Archive for February, 2018

‘Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers’ Star Roark Luskin Accepts the ‘Ghost Island’ Power Rankings Challenge

February 22, 2018

“Survivor” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Ghost Island.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 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 XFINITY “Survivor” Power Rankings committee is thrilled to announce that “Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers” star Roark Luskin has agreed to accept the Power Rankings challenge. To kick things off, we’ve asked Roark to rank the players based on how likely they are to win the game.

Another Quick Note: Roark asked if this exercise could be referred to as the “Power Roarkings.” The committee is looking into the viability of this request.

1. Domenick: There is something about Domenick that just says “hungry.” When people play “Survivor,” they want it for a variety of reasons, but I think you can tell when someone views “Survivor” as a job. They are there to get down and dirty and get it done. Both Joe and Ben had that drive in Season 35. Dom has it here. 2. Sebastian: First of all, I’m pretty sure C-Bass borrowed Andrew Savage’s necklace. Second, I bet I can guess his favorite Bob Marley song and it starts with an “L” and ends with an “egalize it.” Third, he is obviously chill AF and easygoing and doesn’t jump out as a pre-merge boot. None but ourselves can free our minds…right, Sebs?
3. Kellyn: People who list “gambling” as a hobby are the ones who will yell at you that THEY CAN STOP AT ANYTIME AND THEY HAVE IT TOTALLY UNDER CONTROL. Besides that Kellyn seems benign. 4. Laurel: Avenge me, Laurel! A smart, self-assured, female super-fan. I adore you. Just PLEASE don’t stand up for yourself and tell the boys what to do on like, day 1. That’s a good day 2 activity.
5. Wendell: Heyyyy, Wendell ;). Can we negotiate something like – if I rank you first every week you’ll buy me a drink? Lemme know and we can start next week. 6. Brendan: I like Brendan. He seems like a guys-guy who also has respect for women. Also, the last name Shapiro has a proven track record of success, so I think he’ll make the merge.
7. Morgan: Majorly vibing with Morgan’s hobby of “sleeping.” Thank you for this. In addition, she seems strong and bubbly and normal. I assume mid-jury. 8. Jenna: I think Jenna will float to the merge on social bonds and what reads as a DGAF attitude. That said, she’s gotta get over about half of her pet peeves if she intends on making friends. People are constantly talking about their bodily functions, lying, and bad breath permeates. No traffic, though. Have fun, girl!
9. Bradley: For these rankings I’ve only read their CBS bios, that’s it. I’ve heard rumblings that Bradley’s pre-game stuff is quite a lightning rod, but that is *not* the vibe I get from his written bio. Dare I say it, he seems downright vanilla. Which makes me think he’ll tone down for the game whatever he is putting out there prior. 10. Chelsea: Have they found Morgan 2.0? God I hope so.
11. Desiree: To be clear, there is only one Des – and that is Healer Des. That said, this Des seems completely legit and I guess she can sit with us. 12. Libby: Her “Survivor” analogs are like those Highlights Magazine challenges – one of these is not like the others! Jenna Morasca, Kim Spradlin, and Natalie White. I have a feeling I know which one she won’t play like.
13. Michael: This man is allegedly a real estate agent. Would you ever buy a home from an 18 year old? He’s handsome and if he’s an Eagle Scout he knows his way around survival skills. I think I know this guy and his name is Cole Medders. 14. Donathan: If his bio is any indication, Donathan doesn’t seem to know how to self-edit. He may fall victim to talking *way* too much and not listening enough.
15. Chris: I genuinely don’t know where to begin with Chris. This bio is completely bonkers. His bravado is off the charts. His syntax is a mess. And the verbiage is psychotic. He wants to bring two bottles of lotion and I am officially terrified. Also, he reminds me of Krystal on “The Bachelor” — I can’t wait until he talks about the texture, the color, and the aura of his game play. 16. Stephanie: So let me know if I have this right. If they want to vote for this chick they can’t write Stephanie or Johnson because both of those could refer to multiple people on her starting tribe. She’ll be safe for a few cycles just due to sheer confusion.
17. Gonzalez: This bio is *way* too much. To say you “understand how to manipulate the numbers, play idols how they should be played and hustle the social game” is like saying you definitively know what happens in the after life. She also thinks she’ll play like Tony and Sandra. I am very worried. 18. Angela: Angela seems like a badass. But she also seems really intense and she strikes me as someone who is going to demand hard work around camp and not suffer laziness. She certainly won’t hold her tribe down in the challenges, but she may grate on people.
19. James: Based on his pedigree, and his writing style, it is clear James is a cerebral guy. His resume is downright impressive. My question is if he is able to play it cool and just rely on social bonds. 20. Jacob: What. A. Doll. A self-deprecating Jew who lives in Brooklyn is probably my key demographic. Not sure how well he will do as I think this “type” has high variance, but more important than his “Survivor” outcome – can we be friends?

Don’t miss the season premiere of “Survivor: Ghost Island” – Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 8 pm ET.

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

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‘Survivor’ Castaway Sebastian – ‘I Blurt Things Out and Then Five Minutes Later I Think, ‘Oh No”

February 22, 2018

“Survivor: Ghost Island” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Ghost Island.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 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: Sebastian Noel
Age: 22
Hometown: Melbourne, Florida
Current residence: Satellite Beach, Florida
Occupation: Fishing Guide

Gordon Holmes: As a fisherman, do you have the ability to look at the waters of Fiji and be like…I can fish here, I’ve got this?
Sebastian Noel: Oh yeah. The water is my home. It’s that natural feeling.
Holmes: So, I want to go fishing, you take me out and show me what to do because you know the area?
Noel: Yeah.

Holmes: Why do you think you were cast?
Noel: I think I fill the role of prior contestants like Ozzy.

Holmes: It says your personal claim to fame is that you’re everybody’s favorite person.
Noel: Yeah.
Holmes: You’re not my favorite person yet.
Noel: (Laughs)
Holmes: But it’s early in the interview. I’ll give you time.
Noel: The beauty of my job is every day I have to meet new people. That’s kind of like this game. You have to meet people to do a good job and get a good tip at the end of the day.

Holmes: Is there anything about yourself that you’re going to keep a secret?
Noel: No, I’m pretty open. I like to tell people how it is. I like being upfront. If people don’t like it, that’s fine. But, I’m always positive.
Holmes: Being honest can get you in trouble on this show. How do you handle that?
Noel: I’m not going to do that to begin with. You can’t be bossy and tell people what to do. But, when it comes to it, I will. One of my best skills is listening to people. I can depict what needs to be done after that.

Holmes: Some people set boundaries as far as lying, cheating, stealing. Have you set any ethical boundaries?
Noel: I’m not worried about that. I’m going to say something so stupid, I just know it.
Holmes: Yeah, but that might make you my favorite person.
Noel: (Laughs) I blurt things out and then five minutes later I think, “Oh no, did I just offend 800 people?” My dad always used to say, “Seb, you have to think about things before you say them.” I’m a doer. That’s going to get me in trouble.
Holmes: What’s an example of something you’ve said?
Noel: Not just that I’ve said, but I’ve stolen things from stores or restaurants. I just don’t think about what I say to grandparents or family. I’ll just say something stupid. It’s going to bite me in the butt.
Holmes: What about flirting, any boundaries there?
Noel: I can’t help it. It comes with the people I’m around. But, I do have boundaries because there are people I love back home and I don’t want them to be ashamed of what I’m doing out here.
Holmes: Does that mean family members or a girlfriend?
Noel: Like a girlfriend. I’m not playing this game to get a girl, I’m playing to get a million. But, if they’re part of your alliance and that’s how you get them in, by flirting.
Holmes: Have you and her had a conversation about what’s acceptable?
Noel: I’m just going to play the game like I’m myself, and if she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t like it.

Holmes: You’re in the dark as far as twists or themes. Any guesses?
Noel: I have no idea. I’ve been trying to figure it out since we’ve started. There’s only three older people.
Holmes: Are you a big “Survivor” fan?
Noel: I am. I missed about six season in high school. But I’ve always been a big mega fan.
Holmes: Any “Survivor” stress dreams?
Noel: Yeah, where I get voted out first. I had that dream last night.

Holmes: Alright, I’ll give you two “Survivor” situations. You tell me which one you’d rather deal with.
Noel: OK.
Holmes: Align with a Trump supporter or a Hillary supporter?
Noel: Hillary…I work better with women than bossy males.
Holmes: Steal a vote or eliminate a juror?
Noel: Steal a vote, I’m going to be friends with everyone on the jury.
Holmes: Endurance challenge or word puzzle?
Noel: Endurance challenge, I suck at puzzles.
Holmes: Align with a racist or a sexist?
Noel: A racist because I can take that (expletive deleted).
Holmes: Voted out first or before the final Tribal?
Noel: Final Tribal.
Holmes: Align with an adulterer or a tax cheat?
Noel: A tax cheat…I don’t know why.
Holmes: Lose the family challenge or win and decide who to take along.
Noel: I’d rather win because I love my sister. It’s her 21st birthday. She’s a mega fan and she’s in love with Jeff Probst.
Holmes: Caught stealing food or idol hunting?
Noel: Idol hunting, stealing food is a for sure way to get out.
Holmes: Align with a super fan or someone who doesn’t watch the show?
Noel: Doesn’t watch the show. Super fans know everything.
Holmes: Dance challenge or karaoke challenge?
Noel: Oh! I’m so good at both! Probably a dance challenge because I have rhythm.

Holmes: What kind of first impression do you think you put out there?
Noel: Like a wild child hippie. But, that’s not me. I just like to be flamboyant. I like being me and I like the surf, positive vibes. That’s why my hair is long. That’s why I wear board shorts everywhere. That’s me being me.

NOTE: The cast members do not know each other’s names at this point. I showed Sebastian a picture of each of his competitors and asked him to share his first impressions.

LIBBY

Noel: Gorgeous. Initial contact back at tryouts. Great personality, I can tell.

ANGELA

Noel: Whack job, crazy. Just from what I’ve seen. Spazzing out…digging holes in the sand when not necessary. Weird little things she’s been doing.

CHELSEA

Noel: Very quiet, sheltered, possibly dangerous.

JENNA

Noel: Happy-go-lucky, my kind of person.

GONZALEZ

Noel: Nothing from her.

STEPHANIE

Noel: A little bit out there. I don’t know see myself working with her, but I could see her trying to work with me.

MORGAN

Noel: She’s another dangerous threat, but I don’t think anyone else realizes it.

LAUREL

Noel: There’s another quiet threat. She might have some athletic ability because she’s built.

KELLYN

Noel: I think she’s got a weird skill that nobody knows yet. I think she’s got something underneath the skin.

