Posts Tagged ‘russell swan’

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Castaway Russell: ‘I’m Just Mad…Humiliated’

October 11, 2012

Russell Swan (CBS)

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

Set Your DVR to Record “Survivor: Philippines”

Usually “Survivor” exit interviews involve the castaway and I discussing what went wrong with their game, who stabbed them in the back, and how tough the conditions were. We share some laughs, they do some word association. Lather, rinse, repeat.

This won’t be one of those interviews.

I spoke with Russell Swan the morning after he was eliminated from “Survivor: Philippines.” We didn’t discuss his relationship with Malcolm and Denise, his Tribal Council debate with Angie, or his brief alliance with Roxanne. In fact, no other players’ names came up. We really didn’t talk about anything other than the psychological effect a game that’s played under the worst conditions in front of millions of people can have on someone…

Gordon Holmes: I feel like if you play this game with the same people in the same place 100 different times you’ll get 100 different outcomes. Was what happened to Matsing? Just a run of bad luck?
Russell Swan: Gordon, this is going to sound weird. I’ve had some anxiety about these interviews and what I feel comfortable sharing. I will be the first confess that I’m having  a tough time. This has had a tremendous effect on me. It’s hard to focus on those type of typical questions. The only thing I can say is; this experience was very different from the first one. The impact the first time was physical. This time it’s psychological. And, it seems clear to me that the best thing for me to do is be introspective and think about if there are things I can learn about myself. Hopefully in time I’ll be able to talk about the game.
Holmes: I understand.
Swan: But right now, Russell needs to take care of Russell.

Holmes: OK, let’s go wider with this. Going into the game I spoke with you, I spoke with the other returnees. All three of you came into the game under similar circumstances with the medical evacuations. And you were unique in that your elimination in Samoa really seemed to stick with you. You said a couple of times that you kept asking yourself, ‘What if?” Now that you’ve played again and were voted out, does that make things better? Does it make it worse?
Swan: That’s a very good and interesting question. And that’s the crux of this whole thing. I have to say my short answer is that I’m not sure. And that’s all because what happened this time is so much more complex. Because, let’s face it, I’m an object of scorn and ridicule to some extent. Which is fine. If you don’t go into this thing with your eyes open that that’s within the realm of possibility, then you’re a fool. I get that. Just because you can intellectualize about that doesn’t make it easy. I’m not in an intellectual place right now. It’s having an impact, which is difficult.
Holmes: What’s the reaction been like from your family?
Swan: Last night before the show came on I told my daughter, “Look, I’m going to get voted out.” She asked me why, and the way she asked me was like, “Why would they vote you out, Daddy? You’re OK. I love you. Why don’t others want you around?” And I basically said that my tribe loses the challenge and votes me out. But she could discern that there were still other people in the tribe. And she said, “If there’s still going to be other people, why are they voting you out?” And then she started to cry. It just hit me that this is a pretty profound thing. We had a conversation that was very good, it bonded us in a very special way that I don’t want to share because it’s very personal, but it’s tough to have to see my daughter upset over this thing. So, it was one more thing that piles onto the scorn and the ridicule.
Holmes: Does it give you some solace that your real alliance, the people you’re spending your life with, care so much about you? Does that help put things in perspective?
Swan: Oh, absolutely. And Gordon, that’s the one thing I’ll say that there is always a silver lining. And one of those things was the special moment I had with my daughter. The other one is I really do appreciate my life. Not to say that before “Survivor” that I didn’t appreciate her, but when you feel like you have nothing else and no soft place to land, and you can go to this person and you know that they have your back and they want you to be better, that’s just such an amazing thing. My real tribe loves me and they have proven it. I will never have to question that.

