Alright, you and I arrive on the beach and I’m looking to send you packing. I’m going to give you the arguments I’m going to give to other people. You need to defend against it.
Culpepper: Sure.
Holmes: Culpepper voted out John Cody who was totally loyal to him. Looks and physique and personality aside, I don’t want to be the next John Cody.
Culpepper: (Laughs) It was a different game. My number one loyalty was my wife. John Cody was not connected to her tribe. And at that point, everyone was coming back from Redemption Island and they were blaming me for voting their loved ones off. It was at that point that I was worried that I was going to get Monica voted off. I had to vote off someone who would not effect my number one. John Cody’s wife was at Redemption Island, so he was the only one not connected to my wife. I couldn’t vote out someone whose loved one would send Monica to Redemption, because then I’d have to take her place. It was a tough move and I never would have made it if I was playing by myself.

Holmes: Culpepper played in the NFL. That’s a higher level of competition than most people can imagine. It’s been a while, but I don’t want to face that kind of guy in individual immunity challenges.
Culpepper: I’m 47 years old. I’m the least of your worries in challenges. I’m probably fifth or sixth or seventh on the totem pole. You’ve got a lot bigger problems than me. You want me to show you my knee, my lower back, my shoulder, I’m tough and I’ll give it 100%, but I’m not 30. There are plenty of other challenge beasts out here.

Holmes: Brad Culpepper played in the NFL, he’s a lawyer. He doesn’t need the money.
Culpepper: Why would you want to send me packing? I don’t need the money, you do. You want to be sitting next to me at the finals and be able to throw that out there. Jeremy did it. He needed the money. There isn’t going to be any sympathy for me. Nobody is going to say, “Let’s give Culpepper another million dollars.”

Holmes: Anytime there is a returning-player season, there is talk of pre-game alliances. Are you a part of any? Have you heard of any rumors?
Culpepper: Not really. I heard more on “Second Chance.”
Holmes: Yeah, there was a rumor about a get-together at the Culpepper house.
Culpepper: That was (expletive deleted). It made me furious. I didn’t hear about it until afterwards. There’s no (expletive deleted)…find one person that came to my house. Nobody did. Not one (expletive deleted) person.
Holmes: Nobody admitted to being at this event. What I kept hearing was, “Brad had all of these people over to his house, but he didn’t invite me.”
Culpepper: Correct! Did you ever find anyone who was there?
Holmes: I don’t believe so.
Culpepper: Because there’s no (expletive deleted) way! If Varner tries to bring something like that up, I’ll say, “I don’t know who started that. Nobody came to my (expletive deleted) house.” I don’t do Twitter, I don’t do Facebook, I do nothing. Ciera texted me, but I don’t know how much I trust her. I nod at people, I’m a friendly guy. I’ll break the rules and try to talk to people, but it’s all just, “Hey, can’t wait to see you on the beach.”

Holmes: A fifth of the cast is from Kaoh Rong.
Culpepper: Doesn’t bother me. It’d bother me if I was them. You look at Tai and Caleb, Tai was in tears when Caleb left. He got to the final three with Aubry. I don’t know if I’d be that jazzed if I was them because you immediately want to split up couples. I think it puts a target on Tai’s back. Crazy Debbie, maybe not. She’s someone I’d go up to and buy what she’s selling even though I think she’s full of (expletive deleted). I’d buy her juggling, I’d buy her being a model, I’d buy her being a pilot. I’d say, “You live your life, baby. I get you. Me and you, we’re real similar. I’m a pro football player, lawyer, Eagle scout. We’re the same.”

Holmes: What about these two unknown quantities from season 33?
Culpepper: I think Michaela is very pretty. Just seeing her at Ponderosa, I think she’s one of the prettiest girls they’ve ever had on “Survivor.” I don’t know her at all and maybe she’s hell on wheels, but she seems very approachable. I would go to her because I wouldn’t want her to think, “He voted out Marissa.” Everyone voted out Marissa! It was nine to (expletive deleted) one! Don’t blame me! And Zeke, don’t know him, seems like a friendly guy. We sat across from each other at lunch and we made small talk. He seemed nice. Jeff introduced them to us and brought up a name when he introduced them to us. He said, “Guys, I want you to meet Zeke and Michaela. They are holdovers from last season just like Russell was.” I was like, “Why the (expletive deleted) did he mention that name?” I’d be so mad if I was Zeke and he brings up Russell’s name in connection with being held over. I immediately started thinking, why’d they bring up Russell’s name? So, neither one of them won, and just like Russell, they’re back. All things being equal, if it’s a first-day vote out, I might vote for Zeke.

Holmes: So, you chatted briefly with Zeke during lockdown. Who else have you been trying to communicate with?
Culpepper: I’ve been doing it the whole time. Can’t hurt to smile at everybody. I’m an open book. I’ll work with anyone. It’s OK if someone pre-chooses to not like me, so I can write them off. But, I’m going to the beach with open eyes and open arms. Now, I’m sure after five hours I’ll be thinking something else. Now, maybe everyone has been pre-gaming and has alliances, but I don’t want to do that. Tyson didn’t do it. There was some pre-gaming that season and it boxed people in. It boxed Monica in with Colton and it was horrible. Best thing that ever happened was him quitting. She was boxed in with him and she did not want to be with him, but he’d done so much pre-gaming that it was bad. Tyson did minimal if any pre-gaming. It gives you the freedom to find yourself a better scenario.
Holmes: There are just too many variables to commit yourself to someone before the game starts.
Culpepper: Exactly. And I just want to dispel the notion that I’m a misogynist. If I can be married to Monica for 25 years, I can’t be any kind of (expletive deleted) misogynist. I’m as left a liberal Democrat as there is. The perception is that I’m a bro-down guy. It just happened that way. But, that’s not what I’m looking for. My best friend out there was Vytas, and he’s a quirky guy. California Vytas!

Holmes: I have a deck of cards here. Each player except for Zeke and Michaela, because you don’t know them, are in here. I’ll hand you three cards at random. You tell me who you’re voting out first, who you’re working with but eventually eliminating, and who you’re taking to the end.

Round One: JT, Ozzy, and Tony
Culpepper: I’ll work with Ozzy, but I won’t take him to the end. Wait, I can’t go to the end with JT. This is hard. I’d align with any of these guys but I don’t want to take them to the end… Alright, I’ll take Tony to the end because I can beat him… You gave me hard ones!
Holmes: It’s random!
Culpepper: OK, I’ll work with Ozzy and won’t take him to the end. He can catch me fish. Tony goes first and I take JT to the end. I can make a better move than JT.

Round Two: Ciera, Malcolm, and Andrea
Culpepper: I’ll align with Malcolm, but I won’t take him to the end. Wait… I’ll take Ciera to the end because I can beat her. I’ll vote out Malcolm first to prove that I’m not a bro-down guy. And I can work with Andrea.
Holmes: What the argument to beat Ciera?
Culpepper: I’m smarter than her. I know her. I know how she thinks.

Round Three: Debbie, Caleb, and Sierra
Culpepper: I’ll take Caleb to the end. He’s not going to make a big move, he’s going to ride my coattails. I’ll vote Sierra out first. And I’ll work with Crazy Debbie.
Holmes: Why Sierra first?
Culpepper: It’s because of the cards you gave me. I really want to work with Crazy Debbie.

Round Four: Jeff, Hali, and Troyzan
Culpepper: I’d get rid of Jeff because he doesn’t like me. I’d try to convince him, but I can tell that he doesn’t like me. I can’t take Troyzan to the end, but I’ll ride him to the end and then cut him. And I’ll take Hali to the end because I know I can beat her. She’s not going to be the lynchpin to cutting Troyzan, I am. She’s going to go along with it.

Round Five: Cirie, Sandra, and Aubry
Culpepper: This is a hard one too. I don’t want to go to the end with any of these people, but I’m going to take Sandra to the end because she’s going to do her thing of not being the person who is voted off. She isn’t going to make any moves. Aubry’s tired. I’ll send her home first. She just got done doing this. And I’ll work with Cirie.

Holmes: Alright, two left. Work with one and boot the other.

Round Six: Tai and Sarah.
Culpepper: Tai…he seemed a little flighty. And Sarah’s a cop, she’s solid, I think I can trust her. So, keep Sarah and boot Tai.

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’ Michaela: “I’m the Strongest Female That ‘Survivor’ Has Ever Seen When it Comes to the Challenges”

February 13, 2017

Michaela Bradshaw (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: Michaela Bradshaw
Age: 25
Hometown: Fort Worth, TX
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X” – Finished 14th
Best Known For: Not letting a wardrobe malfunction keep her from dominating a challenge.

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

Gordon Holmes: So, I haven’t seen “Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X” yet.
Michaela Bradshaw: Nobody has!
Holmes: I’m trying to avoid spoilers. So, I’m going to take a little walk and I’d like you to tell my recorder why you think you were brought back.
Bradshaw: OK.
Holmes: And I’m not going to listen to this until next winter.
Bradshaw: Got it.
Holmes: (Puts Fingers in His Ears) La la la la la…

Holmes walks off.

Bradshaw: (Laughs) I was brought back, probably because I’m the strongest female that “Survivor” has ever seen when it comes to the challenges. I basically carried a tribe on my back. A tribe that was supposed to lose, and we didn’t. So, that’s why I’m here. Because I’m a beast in these challenges. And I was blindsided, so I deserve this second chance.

Holmes returns.

