Posts Tagged ‘rupert boneham’

‘Survivor’ Strategy Roundtable: Jeff Probst, Parvati Shallow Take on the All-Stars

February 23, 2015

"Survivor" (CBS)

NOTE: is the place to be for all of your “Survivor: Worlds Apart” scoop! I delved deep into the Nicaraguan wilderness on a mission to bring you all kinds of 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 in the weeks leading up to the premiere, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

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This past week, I thought it’d be fun to see how “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and “Survivor” champion Parvati Shallow would work with the White Collars, Blue Collars, and No Collars if they were in the game together.

For a special bonus round, I asked them the same question about a variety of characters from “Survivor” history…


“Boston” Rob Mariano
Jeff Probst: Oh dude, I’m playing with “Boston” Rob until the end! Are you kidding? This is a dream come true. The only thing that bugs me is I’m pretty sure that he’d vote me out before I’d realize I should vote him out. And that would hurt. I’d wonder for years in therapy whether he ever really liked me or if he was just using me.
Parvati Shallow: I would get rid of “Boston” Rob real quick, only because Jeff loves him so much and everyone knows a couple’s alliance is a real threat.
Gordon Holmes: (Laughs) I can’t follow that. Parv’s right though, I’d lose “Boston” Rob before he had a chance to break out his rulebook. He doesn’t seem to miss any angles.

Rupert Boneham
Shallow: Ohhhhh…hell no. I’ve played with Rupert once, and I will never do it again. Anyone who goes to war over bananas is straight up cray.
Probst: OK, here’s the truth about Rupert. The fans love Rupert. They love him. He is the most adored player in the history of “Survivor.” And that surprises me. But, Rupert is not the best player by a longshot. I don’t think he knows that. So, with all due respect, I think Rupert is easily played and I would keep him at arm’s length for a while. There’s no reason to get rid of him because he is a worker. I don’t mind his complaining. And, I’d see how I could utilize him. But he’s absolutely no threat.
Holmes: My understanding of Rupert has always been; the fans love him while the players don’t. I’m not out there to get the fans to love me, I just want five or six jurors to give me their vote in the end. So, I’d happily work with Rupert. I’d build him up, tell him I’ve been a fan of his since Cooks (EDIT: er…Pearl Islands),  and I’d happily take him to the end.
RC Saint-Amour
Holmes: RC just didn’t have anyone to trust her last time around. I’d go out of my way to prove she could trust me. We clicked when we chatted in the Philippines, I’m hoping we’d click again. We could pair up and run the whole show.
Shallow: RC and I would be the best of friends and the fiercest of allies. I think I could trust her to do my bidding and she’d be able to play some of the others easily with her cute little smile and a dagger in her bikini bottoms.
Probst: I liked RC…we wanted to bring her back and it didn’t work out. We were going to have her on “Blood vs. Water.” She just needs a little love. Somebody to say, “I think you’re good enough, just as you are.” If I said that to her, I’d have her in my pocket, then we could do some damage.
Gordon Holmes
Holmes: Yeah, I know I’m not a “Survivor” All-Star, but I open everyone else up to this scrutiny, so I might as well take some shots myself.
Probst: Gordon…you have a much darker side than I first knew when I first met you. I think you’re a bit of a contrarian. You like to mix it up. I like that in my normal life, I’d love to go to dinner because you would be challenging me all (expletive deleted) night. “Yeah, but that’s not…” But in terms of the game, that scares me. I want someone I can get into the sand with and go “A or B?” And they say “B” and I trust it. And with you, you would love nothing more than to say, “I voted Probst out.”
Holmes: Get out of my head. Stop describing my dreams.
Probst: (Laughs)  I think I’d approach you and say, “This is real life, you know me, I know you. I think I’m better at this game than you are. You may challenge me on that. But I’m better at reading people than you are. And I think I know you better that you think I do. So, if you want it, come get it. Cause if not, look out for that knife cause I will take you out and I won’t miss you at all.”
Holmes: That part at the end was hurtful.
Probst: That’s what I want! And if you come to me and say, “I’m not that bad.” I’ll say, “Good, now you have to prove that every (expletive deleted) day.” And I would keep you wanting to please me. Parent/lover/friend. That’s how I’d play the game. I’m either going to be a parent to you, a lover to you, or a friend. Depends who you are.
Shallow: I would get Gordon on my side by letting him win some challenges and making him feel really good about himself. He thinks he knows everything so it would be fun to mess with him by really feeding his ego and giving him an opportunity to be the teacher. At some point I’d gather the girls and we would have him wear tribal paint and chase a fake wild boar with a spear made out of a stick. Then, I would get Sierra and RC and we’d slit his throat and watch him hobble away with two idols in his pocket. Ouch.
Holmes: Ouch, indeed.
Russell Hantz
Holmes: Russell doesn’t have a history of working with guys like me, and I doubt there’s much I could do to change his mind. If he approached me, I’d be open to it because it’d be a fun ride and he has a history of coming out on the right side of crazy votes, but otherwise, I’d probably do my best to get rid of him early.
Shallow: I would burn all of his clothes. Every last one of them. And then I would laugh when Sandra burns his hat.
Probst: (Laughs) Well, the showdown that “Survivor” fans will want to see is either Russell destroying me, and they’ll take absolute joy in that. And others will want to see me destroy Russell. I don’t like to lose, but I’m enough of a storyteller to want Russell around for a while. So, I’m going to go to Russell and say, “You and I are the story this season. We can both blow it, cause I’m not going to win and you’re not going to win. So, you can vote me out and you’ll be out a couple of weeks later. Or, we can make a devil’s pact and say, let’s go to the merge. And from then on, if we can get each other out, we got for it.” And then every night I would lie awake wondering.

John Cochran
Probst: I would trust Cochran. I do think Cochran sees me as a mentor and there’s a part of him that says, “I can’t do that to Jeff. Even though I can do it to anyone else I can’t do it to Jeff.” I would play on that. And I would say, “Here is how you pay me back…and brother, you need to pay me back.” Even though he doesn’t have to pay me back for anything. I would just put that thought in his head. I’d try to play on his insecurities that he’s not quite as cool as he thinks he is. Then I would try to get rid of him in the end cause there is no chance I let Parvati, Cochran, or “Boston” Rob beat me in the finals.
Holmes: I’d work with Cochran, but I would always keep an eye on him. He’s too smart to think that the same strategy he tried last time would win it for him again. So, I don’t know what he’d be up to.
Shallow: Cochran is way too likable to let him get far. People underestimate him, and they want to see him succeed because he’s such a lovable nerd. I would really want to work with him, but I would have to get rid of him early on before everyone fell in love with him.
Dawn Meehan
Probst: Dawn’s tricky. I would say, “I think you’ve been underestimated. I think you’re smarter than people give you credit for that. And the reason is because you’re too emotional. So, I’m going to help you with your emotions. We’re going to develop some kind of hand system. When I go to my hand, you relax. I’m going to trust your instincts on how to play the game.” That’d be our quid pro quo.
Shallow: Dawn needs a pillar of strength. I would be the Cochran to her Meehan, calming her down in times of extreme anxiety by simply standing still within the storm. With a Meehan on your hands, you have to just relax, ground yourself and reel her in. She’s not winning in the end, so I’d be happy to make her my number 1.
Holmes: I feel like Dawn took all the heat in Caramoan. I’d team with her in a heartbeat, and I’d let her know that I was willing to take my fair share of bullets. Whether or not I actually did would be another story.

Parvati Shallow
Probst: Parvati is…
Holmes: She’s a nightmare.
Probst: Not a nightmare.
Holmes: Is she still behind me?
Shallow: I’m right behind you Gordon.
Probst: Parvati…is tricky.
Holmes: Not really, have you seen her in challenges recently?
Probst: (Laughs) Well, Parvati won and the reason she could win again is because the male/female dynamic is central in “Survivor.” It can be mother/son, it can be boyfriend/girlfriend, it can be “I just want to sleep with you.” With Parvati, she’s such a good flirt, I could never trust her, and I’d want to. Because she’d be fun to play with because she’s so good. Parvati and “Boston” Rob and Cochran are three people off the top who if they said, “I’ve got a plan.” I’d say, “Great.” And I’d trust it because I’d know they’d thought through it. But with Parvati I could catch myself thinking,  “She’d never do that to me.” And then I’d be super pissed. I’d never live it down. I’d have to move to one of these islands.
Shallow: This girl is really smart and seriously pigeon-holed by Jeff Probst. I would play with Parvati because I would think she’d already burned her flirt identity, played out her Black Widow persona, and outlasted as the underdog. What’s left? The lovable mother. I think Parvati would be a sweet little pussycat in round four.
Holmes: I’m going to second that. People always say Parvati is a flirt, and I just don’t see it. Parvati is more like Regina George from “Mean Girls.” And I’m referring specifically to the part where they say that you want her to like you. You just do. And it’s not exclusive to gender, everyone wants Parvati to like them.

Don’t miss the 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Worlds Apart” on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 8 pm ET on CBS.

