Archive for the ‘Fall TV 2013’ Category

‘Survivor’ Castaways Gervase & Marissa: ‘The Game Seems Easier Now’

September 10, 2013

Gervase and Marissa Peterson (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: Gervase Peterson
Age: 43
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Marissa’s Uncle
Previous Season: “Survivor: Borneo” – third jury member
Current Residence: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Occupation: Cigar Lounge Owner

Name: Marissa Peterson
Age:
21
Relationship to Significant Castaway:
Gervase’s Niece
Current Residence:
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Occupation:
Student
Personal Claim to Fame:
Putting myself through college.
Pet Peeves:
When people say they’re going to do something and don’t do it.

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Gordon Holmes: Gervase, tell me about this young lady.
Gervase Peterson: Marissa is one of my many nieces.
Gordon: I think you were supposed to say she’s your “favorite niece.”
Gervase: Hmm… I can’t say that because I have too many of them. But of all my nieces and even my kids, she’s a lot like me. I can see why we click. We think a lot of the same things. We get the same jokes. I think she’s a little bit of a party girl. But she hasn’t partied till she’s partied with me.
Marissa Peterson: (Laughs)
Gervase: Cause I’m a party boy. She’s smart, funny, athletic. She’s the whole package and she’s going to need it here. She’s definitely one of my favorite nieces.
Gordon: “One of.” See, you’ve been upgraded.
Marissa: I should be his favorite niece cause I could stretch and say he’s my favorite uncle. But now I feel like I should take that back. But, everything he said is true. Even the partying.  I am a party animal.

Gordon: Your favorite uncle was part of a cultural phenomenon. Richard, Sue, Rudy, Gervase…these are all names that even non “Survivor” fans remember. You were eight at the time. What do you remember about your uncle’s time on the show?
Marissa: Like everybody, I remember him eating the rat…the cow comment…
Gordon: Oh man, that’s going to come back and bite you.
Marissa: (Laughs) I remember being eight years old and thinking, “He didn’t mean that. He doesn’t think I’m as stupid as a cow!” I was surprised he didn’t take the fall for that. I remember him being lazy, which he said was his strategy and he’s not going to do that again this time. And, his likability, everybody liked him. But when I’m eight, my first priority was recess, so I didn’t appreciate the magnitude of it. I remember being in the theater when the first “Harry Potter” came out and people were just swarming him for autographs.
Gordon: It’s been quite some time since he’s been out there. Does he still have it?
Marissa: I call him “old man” because thirteen years is a long time. It’s over a decade.
Gervase: (Laughs) It sounds bad when you say it like that.
Marissa: But those past thirteen years, he’s used them for the best. He learned to swim. He has improved in all aspects. The first season was a social experiment. Nobody knew what to expect.
Gordon: “Alliance” was a dirty word back then. Now you have no choice but to have one.
Marissa: Exactly! So, after thirteen years I feel like he’s in his prime. He just beat me in a footrace. He’s still got it.

Gordon: Gervase, does being a part of an iconic season help or hurt you? You might not recognize some of the faces here, but everybody recognizes you.
Gervase: I think being season one holds a lot of weight. Everybody out here wants to talk to me.
Marissa: I see people’s eyes. Everybody wants to talk to you. They like you.
Gordon: That summer was the summer of “Survivor.” I remember there wasn’t a person in my office who wasn’t watching it.
Gervase: I woke up one morning, turned on the radio to the lowest station on the dial and waited until they mentioned “Survivor” then went to the next station. I went through the whole dial. It changed the landscape of television.

Gordon: The game has changed a lot in 13 years. It moves much quicker with alliances starting a minute after hitting the beach. Have you stayed on top of all this?
Gervase: Yeah, I’m a fan of it. I watch it. I study the game. One of my things is; if I lose to you, I figure out why I lost to you so I never lose to you again. I become a student. I’ve seen how people play this game, and like you said, it’s a fast game now. I’m going to slow it up. If I’m playing basketball and I’m playing a fastbreak team? I’m going to slow the game up. It’s going to frustrate you. That’s my strategy out here. I know people want to do things right away. “Hey, who do you want to get rid of?” I’ll say, “Why are we even talking about that? We didn’t even lose a challenge yet. Slow down. Pump your brakes. If we never lose immunity, we don’t have to worry about that.“ Then I’ll call you out, “You think we’re going to lose already? That’s not good, buddy. Let’s lose first.”

Gordon: I’ve noticed you’ve got an awesome Pagong tattoo on your left arm. Is there room on the right for your next tribe?
Gervase: This is going to be whatever my tribe’s name is this season.
Gordon: What if it’s too long and you end up with a full sleeve?
Marissa: Two or three syllables is good. That’s what they typically are.
Gervase: It keeps me in touch with everything we did that season. I always say, you talk about season one, you put it over here and all the other seasons over there. You can’t compare them.
Gordon: It’s almost like watching a documentary.
Gervase: They were making movies as they want along. It’s funny because the game seems easier now.
Marissa: That’s what he thinks.
Gervase: They eat! They win a reward and Jeff gives them a buffet! They had like four barbecues this season. They had a food auction. You know what we got? Pillows, fishing hooks, waterproof matches. The first food we got was a slice of pizza that they flew in from Malaysia for a challenge I won. That was about 24 days into the game. They definitely eat more now.
Gordon: Contestants who are starving are boring.
Gervase: Exactly. Don’t get me wrong, they’re eating more, but they’re still starving. Look at Erik (Reichenbach) from this past season. That dude looked like a skeleton. But, I’m not dissing it. I want to eat. I want my barbecue. So, that aspect of the game is easier. Hidden immunity idols? Easier. Redemption Island? I can get voted off and come back? That’s easier.
Marissa: Immunity idols? That’s like a monkey wrench. Like last season Malcolm is coming up with idol after idol after idol. That’s not easier.

Gordon: Speaking of twists, what do you think they have in store for you?
Marissa: We’ve been talking about it.
Gervase: At first I thought we’d get a team of all favorites and all family members so you’re competing against your loved one every time. But then, I thought that’s less drama.
Marissa: Yeah, it’s more drama to have to vote your loved one out.
Gervase: That’s going to be tough. Your loved one is gone, you’re hurting, you have no power. And power is in the couples here.

Gordon: Is there anyone in the cast you want to align with?
Gervase: I think it’s a no-brainer for me, Rupert, and Tina to align together because I know them personally.
Marissa: And Rupert’s well-liked. How can you not like that beard and tie-dye? There’s something wrong with you if you don’t like him.
Gervase: Those two right there are all that matter. The others I don’t know. There are a few couples, I have no idea who they are. I saw Tyson, he wasn’t very well liked on his season.

Gordon: Anyone you’re wary of?
Gervase: Honestly, I’m worried about everyone because the game is so cutthroat. I think the newbies think that’s the only way to play the game. I’m very wary of people I don’t know. But also, the people I do know.

Gordon: What strategies have you discussed so far?
Gervase: I think it’s hard to have a strategy because every second effects the game out here. But our strategy is to break up couples. We’re at a great advantage here because we’re niece and uncle.
Marissa: It’s not husband and wife or mother and daughter.
Gervase: When it comes down to it, if you have to vote your daughter off you’ll stress out about it.
Gordon: But you’ll cut her loose like it’s nothing.
Marissa: (Laughs) Yes. And I’ll do the same.
Gervase: You might get divorced when you get back home because of what you did out here. Think about it, if I brought my daughter and she didn’t do what I wanted her to do, “I’m your father, damnit. You do what the hell I tell you.” That’s what I’m thinking as a parent. I don’t have that authority over Marissa.
Marissa: We understand that we’re playing a game. We’re a couple, but we’re individuals. I’m not going to lose any sleep if I have to vote him off. I’ll write down “Gervase” and then I’ll smile to the camera and say, “Sorry, you knew it was coming. Bye.”
Gordon: This is going to make for some awkward Thanksgivings.
Marissa: (Laughs) No, once I vote him out he’s just going to laugh.
Gordon: That’s what gameplayers do. If you get beat, you get beat. Tip your cap and call it a day.

Gordon: Your uncle is 43, still good looking, still in good shape.
Gervase: I date 21 year olds, by the way. (Laughs)
Marissa: Oh my gosh…
Gordon: That was actually my follow-up question; how does he relate to young people?
Marissa: If I did not know he was 43, I’d think he was 30, mid-30s. I feel like he’s more like an older brother than an uncle. We can laugh and joke about anything. We have yet to party together because I just turned 21.
Gervase: After I win this million dollars I’m going to take you out.

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’ Fave Malcolm Freberg’s Pre-Season Power Rankings

September 10, 2013

Malcolm Freberg (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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I’m pretty good at being able to tell when someone is going to be a big deal.

I knew No Doubt would become a major band back when they were bouncing around Southern California. I knew CM Punk would become a big-time player in the wrestling industry when he was wrecking the Northeastern independents, and I knew Malcolm Freberg was going to be awesome on “Survivor.”

The good thing about that last one is we got to see Mr. Freberg pull off hilarious moments such as the Amigos’ triple immunity Tribal Council trick and his defense of Angie Layton’s cookie strategy. The bad thing is stupid CBS kept bringing the guy back and I never had a chance to guilt him into doing the Power Rankings.