Holmes: How long did you have to go home and recuperate?
Bradshaw: I was home for a little less than two weeks.
Holmes: Wow.
Bradshaw: Yeah, I got home on a Saturday and left again on a Friday.
Holmes: And did you know before you got home that you were coming back?
Bradshaw: By the time I got home, I did know. They asked me before I left and the answer was 100% yes.

Holmes: You played your game in this exact location. Do you know little secrets about surviving in Fiji?
Bradshaw: I know that idols are super hard to find here because all of the trees look like they have one in them. (Laughs) I do feel comfortable here, which is good. I’m not going to be thrown off by weather or conditions. I was on one of the worst beaches ever and survived that. I think it’s good for me because it feels like home, not home, I don’t want this to be home. But it feels…what’s the word?
Holmes: Familiar?
Bradshaw: Yeah, it feels familiar.

Holmes: People have been brought back this quickly before. Russell Hantz from Samoa to Heroes vs. Villains, Malcolm Freberg from Philippines to Caramoan. But, they did it by themselves. You’re not alone. Is Zeke someone you can work with or someone you’re going to be wary of?
Bradshaw: Zeke? I’m not sure how to feel about him. So, I’m lumping him with the rest of everybody here. This is an individual competition and I’m not putting my eggs in anybody’s basket. Me and Zeke, we’ve seen each other before. We started off on the same tribe, but that doesn’t mean that I’m here for him or he’s here for me.

Holmes: I listened to our last pre-game interview last night. I keep asking questions and you kept saying, “I’m going to handle it.” How’d that work out for you?
Bradshaw: Good! And I know the fastballs out here. The heat, the hunger, that type of thing? Those were easy to handle. The challenge was the people part. Building relationships knowing that you need to screw over those same people to advance yourself, that type of thing is not natural to me. You know if I’m for you in real life and you know if I’m against you. And I’ve never had a situation where I’ve had to feel like I’ve had to mask my feelings about anyone. This is a situation where it doesn’t matter how you feel about a person, it matters what’s going to get you past the next Tribal Council. Seventeen people aren’t going to get as far as they hope to. And you should probably have a hand in sending the majority of them home.
Holmes: So, I should know if you’re for me or against me?
Bradshaw: (Laughs)
Holmes: Cause I can’t tell right now.
Bradshaw: Gordon! I’m for you! You should assume the positive.

Holmes: Alright, I’m not just here to interview you, I’m here to get you prepped for this game.
Bradshaw: Good!
Holmes: We’re going to play a game called “The Best Defense.” I’ll give a reason that someone might use to get rid of you, and you have to defend against it.
Bradshaw: This is perfect! Because playing defense and flipping things is something I’ve been working on.
Holmes: Alright, I’ll give an argument and you need to flip it.
Bradshaw: Grade me harshly.
Holmes: Will do. Michaela was on season 33, I don’t know a thing about her. She’s an unknown quantity, that makes her an easy first boot.
Bradshaw: Here’s the situation, I can tell you why I’m here. I’m here because I was great in the challenges. You saw that yesterday, didn’t you? You know why all of these other people are here and you want to let that continue? Is it best to send me home or for you and me to send everyone else home? Why are you worried about a challenge person when you have all of these social threats here?

Holmes: For Michaela to be brought back quickly, she had to have done something big. And I don’t want to be the victim of her next big move.
Bradshaw: That’s an interesting thought, but what was your big move? And what was Tony’s? Everyone here is capable of big moves. Why are you afraid of mine?

Holmes: One of my questions with this Game Changers theme has been; are these people who changed the game forever or people who intend to change their own personal games?
Bradshaw: You know, that is an interesting question. Michaela is definitely going to change her game, because her game didn’t win me a million dollars. You’d be a fool to not adapt. Probably the only person who has shown that you don’t have to change that much is Sandra. And that’s a reason why she can go home.
Holmes: So, she’s an early target?
Bradshaw: Definitely. And the fact that she got along a second time by being a vote for people, she proved that someone can win the whole game that way. So, you think they’re a goat when in reality they’re a millionaire.

Holmes: What are your thoughts on the rest of the cast?
Bradshaw: Most of the people here, in my mind, I can tell why they are here. But, there are a couple of people that I’m not sure…they didn’t leave a memorable mark on me. And it may just be that I’m not the most astute “Survivor” watcher and I missed something. And the others…let’s just say nobody is going to try to help me win.
Holmes: That tends to be the case.
Bradshaw: (Laughs) Knowing that is going to help.

Holmes: Is there anyone you’re hoping to work with?
Bradshaw: Ozzy. He seems like a genuine person. He’s shown that he can put his heart on his sleeve. I’m not the type that flirts with people, and I don’t intend to do that at all. But, I do like being able to grasp onto something genuine. Cirie, I’m excited to have another African American woman and maybe get to play with her. And, she’s someone who has so much experience with this game and she knows how to navigate the people portion of the game. Oh, and Debbie, she’s just hilarious. I think she’s going to add comical relief which is something I’m going to need to stay sane. Also, Tai! He’s so sweet!
Holmes: He’s a cutie.
Bradshaw: He is! He’s just a little munchkin.
Holmes: I love that guy. But if I wanted some chicken, I’d have a problem with Tai.
Bradshaw: (Laughs) But he’s just so nice! So, I hope to connect with the genuine people, at least initially. Then I’ll have to move with the flow.

Holmes: Aside from Sandra, are there any early targets?
Bradshaw: Ah…I guess I have to get used to targeting people…a person I’m worried about is Ciera. She’s sneaky and she’s known to be sneaky. She’s known to be on the bottom and survive Tribal after Tribal after Tribal. And, that’s something that worries me. Not to say that I’ll lobby for her to go first, but she makes me nervous. Tony, doesn’t make me nervous as much as I know that he knows how to navigate this game. And if he doesn’t want you in it, you’re in a bad predicament. I feel like the slick, sly people should go first. That would be helpful to me because they beat me every time.

Holmes: As a challenge beast…challenge stallion…whichever term you prefer…
Bradshaw: (Laughs) I like them both.
Holmes: People who have come back immediately have said that they weren’t able to recover physically 100% in the short period of time they were given. How are you feeling now as opposed to when you started Millennial vs. Gen-X?
Bradshaw: I feel pretty fine. My gastro-intestinal situation, that’s a slight issue. When you go from starving to eating…it’s an issue for your body. Your body has to restart and then to put it right back into starving again, it’s probably going to have some effects. I don’t have the same amount of muscle as I did before. But, these challenges, at least the first half of the game, they aren’t about muscle. They’re about adrenaline and figuring them out. There were times when I was so tired that I couldn’t walk to the water well, but you put me in a challenge and you couldn’t tell. My desire to win is so deep that I will create new energy for that purpose.

Holmes: Has anyone reached out to you to create a pre-season alliance?
Bradshaw: I’ve had a couple of people, but they’re not here. Zeke did text me, but it was like a weird, “BTW, I’ll see you in Fiji” text. But, it’s nothing to where…we didn’t leave on good terms. Me and Zeke aren’t an item. I’m suspicious of him and he’s suspicious of me. I think that text actually made me more suspicious. (Laughs)

Holmes: You’re in lockdown now where you’re not allowed to talk. Has anyone been smiling at you, winking at you?
Bradshaw: I smile at everybody. I know it’s only a matter of time before people start looking at me as threatening. Even in my regular life, like back in college. People who don’t interact with people like me find me intimidating. I’m not doing anything to you, I’m just capable and willing to do things without you. So, I don’t want to come across as intimidating here. I’m trying to come across as ultra-friendly as possible without tipping over the line to being someone that makes people wonder.
Holmes: Have you caught anyone else interacting with each other?
Bradshaw: Most people, it’s like they’re trying not to smile. And some people haven’t smirked at all.

Holmes: Does it concern you that there are four people here from the same season?
Bradshaw. No, I don’t care that Aubry, Debbie, Tai, and Caleb are here. Having that big of a group will put a target on them which is great for me. If people notice that and are uncomfortable with that, then I’ll act uncomfortable and we can work together.
Holmes: Any problem can become an opportunity.
Bradshaw: That’s right, I just have to know how to shift things to my benefit.

Holmes: If there is a twist, what could it be?
Bradshaw: I feel like it’d be hard to separate us into teams, so I think we might pick our own teams with a schoolyard pick. I feel like there’s going to be something that happens after you’re voted out that can bring you back into the game, maybe like Redemption Island. I feel like we’re going to do more challenges than normal. Maybe we’ll all be at the same beach.

Holmes: Alright, I’ll give you the name of a potential twist. You tell me if it’s awesome or awful. Hidden immunity idols?
Bradshaw: Awesome!
Holmes: Redemption Island?
Bradshaw: Awesome!
Holmes: Of course because you’re a challenge…what did we decide?
Bradshaw: A challenge champ!
Holmes: That works. Exile Island?
Bradshaw: Awesome.
Holmes: Medallion of Power?
Bradshaw: Awesome. Especially if I have it.
Holmes: Extra votes?
Bradshaw: Awesome.
Holmes: Stealing a vote?
Bradshaw: Awesome.
Holmes: Eliminating a juror.
Bradshaw: (Laughs) Awesome!
Holmes: You’re a very positive person.
Bradshaw: (Laughs) Because I’m thinking of all of these things as if I had it. But, the opposite would be awful.

Holmes: Alright, I have another game. I’m going to give you three random cards, each card has one of your opponents on it. You and Zeke are not included because nobody knows who you are. You tell me who you’re going to vote out first, who you’re going to work with and eventually eliminate, and who you’re going to take all the way to final Tribal.