Holmes: You mentioned “scorn and ridicule” earlier. What have you been experiencing outside of the game?
Swan: You know; Twitter, Facebook. Some of it has even been in my face walking down the street. It’s probably not unlike some of the other folks in the past have received. But I’ll be on my way to the office and the guy across the way on the train platform will say, “You suck!” Some of it’s been quite aggressive to the point where if I’d been able to get to the people it might not have ended well. It’s not easy. I’m a person, I’m a human being. Jeff’s right, I’m not Superman.
Holmes: I always say it’s easy to be on your couch and be well fed and say, “Yeah, Russell should have done this.”
Swan: That’s right. If I’m not mistaken, you’ve run a challenge or two.
Holmes: Yeah. A few times.
Swan: You know that those things are ballbusters.
Holmes: That they are.
Swan: And that’s just the physical. The physical is easy. I wanted to do well. I wanted my tribe to do well. I wanted to last longer than I did before. I wanted to make the merge. And I do wear my heart on my sleeve. What happened in Tribal a couple of times is the antithesis of what I believe. I don’t believe in tearing people down. But, that’s the nature of the game.

Holmes: You went in with a blueprint for what you wanted to do. You didn’t want to be a leader, you were going to hang back, you were going to stay hydrated. A lot of the things you said you weren’t going to do, you ended up doing. Is that part of being in the game? Is that something within yourself that you have to deal with?
Swan: I don’t know. Again, I don’t know. Right now, I’m in “Survivor” mode. I’m just mad, pissed, humiliated. That’s where I’m existing right now.

Holmes: I love “Survivor.” I’ve been watching from day one. But at the end of the day it’s just a game. We’ve spoken a few times, I don’t know you personally, but you’ve always been a nice, approachable guy.
Swan: Thank you.
Holmes: This interview has been kind of heartbreaking. I hope you’re able to find some solace in all of this. It’s not worth beating yourself up over. It seems like you have a fantastic life and a great family.
Swan: Absolutely. And I appreciate that.
Holmes: A lot of people leave the show and it’s changed their life for the better. I hope you’re able to eventually find a good place for this.
Swan: I’ll get there, Gordon. If nothing else, I don’t want people to think I’m going to jump off of a bridge.
Holmes: Do not jump off a bridge. I can’t emphasize that enough.
Swan: (Laughs)
Holmes: We’re both Philly guys, if you’re going to jump off a bridge you call me.
Swan: (Laughs) I certainly will, dude.

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

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Recap: The Little Tribe That Could

October 10, 2012

'Survivor: Philippines' (CBS)

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

Set Your DVR to Record “Survivor: Philippines”

Last Week: Penner pitched an alliance to Jeff Kent, Abi-Maria threw RC under the bus, and Matsing tossed their cookies.

39 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Let’s take a look at the tribes as they currently stand…

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

The Matsing Tribe (wearing blue)
Denise – Sex Therapist, 41
Malcolm – Bartender, 25
Russell – Environmental Attorney, 45

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

We start off with sad times on Matsing beach. The rain is pouring down and nobody is talking. Things have gotten so bad that Malcolm can’t even start up the tribe’s fire. He’s not totally down though, he thinks all it’ll take is one win to turn things around. You don’t even need a win, just don’t be last.

Russell’s plan is to mount a comeback. That’s a hell of a plan. My plan is to be good at everything and to never die. We’ll see how those turn out.

Over at Tandang, the rain can’t damper Pete’s good mood. Apparently he’s going for a Hantzian, let’s-make-some-chaos type of game. For his first trick, he plants the immunity idol clue in RC’s bag. This stratagem serves two purposes as it infuriates Abi while amusing Pete. Well played.

Meanwhile at Kalabaw, Penner, Kent, and a skinny, blonde dude decide to do some fishing. Penner and Kent eventually bring the guy into their alliance. Then the guy actually gets to speak! The lower-third graphic identifies him as “Carter.”

At camp, Katie, Dana, and Purple Dawson realize that the boys are plotting against them. Their plan is to make it to the merge, then start up some “One World” girl power with the other females.

Back at Matsing, Russell sums up the tribe’s problems as being stuck with “A smoker, a lunatic, and a beauty queen.” Sounds like a sitcom pitch to me!

Russell’s also concerned because nobody has approached him to discuss voting strategy. Realizing that his number is probably up, he starts hunting for the idol. Just now…like five days after he found the clue.

Denise catches him searching, but he denies what he’s up to. Later, her and Malcolm dig through his stuff in an attempt to find it. They have no luck.

