Archive for the ‘Fall TV 2013’ Category

‘Survivor: Blood vs. Water’ Recap: The Worst Challenge Performance Ever?

September 18, 2013

'Survivor: Blood vs. Water' (CBS)

Quick Note: We’re going to be bringing you all kinds of “Survivor” fun this season including episode recaps, exit interviews, and Power Rankings with Malcolm Freberg. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

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Another Quick Note: I was on hand for the filming of this first episode, so be on the lookout for special Behind-the-Scenes Tidbits from my time in the Philippines.

39 Days (well…technically 39.5), 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

We kick things off with each of the pairs being carted off to mysterious locations.

Gervase lets us know that he’s going to win because he was on the original “Survivor.” Oh…so that’s why Richard Hatch, Sue Hawk, and Rudy Boesch all won their second time around…

Former “Big Brother” winner Hayden calls “Big Brother,” “’Survivor’ in a house.” I don’t know if I’ve ever been more insulted. However, based on this past summer he could call “Survivor,” “‘Big Brother’ with less racism.”

Wait, nevermind…there’s Colton.

(Oh c’mon…that’s fair. It’s up to him to be less racist…or even not racist at all.)

Sure enough, Colton lets us know there’s a new Colton this season. I’m all for that.

John thinks there will be big targets on his and Candice’s backs due to being young and athletic. Or, because your wife has a history of flipping.

Next up, Monica claims to be a wily veteran. Interesting theory seeing as she’s been on the show 14 days and Rupert has been out there for a hundred.

Aras and Vytas seem to have a bit of a contentious relationship. Don’t be fooled, these guys are everybody’s picks to go far.

Finally, the individual pairs are greeted by a note that tells them the game has started and they’ll have to camp out alone for the night. And thus begins “Day Zero.”

The duos all meet up with Jeff Probst the next morning and it doesn’t seem like anyone had trouble out in the wilderness.

Probst greets the players, then immediately lets them know they won’t be on the same tribe with their loved ones.

Brad admits that he’d consider throwing a challenge if it meant Monica could win a tarp. Marissa didn’t approve of that answer. Ask Russell Swan, it always comes down to the tarp.

The loved ones split up and it’s smooch city. Rupert is psyched that he won’t have to vote for Laura, but he’s also worried that he won’t be able to protect her. (Oh you wait, Rupert.)

Alright, let’s take a look at the tribes as they currently stand…

The Galang Tribe (wearing yellow)
Aras – Musician, 31
Candice  – Physician, 30
Colton – Student Teacher, 22
Gervase – Cigar Lounge Owner, 43
Kat – Full-Time Student/Sales, 23
Laura M. – Co-Owner of Morett Construction, 43
Monica – Homemaker, 42
Rupert – Mentor for Troubled Teens, 49
Tina – Motivational Speaker, 52
Tyson – Store Manager, 34

The Tadhana Tribe (wearing red)
Brad – Attorney, 44
Caleb – Post Office Manager/Farmer, 26
Ciera – Cosmetology Student, 24
Hayden – Real Estate, 26
John – Physician, 30
Katie – Hedge Fund Support, 25
Laura B. – Merchandiser, 44
Marissa – Student, 21
Rachel – Cocktail Waitress/Graphic Designer, 33
Vytas – Yoga Instructor, 33

After they get their buffs, J-Pro breaks the news that they’ll immediately have to vote someone out.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: The players weren’t allowed to talk before the vote, but they were all trying to make eye contact like crazy.

Tadhana’s vote: Vytas votes for Laura B., Brad votes for Laura B., Hayden votes for Laura B., Laura B. votes for Marissa, Caleb votes for Laura B., Marissa votes for Brad, and Ciera votes for Laura B. Laura B. is a goner.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Laura B. was not pleased. Maybe it’s appropriate that she’s the pirate’s wife, cause she used some salty language. Eventually she tried to rationalize it by saying, “They’re newbies, they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Galang’s vote: Candice votes for Laura M., Tyson votes for Laura M., Tina votes for Candice, Kat votes for Candice, Colton votes for Candice, Rupert votes for Laura M., Monica votes for Candice, Aras votes for Gervase, and Laura M. votes for Candice.

All is not lost though, as Probst lets them know that Redemption Island is in play this season.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Candice wasn’t sure how Redemption Island worked.

Before Probst sends them off, he decides to give the loved ones an opportunity to take their place on Redemption Island.

Rupert immediately steps forward. Tina tried to stop him, but the big, emotional lug had made up his mind.

Tina is ticked off because Rupert is a good provider. Also, Laura B. had just said the f word about a dozen times and probably hadn’t made any friends.

John is offered the same deal, but he and Candice decide that he should stay in the game.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbits: This opening went on forever. Here are some things that didn’t make the cut…
•    Colton said he’d rather vote for his mother than for Caleb.
•    It was at the marooning that the cast first heard the term “Blood vs. Water.” None of them watched the “Survivor: Caramoan” finale because they were all sequestered at the time.
•    Gervase and Laura B. got into an argument because Laura B. claimed she didn’t know why she voted for Marissa.
•    Tina dubbed Galang, “Go Long.” Her tribe approved.
•    At one point Probst had to lay some smack down on Monica because she was dancing around his questions.
•    Rupert snapped his voting board in half because he was so mad.

Over at Galang beach, Gervase immediately says that a target is already on Laura B.’s back. She’s having a rough morning.

Tyson helps the Galangians make their first fire using some tips he learned from Boston Rob. Ah…Boston Rob was mentioned before Russell. He wins.

Later, Monica asks Colton if he’s going to be someone she can trust or if he’s going to stab her in the back. He replies, “Yes.” That’s hilarious.

At Tadhana, Brad is worried that his tarp comment is going to come back and bite him. So, he calls a tribe meeting and lets them know that he’ll go 100% at all times.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Both tribes got a ton of hardware like hammers, nails, etc. But Tadhana’s machete broke almost immediately.

Afterwards, Brad tries to start up an all-guy alliance, but they all seem wary of him. He tries to talk us through the math, but it was embarrassing. Good thing he’s a lawyer and not an accountant.

The Tadhanians are also having no luck making fire.  But, at least it gives Brad, Ciera, and Vytas a chance to bond.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Not having fire to boil the water had to be a nightmare because it was ridiculously hot out there. It was the first time I was ever on location where I thought, “Nope, couldn’t do it.”

Back at Galang, Colton opens up to his tribe about the difficulties of growing up gay in the deep south. He breaks down and cries because he misses Caleb so much. Honestly, Caleb is awesome. I don’t blame him.

Over at Redemption Island (Population: 2), Candice chops away at a coconut as a way to get revenge on everyone who voted for her. That’ll show ‘em.

She also isn’t happy about living with Rupert. Apparently he isn’t doing anything around camp…which is very un-Rupert-like. Rupert says he’s conserving his strength for the challenge. Hey…look at Mr. Strategy!

Immunity Challenge Time: Six players from each tribe will run off into the ocean. They’ll have to climb over a rope net, a wheel, and a set of crates. From there they’ll swim down to untie a boat, then row it back to shore. Then they’ll take a chest out of the boat and take it to the other three teammates. Those teammates will use the puzzle pieces in the chest to create a wheel. First tribe to use the wheel to raise their tribe’s flag wins immunity.

Before the challenge gets underway, Probst gives Laura B. her Galang buff. Tadhana also lies about having fire.

Swimming for Galang will be Tyson, Kat, Aras, Laura B., Gervase, and Colton while Marissa, Brad, Vytas, Hayden, John, and Rachel will go for Tadhana.

The challenge starts and Tyson tears through the course. The newbies get a bit of lead that only gets bigger when Gervase has to stop to catch his breath. It gets embarrassing as Gervase just stands on the platform while Aras tries to cheer him on. And, once he was over the crates, Aras had to drag him to the boat.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: No lie, it took Gervase forever to get over those crates. The editing was kind.

Things even up at the boat a little, but Galang rows off course and eventually ends up rowing backwards. Tadhana now has a huge lead as Caleb, Ciera, and Katie start working on the puzzle.

Galang eventually gets to shore and Tina, Monica, and Laura M. fly through the puzzle. It wasn’t even close. Galang wins immunity.

When it’s over, Gervase starts talking major smack to Tadhana. He did not come off looking well at all, hence the title of this recap. Not only was he a major physical liability, but he finished it off by ticking off nine potential jury members. I love Gervase, but that may have been the most damaging challenge performance I’ve ever seen. (And yes, I remember Dan Lembo.)