Round One: Cirie, Ozzy, and Ciera
Bradshaw: Vote out Ciera first because she’s too sneaky. Align with Ozzy…this is like my plan. And I’m going to take Cirie to the end…and this is risky…but “Survivor” has never seen two African American females at the end.
Holmes: There’s been an all African American final three, but it was two men and one woman.
Bradshaw: Was that the one season Earl won?
Holmes: Yes.
Bradshaw: Right, and that was the season where they were divided by race?
Holmes: No,  Cook Islands was the season divided by race. Earl won Fiji.
Bradshaw: OK. But, yeah, Cirie’s dangerous to take to the end.
Holmes: What argument do you use to beat her?
Bradshaw: The men will respect that I won individual immunity challenges. She’ll pitch her case, she’s a good pitcher. But, I pitch for a living.

Round Two: Tony, Debbie, and Troyzan
Bradshaw: Vote off Tony first because he’s dangerous. I’ll align with Troyzan because he’s a strong man and I can get wind of what the men are doing. And I’ll take Debbie to the end. She’s an honest player and she’s someone I can switch to when I have to dump my alliance. And I feel like people will think she’s kooky and they’ll award me a million over her.
Holmes: I dunno, it’d be fun to see what a kooky person would do with a million dollars.
Bradshaw: (Laughs) That’s true!

Round Three: Sandra, Jeff, and Caleb
Bradshaw: Sandra has to go out first. I feel like in theory, you could get multiple people on board with this because she’s won multiple times. Align with Caleb because we’re both athletic and that can tie us together. He’d also open some doors with other people that might not want to align with me. I might get scooped up into something good. And I’ll take Jeff to the end. I don’t think of him as that savvy. I don’t remember him doing anything huge. I think If I got to the end, I’d have immunities over him. I’d probably make some moves without him. He doesn’t have the look of a sole survivor.

Round Four: Hali, Brad, and JT
Bradshaw: Hali is out first. Not for any particular reason, but she reminds me of the people in college that I didn’t hang out with. Align with JT, he’s a southern boy, I’m a southern girl. And take Brad to the end because he’s going to piss off everyone on the jury.

Round Five: Sierra, Andrea, Sarah
Bradshaw: Sarah looks so happy in this picture, but on this island she just scowls! All the time! I’ll get her off first. She is very perceptive, that’s why she got voted out when she played against Tony. I don’t want that working against me. These two, I don’t remember them that deeply. I would align with Sierra because she’s tall. And I’ll take Andrea to the end, I guess. These two are people I don’t remember how they changed the game. Either they did really subtle things or I wasn’t paying attention.

Round Six: Tai, Aubry, and Malcolm
Bradshaw: Aubry looks so innocent here, but she has developed into something else. Tai is so lovely… I’ll vote Aubry out first. Her game developed so much. I think she’s coming back ready to charge on people. I think she’s super smart. I hate to vote out a strong, smart woman. So, I take that back. It’s hard because I want to win, but I respect other people’s games. The longer you keep her in, the more she can vote you out. She’s the reason Cydney went home.
Holmes: So, she’s still first out?
Bradshaw: Yes. Because I’m playing for me, I’m not playing for you. You had your chance. I’ll align with Malcolm. I don’t know how well it will work, the buff dude and the one strong girl. And I’ll take Tai to the end. Our hearts will connect and he’ll scoop me in. But, he can’t communicate anything to the jury and that will work in my favor.

Holmes: Let’s jump back into this for a second. You mentioned that you’d hate to vote out Aubry because she’s a strong, smart woman. When you play the game, do you take into account that the world needs to see more strong women and the world needs to see more strong minorities?
Bradshaw: I am definitely taking that into account playing the second time. I did not take that into account last time. But after the game was over I realized; “Oh, why did the women and all of the minorities last the shortest amount of time? And isn’t it interesting in the games where you have more minorities, that they perform better?”
Holmes: You’re referring to Yul and Ozzy in Cook Islands and Dreamz, Sandra, and Earl in Fiji?
Bradshaw: Exactly! Isn’t that interesting? And it has something to do with the issues we face in society, they’re amplified in this game. People don’t walk around their everyday life being outwardly racist. But, as a white male, you might feel more comfortable with white men around you. It’s not that you’re uncomfortable with black women, but your friend group is probably more white. So, in the game it’s easier for you, on a subconscious level, to align with white people. And in a game where little things can separate you, having this big difference is something that can separate me. It’s there, and it’s one thing that I’ve thought of a lot.

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’ JT: “The Last Thing People Remember Is, ‘He’s So Trustworthy, He Trusted Russell Hantz.'”

February 10, 2017

JT Thomas (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: James “JT” Thomas Jr.
Age: 31
Hometown: Mobile, AL
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Tocantins” – Winner
“Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” – Finished 10th and Jury Member
Best Known For: Receiving Every Vote at Final Tribal Council. Giving Russell Hantz more ammunition.

Gordon Holmes: What’ve you been up to since we last saw you on “Heroes vs. Villains”?
JT Thomas: I bought a farm, I used to manage an angus farm, but now I own it. I got married a year ago.
Holmes: Congratulations, sir. And Stephen Fishbach officiated your wedding, correct?
Thomas:  Thanks you, and he sure did.
Holmes: You couldn’t find anybody better than that?
Thomas: (Laughs) Stephen’s the best. He’s the best I could find. He’s a great friend of mine. I love him to death. He’s like a brother to me.
Holmes: Did he give you any advice before you came out here?
Thomas: He tried to, but I reminded him that he didn’t do better than me his second time around.
Holmes: What about Tyson and Coach from Tocantins? In their most recent runs they were able to win and make the final Tribal, respectively.
Thomas: I wasn’t able to talk to either one of them, but I know they’ll be rooting for me. I’m a very unplugged guy. I don’t talk to that many people.

Holmes: Why do you think you’re a Game Changer?
Thomas: I think I did a number of things. In Tocantins I changed the game by the way I attacked the challenges. I played the challenges with all my heart.
Holmes: And all your teeth.
Thomas: (Laughs) That’s right. I think when people saw me lose the tooth in Tocantins and keep playing the way I did, it really changed the way people approached the challenges. I attack everything in life like that. And people really started attacking these challenges harder after Tocantins.
Holmes: When I heard the title, I wondered if it meant these were people who were going to change how they played in their previous season. Because there were some changes in your game from Tocantins to Samoa.
Thomas: I think I made a big move in Samoa that didn’t work out. I just as easily could have won the game with that same move. I don’t have any regrets as far as that goes. The one regret I do have is the challenge in Samoa where I went home, I don’t think I gave it 110%. But, I don’t think I’ll change my game too much. I’ll use the same southern-charm, country-boy role that I did before. And I think I can fly under the radar and before anyone realizes that this southern charmer is smooching his way through the game, it’ll be too late.
Holmes: Literal smooching?
Thomas: (Laughs) No, I’m not going to be doing any of that kind of smooching. Moreso, just smooth talking.

Holmes: You brought up the Samoa moment where you gave Russell Hantz an immunity idol. At one point there was even a vote to see if that was one of the dumbest moves in “Survivor” history. I always hated that they used the word “dumb” because a dumb move doesn’t have a chance of succeeding. I thought that move was risky.
Thomas: It was risky.
Holmes: But if it pays off, you have a clear path to the end.
Thomas: Right.
Holmes: Do you think that move might help you now? Because coming off of Tocantins you’re a likable challenge beast who won, but coming off of Samoa, you’re the guy who made a big mistake.
Thomas: I think the Samoa move definitely works to my advantage. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then. And the last thing people remember is, “He’s so trustworthy, he trusted Russell Hantz.” So, they’re not going to be concerned with how strategic I am or how hard I play the game. They’ll just be thinking, “Oh, he’ll trust anybody.”

Holmes: When you played against Russell, you had no way of knowing what kind of player he was. This season there are two players that you’ve never seen before. Are you wary of them based on what happened with Russell?
Thomas: I’m not making any assessments. The only thing I know is what I know and that’s I don’t know anything about those players. Will I trust them? No. Will I trust anybody? No. Not until they prove that they can be trusted. When you assume you make an ass out of you and me.

Holmes: What are your early thoughts on this cast?
Thomas: I’m excited to be in this group. I think there are some really competitive challenge players like Ozzy and Malcolm. I can’t wait to go against them. One person I’m definitely going to keep my eyes on is Tony. He has an amazing read on people. And immediately when something is not going his way, he gets rid of people. I can’t find myself on the wrong side of any of Tony’s reads. I gotta get rid of Tony first chance I get.
Holmes: Anyone else you’re looking to target?
Thomas: The new players I know nothing about. I’m going to be ready to do what I’ve gotta do.

Holmes: Who are you excited to work with?
Thomas: I think I can work with just about anybody. I’m excited to play with Ozzy and Malcolm and Caleb and some of these guys that really give it their all and compete in these challenges. I think strategically, I can outplay any one of those guys.

Holmes: You voted Cirie out of “Heroes vs. Villains.” What’s your take on her?
Thomas: Cirie is a wild card to me. The last thing I did was vote her out single-handedly. I went against my alliance and I voted her out. I knew she was going to be a strong threat. But, I’ve thought about that. I can go to Cirie and say, “Hey, I voted you out and I paid for it. I lost too. You can come after me and I can come after you and one of us is going home tonight, or it’s water under the bridge and we can work together.”
Holmes: You faced Sandra in that season too.
Thomas: Sandra, I can work with Sandra. No doubt. She doesn’t play aggressive early on. She’s a tell-it-like-it-is kind of person. People aren’t threatened by here. They’ll keep her around, which is good for me because I’ll have someone to work with. I look forward to working with her.