DESIREE

Noel: She’s a powerhouse. She’s very self-oriented, she’s going to work by herself.

BRADLEY

Noel: He’s going to win the game if I don’t. It’s the people that pay attention to things. He was listening in to conversations on the airplane.

BRENDAN

Noel: He’s going to go to the end or he’s going to get voted out third. I can work with him.

CHRIS

Noel: He’s going to be one of my better allies. Initial contact for sure.

WENDELL

Noel: I’m not sure how I’m going to roll with him. He’s either going to be one of my better buddies, or he’s going to be the backstabber.

 

JACOB

Noel: Clueless. I don’t know what to expect from him. He looks like he’ll be a ball. I can’t wait to meet him.

JAMES

Noel: He’s another threat. He’s like the Jackie Chan of the crew. He’s going to corral us with his quiet monotone way.

MICHAEL

Noel: He’s going to be a physical threat, but I think he’s too much in his own game. I probably can work with him.

DONATHAN

Noel: Interesting character. Very flamboyant. I think he’ll be one to keep in your pocket

DOMENICK

Noel: Keep him in my pocket, but he’s going to be a flipper. He looks like he can get mad at anything.

Don’t miss the season premiere of “Survivor: Ghost Island” – Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 8 pm ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Castaway Kellyn – ‘Empathy Is My Superpower’

February 21, 2018

“Survivor: Ghost Island” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Ghost Island.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 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: Kellyn Bechtold
Age: 31
Hometown: North Manchester, Indiana
Current residence: Denver, Colorado
Occupation: Career Counselor

Gordon Holmes: It says in your bio that you got married and divorced within a year. You don’t mess around.
Kellyn Bechtold: (Laughs)
Holmes: What happened?
Bechtold: Nothing really happened. I’d been with this person for six years. He’s on his own journey and I needed to be on mine. We went on our honeymoon to Iceland and I realized it wasn’t where I wanted to be for the rest of my life. I wish him all the very best, I just woke up and realized that the life I wanted and things I love about myself, those things weren’t coming out in the relationship. I’m excited to have the things I like about myself out here to play “Survivor.”
Holmes: Were you able to maintain a friendship?
Bechtold: No. I moved out and I haven’t spoken to him since then. It’ll be interesting when he sees me on “Survivor.”
Holmes: So he’ll have no idea? One day he’s going to turn on the TV and be like, “Hey, that’s my ex-wife starving.”
Bechtold: (Laughs) That’s right.
Holmes: Is he a “Survivor” fan?
Bechtold: No. That’s why I had to divorce him. (Laughs)
Holmes: I don’t know the guy, but you’re better off.

Holmes: You’ve participated in an MMA Fitness Challenge. Does this involve striking?
Bechtold: Oh…no. That’s so funny. After I moved out and I was finishing grad school, I was wrapping up my final work there. I got a new job, I decided to put myself through this six-week challenge of training in MMA fighting, which is so out there for me. I’m not this buff person. I’m not here to be a physical threat.
Holmes: But if anyone messes with you, you can put them in a triangle choke.
Bechtold: Yeah! No, not really. It was not aggressive in any way, but we did get to punch bags and kick pads and stuff. It was a really fun thing. And I was in the best shape of my life for my 30th birthday. I was in better shape then than I am now, but don’t tell anybody.
Holmes: When this is over, they’re going to ask me what you deal is. I’m going to say, you should’ve cast her six months ago when it was her 30th birthday.
Bechtold: (Laughs)

Holmes: Speaking of, why do you think you were cast?
Bechtold: I wore these black-and-white checkered pants and Jeff said he remember those. So, it might be the pants.
Holmes: That’s the key to that dude’s heart.
Bechtold: (Laughs) Apparently.
Holmes: Away from the show, all he does is play checkers.
Bechtold: (Laughs) I think I was cast because I applied a year ago and nothing happened, so I made a new video and said, “This is what’s happened in my life since last year, I got married, divorced, blah blah blah.” And I think I was so vulnerable and genuine and I had watched videos where people said, “Just be yourself.” And I find the best way to live life is to be yourself and be vulnerable and tell the truth about who you are and where you want to go. That’s how you can relate to people. And people fall in love with you for being genuine. Then they feel like they can be genuine and then they can love themselves more. I’ve been saying that empathy is my superpower. The only thing different about that in “Survivor” is…I’m going to use that.
Holmes: So, you’re fully prepared to lure them in and then slit their throats?
Bechtold: Yeah. That’s the game, right? I couldn’t be fake. I’m falling in love with these people, they’re all little treasure boxes. I can’t wait to see what gems are in there. I will genuinely care about them. But, I know the “Survivor” world enough to know that some of these people might become my best friends for life. And that part will be genuine. And if I never have to do any lying or stabbing to get to the end, then I won’t. But, I’m not above doing that for the game.
Holmes: It is weird to think that these 19 strangers who you’re not allowed to talk to…several of them will be in your life forever.
Bechtold: They’ll be guests at my next wedding! (Laughs)
Holmes: (Laughs)

Holmes: I have a question written down that I haven’t been asking to everyone because it’s kind of dumb. “Is there anything that isn’t in your bio that should be?” And then in parenthesis I have, “Ever kill a hobo?”
Bechtold: (Laughs)
Holmes: I don’t know why killing hobos is the first place my mind goes.
Bechtold: I don’t know what the bio says, we haven’t seen it.
Holmes: It’s probably what you filled out at casting.
Bechtold: So, you’re trying to get to the deep, dark secrets.
Holmes: Yes, have you killed a hobo, and if so, how many?
Bechtold: No.
Holmes: I swear I will not tell anyone. However, I will publish it next winter.
Bechtold: What do they not know about me? The “Survivor” folks? I’ve been so open and vulnerable.
Holmes: My secret is I almost killed a player during pre-game interviews.
Bechtold: What happened? Should I be worried?
Holmes: Not too worried. In “Survivor: Philippines,” a framed document fell off a gazebo and cracked over Dawson’s head. It probably wasn’t my fault.
Bechtold: Oh…OK, I think my thing is I got out of a speeding ticket once by saying I had a female procedure done and I really needed to get home.
Holmes: What’s a female procedure?
Bechtold: I don’t know, but it worked.

Holmes: Have you set any boundaries as far as what you will and will not do ethically?
Bechtold: Lying, cheating, stealing, I’ll do whatever. But I will not attack someone personally. I’m not saying I won’t call people names in confessionals. That guy is fricking annoying.
Holmes: So harsh, “Fricking annoying?”
Bechtold: Is that bad?
Holmes: No, I’ve been called worse today.
Bechtold: So, I might do that, but if someone shares something with me personally, I’d never use that. I think we should all hold each other sacred as far as personal life. Now, I know not to tell people about super secrets that I don’t want to be said on television. I think people deserve to come out of this game with some bit of privacy.
Holmes: At the end of the day, you’re people and you have to go back to your regular lives.
Bechtold: Yes, I don’t want to go too far. For me it was the Will and Shirin thing. And he said, “I understand why your family doesn’t love you,” or something like that. That stuff is too far. It’s one thing to say, “You’re the most annoying (expletive deleted) person to live with out here.” But to say, “Your mother should have abandoned you” is too much.
Holmes: What about flirting?
Bechtold: In my real life I’m not above flirting, but you have to understand where you are in the deck of cards. It’s human poker and that’s not my hand. This place is Barbie doll central up the wazoo. That’s not me. I don’t have the long blonde hair. I’m not the cute girl, that’s not why I’m here. Will I make people feel good about themselves? Make people feel loved? Flirting in a…this sounds screwed up…like in a motherly way.
Holmes: (Laughs)
Bechtold: That sounds so wrong. But, like in a caring way. I’m going to make you feel good about yourself. I’ve got to live on my social game. I’m not going to win every challenge.
Holmes: Except for the MMA ones.
Bechtold: Yes, if there’s a round kick to the face challenge, I’ve got it.

Holmes: You’re in the dark as far as twists and themes. Any guesses?
Bechtold: I can’t figure it out. I can’t put people into buckets. There aren’t enough old people to do “Millennials vs. Gen-X.” I’d love a guys vs. girls theme. But, I don’t think it’s that.

Holmes: Alright, I’m going to give you two “Survivor” situations. You tell me which one you would rather deal with.
Bechtold: OK.
Holmes: Align with a Hillary supporter or a Trump supporter?
Bechtold: Oh…dear God. A Hillary supporter I would rather spend time with…but a…oh…is this a Republicans vs. Democrats season? If so, then shoot me. I can’t even fake it, Hillary.
Holmes: Steal a vote or eliminate a juror?
Bechtold: Eliminate a juror.
Holmes: Endurance challenge or word puzzle?
Bechtold: Word puzzle.
Holmes: Align with a racist or a sexist?
Bechtold: I guess a sexist. I play that game all the time being a career woman. You deal with sexism every (expletive deleted) day. I think I’d know how to handle it.
Holmes: Voted out first or before the final Tribal?
Bechtold: Final Tribal.
Holmes: Align with an adulterer or a tax cheat?
Bechtold: A tax cheat.
Holmes: Lose the family challenge or win and have to decide who to take along?
Bechtold: Lose.
Holmes: Caught stealing food or idol hunting?
Bechtold: Caught idol hunting.
Holmes: Align with a super fan or someone who doesn’t watch the show?
Bechtold: Someone who doesn’t watch the show.
Holmes: Dance challenge or karaoke challenge?
Bechtold: (Laughs) I’d lose both.
Holmes: Too bad, cause that’s this season’s theme.
Bechtold: (Laughs) That would be so fun, but I’d have to pick dancing. Karaoke, I’d be (expletive deleted) because I can’t keep a tune.

Holmes: What kind of first impression do you think you put out there?
Bechtold: I think that I come across as someone who loves life and is happy to be here. I think I’m very approachable. I don’t think I seem like a bitch or cold-hearted. I wonder if people think I’m smart. I’ve been reading a big book. You have so much time. But, I was wondering if I shouldn’t have brought this 600-page book.
Holmes: Hold the book upside-down.
Bechtold: (Laughs) That’d do it.

NOTE: The cast members do not know each other’s names at this point. I showed Kellyn a picture of each of the competitors and asked her to share her first impressions.

LIBBY

Bechtold: That girl was reading Malcolm Gladwell and she looks like that? She’s going to do well.

ANGELA

Bechtold: She’s kept to herself. Seems quiet. Will be more of a listener than a talker.

CHELSEA

Bechtold: She looks like a blast. If I’m going to the club, I’m calling her.

JENNA

Bechtold: I’m not sure about her. She seems self-confident and it seems like she doesn’t need me. I like it when people need me.

