Archive for the ‘Fall TV Preview 2012’ Category

A Sneak Peek at the Next ‘Survivor: Philippines’ Immunity Challenge

September 21, 2012

The 'Survivor' Dream Team (Gordon Holmes)

XFinityTV is blowing up their coverage of “Survivor: Philippines.” Starting next Tuesday, I’ll be squaring off against a “Survivor: One World” favorite in this season’s Power Rankings challenge. Every Wednesday briefly after the show we’ll have a full episode recap and every Thursday we’ll have an interview with the latest eliminated player. Also, starting October 1st, we’re bringing back the “Survivor” Question of the Week where Jeff Probst and I tackle a wide variety of “Survivor” topics. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for all the updates!

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The three key components to success in “Survivor” are having a strong social game, a strong strategic game, and prowess in immunity challenges. We’ve already discussed how our eighteen (now seventeen) players are going to tackle the social and strategic aspects. But, now I thought it’d be fun to ask “Survivor” Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer what he has in store for our beloved castaways. Not only did John spill the beans on the rest of the season, but he also gave us a look at how “Survivor” challenges are created…

Gordon Holmes: “Survivor” fans are going to be downright giddy now that water-based challenges are finally back.
John Kirhoffer: We haven’t had open water that we can do challenges in. We’ve had beautiful islands, but the water wasn’t safe. There was waves and coral. Here in the Philippines we have good shallow water areas. We have a beautiful lagoon that’s about seventy feet. We’re not going to go all the way down.
Holmes: They might not come back up.
Kirhoffer: (Laughs) Right. But we’ll send them down a bit. One of the first things I did was watch every water season of “Survivor” and took notes. I came up with a list of about sixty challenges that I love. I tried to figure out what the mechanisms are that made them fun. It’s not exactly Chinese arithmetic. Go out, collect puzzle pieces, then solve them. But it’s how you get those pieces, the journey back and forth has to be fun and physical. And the puzzles have to be interesting. But being back in a water location has opened out mind again.

Holmes: Very excited for the water challenges. Now, you probably know which questions is coming next…
Kirhoffer: You miss people eating gross stuff.
Holmes: I love the gross stuff.
Kirhoffer: Agh…so does my aunt. No, we don’t have any plans to eat gross stuff, and I’ll tell you why; we’re not “Fear Factor”…
Holmes: Whoa whoa…”Fear Factor” is gross stuff for gross stuff’s sake. “Survivor” always pulled actual food from the location.
Kirhoffer: Exactly. I’m sure we could find something, but in the Philippines the thing that is the most exotic and different is balut (fertilized duck embryo) and we did that in China and Micronesia. China had a lot of food that was indigenous. Although, we did cross the line, because we had people eat the smoothies.
Holmes: I’m going to hold out hope that you’re in town and see something on the menu that inspires you.
Kirhoffer: (Laughs) Maybe next season. People are mixed about it. My aunt says, “John Boy, how come we haven’t seen gross food in a while?!”

Holmes: Speaking of China, you guys did a great job working Chinese culture and symbolism into the challenges. Are we going to see some of that this season?
Kirhoffer: Oh yes. One of the cornerstones of coming to a new place is highlighting the culture. The way they fish with the nets, you’re going to see that in a challenge. The rice patties, we’re going to do some challenges in the rice patties that are beautiful. We’ve drawn a lot, not just from the set architecture, but also in the things we incorporate into the challenges.

Holmes: Between immunity and reward challenges, you’re probably on the hook for 20 to 30 challenges a season.
Kirhoffer: It’s around 25.
Holmes: I’d assume you take challenge ideas from everywhere. Where’s the oddest place you’ve taken inspiration from?
Kirhoffer: The title of a challenge has to be either a pun or the name of a rock band or song. We’ve got lots of them. But in China we started coming up with a title then making a challenge to fit it.
Holmes: That sounds like the exact opposite of what you should do.
Kirhoffer: It would inspire you! We had one called “Peking Duck.” We tested it, it was like dodgeball. You come up from behind a crate, and then you have to duck. So you’re peeking and ducking. We did that thing in Tocantins where the ball goes rolling down the roller coaster. That was based on an art project that one of our guys did.

Holmes: Speaking of peeking, that rhyme was unintentional, peeking at other people’s puzzles and strategies has been happening a lot lately. Is that something you guys even care about? Seems like it’d cause ill will between the contestants which I know is encouraged.
Kirhoffer: In the early days we used to set up barriers. Now? If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying. Are you smart enough to look at someone else’s strategy? When it gets down to individuals and you have stuff like mathematics, that kind of cheating can’t be tolerated. But you can only cheat so much with a puzzle.

Watch Full Episodes of ‘Survivor: Philippines’

Holmes: OK, let’s get into this sneak peek.
Kirhoffer: Let’s talk about episode two, a challenge called “Manila Folders.” The most important thing in a challenge is that you give it a cute name. And the cutest names, of course, are of rock-and-roll bands or rock-and-roll songs. Or, something that’s a pun on the area. Manila Folders. (Sarcastic Laugh) You see, Manila is a city…
Holmes: I see what you did there.
Kirhoffer: The way most challenges start is…back in September a handful of us came out here to scout the location and look for the areas and try to figure things out. Then we go back to Los Angeles. I get a few friends together and we sit together and say, “What’ve you got for puzzles?  What kind of new challenge ideas?” In the brainstorming process there’ll be five of us in the room. More of a brain breeze than a storm. Our friend Miles came up with this Tetris-like puzzle. It was Miles Tiles! But we changed it to Manila Folders. And, what we came up with is, we were looking for areas, we found this beautiful field that we can do challenges in. Miles pitches this challenge, then we all sit around and massage it together. We talk about what it could be. They’d race off into the jungle, then they’d bring back these folding pieces. You lay them down, and they all fit together.

Note: John was kind enough to share with us the sketches that were used during the planning of the challenge.

Holmes: And the sled?
Kirhoffer: We thought, we’d get one of these things that we’ve all seen out here. You’ve seen the big…buffalo, whatever they are, they pull these sleds that are for rice or grain or whatever. So we came up with our own sleds that our people would pull. We found the field, but we didn’t have a jungle. So instead of going out into a jungle we’re just going out into a field.

Holmes: OK, break this down for us.

Kirhoffer: There are three tables with all the puzzle pieces.

Kirhoffer: You race out there with your sled. You stack  ‘em up and then drag ‘em back. Then you have to go out further to the second stack.

Kirhoffer: It’s tough too, because once you load them up you have a couple hundred pounds of plywood. Then they have to go out to the farthest one.




Kirhoffer: With the puzzle there are three zones. The two pairs take turns completing a zone. The tribe to complete the puzzle first, wins.

From there, we watched the Dream Team (a group of young, fit production assistants whose job it is to run the challenges to make sure they’re interesting and relatively safe) put Manila Folders through its paces. Everything seemed to go as planned with the Kalabaw stand-ins taking the win.

Holmes: OK, what did we learn from the Dream Team’s test run?
Kirhoffer: We learned that having two pairs of people switching out and doing the puzzles was confusing. Jeff was up on the tower and saw it for the first time, he decided to have one pair do the puzzles. That way it’s easier for the people at home to understand and it puts more pressure on that pair.
Holmes: What about the tower? It seemed like they weren’t doing much coaching.
Kirhoffer: We learned a long time ago that having someone in a tower, that it’s good to have a bird’s-eye view on a puzzle like this. But sometimes that person just confuses the issue. Everyone feels the need to put in their two cents, when sometimes the smartest move is to have one voice do it.
Holmes: Alright, and that’s how a “Survivor” challenge goes from inspiration to immunity.
Kirhoffer: From inspiration to perspiration.
Holmes: Oh, that’s way better.

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

‘Survivor’ Castaway Zane Knight: ‘I Thought I Had it Locked’

September 20, 2012

Zane Knight and Jeff Probst (CBS)

XFinityTV is blowing up their coverage of “Survivor: Philippines.” Starting next Tuesday, I’ll be squaring off against a “Survivor: One World” favorite in this season’s Power Rankings challenge. Every Wednesday briefly after the show we’ll have a full episode recap and every Thursday we’ll have an interview with the latest eliminated player. Also, starting October 1st, we’re bringing back the “Survivor” Question of the Week where Jeff Probst and I tackle a wide variety of “Survivor” topics. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for all the updates!

There might not be a more obvious “Survivor”  case of “Woulda, coulda, shoulda” than Zane Knight. The 28-year-old tire treader was all over the map last night making alliances, planning back-stabbings, and wreaking havoc when all he really needed to do was be himself.