Over at Matsing, RC tries to have a chat with Abi, but she’s not having it. It’s like a weird Springer episode. RC tries to get some info out of Pete, but he denies everything. This is pretty awesome. I kinda want Tandang to lose so we can see them at Tribal.

Immunity Challenge Time: One player from each team will put a pot of rice on each end of a yoke. They’ll then put the yoke over their shoulders and carry it over a weird obstacle. From there they’ll put the pots into holders and head back. Then, the next person will go. Once they have six pots in place, one player will swing a small demolition ball in an attempt to destroy the pots. First tribe to smash all six pots win immunity and a steak dinner. The second tribe wins immunity, veggies, a pot, and spices. The losing tribe gets a relaxing evening by the fire with talk show host Jeff Probst.

Katie, Dana, and Dawson will sit for Kalabaw, while Lisa, RC, and Abi-Maria will sit for Tandang. Soooo sexist.

The challenge starts off and Carter immediately drops a pot. No, I’m not going to make a Carter/pot joke. But, feel free to make your own.

Matsing has a bit of a lead thanks to Malcolm. Do you believe in miracles?!

Tandang eventually catches up and is the first to start swinging the demolition ball. Matsing is right behind them. Artis is swinging for Tandang while Malcolm swings for Matsing.

Kalabaw catches up and Kent, of course, is in charge of hurling the ball.

Artis does a fantastic job and the Tandangers win it.

Matsing and Kalabaw are neck and neck in the battle for second place. Both sides had several near misses, but eventually Jeff Kent managed to pull off the victory.

Quick Aside: The editing on Kent’s final hit was amazing. There was slow-motion footage of the ball knocking the pot over but it didn’t break. Then, when the ball swung back it smashed the pot. No lie, we loudly cheered in my living room. “Survivor” is the best show ever.

And true to form, Russell has another fit after the loss. The frustrated returnee walked over and smashed the remaining pot. He then started talking to God. He even slipped up and called Jeff, “Lord.” Oh c’mon, if Jeff was the Lord, “Survivor: Nicaragua” would’ve never happened.

And, as we’ve discussed before, God doesn’t care who wins “Survivor.” But if he does, he clearly isn’t a Matsing fan.

Also, Tandang and Kalabaw were greatly amused by the blow-up. This isn’t Russell’s day.

Back at camp, Malcolm seems a little torn between keeping Russell’s strength or Denise’s loyalty. I don’t believe him. No way he votes against Denise.

Denise is worried that Russell has the idol, so she and Malcolm decide to make Russell feel like he’s safe. Oddly enough, he seems to buy it.

That night at Tribal Council, Jeff Probst punches Matsing’s loyalty card. Two more visits and they get a free ice cream.

Russell thinks it’s OK to expect excellence from himself. He doesn’t say if it’s OK to freak out when you don’t get it.

Malcolm owns up to failing on the demolition ball portion of the challenge.

Denise thinks she should stay because she’s a physical player and has a strong social game.

Malcolm thinks he should stay because they can’t wait for a twist, they need to win a challenge.

Russell thinks he should stay because he’s no slouch in challenges and that he has a strong social game. Surely, the others saw Kalabaw and Tandang laughing at him, right?

Russell and Malcolm both think that Denise can’t be beat at the final Tribal. They might be right.

Voting Time: Russell votes for Malcolm, Malcolm votes for Russell, and the rest…well, there’s only like one other vote, and we don’t get to see it.

Jeff tallies three whole votes and returns. We’ve got one vote for Russell, one vote for Malcolm, and the fourth person to be voted out of “Survivor: Philippines” is…Russell.

Verdict: That challenge was awesome. I was literally on the edge of my couch. And frankly, it was fun to see a good, old-fashioned Ulonging.

That being said, a tribe of two is probably too small. Whether Denise and Malcolm are split up or there’s a full tribe reshuffle, it’ll be interesting to see how everything shakes out.

Who’s Going to Win: Could Lisa Whelchel win “Survivor”? As a non-dominant member of the dominant alliance in the show’s strongest tribe, she has to have a serious shot, right? That would totally blow my mind.