Well, CBS finally let the guy take a break. Now he doesn’t have an excuse for avoiding the Power Rankings…

Note: Malcolm’s pre-season rankings are for exhibition purposes only. The actual Power Rankings will begin Monday, September 23, 2013.

Another Note: Betting on the XFINITY “Survivor” Power Rankings is frowned upon.

 1. Ciera – My favorite “Survivor”-related quote I ever stumbled upon was one of Hatch’s – “You have to know who you are to win ‘Survivor.’” This 24-year old with two kids has self-awareness in spades. Combine that with being cute, some subtle charm, and being fit without being intimidating, and she’s got everything she needs to take home the title. I was already a fan of her mom from Samoa, so get used to me sporting #TeamMorett.  2. Vytas – If Ciera has subtle charm, Vytas waves his in your face and dares you not to melt from it. The grizzly yoga master is clearly a physical asset early, but that can be said of many males this season, so why Vytas for my male pick? Because he’s actually not that smooth – he’s a bit unpolished in his interviews, Aras let slip that he’s a hot head, and he’s got a colorful past. But these ‘negatives’ are going to become the reasons people keep him over the other fit men come crunch time. Then he could win his way to the end – yogi’s always dominate – and own all of his faults at the final Tribal and get paid big for it, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Also, it’ll piss off Aras that I ranked his brother higher than him.
 3. Hayden – I have never watched “Big Brother,” so I wasn’t completely sure what to make of the Hayden-casting announcement – in fact, I have a funny story about not recognizing him at LAX that I’ll make sure Holmes lets me share at some point. But all you have to do is watch how he handles Kat in their interviews to know he’s got the social game down pat. Knowing nothing else about him, that was enough for me to think he could pull it off. Also, I don’t think winning BB will manifest as harshly in other contestants’ minds as previously winning “Survivor” will.
  4. John – My man-crush. Apparently he doesn’t say anything ever, he just does push-ups with his wife on his back and saves lives in the army and looks at you with those eyes and *sigh*. He doesn’t seem threatening at all, but having rubbed shoulders (ostensibly amongst other things) with Candice for three years has to instill some sort of gamesmanship, flawed or otherwise. If he can maintain the image of the unassuming, happy-to-help soldier boy he could get taken deep, and he appears smart and strong enough to go on a win streak if he needs it. Biggest mark against him, unlike my top three but less-so than some people below him, is that I don’t think he wins without other people making the mistake of letting him get close to the end.

(Sidenote: My top four picks are newbies. I know historical precedent, and had I paid attention to that fact I might have altered it. But I put thought into this beforehand and this is how I actually felt, and I won’t apologize for the things that come out of my gut. Unless it’s a fart, then I politely excuse myself)

 5. Colton – He said insensitive things. Racist things. Horrible things. And I now pronounce my first of two unpopular opinions: I’m rooting for him. I want to believe that he just got caught up with his own wit, that on “One World” he forgot ten million people were going to see and hear what was coming out of his mouth, and that his story this season will be one of redemption. I’m not totally convinced he’s changed from his interviews, but his take on his reputation was exactly what it needed to be: he’s not going to convince us with words beforehand, but with how he conducts himself for (hopefully) the next 39 days. If you’re a fan of the strategic side of “Survivor,” you are, even if you don’t publicly admit it, excited he’s back. He could be the first boot and I wouldn’t be taken aback in the slightest, and if he acts the same as last time I’ll be over him very quickly. But if he survives the first few votes and turns his attitude around, he’s my favorite to win.
  6. Laura M. – The most terrifying grandma since the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood. In case you’ve forgotten, she was one of the first to recognize elder Hantz (we obviously can’t say ‘big’ Hantz) for what he was. I also feel close to her because we’d likely attend the same support groups for being on a tribe managed by Russell Swan. She’s a smart, fit, capable older woman with a shrewd mind for strategy. My biggest doubt is her ability to disguise those traits – she described herself as ‘a machine,’ and she oozes intimidation and intensity. If she wins, it’s because she powered her way through the end game and got there with coattail riders who never stood a chance. To reiterate, I’m #TeamMorett this season, but I like the daughter’s odds better.
 7. Tina – I’m surprised I have her this high, but thinking through it logically I could see her pulling it off. She could make it through the first phase of the game by getting in the right alliance, then she’s clearly likeable and non-threatening enough to navigate the middle without trouble, and if she gets towards the end she can pull the ‘no one will vote for me, I already won’ card, and then she’s smart enough and sweet enough to win a final Tribal. A lot of things have to go right for her – I don’t think she controls her own destiny – but I think a lot of people will carry her much farther than they should. I’m really torn; Tina could be the second member in one of two hyper-exclusive “Survivor” clubs after “Blood vs Water” – The Diaz-Twine Double Winners, or the Francesca Hogi Double Faults.
 8. Aras – I have the old winners next to each other by complete coincidence. Aras has all the traits of his higher-ranked brother, plus one very glaring flaw: not having flaws. He’s a mellow, laid-back guy who’s not the life of the party and someone who you feel very comfortable around, but he’s not going to slip through the cracks like last time. He was greatly aided in Panama by being a part of the amazeballscrazy pants Casaya tribe, plus being kept as the only viable chance to defeat challenge monster Terry Dietz. I think there’s a 0% chance Aras goes pre-merge, but I think he’ll be targeted soon after that because of how popular he’ll be. Still, if anyone lets him close to the end, his combination of likeability and overcoming past-winner stigma will be unbeatable.

  9. Katie – Little Tina gets points for apparently being ready to turn on mommy in a heartbeat. I think there’s a lot of power in NOT being a pair as the game moves forward, and if Tina goes early Katie may go deep by being kept around as an extra swing vote. Otherwise, she strikes me as a friendly girl, willing to follow orders and who could be taken deep, but not be so daft as to roll over in the end game. Slim chances, but there is a chance.
 10. Tyson – If I were ranking based on where my heart lies, Tyson gets Power Rankings spots 1-20, and everyone else can start after that on another page. I love the guy. But this is what I think of contestant chances, and I struggle to see him winning. Great television, yes. Great Survivor, no. I know I wasn’t out there and don’t know all the circumstances surrounding the vote, but I consider him voting himself out on “Heroes vs. Villians” dumber than JT’s note, dumber than Erik’s immunity surrender, and dumber than Jason’s f***ing stick. And his blindside in Tocantins wasn’t particularly encouraging either. He’s a hilarious, mouthy athlete; let’s enjoy him as long as we can.

 11. Caleb – It almost says something positive about Colton that his fiancé is so cool. He’s a capable, mild mannered provider that’s not going to upset anyone. But he’s got two massive things working against him – first, his boy toy has a reputation, and my bold prediction for the season is that this won’t be held against Colton, but against Caleb. In a move to weaken the flamboyant strategic mastermind, his enemies may strike his significant other. Second, he seems exceedingly passive – I imagine one would have to be to handle a relationship with Colton. If he’s going to make the end game, I feel like he’d have to be taken and, if my read on him is right, he’s way too charming for anyone to want to take him that far.
 12. Gervase – I was initially excited by the throwback pick for this season. I was twelve years old the last time Gervase played “Survivor,” but I haven’t watched Borneo in at least a decade. Then his interviews threw me a bit, and I admit to doing more research to Gerv’s reputation than I did for anyone else. Apparently he was lazy around camp back in the day, and I actually giggled a bit when I confirmed that he couldn’t swim on season 1. He seems like a guy I want to get a beer with, not a guy I’d vote for as sole Survivor. His interviews seemed a little recklessly strategically confident for a guy who didn’t really ‘play the game’ the first time out, and his choice of his niece as a good second doesn’t help his cause.
 13. Candice – I now get to say something I’ve thought for a long time – I had a crush on Candice in Cook Islands. But I was like eighteen at the time, and now that’s superseded by my crush on her husband, so I’m over it and can comfortably place her this low. I think her reputation is going to wreck her – she’s impossible to trust. On one season she mutinied, on another she destroyed her original tribe. If her tribe mates know their “Survivor” history, she’s one of the most disloyal players in history and they won’t give her a chance. If she does get deep, however, she’ll get carried to the end and could flaunt what she had to overcome to a jury, but that feels like a stretch even as I type it.
 14. Brad – The guy looks less like an ex-NFL’er and more like an extra from the set of “300.” He’s not going anywhere in the beginning – the ability to lift heavy objects is too valuable early. And I would actually put big money on him going deep into the game for the same reasons I picked Vytas: he lacks the threatening polished charm which some of the other fit guys have. But what he seems to lack is self-awareness. I can’t even put my finger directly on it, but he grates on me. I could see him getting dragged to the end, then leaving the final Tribal Council thinking he’d won, and having no idea until the votes were read live that no one picked him.
 15. Marissa – I actually like her, but only see trouble for her in the game. The way she talked over Gervase at a few points in their interviews seemed telling of social unawareness, like she cares more about her own voice than others. I want to make one of those ‘if she gets the right alliance’ speeches here, but even if she has that I feel like a big alliance would use her as a first cut.
  16. Monica – Confession = I didn’t watch all of “One World;” we were filming “Philippines” during most of it. But I seem to remember Monica being on the outs early, and feeling like she didn’t understand that she was being too preachy. I got the same feeling from the interviews, like she may not totally be aware of how she’s affecting those around her. I don’t have a strong opinion on where she may place in the game, but pulling out the victory would be a major shock to me.
 17. Laura B. Mrs. Rupert, in my eyes, had a major strike against her coming into all of this: she was Mrs. Rupert. We’ll get to my feelings on the big pirate shortly, but his personality makes it difficult to hear anyone else in the same conversation, so I really didn’t glean much from the interviews and could be way off base here.  To hear them talk about it, they’re both aware she’s the more realistic, less trusting one in the pair. And while that’s encouraging, I still found it difficult to take her seriously since they thought matching tie-dye was a good idea. My hopes are not high for the Boneham clan.
  18. Rachel – I mean absolutely no disrespect here, but I expected fireworks from Tyson’s girlfriend. I expected lighting and wit and radiance, and Rachel just seemed like a kind, quiet girl who may be a bit overwhelmed by her situation. I hope it was a temporary thing during the interviews because there were flashes here and there of personality, and I understand it must be difficult to make yourself heard over Tyson all the time, but as far as winning? Being that forgettable isn’t going to do it.
 19. Kat – I want to party with this girl. Let’s grab Hayden and go find a happy hour spot and put our feet up and hang out till sunrise. But “Survivor” victory? Even Hayden was barely keeping a straight face when the topic came up during the interviews. On some level you could tell she knew how she was perceived, and she spoke passionately about overcoming that image, but everything else she said lent itself to that high degree of naiveté. Kat’s ability to, at least on some level, acknowledge her own silliness keeps her out of the bottom spot.
  20. Rupert – And now for unpopular opinion #2: I’ve never understood the Rupert love. I comprehend that he’s an entertaining character to some, that his exaggerated speech patterns and shoe stealing are fun to watch. But the reason he easily claims the bottom spot on my ranking is exactly why Ciera got the top spot: self-awareness. I don’t think he understands the way he’s perceived by the rest of the world. And, quite simply, you can’t win “Survivor” without that ability.

