Category: Anthony Williams

'Survivor' post-game: Matt Elrod talks about 'Avatar'-like swims and possibly returning to the game

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He's admitted that the game was "far more difficult" than he expected it to be, but that doesn't mean that Matt Elrod didn't give it his all on "Survivor: Redemption Island."

To recap his crazy journey, Matt was the second person voted out of the game, but he survived over at Redemption Island long enough to return to the game when the tribes merged. But his blind faith got him sent right back, and although he lasted until the final RI duel of the season, he fell to both Mike and Andrea. Still, a castaway voted out in the second episode wasn't completely out of it until the finale.

I emailed Matt some questions on what his experience was like, given that he was by himself for a lot of the time, and what he plans to do now.

Were you always as outspoken with your faith? Besides submitting to God's will, what were the most memorable lessons you took away from the experience?

I mentioned this in the finale, but following your heart doesn't mean it's necessary to ignore reason and logic. If I hadn't blindly followed much of what I felt, it could have been a different game.

Most reality TV participants have funny, interesting stories about all the stuff that didn't air. You were by your lonesome for most of your game, but what unseen memories do you have that you're willing to share?

One night, Mike and myself looked out and saw the ocean lit up with phosphorescence.  Neither of us had ever seen it so bright, so we swam in it, and it was like "Avatar"! I was surrounded by neon blue water that almost looked like I was on fire with it while swimming. That was easily the most visually stunning thing I have experienced.

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'Survivor' post-game: Phillip talks insanity, Natalie defends her strategy

100554_0035bc(1) They’re this season’s “Survivor” runner-ups, but did anyone think they really had a chance at besting Boston Rob? They certainly did.

Phillip Sheppard and Natalie Tenerelli, both living in Southern California, outwit, outplayed and outlasted 15 other castaways, placing second and third, respectively (second place on “Survivor” still gets you $100,000, while third and every rank down from there gets an unreleased amount that drops with each position). A lot of fans have been vocal about Phillip and Natalie having played horribly, and I’ve said my piece before, but the two players shared their side during a joint conference call with me.

Phillip has said before how he had a perfect strategy going into the game that had to be completely reworked once he saw Boston Rob get off of the helicopter. He backed off of it being perfect, but illustrated said plan for me.

“It was having a better understanding of ‘Survivor’ by someone who’d never really been into it, playing with others who hadn’t either,” Phillip said. He read executive producer Mark Burnett’s book, “Survivor” fan books, everything he could devour, all while reflecting on his growing up in the outdoors, in the Army.

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'Survivor' post-game: Rob elaborates on his difficult path to victory

2214_Publicity_Still_54 Have you had your fill of “Survivor” post-show interviews yet? No? Good, because I’ve got plenty on the way.

“Boston Rob” Mariano did what seemed so unlikely at first: He won “Survivor: Redemption Island.” I thought everyone would wise up at some point and vote him out like they did the other veteran, hated Russell Hantz.

On the reunion show Sunday night and in other interviews, Rob maintained that it wasn’t as easy as it looked. So during his conference call Monday afternoon, I asked him what in particular, besides the immunity challenges that almost made him pass out, was hard.

“It wasn’t really the physical aspect,” he said. “It never has been for me. And having done it more and more over the years, it’s gotten easier because you know what to expect. The difficult part was the constant checking on the strategizing. ... I’d give them a tidbit that had no impact on the game whatsoever –- the sun’s rising in the east today –- and time and time again, they came back to me with critical information.”

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'Survivor' reunion recap: Love! Valor! Resentment!

100554_0105bc There wasn’t a lot of earth-shattering information revealed in this season’s “Survivor” reunion, but it was par for the course. Boston Rob, the winner, reviewed his strategy, which we’d all followed for the last few months. It may be hard, but remember when just the thought of Rob going all the way, let alone getting any jury votes or winning, seemed absolutely ridiculous?

That was a neat strategy for the returning player. The fact that enough of his competition bought it and failed to gather the gumption to stop it made it awesome. Rob’s victory was made even more impressive after Ashley revealed that he told her and Natalie that he had the immunity idol. They never thought to try to flush it out before it was too late?