I talked to Zane the morning after his elimination and found out about the crazy weather, the secret alliances, and how close he came to getting Russell Swan out of the game…

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Gordon Holmes: What happened? I thought I wasn’t going to get to talk to you until December after the finale.
Zane Knight: I was looking forward to talking to you in December! (Laughs) After they wrote my check. You know, you only get one way to play this game and I feel like I played it the best I could. I was a little premature, maybe if I’d put a little more forethought into Russ’s way with the court there. I said from day one,  “No celebrities,” so I went after the celebrity. I take pride in what I did.
Holmes: I feel like you crammed 39 days of “Survivor” into one episode.
Knight: (Laughs) I’ve been watching “Survivor” for a while now. I tried to take key components from the best players. Just genuinely awesome TV. You know, in life you’re not promised tomorrow, so why would you think you were promised tomorrow on “Survivor” island? I tried to break it in as hard as I could.

Holmes: You said, “Vote for me” to the Matsing Tribe. Was that your Brandon Hantz moment where you were testing everyone’s loyalty?
Knight: Exactly, you build this rapport with people, and I was going to make them work for me. It’s a character thing. Russ’s been in this game before. He knows how to play with people’s emotions. And like he said, “You don’t know how something you say is going to affect any other person.” So who was to know that he’d play ‘em like that. And I can’t put it all on him, I was too cocky. I thought I had it locked. The rest of the day I spent gathering fire wood until we went to get rid of Russ.

Holmes: Looking back, what would you have done differently?
Knight: The only thing is I would’ve been quiet.
Holmes: (Laughs) Well played.

Holmes: They didn’t touch on this too much, but the weather was insane during those first three days. Tons of rain, I remember your hands were all pruned-up and water-logged.
Knight: Aww man, just sheets of rain pelting you. You’re sitting there trying to build a shelter or pick up firewood, and like you said, your hands are so water-logged you can’t hold onto a piece of wood. The weather always comes with “Survivor.” You’re going to have heat, or cold, or rain. So, it’s expected. It adds to the game.
Holmes: You looked miserable when we were there.
Knight: The weather always comes with “Survivor.” You’re going to have heat, or cold, or rain. So, it’s expected. It adds to the game.

Holmes: What’re the tribe dynamics right now at Matsing? Did you know Malcolm and Denise were partnering up?
Knight: No idea at all. Malcolm, you build a camaraderie with people and you think you’ve got them locked. At the end of the day, he was playing his own game. I never saw Malcolm sneaking in like he did. Like I said, I was too cocky. I gathered wood till it was time to send Russ home.
Holmes: You were convinced that Russell was going home?
Knight: I was convinced! It was locked. That’s my game. (Laughs) It was as a big a surprise to me as anybody.
Holmes: Are Roxanne and Angie a unit?
Knight: Not that I saw, but that’s the way the game works. At one moment you’re best friends, the next you hate their guts. You have to watch the season to see how they vote.
Holmes: OK, if you insist, I’ll watch the season.
Knight: (Laughs)
Holmes: But now that they’ve voted you out, why bother?
Knight: You know what, a lot of America felt the same way. And I don’t think that’s me having a big head.
Holmes: Well, I think a lot of people pre-judge you based on your appearance. But I certainly enjoyed you. I was genuinely disappointed to see you go.
Knight: Hopefully if I made my mark and Jeff appreciated me and y’all appreciated me, you might get to see me again.

Holmes: I liked seeing you and Angie getting along. It’s one of those things on the show where two people from different walks of life, once you strip them of their comforts, they can get to know each other and enjoy each other.
Knight: I can pretty much get along with anybody. Angie reminded me a lot of my sister. She seemed kind of…at home for me. She’s pretty easy to get along with.

Holmes: Alright, first word association of the year. Let’s start with Angie…
Knight: Free.
Holmes: Malcolm?
Knight: Funny.
Holmes: Denise?
Knight: Hard to get along with.
Holmes: Roxanne?
Knight: Casual.
Holmes: And Russell?
Knight: Hardcore.

Holmes: Alright, jumping back into that. You said Denise was hard to get along with, when it seemed like she was making strides to get to know you better. What am I missing?
Knight: She’s one of those people that you don’t ever know. In the back of your mind you’re always thinking, “Maybe.”  It’s not that you can’t trust her, you just can’t assess her.

Holmes: A lot of people leave “Survivor” changed people. Has your time out there affected your outlook on life?
Knight: Oh my goodness, I am proud to be an American. It changed my whole philosophy. It changes the way I sweep the floor at work, the way I shop for groceries, the way I cut my grass. There is no aspect of my life that wasn’t impacted. I don’t care if you come of 1st or 26th, if you can say anything bad about this game, you didn’t play it right.

Holmes: When you were out there, you mentioned that your wife is a fantastic cook. When you got home did she have something special waiting for you?
Knight: Oh my goodness, I come home and the first thing I had was meatloaf. Good old southern cooking. I had an awesome meal waiting for me. I couldn’t get it all in me there was so much there.
Holmes: What?! I love meatloaf and my girlfriend never cooks it.
Knight: You need to come on down here, bro.
Holmes: Deal.

Any Questions? Ask me on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Recap: Blair’s in Trouble, Skupin Tries to Warner

September 19, 2012

Lisa Whelchel (CBS)

XFinityTV is blowing up their coverage of “Survivor: Philippines.” Starting next Tuesday, I’ll be squaring off against “Survivor: One World” champ Kim Spradlin in this season’s Power Rankings challenge. Every Wednesday briefly after the show we’ll have a full episode recap and every Thursday (including tomorrow) we’ll have an interview with the latest eliminated player. Also, starting October 1st, we’re bringing back the “Survivor” Question of the Week where Jeff Probst and I tackle a wide variety of “Survivor” topics. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for all the updates!

Quick Note: I was on location for the first episode of “Survivor: Philippines”, so this recap features all kinds of behind-the-scenes goodies.

Another Quick Note: I am so sorry about that headline. It was between that and the possibly worse “Matsinging in the Rain.”

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39 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

We kick this season off with Captain Probst aboard the S.S. Snuffer-upagus. He deftly navigates the beautiful waters surrounding the scenic Caramoan Islands.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: This can’t be emphasized enough; this place was designed to host “Survivor.” The water is amazing and there are a billion tiny little islands. I’m psyched.

J-Pro lets us know that a collection of 15 newbies are on their own boat on their way to the adventure of a lifetime.

We get to meet former National League MVP Jeff Kent, former child star Lisa Whelchel, and some dude with a Frankenstein tattoo.

What these newbies don’t know is they’ll be joined by three former players who were forced out of their previous seasons due to injuries. We’ve got Michael Skupin who famously fell into the fire in “Survivor: The Australian Outback.” Jonathan Penner who suffered a severe infection during “Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites,” and Russell Swan who passed out during an immunity challenge in “Survivor: Samoa.”

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Production went to great lengths to hide Penner, Michael, and Russell from each other. I find that odd, because they didn’t do a big on-camera reveal and other returnees (Russell and Rob, Coach and Ozzy) knew who they’d be facing in advance.

Captain Probst finally meets up with our new color-coded friends. Jeff Kent is a bit worried that only four other people are wearing the same color as him.

Zane (aka, Mr. Frankenstein tattoo) is psyched that there aren’t any returning players (or as he calls them, “celebrities”). He’s wrong on both counts.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: This marooning was pretty tame compared to most. The only questionable thing that was said was Katie dissing Angie by saying that she didn’t think she was prepared for the game.

J-Pro asks Roxanne what the worst thing she’s seen on the show is; she describes Russell’s fainting elimination. Apparently she never saw “One World.” Too soon?

Now Probsty’s psyched because he has the perfect segue way to bring in our returnees. Dawson is giddy that they’re there.

Probst assigns the returnees to their tribes. Skupin immediately recognizes Lisa but doesn’t out her. Jeff Kent had better hope Penner isn’t a Dodgers fan.

The marooning starts as the players are given a minute to salvage anything they can off of the boat. Penner immediately starts shouting out instructions to his tribe. He also gives Probst some grief. So much for his pre-game plan of avoiding the “Probst and Penner Show.”