Before they head off, Colton breaks down because he misses Caleb so much. Don’t worry, Colton. Anyone who votes for Caleb has to answer to me.

Back at Tadhana, Brad tells us that he hates to lose. Oh…that’s rare.

Katie is nervous because it’s obvious that the puzzle team is responsible for the loss.

Marissa is embarrassed that Gervase was bragging after the victory. She’s also not psyched that his reaction puts a target on her back.

Politicking around camp seems to be between Marissa and Katie. Marissa because of Gervase’s outburst and Katie because she didn’t help much with the puzzle.

Vytas, wanting to stay tight with everyone, is trying to keep ties with the ladies. That could be dangerous, Vytas. It’s too early for that business.

That night at Tribal Council, fire represents your life. Except it doesn’t because of Redemption Island.

John says he has a lot of guilt about not replacing Candice. He cries a bit and Ciera and Marissa are quick to comfort him.

He also says he’s going to vote to make his tribe strong, but it’s an added advantage if the person he votes out is someone Candice can beat.

Brad calls out Gervase for his celebration. Marissa thinks Galang should be more mature because they’re veterans.

Vytas points out that this is the first season where a tribe has to be concerned when they send the other team to Tribal.

Marissa thinks she should be judged on her performance and attitude, not Gervase’s.

Katie wouldn’t be surprised if she goes home based on her challenge performance. Brad says they’re not voting based solely on the puzzle.

Voting Time: Katie votes for Marissa, Marissa votes for Katie, and the rest of the votes are secret.

J-Pro tallies and returns. We’ve got one vote for Katie, four votes for Marissa, and the third person to be sent to Redemption Island is…Marissa.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Brad made it a point to say his Marissa vote was because of Gervase. Ouch.

Verdict: I bounced around a dozen different ways the family member twist could mess with the game. Not once did I think a tribe could get so mad at one person that they’d vote for that person’s loved one to spite them. I think that just goes to show that I have no idea where this season is going.

But, I’m excited to see where it goes.

Who’s Going to Win? Everything I know about “Survivor” tells me the returnees have too big of an advantage. But, I can’t help but think Vytas is the guy.

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

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‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Recaps the ‘Blood vs. Water’ Premiere

September 18, 2013

Jeff Probst (CBS)

Quick Note: We’re going to be bringing you all kinds of “Survivor” fun this season including episode recaps, exit interviews, and Power Rankings with Malcolm Freberg. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

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Gordon Holmes: Let’s start at the beginning, Day Zero…I think we expected everyone to show up cold, muddy, and miserable, but everyone seemed to be in good spirits.
Jeff Probst: We didn’t know what the weather was going to do. Fortunately for them they got a beautiful night with a beautiful moon and no rain. The good thing about “Survivor” is whatever happens we use it to our favor. It became; welcome to the calm before the storm. Those people who never played were like, “What were they talking about? ‘Survivor’ is not so tough!” Yeah, you were out there for four hours with no obstacles. They’ll get so hot during the days, then so cold when it rains, they’ll be thinking, “Oh my God, that was like a camping trip.”

Holmes: Let’s talk about Gervase’s performance in the challenge. My jaw was on the floor.
Probst: Gervase’s charm is that he gets by on so little. It’s fascinating to watch. He was the worst in the challenge today, but he talked the most trash. I love that.
Holmes: If Marissa getting the boot had something to do with the way Gervase talked trash, that’s a big deal. Who would’ve ever thought a tribe would punish someone based on the actions of their loved one?
Probst: Never, I was completely surprised. I’m still thinking about the ramifications of the notion that you could be out here playing your best game but your idiot family member does something and people get mad and hold it against you. Or, even more likely, they think, “I don’t want to be in an alliance with that idiot, so if we keep this person I might because we’re going to merge at some point. I’m going to get rid of you now so that won’t happen.” Who knows what’s going to happen at the duel, but I bet if we held it tonight Marissa would look at Gervase and say, “It’s because of you, just so you know. It’s because you were a jackass. You should take my spot in this duel.” That’s what I would say if I was Marissa. I’d lean on my uncle.
Holmes: What do you think Gervase would do?
Probst: I don’t think Gervase would quit, and that would kind of be a quit. I don’t think Gervase works hard enough to win anything at Redemption Island.

Holmes: In other news, your seven picks to possibly win the game managed to stay away from Redemption Island. How does that feel?
Probst: (Laughs) I feel good, I feel vindicated and justified for all of the naysayers who thought my picks weren’t worthy.

Holmes: Now as we’re talking this hasn’t aired, we’re sitting on a Tribal Council set. Do you think you have the pieces to put together a solid premiere episode?
Probst: We have a great first episode. We have an opening marooning that starts the night before, we have a split, we have an initial vote out, Rupert saves his wife. We have tears from Candice’s husband John when he doesn’t make the switch. We have one tribe that gets fire, another that doesn’t, showing the value of experience. We have a great challenge where the returning players are so bad in the water that there’s no way they win…except for the fact that the newbies are so bad at puzzles that the returnees manage to comeback and win. Then we have a blindside at Tribal Council. We’ve got all the pieces.

Holmes: There have been a lot of doubts with all of these twists. A lot of those doubts came from me. However, I’m prepared to say it looks like you guys are off to a great start. As a producer, how does it feel to put me in my place?
Probst: Aww…I don’t feel like I’ve put you in your place, but it’s great to hear you say that. One thing about talking to the press of “Survivor” is you guys know the game and you’re usually not excited about anything we do. (Laughs)
Holmes: (Laughs) That’s fair.
Probst: I get it, you’re shooting bullets saying, “Prove it.” But we’re going on our fourteenth year and you have to continually try new things, and that’s what we did with this. And we’re well aware it’s a risk. But we’re one episode in and there’s certainly a lot to talk about. With a little bit of “Survivor” luck, hopefully we’ll have a really good season.

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

‘Survivor: Blood vs. Water’ Official Pre-Season Rankings

September 18, 2013

'Survivor: Blood vs. Water' (CBS)

Quick Note: I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Blood vs. Water” competitors before the game began. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each pairing in the days leading up to the September 18th season premiere. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for those interviews, behind-the-scenes exclusives, and more…

Another Quick Note: Once the season has started, check back for full recaps immediately following each episode, interviews with the eliminated players the day after they’re sent packing, and the return of the always controversial “Survivor” Power Rankings featuring “Survivor” dreamboat Malcolm Freberg.

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When did this get so hard?!

Back in the day it was safe to assume that the annoying people were going home first and the challenge liabilities were next. From there, we’d hit the merge and the challenge threats were sent packing. Then it was anyone’s guess who’d take home the big prize.

But now? People are dying to take the annoying people to the end. There are idols and Redemption Islands waiting to give people a second (or third) chance. And anyone can be targeted based on what their family members have done.

Crazy town.

Welp, here goes nothing…

Read Vytas’s Interview Read Caleb’s Interview
  1. Vytas – Vytas and Aras might be totally different outside of the game, but inside of the game they both have the tools to get the job done. They’re smart, they’re strategic, and they’re personable. They’re strong, but not too strong. However, the thing that gives Vytas an advantage is the fact that he’s a little rough around the edges. While people won’t want to take Mr. Perfect to the end, Vytas might have an enemy or two on the jury.
  2. Caleb – I feel like Caleb is going to be a power player’s right hand. He’s going to be loyal, he’s going to be amazing around camp, and he’s going to be solid in challenges. If he’s in the right alliance he could find a seat at the final Tribal and he’s definitely likable enough to win over a jury.
Read Aras’s Interview Read Ciera’s Interview
  3. Aras – There’s no need to question Aras’s ability to win this game, because he’s done it before. He’s still the same guy. He’s likable, he has a good head on his shoulders, and he’s very even-tempered. The only weakness in his game might be that’s he’s too nice. I think I’d have trouble trusting him.   4. Ciera – On paper, it looks like Tadhana could dominate in the challenges. (Although, returnees tend to have a serious advantage in challenges.) What that could mean for Ciera is a safe trip to the merge and the possibility that her mother will be an early elimination. Now, that may sound like bad news for her, but I think there’s a real benefit to being a lone player out there. Someone’s got to be a couple’s third alliance member.
Read Tina’s Interview Read Katie’s Interview
  5. Tina – If there’s one thing I learned from this season’s pre-game interviews, it’s that a lot of people want to align with Tina. You know who everyone wanted to align with before “Survivor: Caramoan”? Some guy named Cochran.
  6. Katie – Anybody who knows me knows I love me some Sophie Clarke. Maybe the most underrated winner of all time. Katie reminds me of Sophie quite a bit.
Read Gervase’s Interview Read Tyson’s Interview
  7. Gervase – Most people think Gervase’s greatest asset is that he’s likable. I respectfully disagree. While, I do find my fellow Philadelphian (maybe not a word) to be a great guy, I think his biggest asset is that nothing sticks to him. If Teflon Gervase manages to sneak into the final three, he could brush off any backstabbing he had to do and take the whole thing.
  8. Tyson – I wanted to put Tyson higher than this, but I kept coming back to one thing; how would he perform at a final Tribal Council? If he has to cut throats on the way to the end, can he convince those people to give him the win? Would the world spin off its axis if Tyson had to be serious?