GONZALEZ

Bechtold: I can not get a read on her at all. She keeps to herself. I can’t picture her at home watching “Survivor.”

STEPHANIE

Bechtold: She is going to be the life of the party. Those are the kinds of people I want to have a good time with.

MORGAN

Bechtold: She seems very smart. I’d love to work with her. She’s like a female empowerment person. I’d like her to be my fourth. I can convince people to vote her out because she’s walking around with a Louis Vuitton bag. She does not need the million dollars.

LAUREL

Bechtold: She’s been fairly introverted. She smiles a lot. She looks really young

DESIREE

Bechtold: I haven’t seen her interact with the staff at Ponderosa. She’s not smiling at anyone. She has kept very much to herself. She either needs a friend and will be open to me coming up to her, or she’s a non-emotional person.

BRADLEY

Bechtold: I’m scared of him because he seems smart and super friendly. He’s not super buff, so he doesn’t seem like a challenge threat. He seems dangerous.

BRENDAN

Bechtold: He’s my favorite. If I had to vote right now to give someone the money, it’d be him.

CHRIS

Bechtold: He seems like a bro/beach guy, but he’s reading this book called “The Four Agreements.” That’s a book I’ve read with my yoga friends. I’m wondering who bought him that book.

SEBASTIAN

Bechtold: My mom is so worried about me. She’s been praying that there’s someone who can provide me food. I think he’s the answer to my mom’s prayers. He looks like he knows his way around the ocean.

WENDELL

Bechtold: He’s my first choice for an alliance. He was there during casting and when I got to the airport. We smiled at each other. I feel like whenever we’re in the same space with each other that it’s like, “I’ve got you.” But, we’ll see.

 

JACOB

Bechtold: This guy is “Survivor” super fan. He probably has every show memorized. I may work with him for a little bit. But, I don’t like the idea of someone knowing the show better than I do.

JAMES

Bechtold: This guy is so sweet. He’s always so put together. His hair is perfect, his shirt is on a hanger. His whole life seems to be incredibly perfect. I wonder how he’s going to handle the elements.

MICHAEL

Bechtold: I just don’t know. He seems like a bro, but maybe he has a sensitive side.

DONATHAN

Bechtold: He’s really a bunch of contradictions. He has these heavy work boots, but the rest of his personality doesn’t seem like a farm boy.

DOMENICK

Bechtold: This is who I think of as a Boston Rob wannabe. He seems like he thinks he knows what he’s doing. He’s going to want to be a leader, and I’m going to let him. Take attention away from me.

Don’t miss the season premiere of “Survivor: Ghost Island” – Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 8 pm ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Castaway Brendan – ‘Every Game We Play Is About Deception, So Why Do People Get Bent Out of Shape Here?’

February 20, 2018

“Survivor: Ghost Island” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Ghost Island.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 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: Brendan Shapiro
Age: 41
Hometown: Herndon, Virginia
Current residence: Herndon, Virginia
Occupation: Physical Education Teacher

Gordon Holmes: It says here you left your unsatisfying, high-paying job to start your own business. Is that aside from the teaching?
Brendan Shapiro: Yeah, I’ve only been a teacher for…we’ll, I’m just about to turn 41.
Holmes: Yeah, dude. As a 40 year old, I don’t appreciate the amazing physique you’re parading around here with.
Shapiro: (Laughs) When I was 39 I started teaching. So, I’ve only been a teacher for the last year and a half. Before that I ran a small retail business with my wife and her sister and her sister’s husband. About two years ago we sold out half of the business to our business partners.

Holmes: Why do you think you were cast?
Shapiro: That’s a good question. I’ve been trying to crack this nut for sixteen years. I first applied in 2001. And, I think it was “Survivor 4.” I made it to the semi-final round. I thought I did fine, but I had the sense at the time that as a 25 year old with a kid, who was married, I maybe wasn’t what they were looking for. And I told my wife, “If they’re still making this show when I’m 40, I think I’ve got a shot.” And from then to now, I applied like 13 times. And at various stages got a little bit of the way down the road. And finally here at 40, I got the nod.
Holmes: People ask me why I don’t play “Survivor,” and I’ve always said, “I’m not good looking and muscular enough to be the young guy, and I’m not old enough to be the old cranky guy.” So, if we see “Survivor 70” it might be my time.
Shapiro: Right in your wheelhouse. (Laughs) But, I think the time was right. I’m so lucky to be here, I think I’ll do better now than I would have back then. It sounds cliché, but I feel like I’m wiser now.

Holmes: Is there anything you left out of your bio? Any bachelor parties that went horribly wrong? Are you actually Brendan’s evil twin?
Shapiro: (Laughs) No, I’ve never been arrested. In my youth I ran from the police many times, but was never caught. Nothing too bad.

Holmes: Is there anything about your backstory that you’re going to keep a secret from your tribe?
Shapiro: Yeah, I’m going to tell them that I’m a teacher. And that’s easy to talk about because I am. But, I’m going to omit the part where I ran a business for a dozen years. I’m also going to make sure that I keep people in the dark about me being a big fan of the show. I just feel like that marks you. It’s just another threat level. I don’t want people to look at me and think this guy does well in challenges and he knows the game. I want them to think I’m happy to be here. High fives and smiles all around.
Holmes: When they hand you that buff, you’ve got to play it cool.
Shapiro: Exactly.

Holmes: Have you set any personal boundaries as far as lying, cheating, stealing, etc.?
Shapiro: No, my personal opinion on “Survivor” is that it’s no different from any other game. When my son was nine years old, he was playing football. And you had nine year olds who were trying to trick the other players into thinking they were going to run one way. Every game we play is about deception, so why do people get bent out of shape here? The only difference is you’re deceiving more with your words than your actions. The only thing I’d say is, I wouldn’t be gratuitously nasty. I’m not going to say things just to make someone feel bad. I think people who do that, like Russell, are sociopaths. They’re probably mean to dogs and waiters.
Holmes: You’ve got that wedding ring. I usually ask a question about flirting, but I’d imagine that’ll be tough to do with that on your finger.
Shapiro: Yeah, and I’m an old fart. I’ll be 41 in a couple of weeks. We’ve got a bunch of good looking 20-somethings. They can flirt with each other. I have a lot of tools to use in this game, that’s probably not one of them.

Holmes: You’re in the dark as far as twists and themes. Any guesses as to what’s going on?
Shapiro: No, not a one. I’ve been trying. How can you divide this group up and make a theme? So, it’s either a theme that’s never been done before and it has to do with our characteristics. Or, it has nothing to do with us and it’s a new twist like Redemption Island back in the day.

Holmes: Alright, I’ll give you two “Survivor” situations. You tell me which one you would prefer.
Shapiro: OK.
Holmes: Align with a Hillary supporter or a Trump supporter?
Shapiro: I think…a Trump supporter, because Trump supporters believe they’re standing on principle and are maybe less easily moved off of that principle. And out here predictability is a good thing.
Holmes: Steal a vote or eliminate a juror?
Shapiro: Steal a vote. You’ve got to get to the end for it to matter. If I get to the final three, I think I can talk my way into a win regardless of who’s on the jury.
Holmes: Endurance challenge or word puzzle?
Shapiro: Endurance challenge.
Holmes: Align with a racist or a sexist?
Shapiro: (Laughs) They’re both bad. I guess a sexist? There’s an even split of men and women. That’s a tough one.
Holmes: Voted out first or before the final Tribal?
Shapiro: Before final Tribal, without question. That’s my biggest fear is being voted out first.
Holmes: Align with an adulterer or a tax cheat?
Shapiro: Tax cheat.
Holmes: Lose the family challenge or win and have to decide who to take along?
Shapiro: Win and decide.
Holmes: Caught stealing food or caught idol hunting?
Shapiro: Idol hunting.
Holmes: Align with a super fan or someone who doesn’t watch the show?
Shapiro: Doesn’t watch the show. A super fan is more likely to turn on you.
Holmes: Dance challenge or karaoke challenge?
Shapiro: I could nail either one of those. If I have to pick, I’ll say dance.
Holmes: What’s your go-to karaoke jam?
Shapiro: The last time I did karaoke I did “Hard to Handle” by the Black Crowes.

Holmes: What kind of first impression do you think you put out there?
Shapiro: I’ve been accused of seeming really intense, just in life, back home. I think my resting face is a very intense kind of face. And I don’t mean it to be. I’ll be perfectly content, I’ve got a monkey on a unicycle rolling around in my head. And they think I’m stewing about something. So, I’ve got to do a good job of having a happy face. And here, I’ve been trying to smile at people, seem approachable.

NOTE: The cast members do not know each other’s names at this point. I showed Brendan a picture of each of his competitors and asked him to share his first impressions.

LIBBY

Shapiro: I think she’s probably the youngest person out here. I’m tempted to say that she’s young and doesn’t know what she’s in for, but she could be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

ANGELA

Shapiro: When I saw her I thought I wasn’t the oldest one here. She’s probably in my demo. If we’re together, hopefully she’ll feel like a kindred spirit.

CHELSEA

Shapiro: Very athletic. The whole cast is athletic. I’m guessing she’s a high-level athlete.

JENNA

Shapiro: She’s interesting. She’s borderline aloof. Maybe she’s trying not to let anybody in.

GONZALEZ

Shapiro: Kind of a loner. Keeps to herself. She’s got a bunch of tattoos, I’m interested to hear the stories.

STEPHANIE

Shapiro: Very bubbly. I’m guessing she’s outgoing. I think I can work with her.

MORGAN

Shapiro: She’s got one of the kindest faces out here. She’s another one I could make a relationship with.

LAUREL

Shapiro: Someone else who I think could be a high-level athlete. She’s got a very strong, muscular build. Seems personable. Very friendly.

KELLYN

Shapiro: My first thought for her is she’s a teacher. She has that classic teacher look.

DESIREE

Shapiro: She’s interesting, I can’t figure her out at all. I’ve tried to engage. She’s got a serious game face.

BRADLEY

Shapiro: My guess is he’s a super fan. He’s got that Ivy League buttoned-up look to him. I think he’s very analytical. He thinks of himself as a real student of the game. Those guys you have to look out for.

BRENDAN

Shapiro: Oof…this guy.
Holmes: Future “Survivor” champion.
Shapiro: I think he’s got the tools to get it done.

CHRIS

Shapiro: All-American there. I’m guessing he’s a football quarterback or something. My guess would be is he’s not a big fan of “Survivor.”

SEBASTIAN

Shapiro: Classic surf dude. “Survivor” casts a lot of people like this. Good energy, positive guy.

WENDELL

Shapiro: He doesn’t smile. He looks really intense. I think he’s come to play. Not the friendliest demeanor, but who knows?