‘Survivor’ Castaway Rupert: ‘ I Would Do the Same Thing Every Time’

September 26, 2013

Laura and Rupert Boneham (CBS)

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

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Whether you love Rupert Boneham or you hate him, you can’t deny that the feelings he has for his wife Laura are very real. Those feelings are obvious to anyone who saw their family visits on “Survivor: All-Stars” and “Heroes vs. Villains.” They were obvious to me when they held hands during our first meeting at the “Survivor” ten-year reunion party. And they were obvious to me as they smooched before our “Blood vs. Water” pre-game interview.

So, it wasn’t a surprise when the man many consider to be the most popular player of all time immediately stepped forward to rescue his wife from Redemption Island.

It also wasn’t a surprise when the big, burly pirate had trouble with a challenge that required grace and finesse.

I spoke with Rupert the morning after his Redemption Island defeat and asked about that fateful Day One morning, his relationship with Candice, and how this quick exit will affect his legacy…

Gordon Holmes: How’s it going, buddy?
Rupert Boneham: I’m doing pretty good for being the first person voted out of “Survivor” 27” darn it!
Holmes: We certainly didn’t see that coming. Let’s start with Day One…we get an immediate vote and your wife Laura is the first to go. Why do you think Tadhana targeted her?
Boneham: I’ve went over that and I’ve watched that thing so many times trying to figure out why they’d target Laura. The only thing I can come up with is; everybody kind of knew her name. She’d been out there a while, and it was more of a vote against me.
Holmes: When Probst gave you the opportunity to swap, you didn’t hesitate for a second. What was going through your mind at that moment?
Boneham: It was gut wrenching. When I heard Laura’s name the second time, the third time, the fourth time my heart was sinking. And in past “Survivors” they’ve done this thing where they’ve choppered them around the island, they gave them a little extra bonus, so  I wasn’t as worried. And then I realized that Redemption Island is in. And when Jeff said you can switch places, before I even knew what I was trading into, I pushed my way through my darn tribe with them saying, “No, don’t go!” I would do the same thing every time, one thousand times. But, I’m a little sad that I didn’t get to play the game as much.

Holmes: When I visited Galang beach, Laura seemed to be doing a fantastic job around camp. She did very well in that first immunity challenge. That has to be a source of pride for you.
Boneham: One of the reasons I traded with her is because I knew she was ready. The woman is a stronger swimmer than I am. She’s a better runner than I am. She’s a better puzzle builder than I am. I knew she would do OK. And with me being out of the picture it hopefully takes a little bit of the target off of her. Now she’s a free agent. She’s not a couple anymore. Hopefully her tribe will see that and use that. But, I’m very proud of my honey.

Holmes: I interviewed Candice before the game, and she was worried about having you in the game. Apparently there was still some bad blood after “Heroes vs. Villains.” But after the challenge she got a big Boneham bear hug. Were you two able to mend fences?
Boneham: Candice and I have a rocky relationship. When we were on Redemption Island I have to say that you’re darn right I let her do a lot of work. But, she’d go to sleep and I’d go out and catch little lobsters and clams. I’d cook them and eat them myself because I knew there was only one of us coming out of Redemption Island. I don’t really want to take care of anyone else there. The reason Candice stopped me as I was leaving…she was trying to take my luxury item, that big tie-dye flag that I had!
Holmes: (Laughs) I’d give up a flag for a Candice hug.
Boneham: (Laughs) She wanted it, she was trying to take it from me. I was saying, “No, you cannot have my tie-dye flag, I’m taking it home.”

Holmes: A Redemption Island challenge is very different from individual immunity. You lose an individual immunity challenge and you still have time to maneuver before Tribal. Redemption Island is literally do or die. How stressful was that?
Boneham: Walking into there…I was so freaked out. I couldn’t even find Laura for the first few seconds. I thought, “Oh my gosh, they brought everybody but Laura?!” Then when I found her I calmed down a little bit. These challenges don’t play to my strengths. It’s not strength or endurance. They play to balance and calm steadiness. I was not calm, I was not steady. It was tough.

Holmes: You can make the argument that Rupert Boneham is the most popular “Survivor” player of all time. You’ve got a million-dollar check that helps make that argument. But now we’ve got this quick exit. First one out. But, you weren’t voted out. And you saved your wife in what can be seen as a heroic gesture. How does this season affect your legacy?
Boneham: From what I’ve seen already from the e-mails and the response from fans…people that know me know there was no other choice I could make. The people that don’t understand, I have to say, “Yes, I love the game. But it is a game. My wife is my life.”
Holmes: You’ve won a fan vote before. Do you think you can pull of Player of the Season having only been out there four days?
Boneham: If I can win the fan favorite (laughs) after being the first one off, how funny would that be? I would love doing that. You’re going to see me at the end of this season campaigning for fan favorite.

Holmes: I think I know the answer to this, but would you be open to going out a fifth time?
Boneham: If CBS said, “You want to play the game again?” You’re darn right I’ll say, “Yes.” But I hope they don’t bring Laura back with me. If she wants to play, that’s wonderful, but having someone out there that you care about makes it harder to play the game.

Holmes: I was joking that if my loved one went farther than I did, that I would expect some ribbing. But, in your case, I think you’re immune.
Boneham: I think so. And she still says “Thank you” to me.
Holmes: I think maybe you don’t owe her an anniversary gift this year.
Boneham: (Laughs)

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

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

September 3, 2013

Laura and Rupert Boneham (CBS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Survivor: H.V.V.’ Runner-Up Interview: Russell Hantz

May 20, 2010

Russell Hantz will never win “Survivor” because he has no social game.

Gordon Holmes will never play first base for the St. Louis Cardinals because he can’t hit a major league curveball…or fastball…or change up…

Both of the above statements are true, but you’re not going to see me lobbying Major League Baseball to have them put the ball on a tee.

That’s what drives people crazy about Russell. He’s never wrong, the circumstances and the people around him are wrong. If he can’t win “Survivor” (which for years has been considered a large social experiment) without a social game, then the rules should be changed so what he excels at is rewarded.

I had a chance to chat with the man many consider to be the biggest villain in “Survivor” history to discuss how he’d like to see the game change, which player he thinks might be better than him, and why Sandra burning his hat was different than when Russell burned Jaison’s socks.

Gordon Holmes: Good morning, Mr Hantz.
Russell Hantz:
Hey, how you doing?
Gordon: Good, how are you?
Russell: I’m fine.
Gordon: You’re in a much better mood then when I talked to you after “Survivor: Samoa.”
Russell: Oh, I’m still pissed off now. It might seem like I’m in a better mood, but I’m more awake now.
Gordon: It seems like you’re more at peace with what happened this season as opposed to last season.
Russell: Well, I’m not at peace with Sandra winning. Even Jeff asked me, he said, “What if Parvati had won?” I would have been OK with that. But, like I said at the live show, “There’s a flaw in the system.” And not only do I say that, but America says that. Cause they give me the vote at the end of the day. I lie, cheat, and steal to get to the end of the game. That’s how I play. I play aggressive and America loves it. How many people have such aggressive play as me and get fan favorite at the end of the day?
Gordon: You have back-to-back Player of the Season awards now. Since that award is voted on by the audience, does that mean more to you than the title of Sole Survivor?
Russell: It does to me because it makes my point. Mark Burnett and Jeff? I’m trying to make a point to them.
Gordon: But “Survivor” was designed to be a social game.
Russell: The only reason they said, “You don’t have a social game” is because it’s a weak jury. There’s three criteria on the sign; it’s outwit, outlast, and outplay. And in my opinion, the reason people talk about the social game is they have to give themselves a reason not to vote for me. But they didn’t vote for me because I hurt their feelings, because I kicked you when you were down. And if you can’t deal with it, then you shouldn’t even play the game. What can I do?

Gordon: If you had the opportunity to play this game from scratch, because obviously you can never play “Survivor” again because people will be gunning for you. But if you could go back, and nobody knew who Russell Hantz was, would you pay more attention to the social aspects?
Gordon: No?
Russell: No! I will play the game the same every time. Well, not exactly the same, but I’m going to play aggressive. And how can people say my social game is bad when everyone does what I tell them to do? Even in 19 (“Survivor: Samoa”) I had them all eating out of the palm of my hand. In 20 (“Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains”) I looked at Jerri like I was the mob boss and said “Danielle,” and she voted for her! What is that? Is that a bad social game? No, it was so good that when she got to Ponderosa, (where jury members wait for the next tribal council) that she realized what happened and she got her feelings hurt. You’re dealing with weak people. And hopefully in Season 21, I hope I changed the game for the better, I hope it’s like the first season where they voted for Richard Hatch. I hope that they vote for the person that played the game the hardest.

Gordon: You and Rupert had a fight where you called him “The second coming.”
Gordon: In hindsight, what purpose does something like that serve?
Russell: Everybody asks me, “Would you change something? Why did you do that to Rupert? Why are you that mean?” You know what? America likes the way I play. I play aggressive.  I’m not going to change the way I play for nobody. It serves my purpose. Everybody’s like, “Oh…you need to be nicer. Maybe just push them down. Why do you need to knock them out and then kick them?”
Gordon: (Laughs)
Russell: (Laughs) To be honest, man. In Samoa it was easy. It was easy. It’s almost laughable that Natalie won, that’s a joke. This season was amazing. The people were strategic players. Everybody. Even people that didn’t make the jury. It was tough.