Read John’s Interview Read Hayden’s Interview
  9. John – Mr. Cody has all of the tools necessary to make it to the end. And, he’s a great guy. But, nobody is going to want to keep a physical specimen like him around after the merge. It’s rare that the Captain America types aren’t taken out by the rest of the pack.
  10. Hayden – Our buddy Hayden is in the same boat as John, but with another disadvantage heaped on top – his “Big Brother” win. Everybody knows how dangerous he is.

Read Laura M.’s Interview Read Candice’s Interview
  11. Laura M. – A lot of people were scratching their heads when they saw Laura’s name on the cast list. But, if they go back and watch “Samoa” they’re realize that she’s a savvy player who can go in challenges. My big concern for her is I’m not quite sure where she’ll fit in with the rest of Galang.
  12. Candice – Cochran was able to shake the “flipper” tag last season. I don’t think Candice will be so lucky. Everyone remembers her “Cook Islands” mutiny and I’m sure Rupert will be more than happy to remind everyone about what happened during “Heroes vs. Villains.”
Read Rachel’s Interview Read Colton’s Interview
  13. Rachel – Rachel’s a super tough person to rank because both Tyson and Jeff Probst were worried that her emotions might get the best of her. That’s a shame, because she has the right easy-going personality to go deep into this game and she’s charming enough to win over a jury.   14. Colton – Nobody needs an image makeover like Colton. In fact, with his controversial past, he seems like a great goat  to take to the end. But, anyone who didn’t purge “One World” from their memory (and many of us have tried) will remember that Colton was running around like a chicken with his head cut off and stabbing people in the back the entire time. Maybe if he can rein in that conduct he’ll have a shot.
Read Marissa’s Interview Read Rupert’s Interview
  15. Marissa – I like Marissa a lot. She’s a ton of fun and full of life. But, I worry that she might be a little too open for “Survivor.” A little too trusting. If she makes it to the merge she could stick around for a while, but I think that’s a big “if.”
  16. Rupert – Next to Russell Hantz, Rupert has to be the most polarizing player in “Survivor” history. Lots of people can’t get enough of him, while others simply don’t buy his act. (For the record, I personally enjoy him.) Where this is going to cause a major problem for Rupert is…the people he’s playing with don’t buy his act. He’ll probably be safe until the merge because Galang is the weaker tribe, but after that’s he’s a goner.
Read Laura B.’s Interview Read Brad’s Interview
  17. Laura B. Scroll back up this list and look at all of the names that are in red. Those are Laura’s Tadhana teammates and the majority of them are much younger than she is. How is she going to fit in? Add that to the fact that she’s wearing an outfit that’s very similar to her unpopular husband and you have a recipe for disaster.
  18. Brad – The Culpeppers broke out a controversial plan during their pre-game interview. They’re going to tell the jury to vote for whoever they go to the end with. Why? Because they don’t need the money. Interesting…but Jimmy Johnson went into “Survivor: Nicaragua” with that strategy and was the third person out.
Read Monica’s Interview Read Kat’s Interview
  19. Monica – In the first-ever season with couples, people are going to be looking to break up the duos that have the potential to dominate after the merge. First on that list has to be Brad and Monica. They’re just too high-profile, too early in the game.
  20. Kat –I love me some Kat. Power Rankings represent. But I think people are going to be mega wary of Hayden, and that puts a big target on her back. Especially if Galang loses as often as I think they might.

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

Don’t miss the special 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET.

‘Survivor’ Castaways Tyson & Rachel: ‘She’s the Sweetness to My Salty’

September 17, 2013

Tyson Apostol and Rachel Foulger (CBS)

Quick Note: I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Blood vs. Water” competitors before the game began. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each pairing in the days leading up to the September 18th season premiere. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for those interviews, behind-the-scenes exclusives, and more…

Another Quick Note: Once the season has started, check back for full recaps immediately following each episode, interviews with the eliminated players the day after they’re sent packing, and the return of the always controversial “Survivor” Power Rankings featuring “Survivor” dreamboat Malcolm Freberg.

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Name: Tyson Apostol
Age: 34
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Rachel’s boyfriend
Previous Seasons: “Survivor: Tocantins” – second jury member and “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” – sixth person voted out.
Current Residence: Provo, Utah
Occupation: Former Pro Cyclist/Shop Manager

Name: Rachel Foulger
Age: 33
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Tyson’s girlfriend
Current Residence: Provo, Utah
Occupation: Cocktail Waitress/Graphic Designer
Personal Claim to Fame: Starting and owning my own business that landed sales with Target and QVC.
Pet Peeves: Chewing with your mouth open, driving slow in the fast lane, getting in my personal space.

Rachel Foulger: You’re going to tell us everyone else’s secrets, right?
Gordon Holmes: Sure, what do you guys want to know?
Rachel: And you’ll keep our stuff confidential?
Gordon: Absolutely. I’ll give you a full breakdown on what the rest of the cast is thinking, how they feel about you, how best to break them down and get them to bend to your will.
Tyson Apostol: Good, that’s what we need the most.
Rachel: In written form would be great.
Gordon: I’ll make an easily concealed cheat sheet for you.
Rachel: Like a little pamphlet.
Gordon: Precisely.
Tyson: I’m going to make Rachel get it tattooed on her rectum. They’re not going to look there.
Gordon: You’re going to have time for that?
Tyson: I can speak the Filipino language, so we’ll have it done in Filipino and nobody can read it except for me.
Rachel: You could do it.
Tyson: Sure, I’ve never done it before, but this is probably a good place to start.
Rachel: You just need like a pen and a needle, that’s what they do in jail.
Tyson: A nice prison tat.
Gordon: Seems worth it. Because even if you don’t win, you’ll have this great story.
Tyson: A hilarious story.
Gordon: So either way you’re coming out as winners.
Tyson: You’re making me feel really good about this.
Gordon: That’s my goal.
Rachel: We didn’t know this was going to be a pep talk too.

Gordon: Alright, Tyson…tell me about this lovely lady.
Tyson: Rachel is much sweeter than I am. She’s the sweetness to my salty, I guess. Much more emotional than me.
Rachel: A little more sensitive.
Tyson: Much more sensitive. She’ll kill them with kindness. But not to their actual deaths.
Gordon: Wound them with kindness.
Tyson: Yes. My little Rachel. We’ve been dating for five years. She’s been with me since before the first time I was on the show. So, she’s lived through it as a third party. Now she gets to experience it herself.

Gordon: Are you worried his looks will distract you?
Rachel: No.
Tyson: Yes.
Rachel: I’ve looked at it for five years. There are no surprises. Well, maybe if he’s going to get all bronzed and tan.
Tyson: Lean.
Rachel: Bleach blonde hair. I could be taken aback a little bit.
Tyson: You can get a nice anatomy lesson of all my veins. I get a real nice sinewy build when I’m out here.
Gordon: Good luck keeping your hands off of him when he’s all emaciated.
Rachel: It’s going to be hard.

Gordon: Speaking of “Survivor” physiques. What’s going to happen on Day 39 when you haven’t been eating?
Rachel: I don’t have a lot to lose.
Gordon: You should’ve bulked up.
Tyson: She did. We’ve been in a weight-gaining phase for months.
Gordon: I look at a donut and put on weight. You guys are (expletive deleted).
Rachel: No, we haven’t.
Tyson: I lied about that.
Rachel:  Everyone who knows we’re going on this show says, “Eat so much food!” Why, so I can expand my stomach and then really be hungry out there?
Tyson: And I like to look good on day one.

Gordon: You two were together for “Tocantins” and “Heroes vs. Villains.” What could this guy have done better?
Tyson: Probably nothing.
Rachel: He could’ve won the million dollars.
Tyson: No, c’mon. I want a real answer. I need to hear this.
Gordon: It’s probably better to get it out now.
Rachel: The first time I think he was distracted by the limelight. He was having fun being on TV. I think he got too comfortable. The second time he just over thought it and switched his vote at the last minute which wasn’t smart.