 

JACOB

Shapiro: He’s funny. Looking at him I thought, Fozzy Bear. And then today he was wearing a bandana and he looked like a bearded Richard Simmons. I bet he’s full of personality. Probably a super fan too.

JAMES

Shapiro: He walks around like Superman. Big strong guy, chest is out. Seems friendly. No idea what his deal is. I’m guessing he’s some kind of executive.

MICHAEL

Shapiro: I’m going to guess New Jersey. Blue-collar kind of guy.

DONATHAN

Shapiro: I think he’s a super fan. He’s looking at everyone sideways. I’ve got to look out for him.

DOMENICK

Shapiro: I have a feeling he might be like a Tony 2.0. I bet he’s full of personality, maybe a New Jersey guy.

Don’t miss the season premiere of “Survivor: Ghost Island” – Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 8 pm ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Castway Desiree – ‘Some People Play to Be Sole Survivor, I’m About the Money’

February 19, 2018

‘Survivor: Ghost Island’ (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Ghost Island.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 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: Desiree Afuye
Age: 21
Hometown: Newark, New Jersey
Current residence: Brooklyn, New York
Occupation: Student

Gordon Holmes: One of your hobbies is debating.
Desiree Afuye: (Laughs) Yes.
Holmes: Is that on a debate team or with random folks?
Afuye: No, I just debate! I will come up to you and debate. I will debate from every different angle, even if I don’t believe in the angle. I just like debating.
Holmes: That could get you in some trouble out here.
Afuye: I know when to debate and when not to debate. (Laughs) I know when to shut up. I’m a pretty good reader of people, so I’ll talk to the person as I see them.

Holmes: You also describe yourself as a YouTube binger. What’s your go-to genre?
Afuye: I love beauty videos. Like Gigi Gorgeous, the black hair beauty videos…even though I have no hair it still fascinates me.
Holmes: So make-up application…
Afuye: Make-up application, hair application…everything to do with beauty.

Holmes: Why do you think you were cast?
Afuye: I’m really fascinating.
Holmes: Obviously.
Afuye: (Laughs) I have a story that I bring along to this season. I was homeless at one point. I’ve been through a lot at a young age. I’m only 21.
Holmes: You’re 21, but you feel like an old soul.
Afuye: Yes, I get that all the time. And I think it’s because I’ve overcome certain things.
Holmes: How is this show even a challenge after what you’ve been through?
Afuye: Yes! After what I’ve been through, this is nothing.
Holmes: They should have to survive what you’ve been through.
Afuye: Exactly!

Holmes: Are you going to lie about any part of your backstory?
Afuye: I might lie, people might think I’m older than I am. I might say I have kids. I could be doing this for them. (Cries) This is for my baby. I don’t have any kids, I’m a kid.
Holmes: And how many “kids” do you have?
Afuye: I might have two…or one.
Holmes: You might want to pick a number and stick with it.
Afuye: One would be more believable.
Holmes: Boy or girl?
Afuye: A girl.
Holmes: And what’s her name?
Afuye: My baby girl Christina.
Holmes: Aww…and how old is she?
Afuye: She’s two years old.
Holmes: That’s a rough age because they get into everything and they’re moody.
Afuye: I know…but it was so hard for me to leave her.
Holmes: Who is she with?
Afuye: My boyfriend, he’s taking care of her.
Holmes: I’m picturing you at the finale with that million-dollar check, and some jury member being like, “This is going to do so much for you and Christina.” And you having to be like, “Yeah…about that…”
Afuye: (Laughs)

Holmes: You’re obviously OK lying. But have you set any kind of ethical boundaries for yourself?
Afuye: I know what game I’m playing. In the jungle you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. And I’m here to do what I’ve got to do. If that includes lying? I’m sorry. I don’t lie outside of the game, but a million dollars is on the line.
Holmes: You mentioned a boyfriend…
Afuye: I don’t have a boyfriend.
Holmes: What?!
Afuye: (Laughs) Damn, I got you too!
Holmes: Lie to them, Desiree! I’m the only friend you have out here!
Afuye: (Laughs)
Holmes: I don’t know what to believe.
Afuye: (Laughs) I’m good.
Holmes: Alright, liar. Is flirting on the table?
Afuye: Yeah. I will flirt. I will use anything as leverage. If being a woman gets me ahead? I am the woman of all women. I am her.
Holmes: I was going to ask if your make-believe boyfriend would be upset if you were flirting. Maybe he’ll be make-believe upset.
Afuye: I thought we were going off of fiction!

Holmes: Are you a “Survivor” fan?
Afuye: Kind of, sort of. I’ve seen season 16, jumped to season 20, season 28, 32, 31, 34, all the thirties.
Holmes: They’re keeping you in the dark as far as twists and whatnot. Any guesses?
Afuye: I really think it’s Beauty vs. Brains vs. Brawn. Just by looking at the people.
Holmes: Which one are you?
Afuye: I think I’m beauty.
Holmes: I think I’m all of the above.
Afuye: (Laughs)

Holmes: Alright, I’ll give you a “Survivor” situation. You tell me which one you would rather deal with.
Afuye: OK.
Holmes: Align with a Hillary supporter or a Trump supporter?
Afuye: A Hillary supporter because Trump supporters are idiots.
Holmes: Find a steal a vote advantage or an eliminate a juror advantage?
Afuye: I’d rather steal a vote. I will woo any juror.
Holmes: It’s for Christina.
Afuye: It’s for baby Christina, c’mon!
Holmes: Baby clothes do not grow on trees.
Afuye: She deserves a good future.
Holmes: Endurance challenge or word puzzle?
Afuye: Word puzzle.
Holmes: Align with a racist or a sexist?
Afuye: A sexist…because a racist…I don’t understand how you can be racist. Why would the color of my skin determine who I am as a person? That’s dumb. A sexist deals with your ego. You feel so macho. I can deal with that. I can break you down. I can make you feel miniscule.
Holmes: Sexists get married.
Afuye: Yeah.
Holmes: They pledge the rest of their lives to a woman.
Afuye: Exactly.
Holmes: Whereas a racist doesn’t want anything to do with the other race.
Afuye: It’s interesting.
Holmes: Voted out first or voted out before the final Tribal?
Afuye: Voted out before final Tribal. At least I can prove to myself that I can come this far.
Holmes: Align with an adulterer or a tax cheat?
Afuye: An adulterer because a tax cheat is about the money. Some people play to be Sole Survivor, I’m about the money. If your goal is the same as mine, I don’t know if I want to align with you.
Holmes: When I was writing these I was thinking, these are some horrible people I’m making these folks align with.
Afuye: They are!
Holmes: But then you get in front of the final jury and say, “This dude is a racist tax cheat.”
Afuye: (Laughs) I wouldn’t need Christina.
Holmes: Lose the family challenge or win and have to decide who to bring along.
Afuye: Win and have to decide.
Holmes: Get caught stealing food or hunting for an idol?
Afuye: These are hard questions…caught stealing food. Because I can get caught, then everyone’s mad at me. And if I can’t woo them back, I’ll be alone and can go find the idol.
Holmes: Align with a super fan or someone who doesn’t watch the show.
Afuye: Doesn’t watch the show, cause then I’m running you and you’re my pawn.
Holmes: A dance challenge or a karaoke challenge?
Afuye: Karaoke, I like singing.
Holmes: What’s your jam?
Afuye: Oh…right now…has to be this UK artist, Skepta. It’s called “Skepta’s Interlude.”
Holmes: Is that made up? Like your boyfriend?
Afuye: It’s real. I want him to be my boyfriend.

Holmes: When people meet you, what is their first impression?
Afuye: I suffer from resting bitch face.
Holmes: Lemme see.
Afuye: (Sits normally)
Holmes: …I can see it.
Afuye: (Laughs) I have to consciously tell myself to keep a little smirk on my face. So, when people meet me and I have my resting bitch face, they think, “She doesn’t want to talk to me. She doesn’t like me.” To avoid that I’m going to keep a smirk on my face. I want people’s first impression to be, “She’s really nice. She’s my homegirl.” I’m going to be their homegirl.

NOTE: The cast members do not know each other’s names at this point. I showed Desiree a picture of each of the competitors and asked her to share her first impressions.

 

LIBBY

Afuye: She smiles too much. She is the devil in a red dress.

ANGELA

Afuye: She may be trustworthy. But, I have to keep her on a leash.

CHELSEA

Afuye: She’s lying. Everything she says is a lie. Her name may be a lie.

JENNA

Afuye: She suffers from resting bitch face worse than me. She doesn’t know how to control her face and show that she’s nice.
Holmes: You two could start a support group.
Afuye: (Laughs) Yeah, we should.

GONZALEZ

Afuye: I want to work with her. I don’t know if I can trust her, but I think I can finagle her.

STEPHANIE

Afuye: She’s another one that smiles a whole heap of a lot. She’s very happy and bubbly. She wears bright colors and I think that’s all a plot to throw you off of her conniving ways.

MORGAN

Afuye: She’s very strong. She’s going to be my shield.

LAUREL

Afuye: I’m not sure about her. I’ll have to speak to her.

KELLYN

Afuye: I think I can trust her.

BRADLEY

Afuye: His eyes tell me a different story. He smiles, but his eyes tell me he’s trying to stab me in the back.

BRENDAN

Afuye: He reminds me of Mr. President. He’s kind of perfect. I’ll use him as a shield to keep the eyes off of me.

CHRIS

Afuye: His ego is crazy. I can already tell he loves himself more than anything else in this world and he thinks he’s a god.

SEBASTIAN

Afuye: I like him. I can’t trust him.

WENDELL

Afuye: I may be able to work with him.

 

JACOB

Afuye: I feel like he’s a super fan. Any move or anything I tell him, he’d already know.

JAMES

Afuye: He’s another one that’s like Mr. Perfect. I can’t read him, so that scares me. He’d have to go.

MICHAEL

Afuye: He might get into a romantic relationship on the show. But he has to go.

DONATHAN

Afuye: I don’t think he can really play. I think he’s going to play it safe.

DOMENICK

Afuye: This guy, it’s hard for him to smile. First one to go.