Gordon: Speaking of strong players, Parvati really stepped up.
She competes with me. She is probably better than me, only because there is that social aspect. Now, I hope that I’ve changed that. I didn’t get one vote this year, but I got the Player of the Year vote. But Parvati’s social game is as strong as my strategic game. Her social game is by far the best in the game. She can make things happen socially. I make things happen strategically. When we aligned it was like the dream team. It looked like we fought all the time, but she’d calm me down. I’d be pissed off and she’d be like “Russell, calm down.” I didn’t play two times, I played one time, but I played for 80 days.

Editor’s Note: “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains” was filmed shortly after “Survivor: Samoa.”

Gordon: I was going to ask you that. What kind of toll did that take on you both mentally and physically.
If I had two back-to-back seasons like “Samoa” it would have been easy. But doing “Samoa” then doing “Heroes Vs. Villains” to play with these people that were that strategic, that were that good, I was mentally exhausted. I was whipped. And for me to say I was whipped, it’s pretty amazing. I’m a strong guy, and I don’t think I can get beat down by anybody. I just can’t. I never thought I could. But this game is tough. And hey, I did my best. And I was losing it at the end, I was making bad decisions.
Gordon: It seemed like it was easier for people to get under your skin toward the end, like with the dissension between you and Parvati.
Russell: It looked like I was getting rid of her, and she was getting rid of me, but I was so messed up that it was too my advantage cause she helped me stay in the game.

Gordon: Did working with Parvati make you think that maybe a better social game is a good way to not only get to the end, but to win over the jury?
For sure, but the thing is, and me and you are talking about Parvati right now, but we didn’t win. Sandra did, remember her?
Gordon: Indeed I do. Did you know Sandra was gunning for you?
Russell: I knew she was gunning for me and I kept telling her, “Why are you doing that? Just play with me!” It was weird to me because I wanted to play with her and she didn’t want to play with me. This is a fact, I played twice. And guess what? When I write someone’s name down, they go home. Every time.

Gordon: What’s your relationship with Sandra like now? It seemed like there was some animosity last night.
The game’s over, she’s a wonderful lady. She has a wonderful family, I’ve met them all. It’s a game, we played the game, and it’s over. It’s a tough game and now it’s over. For me it’s over. They can still be pissed at me. I don’t know how Sandra feels toward me, she was after me the whole time. I thought if I brought her there I’d win cause she’s a weak player…which she was. Same thing happened in season 19. Maybe I’ll never win.

Gordon: During “Survivor: Samoa” you mentioned a few times how you wanted to square off against the best players in “Survivor” history.
I know who the best players are because I played with them, we’re on the same (expletive deleted) tribe. I don’t know if I can say that.
Gordon: Say whatever you want. Go crazy.
Russell: And that’s rough. It was just me and Parvati against the world. Trust me when I say I didn’t think I could do anything.
Gordon: You had your back to the wall, down three to six against the Boston Rob alliance.
Russell: At one point I said to her, “I don’t think I can save you.” That’s when I made the move to Tyson to save her. But then I gave her an idol to save her. And people ask if I had a romantic fling with her, and no I didn’t. I was trying to save my alliance. I’m trying to save my people. I don’t care if it’s…James or Randy, I have to save my people. In Season 19 I brought Foa Foa to the finals; me, Mick, and Natalie.

Gordon: If someone had gotten the best of you and sent you to the jury, would you be able to vote for them to win the million?
I’m the kind of guy, you can stab me in the back, and in the end I’m going to vote for you.

Gordon: I’m excited, we didn’t get to do word association last time because we were under a bit of a time crunch. So, let’s start with Parvati.
She’s charming.
Gordon: Jerri?
Russell: Jerri was trustworthy out there.
Gordon: Colby?
Russell: Colby is a baby.
Gordon: Rupert?
Russell: Rupert is crazy.
Gordon: Coach?
Russell: Coach is honorable, and he really is.
Gordon: Tyson?
Russell: Tyson is just a jokester.
Gordon: Courtney?
Russell: Courtney is a sweetie. She’s just amazing. She’s a sweet little girl.
Gordon: JT?
Russell: JT… (Laughs) Like I like to call it, my dumb-a– girl alliance.
Gordon: Sandra?
Russell: Sandra was weak.
Gordon: Boston Rob?
Russell: A hell of a player.

Gordon: Do you appreciate the irony of Sandra burning your hat in light of what you did to Jaison’s socks?
That was pretty…uh…you see the thing is when you look at it Russell burned Jaison’s socks and now Sandra is burning Russell’s hat. But I burned Jaison’s socks as a strategic play because I knew if I could control the way he felt I could control the way he thought. Well, she burned my hat when the game was over. It was just me, her, and Parvati going to the finals. The game was over. That only shows me that she’s a vindictive person.
Gordon: Have you spoken to Jaison recently?
Russell: Aw no…Jaison’s pissed.
Gordon: Still?
Russell: I need to get some Fruit of the Loom sponsors to send him a box of socks or something. But who’s Jaison really? Jaison?

More “Survivor” Fun: Check out my interviews with Sandra Diaz-Twine, Parvati Shallow, and Jerri Manthey.

‘Survivor H.V.V.’ Castaway Interview: Jerri Manthey

May 19, 2010

One of the things that has kept “Survivor” relevant over its decade-long run is the way it has evolved over the years. And not only because of obvious additions such as Exile Island, hidden immunity idols, and surprise tribe swaps, but the mindset of the players has changed too.

In 2001, Jerri Manthey was considered the biggest villain in “Survivor: The Australian Outback.” Why? Because she was opinionated and abrasive.

In 2010, Russell Hantz was considered the biggest villain in the past two seasons of “Survivor.” Why? Because he’s an arrogant, foul-mouthed bulldozer whose scorched Earth policy resulted in a livid jury that was more likely to beat him to death with their torches rather than reward him with a million dollars. Heck, classic Jerri was a broken nail compared to the severed limb that was Russell.

But to dismiss Jerri as the lesser of two evils is to do her a great disservice. The Jerri we saw in Samoa was smart, personable, confident, and surprisingly likable. A far cry from the naïve youngster that prowled the Australian Outback.

I spoke with villain-turned-favorite Jerri Manthey the morning after the “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains” finale to discuss not only the evolution of a popular reality competition, but the evolution of a person…

Gordon Holmes: This may sound crazy, but it seems like you had a character arc over your three seasons of “Survivor.” To see you go from someone that America hated in “Survivor: Australia” to someone not dealing well with America’s hatred in “Survivor: All-Stars” to a woman who seems very comfortable with who she is and how people feel about her in “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains” was fascinating.
Jerri Manthey:
(Laughs) You know, I feel like “Survivor” has helped me become a more evolved person. And that’s a very strange thing to say about a reality show! But, I had a very rare opportunity to grow over the past ten years in front of millions of people. “Survivor” taught me so much about myself. I knew the first time that one of my biggest downfalls was I had a lack of patience. I’m a very competitive person, and watching myself the first time I realized that I can be very abrasive to other people. And I didn’t care. I was in it for an adventure and to win. And the harsh reaction I got really turned me off. But it forced me to look at myself in a different way. So I wanted “All-Stars” to be my redemption story, and that really blew up in my face. People were just not ready to accept that I was a different person. So this time out I didn’t care what people thought about me. I’ve grown into my own skin and I’m a much more patient person.

Gordon: Being a three-timer, did you have a specific strategy going in, or were you playing it by ear?
I picked the strategy that I thought was the most powerful and the most difficult, which is to position yourself as the swing vote. I stepped outside of the drama and didn’t instigate conflict. Just watching as it occurred, and knowing that at some point there would be an explosion and I’d be standing there ready to pick up the pieces that worked for me. And it worked. I feel like I played the game perfectly, I wouldn’t change a single thing. The only thing I would have changed was winning that last immunity challenge. I was so close!
Gordon: You were ridiculously close. That was a great finish.
Jerri: I remember how I felt going into that. I thought how is this going to work? It just seemed so impossible. But one by one I started finding the necklaces. And I knew I was close because I could hear Parvati and Russell right beside me. And I felt the immunity necklace as it was tumbling through the air and into Russell’s hands. And I have to say I’ve had reoccurring nightmares about that moment.
Gordon: If you catch that necklace, do you win the million?
Jerri: Oh yes. I knew if I could have made it to the final three I would have won. I somehow managed to get through this entire game without making one single person mad at me. The irony of the situation was I was so hated in my first season that everyone wanted to get rid of me and this season I was dangerous because I was so well loved.