Holmes: With returnee seasons, there is always talk of pre-season alliances. Are you a part of any?
Thomas: I don’t have any pre-season alliances. I think that’s a liability to have any commitments before the game starts.
Holmes: You’re all being held together, but you can’t speak. Are you winking or smiling at anyone?
Thomas: I try to wink and smile at every person I can.
Holmes: Or smooch.
Thomas: (Laughs) No, no. But I want everybody in there to feel comfortable with me. That’s my goal. I’ll work with anybody.
Holmes: Have you noticed any people specifically sitting together or interacting with each other?
Thomas: Not really. They keep a good watch on us. Obviously Caleb and Tai are going to be friendly.

Holmes: Speaking of those two, is it a concern that you have four people from the Kaoh Rong cast?
Thomas: All four of those people are dangerous. I’m going to bring it to everyone’s attention if I need to. They’re fresh out of the game, they’re still in the mindset of day 35. I remember what it was like to come into the game having just been in the game. Not only that, if you get three people on one tribe? That’s a third of a tribe.

Holmes: If there is a twist, what do you think it could be?
Thomas: I don’t know. I just look forward to one hell of a competition.
Holmes: I’m going to mention a twist, you tell me if it’s awesome or awful. We’ll start with hidden immunity idols.
Thomas: Awful. I’d rather have a game with no idols.
Holmes: Redemption Island.
Thomas: Awesome.
Holmes: Exile Island?
Thomas: Awesome.
Holmes: Medallion of Power?
Thomas: Awful. (Laughs)
Holmes: (Laughs) Not expecting a lot of awesomes on that one. The extra vote?
Thomas: Awful.
Holmes: Steal a vote?
Thomas: Awful.
Holmes: Eliminate a juror?
Thomas: Awful.
Holmes: Sounds like you like a clean, old-school “Survivor.”
Thomas: Yeah. I want to know what I’m getting.

Holmes: Next up, I’m going to use some logic that I think people might use to get rid of you. I’d like you to defend against it.
Thomas: Sure.
Holmes: JT is a challenge beast. I don’t want him getting to the merge and then going on a challenge streak.
Thomas: If you want our tribe to stay together and not go to Tribal Council, we’ve got to win these challenges. Let’s get to the merge, then you can worry about me.

Holmes: JT is too likable. He got every vote in Tocantins against Stephen Fishbach, and Stephen Fishbach is a wonderful guy. I don’t want to face him at the end, let’s get rid of him.
Thomas: Do you want to worry about the end or do you want to get to the end? I’ll get you there.

Holmes: JT already won a million. He had his shot.
Thomas: We’re not out here to judge everyone’s banking account. We’re here to play a game. If you deserve to win, you win.

Holmes: Alright, I have cards with each of your competitors on them. Our two friends from season 33 aren’t on here because we don’t know anything about them. I’ll give you three cards at random. You tell me who you vote out first, who you’ll work with but eventually eliminate, and who you’ll take to the end.

Round One: Aubry, Hali, and Malcolm
Thomas: I like these games! I’ll vote Hali out first. I don’t remember a lot about her, but I feel like she’s going to not be as loyal to me. Malcolm I’ll align with. He’s trustworthy, but I wouldn’t want to take him to the end because he could beat me at the final challenge. And Aubry I would take to the end, she makes good, educated decisions, but I feel like I could beat her in the end.

Round Two: Sandra, Ciera, and Cirie
Thomas: Get rid of Ciera as soon as possible because she’s anxious to flip. She can’t wait to make a bad decision. She appears to be trustworthy, but you can’t trust her. Cirie, I would align with Cirie. I’m going to give her an ultimatum. If you come after me, I’m going to come after you. Or, we can work together. And Sandra, I think I can beat her in the end.
Holmes: What argument do you use against Sandra?
Thomas: Sandra has already won two of these by floating around, she’s not going to get another. Pick someone who made educated decisions to get here and who deserves to win.

Round Three: Tony, Sarah, and Debbie
Thomas: (Laughs) I would get rid of Tony as soon as possible. If he sees a hole, he plugs it. I need him gone before he calls my number. Debbie, she makes good decisions. She’s smart. I think she pays a good deal of attention to what’s going on. And Sarah I would take to the end because I feel like she’ll play an honest game, but I think I’ll play a better game than her.
Holmes: You think you’re socially stronger?
Thomas: Oh yeah, people underestimate my social game.
Holmes: It’s that smile, man. I’m ready to vote for you.
Thomas: (Laughs)

Round Four: Brad, Jeff, and Troyzan
Thomas: I’d get rid of Varner first. He’s a strategic player and I might work with him in a different set of three. I think Troyzan is more solid to align with because I think he’ll stick to his word. And I’ll take Brad to the end because he’s going to piss some people off.

Round Five: Tai, Andrea, and Caleb
Thomas: Tai, I really like Tai. But in this group of three, I need to get rid of him first. He’s such a great guy, but he leaks information. He’ll accidentally tell the whole story to someone. And he could beat me. Caleb, he’ll be loyal and stick to me. But, I wouldn’t take him to the final three because he could beat me. Whereas Andrea, she’ll be loyal and I think I can beat her.

Round Six: Ozzy and Sierra
Holmes: Alright, there are two left. Work with one and boot the other.
Thomas: I’ll work with Ozzy. I feel like we’re going to be tight. We’re going to be each other’s rock. Sierra, I don’t know enough about her and I’d be scared to work with her. Ozzy is my man.

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’ Sierra: ‘(Tony’s) Already Been Jumping Out of Bushes at Ponderosa and Scared the $%#* Out of Me’

February 9, 2017

Sierra Dawn Thomas (CBS)

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: Sierra Dawn Thomas
Age: 29
Hometown: Roy, UT
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Worlds Apart” – Finished 5th and Jury Member
Best Known For: Receiving the worst apology ever from Dan Foley.

Gordon Holmes: You’re a professional barrel racer.
Sierra Dawn Thomas: Yes.
Holmes: What do you do with the barrels once you catch them?
Thomas: (Laughs) Funny.
Holmes: And is that the first time you’ve heard that joke or like the hundredth?
Thomas: The hundredth. (Laughs)

Holmes: You are a member of the Dirty 30. (That’s the nickname for the “Worlds Apart” cast.)
Thomas: Yes I am.
Holmes: They are the worst.
Thomas: What?! They’re the best ever! My friends!
Holmes: What advice did they give you?
Thomas: Max, Tyler, Joe, and Mike…they all gave me really good advice. They said to play the same game I played before, but I need to make a move. People are going to love you, they’re going to want to keep you around. But, you’re going to have to do something if you want to win. I learned a lot about myself the first time. I learned what I’m capable of and what I can do. So, I’m really excited to do something big.

Holmes: Now, I’m told that Jeff Probst already told everyone that the theme is Game Changers.
Thomas: Right.
Holmes: How did you change the game?
Thomas: I think I changed the game in “Worlds Apart” because I wasn’t a loud player. I wasn’t rambunctious and all over the place. Sometimes the people who sit back are the ones you have to worry about. I played more of a quiet game. And the things that I did do went unseen. And I’m OK with that because it got me far. Now I’m going to have to do something…

Note: At this point in the interview a giant bug dive bombed Sierra’s head.

Thomas: Whoa!
Holmes: Yikes.
Thomas: I lost my train of thought.
Holmes: Now you’re going to have to do something…
Thomas: Oh, that people will appreciate.
Holmes: That thing was the size of a golf ball.
Thomas: (Laughs) Oh man.

Holmes: What are your thoughts on this cast?
Thomas: I think they’re amazing. When I first saw them I started giggling. I have no idea. I’m scared of them. I’m excited. I want to play with them. There are so many different emotions. And they’re gamers. I’m going to have to come out playing from day one.

Holmes: Is there anyone you’re looking forward to working with?
Thomas: There are a lot of guys I’m looking forward to working with. Granted, I get along with guys better than girls usually. But Troyzan, Ozzy, Malcolm, those big players…I want to play with them.
Holmes: Malcolm dated So from your season. Have you and he had any interactions prior to this?
Thomas: Like game talk? No. I know Malcolm from him dating So. I spent a lot of time with those two. But, we’ve never really talked the game.
Holmes: What’s your relationship like with Hali?
Thomas: Pretty much like it was in the game; non-existent. (Laughs) I love the girl. I think she’s gorgeous, sweet, all of the above, but we don’t communicate.

Holmes: Do you have any early targets?
Thomas: No, honestly. There are people that I don’t want to make it to the end, but I might need them in the beginning.

Holmes: Alright, I put together an exercise to help you out. Cause you’re part of the Dirty 30 and that’s one of my seasons.
Thomas: Aww…that’s so sweet.
Holmes: Like, super sweet. OK, we’re going to play a game called, “The Best Defense.” I’m going to give you a reason that someone might use to get rid of you, and you have to defend against it.
Thomas: Got it.
Holmes: OK, Sierra was always on the verge of making a switch in “Worlds Apart” but she never did. So, I’m worried that she’s a little wishy-washy and we can’t trust her.
Thomas: But I was loyal. I could’ve stepped away from people who treated me like (expletive deleted), who were awful to be around, who almost sent me home. I stuck to my tribe, I stuck with the people I was first with all the way to the end. That says a lot about my loyalty.