Don’t miss the season premiere of “Survivor: Ghost Island” – Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 8 pm ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Castaway Bradley – ‘I Keep Having This Dream Where I Win the Final Immunity Challenge’

February 16, 2018

“Survivor: Ghost Island” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Ghost Island.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 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: Bradley Kleihege
Age: 26
Hometown: Haslett, Michigan
Current residence: Los Angeles, California
Occupation: Law student

Gordon Holmes: So, all of the reporters out here are buddies. We compare notes. I heard you rustled some feathers with your interviews the other day.
Bradley Kleihege: I wanted to make a big impression with the press. I understand that the press is different than the people I’m playing with.
Holmes: We’re the worst.
Kleihege: No, the press are not bad people. But, I wanted to come out guns blazing and that’s kind of the way I want to handle confessionals too. I don’t plan to hold back. But, I plan to not be an (expletive deleted), super cocky around camp. Which I think I can do. Because in my daily life I’m not like that.
Holmes: Well, how much of the cockiness is the real you? In your real life are you wanting to say these things but you hold back?
Kleihege: It’s like what they tell you in casting, “Be yourself, but be bigger.” I think I will do very well. But, maybe I should be nicer to the press.
Holmes: It reminds me of Spencer from Cagayan, where during his pre-game interviews, everyone thought he was a jerk. But, in real life he’s a pretty good kid.
Kleihege: That’s what I’m hoping for. Spencer took my spot, I’m tired of talking about Spencer. The way they worked in the Blood vs. Water cast, they bumped the 27 cast to 28. I was supposed to be on 28, Spencer had been cast for 27. So, I got the axe.
Holmes: Well, he didn’t win.
Kleihege: Yeah, that’s what I wrote on my Dalton Ross thing, “Dear Spencer, thanks for taking my spot so I could mature a bit. Now I’m going to win.”
Holmes: Honestly, as far as the press goes; be as mean to Andrea Boehlke, Dalton Ross and Josh Wigler as you want. Those guys deserve it. But be cool to Erin Cebula.
Kleihege: (Laughs) OK. I came in thinking today, you’re my last interview and it was all guns blazing yesterday. I’ll tone it down today. And that’s definitely me in the confessionals. And I do think I’m going to do well. I keep having this dream where I win the final immunity challenge.
Holmes: Here’s the thing, you can be an (expletive deleted). (Expletive deleted) have won “Survivor.” But you’ve got to be my (expletive deleted). Richard Hatch is probably a perfect example. He was a pompous jerk, but to Rudy he’s his pompous jerk. He’s still a friend he can rely on.

Holmes: Thirty-nine days is a long time to not be yourself. Especially if you’re under stress and starving.
Kleihege: Absolutely, that’s what goes into trying to figure out what I’m going to say because I’m not going to tell people that I’m a law student. What am I going to talk about? What do I know enough about that I can (expletive deleted) them for so long? I’m going to say that I’m a geography student. I have more geography credits than I do political science. It was my undergrad major. I’ve been reading up on the formation of the Fijian islands. I’ve talked with Jeff a lot about it. One of Spencer’s problems the second time around is that he’s in the financial industry. Nobody wants to give a young banker a million dollars just like nobody wants to give a young lawyer a million dollars.
Holmes: I’d totally give a geography major a million dollars. It doesn’t sound like a very lucrative field.
Kleihege: Right? My concern is that I’m well spoken. I use words that people on “Survivor” don’t often use. That’s all Jeff ever tells me. I had to find something that was academic. I can’t play off being stupid. I’m not stupid, and I want to surround myself with smart people. Let’s get rid of the people who don’t know what’s going on.
Holmes: Is there anything else you’re going to keep from people?
Kleihege: I don’t think so. I think it’ll be an asset that I grew up in Michigan but now live in LA. There are always people from LA out here. We’ll have a familiarity, we can talk about places we’ve been. Michigan is in the Midwest, I think Midwestern people are generally trustworthy. It gives you a good vibe. You can’t have too many things you’re going to lie about because then it’ll be too much.

Holmes: Some people put limits on lying, cheating, stealing…I’m assuming you’re not one of those people.
Kleihege: No. After 36 seasons, people understand that you come out to play the game. If everyone comes out and acts like Ken from 33? Nobody wants to watch that. Everybody wants to watch the person who’s willing to take the gloves off and be ruthless. Outside of the game, I have all of the morals in the world. You can count on me and I’m not going to lie to you. Even before it was super popular to have the opinion that you should play with the gloves off and people though you should be honorable, I thought that was ridiculous. Let’s say there’s a “Heroes vs. Villains 2” season. I’m playing to be on the villain tribe. But I read a couple of articles with Malcolm where he said he wanted to be the villain and everyone loved him. I don’t think I’m going to have that problem. I’m not the all-American Ivy League football player.

Holmes: You’re in the dark as far as twists and themes. Any guesses?
Kleihege: If I had to guess, I’d say at final four the winning player will pick who goes to the end and the other two will make fire to see who is the last member of the final three.
Holmes: Any guesses that Jeff hasn’t already told you?
Kleihege: (Laughs) I can’t pick a theme out. How would you ever guess “Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers”? It could be anything. I think a geographic divide would be cool. It drove me crazy that there were no spoilers online.

Holmes: I’ll give you two “Survivor” situations. You tell me which one you would rather.
Kleihege: OK.
Holmes: Align with a Hillary supporter or a Trump supporter?
Kleihege: A Hillary supporter.
Holmes: Steal a vote or eliminate a juror?
Kleihege: That’s interesting, I don’t think either will make a difference. I guess steal a vote. It’s got to work one of these times.
Holmes: Endurance challenge or word puzzle?
Kleihege: Endurance challenge, I’ve run several marathons.
Holmes: Align with a racist or a sexist?
Kleihege: Oh God…that’s tough…I guess a sexist. I don’t want to hang out with either.
Holmes: Voted out first or before the final Tribal?
Kleihege: Final Tribal.
Holmes: Align with an adulterer or a tax cheat?
Kleihege: I’m a lawyer, so a tax cheat. (Laughs) I’d give him advice.
Holmes: Lose the family challenge or win and decide who to take.
Kleihege: Lose the family challenge. I have no intention of winning that. I picked my brother, and we’re not super close.
Holmes: Caught stealing food or idol hunting?
Kleihege: I feel like the one thing the show doesn’t show much is that everyone hunts for the idol constantly. I wouldn’t steal food.
Holmes: Align with a super fan or someone who doesn’t watch the show?
Kleihege: Super fan.
Holmes: Dance challenge or karaoke challenge?
Kleihege: Oh…good God. I’d fail at both. I guess karaoke challenge.

Holmes: What kind of first impression do you think you make?
Kleihege: I’ve been trying to relax. I don’t want to come off as too intense. Probably funny…fairly smart. I’ve been reading a lot at Ponderosa. I look at somebody, and if you’re a ten, maybe you’re not that remarkable in other ways because you’re a pretty person and this is “Survivor.” You look at someone like myself, we’re not going to get modeling contracts. That immediately raises the red flag of; you’re here for a reason, it’s not just your looks. What do they think you’re going to bring? In casting, I had a plaid shirt on. And they said, your plaid shirt makes you look like a rich kid. Nobody’s going to give you a million dollars.

NOTE: The cast members do not know each other’s names at this point. I showed Bradley a picture of each of the competitors and asked him to share his first impressions.

LIBBY

Kleihege: Definitely the most attractive girl here. She also seems nice. We were taking a cast photo and she put her hand on my leg. I’m definitely down with that.

ANGELA

Kleihege: Up until yesterday, she looked grumpy. Almost angry to be here. Then yesterday she started to smile more. I generally like older people more than people my age. Everyone here looks so young and she doesn’t, which is great. I’d like to align with her.

CHELSEA

Kleihege: She’s cool. She seems nice.

JENNA

Kleihege: Seems cool too. Not a huge read on her.

GONZALEZ

Kleihege: This girl was at finals with me, she was reading a book on how to be a strong, assertive leader in front of all of us. Major red flag. I’m very skeptical of her.

STEPHANIE

Kleihege: Oh God, she’s very smiley. The last few days I’ve been trying to get her to not sit next to me. One of the handlers was like, “Dude, you two have got to stop.” Because I’ll sit down at dinner and she’ll sit right next to me. I get a good vibe from her, but let’s spread out. You can read her face like a book.

MORGAN

Kleihege: Not a strong read, seems nice.

LAUREL

Kleihege: She seems pretty laid back. She’s someone that would not be a pain to spend 39 days on a beach with.

KELLYN

Kleihege: She’s interesting…if there’s one person that I don’t think fits in it’s her. She seems quieter, she doesn’t interact with people. She seems smart.

DESIREE

Kleihege: Seems cool. She likes to laugh at stupid things, which is probably good if you have to spend time on a beach with someone.

BRENDAN

Kleihege: I’d assume the oldest guy in the group. I think we could work together. My guess is he’s ex-military. He holds himself very assuredly. He might have trouble without food. He doesn’t have any body fat.

CHRIS

Kleihege: He’s interesting, I was at casting with him. I’ve gotten nothing from him. He kind of struts around. He thinks he’s very cool. During the cast photo he said, “Everyone put your hands under your biceps, it will make them look bigger.”
Holmes: I’m going to steal that.
Kleihege: What makes me leery of him is I think he’s a football player, and he has a lot of charm. I think people are naturally drawn to him. So, if we align it could be a JT and Stephen situation. His nickname at casting was “Beach Jesus.” Because he’s the tannest white kid I’ve ever seen in my life and he has that big gold cross that he wears.

SEBASTIAN

Kleihege: This kid was sniffing a Sharpie at the airport. He kind of looks like those stray dogs you see in a third-world country. But, my interactions with him have been cool. He wears a lot of fishing shirts. I don’t fish, but I like to sail. We’ve got that boating culture. It would be an unlikely alliance, but I’d be down for it.

WENDELL

Kleihege: Seems cool, we got in trouble for talking during the cast picture. He’s quiet, he’s been doing a lot of logic puzzles. I think I’m good at puzzles, but I’m never going to volunteer. People place value on physical strength, but the puzzle is the only thing that matters. It puts a huge target on you.

 

JACOB

Kleihege: (Laughs) He’s interesting. If anyone is a high schooler, it’s him. He seems immature. He’s really excited to be here. He seems like a great dane puppy.

JAMES

Kleihege: I get a good read from him. He’s intelligent. He’s been reading a lot. He holds himself very high and confidently. He’s not smiling with everybody. I’d rather be with him than against him.

MICHAEL

Kleihege: He was at casting. His nickname was “Swoopy hair.”

DONATHAN

Kleihege: He’s quiet. He’s the best at following the no-talking rule. He covers his mouth with his hands when he talks to the handlers, which is weird.
Holmes: That’s smart. Allie Pohevitz knew all of her cast’s names because she could read lips.
Kleihege: Really? I know some people’s names. I know Chelsea, we sat next to each other on the plane and we had to fill out our immigration papers.

DOMENICK

Kleihege: Seems cool. He seems a little older. He might be my guy.