Gordon: During your farewell confession you said that you were probably going to vote for Russell. What changed your mind?
To make it short, it was Russell’s arrogance. I knew that the speech I had put together for the final tribal council involved being gracious and showing gratitude to the people in the jury who had to leave the game in order for me to be sitting in that position. And that’s what I expected from Russell. Here’s this great player, sometimes he’s a little too aggressive and he’s rubbed people the wrong way, but here’s the perfect opportunity to show that he’s this humble, gracious person, and what I found was that he is basically an arrogant a— who can’t get out of his own way.
Gordon: (Laughs)
Jerri: He literally told all of us that he didn’t need luck. I saved his butt when I chose him over Rob. And I saved his butt when I didn’t take him to the reward. He could have been voted out with Sandra’s idol if I had left her on the beach with Rupert and Colby. I was completely floored by his arrogance. That’s why he’ll never win this game.

Gordon: At one point in the game you had a choice between keeping Colby in the game and keeping Candice in the game. What was your rationale behind that decision?
I liked having Colby around for one. We found such a great sense of comfort with each other. And we both felt the same about this season, just how cutthroat it was and how little fun there was. We had some really intense talks about the game and how it’s evolved and how we’ve changed as people. I just really enjoy Colby. And Candice, Sandra and I realized that Russell was becoming very close to her, and I wasn’t going to allow another girl that he could manipulate take a step above me in the ladder.

Gordon: I have to ask this one…Coach, are you two in love or was that totally fabricated?
Gordon: Do you looooove him?
Jerri: (Laughs) No, I do not know him well enough to love him. I find Coach to be a very fascinating person. And I knew going into the game that he was a very loyal, honest person. And those are the kinds of people you really want to keep around you in “Survivor.” So, I made it a point to bond with him immediately. I just didn’t realize I was going to have such a strong effect on him.
Gordon: Were there any romantic sparks?
Jerri: I don’t…think…I learned the first time that any feelings of attraction should be curbed because you don’t know what’s real or not. I look forward to getting to know Coach outside of the game and to find out what’s underneath that Dragon Slayer shell. If he’s willing to drop the act and be himself around me, I could see us being friends for a long time.

Gordon: It seemed like you and Parvati had some tension early in the game. Did that dissipate as the game continued?
Yeah, Parvati drove me crazy at the beginning of the game. Her flirtation was just so evident and it was clearly working on everyone and it drove me nuts. Her laugh was just…ugh…I just couldn’t stand it. I’ve gotta say, I was going after her since day one and she really, truly earned my respect. I know she called me all kinds of names but you’re in a stressful game and you say things and do things that are not so nice. But, I think Parvati and I are definitely going to be friends. I really have to give her a high-five for her game play. She kicked some major butt. I think she’s one of the best players ever.

Gordon: Alright, Jerri. It’s time for word association.
Uh-oh, where’s the psychologist?
Gordon: Yes, I will be silently judging you.
Jerri: (Laughs)
Gordon: Let’s start with Rupert.
Jerri: Completely not self-aware. I know that’s not one word.
Gordon: I’m not going to rein you in. Do what feels right. Let’s try Sandra.
Jerri: Crass, but lovable.
Gordon: Parvati?
Jerri: Flirtatious and devious.
Gordon: Colby?
Jerri: Still hot.
Gordon: Russell?
Jerri: Yuck.
Gordon: The term “Cougar?”
Jerri: (Laughs) I’m ready to embrace it.
Gordon: You own it, girl.
Jerri: I mean, I’m really not old enough to be a cougar yet. But I’m looking forward to it.
Gordon: That’s a great attitude. Let’s try Candice.
Jerri: I really like Candice. She’s sweet. A very sweet person.
Gordon: Danielle?
Jerri: Scrappy.
Gordon: JT?
Jerri: (Laughs) Gosh…I guess I just have to say…ballsy but not so bright.
Gordon: And let’s finish this off with Coach.
Jerri: Fascinating.

Gordon: If you could hop into Doc Brown’s DeLorean and go back to 2001 and give some advice to Australian Jerri, what advice would you give her? About life, about the game, whatever…
I would tell myself to keep my mouth shut! (Laughs) It’s not necessary to always let people know what’s on your mind.

More “Survivor” Fun: Check out my interviews with Sandra Diaz-Twine and Parvati Shallow.

‘Survivor H.V.V.’ Runner-Up Interview: Parvati Shallow

May 18, 2010

Fun Fact: The “Survivor: Micronesia” finale where Parvati Shallow defeated Amanda Kimmel to claim the title of Sole Survivor aired exactly two years and one week ago.

It certainly seems like it was much longer ago, doesn’t it?

In that short amount of time, the player that was often dismissed as a one-dimensional flirt has blossomed into one of the most well-rounded (no pun intended) competitors to ever play the game. When you add a stronger social game, a flair for strategy, and surprising immunity challenge prowess to her already effective arsenal of eyelash batting and girlish giggles you have a player that went from being the person most targeted before the game started to the first runner-up.

I spoke with Parvati the morning after the “Heroes Vs. Villains” finale to find out if she thinks her association with Russell cost her, why she never trusted Amanda, and why “Cougar” is now considered a term of endearment.

Gordon Holmes: You obviously did very well with both the social and strategic aspect of the game to the point that people couldn’t make the argument that you were just grabbing onto Russell’s coattails.
Parvati Shallow:
Gordon: But do you feel like your association with Russell is what sunk you in the end?
Parvati: I think a lot of people on the jury definitely voted emotionally. I think it hurt me in a way that people were just very offended and upset with how he treated them out there. And I think that just came over to me too because I was his closest ally. They always saw us together, they saw us making calls together, making decisions. They knew we were the point people making decisions. I mean, Rupert said it at tribal council that Russell and I were calling the show. So yeah, maybe it lost me a few votes on the jury, but there was really nothing I could have done. He was the only guy I could have played with because nobody else would play with me. And the best thing I did out there was team with Russell because he played aggressively and he protected me. And then it turned out that we could protect each other in the end.

Gordon: You and I have something in common in that we both have a reputation for using our looks and flirtatious ways to get what we want.
Gordon: Was that something you were looking to get away from in “Heroes Vs. Villains” or was that still a big part of your game play?
Parvati: I think that, yes, the edit that I got gave me a lot of credit for being a strong strategic and physical player. My personality is just friendly and flirtatious anyways so there’s no real way you can edit that out. But I was very happy that they showed me as a multi-faceted human being instead of just a flirt.

Gordon: Russell has said many times that he wants to be considered the best player to ever play the game. Do you think he’s accomplished that, or has he come up a little short?
Gordon: No pun intended.
Parvati: I like you, you’re funny.
Gordon: Oh, stop it. Your flirtatious ways won’t work on me.
Parvati: (Laughs) I’m good on the phone, too!
Gordon: OK, fine. You’ve got my vote.
Parvati: Finally! Someone gave me their vote. (Laughs) I think that there are so many different ways to play this game, but the most important thing is to play a strong social game if you want to win. That’s what I do. I play 85% social, and this time I had to play so much more physical as well. In the end, to get the jury votes you have to have social grace, get the people to like you, and to respect your game as well. So, if you can’t do that, then you’re not going to win.

Gordon: Earlier in this season you referred to Jerri as a “Cougar” which is a term women hate.
Jerri and I know it’s a term of endearment. (Laughs)
Gordon: So I take it that your relationship with Jerri improved during your time out there?
Parvati: Jerri and I were always bickering. But there’s something about Jerri that I really love. She’s a really good person with a sweet heart. I think in the beginning she felt threatened by me, so it made her very standoffish. So I was like “Screw her!” But we grew on each other and we’ve grown to love each other.

Gordon: During the final tribal council, you kept going back to the statement that you had to stick with Russell because nobody else would play with you. Was there any other angle you could’ve taken that would have separated yourself from him?
I could’ve won the last challenge, because then I would’ve taken Russell and Jerri to the end and I may have had a better shot at winning the jury then. But, that’s out of my control. But other than that there was no move I made that I would have changed.
Gordon: As you were watching yourself stumbling around, looking for that necklace during the final challenge, was it driving you crazy?
Parvati: Oh my God, that challenge hurt so bad. I had bruises all across my stomach for months.

Gordon: Did you trust Amanda at all during the game? Your relationship seemed tenuous at best.
I think Amanda and I have a very weird relationship. So I don’t think I can play with her, but it’s five to five, so let me just see. So when I went to go talk to her my first thought was, “She doesn’t trust me.” I could tell she was holding back. So, I held back with her. I gave her a little bit of information to see if I could trust her. And I found out that all of the Heroes knew that I had an idol. So clearly Amanda told them. And I can read Amanda like a book. I played with her for 39 days and we’re so close I can read her mannerisms.
Gordon: Did you base your decision to give idols to Jerri and Sandra on the fact that Amanda told you you were in trouble?
Parvati: Going into that tribal, I hadn’t made the decision to play both of them until I was sitting on my stump. I realized I had to keep my people together. I knew it wasn’t going to be me based on how hard Amanda was saying “Play it for you, play if for you.” So I figured Russell was safe because they thought he was with them, Danielle was safe because she had immunity, and the only other options were Jerri and Sandra. And even if they had voted for me, there would have been a revote and I would have been safe.

Gordon: Early on in the season you referred to Russell as “The Devil.” And that’s before he had actually done anything. What were you basing that on?
I was basing that on, nobody knew this guy, he just got off of a game of “Survivor,” and he’s been labeled one of the top five villains of all time. This guy is clearly the devil incarnate.
Gordon: Where would you rank him now?
Parvati: Number one. Number one villain.