Holmes: Sierra is very likable. I don’t want to sit with her at final Tribal. We’ve got to get her gone.
Thomas: (Laughs)
Holmes: Get her gone. That just came out of my face.
Thomas: (Laughs) That’s something I would say. Yeah, but the nice person usually doesn’t win “Survivor.” If I get there just by being nice, I’m not going to win. Usually it’s people who do these big things and are kind of mean.

Holmes: Sierra flew under the radar last time. I don’t want her flying under the radar and winning this thing because she didn’t get any blood on her hands.
Thomas: It’s better to have somebody there that you can rely on and trust than somebody who is wild and out of control and causing a scene and making you nervous. You can confide in me and feel comfortable.
Holmes: OK, I’ll keep her around.
Thomas: Yes!
Holmes: How do you feel? Prepared?
Thomas: I do now! But, I feel so weird defending myself. I’m never good at it and I know I need to be.

Holmes: You’re about to face seventeen people you know and two people you don’t. When you have unknown commodities like the two people from Season 33, how do you handle them?
Thomas: I know how everybody plays, but they’re probably going to play differently. So, those two are no different than anyone else. I’d love to have seen how they played, but your true character comes out really quickly when you’re out there.

Holmes: There’s always talk of pre-game alliance in returnee seasons. Are you a part of one? Have you heard of anyone else starting one?
Thomas: I have one. I wish I had more. Although, I think when you get out there they can fall apart. But, me and Troyzan have…from what I would like to believe…a very good alliance.

Holmes: You’re in lockdown now. You’re not allowed to talk, but there is smiling, winking, etc. Have you been doing any of this?
Thomas: Absolutely. I can’t help but be giggling. I look at people and I can’t stop laughing. There’s winks, there’s smiles. There are little whispers. We all know each other, so it’s hard not to interact. The bumps, Malcolm has been bumping into me.
Holmes: You need to knock that (expletive deleted) over.
Thomas: I’m going to. Stick my foot out next time and trip him.
Holmes: Have you caught anyone interacting with anyone else?
Thomas: Yeah, but when I do hear them talking, it’s not about the game.

Holmes: There are four people from “Kaoh Rong.” Is that a concern?
Thomas: Absolutely. They can say, like I say with Hali, that they have no relationship, but four people? That’s scary. We need to look at that.

Holmes: If there is a twist, any predictions as to what it could be?
Thomas: Oh my gosh, I think there is going to be a (expletive deleted) ton of twists. I feel like there might be a challenge on day one. I think it’ll be full of twists.

Holmes: Alright, I’m going to name a twist. You tell me if it’s awesome or awful. Hidden immunity idols.
Thomas: Awesome.
Holmes: Redemption Island?
Thomas: Awesome.
Holmes: Exile Island?
Thomas: Awesome.
Holmes: The Medallion of Power.
Thomas: Awful.
Holmes: Extra votes?
Thomas: I don’t like that one. Awful.
Holmes: Stolen votes?
Thomas: Awful.
Holmes: Eliminate a juror?
Thomas: I think that’s awesome.

Holmes: You were on Dan Foley’s season where he had that trainwreck of a reunion with Probst.
Thomas: Oh, My…lanta.
Holmes: The way they were able to call him on something he claimed never happened, does that make you a little more wary of the cameras?
Thomas: You know, in life I try to do that. I try not to upset too many people. It’s unfortunate what happened with Dan. He’s a great guy, but you have to watch what you say and do. You have to take some responsibility for your actions.

Holmes: Alright, I have a deck of cards with eighteen faces on them. The two players from Season 33 are not included because we don’t know anything about them. I’m also going to take this barrel racer out of the deck…
Thomas: Aww…she’s so cute.
Holmes: She’s adorable.
Thomas: (Laughs)
Holmes: Because that’s how a grown adult wants to be described.
Thomas: (Laughs) No, that means you’re semi-ugly.
Holmes: So cute.
Thomas: So cute.
Holmes: I’m going to hand you three cards at random. You tell me who is first out, who will you work with but eventually eliminate, and who will you take to the end?
Thomas: So, it’s kind of like (expletive deleted), marry, kill?
Holmes: Just like that.
Thomas: (Laughs) I thought that’s what we were doing!
Holmes: It’s a PG version of that.
Thomas: (Laughs)

Round One: Tai, Debbie, and Malcolm
Thomas: First out…(expletive deleted) (expletive deleted) (expletive deleted) is Malcolm. He’s such a competitor. Can I take it back?
Holmes: Do what you’ve got to do.
Thomas: OK, first out is Debbie because I don’t think she’s going to like me. I just don’t think as women we would get along and I don’t think I could trust her and her many occupations. I’ll work with Tai. He’ll love me and we’ll get along. And I’ll take Malcolm to then end because I love him. He’d probably win. (Expletive deleted)
Holmes: You’re very bad at this.
Thomas: (Laughs) I am!
Holmes: Malcolm went from, “First out! That guy shoved me!” To, “Aww…I’ll let him win.”
Thomas: (Laughs)

Round Two: Caleb, Cirie, and Ciera
Thomas: First out…Cirie. She’s a good gamer. She’s very manipulative. I’m worried about what she could talk me into doing. I’ll work with Ciera. She’s also very good at this game. I think she could help my game a lot and she could take the focus off of me because she’s loud. And I’d take Caleb to the end because all he has to offer is the physical aspect and that won’t win it for you.

Round Three: Tony, JT, and Jeff
Thomas: I’m going to get rid of Tony first. He terrifies me. He’s already been jumping out of bushes at Ponderosa and scared the (expletive deleted) out of me. And for that I want him gone. I screamed. I’ll work with JT. I feel like he’s my kind of people. I really like him. I’d take Jeff to the end because I don’t feel like he’s going to do much and he might piss off a lot of people.

Round Four: Hali, Ozzy, and Troyzan
Thomas: First out is Ozzy because he’s a bad ass and I don’t know if I could trust him. I’m going to work with my man Troyzan all the way, but I’m not going to take him to the end. I’m going to take Hali to the end because she is a space cadet. I don’t feel like people will think she played a good game.

Round Five: Sandra, Sarah, and Brad.
Thomas: First out…I’d get rid of Brad because he’s loud and I don’t want to be associated with that. I would work with Sandra, probably. But, then I’d get rid of her because that’d be a big move.
Holmes: You’d be the person to finally get rid of the most dominant player ever.
Thomas: I would. And then I’d take Sarah to the end. She awesome, but I don’t feel like she’d do much.

Round Six: Andrea and Aubry
Holmes: Alright, only two cards left. Work with one and boot the other.
Thomas: Oh my gosh. I think I’d have to get rid of Andrea because she’s very good at this game and very manipulative. And I’d work with Aubry because she’s smart. She reminds me of Shirin. She’s geeky, she’s smart, but she might get herself out because of her actions.

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

Meet the Cast of ‘Survivor: Game Changers’

February 8, 2017

‘Survivor: Game Changers’ (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.

The cast for the 34th season of “Survivor” was revealed by CBS on Wednesday afternoon, and they certainly are a familiar bunch. The group of returning players includes three former winners, six people who have played in the last two seasons, and four “Survivor” Hall of Famers.

Name: Aubry Bracco
Age: 30
Hometown: Cambridge, MA
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Kaoh Rong” – Runner Up
Best Known For: Almost quitting early, then rallying to make it to the end.

Read Aubry’s Interview

Name: Caleb Reynolds
Age: 28
Hometown: Hopkinsville, KY
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Kaoh Rong” – Medically Evacuated
Best Known For: The first person to play a second time who didn’t attend Tribal Council his first time.

Read Caleb’s Interview

Name: Ciera Eastin
Age: 27
Hometown: Salem, OR
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Blood vs. Water” – Finished 5th and Jury Member
“Survivor: Second Chance” – Finished 10th  and Jury Member
Best Known For: Voting out someone. I don’t remember who.

Read Ciera’s Interview

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.

Read Hali’s Interview

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.

Read Jeff’s Interview

Name: Malcolm Freberg
Age: 29
Hometown: Hermosa Beach, CA
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Philippines” – Finished 4th and Jury Member
“Survivor: Caramoan” – Finished 9th & Jury Member
Best Known For: Asking a bro to, “Hold up.” Then using two idols to eliminate Philip Sheppard.

Read Malcolm’s Interview

Name: Michaela Bradshaw
Age: 25
Hometown: Fort Worth, TX
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X” – Finished 14th
Best Known For: Not letting a wardrobe malfunction keep her from dominating a challenge.

Read Michaela’s Interview

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.

Read Sandra’s Interview

Name: Tony Vlachos
Age: 42
Hometown: Jersey City, NJ
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Cagayan” – Winner
Best Known For: Spy shacks, llama calls, and finding approximately 40 immunity idols.

Read Tony’s Interview

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.

Read Troyzan’s Interview

Name: Andrea Boehlke
Age: 27
Hometown: New York, NY
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.

Read Andrea’s Interview

Name: Brad Culpepper
Age: 47
Hometown: Tampa, FL
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Blood vs. Water” – Finished 15th
Best Known For: Being cursed out by Marissa Peterson

Read Brad’s Interview

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.

Read Cirie’s Interview

Name: Debbie Wanner
Age: 51
Hometown: Reading, PA
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Kaoh Rong” – Finished 9th and Jury Member
Best Known For: Nursing Aubry back to health.

Read Debbie’s Interview

Name: James “JT” Thomas Jr.
Age: 31
Hometown: Mobile, AL
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Tocantins” – Winner
“Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” – Finished 10th and Jury Member
Best Known For: Receiving Every Vote at Final Tribal Council. Giving Russell Hantz more ammunition.

Read JT’s Interview

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.