Don’t miss the season premiere of “Survivor: Ghost Island” – Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 8 pm ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Castaway Morgan – ‘I Love My Job, I Love Life, Sometimes I’m Annoyingly Happy’

February 15, 2018

“Survivor: Ghost Island” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Ghost Island.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 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: Morgan Ricke
Age: 29
Hometown: New Albany, Indiana
Current residence: Orlando, Florida
Occupation: Marine Animal Trainer

Gordon Holmes: Killer whale trainer?
Morgan Ricke: Yes. I work with killer whales and pilot whales, but I’ve worked with sea lions, otters, walruses, beluga whales, bottle-nosed dolphins…I’ve kind of done it all.
Holmes: My ex was super into otters.
Ricke: They’re mischievous.
Holmes: And they’re supposedly jerks, right?
Ricke: (Laughs) Everyone thinks they’re all cute and cuddly, but they’ll fool ya.
Holmes: What does training the whales entail?
Ricke: We take care of them. I’m there at 6 am preparing a thousand pounds of fish. Doing all the nitty-gritty work.
Holmes: That sounds like it would smell horrible.
Ricke: I don’t notice the smell anymore, but people tell me I smell really bad.
Holmes: That’s going to serve you really well in the next couple of days.
Ricke: (Laughs) I love the smell of fish.

Holmes: Why do you think you were cast?
Ricke: I think I have a very unique job. I think that made me stand out. In my interview I talked about how I was an athlete and people probably look at me and think I’m scrawny. So, at the end of my interview I flexed my muscles.
Holmes: I thought you were going to say you bench pressed Jeff Probst.
Ricke: No! (Laughs) I flexed my muscles and they said that got their attention.
Holmes: Let’s see.
Ricke: (Flexes)
Holmes: Damn. I’m not going to mess with you.
Ricke: They work.

Holmes: You have a gymnastics background as well. In the top twenty?
Ricke: I don’t know exactly…
Holmes: Lies.
Ricke: (Laughs) I was so young. But, it was a huge part of my life. I blew out my elbow serving a volleyball.
Holmes: What were you serving it?
Ricke: (Silence)
Holmes: That was a terrible joke. I’m not proud of that.
Ricke: (Laughs)
Holmes: If this interview is making you uncomfortable, we can wrap it up.
Ricke: (Laughs) No, of course not. But I blew out my elbow, I grew a foot, and diving was the closest thing I could get to gymnastics. I went to college on an athletic and academic scholarship, so diving worked out.

Holmes: Is there anything about your past that you’re going to keep a secret?
Ricke: I was going to keep the animal training thing a secret, but it’s such a part of who I am. Maybe I won’t let them know how good of a swimmer I am. Not that I’m going to hide it, if I need to swim to win a challenge I will.

Holmes: Have you set any boundaries as far as lying, deceiving, etc?
Ricke: No. I’ll lie, I’ll cheat, I’ll steal, I’ll do whatever. It’s a game and my family and friends recognize that. And I’m such a competitive person, that I’m going to do whatever it takes.
Holmes: What about flirting?
Ricke: I’m not against it. You can look at the menu, you don’t have to order anything.
Holmes: (Laughs) Is there someone back home who’s going to be upset if they see you getting some take out?
Ricke: No, my boyfriend has given me permission. He said do whatever you need to do.
Holmes: Good boyfriend. I can’t imagine my wife giving me that pass.
Ricke: (Laughs) It’s not like he wants to see me making out with someone on national television. But flirting is OK.
Holmes: It’s very rare that it gets to that level on “Survivor.” It’s because everyone smells. But, that isn’t a problem for you.
Ricke: (Laughs) He sends me to get discounts. He’s like, “Go do whatever you need to do to get that discount.”
Holmes: Is he your family visit?
Ricke: He is not because of that reason. I purposely planned that.
Holmes: So, you’re not going to tell people you have a boyfriend?
Ricke: Maybe not. It’ll be a game time decision.

Holmes: Are you a “Survivor” fan?
Ricke: Yes. I haven’t missed an episode since day one.
Holmes: Look at you.
Ricke: Are you saying I’m old? (Laughs)
Holmes: Don’t put that on me.
Ricke: (Laughs) It was a family event. It’s still a family event even though we’re spread out.

Holmes: You’re in the dark as far as twists and themes. Any guesses as to what’s going on?
Ricke: I feel like it’s a lot of ex athletes and a lot of nerdy types. There are a lot of people with six packs and a lot of nerdy-ish people. I’m a nerd too, so it works out.
Holmes: How are you a nerd?
Ricke: I’ve always been an athlete my whole life, but I’ve always been a good student. I was top of my class in high school. Graduated college with honors.
Holmes: It’s actually “Survivor: Animal Trainers.”
Ricke: (Laughs) I don’t think so.
Holmes: You think I came all this way to lie to you?
Ricke: Some of these people don’t look like swimmers.
Holmes: Animal trainers. You don’t need to swim to train a lion.
Ricke: (Laughs) Yeah, I still don’t believe you.
Holmes: That’s probably smart.

Holmes: Alright, I’ll give you two “Survivor” situations. You tell me which one you would rather deal with.
Ricke: OK.
Holmes: Align with a Hillary supporter or a Trump supporter.
Ricke: A Trump supporter…I’m not exactly sure why. I feel like a lot of the Hillary supporters are all feminist and girl power. And I’m not saying I’m not for girl power, but sometimes it gets old.
Holmes: Steal a vote or eliminate a juror?
Ricke: Steal a vote.
Holmes: Endurance challenge or word puzzle?
Ricke: Endurance, endurance, endurance.
Holmes: Align with a racist or align with a sexist?
Ricke: A sexist…racism just irks me to no end.
Holmes: Voted out first or before final Tribal?
Ricke: Before final Tribal.
Holmes: Align with an adulterer or a tax cheat?
Ricke: (Laughs) I’d align with both. It doesn’t affect me.
Holmes: Can’t pick both.
Ricke: Fine…tax cheat.
Holmes: Lose the family challenge or win and have to decide who to take on the reward?
Ricke: Definitely lose. The family challenge…that’s one you don’t want to win. It’s my sister coming, sorry…see ya.
Holmes: Thanks for making the eleven-hour flight. But…bye.
Ricke: Bye.
Holmes: Caught stealing food or idol hunting?
Ricke: Idol hunting.
Holmes: Align with a super fan or someone who doesn’t watch the show?
Ricke: That’s a hard one…super fan. They have more of an idea of what’s going on. Someone who’s never played might make dumb moves because they haven’t seen dumb moves before.
Holmes: A dance challenge or a karaoke challenge?
Ricke: Either would be embarrassing. I’d say dance challenge.
Holmes: What’s your go-to move?
Ricke: The Running Man. (Laughs)
Holmes: No exaggeration, I once spent an evening trying to figure out the difference between the Running Man and the Roger Rabbit.
Ricke: I used to practice the SpongeBob all the time.
Holmes: What’s that?
Ricke: Your legs go out sideways. It’s this dance move that’s stupid.
Holmes: You never know how these interviews are going to go.
Ricke: (Laughs)

Holmes: What kind of first impression do you think you make?
Ricke: Loud. Very loud. I have a bubbly personality. I’m always smiling. I love my job, I love life. Sometimes I’m annoyingly happy.

NOTE: The cast members do not know each other’s names at this point. I showed Morgan a picture of each of the competitors and asked her to share her first impressions.

LIBBY

Ricke: Barbie.

ANGELA

Ricke: Mom-ish.

CHELSEA

Ricke: Risk-taker.

JENNA

Ricke: She looks like Stassi Schroeder from “Vanderpump Rules.”
Holmes: No idea who that is. Is that a good thing?
Ricke: I like the character, she’s kind of bitchy on the show.

GONZALEZ

Ricke: Strong-minded.

STEPHANIE

Ricke: Flirty, fun, smiley.

LAUREL

Ricke: Excited. Happy.

KELLYN

Ricke: Down to Earth.

DESIREE

Ricke: Vivacious

BRADLEY

Ricke: Nice eyes.

BRENDAN

Ricke: Intelligent.

CHRIS

Ricke: Brad Pitt.

SEBASTIAN

Ricke: He reminds me of a skinny Malcolm.
Holmes: Are you saying Malcolm is fat?
Ricke: No!
Holmes: Malcolm and I are best friends. I will fight you.
Ricke: Malcolm is super bulk and muscley. He’s not as strong as Malcolm.

WENDELL

Ricke: He looks like a guy I know that’s in a boy band.

 

JACOB

Ricke: Nice, kind…nothing extraordinary

JAMES

Ricke: Ex football player.

MICHAEL

Ricke: Men’s fitness magazine model.

DONATHAN

Ricke: Like your little brother.

DOMENICK

Ricke: He reminds me of Boston Rob.

Don’t miss the season premiere of “Survivor: Ghost Island” – Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 8 pm ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Castaway Donathan – ‘I May Only Have One Chance to Play. Why Not Go Out There and Give It Hell?’

February 14, 2018

“Survivor: Ghost Island” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Ghost Island.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 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: Donathan Hurley
Age: 26
Hometown: Phelps, Kentucky
Current residence: Kimper, Kentucky
Occupation: Caretaker

Gordon Holmes: You were very specific that your name is not Jonathan, it’s not Donovan. It’s Donathan.
Donathan Hurley: That’s correct. And I’ll give people a slide one or two times. It’s just a pet peeve. I’ve dealt with it for many, many, many years. (Laughs)
Holmes: You’ll let it slide one or two times, but that third time…watch out.
Hurley: (Laughs) Yeah. That’s why I have the nickname “Don Don.” That’s easier for people to remember.

Holmes: Are you a “Survivor” fan?
Hurley: Yes, super.
Holmes: For how long?
Hurley: Since I was young, ten. My grandfather watched the first couple of seasons. I wasn’t really into it though, until 2006. I had a friend and she watched it. I cheered and danced when I was in school, so a lot of the time I was gone when they aired. But, I’ve caught up with all of them thanks to CBS All Access.
Holmes: What kind of dance? Cheer dance?
Hurley: I was a cheerleader. The first male cheerleader in my entire area. Dancer too…only guy. And I did hip-hop dance.
Holmes: So you’re part of a team, learning complex choreography. To me, that says that you’ve got to be good at following directions, doing what’s right for the team, dealing with different personalities.
Hurley: Yeah.
Holmes: That seems like it’d help you on the show.
Hurley: Just being from Eastern Kentucky is going to help me. (Laughs) There’s a bunch of conservative people and I’m…not. I’m definitely someone who just broke free. I came out at the age of 13 as gay. And, I’ve definitely had to maneuver my way socially through the area. Through cheer and dance, that helped. It made some people love me and some people never did give a (expletive deleted) about me. But, that’ll help me in the game.
Holmes: What’s it like growing up as a homosexual in Kentucky?
Hurley: It’s tough.
Holmes: I mean, not that it’s necessarily easy anywhere.
Hurley: (Laughs) Of course not. It’s getting better, but when you get out to those rural areas, the Eastern Kentucky Bible Belt, it’s tough. From a young age I’ve always had a strong mentality. I’ve never really backed down from anything. I’ve always been honest with myself and who I was. I just wanted to share it with the world, whether they liked it or not.
Holmes: Good for you, sometimes it’s hard to be yourself.
Hurley: Thank you.