Gordon: I know you and “Boston” Rob Mariano are close. Phillip Sheppard played by the “B.R. Rules” his second time around. Are you going to give that a shot?
Tyson: I don’t think I can play like Rob. Rob and Russell (Hantz), even though they’re mortal enemies, play a very similar game where they’re up in everyone’s business all the time. They make sure everyone’s conforming to what they want. That’s too exhausting for me. I don’t like that much confrontation. I play a more relaxed game. I would like to play more like Sandra (Diaz-Twine). A lot of people don’t notice, but she tells these little lies that get people against each other. Little stuff like, “Hey, they were mentioning that they hate the color of your shirt.” But that’ll be later. I think I’m a safe bet to make it to the merge barring any ridiculous stuff.
Gordon: There are always people who are here to be a trainwreck, so let them be a trainwreck.
Tyson: Yeah, the annoying person almost always goes first.
Rachel: Then the weak.
Gordon: Someone’s always playing too hard, too fast.
Rachel: Yes.
Tyson: That’s why I like to sit back. I haven’t met a lot of these people. I’ve seen them on TV, but that isn’t a true gauge of who they are as a person. Right now I think we’re in a nice spot where we’re in the middle of the road of a lot of demographics. Age-wise we’re middle of the road, when I played last is middle of the road. Size-wise, there are bigger guys than me. I fit right in the middle of that. Whichever rift the game breaks apart at, we can be the decision makers on which way we go.

Gordon: Socially, physically…how is Rachel going to do?
Tyson: Socially, she’s going to be good as long as she can remember to talk to the people she hates and treat them like a friend instead of ignoring them or avoiding them. Physically, she’s fine. Maybe she’s not the strongest woman here, but she’s not far off when it comes to challenges. Emotionally, I think it’s going to be a problem for her. The elements do get to you. There will be days when it’s raining all the time and you might not have a roof. The harder it gets, the more you miss home. That’ll probably be the toughest thing for her.

Gordon: What is it like when you guys fight?
Rachel: (Laughs) It’s just kind of funny.
Tyson: We’re just having fun.
Rachel: Tyson thinks it’s fun. He thinks it’s really funny. But, even for me…we have a good relationship because even when we’re annoyed with each other, we’re still kind of laughing.
Tyson: Sometimes you don’t laugh, you get really mad.
Rachel: Sometimes I get really mad, and he thinks that’s funny.
Tyson: I think it’s hilarious.
Rachel: We don’t get into really big fights like most couples do.
Tyson: She has attacked my physically before.
Rachel: (Laughs)
Gordon: She’s laughing, that’s horrible.
Tyson: We have this crazy friend and she’s insane. Me and my friend played a prank on her with phones and she freaked out and got really upset about it. It was harmless. So Rachel comes home and she’s furious. She tried to jump on me and throw pillows at me. So, I’m blocking her and to me it’s still funny. But, I realize I can’t spend the whole night just blocking her.
Gordon: As impressive as that must’ve been.
Tyson: It was. Block…block…judo chop! She eventually came to her senses.
Rachel: It took a while. I liked that girl for a long time.
Gordon: Liked? Past tense:
Rachel: Yeah, we’re not friends anymore.
Gordon: But she was worth assaulting Tyson over?
Rachel: At the time.

Gordon: Is there a situation where you’d vote each other out.
Rachel: No. We’ve actually been asked that a lot.
Tyson: Can you believe it?
Gordon: In a game where people are pitted against their loved ones?
Rachel: (Laughs) There’s just not a situation where it’d make sense.
Tyson: I don’t think it’ll benefit anyone. You’d lose the one person you can trust 100%.

Gordon: What strategies have you discussed?
Rachel: This is the first time you have an alliance that you can completely trust.
Tyson: This is going to be a nine person game in the beginning until the solo people start accumulating. Then the solo people are going to be the wild cards. We’ve got to latch onto the solos immediately.

Gordon: What twists are you guys expecting?
Tyson: Rachel, give him the breakdown.
Rachel: You think it’s going to be three tribes.
Tyson: Yes, why don’t you tell him because I’ve done a lot of talking.
Rachel: (Laughs) It’s your idea.

NOTE: At this point in the afternoon, Candice and John Cody hadn’t joined the cast.

Tyson: There are nine couples here, they can’t split in half because that would be uneven guys and girls. They want us to start together because that brings the whole story together right at the beginning.
Rachel: But then they’re going to want to split us up.
Tyson: It’s going to be three tribes of three couples. That’s why it’s important if someone gets voted out, you’ve got to bring that third person into your alliance. But at some point they’ll turn the three tribes into two tribes and try to split up as many loved ones as possible.

Gordon: Anyone you guys are interested in aligning with?
Rachel: Maybe Rupert and his wife. And in the beginning it might be smart to align with Aras and his brother because they’re strong. But I wouldn’t fully trust them.
Tyson: I think Aras is dangerous.
Rachel: I think they’re sneaky.
Tyson: His brother wears yoga pants, so he’s got to be way good at stretching.
Gordon: When the stretching challenge comes up, you’re going to want him on your side.
Rachel: He does not wear yoga pants.
Tyson: That’s all he wears!

Gordon: Alright, who are some early targets?
Tyson: I’m wary of the conniving game players. They’re the ones who flip the game a lot or get the game going in another direction.
Rachel: Monica and her husband might be…
Tyson: No.
Rachel: Maybe…
Tyson: Nobody likes them.
Rachel: They’re definitely a couple that I don’t feel comfortable with. I feel like I could be really good friends with all of them except for Monica and her husband…I don’t know how Colton is going to be this season…
Gordon: Will he be less offensive, more offensive, equally offensive?
Tyson: As a Republican, is he against his own relationship? Does he despise his boyfriend for being homosexual?
Rachel: I really want to ask him about it.
Tyson: Well, you’ll get a chance to.

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

Don’t miss the special 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET.

Watch the First Seven Minutes of ‘Survivor: Blood vs. Water’

September 16, 2013

'Survivor: Blood vs. Water' (CBS)

Quick Note: I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Blood vs. Water” competitors before the game began. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each pairing in the days leading up to the September 18th season premiere. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for those interviews, behind-the-scenes exclusives, and more…

Another Quick Note: Once the season has started, check back for full recaps immediately following each episode, interviews with the eliminated players the day after they’re sent packing, and the return of the always controversial “Survivor” Power Rankings featuring “Survivor” dreamboat Malcolm Freberg.

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

Don’t miss the special 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET.

‘Survivor’ Castaways Monica & Brad: ‘I Want People to Be Miserable’

September 16, 2013

Monica and Brad Culpepper (CBS)

Quick Note: I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Blood vs. Water” competitors before the game began. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each pairing in the days leading up to the September 18th season premiere. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for those interviews, behind-the-scenes exclusives, and more…

Name:  Monica Culpepper
Age: 42
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Brad’s Wife
Previous Season: “Survivor: One World” – fifth person eliminated
Current Residence: Tampa, Florida
Occupation: Former NFL Wife, Homemaker

Name: Brad Culpepper
Age:
44
Relationship to Significant Castaway: 
Monica’s Husband
Current Residence:
Tampa, Florida
Occupation:
Attorney and Retired NFL Player. Played for the Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Chicago Bears.
Personal Claim to Fame: 
My 21-year marriage.
Pet Peeves:
Hypocrisy and long goodbyes.
Three Words to Describe You:
Tenacious, independent, and forward-thinking.

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Gordon Holmes: No offense, Brad. But I’m so sick of these pro football players turned lawyers being cast on this show.
Brad Culpepper: (Laughs) Yeah, I used to be a caveman, now I’m a lawyer. Actually, I got my law degree while I was playing. I’ve spent 12 years as an attorney, but right now I’m getting the butterflies like I’m about to head out on Sunday morning.
Monica Culpepper: Against the Miami Dolphins, through the tunnel. Brad hasn’t competed…
Brad: Well, I’ve competed higher than this level.
Gordon: There is no higher level than “Survivor.”
Monica: (Laughs) Exactly.
Brad: This is as close as I can get to the NFL level.