Read Ozzy’s Interview

Name: Sarah Lacina
Age: 32
Hometown: Marion, Iowa
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Cagayan” – Finished 11th and Jury Member
Best Known For: Figuring out that Tony was a police officer before they had ever spoken.

Read Sarah’s Interview

Name: Sierra Thomas
Age: 29
Hometown: Roy, UT
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Worlds Apart” – Finished 5th and Jury Member
Best Known For: Receiving the worst apology ever from Dan Foley.

Read Sierra’s Interview

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.

Read Tai’s Interview

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.

Read Zeke’s Interview

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’ Tony: ‘I’m Going to Play It Maybe Faster This Time. I’m Going to Turn It Up Two Notches’

February 8, 2017

Tony Vlachos (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: Tony Vlachos
Age: 42
Hometown: Jersey City, NJ
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Cagayan” – Winner
Best Known For: Spy shacks, llama calls, and finding approximately 40 immunity idols.

Gordon Holmes: The llama whisperer!
Tony Vlachos: (Laughs) I’m the llama whisper.
Holmes: Are you going to branch out with any new animal noises, or are you sticking with llamas?
Vlachos: It’s got to be situational. If I see any animals out there that need to be spoken to, I think I can adapt.

Holmes: So, last time you had forty idols. How many are you hoping to find this time?
Vlachos: (Laughs) Oh man, I hope I can continue my idol hunting skills. That’s going to be one of my priorities. Obviously I’m a big threat, so I’m going to try to find as many as I can.

Holmes: What’ve you been up to since your big win?
Vlachos: You know, family things. I got home, I got my wife pregnant, so now I have two babies. And I’ve just been being a dad, man. It’s so stressful.
Holmes: That’s why you need that second million, to pay for that second kid.
Vlachos: Second $500,000.
Holmes: Oh, after taxes. So it’ll complete that first million.
Vlachos: That’s right. I’m here for the other half.
Holmes: Some “Survivor” winners just keep the whole million and pass on paying the taxes.
Vlachos: No, no. I’d go to jail.
Holmes: And they love cops in jail, right?
Vlachos: (Laughs) Yeah, I can’t do that. But I’ve been out of the “Survivor” loop for a while. But, when I got this call, you can’t say no.

Holmes: So, Probst has already told you that the theme of the season is “Game Changers.” How would you say you changed the game?
Vlachos: I don’t know. I’d say that the jurors I had changed the game. People that played aggressive in the past, the jurors didn’t vote for them. So, the players had to simmer it down for the jurors so they don’t get too bitter. I did do fun stuff like the spy shack. I did find an idol without a clue, but that’s been done before. I did bluff on the special idol. I made that story up completely. I swore on my family, I broke promises. I knew when I could distinguish real life and game life. If I stuck with my word like I would do in real life, I would have sunk with the ship. I knew enough to separate life from the game.
Holmes: I was thinking it was because you played such a…(expletive deleted) insane game…
Vlachos: (Laughs)
Holmes: …that how-can-you-stay-mad-at-this game. Like a scoundrel who admits he’s a scoundrel can become charming.
Vlachos: (Laughs)
Holmes: How can you stay mad at someone when you say, “Hey! You stabbed me in the back!” And he responds, “Yeah, I stabbed everyone in the back.”
Vlachos: I know! But that’s what I’m saying, I ruined people’s chances of winning. They have to be mad, right? I did play the game fast, I’m going to play it maybe faster this time. I’m going to turn it up two notches.
Holmes: How is that even possible?
Vlachos: We’ll see, I played at a six then, I’m going to play at an eight now.
Holmes: I was thinking maybe if you lit your hair on fire, but…
Vlachos: The sides grow like Bozo. (Laughs)
Holmes: (Laughs)
Vlachos: I’m coming reloaded, I’ve got some new tricks in my bag. Ask me about them later.

Holmes: What do you think of this cast?
Vlachos: There are a lot of heavy hitters. I’m not underestimating anybody. I see a lot of challenge beasts. I see a lot of man buns running around. I see a good cast, man. I see some strategic threats. I see Sarah, the girl I played against in Cagayan. The cast is gonna play hard.
Holmes: What’s your relationship like with Sarah?
Vlachos: I think she’s the only one I’m going to gravitate to. That’s the only one I know. And it’s all situational. As soon as someone opens their mouth I’m going to know if I want to work with them or not.
Holmes: Is there any concern working with Sarah after the whole swearing on the badge incident?
Vlachos: You know, when I first saw Sarah I thought, “Oh man, she’s going to gun for me right away.” But if you think about it, she gave me a vote to win a million dollars. It wasn’t like bitter Tasha. I know bitter Tasha would be out to get me. So, I know there’s no bad blood there. So, we’ll try to reunite that Cops R Us alliance.

Holmes: Is there anyone you’re going to target early?
Vlachos: It’s all situational, but Sandra…she’s here for a triple crown. You can’t say it’s a fluke with her winning twice. Maybe the first time it was a fluke, but the second time? You’ve got skills. Those skills were good pre season 25. Now it’s a whole new era. I mean, look at us; game changers, right? It’s a faster game now. You’re not flying under the radar and winning. And besides, how long has it been?
Holmes: Seven years?
Vlachos: Yeah, she’s been the queen of “Survivor.” And there hasn’t been a king of “Survivor.” I’m out here, I have one win and no blemishes. If I win I get the throne. The King of “Survivor!” King TV!

Holmes: Alright, I’m here to get you prepped for this show. So, I’ve got a game called “The Best Defense.” I came up with a few reasons to vote you out, and I want you to defend yourself against them.
Vlachos: You got it.
Holmes: Tony is a wild man. You saw him in Cagayan. He turned the game upside down and still won. We can’t risk it, we’ve got to get rid of him.
Vlachos: We all know that I’m not going to do nothing come merge time because I can’t win any challenges. We all know that there are four people from Kaoh Rong. We’ve got Debbie, we’ve got Caleb, we’ve got Tai, we’ve got Aubry. Those are four strong. You get rid of me and you’re going to leave these four strong. There’s three winners, you’ve got JT, Sandra, and me. You don’t want Sandra to win twice. If anything, she should be the first target, not me. You have two people you don’t know anything about from season 33. You know that they did something enough to change the game and bring them back. I shouldn’t be a target first.

Holmes: Tony won $500,000 after taxes. He’s had his shot. He’s gotta go.
Vlachos: Oh man, that’s what they should be saying! (Laughs) All of those losers need to stick together. That’s what they’re supposed to say. Tony will get his chance, but right now we have to take care of bigger threats which is the challenge guys. They’re going to run away with the game. They’re going to stick together and start voting everybody out. You can get rid of me anytime after the merge. I can’t win challenges, that’s proven.

Holmes: I watched that dude vote out his allies left and right.
Vlachos: (Laughs)
Holmes: I don’t want to be one of his allies who ends up on the jury.
Vlachos: Let me be your number. I won’t be calling the shots like last time. You tell me who to vote for and I will. It’s going to be tough.
Holmes: I believe in you.
Vlachos: (Laughs) Thank you. You know, if I can’t lie to you, then I gotta lie about you.
Holmes: (Laughs)
Vlachos: That’s the truth!
Holmes: That’s a t-shirt slogan.

Holmes: You mentioned the two people from season 33, they’re unknown quantities. How do you handle that?
Vlachos: Personally? They should be target number one. We all know everybody’s game. We know who we’re dealing with. These people we know nothing about. We don’t know if they’re loyal, we don’t know if they’re Tony on steroids. They should go first. See ya. We lose a challenge, they’re the sacrificial lamb.

Holmes: With these returnee seasons, there’s always talk of preseason alliances. Have you been talking to anyone?
Vlachos: Absolutely not. Once I heard I was a contestant, I deleted my Twitter, I stopped talking to everybody, I stopped doing podcasts. I do not want anybody to reach out to me and nobody has. That’s not how you play the game.
Holmes: Have you heard any rumors of people working together?
Vlachos: I haven’t heard any rumors, but you go on social media and you see Tai going to Caleb’s wedding. You see Aubry going to “Survivor” functions. Most of the people have some history. But again, I think it would behoove them to stay away from that pregame stuff.

Holmes: You’re on lockdown now, you’re not allowed to talk. But people smile, people wink, people sit next to other people. Have you caught anybody doing any of that?
Vlachos: It’s not our first rodeo, they know they don’t want to get caught sitting next to each other. Everybody knows the deal.

Holmes: You mentioned that there are four Koah Rongers here. What do you do with that?
Vlachos: It’s all situational, I don’t know who will be on my team. Everybody watched the same show I watched. They watched Aubry, they watched Debbie, they watched Caleb and Tai being real close. I know they’re going to gravitate real close. Just like Sarah and I care going to gravitate real close. As fans of the show, we know who’s going to work together. And when you see who’s talking to who, you’re going to work together. I won’t worry about it till we get on the beach and I can see how people are interacting with each other. I’m going to go in there with a clean canvas and on day 39 when I’m sitting in front of the jury, I’m going to unveil my masterpiece.
Holmes: You are a human t-shirt slogan machine.
Vlachos: I like that one.
Holmes: Mr. Soundbite.

Holmes: Any guesses as to what twists we might see?
Vlachos: I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of twists and turns, because if there are pre-game alliances, they’re going to run away with the show. One of my fortes is to expect the unexpected, other people are going to panic. But, that’s where I come in and that’s where I shine.