There’s some awkwardness as Kalabaw’s raft flops into the sea, in the confusion Jeff Kent is worried that he may have blown out his knee.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: When Penner was in the water, he managed to lure a chicken off of the boat and into his waiting arms. That chicken was never seen again…

So, the tribes as we start off are…

The Kalabaw Tribe (wearing red)
Carter – Track Coach, 24
Dana – Cosmetologist, 32
Dawson – Insurance Sales, 28
Katie – Student, 22
Jeff – Former MLB Player, 44
Penner – Writer, 50

The Matsing Tribe (wearing blue)
Angie – Student, 20
Denise – Sex Therapist, 41
Malcolm – Bartender, 25
Roxanne – Seminary Student, 28
Russell – Environmental Attorney, 45
Zane – Tire Repair, 28

The Tandang Tribe (wearing yellow)
Abi-Maria – Business Student, 32
Artis – Computer Engineer, 53
Michael – Professional Speaker, Author, and Coach, 50
Lisa – Former ‘Facts of Life’ Star, 49
Pete – Engineering Graduate, 24
RC – Investment Banker, 27

At Matsing beach, Russell says there’s no way he’s going to let himself become the leader. He plans to pawn it off on someone else, but I’m not sure who on that tribe he can pawn it off to. Sure enough, we cut to Russell bossing everyone around.

Later on, Malcolm and Russell are able to create fire. This is important because it rained a lot during those first days. I was miserable, and I had a poncho and an umbrella. They had nothing.

Meanwhile at Kalabaw beach, Jeff Kent is having serious knee problems. He says he’s played hurt before and he’s going to do his best to tough it out. You’re a baseball player, rub some dirt on it!

Later on, Jeff Kent leads a meeting. The main topic of conversation? Not letting the returning player win. Uh oh…Penner’s got problems.

Over at Tandangia, Ani-Maria and RC hit it off immediately. However, they don’t hit it off well enough for RC to admit that she’s an investment banker. Probably smart, not the most popular occupation these days. Later, the two decide to bring Pete and Skupin on board. That was quick.

Back over at North Kalabaw, Jeff Kent is worried that he’ll be in trouble if people realize that he’s a former baseball player. Unfortunately for him, Dawson’s watched some baseball in her day. However, she probably underestimated his career earnings when she pegged it at around $30 million. She smartly decides to hold onto this information for the time being.

We meet up with the Tandang women standing in the ocean. Lisa decides to do so in her jeans. This is a person who is very aware that she is surrounded by cameras. Good for her public image. Not great for her game.

They follow this with a montage of Lisa trying to start a fire. They forget to show her getting mad at Tootie when she accidentally unplugged the alarm clock when they were cramming for an exam.

RC doesn’t trust Lisa. Skupin thinks she should admit who she is because he thinks that will impress the younger people. I think I agree with Skup. Jimmy Johnson’s time on the show has made famous people gun-shy about saying who they are. But, he was voted out because he wouldn’t align with anyone, not because he was rich.

That night, Skupin lets Lisa know that he thinks it’d be helpful to open up to the kids. She doesn’t go for it.

Over at Matsing, Zane’s trying to put an alliance together. They show him hustling with everybody. No lie, dude made alliance with all five people. Although, he claims his real alliance is with Malcolm and Russell. Yikes, that’s very messy for the first cycle. He has very Hantz-like tendencies.

Malcolm quickly rats him out to Denise. They bond over this issue. They even create a secret handshake. It’s best described as the result of Lonestar asking Barf to “Give him some paw.”

Aww…rest in peace, John Candy.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: During our visit there on day two; Malcolm and Denise were hard at work building a shelter, Russell and Roxy were working around the fire, Angie was weaving palm fronds alone, and Zane was off on testimonial interview. When Zane finally returned he looked miserable. He was visibly shaking and his hands were freakishly pruned-up.

Later at Tandang, the rain is pouring and Skupin is doing his best to injure himself again. He busted up his hand and scraped his head and foot.  The dude’s skin is made of tissue paper.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Everyone was in good spirits during my visit to the Tandang camp except for Artis. Michael, Lisa, RC, Abi-Maria, and Pete were all laughing and sharing stories while Artis kind of looked depressed in the corner. I think the weather was probably getting to him, his hands were also severely pruned.

At Kalabaw, Penner is hard at work searching for the immunity idol. Unfortunately for him, everyone knows he’s looking for it. I was there for this, and the other five members of his tribe were not pleased.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Penner broke the “Don’t speak to the press” rule when I was there when he told us that he was gathering things in case he needed to make a fake idol.

Sure enough, Penner finds the clue in the rice. He’s gonna need it.

Cut to…Russell finding the Matsing clue. Returnees on fire. Except in this case, Zane saw him find it. Zane confronts him and Russell denies it. Russell even goes so far as to say he’d target anyone he saw looking for the idol.

Immunity Challenge Time: The teams will be split up into three pairs. The first pair will sprint into the jungle while tethered together at the waist. Once they come to a clearing, they’ll have to scale a cargo net that leads to a platform. On that platform there is a box that is held closed by three sets of knots. Once the teams have untied their knots, they’ll open the box, retrieve two oars, then head back the way they came. When the players get back to the starting point, they’ll pass the oars off to the next pair.

That pair will then push their boat from the beach into the water. They’ll paddle out to a buoy, then dive down to retrieve a giant chest. From there, they’ll push the crate back to the shore.

When the crate is to the beach, all of the tribe members will help carry the chest back to the starting point.  Once it’s in its proper place, the final pair will crack open the chest and retrieve puzzle pieces. The first tribe to complete their tower-shaped puzzle wins immunity and a fire-making kit. The second place tribe wins immunity, flint, and a slight feeling of inferiority. The losing tribe gets to visit Jeff at Tribal Council.

The tribes take a minute to discuss strategy. Russell takes over and basically assigns his team roles. He then chooses a handful of magic beans over a tarp.

Our running pairs will be Russell and Zane for Matsing, RC and Artis for Tandang, and Dana and Katie for Kalabaw.

Our rowers are Denise and Malcolm, Pete and Michael, and Jeff and Carter.

And finally, our puzzle teams are Angie and Roxanne, Lisa and Abi-Maria, and Penner and Dawson.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: I started an unofficial pool before the challenge. Most people had Tandang or Matsing winning. Nobody thought Kalabaw had a chance.

Survivors are ready…and they go.

RC and Artis retrieve their paddles first. Russell and Zane are right behind them.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Poor Zane was a wreck after running through the woods, which was weird because it had to have been only 150 yards each way.

Dana and Katie finally get their oars to their rowers.

Skupin and Pete are the first ones to get to their chest, Jeff and Carter made up a lot of time and pass Matsing.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Pushing the crates back to shore took forever. It had to be exhausting.

Tandang gets their chest to the shore first. It’s full of water and too heavy to carry, so they start flipping it end over end. Kalabaw is right behind them. Matsing is finally back in the game too.

Penner and Dawson plow through the puzzle to win the first immunity, Abi-Maria and Lisa finish theirs shortly after to take the second idol. Matsing earns a date at Tribal Council.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Challenge producer John Kirhoffer claims he knew Kalabaw was going to win. I still don’t believe him.

Russell tells Probst that he isn’t too worried because there is always a next time. Probst corrects him, saying there’s a next time for five of them. Snap!

Matsing decides to have a tribe meeting once they’re back at camp. Zane confesses that he wasn’t physically prepared for the challenge and that he deserves the vote. Zane thinks this’ll show if he’s in control, Russell thinks this makes the vote very easy.

Quote of the Night: “I’m playing chess the best way I know how, and hopefully, I’m going to king me.” – Zane Knight

Yes, “king me” is a checkers term…

Angie and Roxanne aren’t sure they want Zane to go; they were not thrilled that they were assigned to be puzzle players. Angie even goes so far as to beg Zane to stay.

Malcolm could be on board with voting out Russell, but he’s worried about losing Russell’s strength and he thinks Russell might have the idol.

That night at Tribal Council, fire represents life. It tends to do that.

Denise didn’t want there to be returning players, but she thinks Russell is an asset.

Zane admits that Russell is better at the game than he is. He then breaks into an onion analogy that makes no sense. It’s like when your bishop lands on Park Place.

Russell admits that he blew it by jumping back into the chief role. Malcolm agrees with him.

Angie is upset that she didn’t get to run because she was on the track team in high school. And that was totally like three months ago.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: This is the first Tribal Council I’ve ever been to where the result was in doubt. Most of the crew at this point assumed Russell would be taking the walk of shame, but nobody was sure like with Semhar or Wendy Jo.

Voting Time: Russell votes for Zane, Zane quotes Ricky Bobby, then votes for Russell, and the rest are secret.

J-Pro tallies and returns. We’ve got one for vote for Zane, one for Russ, two more for Zane, and the first person to be voted out of “Survivor: Philippines” is…Zane.

Verdict: As always with the first episode, it was a lot of getting to know people. Now that that’s out of the way, there are at least eight people I’m genuinely excited to see play. I have high hopes for this season. I also hope Mike Skupin doesn’t die.