Gordon: There’s been a lot of talk this season about best ever, worst ever, dumbest ever. But at the end of the day is it better to be a “Survivor” winner or to have Coach consider you to be a warrior?
Aww…I love Coach considering me to be a warrior. Very nice of him. You know what? It was nice just being able to play as hard as I played and getting some respect. I mean it sucks not to win because I played so hard, but I wouldn’t begrudge the win from Sandra or Russell.

Gordon: Alright you, let’s do some word association. And let’s start with Russell.
Bologna…bologna sandwich. (Laughs)
Gordon: Jerri?
Parvati: Man eater.
Gordon: Colby?
Parvati: Debbie Downer.
Gordon: Rupert?
Parvati: Dirty pirate.
Gordon: Coach?
Parvati: (Laughs) Zen master!
Gordon: JT?
Parvati: Cowboy…I don’t know. (Laughs)
Gordon: There are no wrong answers here.
Parvati: (Laughs)
Gordon: The gross amount of hidden immunity idols in the game?
Parvati: Mass chaos.
Gordon: Boston Rob?
Parvati: Entertainment.

Gordon: You mentioned going back to earn some respect, and you’ve had quite the progression from your first season, to “Fans Vs. Favorites,” to “Heroes Vs. Villains.” How do you want people to remember your time on “Survivor?”
I would like people to remember me as (Laughs) the best player to ever grace this game…in the whole entire planet…and universe.
Gordon: I think there’s little doubt of that.
Parvati: (Laughs)
Gordon: But if you had to state your case for that title, what would your case be?
Parvati: I’d just like people to give a girl a little respect. Cause they think here’s this cute girl, and they always underestimate those girls. And you know what? Little girls can compete with the big boys. Not only can we compete with them, but we can also beat them.

More “Survivor” Fun: Check out my interview with “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains” winner Sandra Diaz-Twine.

‘Survivor H.V.V.’ Winner Interview: Sandra Diaz-Twine

May 17, 2010

I would have bet money that Parvati, Sandra, JT, and Tom didn’t have a shot at winning “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains.” Why? Because “Survivor” cast members hate the idea of someone being a two-time winner.

And yet here we are. Sandra Diaz-Twine managed to survive the stigma of being a former winner, the break down of Boston Rob’s alliance, and the hatred of “Survivor” juggernaut Russell Hantz to win the whole thing.

I had a chance to speak with an exhausted Sandra the morning after her record-breaking victory to find out why she won the jury vote, how she kept her nails so nice in the Samoan wilderness, and how Russell’s attitude ruined her second “Survivor” win.

Gordon Holmes: Good morning, Sandra.
Sandra Diaz-Twine:
Good morning!
Gordon: How are you doing, champ?
Sandra: I’ve got a little cold, but I’m going to do my best. My throat is sore.
Gordon: I figure a million dollars in exchange for a sore throat is a fair trade.
Sandra: Oh, it definitely is. I’m not complaining.

Gordon: So what are your plans for that second million?
You know I’ve gotta pay my taxes. I can’t be looking like Richard Hatch.

Gordon: Now, you’re the first-ever two-time champion in “Survivor” history. Which win meant more to you?
The first one.
Gordon: Why’s that?
Sandra: Because it was sweet the whole time. This one was bittersweet. It was tainted. I feel Russell kind of put a damper on things.
Gordon: What was he doing?
Sandra: There was just a bad vibe. It wasn’t a happy place over here because everyone is upset with him for the most part. And of course he always has things to say. And I was told by people that he said, “She’d better bring her A-game because I’m going to make her look stupid on TV.” So then I was already in my defensive mode. I guess I was ready. And the first time it wasn’t like that, it was serene, quiet, and pleasant. This time it was a bunch of All-Stars and everyone had gotten their feelings hurt.

Gordon: How were things left between you and Russell?
I really don’t speak to him, and he makes his little comments and I make mine. He feels like he got robbed. All he says is, “Millions of viewers got it right because I’m the player of the season.” Well then, you know what? You need to have been the real player of the season to get the million dollars.
Gordon: I spoke with Russell a few minutes ago, and he said once the game is over the game is over and that he wishes you well. He said he met your family and he enjoyed them. Is there a chance you two could make peace in the future?
Sandra: There’s a possibility for that, but it’s news to me that he said that. My daughters know who he is, and they took a picture with him. But when he does his interviews, all he does is talk smack so I don’t believe it. He’s really mad, his face is really sour. Yesterday (Sunday) we didn’t speak. I talk to everybody, I’m a very social person, but I feel like “Why should I have to go to you if you’re already badmouthing me?” Because I personally wouldn’t change a thing. But, whenever he’s ready for friendship, here I am.

Gordon: Former champions usually don’t do well in All-Star seasons. Did you think you had a chance heading into “Heroes Vs. Villains?”
You know how in the first “All-Stars” they got rid of all the winners first?
Gordon: Yes, absolutely.
Sandra: So, coming into this one I said, “If I’m nice, of all the winners there, they’ll keep me around for a while.” And not only that, I’m the kind of person where I play day-by-day and I’ll do what it takes to get to the end regardless. And I listen to what’s going on and I go from there. And a lot of the time they’d say, “They’ll never vote for you, you’re perfect to take to the end.” And I’d say, “Oh, definitely.” If that’s what you want to hear, that’s what I’m going to tell you.

Gordon: You said that performing badly in challenges was a part of your strategy…
Well, I’m not a physical person, so that’s natural for me. But I honestly feel like that’s a good strategy. Yes, everyone loves you when you’re strong, but the minute you’re on your own you’re going to go home when you lose a challenge because you’re outnumbered by weaker people. And that’s why Colby went to the end this time, because he didn’t dominate.
Gordon: Is there a concern that being weak in challenges might be a liability earlier in the game?
Sandra: It is, but at the same time remember Randy was there and so was Courtney. So among the weak you can’t be the weakest.

Gordon: Why did you have so much trouble getting the Heroes to go against Russell?
Because no one believed me. But I told Rupert, and he believed me, and he told JT, and JT told Russell. So right there and then my plan was foiled. The second time it was Candice who told on me to Russell. But when JT went home, everyone realized I was telling the truth. And when Amanda went home, she realized “Sandra was trying to help me.” So, when I go up against Parvati and Russell I got their votes. I got all five Hero votes and Courtney’s vote.

Gordon: So, last night when you burned Russell’s hat…it was almost like a perfect symmetry to Samoa where Russell burned Jaison’s socks. Now, of course you hadn’t seen “Survivor: Samoa” so you had no way of knowing, but do you think Russell appreciated the irony of that moment?
He might not have, but Jaison did, because when I saw him at the CBS 10-year reunion I went up to him and I said, “He burnt your socks, but don’t you worry because I’ll get him in the end.”

Gordon: I know you have a very busy day ahead of you, but this may be the most important question you’re asked all day; how did your nails stay painted throughout the game?
(Laughs) That’s the most important question?
Gordon: It is.
Sandra: My blue fingernails were from when they gave us the paint to paint the flag. But after a couple of hours it started to chip.

Gordon: OK, let’s do some word association. Let’s start off with Parvati.
Gordon: Russell?
Sandra: (Expletive deleted)
Gordon: Jerri?
Sandra: Difficult.
Gordon: Colby?
Sandra: Handsome.
Gordon: Rupert?
Sandra: Loving.
Gordon: Amanda?
Sandra: Sweet.
Gordon: Randy?
Sandra: Misunderstood.
Gordon: Danielle?
Sandra: Feisty.
Gordon: Coach?
Sandra: Confused.
Gordon: JT?
Sandra: Humble.
Gordon: Flammable hats?
Sandra: (Laughs) Polyester.
Gordon: It did burn up quick.
Sandra: That’s because it was sweaty and dirty and nasty.
Gordon: Boston Rob?
Sandra: Exciting.

Gordon: What was it like being in Samoa while your husband was serving in Afghanistan?
The first time my husband was home, and this time was different because he had left for Afghanistan. So I’m going to go all of these days without talking to him, whether I’m in the game or not. And I wonder if he’s OK, and if he wasn’t OK would they tell me, and when would they tell me? And how are my kids doing? It was rough.
Gordon: It seems like your Uncle Fernando has a bit of cutthroat game play in him too. He hadn’t been on the show for two seconds and he’s trying to swipe water from the other players.
Sandra: (Laughs) I kept throwing water and it wasn’t reaching him. And I told him the only way he was going to get water was to get it from the other people. So that was my fault.
Gordon: So that’s how the Diaz family throws down when it comes to challenges?
Sandra: I was hoping he’d have to do it himself because I didn’t want to do it.
Gordon: (Laughs)
Sandra: It should have been a bug-eating contest because he would have won hands down.

‘Survivor H.V.V.’ Finale Recap: Russell Vs. The World…Again

May 16, 2010

Last Thursday: Jerri upset Russell by not taking him on the reward outing, Sandra upset Russell by telling him she was against him, and yet Rupert was sent to the jury, thus upsetting Rupert’s legions of fans.