Power Rankings Results: Ooo…a tie. Kat’s getting good at this. We both pegged Mr. Swan as this week’s boot, so we both receive 15 points. So, the current score is Team Kat: 41, Team Awesome Thunder 47.

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

‘Survivor’ Recap – Now Featuring the Michael Skupin Injury Tracker!

October 3, 2012

Michael Skupin (CBS)

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

Set Your DVR to Record “Survivor: Philippines”

Last Week: Penner was better at finding idols than the Kalabaw rookies, if RC and Abi-Maria were Han Solo, then Skup and Pete would be their wookiees, Angie’s plan for improving Matsing involved some Tribal Council cookies, and anyone who picked Roxanne to win owes some money to their bookies.

39 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Let’s take a look at the tribes as they currently stand…

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

The Matsing Tribe (wearing blue)
Angie – Student, 20
Denise – Sex Therapist, 41
Malcolm – Bartender, 25
Russell – Environmental Attorney, 45

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

The show starts off with Matsing after Tribal Council…wait, didn’t I see this episode before?

Anywho, Angie is annoyed that Roxanne threw her and Malcolm under the bus. But, she’s fine with it because the rest of Matsing knows that her and Malcolm are just BFFs and not totally going steady.

CUT TO: Russell doesn’t think they’re just friends.

The next morning at Tandang, RC wants to hunt for the idol while Abi-Maria wants to rest her injured knee. Also, in the understatement of the year, Abi lets us know that she trusts herself more than anyone else there. That’s good, it gets ugly when you can’t trust yourself.

The two eventually get into a weird fight where Abi won’t let RC talk. Gah…you two are winning! Settle down.

Then, Abi lets Pete know about the idol clue. Pete (complete with his knee-high argyle socks) decides that he isn’t going to trust RC because she didn’t share the clue with him.

Pete takes Lisa aside and tells her that she’s the tribe’s main target. However, he wants to keep her around. He asks if she’d be willing to get rid of Mike. Seeing that as a better alternative to going home herself, she agrees.

Lisa then lets us know that she’s had her up days and her down days in the game so far. So, you take the good, you take the bad…

At Kalabaw, Penner is telling a charming story about his posterior. While he’s doing that, Jeff Kent realizes that the logo is missing from the top of the rice box. (Called it.) Kent puts two and two together and figures out that not only was that the idol, but Penner probably now has it.

Quick Aside: I’m loving Jeff Kent. He’s good in challenges and very savvy with his tribe. That, and it seems like he’s having the time of his life.

Carter thinks the smartest move if they lose immunity is if they act like they don’t know that Penner has it. Hmm… Then wouldn’t he be more inclined to play it? Wouldn’t it be better to let him know you think he has it, in the hopes that he doesn’t play it?

At Matsing we learn that the tribe’s raft has drifted off. Of course, I’m wondering how useful that raft is considering the other tribes have turned their rafts into parts of their shelters.

Later, Malcolm makes it clear that Denise is his true alliance. If they lose immunity again they’ll have to choose between Angie and Russell. Denise is leaning toward keeping Russell because they need the challenge strength.

Immunity Challenge Time: The players will dive from a platform into the ocean and release puzzle wheels from a line. Once they have all eight puzzle wheels, they’ll use them to create a word. First tribe to do so wins immunity and a fishing kit, second tribe wins immunity and a smaller fishing kit. Losers have a date with Probst at Tribal Council and no tiny fishing kit.

Abi and Lisa will sit for Tandang, Dawson and Katie will sit for Kalabaw.

We kick things off and Angie immediately has trouble releasing a wheel. Uh-oh…

Then, Skupin shatters his tribe’s scuba mask on his face! As you can see from the pic up top, he’s all kinds of bloody. I hate to see the dude hurt, but it’s a good chance to debut this…

Back in the challenge, Russell has trouble getting back on the platform. As in, he can’t climb a teeny ladder. It might be time to check to see if Matsing beach is cursed.

Dana and Denise are doing a fantastic job. RC swims so well she gets three pieces in a row.