Any Questions? Drop Malcolm a line on Twitter @MalcolmWHW

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 Kat & Hayden: ‘You Don’t Mess with My Men or My Money’

September 9, 2013

Kat Edorsson and Hayden Moss (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: Kat Edorsson
Age: 23
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Hayden’s Girlfriend
Previous Season: “Survivor: One World” – sixth jury member
Current Residence: Orlando, Florida
Occupation: Full-time Student/Sales

Name: Hayden Moss
Age: 26
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Kat’s Boyfriend
Current Residence: Springtown, Texas
Occupation: Real Estate
Personal Claim to Fame: Winning “Big Brother 12.”
Pet Peeves: Wrinkly clothes.

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Gordon Holmes: Kat, always a pleasure. And who’s this guy?
Hayden Moss: Hayden Moss, I was on “Big Brother.” I live just outside of Dallas and I work in real estate.
Kat Edorsson: Isn’t it more important to say, “Winner of ‘Big Brother’”?
Gordon: Whoa…what is this “Big Brother”?
Hayden: It’s another reality show.
Gordon: Not familiar. Kat, tell me about this “Big Brother” winner.
Kat: He’s tall, dark, and handsome. He’s charming. He comes from a great family. He’s one of a kind. He’s my best friend in the entire world. And he is the love of my life.
Gordon: Ugh…so many happy people today.
Hayden: I would agree with all of that. She’s tooting my horn quite a bit. I’m a little more humble. I wouldn’t ordinarily say that stuff.
Gordon: That’s why he has you here.
Kat: (Laughs) That’s why I’m here.

Gordon: Alright Kat, four people who have done the XFINITY “Survivor” Power Rankings have come back and played the game. Three of them made it to the finals and one of them won the whole shebang. No pressure.
Kat: That is awesome. I feel like I have a good chance where I’m positioned in the game already.
Hayden: If she plays her cards right she could float all the way to the end.

Gordon: During the “One World” final Tribal Council, you said you’d need another heart surgery before playing again. Was that all taken care of?
Kat: I go to my checkups every year and they said I can prolong it. They didn’t see any more than average leaking and they didn’t see any pressure or restraint on my valve. So, I don’t have a date set right now. I can’t say what will happen in the future, but my family and I think it’s a miracle that I’ve gone this long. Right now I’m as healthy as a horse. I’m very happy.

Gordon: We don’t know much about the other nine family members. But, we all know that Hayden has got some game. I joked earlier, but winning “Big Brother” is a big deal. Are you ready to deal with the target on your back?
Hayden: I know there are people here who have watched “Big Brother.” I played, and I played well. But, at the same time I’m going to be able to use what I learned there to my advantage. I’ve played the social game. None of the other loved ones have.
Gordon: I love me some “Survivor.” I used to say, “I’m gonna go on that show. Cut some throats, make some brilliant moves, win the million.” But, the older I get, the more I realize that I don’t function well when I don’t eat. That isn’t something you had to worry about in the “Big Brother” house.
Hayden: The physical game is a whole other ballgame. This is living off the land, not eating, not sleeping, then exerting yourself to the max. In terms of preparation, I grew up in the country. So, I’m going to be more capable of taking care of myself than most people. I’ve gutted a fish, I’ve been on hunts…
Kat: And when he says, “country,” he means “country.”
Hayden: (Laughs) Out in the boonies. I’m not afraid of it.

Gordon: How long have you two been dating?
Kat and Hayden: A year.
Gordon: Where’d you meet?
Kat: We met at a reality event.
Hayden: Give Kids the World in Orlando, Florida. Can’t wait to go back.
Gordon: A year. I’m an old man, so that almost seems like nothing to me. Have you fought? Do you guys ever fight?
Hayden: Yeah.
Kat: We don’t like to use the word, “fight.”
Gordon: Cause me and my girlfriend will fight.
Hayden: She doesn’t like to use the word.
Gordon: You’re having pleasant disagreements.
Hayden: That’s a good way to put it!
Kat: “Misunderstandings” is what I like to call them.
Gordon: So, you were right and he misunderstood.
Hayden: (Laughs)
Kat: Hayden will say, “I don’t like to argue” and I’ll say, “No, no, no, babe. We were having a misunderstanding. That’s not me.” And he’ll say, “You hung up on me three times.” And I’ll say, “That wasn’t me.”
Gordon and Hayden: (Laugh)
Kat: “That was somebody else.” It’s different for me. Everybody really adores Hayden and he’s won a show before. So, there’s a rivalry. We’ll have a tiff over volleyball or dodgeball. And then normal girlfriend/boyfriend stuff. You start dating and you pull the skeletons out of the closet.
Hayden: And to make matters a little worse, I live in Texas.
Kat: And I live in Florida.
Hayden: But we’re lucky because we do get to see each other every two weeks or so. We’re racking up frequent-flyer miles.

Gordon: As a returnee, you don’t have a clean slate. What do you think people think of you, and how can you use that to your advantage?
Kat: Going into this game, I think people are going to trust me as much as they did before. “One World” wasn’t me putting on a front. That was me being who I am. I’m friendly, I’m charming, that’s just who I am. The only thing that I learned was not to be so selfish, don’t talk over people, listen more. Those things I did not know at that time. I didn’t think I was selfish at all, but I was the most selfish person in the world.
Gordon: It’s different to be told something about yourself, then to watch it on TV.
Kat: Yeah! It’s incredible. Going back into the game knowing all you know now, and you got so far before? If you do the same thing and keep it cool and casual, I know the game. I think I will win.

Gordon: This is the first time pairs are heading into this game. What’s the gameplan?
Kat: Here’s my thought; we have a different type of option than anyone else. Now, I’m going to give you this information, but we will kill you if you say anything.
Gordon: You think I would betray the Power Rankings bond that we have?
Kat: I’m just saying…
Hayden: She is going to slit your throat.
Kat: You don’t mess with my men or my money and now I’m playing for both.
Gordon: I wouldn’t dream of doing either.
Kat: (Laughs)  Here’s what I’m thinking of doing; if we’re in a situation where Hayden might have to go to the left and I have to go to the right. Of all the people here, we’re not married, we’re not family, so technically, if I want to make the tribe feel like I’m flipping on Hayden, I can, and I’m allowed to. Let’s say I’ve done something wrong and Hayden’s upset with me, he can tell people he’s not on my side because we’re not obligated to each other.
Hayden: It’s just an option we’re keeping open. We know where our loyalties lie.
Kat: He can bat his eyes at the older women that aren’t married, which is both the women here. And I could bat my eyes another way. We could play those roles if we have to.

