Posts Tagged ‘jt thomas’

‘Survivor’ Castaway JT: “It Was Sandra’s Way or the Highway”

March 31, 2017

“Survivor: Game Changers” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: is the place to be for all of your bug-eatin’, back-stabbin’, “Survivor” coverage. During the season we’ll have insightful weekly Power Rankings, exit interviews, and full episode recaps. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: Game Changers”


Gordon Holmes: I’m sure you’ve gotten this a lot, but why didn’t you bring the idol to Tribal?
JT Thomas: I actually found it not long before Tribal. After going through “Heroes vs. Villains” being caught finding the idol, I knew I had to get it off my person. I only had my jeans and underwear, I ran up to this place we called “Lookout Mountain” that was a really hard-to-get-to spot. I knew the idol would be safe there. I buried it and came back down, but most of the rest of the afternoon before Tribal was spent with all of us talking. It was Aubry, myself, Jeff, and Sandra. And they did a good job of selling it. And Michaela was chilling out like she does all the time. To me it made no sense at all. And I knew if I went back it would be obvious and I’d have to explain where I was going. So, I really wish I had took it. And I didn’t wish I had it until right before the vote. I’m not sure I would’ve played it. It just made no sense to vote me out over Michaela at this point except for payback or revenge. That’s something you wouldn’t expect out of Sandra being the seasoned player that she is.

Holmes: One of the questions I get from everybody is; why are people letting Sandra run the show? Is she that good of a shield?
Thomas: Sandra is definitely leading the show on the tribe I was on. Varner’s on board to do whatever Sandra says. He wants a free ticket to the merge. And I don’t know Sandra personally, but I have played with her before. And she’s really playing out of character. She’s up on her high horse. It was obvious at camp that it was Sandra’s way or the highway. And I told her that I’d do whatever I could do to help them at the merge. The other option is Michaela who has no connections and nothing to offer. It just made all the sense in the world to stick with me.

Holmes: Did you find out about Sandra’s sugar stunt as you were leaving Tribal or did you find out last night?
Thomas: I didn’t know until last night. (Laughs) And then it made perfect sense. And Sandra kept instigating it and I never knew why. I guessed she just liked to hear me and Michaela go at it. Actually, it was her stirring it up more to prove that I was safe. That’s a lot of work to make a horrible move in my opinion. We were fixing to merge with people I’ve been camping with already. Who are they going to turn to for leniency? The former Mana tribe is going to be picked off like sitting ducks.

Holmes: The Tribal where Malcolm was voted out; did you mean tell them Sierra in the hopes that they’d idol Sandra out? Or, did you slip up and just mean to tell Brad that he was safe?
Thomas: I was hoping Sandra was going home, so I couldn’t own up to it at the time. And that’s only if they had an idol. I wasn’t sure. And if they didn’t, there was nothing I could do about it. That’s the reason why I still voted for Sierra. I didn’t want to out myself for no reason. And if they did have an idol, “I give you this knowledge, Brad. Your end of the deal is to vote out Sandra.” It was that simple. I had Malcolm and Aubry on-board with me. The only way they’d vote with me was if we had numbers. I had to get one person off of that tribe. It was a chance for me to get numbers.
Holmes: What was Malcolm’s reaction after you were voted out?
Thomas: My reaction was, “Dude, I hate it. I’m so sorry.” But he knows he was the last person I wanted to see go home. He played so hard. We were both upset about it. We hugged. I trusted the wrong person in Brad. I shot myself in the foot. And Malcolm and I together were probably the two toughest to beat at challenges.