And then there were five…

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Here is the tribe as it currently stands…

The Yin Yang Tribe

Colby Donaldson – 35
Sandra Diaz-Twine – 34
Russell Hantz – 37
Jerri Manthey – 38
Parvati Shallow – 27

Quick Note: I’m a big believer that Russell should have won “Survivor: Samoa.” He was more deserving than both of the people (Natalie White and Mick Trimming) who were sitting in front of the jury with him. I can’t say the same for this season. He’s been more abrasive than ever and Sandra and Parvati have both played games that were as strategic as his.

Another Quick Note: The worst thing about holding the “Survivor” finale on Sunday? I have to sit through Andy Rooney at the end of “60 Minutes.”

Yet Another Quick Note: The opening for the finale featured an awesome recap of the final five’s previous “Survivor” experiences. It was awesome seeing all of those old clips. And it was a little sad see Australia Colby vs. this season’s Colby.

OK, let’s do this. We start up after tribal council and Russell is not pleased that Sandra lied to them about having an immunity idol in her bra. Sandra defends her play because Russell never told her when he had an idol. Ah…touché.

Russell isn’t so upset that Sandra lied to him, but he’s convinced that Parvati knew about it and didn’t tell him. He approaches the Australian crew and proposes voting out Parvati. Uh oh, trouble in the Samoan royal family…

The following morning the tribe is greeted by tree mail in the form of a bag of puzzle pieces. The clue makes it sound like a dish-related challenge. Maybe it’ll be dish spinning like on the “Ed Sullivan Show!” Hey, an old-school Nick at Nite fan can dream.

Immunity Challenge: Players will balance ceramic dishes on a balancing arm. (Darn it!) The more dishes they have, the harder it is to balance. When your dishes fall, you’re eliminated. Last player standing (or balancing, as it were) wins immunity.

The first several rounds go off without a hitch. Once we are nine dishes into it, Jerri and Sandra start to wobble. Sure enough, Sandra’s dishes fall eliminating her from the challenge. At the fourteen-dish point, Jerri continues to have problems with her entire stack eventually falling.

Down to three. On the sixteenth dish, Russell’s stack of dishes succumbs to the pull of gravity. The “Survivor” production crew then utilizes their power over nature to summon a huge gust of wind, but Colby and Parvati manage to keep it together.

After adding a large bowl, Colby’s stack falls. Everything’s bigger in Texas, except for the stacks of dishware. Parvati wins her second immunity challenge in a row.

Back at camp, Colby rolls over again, telling everyone that he’s not going to make an attempt to stay in the game.

Really, Colby? Did you just give something you called a “Surrender Speech?” All of that razor endorsement money must be making him soft.

Oh wait, I take that back, apparently he has one more move left in him. Colby approaches Russell with the idea of getting rid of Sandra so they’ll have a better shot of taking Parvati out at the last immunity challenge.

Russell seems interested, but he knows that if Colby gets to the final three that he’ll win. Honestly, Russell could get to the end with Andy Rooney and he’d still lose.

That night at tribal council, Rupert shows up in a new tie-dye shirt. I’d love to see his closet. I’m sure it’s more tie-dye than a Grateful Dead concert.

During the discussion portion of tribal, Colby feels bad about his lack of challenge prowess this season. Colby admits to trying to get Russell to take him over Sandra. He admits to Sandra that he thinks everyone wants to get to the end with her.

Sandra says, “This is ‘Survivor’ you can’t believe nobody.” Which is a double negative. She is crafty.

Parvati says it’s news to her that she’s someone nobody wants to face in the finals.

J-Pro asks Russell if there’s anyone that he trusts 100%. Russell gives a roundabout answer that doesn’t come close to answering Jeff’s question at all.

Voting Time: Parvati votes for Colby, Colby votes for Sandra, Sandra votes for Colby, and you know the other two votes are gonna have to wait.

J-Pro gets his tally on and is ready to read; one vote for Colby, one vote for Sandra, one vote for Colby, and the sixteenth person voted out and the eighth member of the jury is…Colby.

Once we’re back on the beach, Parvati confesses that she didn’t know that she was such a big jury threat. Really? That’s just hitting her? She’s won a billion immunity challenges. And she’s not Russell.

Tree mail arrives the next morning, and sure enough it’s an invitation to the Rites of Passage. Oh! They should call it the Torch Trek.

During the leisurely, respectful stroll, nobody has anything to say about Sugar. Well, they weren’t on the same beach as her.

Stephenie is the first person to be referred to as a “Tough competitor.” I’m putting the over/under on the word “competitor” during this segment at four.

Randy being decimated by James in the mud wrestling challenge is shown in slow motion. I don’t think I can do justice to that moment with words, but I’ll try…let’s say it was five-star awesome dipped in Christmas morning.

They say Cirie is underestimated as a physical competitor. The “competitor” count is now at two.

They all agree that Tom was very trustworthy.

Tyson is of course remembered for his sense of humor. And if you’re not following him on Twitter, you should be.

James is called a competitor by Jerri. That’s three.

During Boston Rob’s remembrance, Russell takes the time to brag about getting the best of him. Sandra takes the time to tell America about a borderline racist comment Boston Rob made about her.

Coach is referred to as “Jerri’s boyfriend.” I need to remember to ask her about that tomorrow.

Courtney’s moment is particularly poignant due to the fact that her physique resembles that of a bamboo torch.

As they walk by JT’s torch, they discuss JT’s give-the-idol-to-the-most-evil-player-in-the-game strategy.

Parvati makes a point of mentioning that “Heroes Vs. Villains” was the first time Amanda had ever been voted out of the game. I prefer to remember Amanda for her brief brawl with Danielle.

Candice’s legacy apparently revolves around stepping out of a challenge to get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Russell doesn’t think that’s worth a million dollars.

Parvati refers to Danielle as the Boston Brawler. Parvati’s very sad she’s gone. Russell is not.

Rupert’s moment revolves around his pirate-like ways. They also hope his toe heals quickly. (Actually, it was two broken toes.)

And finally, Russell refers to Colby as a true hero as they pass his torch. Yes, I’m reminded of that issue of Superman, where Superman gave his “Surrender Speech” to the Legion of Doom.

And with that, they arrive at an awesome (read AWESOME) Tiki bon fire set-up. Jerri sets it ablaze, and now all of their souls are at peace. Or something like that.

Quick Note: Before we get to this immunity challenge, my fingers are crossed for a stand-somewhere-until-everyone-quits challenge. You know, like the old-school ones that would go on for 14 hours. I love those.

Immunity Challenge 2: Electric Boogaloo: And…I’m out of luck. The players will each be blindfolded. They’ll make their way through a maze. At each corner of the maze they’ll have to retrieve a necklace. The first person with all four necklaces wins immunity.

And, if my memory is correct (and it rarely is) this is the same challenge that Fancast columnist Jenna Morasca won in the Amazon.

Russell gets off to a lead as the first person to get to two necklaces. Jerri manages to pass him though as she’s the first person to get three necklaces. Parvati is right behind her. Eventually, Russell and Parvati both get their fourth necklaces. They both stumble toward the exit. Meanwhile, Jerri has claimed her fourth necklace.

All three of them are groping around with the immunity necklace right in front of them. Russell just barely gets to it first. Russell wins immunity. Awesome finish.

Politicking around camp center around Jerri vs. Parvati. Russell tells Sandra he’s taking her to the final three because he knows he can beat her. Sandra says she’s cool with this because she’s happy with the $100,000. I love when those two are honest with each other.

Parvati makes the case that Courtney, Amanda, and Candice will all vote for Sandra.

Russell also seems to believe that Jerri will give him her vote if he sends her to the jury. He’s not sure if Parvati will do the same.

That night at tribal council, Jerri admits that she stuck around camp to stay on top of all of the political discussions.

Sandra discusses her strategy of cozying up to the immunity winner because she knows they’re not going home.

Parvati tells J-Pro that she feels very vulnerable without immunity.

Jerri tells us that she’s been pushing the agenda that Parvati is a huge threat. Parvati says she’s been pushing the agenda that he’ll have to take Parvati to prove that he’s loyal to the jury.

Parvati also thinks she’s been protecting Russell. Russell takes exception to this. She revises her statement to say they’ve been protecting each other. He takes exception to that too.

Voting Time: Parvati votes for Jerri, Jerri votes for Parvati, and the other votes are lost to the magic of editing.

Jeff goes to tally the votes.

Fun Fact: When Jeff says he’s tallying the votes, he’s actually getting in a quick game of Farmville. I may have made that up.

One vote for Parvati, one vote for Jerri, one vote for Jerri, and the seventeen person voted out of the game, and the ninth member of the jury is…Jerri.

As Jerri hugs Russell, she tells him she can’t wait to hear the story later. And during her farewell confessional, she admits that she’s leaning toward voting for Russell.

We meet up with the final three after tribal, and Sandra is having a tough time being away from her family. She admits that the only reason she’s on the show is to win the million. She won’t be satisfied with anything less.

The following morning, tree mail consists of all the food in the world.