Angie tells Denise that she doesn’t want to go back into the water. That didn’t work out well for Roxanne last week.

Russell goes out, but can’t dive deep enough to get a wheel. He returns empty-handed and still can’t get back up on the platform. Yow…

Kalabaw starts their puzzle first, Tandang is slightly behind them. Matsing finally catches up.

Kalabaw solves the puzzle first, then Tandang. Oof…poor Matsing. At least Russell didn’t freak out, that’s a step in the right direction.

After the challenge, Penner approaches Kent and tells him about the idol in an attempt to win his trust. Kent does a decent job trying to play along, but he talks about working together “for a while.” That would set off bells for me.

Also, Kent shakes on it using four fingers, which is apparently not as good as a manly five-finger handshake. What happens if you shake with four fingers and have your other fingers crossed? Do they cancel each other out?

At Tandang, Artis finally gets a chance to talk, and he is not pleased with Michael for breaking the mask. I’m not sure how that was Michael’s fault. Is that a diver thing? Anyone?

Later, when RC and Michael are looking for clams, Abi finds the Tandang immunity idol. She shares it with Pete and they bury it in the woods. Wow, has any tribe ever had this much drama and backstabbing without having ever been to Tribal Council?

Meanwhile at Matsing, Denise and Malcolm are down in the dumps about how terrible their tribe is. Well, they have a point. Angie approaches them and wants to let it be known that she never said she couldn’t participate in the challenge. She just didn’t want to because she didn’t think she was fast enough. She has a point too.

We meet up with Russell later as he’s praying…instead of looking for the immunity idol.

That night at Tribal Council, Jeff tries to turn their smiles upside down by pointing out that three of them will remain in the game. Jeff’s a glass-is-half-full kind of a host.

Denise is bummed to be away from her family. Malcolm admits that being on “Survivor” is his dream and it’s been heartbreaking so far.

Malcolm calls out Angie and Russell for performing poorly in the challenge, but admits that he and Denise should have stepped up.

Angie is worried that she could be going home tonight. But, she doesn’t think it’s fair to vote her out because Russell gave up.

Russell disagrees, saying he made a strategic decision and that Angie can’t hold a candle to him. She could if that candle was on a platform that had a teeny ladder.

Angie thinks she’s willing to fight more than Russell, but he reminds her that he almost died for the game. Touche.

From there, Angie does a solid Sugar impersonation by breaking into tears.

Voting Time: Russell votes for Angie (duh), Angie votes for Russell (equally duh), and the rest remain a secret.

J-Pro is all like, “Tally the votes? Don’t mind if I do.”

We’ve got one vote for Angie, one vote for Russell, one vote for Angie, and the third person to be voted out of “Survivor: Philippines” is…Angie.

Oh man…Malcolm’s a cookie monster.

Verdict: I’ve got to admit, they swerved me on that one. I thought they’d stick with Angie as an easy vote.

I’m still liking this season. And I’m glad we’re seeing strategy from Kalabaw and Tandang even though they haven’t lost immunity. But, here’s hoping red or yellow buffs make their Tribal debut next week.

Who’s Going to Win: What happens if Matsing loses again? Are Denise and Malcolm split between the other tribes? They’d both be goners. C’mon Matsing, get your act together.

Power Rankings Results: “Survivor: One World” fave Kat Edorsson called it. She had Angie in spot sixteen while I had her in spot fifteen. So, the current score is Team Kat: 26, Team Awesome Thunder 32.

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

‘Survivor: Philippines’ Castaway Roxanne: Angie Is ‘Bubble-Minded’

September 27, 2012

Roxanne 'Roxy' Morris and Jeff Probst (CBS)

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

Getting romantically involved has been a no-no on “Survivor” ever since “Boston” Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich teamed up to dominate the “All-Stars” season. For them, it resulted in a million bucks, a marriage, and some cute kids. For every couple since then? Not so much. Just ask “Survivor: South Pacific’s” Elyse Umemoto.

Roxanne Morris got that part of the strategy right when she called out Malcolm Freberg and Angie Layton for their late-night canoodling. However, she missed the part where you shouldn’t go after the guy who has a secret alliance with the swing vote.