Holmes: I was going to ask why you think you were cast, but I think I know. You seem like a good-natured, interesting fellow, I’m excited to see you play this game.
Hurley: (Laughs) Thanks.
Holmes: Is there any part of your backstory that you’re going to keep a secret?
Hurley: Hmm…I’m not going to be so open about taking care of my grandmother. I feel like after Jonny Fairplay, anything with the grandma I want to stay away from. Maybe if I get to the final Tribal Council, maybe I’ll pull a Jeremy. Hey, this is the main thing why I’m here.
Holmes: Fairplay ruined it for everyone. You can’t even have a sick grandma anymore.
Hurley: (Laughs) I know!

Holmes: Now Jonathan…damnit.
Hurley: (Laughs) That’s one.
Holmes: (Laughs)
Hurley: I’m joking.
Holmes: No, no. You set up the rules as clear as day. If I hit that third one, you let me have it.
Hurley: (Laughs) I’d never do you like that.
Holmes: I appreciate that. Have you set any ethical boundaries for yourself?
Hurley: I think Varner taught us all a lesson not to cross that line. (Laughs) I’m definitely not going to go that far. But, I’m definitely going to lie. I’m going to cheat and steal. It’s “Survivor” and I may only have one chance to play. Why not go out there and give it hell?
Holmes: Any boundaries as far as flirting?
Hurley: I’ll flirt! Look at all of these beautiful people! I’m not the most attractive, but I’ll be in there.
Holmes: Is there a boyfriend back home that’ll be upset if you’re cozying up to someone?
Hurley: Oh no. I’m single. There aren’t any men where I’m from!

Holmes: You’re in the dark as far as twists, themes. Any guesses?
Hurley: I don’t think we’re doing a “Millennials vs. Gen-X.” We’re all a little young. Who knows? You’ve got to go with the flow. I’ll take it day-by-day.

Holmes: Alright, I’m going to give you two “Survivor” situations. You tell me which one would you rather.
Hurley: OK.
Holmes: Align with a Hillary supporter or a Trump supporter?
Hurley: Trump supporter, I can probably get right down into the mix with them because I’m around them all the time. I can play both, really. I’m a liberal.
Holmes: Steal a vote or eliminate a juror?
Hurley: Steal a vote, you never know when you’d need it.
Holmes: Endurance challenge or word puzzle?
Hurley: Endurance, I’m not really the strongest guy, but if it’s a balance one, I bet I could do pretty damn good.
Holmes: Yeah, your dance background would serve you well.
Hurley: I’m the graceful type.
Holmes: Like an elegant swan.
Hurley: (Laughs) Yes.
Holmes: Would you rather align with a racist or a sexist?
Hurley: Oh God…that’s a good one. Lord, none of them. But I guess a racist because I’m around a lot of them. I’m not in that mix, I’m open-minded. I’d hate to be associated with either one of them.
Holmes: Voted out first or before final Tribal?
Hurley: Final Tribal! You get the whole experience.
Holmes: Align with an adulterer or a tax cheat?
Hurley: A tax cheat. Maybe I’ll align with Richard someday.
Holmes: (Laughs) Well played. I didn’t realize there were right answers, but apparently you found one. Lose the family challenge or win and have to decide who to take?
Hurley: Win and decide who to take.
Holmes: Caught stealing food or idol hunting?
Hurley: Idol hunting.
Holmes: Align with a super fan or someone who doesn’t watch the show?
Hurley: A super fan because we’d be on the same page. And someone who doesn’t know the game might get off track.
Holmes: This last one is a waste of both of our time, but I’m going to ask it anyway; dance challenge or karaoke challenge?
Hurley: Karaoke.
Holmes: Really?! You’re a dancer!
Hurley: I can burn karaoke up. I was always told I can’t sing, but I love entertaining. But in seventh grade I wanted to be a part of a musical and they said, “You’re not going to be in this musical, you’re too flamboyant. You can’t really sing.”
Holmes: Umm…I’ve done some musicals in my day and being flamboyant has never been a problem.
Hurley: (Laughs) But when I was a junior they had this competition based off of “American Idol.” They went to each school in the region and if you won at your school you got to go to the regional competition. I tied for first against a hell of a singer and got to go and perform at the regional competition and it was like a big middle finger to all of them.

Holmes: What kind of first impression do you think you put out there?
Hurley: Probably weak cause I’m small compared to most of these guys. They might think I’m a hillbilly. Hopefully they think I’m a nice guy.

NOTE: The cast members do not know each other’s names at this point. I showed Donathan a picture of each of the competitors and asked him to share his first impressions.

 

LIBBY

Hurley: I love her. She reminds me of my best friend. That’s one connection I can make with her. “Girl, you remind me of my girl back home.” She could be the Parvati, she could be the big flirt.

ANGELA

Hurley: Mom. I see a mom. I observe her and she’s got a little twang to her when she’s listening to her headphones and I like that.

CHELSEA

Hurley: I don’t really get a vibe from her. She’s really reserved.

JENNA

Hurley: She kind of reminds me of Ivanka Trump when you look at her really close.

GONZALEZ

Hurley: Once again, really reserved. I can see her looking at the other guys though.

STEPHANIE

Hurley: I love her. She’s a big, life-of-the-party personality. I see her walk and she’s got that big hair flying…that’s my type of people.

MORGAN

Hurley: She’s really reserved towards me. She reminds me of a corporate, business-type of person.

LAUREL

Hurley: Love her, I hope she’s like Michaela, one of those big personalities. There aren’t many African Americans where I’m from and I’ve always wanted a good African American friend. She’s right down my alley.

KELLYN

Hurley: She seems fun, maybe a little bit quirky. She’s got a big smile on her face. She probably does something in the business area as well.

DESIREE

Hurley: Love her. She reminds me of that singer from the ‘90s who sings that…”You know it feels so good.”
Holmes: No idea what you’re singing.
Hurley: (Laughs) She seems like fun from watching her at Ponderosa.

BRADLEY

Hurley: I think he’s my biggest competition out here. I see him observing, I see him making eyes at everybody. But, I like him.

BRENDAN

Hurley: Hot, he’s my type. Seems laid-back, down-to-Earth.
Holmes: What is your type?
Hurley: (Laughs) I’ll tell you when we get to him.

CHRIS

Hurley: There’s the Calvin Klein model. He’s very attractive, I’ve caught him praying. So, he’s got a religious background. That’s what I was raised around and I have no problem with religion. Maybe we can connect.

SEBASTIAN

Hurley: I don’t want to be stereotypical about him, but there are so many island guys. They make mistakes, they’re air-headed. I don’t want to be like that with him because I’ve seen him since the finals. He seems like he could be a well-rounded person.

WENDELL

Hurley: I like him too, I just wish he would look at me more. He’s really into his self in a way. I can’t tell if he just doesn’t like me.

 

JACOB

Hurley: I like him too. He has a big personality, I can tell from his smile. I don’t know if he’s gay or not. I kinda get that from him. But, I don’t want to say that to him. He seems like someone who would be fun to be around.

JAMES

Hurley: There’s my type! He’s very exotic. I’ve seen him since finals.

MICHAEL

Hurley: I think that’s the other Calvin Klein model. They look so built and so fresh. I’d use him as a meat shield.

DOMENICK

Hurley: Has to be the Jersey Shore kind of guy. He’s so quiet, but he cracked a really good joke. He might have a really good sense of humor and that’s one way to get on my side.

Don’t miss the season premiere of “Survivor: Ghost Island” – Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 8 pm ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Castaway Laurel – ‘If You’re Not Willing to Lie to Help Your Family, You’re Helping Their Family’

February 13, 2018

“Survivor: Ghost Island” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Ghost Island.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 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: Laurel Johnson
Age: 29
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Current residence: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Occupation: Financial Consultant

Laurel Johnson: Do you know the theme?
Gordon Holmes: I do.
Johnson: I can’t figure it out, I feel like I should know it by now. I should bribe you with something.
Holmes: What’ve you got?
Johnson: What do you like?
Holmes: Keeping my job.
Johnson: (Laughs)
Holmes: Any guesses as to what it is?
Johnson: I don’t feel good about it. I feel like there are a lot of athletes and a lot of fans. I was thinking Superstars vs. Super Fans. But, that feels like Brains vs. Beauty vs. Brawn. I also feel like people are repping their cities hard. A Brooklyn shirt or an Oregon hat…so maybe it’s location based? And it drives me crazy because I feel like I should know.
Holmes: Does it make it worse that I know?
Johnson: It does!

Holmes: Why do you think you were cast?
Johnson: I think I’m a triple threat. I want to see if I can win. I’m smart, athletic, and I know the game. I think they want to see if I can back up all of the talk that I’ve been talking.
Holmes: You know the game, you’re a huge Gordon Holmes fan, which is a plus.
Johnson: Of course. You’re my idol.
Holmes: How long have you been watching the show?
Johnson: Day one, season one. My whole family, it’s our family show. We don’t live together, but we’ll call together after the show.
Holmes: Is the family still in Philadelphia?
Johnson: My parents are, my brother and sister have dispersed.
Holmes: Who knows you’re here?
Johnson: My immediately family. So, my brother, my sister, my mom, my dad, and my boyfriend.
Holmes: How excited are they?
Johnson: They are pumped. I was almost on season 33, but I got cut at the last second.
Holmes: Jerks.
Johnson: I know. We were pretty sad about it.
Holmes: Who is your family visit?
Johnson: My older brother.
Holmes: After you win you two need to Blood vs. Water it.
Johnson: He’d love it!

Holmes: Is there anything that isn’t in your bio that I should know about? Have you killed a drifter? Are you the leader of a drug ring?
Johnson: No skeletons in the closet.
Holmes: Anything positive in there that we should know? I don’t know why I went negative with that.
Johnson: (Laughs) I feel like I was pretty honest.