Holmes: Alright, let’s play Awesome or Awful. I’ll give you a twist you tell me if it’s awesome or awful. Hidden immunity idols?
Vlachos: Awesome.
Holmes: Tyler Perry idols?
Vlachos: Awesomer! (Laughs)
Holmes: Redemption Island?
Vlachos: Awful.
Holmes: Exile Island?
Vlachos: Awful.
Holmes: The Medallion of Power?
Vlachos: Awful.
Holmes: Extra vote?
Vlachos: Awesome.
Holmes: Steal a vote?
Vlachos: Awesome.
Holmes: Eliminate a juror?
Vlachos: Awful. That’s (expletive deleted) awful. I hated that.

Holmes: As a former winner, is there any concern about tarnishing your legacy?
Vlachos: A lot of people ask why I’m coming back when I’ve got this legacy, the only reason I came back is because I won. Had I lost, I’d never play this game again. It’s not worth it to go out there for 30 (expletive deleted) days and come back with $50,000/$40,000. To put yourself through that, I wouldn’t do it.
Holmes: Are you talking about the stress of the game? The physical toll of the elements?
Vlachos: Everything! Leaving your family behind for 50 days. Destroying your body, mentally, physically, emotionally.
Holmes: I think the most misunderstood part of this game is how rough constant paranoia is on you.
Vlachos: Yeah! I don’t sleep. I stay up all night. I watch everything. I go over every scenario. And the second you’re not paranoid, you lose.

Holmes: Alright, I’m going to hand you three cards 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. (Note: Michaela and Zeke were not a part of this exercise because nobody knew who they were at this point.)

Round One: Sandra, Aubry, and Jeff
Vlachos: This is funny because Sandra, I want to get rid of her. But, when I have these three, I’ve got to work with her because she’s another winner. But, it’s conflicting to what I want! Aubry, she’s going to have a good case, so I don’t want her in the end, so she goes first. Jeff, I would work with, but I’m going to take Sandra to the end because I don’t think anyone is going to give her a triple crown. And if I’m taking her to the end, I’m sure she’s using that fly-under-the-radar strategy that she used ten seasons ago and that’s not going to cut it nowadays. What’s crazy is I wanted her out first.
Holmes: That’s the point of this exercise, you don’t always get what you want. Sometimes the situation is going to force you to change your plans.
Vlachos: I like it!

Round Two: Hali, JT, and Brad
Vlachos: (Laughs) Oh man…I’ll take Hali to the end. I remember her game and she’s under the radar. She won’t have a strong argument with a good resume at the end. JT…I won’t take to the end because he’s a likable person and he’s a challenge beast. I’ll work with him. And voting Brad out because I don’t know a lot about him.

Round Three: Tai, Malcolm, and Caleb
Vlachos: I’m going to take Tai to the end. I want a proven loser in the end. I’ll take him. And these two beasts…I’ll work with Caleb because I think he’s more soft in nature and a little more passive. And Malcolm, I’ll vote out first because he’s too strong-minded. He wants to call the shots.

Round Four: Sierra, Ciera, and Ozzy
Vlachos: I’ll take Sierra to the end because she’s very passive and won’t have a strong resume. I’ll work with Ciera because she does what’s best for her. And I’ll vote out Ozzy. I can’t let him get too deep because he’s a challenge beast and he’ll run away with it.

Round Five: Cirie, Debbie, and Troyzan.
Vlachos: I’ll get rid of Cirie first because she’s sneaky. I can’t trust her and I’m sure she can’t trust me. I’ll work with Debbie. She’s so eccentric and I think if I feed into whatever she thinks is right, we’ll get along fine. I can adapt to that. And Troyzan, I’ll take him to the end. He’s a sweetheart, but he won’t have a good resume.

Round Six: Andrea and Sarah
Holmes: Alright, only two cards left. Work with one and boot the other.
Vlachos: I’ll work with Sarah. I’ll try to start up Cops R Us again. And I’ll boot Andrea. And I don’t know why. I don’t know her.

Holmes: Alright, you said you had a few tricks in your bag and you wanted to save them for last. Let’s hear it.
Vlachos: I’ll give you some teasers. There’s going to be spying, but it’s going to be underground.
Holmes: Underground? (Laughs)
Vlachos: I’m taking it underground. Somebody is going to be idoled out without there being an idol played, and there’s going to be “Survivor” clones.
Holmes: (Laughs) I’m sorry. Teasers alone won’t do. You have to explain this.
Vlachos: There’s going to be a spy bunker. When everyone is sleeping I’m going to prepare… wherever the trail is, wherever they congregate, which is probably the water well, I’m going to start digging. Then I’ll put all of this debris on me. It’ll be my bunker for when it’s time to spy.
Holmes: And how do you idol someone out with an idol?
Vlachos: OK, I’m going to need an idol first for this one. Let’s say I’m going after target A, I’ll say, “Target A, I’ve got something important to tell you. Meet me by the water well.” When Target A goes to the well I’ll say to everyone, “Target A wants to tell me something. I’ll be right back and tell you what they said.” Now everybody knows that Target A is inviting me to the rendezvous. I’ll talk to them for five minutes or so about whatever, then I’ll start hauling ass back to camp. When I get back, I’ll say, “Target A has the idol, he just told me! Look in his bag!” By this point I will have already planted my idol in their bag.
Holmes: And since that’s technically your idol, they can’t keep it or dispose of it.
Vlachos: Yeah, that’s my idol. They can’t touch it. But I got to make it look real. It’s Hollywood acting. So, I’m idoling him out without playing the idol.

Holmes: You’re insane. I love it. Tell me about the “Survivor” clones.
Vlachos: On Cagayan, I got two rocks from the beach. One represented my wife, one represented my daughter. They knew I kissed them and those rocks were very sacred to me. This time I’m going to have three rocks because I have a son. So, I’m going to introduce the rocks to everyone and everyone will see me cherishing these rocks. What I’m going to do is, to get somebody comfortable, I’m going to find clones of these rocks. And to make somebody comfortable I’m going to say, “You’re not going home. And to make sure, you can hold onto my family. These are sacred to me. I want them back tomorrow.” And they’ll go out with the clones in their pocket.
Holmes: (Laughs)
Vlachos: And that’s not a one-trick pony. I can do that over and over. The problem is if I get to day 39 they can (expletive deleted) stone 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’ Host Jeff Probst on the ‘Game Changers’ Theme, Idols, Twists, and More

February 8, 2017

‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst (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.

Gordon Holmes: Alright, “Game Changers.”
Jeff Probst: (Laughs)
Holmes: I can already feel the Internet getting pissed off.
Probst: Why?
Holmes: It took me a while to figure this out. And what I came up with is…Major League Baseball has 30 All-Stars a year. They only have a handful of Game Changers. I’m thinking Babe Ruth, I’m thinking Jackie Robinson.
Probst: Interesting.
Holmes: I love me some Tai and Hali, but that term seems very grandiose for how their initial runs went.
Probst: I hear your point. When you hear “Game Changers” you think these are people who changed the game dramatically. My feeling about “Survivor” has always been, most moves aren’t going to work, but you have to have the courage to make a move. That’s who these people are. We could have called this season “Move Makers” or whatever, but it seemed like “Game Changers” because the game changes as a result of moves. You have to be willing to make those moves. And there are definitely people here whose moves have not worked. They’re still game changers to me. I guess you’re going to have to look at it through my filter which is having the courage to try something without any certainty that it will work. Some of them make big moves, some of them make quiet moves, some of them make moves that work, some of them make moves that don’t. But, they were all willing to make a move. And I think if you look back historically at the majority of players, it’s not even close the amount that didn’t make any moves. They just hoped that something happened to someone else.
Holmes: Is a way to look at this…hold on… OK, Kelley Wentworth didn’t have much of a chance to do anything her first time around, but you knew she had that potential in her?
Probst: A hundred percent. I think you’re on to something good here, Gordon. We have the insight into having spent not just 39 days, but hundreds of hours with these people. I always bring this up; there were two people that wanted Amber Brkich back; it was me and Lynne (Spillman). People say, “I don’t see it.” Well, I see it. There’s a subtle gameplay in Amber that was overlooked by a lot of people. I see that in Ciera Eastin. Her biggest thing people remember is her yelling for people to play the game, she voted out her mom, she forced a rock draw. That’s a girl that willing to make a move. She hasn’t made a great move yet, but she’s making moves.

Holmes: What’ve we got as far as twists this season?
Probst: Well, we’re splitting into three tribes after the second episode. That will really mess up the game. And it’s one of the things that the audience counts on because players come in with these pre-conceived ideas, “I’m going to lock in an alliance on day two and I’m going to take it to the end.” Until we split up the tribes and you don’t know if you’re ever going to see that person again. It forces you to reevaluate. And it rarely fails. I know I promised my loyalty to someone else, but they’re not here anymore. “Survivor” is not that complicated in terms of the twists we do. It’s just the impact of those twists that is devastating. You get the odd colored buff and you’re sent to Exile Island. “Oh man, I didn’t do anything wrong.” Nope, it’s the luck of the draw. You might be done.

Holmes: Any tricks planned for the idols this season?
Probst: What we’re doing with idols this season is something we’ve never done before which is; every idol that is placed is inconsistent. Usually there’s a theme to how you find idols. This season is, the theme is there is no theme. You might find one idol in a very traditional way, you might find another idol at Tribal.
Holmes: Interesting, this sounds like it’ll curb the problem of someone figuring out the drop style and then having that advantage when an idol is replaced.
Probst: Exactly. And if we go deep enough, we have a long list of where they might show up. It just matters how often they get played. Because as you know, if they hold on to the idols or they don’t find them, then sometimes they aren’t reintroduced. So, we have a cool, long list, but there’s no consistency. That’s going to throw people off.