Who’s Going to Win: Malcolm’s my pre-season fave, but his tribe is a mess. I’ll stick with him for the time-being, but as usual, I’m prepared to change my mind at a moment’s notice.

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

Official ‘Survivor: Philippines’ Pre-Game Rankings

September 19, 2012

'Survivor: Philippines' (CBS) sent me deep into the wilderness on a mission to bring you all kinds of “Survivor” stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

Well, “Survivor” host and talk-show superstar Jeff Probst had his say as to who he thought would run away with this season of “Survivor.” Now I get my turn…

Quick Note: These rankings were done before the filming of the first episode, although a few minor things that took place in the premiere were sprinkled in later. Enjoy.

Another Note: As always, betting on my official “Survivor” pre-game rankings probably isn’t illegal, but it is frowned upon.

DVR the “Survivor” Premiere

Read Malcom’s Pre-Game Interview Read Denise’s Pre-Game Interview
1. Malcolm: Poor Malcolm is the recipient of my traditional pre-game curse. Why’d I curse Malcolm? He’s the player I’d create if I could make one in a lab. He’s good-looking, but not too good-looking. He’s fit, but not too fit. He knows how people view him. He’s a smartass, but knows when to be serious. Anywho, enjoy your early exit from the game, Malcolm. 2. Denise: I love that Denise is a sex therapist. There’s something about that occupation that seems perfect for “Survivor.” You have to deal with a wide variety of interesting folks, you can’t judge, you have to be able to keep your mouth shut. Add that to a genuinely nice person who can hold her own in challenges and you have a real contender.
 Read Michael’s Pre-Game Interivew Read RC’s Pre-Game Interview
3. Michael: Maybe this is wishful thinking from a “Survivor” fanboy, but I think Skup’s got a shot at taking this. I imagine he’s been watching every episode of this show for the past decade, breaking down every move and figuring out what he would’ve done in that situation. Also, if he’s going to fall into the dad role again, he has two fit kids (RC and Pete) and a confidant his age (Lisa). 4. RC: From our one-on-one chat, I found RC to be delightful. She’s quite the charmer. She also has a background as a competitive swimmer. Lucky for her, she was cast on the first season since ‘Fans vs. Favorites’ to have water challenges. I look for big things from her. She could end up with a big novelty “Survivor” check next to her hoop-rolling trophy.

Read Dawson’s Pre-Game Interview Read Carter’s Pre-Game Interview
5. Dawson: Here’s one pick where Jeff Probst and I disagree. He thinks Dawson’s an early boot because she’s going to annoy Penner. I think Kalabaw is headed for an early power struggle and she’s going to be sure to side with the winner. And besides, if she can survive nearly being given a concussion during a pre-game interview, 39 days on an island will be a piece of cake. 6. Carter: I like to think of Carter as the faux Fabio. With Fabio, what you saw was absolutely what you got. He was just a fun-loving kid who had a good time and kind of stumbled into a chance to win a million dollars. Anyone who sees Carter the same way might find themselves on the next 70-hour plane ride home.
Read Lisa’s Pre-Game Interview Read Pete’s Pre-Game Interview
7. Lisa: (Let’s see if I can write this blurb without a ‘Facts of Life’ pun.) Lisa’s tribe is such an a-team when it comes to challenges that Tandang may have a full house when they get to the merge. From there, if Lisa is bosom buddies with her alliance, she could win and join Tina Wesson and the rest of the sole surviving golden girls. However, one thing that could hurt her is if others are concerned that her kids were born with silver spoons in their mouths. (Success!) 8. Pete: You’re probably wondering why I have so many Tandangers so high in the rankings. It’s because they seem like a challenge juggernaut. You’ve got Michael, Peter, and Artis who are all jacked. And you’ve got RC who’s probably the best swimmer on this season. However, Pete has said he wants to make some big moves. Hopefully he’ll be smart enough to realize those moves aren’t always necessary. (See: Clarke, Sophie)
Read Dana’s Pre-Game Interview Read Abi-Maria’s Pre-Game Interview
9. Dana: Dana’s a bit of a wild card for me. She seems like she’s got the laid-back thing down, which is perfect for flying under the radar. However, she also said she’s just there for a vacation. Sometimes that leads to big things (See: Crowley, Bob) but usually it leads to an early exit. Here’s hoping she’s up for the game. 10. Abi-Maria: I like Abi-Maria a lot. She’s a ton of fun. She also has the advantage of being in her thirties, but looking like she’s in her mid twenties.  Mix that with her accent and people could underestimate her quite a bit.
Read Zane’s Pre-Game Interview Read Denise’s Pre-Game Interview
11. Zane: My buddy Zane’s first day on the island is going to be huge. Either people are going to accept him and enjoy him as the funny, personable guy he is, or they’re going to avoid him due to his appearance. Of course, it’s also possible he might start playing too aggressively. If he can keep his cool and find the right alliance he could make a serious run. 12. Russell: If ever there has been a tribe of misfit toys, it’s Matsing. Russell is going into this swearing up and down that he isn’t going to be a leader, but what if he has no choice? Denise is the second-best pick, but she’s probably smart enough to pass it off. Either way, as long as the dude stays hydrated, I’ll be happy.
Read Katie’s Pre-Game Interview Read Roxy’s Pre-Game Interview
13. Katie: If this was a ranking of people I’d like to go to Delaware Park Casino with, Katie would be an easy number one. However, for her “Survivor” game I have some concerns. First, she wasn’t quick on her feet when I presented her with some game scenarios. And second, she didn’t have a problem calling out Angie early in the game. And, early in the game is the best time to keep your mouth shut. Just ask Francesca Hogi from “Redemption Island.” 14. Roxy: Religion has been a huge part of “Survivor recently with Coach Wade and his Upolu tribe and Matt Elrod. This topic can be quite the lightning rod. Lisa seems to be on the right track of being mindful of what she says and who she says it to. Some people will receive it well, others won’t. Roxy doesn’t seem to have that same concern. She should be wary of how those things can be viewed in a post-“South Pacific” season.

Read Jeff’s Pre-Game Interview Read Penner’s Pre-Game Interview
15. Jeff: Why do I have a former professional athlete and probable challenge horse so low in the rankings? Because I truly believe that there will be an immediate power struggle in the Kalabaw tribe with Jeff Kent on one side and Jonathan Penner on the other. If Kent can win friends an influence people he could be on his way with a nice little alliance. If not…he’s out. 16. Penner: It kills me, KILLS ME to put Penner this low in the rankings. But like I said with Jeff Kent, I really think there is going to be a power struggle early at Kalabaw and one of them is going to be the first to go. Based on everyone’s appreciation that returning players have an advantage, Penner’s reputation as a strategist, and the fact that Penner doesn’t bring as much to the table physically as Kent means that he might be the first person in a red buff who is sent packing.
Read Angie’s Pre-Game Interview Read Artis’s Pre-Game Interview
17. Angie:  Angie was easily the most talked about person before the game started. Although, with her looks and…uh…figure…she certainly does stand out. Malcolm, Katie, and others had already made assumptions about her intelligence before she even had a chance to speak. She’s a sweet girl, but she might not have enough life experience to overcome that disadvantage. Although, if she gets in with the right group, she could surprise us. 18. Artis: What can I say about Artis? He’s a nice guy. He’s an absolute inspiration for the way he defeated stage-four cancer. But, right now I see him as the first member of Tandang tribe to go home. I think his social game is really going to be his weak point. He doesn’t seem to be very good at reading other people, which is huge in a game like “Survivor.”

Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET.

‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Shares His Pre-Season Picks

September 18, 2012

Jeff Probst (CBS) sent me deep into the wilderness on a mission to bring you all kinds of “Survivor” stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

DVR the “Survivor” Premiere

Holmes: Alright, we just got back from the…the launch? That’s not the right term.
Probst: The marooning.
Holmes: That’s it. Who’s your favorite so far?
Probst: I’m a little biased because I like all three of our returning players a lot. Penner’s one of my all-time favorite contestants and he reminded me why in the opening moments. I said you’ve got to be off this boat in ten seconds and in the scramble of him trying to get stuff he said, “Or what happens?” He lips off at every possible opportunity. It’s almost wrestling and he’s a foil. It’s this unscripted relationship we have in that whatever I say to him, he will challenge me. And sometimes I don’t know how to reply. Sometimes he wins, and I love that.
Holmes: How do you keep from pushing him into the water? Professionalism?
Probst: Yes, professionalism. Thank you.  I’m really excited to see Skupin back. He’s really the most famous memory of early “Survivor.” The guy who fell in the fire, that’s how people remember him.