I spoke with Roxanne the morning after her elimination to get her take on Matsing’s tribe dynamics, Russell’s loyalty, and cookiegate…

Set Your DVR to Record “Survivor: Philippines”

Gordon Holmes: Alright, what’s going on with Malcolm and Angie?
Roxanne Morris: I think it was obvious. They were cuddling, and I get that that’s the game and that people become allies. But, there’s a difference between people who are partnering for the sake of the game and people who are building a romantic relationship. That’s going to put a pair of blinders on and I wanted to make sure that my tribe was making the best strategic move.
Holmes: So, it wasn’t just late-night cuddling for warmth, you think there was something romantic going on?
Morris: I think that it was something romantic going on, and in the game of “Survivor” a romantic relationship naturally becomes an alliance.

Holmes: Heading into Tribal last night, did you know that your number was up?
Morris: I knew I had Russell convinced because I could foreshadow to him exactly what was going to happen to him if he decided not to support me. I told him exactly how it would go and that fear was already there. But, I knew if Denise was not on our side that Russell’s best move was to vote against me.  I was fully aware of that. I was not going into that being naïve. I was prepared that I was going home if Denise wasn’t on my side. The tribe’s destiny was in her hands.

Holmes: It seems like the weather is starting to get to everyone, but it’s hard to tell exactly what it’s like with the editing.
Morris: The first day we got there it was sunshine, but it got so rainy. At one point it was three straight days of rain. I think Russell said it best, where after a while you don’t even want to hear the sound of a raindrop. It’s like we were facing some kind of water plague.
Holmes: Malcolm said that it seemed like you’d checked out and that you weren’t doing much around camp. Was that a fair assessment?
Morris: I don’t think that’s a fair assessment. You get to a fork in the road where you have choices to make. And when you watch your tribe lose the first challenge, you have to decide what’s most important. And when you’re not eating regular meals you decide to say, “Hmm…what should I be saving my energy for?” Obviously it should be for a challenge. I’m not going to be like Angie falling on the floor.
Holmes: Russell made the argument that you were conserving energy for challenges, then you ran only one of the three sled legs because you hadn’t had enough water. As an outside observer, I think he has a point. You conserved your energy then did less than Angie.
Morris: I think that whenever you’re going down on a sinking ship everyone is looking to point fingers and put the blame on somebody. And that, to me, was a clear case of that. Everybody’s trying to point to someone else. And honestly, Russell, I’m not the person you need to be saying anything about. So, he can give me that criticism if he likes, but at the end of the day, me being there was a strength to him.

Holmes: Before the show you said that God already knows how the game is going to end. What do you think you were supposed to learn from your time out there?
Morris: I learned that as a Christian I’m not afraid to share my testimony, tell my story, and show who I really am. You saw me go through all kinds of emotions on national TV. You saw me praying in ways that I only pray when I’m absolutely alone. You saw me cry. You saw me tell people how it is. You saw me be human. And being a Christian is not about perfection. If the expectation is perfection, then I’m not one to follow. But if you’re looking for raw, real people who are working on their salvation on a daily basis, then come and talk to me.

Holmes: Let’s do some word association. We’ll start with Malcolm.
Morris: Headless chicken.
Holmes: Zane?
Morris: Joy.
Holmes: Russell?
Morris: Another headless chicken. He goes in that category too. (Laughs)
Holmes: Denise?
Morris: Sneak, sneaky, snake-ish. And when I use the word “snake” I don’t mean it in an ill-mannered way. I think there’s wisdom that goes with that. A worldly wisdom.
Holmes: Angie?
Morris: Bubble-minded. Literally, I feel like I could just look in her brain and there’d be nice, well-scented bubbles just floating around.

Holmes: Everybody’s talking about Angie’s cookie-centric plan to make the tribe better. I know you and her had your differences, but you have to admit cookies make everything better.
Morris: Yeah. Winning a challenge and gaining some cookies would definitely be awesome. Absolutely, but I honestly don’t think it was given in a very intelligent way. I think it was more like, “Oh wow, I have nothing else to say and I’m very hungry.”