Holmes: The original Nuku tribe never went to Tribal Council, so we don’t really know the dynamics. What was life like there? Who was on the outs?
Thomas: I went from the top of the best spot in the house, to the worst after the swap. I don’t want to say I was running the show, but I was definitely among those who were in charge. The most solid in-game alliance was Sarah, myself, Brad, and Ozzy. We were a tight four. Debbie and Tai were in that six, and then there was Zeke and Sierra. We had a good alliance, plenty of food, a nice home, and a pick-off order.
Holmes: Was that pick-off order Cirie first and then Andrea?
Thomas: Yeah, that’s correct. It wasn’t always that way. I wanted to work with Cirie. Everyone’s expecting us to have our differences. Immediately I went to Cirie and said, “We can work together and nobody will ever see it coming. We can take it to the end, you and I. I owe you one.” I didn’t get a good vibe at all. I felt like it was me or her. And Ozzy felt the same way. It’s not what I came into the game wanting to do, but I felt like I’d better get rid of Cirie. Then, Andrea actually told Cirie that I was gunning for her. Sarah let me know about it.

Holmes: Word association time. Let’s start with Zeke.
Thomas: Very intelligent. Strong competitor. A huge threat.
Holmes: Culpepper?
Thomas: Physical threat. Very untrustworthy.
Holmes: Sarah?
Thomas: Great person. Strong ally.
Holmes: Cirie?
Thomas: Huge threat in the game. Great person.
Holmes: Ozzy?
Thomas: Solid guy. Dependable.
Holmes: Tai?
Thomas: Good guy, but can’t hold his words.
Holmes: Andrea?
Thomas: Sneaky.
Holmes: Malcolm?
Thomas: Solid. Genuine, good athletic guy.
Holmes: Sandra?
Thomas: Great person, but on her high horse.
Holmes: Varner?
Thomas: Lacks self-confidence.
Holmes: Debbie?
Thomas: (Laughs) Very smart. Doesn’t fit in socially…socially awkward.
Holmes: Sierra?
Thomas: Sweet girl but a pawn in this game.
Holmes: Aubry?
Thomas: Very smart. Great person. Strong ally.
Holmes: Let’s finish with Michaela.
Thomas: Chip on her shoulder. Very immature. A lot to learn.

Holmes: One of the big moments from last night was the Debbie/Brad Culpepper explosion. And the thing that stuck with me is she kept saying how Hali took longer to do the balancing portion. Do you remember their part of the challenge? What didn’t we see?
Thomas: I have to say, to Debbie’s point, it was a really hard challenge. It’d take the whole episode to show the whole thing. The bow part was really hard. I was the third person on my tribe to try it. Aubry tried it, then Varner. Maybe Michaela even tried it. And it took me a while to do it. It did take Debbie a long time on the handle part, but it took Hali just as long on the bow. But, the bow, in my opinion was harder. I get where Debbie is coming from, it did take Hali a long time. But, it took all of us a long time. So, it didn’t make Hali look so bad.

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

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

February 10, 2017

JT Thomas (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview: James ‘JT’ Thomas Jr.

April 26, 2010

If the CBS editing team is to be believed, Tocantins champion James “JT” Thomas Jr. is responsible for the stupidest move in “Survivor” history. When he bundled up his immunity idol with a love note and handed it to Russell Hantz, he sealed his own fate.  Three days later Russell was laughing and JT was on his way to the “Survivor” Hall of Shame.

I spoke with JT recently to get his take on this heart-breaking turn of events, how Amanda’s bad acting buried the Heroes team, and how I’ve become a bit of a JT apologist.

Gordon Holmes: I assume you’ve been getting a lot of grief over giving the immunity idol to Russell. Some have even called it the stupidest move in “Survivor” history. I disagree with that. I think it was more of a crazy gamble.
James ‘JT’ Thomas Jr.:
(Laughs) I appreciate that.
Gordon: So, last week when you’re watching the previews and they say “There have been a lot of dumb moves in ‘Survivor,’ and this might be the dumbest,” what’s going through your mind?
JT: It was jaw dropping. I was like, “Oh man, is it really that bad?” That was definitely the first time when my stomach got queasy.