Meet the New Castaways:

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Holmes: I’ve been nagging you about bringing back Skupin for years. I just want to take this time to say, “Thanks.”
Probst: We’ve tried. We wanted to bring him back so many times and have talked to him so many times that when we finally brought him back he didn’t believe us. I’m surprised he came on a plane to come out here. But he’s old school “Survivor,” I’m really curious to see if Skupin will be able to keep up with the game the way it is now. If he sits around and waits for a week to make an alliance, he’ll probably be in trouble. And then Russell Swan, it’s great to see him back because that was, no lie, no hype, that was the most afraid I have ever been. I seriously thought he was dying.
Holmes: Absolutely. I was watching it on TV and I knew he was fine and I’d be speaking to him the next day, and I was still pretty freaked out. I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like to see that live.
Probst: He was so pissed at us. He was so frustrated that we pulled him from the game, for months. I finally called. I said, “How are you?” He said, “I’m not happy with you guys, you pulled me out. You took away my shot at a million dollars.” I said, “Russell, you have no idea what happened. Your heart rate dropped like 30 beats in like half a second.” He really wasn’t having it. So, after the episode I called him and he was crying. He said, “I’m here with my wife. I have no recollections of that happening. And my wife just went through this near-death experience with me on the couch and I get it.”
Holmes: I talked to him yesterday. He said if anything happens to him his wife is going to kick your ass.
Probst: (Laughs) My ass!
Holmes: She’s holding you responsible.
Probst: (Laughs) Oh wow!
Holmes: That’s a lot on your shoulders.
Probst: I have no fault in this at all. I have no fault insurance.

Holmes: Which of the new players are in trouble?
Probst: Angie is going to fall into the unfortunate, young, attractive blonde who has no business being out here and has no idea that she shouldn’t be out here. Clueless. Beautiful tan though.
Holmes: Lovely young woman.
Probst: During the marooning I asked, “Who out here seems the most out of their element.” And, one girl turned around and said, “The blonde girl.”
Holmes: I believe that was Katie, Miss Delaware.
Probst: Yeah, Miss Delaware. Who else is in trouble? Dawson. Where the (expletive deleted) she came up with the name Dawson I have no idea.
Holmes: It’s her last name.
Probst: Oh…there you go.
Holmes: It’s better than G.C., I’ll give her that.
Probst: Who’s G.C.?
Holmes: G-Cizzle from “Survivor: Gabon”?
Probst: Oh my God…G.C… Dawson could last because she’s on a really good tribe. But if her tribe has to get rid of someone…she’s a nutcase and I don’t think Penner will have any time for it.

Holmes: Who are your favorites thus far?
Probst: I like Abi-Maria a lot. I hope she lasts. She could be a great winner, she could win.
Holmes: I think she could be in trouble.
Probst: Oh yeah?
Holmes: When they were paddling away she was just sitting in the middle holding stuff down and barking orders.
Probst: Oh really? She does have that little…Brazilian flame. And she’s probably used to getting things her way. But, I really like her. I think she’s charming and funny. And she brings a point of view that I don’t think we’ve had from a woman. I also like Zane. On paper he seems like he should be a total fish out of water here.
Holmes: I like him a lot.
Probst: Yeah?
Holmes: Absolutely.
Probst: But his personality is so engaging and he’s so funny and it’s so hard to understand him that I think he’ll be a very memorable character. I also like Malcolm a lot. He’s sort of the “Survivor” prototype Ozzy (Lusth) kind of guy. If he gets off to a good start he could really last for a while.

Holmes: How do you feel about Lisa?
Probst: Lisa is one of the people this season that I genuinely hope gets the full experience. I know she wants it, she’s so enthusiastic. She has a great attitude. But, she’s fighting one big obstacle in this game in that if you’re over 40, you’re like a fossil. And so, her biggest challenge is going to be, how do I prove to them that I’m worth keeping around?
Holmes: Especially in three tribes of six people, it seems like there’s much less wiggle room. Also, it seems like challenge strength is going to be a huge asset early on.
Probst: Yeah. But Lisa’s enthusiasm is contagious. I love it. I loved it the minute I met her. I’m so glad she’s out here and I really hope she lasts. Pete, I’m not sure about. He’s a little bit of a lost puppy. And, I think he knows it. He doesn’t want anyone else to know it. So, I don’t look for him to be a strong player and win. But, his bulk might keep him around. RC is a big question mark for me. I root for her. She’s the kind of woman I would align with. I’m not sure that’s going to be the case with anybody else.

Holmes: Who has villain potential?
Probst: Good question. Jeff Kent could be a villain. I like Jeff because he’s a no (expletive deleted) kind of guy. But he could rub people the wrong way. This is a dude who played in the Major Leagues for two decades. He’s used to playing at a certain level and if you can’t keep up, I imagine he’ll be the guy saying, “You know what, I’m going to cut you lose.”
Holmes: Jeff came really close to guessing the twist.
Probst: Did he? So did Carter. Carter is another guy I love.
Holmes: Really? Great kid, but he seemed kind of low-key to me.
Probst: Love him. He’s super smart. He looks and sounds like Jeff Spicoli, but in my interactions with him he plays at a much different level.

Holmes: This isn’t my first rodeo being out with you guys. But, this is the first location where I look around and everything screams “Survivor.” The water is beautiful, there are jungles to run through, and a million tiny islands.
Probst: You came in the period of time that we were inland so much. “Survivor” in the Philippines is really back to the roots of the show, which is being abandoned in the middle of the ocean. You’re going to have a lot of water challenges. People fishing, hopefully finding clams. This is where we like to be, it’s just, you can’t always find water in places that don’t have political unrest, or places you can afford with the shrinking dollar. So, the Philippines has been a very welcoming spot for us both financially and crew-wise. The area we’re in here, we’ve got somebody from every family working here and most of the entire community. And they couldn’t be nicer, they couldn’t have a better work ethic. If we could take them with us and have them be our crew everywhere, we probably would. They’re that good.

Holmes: Remember that show “Temptation Island”?
Probst: Yeah. I do.
Holmes: I remember when I first started watching that show, I was in a very good place with my then-girlfriend.
Probst: (Laughs) OK.
Holmes: I’m watching this show, just having a good old time laughing at these crazy people.  Then, in no way related to the show, things start to turn bad in my relationship. I start watching the show differently. They’re all jerks, why can’t they just be happy? The point is; the show didn’t change. I changed. You’ve been doing this for twelve years?
Probst: Thirteen.
Holmes: As your life has changed, you’re happily married, you’ve won Emmys, has your attitude toward “Survivor” changed at all?
Probst: Probably. I never thought about it. I guess it would have to. Yeah, because I’m pretty much myself out here, so when I’m asking questions they’re skewed from my viewpoint of human behavior. I think, despite what a lot of people who watch this show would say, I think I pick on people a lot less. I look for opportunities, but I feel like if you’re clever you’ll get out of it, if you’re not, you’ll sink. That’s your problem, not mine. I think that’s changed over the years. I think earlier on I was looking to make moments happen. I think that’s maybe because I was trying to prove myself and now I don’t feel like I have to prove myself as much so I’m more relaxed and ready to see what happens. And, I ask way less questions at Tribal Council than I did in the beginning. Now I’ll just stare you down. And I’m pretty sure I’ll win, and usually I do.
Holmes: That’s a trick of the trade, if you could go back and talk to Jeff in Borneo…
Probst: Well, I didn’t have any respect in Borneo, and rightly so. I had no (expletive deleted) clue of what I was doing. We were making the show up at lunch. OK, what if we give them a reward of…we have spaghetti here, what if we give them spaghetti. Richard Hatch was making the show up with us as much as we were making it up with him.
Holmes: Where’s his producer’s credit?
Probst: (Laughs) Good point. I still remember Richard Hatch in the middle of a challenge that he was sitting out basically telling me about an alliance with Sue (Hawk). I said, “Richard, I don’t want to know about this.” There was this idea that I shouldn’t know anything at all. And he looked at me and said, “I’m in an alliance with her and we’re going to stick together and always vote the same way.” It was mind-blowing. Oh my God! Two people are going to vote as one. We never had any idea there was going to be an alliance.

Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” – Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Pre-Game Interview: Malcolm Freberg

September 17, 2012

Malcolm Freberg (CBS) sent me deep into the wilderness on a mission to bring you all kinds of “Survivor” stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

Name: Malcolm Freberg
Age: 25
Home: Hermosa Beach, CA
Occupation: Bartender
Tribe: Matsing

Gordon Holmes: Being a bartender, you tend to have to deal with a wide variety of people. Is that going to help you in the game?
Malcolm Freberg: Oh yeah. Anybody who doesn’t think this is a social game at this point is an idiot. My job is making people feel comfortable and happy with me. If people don’t like me, I can’t pay my rent. So, that’s every day of my life. And it’s changing pace quickly too. Somebody can be at this end of the bar being loud and obnoxious and telling jokes, then there’s some discreet woman sipping some crap sauvignon blanc over here and I have to be polite. So, being able to change your attitude real quick, being the guy that everybody wants to see is definitely going to come in handy.