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

‘Survivor’ Recap: Lisa and the Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad, No Good Day

September 26, 2012

Lisa Whelchel (CBS)

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

Last Week: Russell said he was going to avoid a leadership role and didn’t, Lisa Whelchel and Jeff Kent tried to keep their professional lives under wraps and didn’t, and Zane asked his tribe to send him home and they did.

Quick Note: Calling Jeff Kent “Jeff” on a show that has focused on one main Jeff for 30 years is throwing off my flavor. From now on, I’ll use some variation of “Jeff Kent,” “Kent,” or “Captain Motocross.”

Set Your DVR to Record ‘Survivor: Philippines’

39 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Let’s take a look at the tribes as they currently stand…

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

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

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

Tonight’s shindig gets started off over at Casa de Matsing where Russell is thanking his tribe mates for not voting him out. Russell decides that he’s going to let someone else lead so he won’t be on the chopping block anymore. Funny, I’ve heard Russell make that plan before…

Later that evening, Malcolm and Angie get their cuddle on. If “Survivor” Hall of Famer “Boston” Rob Mariano is to be believed, that’s a sure way to tell when someone’s in an alliance.

Roxy calls this cuddling a “Booby Trap.” A joke from Roxy! Well done.

The next morning, RC stumbles over the hidden immunity clue. She immediately shares it with Abi-Maria even though she isn’t sure she can trust her. Abi-Maria proves that she probably can’t be trusted by letting RC know that she isn’t psyched about how close she is to Mike. A little too early for the paranoia there, Abi-Maria.

Over at Kalabaw, Jeff Kent is doing his best to make sure he doesn’t strain his injured knee. He proposes a leisurely game of island checkers so he can sit back and relax. This displeases Penner because he wants everyone to clear out so he can look for the idol.

When everyone eventually runs off to the cave to get out of the rain, Penner goes to town searching for it. He finally figures out that the Kalabaw logo on the top of the rice container is the idol. Unfortunately, that logo is hard to miss, others will probably notice that it’s gone…

Back at Matsing, Malcolm and Angie are still twisted up like a pretzel. Roxanne decides that one of them has to go. She approaches Denise and Russell with her concerns.

Russell proves that he’s a master at the art of stating the obvious by letting us know that Angie has “some boob thing going on.” Well, he’s not wrong.

At Tandang Nation, Lisa’s having trouble bonding with everyone. When she goes off to spend time by herself, the others assume she’s looking for the immunity idol.

However, we learn that she’s just really upset that she isn’t meshing well with her tribe mates. In a sad bit, that makes a ton of sense in light of the recent revelation that she got a divorce shortly before traveling to the Philippines, she has a bit of breakdown. She tells us how she’s always had to take care of herself and isn’t comfortable opening up to others. C’mon, Blair! Pull yourself together! Buddy up with Skupin! Make this work!

The rain continues over at Matsing. Russell’s on fire duty, Denise and Malcolm are working on the shelter…and Roxanne has mentally checked out. That’s weird from someone who was pushing hardcore strategy earlier.

Immunity Challenge Time: Two members from each tribe will run across the course while pulling a large sled. They’ll load up their sled with Tetris-shaped puzzle pieces and return. Then another pair will go out. When they’ve received three sets of puzzle pieces, one pair will work to complete the three puzzles. One member of the tribe will stand on a tower and shout out instructions. The first tribe to complete their puzzles wins immunity, blankets, and a tarp. The second tribe will receive immunity and a tarp. The third tribe…we’ll let’s just say it’s not going to work out well for the third tribe.

Abi-Maria will sit out for Tandang, Dawson will sit out for Kalabaw.

They show the pre-game strategizing and neither Roxanne or Angie want to pull the sled twice. Also, I love that they’re showing pre-game strategizing.

Carter and Kent, Russell and Angie, and Pete and Skup are the first sled pullers. Tandang and Kalabaw get their sets back first while Matsing is having trouble maneuvering the sled.

Artis and RC and Katie and Penner go next. Roxanne and Malcolm are behind them but manage to make up some time.