Gordon: They only really showed you pitching the idea of giving Russell the idol. Did the other Heroes buy in immediately, or did you have some selling to do?
It wasn’t immediately Russell. I started thinking, even when Coach was still in the game, for a way to make a move. I thought there was a women’s alliance, and I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. When I found the idol, Candice was definitely gunning for me with the idol. So, I thought when we merged they’d say “He has the idol, why don’t we get rid of him?” I felt like it wasn’t going to help me get where I wanted to go. When I thought of the idea, Amanda thought for five minutes, she was like, “I don’t know. Let’s talk about it.” And then finally she thought it might work. But, everyone went along with it. Colby was excited, Rupert was excited.

Gordon: Amanda and Parvati seem to be working together again. Did Amanda tell you that Parvati claimed to have an immunity idol?
I don’t think Amanda told us that Parvati had an idol. I think she told us that she thought she did. She never really came clean. But, Amanda was rocky through the merge. I think she was scared because Parvati wouldn’t open up to her. She felt that they had a solid plan. So Amanda would have done pretty much anything out there. She told Parvati to play her idol, but that was some bad acting. I think Amanda hurt us more than she helped us on that deal.

Gordon: Can you take us back to when Parvati pulled out that second idol? What’s going through your mind at that point?
I knew I was going as soon as the second idol came out. I knew there was a possibility, but the Villains played it up good. When she played the first one I thought, “Yes! She gave it to Sandra, we guessed right.” We had picked the right person, and nobody had tipped her off. But then when she pulled out the second idol I was like, “Surely they’re not going to give it to Jerri.” But I knew I was gone the second she gave it to Jerri.

Gordon: How would you compare playing a regular season like Tocantins vs. playing in an all-star season?
JT: The game wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be with the hard-caliber of players I was playing against. It could have been worse. I expected it to be. I thought I was going to be first or second out.
Gordon: As a former champion, were there any concerns that there would be a big target on your back? We saw that a lot during “Survivor: All Stars.”
JT: I was definitely worried, because I was the last winner that anyone had seen. I won hands down. I got all the votes. And everyone figured they didn’t want to face someone like that in the finals. They don’t want any nice guys like me around. But I played it pretty straight up in Tocantins, so everyone knows they can trust me.

Gordon: Speaking of that, there’s been a lot of talk this season about Heroes acting like Villains and Villains acting like Heroes. And your name was brought up a few times in that regard, especially earlier in the game with Tom and Colby. Did you worry about hurting your reputation as a good guy?
I went in with a whatever-it-takes-to-win attitude. I didn’t feel like there’d be anybody taking it lightly. But at some point of the game you get fed up and you think, “You know what? I’m just going to do what I think is right.” Even though you try to play nice. That was like with Colby, I knew I’d rather have Colby for a lot of reasons. So I had to go against all of the numbers. And then I tried to get back to my strategy.
Gordon: Why did you stick with James and Amanda?
JT: Amanda, James, myself, and Rupert had a four-way alliance that was pretty tight. But as the game went on, Tom and Colby were guys that I really looked up to. I think that in different circumstances it would have been me, Tom and Colby all the way. The way the numbers worked out I had to stay with my original numbers.

Gordon: Alright, word association time, let’s start with Russell.
Gordon: Coach?
JT: (Laughs) Rico suave.
Gordon: James?
JT: Big.
Gordon: Amanda?
JT: Bad actress.
Gordon: Sandra?
JT: Sneaky.
Gordon: Candice?
JT: Klepto
Gordon: OK, I’ve got to follow up on that one. Candice the klepto?
JT: All the tree mail and the fruit, she’d like hide it from everybody.
Gordon: Rupert?
JT: Boastful.
Gordon: Parvati?
JT: Snake.

Gordon: How do you respond to all the people saying you made the dumbest move in “Survivor” history?
I don’t really know. I’ve been trying to figure that out. (Laughs) I just try to tell everyone that you have to make big moves to win the game. And one different move in that tribal council and things would’ve turned out different. I stand by my decision.

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