Holmes: “Kaoh Rong” just ended, and there’s been a lot of talk about a juror’s responsibility. You don’t say vote for the person who made the biggest moves or vote for the person who’s the best at challenges or vote for the person you like the most. You just say, “Vote.”
Probst: If there’s one flaw in our game, it’s that the jury all lives together as the game continues and they can influence each other. They can influence each other by spreading lies that aren’t even true. Someone gets voted out and they can decide to sabotage the remaining players. They can tell a lie to the jury and taint the vote. And it drives me nuts. But, I also have to remind myself that the jury has experienced the game in their own way. I’m experiencing it my way. And I don’t have a vote, and the audience doesn’t have a vote. But what can you do with the jury? The only thing we can do is try to find ways to hold the jury more accountable. It’s something that I’m working on, but I haven’t figured it out yet.
Holmes: The players are in lockdown before the game. They occupy the same space, but they’re not allowed to talk. Is it just too long to have someone on lockdown for two-and-a-half weeks?
Probst: Yeah. It’s just too long.
Holmes: If you and I are playing the game and you vote me out. Right now there is nothing stopping me from telling the other jurors that you were making racist comments, sexist comments, anything.
Probst: “Survivor” is a microcosm of life. Some people say, “No, it’s not. It’s a gameshow. It’s contrived, you put people on an island, there are always cameras around.” But human nature is the same no matter where you are. And when you’re stripped to your core, you’re left only with yourself. You get desperate. Your truth comes out. But, the one thing that doesn’t change, in the game, in the office, is the politics of being a human are always at play. And if there is someone who is jealous of you because you got a promotion they think they should have had, there’s every chance that they start dropping little social bombs to the boss. I just heard he was partying too much, I hear he’s mean to his children. That’s the way it goes. That’s the part of me that says you can’t control the vote because it’s a social game. But, I have to say, with the exceptions of “Kaoh Rong,” we’ve had a string of juries who have done a wonderful job of rewarding the winner even if the winner is the one who betrayed them. So, I’m optimistic that the people who are voted out of the game respect it enough to give it to the person who played the best.

Holmes: A lot of my friends have kids who watch “Survivor.” Now, it isn’t necessarily children’s programming, but there’s adventure and fun games and you can see the appeal. There have been quite a few instances of bullying on the show recently. If I’m writing a fiction story, my bully is getting some comeuppance. “Survivor” does not always work like that.
Probst: Nothing has excited me as much in the last six or seven years than the amount of kids who are watching “Survivor.” Nothing comes close. And we make this show for families. That is a known fact out here. I’m constantly saying, “Imagine a ten year old.” The challenge has to be exciting, underwater shots, dramatic facial expressions, and it has to be easy enough to understand for a kid watching. So, when it comes to something like bullying, I actually am glad that these things happen because I think they’re teaching moments. The way the world works, sometimes the bully does win. In Kaoh Rong when we had Jason and Scot and Alecia, what parents said to me was, “We sat with our kids and asked them ‘What would you do?’ What would you do if your friend was a bully? What would you do if it was your friend that was getting picked on?’” I love it. I love that “Survivor” shows the way the world works. I love that “Survivor” shows that a nerd like Cochran can rise above and claim the prize and a guy like Ozzy can dive down 20 feet and catch a fish with a spear. All of these things are possible. You can be a girl who comes from the city and loves computers like Aubry and make it to the end. You can be Cirie who gets up off the couch in her forties and says, “I want to give it a try.” I get so excited by “Survivor.” I feel like somehow my life ended up exactly as it should be and I’m so proud of the stories we tell because they’re honest. The good guy doesn’t always win.

Holmes: Who’s gonna win this whole thing?
Probst: Well, I have a few thoughts. Cirie is a favorite for me. I think the audience would love to see her win. If Cirie makes it deep, it probably means that Sandra is somewhere behind. Varner might be in there with them. I think those old-school type of players might get together and say, “Look, we have no kind of chance against the younger kids unless we take over.” And they have to trust that no matter what happens, no matter what tribe they find themselves in, they need to stay true to each other. If not, I’m putting my money on Ciera. I really want to be like Ciera. I want to be courageous enough to be someone who says, “I’m going for broke.” And not just talk it, but actually show my kids this is how you win. You look for the fastball and you swing. And if it’s a curveball, you’re out. But if it’s down the middle and you keep your eye on the ball and you connect. But, don’t play for a single. Don’t hope for a walk. That’s (expletive deleted). I’d play hard on “Survivor” every (expletive deleted) day.

Holmes: Who’s going to go home early?
Probst: You’ve got to believe Tony is in trouble because he’s so strong in his bravado. But, I don’t know what the gameplay is going to be. I’d hope the game players would get rid of who they think are the weakest players. But honestly Gordon, I really don’t have any idea. I think you could make six or seven pitches for how this season could go. Troyzan could be at the end or he could be the first one off. Tai would seem to be in trouble, or is that a guy that you drag to the end.
Holmes: I always say; “‘Survivor’ is Jeff Probst dumping out a bowl of marbles. They’re never all going to go the same place twice.”
Probst: That’s great. I love that.

Holmes: I don’t just come out here to interview twenty contestants. I come out here to get those twenty contestants ready for the game.
Probst: (Laughs) Love it. I can’t wait.
Holmes: One of the ways we did it this time is called, “The Best Defense.”
Probst: (Laughs)
Holmes: You and I arrive on the beach on day one and I want you gone. I’ll give you some of the ways I’m going to try to accomplish that and you have to defend against them.
Probst: Got it.
Holmes: Probst is a likable guy, this crew seems to dig him. I don’t want to sit next to him in front of a jury. Let’s get rid of him now while we still can.
Probst: Guys, I just overheard Holmes talking about me. And I’ll say this; I own everything he said. I like to think that the crew likes me. I like to think that people enjoy me on this show. But if you’re going to let that guy come in and sully my reputation? That’s a guy I don’t want around. I’m owning my stuff. I’m willing to play with you, and if you’re going to vote me out because I’m a nice guy, that’s (expletive deleted). I say we take Holmes out right now. Because he’s going to do it to all of you. He’s got his little traps for everyone.

Holmes: Probst is the producer for a popular TV show that has been on the air for 40 years.
Probst: (Laughs)
Holmes: I’m sure this guy is loaded. He doesn’t need the million. Let’s send him packing.
Probst: Again, I heard Gordon talking about money being a factor. I definitely have plenty of money. I’ve done well from “Survivor” and I’m not embarrassed about it. I’m out here to win. But I want to ask you, do you want to beat the best? Because one thing I am good at is social politics. I’m as good as anyone out here. And the game has advanced to a point where a schlub like Holmes ends up here and he’s got nothing. He’s a used car salesman. He’s trying to sell you a Ford when you know I’ll get you a Tesla. And I don’t want to defend anything else. You should come hard at me. But, let’s get rid of the drab first and then let’s play.

Holmes: You ever see “Two and a Half Men?” Probst was on it in his birthday suit and he looked like a million bucks. You want to go toe-to-toe with that guy for individual immunity? I don’t.
Probst: OK, on this one I’ll be honest. I am 54 years old. I know you’re surprised to hear that, but it’s true. I’m the oldest person out here. And I have run a lot of these challenges when we rehearse them, and I’m not going to lie…I rarely win. I want to win and I will work hard to win, but I give you my word right now, if I win more than two challenges, I will stop competing in them. I will give up and not compete. You can all vote me out. I will literally say to Probst, the other Probst…whoever will be hosting.
Holmes: (Laughs)
Probst: (Laughs) I will to say to Rove McManus who is now hosting, I will literally say to “Boston” Rob who is now hosting, that I will not compete anymore. Because if I can win two, I’ll go home a happy man.
Holmes: That’s the strategy? Quit after you win two?
Probst: No, if you want to vote me out, vote me out. Because honestly I never thought I’d win two. Whether or not I’d really sit out at the point depends on where I am in the game. If I’m strong with my alliance and you want me to stick around? Are you sure? Alright, I’ll stick around for you.
Holmes: Outside-of-the-box thinking, that’s a Tony move.
Probst: It’s Tony Robbins. Change your state. I just went from “I can kick your ass” to “I trust you.” And here’s the real truth. The humanitarian in me knows what it’s like to win. I didn’t think I would. I am honestly shocked. That necklace felt great, I’d like to feel it again. But Hali, I’d rather you have a shot at winning. And I think you’re going to love how it feels. I still want to beat you, but I want you to have the experience. Just don’t vote me out for that. If you vote me out for something else, that’s fine. We should all do it. Once we win we should step down so we can all have that feeling and control this game.
Holmes: Interesting. And that jerk Holmes has won eight immunity challenges in a row. He’s a victory hog.
Probst: (Laughs) That number is impressive. But Holmes…you know what it is…this is the tricky part. Holmes is the guy who never got laid. And he’s trying to take out someone who’s more popular than him. Which is not true if he knew my life. Holmes is an easy guy to get out. He’s married, he’s got his hot chick, so he’s good to go. Little does he know she’s going to leave him in six-to-seven years because he’s been hunched over the computer for too long.
Holmes: My impending divorce might earn me some sympathy votes.
Probst: (Laughs) Exactly! Get rid of him!

Holmes: A little bird told me the first challenge involves digging. How much do you want Caleb to give that a second shot?
Probst: (Laughs) I didn’t even think of that.
Holmes: Liar.
Probst: (Laughs) I didn’t! But he’ll do it. That’s the kind of guy he is.

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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