Gordon: He’s smart, he’s in good shape, he’s had two very lucrative careers. What do you see in this guy?
Brad: Right?
Monica: There’s a target on him. He’s my shield.
Brad: She’s going to dump me for John Cochran.
Monica: Right. We’ve got lots of strategies and lots of ideas. Every single day we need to realize we’re a target. And every single day we need to figure out how they will help themselves by voting someone else off.
Brad: This is a game about one winner. You have to convince someone that it’s in their best interest to keep me or it’s in their best interest to get rid of someone else. That’s the game. We’re not sure on how they’re going to split us up. But, we’re used to living with each other and there are loved ones who are not. We’re one person, we can finish each other sentences. I can definitely give her information and run scenarios by her and get truthful responses.
Monica: But this time I’m the wily veteran.
Brad: You can play as many “Survivors” as you want, I guarantee I’m going to catch more fish, build more fire, and whatever else.
Monica: He grew up on an island in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico that you can only get to by boat. He’s an Eagle Scout.
Brad: Yeah, but that’s only a third of the game.
Monica: Yeah, and the social part and the strategic part I can help you with. And I’m hoping the people out there realize he is a workhorse. I want them to ride him to their goal. Do I think a jury is going to give a retired NFL player the prize? No. The only chance we have of winning at a final three is if we’re playing with Osama or Hitler.
Gordon: You’re out of luck on that one. I think I’d notice if they were walking around.
Monica: So, the chances of the jury giving it to us are slim.
Brad: There are different scenarios, the only reason John Cochran won was because he had a shield. He had the Three Amigos at the merge. The conversation should be, you need me at the merge because you need someone to deflect the arrows off of you. But there are a lot of athletic people here. It’s the John Cochrans we have to look out for.

Gordon: I’m seeing a few “One World” folks in this cast. Does that work to your advantage?
Monica: On my season those girls had an alliance from the start. I worked my tail off, cooked chickens, did all the fire, boiled everyone’s undergarments while they laid in the sun. We have a tribal swap and I landed on the tribe with four men and three women, but I had Colton. Colton came to me on day three and said, “I’m quitting the game. I need a mom. What can you do?” I said, “Do you have a boyfriend?” He said, “Yes, the love of my life, Caleb.” And I said, “One day you guys are going to adopt children and they’re going to watch and see what you did on ‘Survivor.’ They’re going to know what dad did. Do you want them to see you quit?”
Brad: So you talked him out of quitting.
Gordon: Oh, so it’s your fault.
Brad: For a while.
Monica: Yeah, bad move by me. I talked a lot of people out of quitting. But that Monica is back in Samoa.
Gordon: Now you’re a bad ass house of fire.
Monica: No doubt. But then we’ve got three men vs. three women and Colton.
Brad: He backstabbed her.
Monica: I thought Colton was on my side. He said I was the strongest person on our tribe and he felt the most threatened by me so it was time to get me off. And he was happy in knowing that they were going to lose every immunity because he knew they’d vote the women off first.
Brad: Of course, the next day he’s out.
Monica: Who lines up at a challenge and doesn’t care if they win or lose?
Brad: This is a new day. It’s not going to be that way this time.

Gordon: So what’s your play if Colton is on your tribe?
Brad: My kneejerk reaction is; I see Colton here, I want to get him off first. But, I’m smarter than that. The guy said some stupid things that he’d want to take back.
Monica: And I guarantee that he’s back because he wants to show that he’s changed.
Brad: While he said some things that were inflammatory, that’s almost outside of the game. Within the game he’s a fantastic player. He’s very shrewd, he got a bunch of men to give immunity up. The guy is persuasive.
Monica: Eighteen other people here do not know the storm that is coming at them with Colton. He is the most paranoid person you’ve ever met.
Brad: If everyone wants to get him off first, I’m all for it. But my plan would be to bury the hatchet with him and say, “Colton, you’re a great player. Yesterday was yesterday.” And he’ll probably apologize, he’s not stupid. He needs us because she can validate him to other people. Everyone here knows his reputation and is probably leery of him.
Monica: I can validate that he’s changed.
Brad: I think we can play much better with him than we can without.
Gordon: Cochran and Dawn (Meehan) did something similar where people didn’t think they’d trust each other based on their past history in “South Pacific.”
Brad: It’s the same thing.
Monica: Nobody here is going to think we’re together. He was deplorable out there and the worst to me. I’ll be able to look in his eyes and see if he’s changed.

Gordon: What are your thoughts on the rest of the cast?
Brad: We’ve got two returning winners.
Monica: I’m a bit star-struck with Tina here. Tina Wesson is the one that allows mothers to still play the game, she is unbelievable. She’s the kind of person that Colton would go with because she’s motherly.
Brad: You’ve got Tyson who’s good at challenges. Hayden who’s very athletic and he’s got the social skills. He won “Big Brother,” which is no small feat.
Gordon: It’s no “Survivor.”
Brad: No, it’s not.
Monica: Gervase, I remember him from season one. We’ll tell him he’s the wily veteran of the game.
Brad: The pirate Rupert is here.
Monica: He’s played a hundred days. He’ll sell himself as being loyal. He makes an alliance of four and he never wavers.
Brad: This game is going to be funky. You’ve got the new-school players and then a Rupert, a Tina, a Gervase. They didn’t even have idols. It’s going to be an interesting blend.

Gordon: Has she given you any tips on how to deal with the conditions?
Brad: I hope it is hot, I hope it rains. There’s a saying in the NFL, “Anyone can good on Sunday when they’re healthy.” First game of the year, everyone plays well. How well do you play on week fifteen, week sixteen? Same thing with “Survivor.” If it’s a sunny day and cool at night and you’re catching fish, everyone’s going to play well. But if it rains and nobody eats and everyone’s miserable, the cream will rise to the top. I want the shelter to fall down. I want people to be miserable.

Gordon: What is it like when you guys fight?
Monica: We don’t fight. I know that’s strange.
Brad: When we’re tired at the end of the day because we’ve got three kids and we’re trying to get someone to do their homework, it’s frustrating. The only time she and I get elevated is in an exasperated, tired kind of a situation.
Monica: Which we’re going to have every day out here.
Brad: No, I don’t sweat the small stuff. Everything I do at work is small. Nothing I do with my kids is small. I’ll put a bet on you now, I guarantee we’re the last couple that will be filmed having a big argument this season.

Gordon: What strategies have you guys been discussing?
Monica: You may see something that’s never been done before on “Survivor.” We might pitch that the whoever got us to the final three wins the game.
Brad: To cement your legacy in this game, you have to do something that nobody else has ever done. I’m going to make millions of dollars from this show if I can last a long time. My exposure…
Monica: Would be ten times that for his law practice.
Brad: I would lose the battle and win the war.
Monica: And at our stage in life what gives you pleasure is doing nice things for other people. $600,000 after taxes isn’t going to make or break us. But it’s going to make someone else’s life.
Brad: And we’re not going to win anyway.

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

Don’t miss the special 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET.

‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Ranks the ‘Blood vs. Water’ Castaways

September 16, 2013

Jeff Probst (CBS)

Quick Note: I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Blood vs. Water” competitors before the game began. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each pairing in the days leading up to the September 18th season premiere. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for those interviews, behind-the-scenes exclusives, and more…

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Gordon Holmes: OK, we can’t have you getting bored out here on location, so I have arranged an activity.
Jeff Probst: Fun.
Holmes: I’ve given you flash cards featuring all twenty of this season’s castaways. I need you to put them in order from most likely to win to least likely to win.
Probst: (After a few minutes of arranging the names) OK, in front of me I have laid out who I think can win, who has a shot to win, who will probably be middle of the pack, and who has no shot to win.
Holmes: Excellent, now tell me why…