She went on to say that, when Andrea returned from Redemption Island, that was “a pivotal moment” when they more seriously considered flipping on Rob. But Natalie said they couldn’t, because they knew he had the idol, and it being the last time he could use it, he would.

But wait! What’s that I hear? It’s Rob’s kids interrupting the proceedings, and host Jeff Probst acknowledging them and not-so-subtly telling Rob’s wife, Amber, to get them out of there.

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'Survivor' recap: And the winner of 'Survivor' is ... Boston Rob

2214_Publicity_Still_55 Even with me putting off writing down the winner of this season’s “Survivor,” it should be more than obvious who did. There was nothing the others could do -- besides, you know, kicking butt when it mattered -- and as predictable the outcome was, it wasn’t undeserved.

I mean, you can have a season like the last one, where anyone can win in the end, but most of you loathed Nicaragua. We can’t say the producers responded to that, since this season and the last were both taped last summer, but there were a bunch of great elements together. Two former players, in two separate tribes, treated in two completely different ways, plus a big twist to the game.

But look at me, I’m blabbing on like a jury member who doesn’t care to hear what you have to say. Let’s recount the evidence and go over the verdict.

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'Survivor' post-game: The pontifications of farmer Ralph

2213_Publicity_Still_26 He was a diamond in the rough during the thrilling first few episodes of this season's "Survivor." Then, as we knew would happen, his alliance's early plan defeated them (as seen in the photo here, the jury as we know it is completely comprised of said alliance members).

Still, farmer Ralph seemed like a star with his lack of fear of (or at least willingness to go toe-to-toe with) villain Russell Hantz. He even got lucky by finding his tribe's hidden immunity idol. But he refused to listen to other strategies, and then even used up his idol on someone else, Mike, when neither was in danger.

"I thought I was really making a big move there, but was told wrong," Ralph told me during our phone interview. Tapping into his extreme confidence there and throughout the game, I asked if there was ever a time when he doubted himself.

"Yeah, when we merged I knew I was just biding my time," he said, alluding to Boston Rob's complete control of the other players. "I was kind of down in the dumpsters a little bit, but there was no way I would just give up. I was looking for an opportunity, hoping someone else would make a bad move."

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'Survivor' recap: Too little, too late?

99556_D05779 Well, well, well. Looks like one of the remaining people on “Survivor” finally decided to play … once that person absolutely had to.

I guess you could argue that said player just got lucky in the immunity challenge. Andrea certainly waged a similar last-second battle to stay in the game but almost doesn't count. It also certainly seemed like much more of a sure thing that said person would be safe this week after so many “they absolutely can’t win” statements aired.

But that’s enough vague writing. With four days left until the live finale and reunion -- where’d the time go? Is it, too, doing whatever Rob says? -- let's break down our last regular installment of the Redemption Island season. One more of Rob's "friends" blind mice tribe mates has to go, who will it be?

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'Survivor' post-game: Forget women, it was food that Steve pined for

100311_SG00166 Steve Wright, try as he might, couldn’t get things just wright (so sorry) on “Survivor.” The former Dallas Cowboys player made it far but became the third addition to this season’s jury.

His former Zapatera tribe members Stephanie and Krista went on and on about Steve and others being so boring. My interview with him didn’t do much to change that perception. But hey! For everyone who watched Steve waste away over the last few months: he did in fact lose 33 pounds.

“I got a pretty good jump on [regaining the weight]. I ate nonstop for a few weeks,” Steve said.
When you’re enjoying waffles with ice cream for breakfast, that definitely helped him get back up to 240 pounds. Steve said his game plan going in to the game was just to not succumb to food.

“When I saw those cheeseburgers [presented as a temptation during a previous immunity challenge], that went out the window,” he said. “Besides that, it was just to keep up morale, not have any division … keep everyone together as a team, but you gotta be flexible.”

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'Survivor' recap: Two steps forward, two steps back

100311_SG00149 So … yeah. Once again, the takeaway from the newest “Survivor” wasn’t anything we didn’t see coming, but there was more for us to chew on with new notes, strategies and theories thrown out there. Kind of.