Gordon: What are your early thoughts on the cast?
Kat: It’s so tough. Just by looking at the people, it was Rupert’s time like a year ago. He cannot be here anymore. I think everyone feels that way. There are winners here, but Hayden might want to keep them around because he’s in the winner’s circle. I like Tina and I like Aras. People I’d want to keep around because they could be an explosive atomic bomb are Brad and Monica. Could you imagine if I knocked over Monica in front of him?
Gordon: That’d be a bad scene.
Kat: He would clothesline the (expletive deleted) out of me and make me pay.
Gordon and Hayden: (Laugh)
Gordon: For the record, I’m not laughing because you were clotheslined, it was the way you worded it.
Kat: I’m just saying, I want to keep Colton around as long as possible. On his season of “Big Brother” her name was Rachel (Reilly) and she had red hair and she was just out of control…
Gordon: She’s the one with the…
Kat: The big boobs? Yeah, she’s Big Boobs McGee.
Gordon: I was going to say “laugh.”
Hayden: (Laughs) She was a trainwreck. Think of it like a fishtank. You’ve got a lot of small fish and one big fish. The big fish draws your eye. That’s how I want to play the game. Keep Brad in.
Kat: Keep Brad in, keep Colton in. Laura’s a swing with her daughter. They’ll go either way. Tina and Aras can be swings. Tyson…who knows, he played with Rupert.

Gordon: And the pink hoodie is going to make a return?
Kat: The pink hoodie is in full effect. We actual have double…
Hayden: Matching pink hoodies!

Note: At this point Hayden and Kat perform a synchronized fist bump routine.

Gordon: Oh man, young love. You guys make me sick.
Hayden: (Laughs) We’re going to make a lot of people sick.

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 Laura and Ciera: ‘We’re Smarter Than Everyone Else’

September 6, 2013

Laura Morett and Ciera Eastin (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: Laura Morett
Age: 43
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Ciera’s Mother
Previous Season: “Survivor: Samoa” – third jury member
Current Residence: Salem, Oregon
Occupation: Co-owner of Morett Construction

Name: Ciera Eastin
Age: 24
Relationship to Significant Castaway:  Laura’s Daughter
Current Residence: Salem, Oregon
Occupation: Cosmetology Student
Personal Claim to Fame: Despite the fact that I got pregnant at 17, I am most proud of the fact that I finished high school, worked three jobs to support my daughter, and now I am happily married with two beautiful children.
Pet Peeves: Incompetent people, slow moving people, and negative people who bring the mojo down.

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Gordon Holmes: Alright, Laura. I remember you from your time leading Galu in “Survivor: Samoa.” This girl on your right I don’t know. Tell me all about her.
Laura Morett:  This is my daughter Ciera. She is the oldest of my three. She is the mother of my two grandkids. She is one of my favorite people in the world and I couldn’t be prouder of her.
Gordon: Maybe you’re the wrong person to ask. Your mom has to say nice things about you.
Ciera Eastin: My mom and I get along really well. I’m really excited to be here with her.

Gordon: But in your bio you said you were looking forward to beating your mother. What’s that all about?
Ciera: There’s definitely competition in my family.
Laura: That’s why I love her so much. We will fight, well not fight, but we will compete in everything.  I love that she says she’s going to beat me.
Ciera: But we’re not sore losers.
Laura: Well, I’m more of a sore loser.
Ciera: She is. It’s more of a fun competitive. We’re racing to the car, racing to get groceries.

Gordon: Can you imagine a situation where you’d vote your daughter out?
Laura: I’ve thought about this, if the tribe says, “It’s Ciera going home today.” I’d say, “I respect that, but there’s no way I’m writing her name down.” There’s going to be one vote for whoever. That’s just me.
Ciera: For me, my mom is going to be one of my biggest assets, having someone you can always trust. I think we both know it’s an individual game and we’re going to play with love for each other, but we both know that only one person can win this game.
Laura: And we’ve said, “If you know I’m going home and there’s nothing you can do about it, put my name down if you know it could cost you your game.” And I’m going to love her no matter what. She’s done worse things to me in her life. (Laughs)
Ciera: (Laughs)

Gordon: Laura, you received one of the all-time harsh “Survivor” lessons in Samoa. You were up, I think it was 8 to 4 at the merge over Foa Foa, and then bit by bit your alliance ate itself. You went after Erik Cardona, then the rocket scientist…
Laura: John.
Gordon: Yes, John Fincher:
Laura: He got his degree in the mail. (Laughs)
Gordon: (Laughs) He turned on you guys. Ciera, what did you learn by watching your mom go through that whole ordeal?
Ciera: The biggest thing that I learned is to nourish all of your relationships. And my mom gave me advice not to get comfortable. Even if it’s eight vs. four.
Laura: Definitely. That’s the thing we learned. We thought we were shooting fish in a barrel. Then next thing you know we shot one of our fish. It was because we became too complacent. You can’t do that. (John) Cochran said it on this last show, “Every day before you go to bed, you have to lay there and think about what everyone thinks their biggest threat is.” Like Rupert, what is he thinking? Aras, what’s he thinking? And you have to put your pride aside and figure out what they think of you.
Ciera: I think you have to assume that you’ve annoyed everyone. (Laughs)

Gordon: Ciera, how do you react to people who annoy you? Can you put it behind you or do you need to address it?
Ciera: I’ve worked as a waitress, I’ve worked in coffee, working with the general public you see all kinds. But, you want tips. So, I think one of my biggest advantages will be being able to bite my tongue even though that person is driving me nuts.
Laura: She makes everybody feel like she’s their best friend…and she doesn’t get that from me. (Laughs)

Gordon: If there are twists, what do you think they will be?
Laura: I hope the twist isn’t that they’re bringing back the little Menehune Hantz.
Gordon: Wait, the what?
Laura: You know what a Menehune is?
Gordon: I don’t. I’m familiar with Russell Hantz.
Laura: The Menehune are Hawaiian, and there’s this legend that Menehunes are these little two-feet tall people that cause trouble. They’d come out at night at cause trouble. It’s a perfect nickname. He lives in a jungle and he causes trouble. But yeah, I don’t know what the twist is.

Gordon: What do you think of the cast so far?
Ciera: I think we really like Aras and his brother for allies. Having the blood bond that we have is a big advantage…
Laura: I think mother/daughter is different than brother/brother. Ciera, if you and your brother were out here, you guys could get annoyed at each other.
Ciera: But the blood bond is going to be so much stronger than the husbands and wives and the boyfriends and girlfriends.
Laura: We’ve already picked through who’s going to be effective when their loved one is sent home. You want to shoot two ducks with one bullet. You’re looking at Rupert and his wife. Send Rupert home, his wife won’t know what to do. He’s been out here like nineteen times. Send him home and she’s dead in the water. Tyson and his girlfriend? Send her home, Tyson’s crazy, he’ll eventually explode on himself. Colton and his boyfriend? On day three Colton was bawling wanting to go home. Send his boyfriend home.

Gordon: I like that. Laura, why do you think you’re back?
Laura: My season had one very big character that they focused on, Russell.
Gordon: They remember Jaison (Robinson), but only because of his socks.
Laura: (Laughs) Because he burnt his socks. And Shambo. The big controversy was me, Russell, and Shambo, whether I wanted it to be or not. And I don’t think there are many older women who can still play who have adult daughters that are this stunning. Cameras like pretty things.

Gordon: This is the first time ever we’re going into this game with pairs.
Ciera: Going into this with loved ones, first of all it’s so exciting to be a part of the first time they’ve done this. And you have to expect there to be high, high emotion and lots of drama. You feel a sense of protection and anger when you feel like someone is picking on your loved one. But, I think we’re very level-headed. And I think we’re smarter than everyone else. We’ll have each other backs, but not get angry or aggressive.
Laura: Our strategy is to be ready to jump, be ready to move when an opportunity presents itself. Think three steps ahead.
Ciera: And having someone to bounce ideas off of is great.
Laura: We’ve talked about, if someone approaches you and says, “Hey, let’s vote Rupert out.” Instead of responding to that question, throw out a positive like, “Who do you think we can trust the most?” So, that doesn’t give them ammo to go back to Rupert and say, “Laura’s trying to vote you out.” We’re women, we’re good at manipulating.
Gordon: What? So sexist.
Laura: (Laughs) It’s like with your kids where you say, “Dalton, you make the best…”
Gordon: Dalton?
Laura: Sorry, Gordon.
Gordon: No, I took that as a compliment.
Laura: (Laughs) But I’ll say, “Gordon, you vacuum better than anybody else.” So now, you’re proud of vacuuming. And I’ve manipulated you in a positive way.
Ciera: So that’s why you say nice things to me…

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’ Castaway Colton & Caleb: ‘There’s No Excuse for What I Said’

September 5, 2013

Colton Cumbie and Caleb Bankston (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: Colton Cumbie
Age: 22
Relationship to Significant Castaway:  Caleb’s Fiancé
Previous Season:  “Survivor: One World” – medically evacuated on day sixteen due to illness.
Current Residence: Collinsville, Alabama
Occupation: Student Teacher

Name:  Caleb Bankston
Age:
26
Relationship to Significant Castaway:
Colton’s Fiancé
Current Residence: Collinsville, Alabama
Occupation:
Post Office Manager/Farmer
Personal Claim to Fame: 
Shooting a 12-point buck on my first deer hunt.
Pet Peeves:
People who don’t put down their cell phones.