Holmes: It says here in your bio that you don’t like dumb people. I don’t mean to ruin Christmas, but there have been a few of those in past “Survivor” seasons.
Freberg: OK, I like dumb people when I’m sitting home watching them on TV. Don’t get me wrong. Erik Reichenbach is like my favorite guy. But, it’s when it affects you, that’s my biggest worry is that I’m going to put my trust in the wrong person to do a simple task. They’re going to screw it up or run there mouth. When somebody does something that makes no sense. If I get backstabbed, and it was in their best interest? I’ll be pissed, but I’ll get over it because they made a good move. If somebody does something idiotic and it hurts me and ruins my game? That’s when you’re going to see me flip (expletive deleted) on national television.

Holmes: It also says here, three words that describe you are charming, brilliant, and cocky. There are so few guys like us…
Freberg: (Laughs) We’re rare, aren’t we?  We’re a dying breed.
Holmes: It’s a little embarrassing to be so good at everything.
Freberg: When everything falls in your lap. When you never fail. There are no challenges left for us. Maybe that’s why I’m on “Survivor” to get away from all these people who are lavishing praise on me.
Holmes: I wouldn’t be willing to subject myself to lack of constant praise.
Freberg: Actually, I’m pretty sure I can get those 14 people in there to do it, so I’m not too worried about it.
Holmes: You’re crunching the numbers already. That’s good. What do you think of these folks?
Freberg: A lot of big guys, which is good. I’m going to be able to blend in more that I thought. Girls…a couple of cute ones. I was hoping for more from a network television show. I’m assuming everyone else has figured out there’s only six guys sitting in there. So, there’s still a variable. But it’s hard to make an assumption on how to play when there’s a big x factor out there.

Holmes: You’re a Russell Hantz fan…
Freberg: Alright, just stop. I’m not.
Holmes: It says in your bio that you love Russell Hantz. You can’t get enough of Russell Hantz.
Freberg: Don’t go putting words into my pre-game interview! Actually, that’s from the application. I put MF, my initials…hearts RH.
Holmes: That’s adorable.
Freberg: That’s why they picked me for the show. Actually, it’s tattooed on my left ass cheek. I think Russell is an idiot, you can control more than just your actions, you have to keep your hands clean and be more than just a miniature egomaniac, cracked-out (expletive deleted). If you know how to play mind games with people, you can play them against each other. Jonny Fairplay (Dalton) did it in Pearl Islands successfully.

Holmes: Guys like you and I who are cocky, charming, and brilliant can come off as villains. Is that something you’re worried about or is that something you’ll embrace?
Freberg: The only thing I care about being portrayed as is being a millionaire at the end. I don’t care what I look like. I want to play this game. I want to play it borderline sociopathically.  Emotion-free. The guy I want to play it the most like is (Brian) Heidik. He was…he’s not a nice guy (laughs) but he was liked by everyone. He was charming enough that he stabbed everyone in the back and still got the money in the end. Mr. Freeze, stone cold, that’s how I want to play.

Holmes: I know how this question is going to be answered…
Freberg: Go ahead.
Holmes: Are you prepared to lie?
Freberg: Yeah. I see it…and one of my favorites of all time (Jonathan) Penner saw it as a game of Monopoly. In my opinion it shouldn’t hurt your feelings if you land on Boardwalk and I have two hotels on it. It just sucks for you. Go watch TV while I go win the game. Do whatever it takes, lying, deceiving, manipulating, whatever other synonyms you can come up with.
Holmes: I didn’t bring my thesaurus.
Freberg:  But yeah, no problem lying.
Holmes: I agree with you. I’m a big believer that if you stab me in the back, I’ll be the first to shake your hand. But so many people have been hammered at a final Tribal over a lie.
Freberg: If it got to that point, then I haven’t played it right. You shouldn’t be hated at the final three. I read this in some essay that the entire point of “Survivor” is to create a jury that wants you to win. Sit next to a villain or sit next to someone who did nothing. Just don’t be the worst option. That’s how I’m looking at it.
Holmes: Will you flirt to get ahead?
Freberg: Oh yeah, that won’t be a problem. That little blonde’s already checking me out. What were those adjectives that described me?
Holmes: Us.
Freberg: Us, sorry.
Holmes: Cocky, charming, and brilliant.
Freberg: (Laughs) I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to leave you out of my adjective list. We’re in this together.
Holmes: It’s missteps like that that are going to send your ass to the jury.
Freberg: (Laughs) I should’ve used the plural, I apologize. But yeah, I’ll flirt, but I’ll steal Heidik’s line; this is a business trip. I’m out here to play the game and win the game. If that helps me? Great. I’m not out here to get booty blinded.
Holmes: So for “Survivor” catchphrases, Heidik has “business trip,” you have “booty blinded.”
Freberg: There’s my term. But if I can manipulate one of these little empty heads, I will.

Holmes: Anyone who tosses around the name Heidik as often you do is probably going to be branded a super fan. Is part of your strategy highlighting that or hiding that?
Freberg: I don’t think I need to pull that out like (John) Cochran or (Stephen) Fishbach do. They’re super smart guys, they’re strategic and they can help you in that way. The idea is to downplay my strategic and super fan status, actually, never tell the super fan stuff. At some point if you’re going to play dumb, you have to change gears and take over the game. And that’s the story that needs to happen for me.  If I look dumb and get voted out, I’m going to be remembered as the dumb guy. (Laughs) I’ll need to know when to go into Machiavellian beast mode.

Holmes: I already know you love Russell Hantz, but from a strategic standpoint, if you could align with any former “Survivor” player, who would it be and why?
Freberg: Gimme a second, cause you’re going to love my answer.
Holmes: There’s that cockiness.
Freberg: Let’s say Corinne (Kaplan) from Gabon. Total bitch. I used to date a girl exactly like her from New York. I know how to deal with it. Nobody likes her, so they’re not going to vote for her in the end. And I know how to get along with a person like that.

Holmes: OK, what’s the plan for the big check Jeff Probst is going to give you in December?
Freberg: The first purchase will be completely selfish. Just grandiose and indulgent. But after that, some will go to charity. I worked with Special Olympics in college and I did volunteer work in Micronesia. A portion of the winnings would go to that.

Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” – Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Pre-Game Interview: Michael Skupin

September 17, 2012

Michael Skupin (CBS) sent me deep into the wilderness on a mission to bring you all kinds of “Survivor” stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

Name: Michael Skupin
Age: 50
Home: White Lake, MI
Occupation: Professional Speaker, Author, and Coach
Tribe: Tandang
Previous Season: “Survivor: The Australian Outback”

Reason for Evacuation: Michael inhaled too much smoke while trying to keep the Kucha tribe’s fire going and passed out face first into the coals.

Gordon Holmes: I met Jeff Probst for the first time in Gabon a few years ago, and the very first thing I said to him was, “When are you bringing back Michael Skupin?” What took you guys so long?
Michael Skupin: I’m not really sure. There was a series of times when I was supposed to be back and for one reason or another they decided to go in another direction. But, here I am.

Holmes: You’re best known for the accident where you passed out into the fire. What affect did that injury have on you?
Skupin: It was a pretty dramatic part of my adventure, and I think the world saw it as my biggest failure. I never saw it that way. I saw it as going out in a blaze…
Holmes: Literally.
Skupin: (Laughs) Yes…a blaze of intensity. The whole experience was so amazing. All eighteen days I was out there was amazing. Now, I’m not necessarily out here to avenge that or to prove anything to anybody. I’m out here for the love of the game.

Holmes: Before you were evacuated, you had a reputation for being a provider, a leader. You killed the pig and fed it to the Kucha tribe. Coming into this new game, do you think your reputation will help you or hurt you?
Skupin: The game’s evolved tremendously. I have the instinct to feed and to lead, but I have to be sure I keep that in check. I have to be constantly aware of how people are perceiving that.
Holmes: The game has evolved quite a bit since Australia. How are you going to deal with immunities idols, Exile Islands, Redemption Islands, or whatever else they throw your way?
Skupin: I think the core of “Survivor” is still the same. The basics will always be the same. I think I’m more aware today. I went 100mph last time without noticing what was going on on the sidelines. I think now I’ll be ultra aware of how everything I do affects everyone on the tribe. I’m a lot smarter than I was last time. But if I see something I can kill for food, I’m all over it.
Holmes: What do you think your first day will be like?
Skupin: Back in our day, it was disingenuous to start an alliance on the first day because you didn’t know that person. Today, alliances will form right away. You have to make sure you align with the right people. You have to make quick decisions. There’s no take a day to build a shelter, than figure things out.