Russell thinks he’s got the million in the bag. His strategy was to bring people that he thought he could beat. I’m not sure those people exist. Maybe if they cast Osama bin Laden.

Parvati admits that if Russell had voted her out that she would have voted for Sandra. Russell is shocked by this because he would have voted for Parvati if he were on the jury.

Sandra, for some reason, decides to burn Russell’s hat. Somewhere Samoa’s Jaison is giddy. Revenge of the socks!

Apparently Sandra’s strategy revolves around Russell’s bald head making him look bad in front of the jurors. Well, it’s certainly a unique strategy. Unfortunately for her, he still has his buff.

Wow, they’re showing a lot of Sandra. I wonder if that’s a clue…

Quick Note: Is the tribal council set supposed to be like the Ewok Village?

During Sandra’s opening statement, she admits to trying to get rid of Russell three times.

Russell makes the case that he played as hard as he could play. And that if he offended anyone, that he apologizes. For some reason his “Rupert as the second coming” speech just popped into my head.

Parvati claims to have partnered with Russell because everyone was gunning for her from the beginning.

J-Pro then throws it to the jury. Colby starts it off, asking Russell if he thinks he got to the end without any luck. Russell thinks he got there because of his strategy. Colby thinks he’s delusional for thinking he got to the end without luck. He then asks Parvati what makes her a better pick than the other two. Parvati says that everyone was gunning for her and she had to fight harder.

Coach goes next, he has a grand time bashing everyone. However, he gives Parvati credit for being good in challenges. He lets it be known that his vote will be based on what is said tonight.

Amanda takes the third slot, she asks Sandra how her strategy was better than Russell or Parvati’s. She admits that she wishes she had a better strategy because she couldn’t get Russell out of the game.

Courtney bats clean-up, and she has much love for Parvati and Sandra. She even gives Sandra the opportunity to talk about how loyal she was to Courtney.

Next up we hear from JT. JT wants to know if Russell thinks he did a good job getting jury votes. Russell hopes the jury respects his game. Parvati gets the same question and gives the same answer about how everyone was gunning for her. Sandra claims she would have given JT the idol back if he had given it to her.

Danielle is the next to go, and she’s sporting some weird accent to start. OK. Danielle claims that Russell has done a poor job with his jury management. Russell doesn’t regret that because if he didn’t make the moves he made he wouldn’t have made it to the end. She claims that he isn’t going to get any votes because nobody respects the way he played the game.

Next up we hear from Jerri. She claims to be undecided on who to vote for. Jerri calls Russell out on voting for her over Parvati. Russell claims that he didn’t take Jerri because he doesn’t think he can beat her. Parvati claims Russell wanted her on the jury because he thought he’d get her vote. Nice to see the cougar and the kitten getting along.

Candice takes the stage next. She thinks Russell went too far by telling “Dirty lies.” She compares Parvati to an abused wife who never got out from under her abusive husband. Ouch.

Rupert (and yet another tie-dye shirt!) gets to go last. He starts with Russell and reads him the riot act for lying and manipulating people. Rupert wishes he had listened to Sandra more. He thinks she deserves a “Thank you” because she tried to warn them about Russell. He starts on Parvati, but she claims that she didn’t have a choice but to side with Russell because everybody wanted her out. Rupert finishes by saying that Parvati deserves to be there for how hard she played in challenges.

My Take: That did not go well for Russell. Parvati did a decent job, but she didn’t have much to say other than, “I’ve always had a target on my back.” Meanwhile, Sandra’s “I tried to warn you about Russell” argument is very strong.

Voting Time: Jerri votes for Parvati, Candice votes for Sandra, Danielle votes for Parvati, Courtney votes for Sandra, Coach votes for Parvati (because she’s a warrior), Rupert votes for Sandra, and the rest of the votes are gonna have to wait till we get to New York.

Wow, I’m assuming that means no votes Russell.

And we’re in New York…and Gabon’s Charlie Herschel is in the house!

And, Russell does not look pleased, but he does have a new hat.

One vote for Parvati, one vote for Sandra, one vote for Parvati, one vote for Sandra, one vote for Parvati, one vote for Sandra, two votes for Sandra, and the winner of “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains” and the first ever two-time winner is…Sandra!

Verdict: I think “Survivor” has been on a major roll since “Survivor: Micronesia” and this season is no exception. I won’t go so far as to call it the best ever, but it’s definitely up there. It probably comes down to how you feel about All-Star seasons, and as I said earlier in the year, I’m all for them.

Notes from the Reunion Special:

•    Parvati and Sandra both made their cases for being the best player ever. Sandra’s case was way stronger.
•    Russell thinks Sandra is a terrible player as she has no social or physical game. He also makes the point that there must be a flaw in the game of “Survivor” if Sandra can win the game twice.
•    JT tried to throw the letter he gave to Russell into the fire, but Russell was able to save it.
•    Russell admits to not caring about the social game at all, he just wants to get to the end.
•    Tyson looks like Jesus. Well, if Jesus ever wore bright pink shirts.
•    The Dumbest Move in “Survivor” History Award went to JT for giving the idol to Russell. I absolutely disagree with that call. Erik Reichenbach giving up immunity, Colby taking Tina Wesson to the final, and Tyson screwing up the Boston Rob alliance vote were all way worse.
•    Rupert and Russell were the top vote-getters for the Sprint Player of the Season award…and Russell won.
•    Randy Bailey is now bald.
•    The next season of “Survivor” will be held in Nicaragua.

More “Survivor” Business: We’re going to have interviews with all of the final five this week as well as Jeff Probst’s surprising thoughts on the best “Survivor” players of all time.

What Do You Think?
Where does this season rank? Should Sandra have won? What changes would you like to see for “Survivor: Nicaragua?”

‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview: Rupert Boneham

May 16, 2010

OK, I’ve got a confession to make…

I’ve never been a Rupert fan.

With the exception of his hilarious shoe-selling maneuver at the beginning of “Pearl Islands,” I’ve never seen his appeal. I never thought much of his game play, I never liked how brutish he was toward Jonny Fairplay after he thought he had voted for him, and I never bought into his good-guy image.

And quite frankly, the beginning of “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains” was proving me right. His injured toe made him a grump around camp, his inability to make fire made him appear useless, and sticking with James seemed to go against the Heroes mindset.

But, a funny thing happened on the way to tribal. He saw right through Russell when he arrived at the Heroes camp, he cleverly tricked the Villains into thinking he had an immunity idol, and he competed with all his heart to try to win immunity (while Colby would quit).

And as for his good-guy image? What follows is my second-ever interview (you can read the first one here) with the man many consider to be the most popular Survivor ever, and I truly believe that what you see is what you get with him. He’s a good-natured guy with an upbeat attitude who feels blessed to do what he loves.

Am I becoming a Rupert fan? Maybe a little. I’ll wait to see how he does in “Survivor 30” before deciding.

Gordon Holmes: Let’s get this out of the way immediately, you didn’t believe for a second that Russell was going to side with you and Colby, did you?
Rupert Boneham:
I was sure hopeful, and I wanted Russell to believe that I believed him, but no. I looked at Colby right afterward and I said, “You know it’s still just you and I.”

Gordon: So, I take it you don’t have the highest opinion of Russell?
Russell is one of the most evil people I have ever met. He is the epitome of the manipulative, self-centered kind of guy who just looks at people for what he can get out of them. I tried to show them that when you use people to get to the top that you’re still never going to be a winner.

Gordon: Last episode was a family visit episode. You were very emotional when you got to see your wife, Laura. What does it mean to have her out there during such an intense game?
I was crying just watching the video and thinking about her being there. This is the first anniversary that we haven’t spent together, so that was like our anniversary celebration. That was a big deal. I have to say, even though it’s only thirty days it feels like a lifetime because of all the craziness going on. Everything is intensified.
Gordon: Laura’s been out there twice to visit you, when are we going to see her as a contestant on the show?
Rupert: (Laughs) I don’t know that Laura will ever be a contestant. We’ve talked about being on “The Amazing Race” but the “Family Survivor?” My wife and daughter would not really be too happy to be out there playing “Survivor.”

Gordon: There’s been a lot of talk this season about Heroes acting like Villains and Villains acting like Heroes and you haven’t been immune to that. There were some things that you did that could be considered villainous, such as sticking with James and JT early in the game. Did you worry that your moves could tarnish your reputation as one of “Survivor’s” biggest heroes?
If you go out there as a complete good guy you’re not going to win the game. But you have to show that you don’t have to be such an evil villain. It does matter how you treat yourself and the people around you. And when you’re using and manipulating everyone, of course you’re going to be seen as a villain. But, I’m no angel. I went to some people and said, “They’re coming to get you.” That’s part of the game.

Gordon: How much of an affect did your broken toe have on your ability to play the game?
I finally found out after I was voted out, it wasn’t just one broken bone in my toe, it was two broken bones in my toe, and the toe we were taping it off to was broken also! I am out of my mind in pain every day on “Survivor.” When my toe was looking back at me, and I straightened it and taped it off to another broken toe, I was in more pain than I’ve ever felt in my entire life.
Gordon: Was it affecting your mood around camp?
Rupert: Even my daughter when she’s watching it on TV says, “Oh Dad, you looked a little mad last night.” And I told her, it’s not that I’m mad, I’m just in pain. I’m a little shorter with my “Survivor” cast mates. The pain in my toe definitely affected my attitude.