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Gordon Holmes: Colton, you had a rough run of it last time. You were evacuated due to a medical issue…
Colton Cumbie: The reception when it aired wasn’t the greatest.
Gordon: Also true.  I don’t know if “Survivor” has ever had such a universally reviled villain before. Maybe Jerri Manthey. What’d you learn from that whole experience?
Colton: I would get tweet after tweet, Facebook messages, even Caleb got messages. My mom would get phone calls in the middle of the night. She got a call from the police department because someone had said that I had been found beaten.
Caleb Bankston: But it was nothing local. Everybody we came in contact with in person was nice. They wanted an autograph and a picture.
Colton: I think it’s easier to be hostile behind a computer screen.
Gordon: Dawn Meehan just went through this after voting out Brenda Lowe.
Colton: Yeah. But, the remarks I made…there’s no excuse for what I said about Leif (Manson).
Gordon: The Bill (Posley) stuff seems to be what sticks with people.
Colton: The Bill stuff was the big ka-bang. The worst of the worst. The Leif stuff was jokes. The Christina stuff was strategy. And the Bill stuff was the worst. That’s where I crossed the line because I just didn’t like him as a human being and that’s never OK.

Gordon: It must’ve been awful for you Caleb, having someone you love become the object of such anger.
Caleb: It was a little unsettling, he’d call me upset. He’d tell me about what he’d read online. I’d tell him, “Shut the computer off. Nobody’s going to bother you. And if they do, I’ve got a rifle up on the mantle.”
Gordon: The best defense against a harsh tweet is a rifle in the face.
Colton: I’m not worried about my personal safety, just my self-esteem. And I guess my self-esteem did need some degrading.
Caleb: But, it’s easy to do that behind a computer screen.
Colton: My initial instinct was to go on defensive, but you can’t win that way. If 50,000 people tweet you and say, “You’re a horrible person, you’re a racist,” then obviously I did something wrong. I need to take a step back. I need to take responsibility. I think people can change. I think America likes to see people punished.
Gordon: I think America likes to forgive. You look at the steroid issue in baseball. The guys that have gotten it the worst are the guys who denied it. Andy Pettitte confessed and people quickly forgot about it. How important is it to you to change people perceptions of you?
Colton:  I’m in a different place now. I’m really happy. I have extreme peace going into this game. “Survivor: One World” didn’t change me, but it was the catalyst for the things that changed me; the tweets and things that happened with my family. If it hadn’t been for Caleb and my mom and me being a strong person, it could’ve ended up so much worse. I could’ve easily given everyone the middle finger and said, “This is how I am.” But that’s not who I want to be. He (Caleb) is why I want to be a better person.

Gordon: Alright, Colton…tell me about this guy.
Colton: This is my fiancé Caleb. He is pretty much my rock in life. When they approached me about doing this and sent me a few options, I said, “No, you have one option. One or none.” He’s really the only person that I’m really close with that could even survive the elements. Also, he grounds me. He makes me want to be a better person. Last time when I played, I think that I was strategically sound enough to get far, but I don’t think I would have ever won. I think that him being here will help my mind stay in the game.
Gordon: Caleb, Colton is a huge “Survivor” fan. He dominated Rob Cesternino’s “Survivor Jeopardy.” How familiar are you with this mess he’s gotten you into?
Caleb: I know a little bit about what I’m getting into. I’ve always been a fan of the show, but not as much as Colton. He makes me sit down for dinner and watch. I’m more of a woods type of guy. I camp out, I go fishing. He likes fish, I don’t really like fish. I’ll eat it…
Colton: You rarely do seafood at all. He’s like a steak guy.
Gordon: I haven’t seen many cows wandering around…
Colton: I’ve seen chickens.
Caleb: I’ll eat it, but we always have a freezer full of beef.
Colton: I think he would have done really well in one of the early seasons when it was actually about survival. I think Russell (Hantz) is where it changed because it’s not really about who can survive, you can take Natalie Tenerelli all the way to the end. No offense. Or Phillip Sheppard. It’s more of a social game now.
Caleb: Like “The Australian Outback” was one of my favorites. It was a survival game.
Colton: One could even argue that Jenna Morasca changed it. Because up until her, pretty much everyone who won was pretty good at survival. There were some rough and tough characters.

Gordon: How long have you guys been together?
Colton and Caleb: Three years.
Gordon: Caleb, what’s it like when you guys fight?
Caleb: Usually, it’s me saying, “You’re right and I’m wrong.”
Gordon: Where can I get one like you?
Caleb: (Laughs) We usually don’t fight that much. We’ll argue over stupid stuff. What our kids are going to do.
Colton: Stupid stuff, like I’ll say, “Our daughter will be Miss Alabama.” And he’ll say, “If she wants to play softball, she can play softball.”  And I’ll say, “She can play softball if she wants, but she’s going to be a softball-playing Miss Alabama!”
Gordon: You’re going to be like a “Toddlers and Tiaras” dad. You’re going to be hitting the glitz pageants.
Colton: (Laughs) Like “Dance Dads.”

Gordon: This is the first time we’re seeing “Survivor” with pairs. What strategies have you two discussed?
Colton: You’re going to say this is a dumb answer, but you just don’t know. I know one person. I don’t know how this is going to shake out.
Caleb: We could hit the beach and not know what Probst is going to throw at us.
Colton: He could be on one side and I could be on the other.
Gordon: Usually when the press comes out here we know what the big twists are. We’re flying blind right now.
Colton: Really? It’s that locked down?
Gordon: Yeah.
Colton: That’s crazy. They didn’t even show a real preview at the finale.
Gordon: So, what are your best guesses as to what’s going to happen?
Colton: I think they don’t like to confuse America. As a viewer, I would say what would be easiest for everyone to follow is to divide us Survivors vs. our loved ones. There will be a lot of potential for drama. I think the reaction to someone’s loved one at the next challenge when they see their loved one is voted off is going to be phenomenal television.
Caleb: Or when they see their loved one has made it.
Colton: Also, I think a lot of the loved ones are going to be shepherded by their Survivor, so it’d almost be like ten people walking around with two votes. I don’t think that’d be phenomenal television. But as a player that’s what I want because I want him by my side the whole time.

Gordon: Anyone you’re hoping to align with?
Caleb: There are some familiar faces.
Colton: I’m super nervous because people are showing up out of nowhere. I’m like, “Are Elisabeth and Tim Hasselbeck going to drop in at any moment?”

NOTE: This interview was conducted right after the cast learned that Candice and John were joining the game.

Gordon: Is there anyone you’re wary of?
Colton: I’m wary of everyone! I don’t know how they feel about me. Especially those two that just showed up.
Gordon: Do you recognize them?
Colton: (Laughs) Yes. Have you met me?
Gordon: Sorry. Probably the most insulting thing I could say to you.
Colton: She’s a mutineer. In her defense it was to go back to her original tribe. But then again in “Heroes vs. Villains” she did it again. She’s not very approachable.
Caleb: And we’ve been smiling at everyone.

Gordon: Coach (Wade) was the master at turning people’s negative preconceptions about him into a strength. They’d seen him on TV as wacky Coach, then when he met them he was able to say, “Come meet the real me.” Is that something that could work in your favor?
Colton: I hope so. I hope they don’t realize that I’m good at the game. I hope they just remember me as the deplorable human being who convinced people to go to Tribal Council. I hope they don’t know that I’m really good, and I hope Monica doesn’t inform them. I want everyone’s thought process to be; nobody will vote for him. He’s the perfect person to take to the end. I think that gives me an opportunity for people to let their walls down. If I can get someone to think I’m a good goat, I think I can use my negative reputation to my advantage.
Gordon: Is it your hope to clean up your reputation a little while you’re out here?
Colton: I’m not coming back to put on a persona. I’m not going to say, “I’ve changed! I’ve changed!” I’m going to let them see for themselves. I’m going to walk the walk and talk the talk.

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 Tina & Katie: ‘I May Have to Vote Her Off’

September 4, 2013

Katie Collins and Tina Wesson (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: Tina Wesson
Age: 52
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Katie’s Mother
Previous Season: Winner of “Survivor: The Australian Outback” and “Survivor: All Stars” – first player eliminated.
Current Residence: Robbinsville, North Carolina
Occupation: Motivational Speaker

Name: Katie Collins
Age: 25
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Tina’s Daughter
Current Residence: New York, New York
Occupation: Hedge Fund Support
Personal Claim to Fame: Raising thousands of dollars for the American Lung Association by climbing 55 flights of stairs at Penn Plaza.
Pet Peeves: Grammar misuses and poor manners.

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Gordon Holmes: Tina, you I know. A former “Survivor” champ, a former “Survivor” Power Rankings participant. Tell me about this Katie person.
Tina Wesson: My daughter Katie is this amazing young woman. When they called and said they had this concept to bring out a loved one, she’s got a brother who’s 13 months younger than her, and so I had to pick who to bring out here with me. And, I chose Katie because Katie is one of those people who’s very social, everybody knows “Survivor” is a social game. So, I thought Katie would do great with that. She never quits. I don’t care what they throw at us, my daughter will never quit. She’s an adventurous, independent woman and I’m just so happy to be out here with her.
Gordon: Katie, I was going to give you the chance to agree or disagree, but how could you possibly disagree with such a growing assessment?
Katie Collins: I know! (Laughs) I would disagree if she’d said I was just a rotten child. It is very sweet, but I have her to credit for this adventurous spirit that I have. She told me to be independent and break the mold. We live in the south and you get out of high school and you get married and you have kids. You stay in the same town. She encouraged me to follow my dreams, which is why I moved. I went for a goal that I set for myself. If she hadn’t encouraged me, I don’t know if I would have.
Gordon: You had to choose between your son and your daughter? My mom would never hear the end of it if she took my sister to “Survivor” over me.
Tina: I know! It really was brutal. And you have to be so careful about hurting their feelings. And they have this sibling rivalry of who I love most…
Gordon: And which one do you love most?
Tina: (Laughs)
Katie: I think it’s obvious.
Tina: Oh my gosh…
Katie: Me and my brother have different qualities and we could both bring something to this game. But, me and my mom, we’ve done more together. We’ve gone on trips together, we’ve hiked in Peru. I feel like we know each other really well. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we’re a really good team. It’s no knock to my brother at all; I think we’re better suited.