 1. Hayden – Kat’s boyfriend won “Big Brother.” He’s a good guy, good looking, charming, I root for him. I didn’t see the “Big Brother” season he was on, but I can tell why he won.  2. Aras – Aras is probably the most boring winner we’ve ever had, but it’s because he’s so good at keeping things in check. He knows where his center is and he doesn’t let you get to him. He comes back at you with love. It makes if very difficult to get rid of him even though you know you should. Why am I going to get rid of Aras when I can get rid of someone else? That’s Aras’s charm.
 3. Vytas – Aras’s brother is also up here as a possible winner, which is pretty amazing. Vytas would win a very different game. I’m guessing Vytas’s game would be a little darker, a little manipulative. Vytas’s story would be, “I’m the underdog and I’m truly creating a second chance in my life.” He had a rough younger part of his life, was hooked on drugs and has recovered. He’s been sober for 14 years and has really made something of his life.   4. Caleb – Instantly liked him, maybe five seconds after he started talking I wanted him on the show and I thought he could actually win. He’s the guy you want to win. He doesn’t have a big sense of self. He clearly takes care of Colton and as he said in casting, “When I want something I let Colton know. I’m not a doormat. Colton doesn’t always say the brightest things and I try to help him be a better person, and together we’re a really strong couple.” Caleb would be one of the best winners ever.
 5. John – Doctor, helps out wounded vets, good looking, extremely likable, always seems to say the right thing. If that guy gets deep into the game he could win. So, we have on my winners list here, five men…no women.
  6. Tina – Well…there is a possible winner wild card. I was really bummed when she was voted out early the second time around. I think Tina could win this game, her only obstacle is she’s the oldest woman out there and people judge older women as weak. But Tina lives this life. She lives out there, she takes showers outdoors. She can do this. I hope she finds an alliance that gives her a chance. She’s really good strategically.
 7. Ciera – And you know what? I’m going to put Ciera up here as a possible contender. Ciera is a really interesting woman. A really young mom. She’s extremely proud of that. But Ciera is not someone that anyone is going to walk over. She has several guns, she votes against gay rights. I’m looking at her thinking, for you to get my vote…huge obstacles. But if you can prove to me that you’re worthy, then I’ll let the fact that we disagree politically go and give you the million. I think Ciera could earn it.
 8. Katie – Now we have a lot of people that are fun to watch, but they just don’t have it to win. Katie isn’t going to win because she just doesn’t have enough life experience yet. She’s very capable, she’s extremely bright, but to outfox everyone in this game? I don’t see it. I think she can go deep, she can make the jury, I don’t see her winning.

  9. Brad – I hope he lasts until the very end because I’m fascinated by him. I love every thing he says. He’s electric and compelling. But, I think Brad’s target is going to be that he’s had a big life already. He’s played in the NFL, he’s a stud, his wife is beautiful, they seem to have this incredible life. I think people will be annoyed by that really early on. Brad’s challenge is going to be how to make himself more valuable than his lifestyle is annoying.
 10. Monica – I like Monica and I’m glad she’s back on the show. I find them to be a really fascinating couple. But I don’t think that Monica fully sees how other people see her. I think that’s what happens to most people who play this game, and I would be no different. She talks a lot. She has a lot of advice and it comes from a good place. But, people don’t want advice out here. The more you say, the more opportunity you give for someone to find fault with what you say.

 11. Tyson – Tyson isn’t going to win because I don’t think he wants to win. I think Tyson lives a life that is so fun that this isn’t about winning a million dollars. This time, I’m going to come out with my girlfriend. Maybe I’ll ask her to marry me, who knows? He’s just this goofy, aloof guy that in a lot of ways I wish I was more like. That guy doesn’t win because ultimately people won’t respect that enough.  12. Gervase – The only way Gervase wins is if he’s in the finals with Rupert’s wife. Gervase isn’t going to win this game, he’s going to maybe make the merge and the reason is he doesn’t work hard enough. Gervase is no different than he was the first time. He’s a really likable guy who wants to get by with as little effort as possible. And that’s OK if there’s a place for him on the tribe. I hope he lasts because he’s funny. And I love that he calls people out. I like seeing him. He makes me happier. But, he won’t be smiling at the end with a million-dollar check.
 13. Colton – He’s not going to win. He knows he’s not going to win. Colton still has an invoice to pay from the last time he played…and I would argue that he quit. I don’t think he had appendicitis. I’ve told him this. I think he manufactured a quit. We brought him back because when we talked to him we thought he’d grown as a person. He got home and his friends told him he acted like an ass. Will he go deep in the game? He should, he’s very good. But he’s not going to win.
 14. Rupert – Rupert is not going to win this game. There’s just too much animosity for a guy who’s gotten so much celebrity from “Survivor.” He was so popular that America literally voted to give him a million bucks. He’s not going to win. It’s not the way the world works, it’s not the way “Survivor” works.
 15. Candice – She just isn’t good enough at making that final argument. She doesn’t own it. She’s really likable. I think she’ll do well in challenges. It takes a certain charisma to win this game. You’ve got to convince people that I’m more worthy than everyone else here. And I don’t see that from Candice. Maybe she’s a little too reserved.
  16. Marissa – Very likable and for a young person she is very sharp. There are people out here that have 30-plus years on her and she can hold her own. But, somebody that young winning this game with this group? It’s not going to happen. She’ll get outplayed at some point and she won’t see it coming.
 17. Kat C’mon, who are we kidding? Kat’s not going to win. Kat might think she can win, but Kat’s best bet in this game is to play the way she played last time. Be lovable and goofy and help her guy get deep in the game. If I was part of the alliance, my part of the strategy would be, “I’ll be the distraction. I’ll let people laugh at me, and we keep inching to the end.” Then she should try to marry him before that so she’s entitled to half the money.
  18. Laura M. – I think Laura is someone that people will say, “Who?” And that could work to Laura’s advantage. When she was voted out of her season we thought we lost a good player. I think Laura can do well in the game if she can get an alliance early. Laura can also rub people the wrong way. Like her daughter she has some strong opinions about a lot of things and she won’t waver on them.
 19. Rachel – She can’t win the game. I just hope the strong version of Rachel shows up and not the little girl. When we talked in casting she was very candid that there is a girl who cries and a woman who doesn’t. Who will show up?   20. Laura B. – And as hard as it is to say, and it is hard to say…Laura has no chance to win this game. I don’t think she understands why. She’ll think it’s because of who her husband is, but I think it’s because of Laura. I think socially she has a harder time blending with people and I don’t think she sees it. And all the producers agree our first choice to be voted out first is Laura.  She will be the first person out of this game.

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

Don’t miss the special 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET.

‘Survivor’ Castaways Aras & Vytas: ‘When We Fight, It Is Knives Out’

September 13, 2013

Aras and Vytas Baskauskas (CBS)

Quick Note: I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Blood vs. Water” competitors before the game began. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each pairing in the days leading up to the September 18th season premiere. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for those interviews, behind-the-scenes exclusives, and more…

Name: Aras Baskauskas
Age: 31
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Vytas’ Brother
Previous Season: The winner of “Survivor: Panama – Exile Island.”
Current Residence: Santa Monica, California
Occupation: Musician

Name: Vytas Baskauskas
Age: 33
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Aras’ Brother
Current Residence: Santa Monica, California
Occupation: Yoga Instructor/Math Professor
Personal Claim to Fame: Beating heroin addiction, yoga discipline, and receiving a graduate degree in math.
Pet Peeves: Stupidity and show-offs.
Three Words to Describe You:  Smart, strong-willed, and unique.

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Gordon Holmes: Aras, I know all about you and your winning ways. Tell me about this guy.
Aras Baskauskas: My brother Vytas is a very smart, very driven guy. He’s very motivated by winning. He’s very competitive and very athletic.
Vytas Baskauskas: I think Aras’s assessment is very spot on. I’m driven by winning and most of that drive comes from our relationship. It’s interesting that there’s a big million-dollar prize and I’m with my brother who I always want to win against. And in this case we’re a team. It’s going to be really cool to work together with the source of my competition, but in the end there’s only one winner.
Gordon: What was it like watching your kid brother win a million bucks on national TV?
Vytas: It was an amazing experience. Being as competitive as I am and seeing that he won…there’s no better that I can do, it’s a little bit discouraging. You can’t top first place.
Gordon: Piece of cake. Just get to the end, get all the jury votes, and win Fan Favorite.
Aras: Win first place, then go on an all-winners season with me, then there’s the rubber match. Set us up on different tribes and see what happens.

Gordon: I literally just rewatched “Survivor: Panama.”
Aras: What’d you think?
Gordon: It gets a bad rap for some reason. I liked it. The end was a little anti-climactic once Terry Dietz went home.
Aras: I get a bad rap for being a non-memorable winner, too.
Gordon: Yeah, and Terry is remembered as this great hero, but it seemed like he was kind of a pain in the rear out there.
Aras: (Laughs) Terry’s actually a great dude.
Gordon: I’m sure he is, but my big takeaway was, these people need to vote for later. Be nicer.
Aras: (Laughs)
Gordon: Quite a bit of time has passed since that season.
Aras: It was seven years ago. On May 14, 2006 I was awarded the million-dollar prize. Seven years is a lifetime. I’ve changed and I’ve grown. Hopefully I’ve gotten more subtle. I’m excited to play. I can’t wait to play again. I’ve become a fan of the show since winning. Vytas and I watch the show religiously every Wednesday.
Vytas: I was actually a fan of the show before Aras went on. I watched the first couple of seasons when it was huge. Then Aras got on the show and it reignited my love for it. So, I’m a huge fan. Even meeting Jeff the other day was so exciting.
Gordon: He is a charmer.
Aras: (Laughs) He is, he’s never off.