Holmes: You haven’t seen a single other player since you’ve been out here. Care guess what’s going on?
Skupin: I think we’ll see more twists and bigger challenges. I think this is going to be one of the best games ever. I think there’s going to be a lot of warriors. They didn’t bring me out on a season that was just going to be an ordinary season…in my mind.

Holmes: You played a very straightforward game in Australia. It didn’t seem like there was a lot of (expletive deleted) in you. Do you think you’ll be able to continue to play a clean game this time around or are you going to have to lie some?
Skupin: I’m a straightforward kind of guy. And, I’ve often wondered if you can go all the way through this game to the victory stand without ever telling a single lie. I’m challenged to do that, but I’m here to win. So, I’m going to take each day as it comes. I think people can see through fake every time.
Holmes: Any early blueprints on how you’re going to play?
Skupin: I am genuinely a big huge fan of this game. And I really want to play it. I think that will be evident to everyone out there. I want to align with people who want to play this game, but that’s dangerous because those tend to be the smartest people.

Holmes: You had the most memorable moment of the highest rated season in “Survivor” history. Everybody knows who you are, but nobody knows how you’ll play. Is that an advantage?
Skupin: (Laughs) Are you talking about killing the pig or falling in the fire?
Holmes: (Laughs) Both, actually. The blood under the eyes, all of it.
Skupin: I think I can work it to my advantage because I didn’t get far enough into the game. My tribe was winning. We didn’t have to play a strategic game. So, the strategic part of my game is still a mystery. Everybody knows I can kill an animal or perform in challenges. They don’t know about my strategy.

Holmes: When you rise from the ashes, phoenix-style and return home with the million-dollar check, what are your plans?
Skupin: (Laughs) I’ve got seven kids. I’ve got two in college, cars when they turn sixteen, weddings… It’s not hard to spend a million dollars when you’ve got seven kids.

Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” – Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Pre-Game Interview: Peter “Pete” Yurkowski

September 14, 2012

Peter “Pete” Yurkowski (CBS) sent me deep into the wilderness on a mission to bring you all kinds of “Survivor” stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

Name: Peter “Pete” Yurkowski
Home: Holmdel, NJ
Occupation: Engineering Graduate
Tribe: Tandang

Gordon Holmes: I’m confused, what do you do?
Peter “Pete” Yurkowski: I’m a model by occupation and an engineer by education.
Holmes: Oh, another one of those model/engineers they’re always casting.
Yurkowski: (Laughs) Yeah, I know. Someone came up to me and said “Do you want to model?”
Holmes: I get that all the time.
Yurkowski: Here’s a contract, let’s go.
Holmes: What do you model?
Yurkowski: Different stuff. Sports and fitness mostly.

Holmes: It says here in your pet peeves that you don’t like “ditzy girls.”
Yurkowski: Yeah, I’m pretty intelligent, so I don’t like girls that are always “like, like, like.”
Holmes: Do you know which show you’re about to appear on?
Yurkowski: I know! But this is a situation where they’re going to be my friends. It’s going to be a Russell (Hantz) situation where I’ll get into a big power couple and then see what you can do with that.
Holmes: Being part of a couple didn’t work out to well for Ozzy (Lusth) and Elyse (Umemoto) in “Survivor: South Pacific.” Is that a concern for you?
Yurkowski: No, because I’m making more than one power couple. They’re expendable.
Holmes: It’s like “Survivor” polygamy.

Holmes: You’re a handsome dude, you’re in good shape. Do people ever underestimate your intelligence?
Yurkowski: Yeah, and I think in this game it’ll work for me. They’ll just see somebody they don’t have to worry about. I’m going to let someone else be in charge. They’re going to think they’re this shepherd leading all these sheep, but I’m going to be the black sheep. I’m going to make chaos.
Holmes: So you’re not afraid to make some big moves?
Yurkowski: It’s the big moves train. I’m the conductor. I’m definitely playing a Russell game. The second I get out there I’m going to be super aggressive. I’m going to go to as many people as possible and say, “Hey, me and you, let’s go to the end.” Obviously this is all going to be tentative because I’m doing it with multiple people. Russell was just way too cocky. You have to be under-the-radar aggressive.

Holmes: It also says you want to be an alpha male. “One World” taught us that that doesn’t always work out so well.
Yurkowski: The last one I saw was when they did that stupid move and they voted out the guy with the roosters.
Holmes: Matt (Quinlan).
Yurkowski: He couldn’t count. He thought he had the majority and he clearly didn’t.
Holmes: Well, I think he thought Colton (Cumbie) was on his side.
Yurkowski: Colton was the dangerous one. He’s the one I would’ve partnered with right off the bat.

Holmes: What are your first impressions of the cast?
Yurkowski: I like the cast so far. I’ve already picked out who I want to make alliances with, but that’s all temporary until I get to talk to them.
Holmes: Who are your early alliance picks?
Yurkowski: Well, the blonde girl because she doesn’t seem all the intelligent. She doesn’t seem all too there and I think she’ll be looking for someone to follow. I’ll approach her and say, “Me and you, do you want to do some damage?” And I think she’ll be on board.
Holmes: So it’s safe to say you have no problem flirting in this game.
Yurkowski: No problem. Single and ready to mingle.
Holmes: Any moral problems lying?
Yurkowski: I’ll be lying all game. I won’t be ashamed of it. It’s necessary. People who don’t lie get screwed. We’re not going out camping and drawing straws to go home.
Holmes: OK, you get to the end and the jury calls you out for lying. What’s your counter?
Yurkowski: Do something about it. (Laughs)
Holmes: (Laughs) Why don’t you step out of that jury box and try me?
Yurkowski: They’re always so upset, and the reason they’re upset is because they’re not next to you.

Holmes: If you could align with any former “Survivor” player, who would it be and why?
Yurkowski: Russell would be a mistake because he’d kill me.
Holmes: He wouldn’t like someone young and good looking around his harem.
Yurkowski: Parvati (Shallow) would be a good one. Her big moves with the two idols, that was amazing. Nobody saw that coming. She’s intelligent, she’s dangerous. And she won that one right?
Holmes: No, she won Micronesia.
Yurkowski: Plus she’s hot.

Holmes: What are your plans for the million bucks?
Yurkowski: I really want to go on a little Euro trip. I have friends who live out there. I have a friend from Turkey who’s going to be on the Turkish Olympic sailing team. Apparently he has a palace in Turkey. His dad is a doctor there. Probably the only doctor with fire there.
Holmes: Great, now you’ve offended an entire country.
Yurkowski: (Laughs) We give him a lot of (expletive deleted). I have a friend in Italy. Pay off my engineering bills. Buy a lot of lottery tickets.

Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” – Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Pre-Game Interview: Angie Layton

September 13, 2012

Angie Layton (CBS) sent me deep into the wilderness on a mission to bring you all kinds of “Survivor” stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

Name: Angie Layton
Home: Provo, UT
Occupation: Student
Tribe: Matsing

Gordon Holmes: Says here you’re a model. What kinds of attire do you model?
Angie Layton: A lot of bridal stuff. A lot of prom, I’ve done billboards. I’ve done mod bod stuff, it’s more modest stuff.
Holmes: Mod bod?
Layton: It’s for girls who want more modest clothes.

Holmes: Tell me about your pageant career.
Layton: I was Miss Utah Teen USA, then I went on to Miss Teen USA and was third runner up.
Holmes: I remember that, I was sixth that year.
Layton: Sixth? I think if I remember right you were eighth.
Holmes: So mean.
Layton: (Laughs)  I started off pageants through modeling when I was fourteen.
Holmes: Do the skills you learned in the pageant world apply at all to “Survivor”?
Layton: I think that it will apply to it because pageants have helped shape me into who I am today. It’s helped me become really confident in myself and believe in myself. You can achieve whatever you want. And, dealing with cutthroat people.
Holmes: What?!
Layton: A lot of the pageant girls are cutthroat.
Holmes: I thought it was all sisterhood and BFFS and pillow fights…
Layton: Oh yeah…that’s (expletive deleted).
Holmes: Way to shatter my illusions, Angie.
Layton: I think some of the people here are cutthroat. I think they’re all strategizing behind my back.
Holmes: Who do you think is cutthroat?
Layton: I think that black guy with all the earrings. I feel like the guy with all the tattoos doesn’t give a (expletive deleted) if he’s here or not. He just wants to kill people. (Laughs) Just kidding.
Holmes: I’m pretty sure that’s against the rules.
Layton: (Laughs) No, he’s really nice. He’s been smiling at me.
Holmes: In 24 seasons, there’s yet to be a murder. Are you going to tell people about your pageant career?
Layton: Sure. I don’t think it will affect me. It’s who I am.