Gordon: Last week when your rock-in-the-shorts gamble worked. How many high fives and fist bumps were exchanged around the Boneham household?
(Laughs) Oh my God! My wife and daughter were so proud of me. And they never showed it, but I never said I had the hidden immunity idol. I wasn’t being a big liar about it. But I made sure everyone saw the big rock in my pocket. That was a great moment in our household.

Gordon: OK, let’s do some word association. Let’s start with Jerri.
Mean cougar.
Gordon: Colby?
Rupert: I want to say good guy, but I’ll say good soft guy. Cause he was kinda soft.
Gordon: James?
Rupert: Toughest man I’ve ever met.
Gordon: Amanda?
Rupert: Sweetest Survivor in history.
Gordon: Parvati?
Rupert: A little girl who’s used to batting her eyes and getting what she wants.
Gordon: Danielle?
Rupert: Glad she was gone before me.
Gordon: Sandra?
Rupert: Not what you think.
Gordon: JT?
Rupert: Silly…silliest move ever!
Gordon: And your buddy Russell?
Rupert: Evil…pure evil.

Gordon: We talked earlier about your reputation, and a lot of that ties into your Rupert’s Kids charity, what do you hope your kids learn from your performance on “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains?”
That I’m still tough. I’m 46 years old, but I’m still the tough guy on “Survivor” and it still counts how you play the game. My kids love seeing that

‘Survivor H.V.V.’ Episode 13 Recap: Family Matters

May 13, 2010

Last Week: The rock in Rupert’s shorts was a successful ruse, Sandra finding an idol was welcome news, Russell proved once again that he has a short fuse, and both Candice and Danielle were left singing the blues.

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Here is the tribe as it currently stands…

The Yin Yang Tribe

Rupert Boneham – 45
Colby Donaldson – 35
Sandra Diaz-Twine – 34
Russell Hantz – 37
Jerri Manthey – 38
Parvati Shallow – 27

Quick Aside: I’ve always been of the belief that no jury would ever let someone win “Survivor” twice. It’d be like admitting that someone was better than all of them. And here we are, with a two-in-six chance (three-in-six if you count Rupert…which I don’t) of that happening.

We start off after tribal council and Rupert is giddy to still be alive and kicking. Parvati, on the other hand, is very concerned. She lets us know that she’ll continue to play with Russell so she can get rid of Colby, Rupert, and Rupert’s beard.

The next morning, the Yin Yangers are greeted by tree mail in the form of a Palm Pre by Sprint.

Sprint – the Now Network

The phone features a cryptic clue as well as videos from each of the remaining players’ family members. Colby’s brother Reed, Parvati’s dad Michael, Sandra’s uncle Fernando, Russell’s wife Melanie, Jerri’s sister Jennifer, and Rupert’s wife Laura are all featured in the videos.

Reward Challenge: Before the challenge is introduced, we get to meet the family members behind the videos. I can neither confirm nor deny the rumor that it got a little dusty in the Holmes family living room during this segment.

With that being said, I’d have to rank Russell’s reunion with his wife a solid eight on the creep-o-meter. It’s just weird to think of him as a functional member of society with a wife and family. I now have both the heebies and the jeebies.

The Rules: The Survivors will have to go to the ocean to fetch a pail of water. They’ll throw that water toward their family member who will dump the water they’re able to catch into another bucket. First team to fill that bucket with enough water to trigger the cool see-saw wins reward. Reward will be a trip to the Blowholes, which if I’m not mistaken is where the “Survivor: Samoa” opening was filmed. They’ll also be given a Palm Pre by Sprint to record the day’s events.

I haven’t commented on J-Pro’s hats this season, but that orange number is awesome. I have a birthday in August if anyone is contemplating getting me a gift.

The challenge gets underway and there’s not a lot to describe except for water being tossed and caught.

I take that back, I’ll describe how Colby was angrily chewing out his brother for his lack of water-catching ability. I’ll also describe how Fernando was trying to swipe the water Russell was throwing to his wife…which was awesome.

It looked like the Hantzs were going to take it, but the Mantheys surpassed them to win the reward.

Jerri is given the opportunity to take two people with her, she chooses Parvati and Sandra. Russell is not amused. As he hugs his wife goodbye he says, “She screwed up.”

While the ladies and their family members are enjoying their reward, they learn that they can toss a coconut into the blowhole and it’ll launch into the air with the water burst. No word on if a drunken Iron Man would try to shoot it out of the sky afterward.

Next up, they were treated to a delicious picnic lunch. They were also each given four immunity idols. I may have made up that last part.

Afterward, Jerri expresses concern that Russell may try to get revenge on her for not taking him on the reward. Overreacting to something small? That doesn’t sound like Russell at all.

Sure enough, back at camp Russell is furious over who Jerri chose to take on the reward. Rupert, showing that he’s a much better competitor than I’d given him credit for, is totally feeding Russell’s anger. Go Rupert.

Russell is so frustrated that he makes a deal to go to the final three with Rupert and Colby. I don’t buy this for a second. There’s no way Russell thinks he could beat Colby or Rupert in front of a jury.

That night, Rupert decides to do some carpentry while the other members of the tribe are trying to sleep. He’s sawing wood, breaking things, blowing an airhorn, setting off explosives, scratching blackboards. Seriously, Rupert? That’s like an entry-level “Survivor” mistake.  That’s sneaking-beef-jerky or washing-your-underwear-in-the-water-pot level stupid.

Immunity Challenge: Players will stand against a post with their hands out. On the back of their hands will be a pole. If their hand drops, their poles drop. Last person with both of their poles up wins immunity.

Fun Fact: Crystal Cox was eliminated from this challenge in one second in Gabon.

Another Fun Fact: Colby is eliminated from the challenge in 15 seconds. Crystal’s record is safe!

Sandra is out next, followed by Russell and Jerri. It’s down to Parvati and Rupert.

Rupert struggles to keep his pole standing (Oh, grow up!) and is eventually eliminated. Parvati wins immunity.

Back at camp, Russell is relieved that he doesn’t have to get rid of Parvati. He decides to flip on the guys.

Meanwhile, Sandra approaches Rupert about getting rid of Russell. Rupert immediately shares this information with Russell.

Russell, who is unhappy with this latest development, flat out asks Sandra if she’s with him or against him. She bluntly replies, “I’m against you.”

I think the most under-appreciated highlight of this season has been when Russell and Sandra are brutally honest with each other. Good times.

Sandra lets Rupert know how she feels about him by saying, “Loose lips, sink ships.”

Jerri sums up the bizarre strategy around camp by saying, “This camp has turned into crazy town.”

That night at tribal council, Sandra makes the case that Rupert was trying to cause problems between her and Russell. Russell isn’t sure if he buys that.

Parvati tells Jeff that the Villains need to stick together because they can’t beat a Hero in front of the Hero-heavy jury.

Jeff announces that tonight is the last night a hidden immunity idol can be played.

Voting Time: Sandra votes for Rupert, confident that he’ll vote for her to win the million, Rupert votes for Sandra, and the rest of the votes are secret.

Jeff goes to tally, tallies, then returns. Jeff asks if anyone wants to play the idol, Sandra stands and retrieves it from her bra. That’s a popular hiding place this season.

One vote for Rupert, one vote for Sandra, one vote for Rupert, one vote for Sandra, the fifteenth person voted out and the seventh member of the jury is…Rupert.

The tribe has something to say, and that something is that they don’t want you in the game anymore. Maybe that’s why I don’t get to write catchphrases.

In Other News: When the voting was showed, the final tally would have been four to two in favor of booting Rupert.

Verdict: It seems like there’s a pretty definitive jury-voting pecking order. Colby would win over Jerri, who’d win over Sandra or Parvati, who’d win over Russell.

The one thing that would make the finale mind blowing? If Colby had been faking it all season. If he turned it on in the last two immunity challenges and won the whole thing. I doubt that will happen. But it’d be cool.

Who’s Going to Win? If Jerri can get into the final three she’s a millionaire. If I’m Russell, I want to take Parvati and Sandra because they’re former champions. If I’m Parvati or Sandra, I want to take Russell and the other champion. If I’m Colby, I feel terrible for yelling at my brother on national television.

Power Rankings Results: Tocantins favorite, S.W.V. superstar, and former Power Rankings champion Tamara “Taj” George had Rupert in spot six, so did I. Rocky and Apollo tie at six points apiece. The final score for the season is All Stars 111, Team Gordon 124.

I’d like to thank my family, my friends, and both of my fans for supporting me. This Power Rankings victory is for you.

Even More “Survivor” Business: We’re going to have interviews with all of the final five next week as well as Jeff Probst’s surprising thoughts on the best “Survivor” players of all time.

What Do You Think? Who’s going to win this thing? Who are your picks for the best “Survivor” players of all time? Did seeing Russell with his wife give you the creeps?

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