Gordon: Vytas, you overcame an addiction to heroin, which is awesome. Your body is going to be desperate for things out there; food, sleep, and whatnot. Is this an advantage for you seeing as you’ve been through withdrawal before?
Vytas: Overcoming addiction is probably my great victory in life up to this point. It’s since I’ve overcome addiction that I’ve had the most amazing life. When I was nineteen I went to jail for a year. Because I was addicted to heroin I was robbing people on the street. After getting out of jail, going through treatment, getting clean. The last thirteen, almost fourteen years have afforded me the most amazing life.  I’ve had to develop new life skills because I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs. I’m comfortable in my skin now and I’m comfortable not having luxuries that everyone else does. So for me, being clean and my recovery is really going to help me.

Gordon: Something I’ve been thinking about with the game recently is; what’s it like to be paranoid for 39 days? I feel like that’s something that’s overlooked.
Vytas: I think it’s difficult not to get paranoid even in pre-game. Watching people’s energy with everyone else. Coming from the underbelly of addiction, I’m pretty good at reading people and fitting into different situations. I think paranoia is letting your mind get away from itself. And using my yoga practice and my meditation practice will really let me reign my mind back in.
Aras: What I found to be the most successful way of dealing with paranoia is making mutually beneficial alliances. If I’m in an alliance with you and I’m your best bet, I don’t have to worry when you go off into the woods.
Gordon: That works if you’re aligned with a smart person. A person who isn’t letting the effects of hunger and the lack of sleep get to them.
Vytas: That’s the problem. Doing all of the analysis about the numbers and the people out here…you want to assume that people are going to make the best moves for themselves, but that doesn’t always happen. People make idiotic moves.
Aras: Like Tyson when he voted himself off.
Gordon: Oh c’mon. Vote yourself off once and you’re branded for life.
Aras: I actually think Tyson’s a very smart guy.
Gordon: Agreed.
Aras: But, I think you’re right. That’s why you want to align with people who are smart enough to make the best moves for themselves. Everyone else you have to think, what lens are they seeing this game through? And can I present to them the appropriate image?
Vytas: Like Laura got shafted by John (Fincher) the rocket scientist. So, she might be wary of young, smart guys. You have to understand what their trauma is from their season and play to that trauma. Let her know that we’re different.

Gordon: Who here do you guys want to work with?
Aras: I’ve known Gervase for a long time, and I don’t know if anybody knows that. I’ve spent evenings at his house. We watched World Series games together. That’s a no-brainer. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep that friendship under wraps. Tina, as the other winner, is an obvious alliance-mate.

Gordon: Who are you guys wary of?
Aras: I’m immediately wary of Tyson, just because he’s smart and he has shown himself to be duplicitous. That being said, he was so duplicitous last time he might take a more subdued approach this time. He’s also very athletic. I also think Hayden. He won “Big Brother,” he’s very likable, he’s athletic, he’s quiet. He’s not someone you want to hang around in the game. But, there’s nobody that I personally want out. One of the keys to our strategy is to never identify someone unless they’re an immediate threat. Let other people determine who needs to go out first.

Gordon: Any guesses for potential twists?
Aras: I think we’re going to be starting together. And then after one or two Tribals they’re going to split us. I think we’re together because they need to have a narrative about our relationship.
Vytas: Without us together, there’s not enough time in an episode to tell the story of our relationship. And since there are 20 people, we think the first couple of Tribals will eliminate a whole team. Then they’ll split us.

Gordon: I was going to ask why you think you’re back, but I know why you’re back because returning champions are awesome.
Aras: (Laughs) That’s a great answer.
Gordon: Thank you. But, that puts a target on your back. How do you deal with it?
Aras: People play within the rules of the dominant narrative.
Gordon: Like in “All-Stars” they all wanted the winners gone. In “Heroes vs. Villains” that wasn’t an issue.
Aras: Exactly, it behooves me, Tina, even Rupert, Hayden to have the conversation about getting rid of people who aren’t assets to the tribe. Let’s get to the merge with numbers. Because half of us are returnees, I think everyone is going to be thinking about numbers. People want to be safe and if we can provide that feeling of safety, we’re going to be fine.

Gordon: What’s it like when you guys fight?
Vytas: When we fight, it is knives out.
Aras: It’s ugly.
Vytas: Here’s an example; Aras and his girlfriend were staying with me when they were in between places. We had a pact; 60 days, let’s not get into one fight. Day 60, very last night we got into an awful…didn’t talk for weeks afterward. When we fight, it’s not just what we’re fighting about, it’s past scars.
Aras: Gordon, if you and I were to get into a fight I’d be very logical and present my case. When Vytas and I fight it’s largely our past coming up. That being said, it’s 39 days. There’s a start and an end. That’s easy for me to wrap my head around. But us fighting would be a bad situation.

Gordon: Alright, Vytas. It’s day 39; you, Aras, and I don’t know…Tina find a big basket of food. There’s a big glass carafe of orange juice and other glass items. I need you to keep an eye on your brother.
Vytas: (Laughs)
Gordon: Don’t let him hurt himself. Make sure he gets to that final Tribal.
Aras: I still have a gnarly scar on my back.

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

Don’t miss the special 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET.

‘Survivor’ Castaways Candice & John: ‘I’m Always Wary of Rupert’

September 12, 2013

Candice and John Cody (CBS)

Quick Note: I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Blood vs. Water” competitors before the game began. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each pairing in the days leading up to the September 18th season premiere. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for those interviews, behind-the-scenes exclusives, and more…

Name: Candice Cody (formerly Candice Woodcock)
Age: 30
Relationship to Significant Castaway: John’s Wife
Previous Seasons: “Survivor: Cook Islands” – fifth jury member and “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villians” – fifth jury member
Current Residence: Washington, D.C.
Occupation: Physician, Anesthesiology Resident

Name: John Cody
Age:
30
Relationship to Significant Castaway:
Candice’s Husband
Current Residence:
Washington, D.C.
Occupation: Physician:
Army Orthopedic Surgery Resident
Personal Claim to Fame:
Being a West Point grad, graduating from Georgetown Medical School and training at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for my Orthopedic Surgery residency.
Pet Peeves:
Slow thinkers, talkers, and movers, people who eat paper, illogical, irrational and inflexible people, excuses, mouth breathers.

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Gordon Holmes: Alright, who’s this guy?
Candice Cody: John is basically an all-around great guy.
John Cody: It’s pretty true. (Laughs)
Candice: (Laughs) I was going to say something nice, but now I’ve changed my mind.
Gordon: Perfect. Give me the dirt.
Candice: He’s great. He’s a talker, he’s very social. He’s like the good in our relationship, and I’m like the dark, evil heart. He’s a sweetie.
Gordon: He’s the angel on one shoulder…
John: And she’s the devil. It’s true. Candice fancies herself to be very edgy and mean, but she’s actually a sweetheart. She loves to talk like she’s hard as nails, but she has a soft side.
Candice: We’re talking about you. John is very athletic. He went to West Point and he played basketball there. He still plays competitive basketball three or four days a week. He lifts weights. Sports and athletics are a big part of our life. He’s very smart.
Gordon: Where’s the dirt?
Candice: He doesn’t have dirt. I want someone to dig some up about him.
John: Don’t ask any of my buddies about the time I was in Thailand.
Candice: (Laughs)
John: Just kidding, I was never in Thailand.
Gordon: Likely story.

Gordon: When did you two start dating?
Candice: We met the week of the “Cook Islands” premiere.
Gordon: So you’ve seen both of her seasons?
John: Yes.
Gordon: What could she have done better out there?
John: I think the first time she was set up much better to win the game. Everybody remembers the mutiny, but when you think about what she was doing, she was making a move to win the game. She could have stayed with her alliance to the final five, but she wouldn’t have won. In “Heroes vs. Villains” she was never in a majority.
Candice: I was dead in the water.
John: She fought and clawed and scratched her way to the final eight, both times.

Gordon: Didn’t “Heroes vs. Villains” screw up your wedding or something like that?
John: We were supposed to be married when “Heroes vs. Villains” was filmed. We had our invitations stuffed, stamped, and ready to be sent out.
Gordon: Is this a sore spot? Did I cause trouble?
John: No, no, no. (Laughs) But we talked about it and we said, “In 30 years we’re not going to care if we got married in 2009 or 2010, but we might care if we missed out on the opportunity to win a million dollars.”