In the last trip out, Kent and Carter build a lead with Skup and Pete behind them. Russell and Angie are still having problems with their sled.

We finally get all of the pieces back and RC and Pete, Malcolm and Russell, and Penner and Kent are our puzzle teams. Dana, Denise, and Lisa are our tower callers.

Tandang gets their first two sections done quickly. Matsing is just behind them. Kalabaw is having troubles. Probst blames it on them not listening to Dana’s advice.

Finally, everyone’s working on the final puzzle. Tandang completes theirs first to win immunity. Kalabaw and Matsing are neck and neck, with Kalabaw managing to pull off the win.

Russell’s ticked. He chucks one of the puzzle pieces. Probably cause it’s the second time he’s lost a tarp on this show.

Once they get back to camp, Russell apologizes for blowing up again. That’s his second apology this episode. Angie proves she’s a glass-is-half-full kind of girl by saying at least they were close.

Politicking at Matsing centers around Roxanne trying to get rid of Angie. She accuses Angie of being the weakest link…which is weird because Angie pulled the sled twice and Roxanne didn’t.

Denise sums everything up as Angie and Malcolm on one side, Russell and Roxanne on the other and her in the middle. She hopes Malcolm isn’t blinded by the headlights, which might become one of my favorite “Survivor” lines ever.

This also marks the third person who has made reference to Angie’s…assets. It’s a hat rack trick!

That night at Tribal Council, Roxanne says the one thing she’d change about the tribe is that they spend too much energy working around camp.

Denise disagrees, she thinks they need to have fire, water, and shelter to be strong at challenges.

Angie says if she could change one thing about the tribe, it would be that they could have cookies. Probst has no response but to stare. Am I the only one who’s starting to like Angie?

Malcolm tries to play it off, saying they’re all hungry. Probst doesn’t buy it. Malcolm agrees that Angie didn’t give a phenomenal answer.

Next, Roxanne says something about Angie and Malcolm sitting in a tree. Oooo…

Malcolm says that Angie is like a sister to him. Roxanne finds that statement creepy. I’m saddened by the fact that Roxanne didn’t use Christy’s “creepy” sign language from “Survivor: The Amazon.”

Probst literally tells Angie to “wake up” and realize that being in a relationship puts a big target on their backs. It’s like he’s teaching “Survivor 101” and this is a lecture from the Ozzy Lusth/”Boston” Rob chapter.

Voting Time: Roxanne votes for Angie, Angie votes for Roxanne, and the rest of the votes gots some waitin’ to do.

J-Pro takes the votes, reads them, places them in a specific order, has a drink of water, and returns. We’ve got one vote for Roxanne, one vote for Angie, one vote for Roxanne, and the second person to be voted out of “Survivor: Philippines” is…Roxanne.

Verdict: I’ve got to tell you, the hardest part about going out to “Survivor: Philippines” was coming home and having to watch “Survivor: One World.” I was dying to see this cast play the game and they haven’t disappointed so far.

However, I would like to see Kalabaw and Tandang worry about Tribal for a change.

Who’s Going to Win: Boy, it’s tough to stick to my Malcolm prediction. If Matsing keeps losing, there’s bound to be a tribe swap or something and that rarely turns out well for strong people from the smaller tribe.

Power Rankings Results: “Survivor: One World” favorite Kat Edorrson had Roxanne in spot ten, while I nailed it, placing her in spot seventeen. So, the current score is Team Kat: 10, Team Awesome Thunder 17.

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

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

September 19, 2012

Lisa Whelchel (CBS)

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

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

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

Set Your DVR to Record “Survivor”

39 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, the tribes as we start off are…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aww…rest in peace, John Candy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Survivors are ready…and they go.

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

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

Dana and Katie finally get their oars to their rowers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, “king me” is a checkers term…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official ‘Survivor: Philippines’ Pre-Game Rankings

September 19, 2012

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

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

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

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

DVR the “Survivor” Premiere

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

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

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

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

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

September 18, 2012

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

DVR the “Survivor” Premiere

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

Meet the New Castaways:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 17, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 17, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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