First, just like with “Big Brother” last summer, an alliance came out intact without anyone flipping. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is debatable. And second, after Ralph and Steve arrived at Redemption Island, Mike noted that the jury will be made up of mostly Zapatera tribe members that made it to the merge. That seemed unimportant at first, then made total sense.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s get to the run-through. Both the Murlonio tribe and those on RI got the equivalent of Oprah’s favorite things on “Survivor” — tree mail with Sprint on it. They watched videos of loved ones before the four-way duel (fouel? fuel?), and of course people got emotional (Natalie for the second time in the episode, after having “a moment” after last week’s tribal council). There was a twist, though, that wasn’t introduced until after Steve unsurprisingly placed last in another tile-breaking challenge and became the third member of the jury.

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'Survivor' postgame: Julie says 'You can't put a price tag on faith'

100311_SG0SG081[1] She was probably my favorite of the Zapatera tribe, someone who appeared to be playing the game the whole time but wasn’t running their mouth too much. Still, Julie Wolfe only lasted long enough to become the second member of the “Survivor: Redemption Island” jury.

Julie was a part of the tribe that threw an immunity challenge solely for the purpose of getting rid of the infamous Russell Hantz. In the end, the loyalty that Zapatera trumpeted earlier this season when voting out others did Julie in when they were down in the numbers after merging with the Ometepe tribe. Well, that and she unnecessarily confessed to stealing and burying Phillip’s swim trunks.

Anyway, I knew I liked Julie for sure when watching her post-show “Life on the Ponderosa” videos. People voted off “Survivor” are always understandably hungry, ready to scarf down so much food. But I can’t recall anyone wanting to brush their teeth after many days in the wilderness, and during my phone interview with Julie I told her we were kindred spirits in that regard.

“I was hungry and wanted to eat, but I could not wait to brush my teeth after 28 days,” she said.

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'Survivor' recap: To fast forward, perchance to dream

99482_DD02408b Ooooh, another double elimination took place on “Survivor”! I don’t know what’s more exciting about it: that it moved things along quicker or that it provided for more drama.

Ha! Sorry, I couldn’t keep that going. There was absolutely no drama to speak of in this week’s episode. So, yes, it was awesome in that it got rid of two people we knew were goners and brings us true “what will happen?” scenarios next week.

Let me save you some time whether or not you watched the hour Wednesday night and sum it all up rather quickly. Phillip and Steve both faked nice after last week’s town hall on racism. Phillip finds his swim trunks after yet another meditation or whatever. Even with Matt down and out and ready to go home, Julie loses at the Redemption Island “truel.” Andrea feels bad for breaking Matt’s spirit and tells people about it, making Rob and others halfway think about voting her out.

Log rolling is this week’s immunity challenge, which NFL player-turned-yogi Grant was a lock to win, and he did. He won safety, a chocolate cake and milk, and he picked Rob and Andrea to share it with for two minutes. Even though Ralph offered to “hug his neck” but isn’t “a gay person.” There’s also a twist teased for the next tribal council, and everyone predicts that two people will be going to RI. Steve approaches Ashley and Natalie with another game-changing opportunity, saying the three girls could vote with him and Ralph and get rid of Rob. Ashley realizes that would totally work, but the two still run and tell Rob what the deal is.

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'Survivor' postgame: David can't talk about much

100311_SG0SG092[1]After the first "truel" of this season's "Survivor," West Hollywood attorney David Murphy was sent home for good. He is, though, the first member of the jury that voted for the winner to be named at the live finale Sunday, May 15.

I talked to "Murphy, David Murphy" before the season started since he was one of several Southern Californians competing. At that time he was outside a Santa Monica hospital, visiting a friend, so I assumed whatever was going on there had something to do with the conversation. Talking to him again today, well, he still seemed a little... down.

Now, yes, he did just relive himself losing any chance at winning a million dollars, but he definitely seemed to hold back more than others I've talked to so far. When I asked him why he was wearing a full business suit when he arrived in Nicaragua, he said he couldn't talk about that. For the life of me, I have no idea why. Is their a prequel yet to air? Was he in court right before heading to the airport?

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