Gordon: What is it like when you guys fight?
Candice: It’s more like me being bitchy to him and then him getting tired of it and being like, “Shut up!” And then I shut up because it’s really hard to ruffle his feathers, but when they’re ruffled you’re like “Whoa…(expletive deleted). OK…I’ll back off.”
John: Candice is into details, she looks for fine details and I’m more of a big picture guy. So, I’ll brush off some details and that tends to be the source of our frustration with each other. But we try to be as constructive as possible.
Gordon: As I’m sure she’s told you, “Survivor” is a stressful game. Can you two be a calming force for each other?
Candice: Our lives are 24 hours stress all the time. I work in the operating room. He has to be cool under pressure when he’s operating as well. That’s our jobs. Our call schedules are always opposite. So we operate under stress. I think we’re at an advantage in a game like this based on how our daily lives are.

Gordon: If there are any twists, what do you think they will be?
Candice: I have two guesses; one that we start off with returnees on one side and family members on the other. It’d force family members to have their own game. And then the drama of hoping your family member made it through the vote and is at the next challenge. And, the other option would be to start off playing together, which would be nice because we could hang out together. But it’d be a distraction because you’d be with the person you’re comfortable with instead of going out and getting to know everybody else.
John: If the couples are together it creates a completely different dynamic for alliance building. You might really like a returning player, but you can’t stand their loved one. So, playing individual games on different sides it should make the merge more interesting. As a fan, the merge has been lacking. The numbers dictate what happens.
Gordon: What strategies have you two been discussing?
John: We’ve tried to work through all the scenarios. We’ve tried to work out hand signals. Like “I’m in danger.” We’ve talked about throwing challenges to save our loved one. We don’t like that idea.
Candice: That’s always a bad idea.
John: We’re going to have to wait and see how it falls out. But we know we’re a good team and we’re always acting in each other’s best interest.
Candice: We’re always going to be looking for that idol. We’re always going to be on. We’re always thinking about numbers. I thought twice was going to be the last time for me. I’m pretty sure the third time is going to be the last time. Leave everything on the table. We’re going to play hard. We jumped through a lot of hoops in our careers to be here.
John: One of my favorite quotes is, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” It was on a poster in my room growing up. I always try to live by that.

Gordon: It’s a bit of a shock to everyone that you’re here. As people are scrambling to deal with this development, what do you think they remember about you from your season?
Candice: I think, and I’m not sure if this is the right perception or not, but I think everyone thinks of the mutiny. But, that’s kind of old news now. The most recent thing was “Heroes vs. Villains.” I think people think of me as someone who flipped on her tribe twice. Which, I think is not that big of a deal to me. Everyone who’s a returning players knows the name of the game is deception.
Gordon: That might be an angle to take, “Yeah, I flipped twice and look where it got me.”
Candice: Yeah. I’ve thought about that. I got me voted out in the same position both times.

Gordon: What are your thoughts on this cast?
Candice: Half of the cast I know who they are the other half I don’t.
John: There’s a good mix. A lot of these people come from pretty far back. Aras and Tina and Gervase, it’s been a while since they were on. It’s not like their gameplay is fresh in everyone’s minds.

Gordon: Anyone stick out as potential alliance partners?
Candice: We haven’t picked anyone out yet. It’s especially dangerous this season because you think you know something about the returning player, but the family member might not be someone you want to deal with.

Gordon: Anyone make you nervous?
Candice: I’m always wary of Rupert. We were butting heads in “Heroes vs. Villains” and he took the game personally. Still after the game, even at the finale.
John: He was a little sore.
Candice: Sour grapes. So, I’m a little wary of that. Whether he feels that way or not, I don’t know.

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

Don’t miss the special 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET.

‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Discusses Classic ‘Survivor’ vs. Tons of Twists

September 11, 2013

Jeff Probst (XFINITY)

Quick Note: I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Blood vs. Water” competitors before the game began. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each pairing in the days leading up to the September 18th season premiere. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for those interviews, behind-the-scenes exclusives, and more…

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Gordon Holmes: Let’s say there are two fans. One wants it to be “Survivor: Borneo” all over again. Sixteen players, no twists, final two. The other is saying, “Show me something new.” How do you find a balance between the two?
Jeff Probst: Finding the balance of how to do the show is the single most important thing we do creatively. And I’ve heard a lot of people suggest, “Why don’t you go back to the beginning and have no frills? No idols, no Redemption Island, no Exile Island. Sixteen people, straight up, final two.” I look at it more like baseball. They juice up the ball a little bit, there’s more homeruns, it’s more exciting for the audience. I think when you add elements like an idol, it layers the game in so many ways…why would you take it out? Then you add in Redemption Island or Exile Island…it changes everybody’s strategies. We’re tossing around some other ideas for idols that would really throw people for a loop that maybe we’ll do next season. I like that because “Survivor” is an evolving game. Our job is to make you uncertain of what will happen so you’re constantly going, “If this, then that. If that, then this.” To go back to a straight game of sixteen people, thirty nine days, and then one will never happen.

Holmes: There is a (expletive deleted) of twists this season. Having pairs on the show is something I’ve thought of for a while, but could never figure out how to make it work.
Probst: We couldn’t either. It took about three months for us to figure it out. It takes months of sitting around and talking, sending emails, someone has another idea, then you talk about that…
Holmes: What I kept coming back to is the twist could encourage people to throw challenges. If I know I’m safe on my tribe with my alliance and I’m worried about my girlfriend on the other side, we might conspire to lay down a few times to get our people to the merge. Is that a concern?
Probst: One of the exciting things about this season is we’ve never done it so we don’t know what to anticipate. So, would someone throw a challenge if they thought they could get away with it? I’m sure these couples have talked and they have some way to show, “Baby, I’m in trouble,” when they see each other at the challenge. Will you play less hard if you can get away with it? I’d definitely be tempted to do that if my wife was on the other tribe. So, if I make myself trip and then apologize that I screwed up and still be tight with my alliance, that’d be an incredible story. And what’s great about “Survivor” is we’d know because afterward the guy would tell us in an interview that they threw the challenge.
Holmes: Or if they’re Phillip Sheppard they’ll just claim to have lost on purpose every time they lose.
Probst: (Laughs) That’s true.

Holmes: I am a cold, cynical jerk, but the stupid “Survivor” family visits always make me cry. It was Cochran and his mom last time. I’m worried you just signed me up for a full season of bawling every Wednesday.
Probst: See, I think this is taking the idea of a family visit and flipping it. I’m not here to give my loved one who’s playing love and encouragement. Ultimately I am here to beat them. This is a zero-sum game. There is one winner. I think what you’re going to see is moments of sadness when someone has to see their loved one lose at Redemption Island and be out of the game. But when push comes to shove, I’m guessing more people will shove.

Holmes: Another thing that has changed “Survivor” is the use of social media. Back in the day, if I was mad at Jerri Manthey during “The Australian Outback” I couldn’t drop her a line on Twitter and give her a hard time. Now she’s only a few clicks away. This past season there was an unfortunate situation with Dawn Meehan where she received all kinds of threatening messages after voting out Brenda Lowe.
Probst: I don’t know if social media is good or bad, I’ve just accepted that it is. There’s no getting away from it. And I don’t want to be the guy that gets off the merry-go-round and decides I’m going to stop being a part of this new world. It can be brutal. Dawn went through a lot. I read things about Dawn that broke my heart. People saying I hope your kids die, I hope you die in a plane crash. You want to say, “C’mon Dawn, get over it. It’s some idiot writing with crayons.” But when it’s you and you read it about yourself it’s very hard. That’s why people say, “Don’t read the blogs.” I can’t not read them, I’m a human. I’m looking for some insight. I’m looking for someone to say something positive about what I bring to the game. Instead I read that people wish I would die. It’s hard. But, there is no getting around it. I engage in social media because I believe there are people who enjoy the conversation about “Survivor” and I like getting it back from them. But man, some days I’ll think, “Why am I wasting my time with people who clearly have nothing positive to say.” And then I remind myself that this is a small fraction.
Holmes: That’s human nature. You get 1,000 positive comments and one negative comment, and you’re going to focus on the negative.
Probst: That’s true. I think the thing I struggle with is; I think I can differentiate between criticism and snarkiness. If someone wants to debate Redemption Island or Final Three vs. Final Two, I love it. There’s no right or wrong. I learn things that I take back to the team. But when somebody says, “You suck more than anyone else has sucked in this whole sucking world.” I don’t know what to do with that one.

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

Don’t miss the special 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET.


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