Holmes: Have you set any moral boundaries as far as lying, cheating, stealing?
Johnson: I have no boundaries. I’m not the most outdoorsy person, what I like is the game part. I don’t need to camp, I’m not here for the adventure or meet new people. I’m here to play the game and win. I don’t want to be out here if I’m not going to win. I’ll leave my morals at the door.
Holmes: See, it’s one thing to sit here and say, I’m going to lie to nineteen hypothetical people. It’s another to lie to Laurel who helped me when I was sad on day five.
Johnson: I think you have to remember that it’s a game. They can be your best friend out here, but they’re your best friend that you’ve known for less than 40 days. I think keeping that in mind; you’re playing for your family. And if you’re not willing to lie to help your family, you’re helping their family. I think for me, it’s keeping the game in the game and real life in real life.
Holmes: Shame you weren’t cast in season 33, because they were like, “You stabbed someone in the back? Awesome!”
Johnson: (Laughs) Great job! But, the minorities did not fare well in that season.
Holmes: Yeah, I remember talking to Michaela about that and she made some good points about people being naturally more comfortable around people who look like them. It’s unfortunate.
Johnson: Yeah.
Holmes: Is there any way to counter that?
Johnson: I think you just have to do your best to be liked. Let people see you for who you are. I’m hoping to make friends quickly. I’m going to be likable and be someone they’re going to want to have around camp.

Holmes: Is there any part of your backstory that you’re going to lie about?
Johnson: I don’t think so. I’m going to have so many strategic lies, that I feel like it’ll be easier if I’m not having to lie about my personal life. People will know I’m smart. They’ll see me in challenges and know I’m athletic. I’d rather not have to worry about those lies.

Holmes: You mentioned a boyfriend.
Johnson: Yes.
Holmes: Will that cut down on any flirting out here or do you have an understanding?
Johnson: He told me I can do whatever it takes to win. I’m hoping I don’t have to go there. So, no I don’t think so.

Holmes: Alright, I’ll give you two “Survivor” situations, you tell me which one you prefer.
Johnson: OK.
Holmes: I probably already know this one; align with a Hillary supporter or align with a Trump supporter?
Johnson: (Laughs) Hillary supporter. I think I’d work better with a like-minded person.
Holmes: Uneducated Republicans is one of your pet peeves. Any worries about running into some of them out here?
Johnson: I’m a democrat, I don’t hide that. I feel like there are a lot of people who are bashing the healthcare law without really knowing what it’s about. So, I respect everyone’s opinion if they know what they’re talking about.
Holmes: Steal a vote or eliminate a juror?
Johnson: I hate both of those twists. They’re hard to play. Eliminate a juror. I’d rather just have that in my favor than worrying about when to steal a vote.
Holmes: Endurance challenge or word puzzle?
Johnson: Word puzzle.
Holmes: Align with a racist or a sexist?
Johnson: I guess a sexist. (Laughs)
Holmes: This question has a very different meaning to you than it does to others.
Johnson: (Laughs) It’s a lose/lose situation!
Holmes: Why a sexist?
Johnson: I think if a guy is a sexist, he thinks that men are great and women are bad. I think I can work with that. Whereas with a racist, you can’t really win those people over.
Holmes: It could be a Rudy and Richard situation. He didn’t like gay people and then they became best buds.
Johnson: That’s true.
Holmes: Voted out first or before final Tribal?
Johnson: Before final Tribal, that means you’re the biggest threat.
Holmes: Align with an adulterer or a tax cheat?
Johnson: A tax cheat…adulterers are gross. Tax cheat, make your money, I can respect that.
Holmes: Lose the family challenge or win and decide who to take?
Johnson: I want to win. I want to see my brother out here. It’s a powerful thing if you can bring people along with you.
Holmes: Caught stealing food or caught searching for an idol?
Johnson: Searching for an idol. I think that’s more forgivable.
Holmes: Align with a super fan or someone who doesn’t watch the show?
Johnson: A super fan, but someone who knows it a little less well than me. I don’t want a wild card who goes rogue because she doesn’t watch the show.
Holmes: Dance challenge or karaoke challenge?
Johnson: I’d go karaoke.
Holmes: What’s your go-to song?
Johnson: Usher…Eminem…I can bust out “Lose Yourself” pretty well.
Holmes: (Laughs) Did you ever hear the story that Probst rapped that to the cast of “Redemption Island?”
Johnson: (Laughs) I heard that. That’s amazing. He hasn’t rapped to us yet. But there’s time.

Holmes: What kind of first impression do you think you make?
Johnson: I think people think I’m really athletic. I’ve tried to be friendly at Ponderosa. So, I hope I come off as welcoming. I have these glasses on, so I hope I don’t look too smart.
Holmes: Nobody has ever thinks I’m too smart.
Johnson: (Laughs)
Holmes: Must be because I don’t wear glasses.
Johnson: The glasses work wonders.

NOTE: The cast members do not know each other’s names at this point. I showed Laurel a picture of each of the competitors and asked her to share her first impressions.

 

LIBBY

Johnson: Beautiful…but not a threat. I don’t know if she knows what she’s getting into.

ANGELA

Johnson: A little cold. She’s been self-isolating. She doesn’t smile a lot.

CHELSEA

Johnson: I think first to go. Not a fan.

JENNA

Johnson: She’s hogging the hammock at Ponderosa. All day swinging on the hammock. She’s in good shape, but I want to swing in the hammock and I can’t.
Holmes: So when you vote, you fold the parchment, and just say…
Johnson: This is for the hammock. (Laughs)

GONZALEZ

Johnson: Beautiful, but not sure if she’s in the right place. She comes in everyday with full hair and full makeup done. It’s too much. If she’s on my tribe I’d keep her around because I think she’d be easy to beat.

STEPHANIE

Johnson: Flirty. She’s been smiling at everyone. She’s bubbly.

MORGAN

Johnson: In great shape. Also really nice and friendly.

KELLYN

Johnson: I really like her. I feel like we’ve vibed with our glances. I’m hoping we’re on the same tribe.

DESIREE

Johnson: I like her. I think she’s a city girl so she might be a little out of place. Not that I’m the most outdoorsy.

BRADLEY

Johnson: He seems really smart. I think he knows the game well. Might have to get him out early.

BRENDAN

Johnson: I like him. He wears a wedding band, I’d like to be friends with him.

CHRIS

Johnson: He’s like a model. Perfectly tanned, perfectly toned. He’s got the blonde hair. Surfer bro type…not my style…but helpful in challenges.

SEBASTIAN

Johnson: Beautiful hair. He has better hair than most of the girls. I feel like he was plucked from somewhere and doesn’t know what he’s doing. Probably not long for the game.

WENDELL

Johnson: I like him, he’s been jamming out to music the whole time. Seems like he’s having a lot of fun. I think he’ll be friendly and a jokester.

 

JACOB

Johnson: I love him. I hope we can work together. He’s a super fan. His eyes have lit up every time we go somewhere.

JAMES

Johnson: He seems dangerous. He’s super fit. He’s been reading big novels. He’s smart and athletic and maybe a big threat.

MICHAEL

Johnson: I can’t get a read on him. I keep forgetting that he’s here. He must hide in the corners of something.

DONATHAN

Johnson: I like him. He’s also been very open and smiley. I get a good vibe from him.

DOMENICK

Johnson: Kind of a frat bro kind of guy. East coast, maybe a Jersey guy. He’s a bit of a wild card.

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

Seven Questions Jeff Probst Has Never Answered About “Survivor” Before

February 12, 2018

“Survivor: Ghost Island” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Ghost Island.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 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: You and I have been doing this since 2008.
Jeff Probst: Wow!
Holmes: I know. And like any relationship, you have to switch things up from time to time. So, I challenged myself to come up with seven “Survivor” questions you have never been asked before.
Probst: Wow…
Holmes: I get that you’ve done 36 seasons worth of interviews…
Probst: This is tough for you.
Holmes: Right?
Probst: I have no pressure.
Holmes: And if I ask one you’ve heard before, let me know. And I’ll hate myself.
Probst: You’ve got it.

Holmes: Would you ever cast a hypnotist? Seems like an unfair advantage.
Probst: Never been asked. Here’s the thing. I did a talk show and we had a hypnotist on and I thought he was full of (expletive deleted). I didn’t believe anyone was hypnotized. I felt like they were faking it out of peer pressure. And I was humiliated during the show because I thought he was a fraud and if I told him he was a fraud, that’s not a very nice thing. So…I’m a little creeped out by hypnotists. So, I’m going to say no.

Holmes: If aliens landed in New York City while you’re filming in Fiji, do you tell the cast?
Probst: Wow! Never been asked that question. Actual aliens?
Holmes: Verified, actual aliens.
Probst: If CBS tells us to keep shooting, first of all, I’m going to say, “Really?! I have a family at home with aliens?!” And if they were sure it was OK, I would not tell the cast.

Holmes: If I could talk to animals, would that be too much of an unfair advantage for me to play the game?
Probst: Oh, that would be fantastic. We would put you on the show despite the fact that you’ve been out here for a decade. Three for three, never been asked that question.

Holmes: “Survivor” is old enough to drive. What kind of car would “Survivor” drive?
Probst: (Laughs) Never been asked that. “Survivor” would change its car quite often. Right now it’s driving a Chevelle with big chrome rims, wide tires, a nice leather interior, and a big steering wheel. No power steering and a big old engine.

Holmes: Why haven’t we seen a politician on “Survivor”?
Probst: Never been asked that, five for five. That’s a really good question. In the ultimate, social, politicking game…there’s never been a politician. Maybe they know something the others don’t?

Holmes: You’ve cast forty Robs, three dozen Johns, never one Gordon. Why not?
Probst: Never been asked that. We don’t like the name. It’s been our history that guys named Gordon, they’re not reliable. They’re not interesting. They lack creativity. They’re bad storytellers. It’s just the name. Say it.
Holmes: I’d rather not.
Probst: Gor…don.
Holmes: Preaching to the choir, man. I’m the third one in my family. My wife, if we have a son, she wants a fourth.
Probst: Ugh…
Holmes: I’m trying to talk her into something like, “Benry.”
Probst: (Laughs) There ya go.

Holmes: Last question.
Probst: (Pounds the table like a drumroll.)
Holmes: If I gave you a “Men In Black”-style mind eraser and allowed you to erase the minds of an entire cast and have them play again from scratch, which cast would it be?
Probst: Wow…never had that question. That’s a good one. That’s a hard one… Like five seasons came up immediately. I definitely want to see “Millennials vs. Gen-X” again because I feel like it was the most culturally relevant season. Like you were really watching the future teach the past why they’re the past. Young blood leaning forward, old blood leaning back. I’d love to see the “Second Chance” crew play again. I’ve never seen a season as pure as that. People wanted to play. Returning players who didn’t give us any grief. They were truly grateful. They earned it and they played hard. I loved both “Fans vs. Favorites,” “Heroes vs. Villains.” Oh…”Pearl Islands” that was a poignant turning point for us with Rupert and Fairplay and Sandra.
Holmes: Have you ever looked into bringing and entire cast back for a rematch?
Probst: We’ve talked about it.

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


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