Gordon: How old were you during “Survivor: The Australian Outback?”
Katie: I was thirteen years old. I was in middle school, that awkward stage of your life.
Gordon: Were you embarrassed?
Katie: I was a bit…
Gordon: Or was everyone impressed when she got the rice from the river?
Katie: Oh, that was huge! We would watch the show and during the commercials she’d say, “OK, this is what you didn’t see.” It was cool to have her be the commentator.
Gordon: Numbers-wise that season was a monster. We’ll probably never see anything like that again.
Tina: 36 million viewers, we beat out “Friends.”
Gordon: Tina, what was that like for you? People recognize the cast of “One World”, but Colby (Donaldson), Jerri (Manthey), and Tina were household names.
Tina: It’s crazy. I am not here for the television part of this experience. Besides Katie, I’m one of the few people who are not a television person. So, for me to get that, I had to adjust to it. I wasn’t used to attention and not being able to go anywhere. It was sheer insanity. I kept a journal that documented my itinerary and everything I did, and I look back at it and I’m thrilled and honored, and what a privilege. I got to experience things that nobody else got to experience. Colby and Elisabeth (Hasselbeck) got to have these amazing careers, but nobody got to have a year like I had.
Gordon: And, you whooped up on them. Jeff Probst didn’t hand Colby or Elisabeth a million-dollar check.
Tina: (Laughs) That’s right.
Katie: It’s neat. There were very few reality shows when she was on “Survivor.” Now you have tons and tons of reality shows. But back then it was just starting out.

Gordon: Katie, it says here that your pet peeves are grammar misuses and poor manners.
Katie: I sound like a stick in the mud. (Laughs)
Gordon: Now, it are possible that you could run into some of that out there.
Katie and Tina: (Laugh)
Gordon: Can you let that stuff slide or will that be a problem for you?
Katie: I was thinking more along the lines of when I’m on a date. That’s what came to mind when I was filling out the application. And it’s not like I’m going to throw a table over because someone…
Gordon: You didn’t conjugate that verb properly!
Katie: Don’t end a sentence with a preposition! When someone sends me a text that says, “U R…”
Gordon: You freak right out.
Katie: I don’t freak out. But if I go on a date and the guy sends me a text that says, “U R awesome” without a period…
Gordon: That’s a deal breaker.
Katie: It’s a deal breaker, actually.
Tina: (Gasps)
Gordon: You send him packing.
Tina: No wonder I don’t have grandchildren!
Gordon: This process is meant to introduce the players to the fans, but I feel like Tina’s the one who’s learning.
Tina: I am going to…
Katie: And contractions… and poor manners? I can deal with burping and other things. But don’t fart in front of me.
Gordon: I hadn’t intended on it, but now that I’ve been warned…
Katie: I know there’s going to be ten of us spooning under a shelter and someone’s going to do it. Maybe it’ll even be me, who knows?
Tina: Oh my…

Gordon: Nobody knows this better than you, Tina…winners have automatic targets on their backs.
Tina: I think that in All-Stars I got a really good taste of no winners allowed. I think that the fact that I won so long ago and some of the people were so young, that I’m hoping that I won’t be seen as this person who is a former winner. The bigger threat to me is that I’m an older woman. I’m the oldest woman, I’m almost 53. And when you first go out there you’re playing as a team and if you’re not contributing to help win that challenge, you’re out. So, that’s the thing that I feel more threatened about.
Katie: I’ll give her credit. We trained a little bit…well…we trained for one day before we got out here.
Gordon: That is a little bit.
Tina: One day together, we trained by ourselves before.
Katie: (Laughs) We were running side by side. We had one earbud each.
Gordon: That’s adorable.
Katie: We ran a couple of miles, we went kayaking. I think she’s going to be active until she’s almost 100.

Gordon: Francesca Hogi just set a “Survivor” record by being the only person to be voted out first in two seasons. Does that concern you that you could match that feat?
Tina: Absolutely. If I am first voted out, I don’t even want to say the words because that’s what Francesca did, that would be rough for me. I’m a very competitive person, but more so, I love this game. I love this game.  I feel sorry for every single person who’s ever been voted out first, not because they were voted out first, but because they don’t get to experience “Survivor.” I like that we starve and we’re miserable because it gives us the opportunity to see what so many other people go through. We’re never tested to see what our true grit is. “Survivor” gives us that gift. Katie is going to find out exactly what she’s made of.

Gordon: This is the first time that people are entering the game as pairs. What strategies have you two been discussing?
Tina: We’re not real sure what’s going to happen. We don’t know if we’re apart or separate or what.
Katie: We could be on completely separate tribes. They haven’t told us one way or another.
Tina: I’ve talked to Katie about who to trust, who not to trust. I’ve seen every episode of every season. I love this show. Katie hasn’t had cable since she was in high school. If we’re together, I’ve got her under my wing and we can work together. She can go to the young people, because usually the young people don’t migrate to the older folks. Then, when we’re apart, she’s on her own.
Katie: We have to have two strategies; one as a pair and one as individuals. We don’t know, Probst could throw in 100 different elements.
Tina: It’s not like “Amazing Race” where you’re trying to go deep into the game as a team. There’s only one winner. She may have to vote me off, I may have to vote her off. And I told her, “Katie, don’t get so emotionally attached in this game because it ruins it. If you’re so engaged that you get voted off and you’re so mad, you don’t get to experience everything ‘Survivor’ is. And our love transcends this game. If you can go farther by voting me off, sister? Knock yourself out.” And I mean that.
Katie: Our relationship is not going to hinder our game. What we have to do on the game of “Survivor,” it’s not going to be taken personally.

Gordon: What do you think of the cast so far?
Tina: I think this cast is very interesting. Gervase is here from season one. I haven’t seen him in years. I’m so happy to see him. And then there are people who are villainous…Tyson…
Katie: There are some old-school and new-school people.
Gordon: Is there anyone in particular you’d like to align with?
Katie: We talked about it before we came out here. There are a few people, Aras and his brother. We think they’ll be good to have on our side. They seem like they’re trustworthy.
Tina: Which is so important in this game.
Katie: We’ve talked about Monica and Brad being on our side. And I’m going to try to reel in the younger crowd. I’m great at talking, and I can relate, and I’m hoping I can make some friends out here.

Gordon: Anyone you’re wary of?
Tina: Yes!
Katie: Tina.
Tina: (Laughs) Tyson! Tyson’s one of those guys that I don’t feel like you can trust at all.
Katie: I wonder how his girlfriend is going to be…
Tina: She dates him. That should tell you something.
Gordon: I don’t know. My girlfriend dates me and she’s a wonderful person.
Tina: (Laughs) Oh, stop it.
Katie: They had a stare-off at the airport.
Gordon: Wait…what?
Tina: He was looking at me with that very mean, serious stare and I wasn’t going to back down.
Gordon: Already, yikes.
Tina: But we could get out there on the beach and we could form an alliance. That’s what’s crazy about this show.

Gordon: What is it like when you guys fight?
Katie and Tina: We’ve never had a fight.
Katie: And I know that’s hard to believe.
Gordon: I don’t believe one word of it.
Tina: She was a great child.
Katie: I was terrified, because in the south you can still get spanked with the wooden spoon or the belt. It’s not like, “I’m going to take away your Nintendo DS.”
Tina: Katie was so easy growing up. It’s her brother that was the troublemaker.
Gordon: That’s why he’s not here.
Tina: (Laughs) That’s right.

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: Blood vs. Water’ Behind the Scenes: The 2nd Immunity Challenge

September 4, 2013

'Survivor: Blood vs. Water'' (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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There was no time for gloating after my Redemption Island triumph as I was immediately tossed into a van and carted off to the traditional Dream Team vs. Press Members immunity challenge run.

Note: The Dream Team is a group of production assistants who test out all of the challenges. Basically it’s the best summer job you can ever have.

However, because of the large amount of press at this season’s junket, we weren’t able to do a straight-up press vs. Dream Team challenge. So, we ended up with two Dream Teamers on our side and two Dream Teamers on the opposing side.

The challenge shakes out like this; one unfortunate tribe member will cram his or herself into a tiny barrel that wreaks of glue. Then, three of his or her tribemates, who are attached at the waist, will roll the barrel up and into a special barrel-shaped cradle. The barrel dweller will then hop out, climb onto the barrel, and untie a bag of balls.