Holmes: Have you watched a lot of “Survivor”?
Layton: Yeah. I’ve watched a lot of seasons. More from 19 (Samoa) on. I’ve seen all of them…and 16 (Micronesia).
Holmes: You said something in your bio that I’ve never seen before; you’re looking to meet some hotties?
Layton: (Laughs) I did write that didn’t I?
Holmes: Is that part of your gameplan, to be in a couple?
Layton: I just like eye candy! I like hot guys. I have a boyfriend though. But, I still like hot guys.
Holmes: Have you two had a discussion as to what happens if he turns on CBS and sees you putting the moves on some hunk?
Layton: I told him that I’m going to do what it takes, and if I have to flirt, I’m going to flirt.
Holmes: Is he cool with that?
Layton: He’s cool with it one minute and the next he’s like, “Ehhh…” But, I’m like, “This is what I’ve got to do right now.”

Holmes:  You also claim to be a daredevil.
Layton: Yes, I’ll try anything once. Not drugs though. I’m not afraid of anything. I don’t get intimidated by anyone, especially girls. I know who I am and I know what I’m capable of. Nothing stops me. I’m just kick ass like that.
Holmes: So challenge-wise…
Layton: Challenge-wise I’m going to go balls out. Except for puzzles, I hate puzzles.
Holmes: There are puzzles on this show. How do you handle that?
Layton: I’m going to get a really smart person.
Holmes: So you intend to align with smart folk?
Layton: Just like one so we can have someone to do the puzzles.

Holmes: Do you have any problems lying to get ahead?
Layton: No.
Holmes: Scandal.
Layton: (Laughs) I know! It’s “Survivor.” I’ll lie in a cute way.
Holmes: Adorable lying is tough to stay angry at.
Layton: I know.

Holmes: If you could align with any former “Survivor,” who would it be and why?
Layton: I would want to align with Parvati (Shallow). Not because she’s flirtatious, just because she is so fun. She’s always happy, she’s always smiling just like me. I don’t want it to always be so serious. And she strategized and played the game well.

Holmes: OK future millionaire, what’re you going to do with your winnings?
I am going to save the money…go shopping first.
That won’t help you save the money.
Well…I’ll save it after.

Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” – Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Pre-Game Interview: Artis Silvester

September 13, 2012

Artis Silvester (CBS) sent me deep into the wilderness on a mission to bring you all kinds of “Survivor” stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

Name: Artis Silvester
Home: Terry Town, LA
Occupation: Computer Engineer
Tribe: Tandang
Awesome Fact: Artis overcame stage-four cancer.

Gordon Holmes: Now, I understand that you kicked stage-four cancer’s butt? Is that accurate?
Artis Silverster: (Laughs) Yes, it is. The way they found it was totally ironic. I used to look like an NFL linebacker. I was huge. Then I got a pain in my shoulder and I thought it just wasn’t healing right. And, I had a little bump on my chin that just wasn’t healing right. One day at the gym I get under this weight that I can normal put up. Blind, deaf, and dumb I can put this weight up. I take it off the bar and it comes crashing down on my chest. I decide I need to get this bump looked at. They couldn’t figure out what it was. They figured it was a cyst. They go to remove it, the doctor says they saw the bump protruding through my neck muscles. So they peeled back the muscles and a mass plopped out the size of a Roman tomato. They sent it for testing, it came back cancerous. They say do you smoke? No. Do you drink? No. Do you lay out in the sun? No. Are you white? No. We don’t understand how you got it.
Holmes: Whoa…hold the phone. You’re not white?
Silvester. I know! It was like, we don’t understand how you got it, but you got it. You should play the lottery. Only an act of God could’ve given me this thing.
Holmes: How did it affect you physically?
Silvester: I went from being able to bench almost 400 pounds to not being able to lift the bar off of the rack.
Holmes: The bar’s what…45 pounds?
Silvester: Yeah.
Holmes: That must’ve been devastating. I’ve heard stories of bodybuilders who are forced to quit steroids. They can literally see themselves getting smaller and it’s too much for them to deal with.
Silverster: Yeah. I literally laid there and cried in the middle of the gym for about an hour. It sent me into a deep depressive state.
Holmes: And now?
Silvester: I’m not as strong as I was, but I beat my doctor’s expectations.

Holmes: What are your plans for the next thirty nine days?
Silvester: The thing is, I have an ability to create a comfort zone around myself. When you look at me, if I’m not smiling or talking, it looks like I’m about ready to take your head off.
Holmes: Let’s test this out; stop smiling.
(Artis stops smiling.)
Holmes: OK, knock it off, you’re freaking me out.
Silvester: (Laughs) With this group, when I walked in I thought, “Oh man, I’m the biggest thing here. That is not going to fare well.” We can’t talk, so I’m sitting there not saying anything. They probably think I’m the biggest (expletive deleted) going. Or, they think I’m going to run over anybody. I can’t do anything until I’m with my tribe, but I need to create a comfort zone to ensure my survival for the first few rounds. After that, I’ve got them. Once we get to the merge I know that I can win every single immunity challenge. But, I’ll have a couple of girls on my side, so I won’t need to win every challenge.
Holmes: What are your first impressions of the cast?
Silvester: They’re incredible. I’ve enjoyed every single aspect. I’ve been playing the game since we got here. I’ve been figuring out who I want on my tribe, who I don’t want on my tribe. Who I can work with. I’ve got all of this worked out. The only thing that’s missing is the twist that evens up the men and the women.

Holmes: Are you a “Survivor” fan?
Silvester: I’ve probably applied to be on this show more than any person in “Survivor” history.
Holmes: How many times.
Silvester: At least 15 or 17.
Holmes: I know Gillian (Larson) from Gabon applied a lot. But you might have her beat.
Silvester: The only seasons I missed applying were because of being sick.

Holmes: I’m going to read directly from your bio, “Pet Peeves: Know-it-all people, bullies, people who prey on weaker people.” I’m betting you’re going to run into some of that in the next thirty nine days.
Silvester: Yes.
Holmes: Can you internalize and keep your cool around these people?
Silvester: No. (Laughs) I will confront a bully. I will confront them head on because they’re just weak. They pick on people they know are scared of them. I’ll show you you can be dominated just as well. If it costs me, it costs me.

Holmes: Will you lie to get ahead?
Silvester: Yes. People lie to get themselves out of situations. It may not be part of their demeanor in everyday life. But we’ll do something out of character to help ourselves.
Holmes: Are you prepared to flirt to get ahead?
Silvester: I don’t think I’m going to have to. I really don’t. This is something that I will not tell anybody out there; I’m probably twice the age of those people. But there are at least two women who are going to try to get ahead by flirting.
Holmes: Who are those two?
Silvester: One will be the girl with the hooker pumps and the dress. She’s changed swimsuits three or four times since we’ve been here today. Barbie may have to flirt, but she’s so young and naïve that she might fall for someone who’ll bring her along.

Holmes: If you could align with any former “Survivor” player, who would it be and why?
Silvester: “Boston” Rob, because he’s not a survivalist, but he’s an expert manipulator of people. His people skills are what got him the win. The ability to make people believe that he cares for them. Nobody can take them deeper than him.
Holmes: You’re not worried about him playing you?
Silvester: He’s got to play me. I know that. It has to happen at some point in time. If you believe that you can align with someone who will never play you, you are foolish.

Holmes: OK, when you conquer “Survivor: Philippines” in much the same way you conquered cancer, what are your plans for the money?
Silvester: There are so many people that have supported me. I have not been able to repay them. So a portion of that money would go back to repaying those people. Naturally, you’re going to take care of your family. Believe it or not, my ex-wife, who I’m still emphatically in love with and trying to hopefully some how get back together. And my little stepdaughter who is the apple of my eye. As far as she is concerned, I am her daddy. I told her I’ll always be her daddy, I’ll never, ever leave her.
Holmes: Why aren’t you and your ex-wife still together?
Silvester: We ended…and it was my fault. It had zero to do with infidelity, but it had to do with me not allowing her to trust me. It was a trust issue. That’s my fault. I don’t think I understood what it took to be a husband. I love her. I’m always going to be there, if she ever opens that door.

Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” – Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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