From there, Mr. or Mrs. Unlucky will hop back into their barrel. The rollers will back the barrel out of the cradle, proceed to the next stand and continue the ball-retrieving process. There are four cradles in all and they are arranged in a zig-zag pattern along the course. Needless to say, this could cause some barrel-related collisions.

Once all four bags have been retrieved, the barrel will be rolled into a final cradle and the inhabitant will burst forth to present the rest of the tribe with his or her bounty. The four remaining players will then roll the balls up a skee-ball-esque structure. The first tribe to land six balls in place wins immunity and the adoration of everyone in attendance.

When given the choice of Dream Team members, I was quick to choose my nemesis from the Redemption Island challenge, Andrew. I knew he had the goods. Our second pick was much more strategic as we went with Dexter, the smallest Dream Teamer available (some might even call him barrel-sized).

The rest of my team was made up of “Survivor” Hall of Fame executive committee voters Dalton Ross, Dru Moorhouse, Shawna Malcom, Mara Reinstein and “Survivor” Hall of Fame Inductee Parvati Shallow. “Team Survivor Hall of Fame” might not have been the most clever name, but that’s what we went with anyways.

We did some quick strategizing and decided that a trio of myself, Dalton, and Parvati handling the barrel pushing was the best way to go. I think our logic was that because Dalton and I are similar heights and Parvati is slightly shorter, that somehow our reach would match the contour of the barrel. Meh…it sounds kind of ridiculous now, but it made sense at the time.

Anywho, we took our positions and Jeff Probst asked, “Survivors, ready?” Then, without even waiting for our answer, he said, “Go!”

So rude.

Dexter hopped into the barrel and we were off. When we hit the first cradle, we had some trouble going straight up the ramp, so Dalton and I just lifted it up and plopped it into place. Illegal? Maybe. But, nobody said we couldn’t.

Dexter popped out of the barrel and quickly went to work. We steadied him on the barrel while he attacked the knots and retrieved our first bag.

Quick Aside: Dexter is a champ. It was a billion degrees out there and that barrel stunk.

We were able to complete the rest of the course ahead of our opponents utilizing a mixture of Dexter’s agility and the quasi-legal lift-and-drop method.

For the skee-ball portion, it basically came down to figuring out who our ball-rolling talent was and sticking with them. (This wasn’t a tough call as one of our skee-ball tossers…who shall remain nameless…missed the ramp entirely.)

The other tribe was game and even managed to take the lead at one point, but our ball rollers were able to come back and win it. Team “Survivor” Hall of Fame had lived up to their name.

And having completed two challenges in the scorching sun in less than two hours, I finally had time for the gloating I’d missed out on earlier. But, I went for a nap instead.

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 Rupert & Laura: ‘We Are Going to Be Able to Dominate’

September 3, 2013

Laura and Rupert Boneham (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: Rupert Boneham
Age: 49
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Laura’s Husband
Previous Seasons: “Survivor: Pearl Islands – second jury member, “Survivor: All Stars” – sixth jury member, won $1 million fan favorite vote,  and “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” – seventh jury member.
Current Residence: Indianapolis, Indiana
Occupation: Mentor for Troubled Teens

Name:  Laura Boneham
Age:
44
Relationship to Significant Castaway:
Rupert’s Wife
Current Residence:
Indianapolis, Indiana
Occupation:
Merchandiser
Personal Claim to Fame: 
Raising a bright, independent, beautiful daughter who is now thirteen years old.
Pet Peeves:
Mean people and people being treated unfairly.

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Note: Survivors are not permitted to talk or interact before the game begins. So, this interview was the first time Rupert and Laura were allowed to interact in days. Immediately after sitting down, the two embraced and started kissing.

Gordon Holmes:  You guys have been married forever and are still smooching like that?
Laura Boneham: They won’t let us sit together. They’re torturing us.
Rupert Boneham: This is my best friend.

Gordon: We spoke at the “Survivor” 10-year reunion a few years ago and I asked you two when Laura was going to be on the show. You were both like, “No, she wouldn’t be into it.”
Laura: (Laughs)
Gordon: Then I show up here this morning, and look who’s here.
Laura: Here I am!
Gordon: Why would you guys lie to me? That’s messed up.
Rupert: At the time there was no way in heck Laura would have played.
Laura: I’ve changed a lot. I’ve grown with this experience, with the fame. I’ve come into myself.
Rupert: Laura’s a lot stronger now. And, with all the paperwork we’ve ever signed…
Laura: It said, “Family members are not eligible.”
Rupert: Family members will never play. They changed the rules.
Laura: It shocked the (expletive deleted) out of me when they called.

Gordon: There’s never been a season like this. What strategies have you prepared going into the game?
Rupert: You know, we’re the best camping team I know. You might’ve seen me swimming in “Survivor,” Laura’s a better swimmer than I am.
Laura: We’re both care givers, we’re both providers, we’re both protectors. We both love the water, love the ocean. And we’ve dealt with a lot of crap and difficult people.
Rupert: I am way too trusting. I believe everyone.
Laura: I don’t believe anybody.
Rupert and Gordon: (Laughs)
Laura: We’re here for a million bucks. I keep him grounded and remind him of  that.
Rupert: It’s already started with this little scenario we’ve got right now. I smile at everybody. I think everybody likes me. And then I realize there’s stuff going on behind my back.
Laura: Of course.
Rupert: And Laura is helping me see that.

Gordon: The fans gave you a million dollars for being likable. That’s going to put a target on your back.
Rupert: It’ll put a giant target on my back, and there’s only a few winners out here. There’s a lot of people that want to win.
Laura: And want the fame.
Rupert: The fame that we never asked for.
Laura: We just want to play a game.

Gordon: What’s your early take on this cast?
Rupert: We are going to be able to dominate them, oh my gosh.
Laura: The first night people went inside when it started raining! It starts pouring down rain…
Rupert: And they run!
Gordon: I was here for that. I ran inside. I curled up in the fetal position under my bed. But I made it through.
Rupert: (Laughs) And that’s very good.
Laura: They’re scared of things moving. One girl had to have the staff come and sweep the ants away from under her chair. There’s going to be discomfort.

Gordon: The game has evolved so much from Pearl Islands, from Heroes vs. Villains, have you been on top of all the changes?
Laura: You can never be prepared for this game.
Rupert: One of the encouraging moments during the meeting yesterday was when they said they want to get back to the basics.
Laura: They want to show the struggle.
Rupert: That’s what we’re ready for.
Laura: Forget the idols, forget bringing back people who’ve already been voted out.
Rupert: If we get an idol it’s going right in our pocket and you’ll never see them again until we need them.

Gordon: “Survivor” is known for its wacky twists. Is there anything you’re anticipating?
Rupert: They’re going to put us together and then rip us apart.
Laura: Of course they’re going to mess with us like that. They’re going to tease us together.
Rupert: It will be very emotional.
Gordon: Were you the family visit all three times?
Rupert: In Pearl Islands Laura spent one night and then went back. I got voted out that night.

Gordon: Laura, it says your pet peeves are mean people and people  being treated unfairly. Have you seen “Survivor?”
Laura and Rupert: (Laughs)
Gordon: Are you someone who can see things you hate and keep it inside, or do you have to do something?
Laura: I’m not going to make any huge moves if I don’t have to. I’ll keep it inside and be tolerant.

Gordon: Rupert, this is your fourth time at the dance. Each time you went deep into the game. Do you know how many days total?
Rupert: A hundred days. The only male, there are two females to make it 100 days in three games.
Gordon: Amanda Kimmel and Parvati Shallow.
Rupert: It’s a little different when you can let something flop out and rub it on someone and say, “Please keep me.” And I watched both of them do that.
Gordon: You never tried that move?
Laura: (Laughs)
Rupert: When Parvati did that to Russell (Hantz) and said, “I love you.”
Laura: Eww…
Rupert: And she stayed.
Laura: She tried it on Rupert too, but it didn’t work.

Gordon: What advice has Rupert given you about surviving the game?
Laura: Lots of what to eat, how to build a shelter. What to look out for.
Rupert: Where to get your greens.
Gordon: What could Rupert have done better during his time out there?
Laura: Not trust people!
Rupert: (Laughs)
Laura: But he made it to the final four playing the way he did.
Rupert: Laura is going to be that strength that says, “Stop believing everything.”
Laura: We’re all here for a million bucks. People lie.
Gordon: It feels like the best case scenario in these pairings is when the returnee’s weakness matches their loved one’s strength.
Laura: We’re the yin and yang, we complement each other so well.
Rupert: We’re coming up on 16 years of marriage and we still love each other like best friends.

Gordon: You look like you’re in better shape than we’ve seen you in the past.
Rupert: I usually go into these around 260, I’m now at 205 and that scares me.
Gordon: Was this an intentional move to make yourself more mobile?
Rupert: Running for Governor will knock the weight off of you. The stress? Lack of food? Lack of sleep? Seven days a week.
Gordon: Like “Survivor.”
Rupert: Right. It’ll knock it off of you.

Gordon: Now, you guys are disgusting because you’re still madly in love after 16 years.
Rupert and Laura: (Laughs)
Rupert: We’re not going to be too huggy/kissy out there.
Laura: We can’t bond too much.
Gordon: Very happy for you. But on the flip side, what is it like when you fight?
Laura: We try not to go to bed angry. We try to resolve it. I yell a lot. He’s very passive.
Rupert: (Laughs)
Laura: I let him have it and he just takes it.
Rupert: We fight. Everybody fights. You’ll see that in the game. We’ll try to tell each other what to do and the other will say, “Shut the hell up.”
Laura: We both try to be the boss.

Gordon: Is there anyone you’re wary of? Anyone you want to align with?
Rupert: I’m always wary of the kids and one of them who is already starting to smile at me is little Kat.
Laura: And we love Tina. We adore Tina.
Rupert: And I feel so bad that on All-Stars I was on the tribe that put her out first. Tyson was involved with the breaking of my foot.
Laura: Not on purpose.
Rupert: I had Boston Rob and Tyson and they’re beating the hell out of me and the next thing you know my foot is broken.
Laura: His girlfriend is not going to make it.
Rupert: His girlfriend is the one that is terrified of…
Laura: Of everything.
Rupert: Gervase I love.
Laura: They both have been very separate.
Rupert: I feel so bad for that girl.
Laura: She looks terrified. I don’t know if she’s his daughter or what.

Gordon: This is the first pairs pre-game “Survivor” interview I’ve ever done. And I’ve gotta tell you, Rupert. You’re gonna want to look out for Laura.
Rupert: (Laughs)
Gordon: She means business. She might be gunning for you.
Laura: Vote out America’s sweetheart?
Rupert: I’ve already told Laura, if she needs to vote me out it’s OK.
Gordon: Did she say the same thing?
Rupert: (Laughs)
Laura: I don’t think there’s a scenario where I’d write his name down unless he was in the finals.
Rupert: I’ll never write Laura’s name down. You can bank on that.

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

Behind the Scenes of the First ‘Survivor: Blood vs. Water’ Immunity Challenge

September 1, 2013

'Survivor: Blood vs. Water' (XFINITY)

Quick Note: I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of this season’s competitors in the days before “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” began. Starting Tuesday, September 3rd I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each pairing. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for those interviews, behind-the-scenes exclusives, and more…

The big hook around this upcoming season of “Survivor” is; what will happen when loves ones have to compete against each other? Can a wife take down her husband? Will an uncle play fair against his niece? Will a fiancé give his all against his future spouse?

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The first time we’ll get to see the “Survivor” pairs square off will be in the immunity challenge on day three. I was on location for this confrontation and brought back a look at what the tribes will have to do to bring home that all-important first immunity…

First up, six members from each tribe will sprint across the beach, and then up and over this net obstacle.

From there, they’ll have to get all six members over this weird, rolling log thingy.

Next up, they’ll all have to climb onto this platform. They’ll then have to climb to the top of the stack of crates and leap back into the water.

For the final part of the water section, they’ll swim to their tribe’s boat, swim down to release it, then row it (and the chest of puzzle pieces) back to shore.

Once the chest is back to shore, the tribe will crack it open and retrieve the puzzle pieces. Then the final three tribe members will use the pieces to construct a wheel. Once the puzzle is together, they’ll use it to raise their tribe’s flag. First tribe to raise their flag wins immunity and Thanksgiving dinner bragging rights for the rest of their lives.

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

A Sneak Peek at the First ‘Survivor: Blood vs. Water’ Redemption Island Duel

August 30, 2013

'Survivor' Dream Teamers Stephanie, Gordon, and July (XFINITY)

Quick Note: I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of this season’s competitors in the days before “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” began. Starting Tuesday, September 3rd I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each pairing. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for those interviews, behind-the-scenes exclusives, and more…

One of the highlights of my “Survivor” visits is always the Press vs. Dream Team immunity challenge.

Note: The “Dream Team” is Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer’s crack team of production assistants who run the immunity challenges to make sure they’re safe, fair, and entertaining.

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These test runs really give me a feel for what it’s like to be in a Survivor’s muddy shoes. As I’ve said in the past, I’m always looking for an angle for how my mindset as a challenge participant can compare to an actual in-game competitor’s. Over my four previous set visits, I’d gone from being a wide-eyed newbie, to someone hungry for his first victory, to a grizzled veteran. But, there was one thing I was still desperate to experience…

An individual challenge.

Now usually there aren’t any individual challenges to test while I’m out there. But luckily for me, the 37 twists being used for this season included a Redemption Island duel (or tr-uel) on Day Four.

So, when John Kirhoffer asked if I wanted to participate in the first Redemption Island dress rehearsal, I jumped at the chance.

And it was a full-on dress rehearsal. We were going to do a walkthrough of everything that would take place during a Redemption Island shoot.

When I arrived at the super impressive Redemption Island set, I was sent to stand with the other Dream Teamers in the jungle. It was there that I met my fellow competitors and soon to be worst enemies, Stephanie and July.

The other Dream Teamers filed into the stadium and up into the bleachers while Stephanie, July, and I waited for our cue. I did my best to bribe my two opponents, but was unsuccessful. Apparently the lure of official “Survivor” Hall of Fame water bottles wasn’t enough for either one of them to take a dive.

Finally, a producer gave us the nod and we crossed the field and took our marks in front of “Survivor” host Jeff Probst.

My first impressions of the new Redemption Island set is that it is hot. Like, ridiculously hot. It’s also huge. The camera may only show the bleachers where the loved ones are seated, but there’s a much larger set of bleachers on the other side. And for this day’s challenge they were packed with crew members. To call this environment stressful would be an understatement. Hundreds of eyes, all pointed at the three lightly toasted combatants.

Never one to miss taking a shot at me, Probst pointed out, “Nice to see John finally hiring an older Dream Team member. Who is this guy?”

Never one to miss an opportunity to annoy a 40-time Emmy winner, I responded, “Jeff…it’s me, Gordon Holmes from XFINITY. I interviewed you yesterday.”

Sufficiently annoyed, Probst laughed and shook his head. He then went about introducing the season’s new twist. If a Redemption Island combatant’s loved one is still in the game, they are allowed to swap places before the duel. For the purposes of the dress rehearsal, Stephanie swapped with her loved one Andrew. She joined his tribe and he took the floor to face me in the challenge. July talked with her loved one, but decided to stay. I didn’t get a chance to confer with anyone. I assume it’s because my loved one is long gone in this scenario, but a part deep down in my psyche worries that it was because nobody loves me.

Then it was on.

The challenge was a reworking of one that had been done in “Survivor: One World.” The players would use metal rods to lift and guide wooden spools through a metal maze. Once the spool was through the maze, they’d place the spool on top of the maze. They’d then get another spool and do it again. Sound easy? Here’s the tricky part. The maze is held up by a spring. That makes for some shaky times. Hit the maze too hard and you could knock over your stack of spools and have to start all over again. The first two people to stack all ten of their spools would get to stick around. The third would be out of the game.

I tried to remember if Kim Spradlin had done anything specifically brilliant to win this challenge, but came up blank. All I could think of was, “slow and steady…don’t be the one who loses their stack.” Also, I figured it was OK to work quickly during the early stages when there was less of a chance of knocking over the spools.

We took our places, Mr. Probst hit his trademark lines, and we were off.

The biggest problem early on? That metal rod bends like crazy. I had enough trouble placing my first spool on top of the maze, I was dreading what it’d be like to place number ten.

But, I soldiered on. In fact, Andrew and I swapped the lead a few times in the early going. I even took some pride in the fact that my stack seemed straighter than his. Not bad for someone nearly twice his age.

It was about halfway through the challenge that I heard the sweetest words that have ever left Jeff Probst’s lips.

“July’s stack is down!”

I don’t know what happened. I didn’t see it. And frankly, I didn’t care. I just knew that she had bought me all the time in the world and I was determined to use it. As there was no difference between a first and second-place finish, I wasn’t going to do anything to risk coming in third. If Andrew slips up, awesome. If not, I hope he enjoys first place.

I immediately put things in deep freeze. I took my sweet time with each spool. I even took some time to use my rod to knock some spools into better alignment in my stack.

Andrew continued on at a solid pace and eventually won the challenge. I was only a spool behind him, July was several spools behind me. I cautiously threaded the spool through the maze, then cursed under my breath as the stupid bendy pole made placing the final spool an exercise in frustration.

A Victory Fist Pump (XFINITY)

When I was finally able to figure it out, Probst counted down from three, I was safe, and July was defeated. We shook hands and returned to our places in front of the arena. Andrew was given an immunity clue to give away. He chose to give it to his loved one Stephanie. Andrew and I were also given “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” buffs to commemorate our victories. All poor July got was the honor of being the first person to leave the “Blood vs. Water” Redemption Island in shame.

What was my big takeaway from the experience? I think the thing that stood out the most was how incredibly stressful it was. Everyone’s looking at you. You have no teammates to rely on or share the blame with in case of a mistake. And, as always, Probst was having a blast poking fun at us. I couldn’t imagine the stress I would have felt if July catching me would have cost me a million dollars. If July had come from behind and gotten the best of me in this exhibition, it wouldn’t have effected my life at all, but I was still a jittery mess. The only thing her win would’ve hurt was my challenge record.

Which is now an Ozzy-esque four wins and one loss.

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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