Category: Anthony Williams

'Survivor' recap: What looks like crazy on an ordinary day

99556_D07552 At the beginning of this week’s “Survivor,” Matt’s praying because he fears he’s going insane out on Redemption Island. But the episode would center mainly on someone else’s crazy levels boiling over and neatly edited together. The producers built up strong cases for the audience to go either way as to whether something was crazy or racist, making for a unique tribal council that could serve as a talk-show pilot for host Jeff Probst.

First, Matt and Mike are joined at RI by “Murphy, David Murphy,” and don’t know what to make of a three-person duel. Likewise, Steve and the Zapatera tribe (and us viewers) don’t know what to make of Phillip. When we first see him this week, he’s speaking  some other language, then talks about his meditation being a part of Buddhism. Honestly, when someone can’t pronounce many pronouns correctly and blames it on dry mouth, it’s hard to listen to their religious teachings.

After Phillip is shown at his peaceful, happy place, he’s then upset over Zapatera’s abundance of rice. One assumes the tribes have the same amount of rice, but of course there are only three people left to divvy everything up in Zapatera compared with Ometepe’s six. What would Buddha do? As a former federal agent turned rice policeman, Phillip takes it upon himself to steal some of Zapatera’s rice.

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'Survivor' recap: The quick and painless

99556_D05602[1] “You’re using my stupidity for your glory.” That's a quote from Matt, “the most naive person ever to play the game of ‘Survivor,' " at the beginning of Wednesday night’s episode. He was praying after returning to Redemption Island, but really he and everyone from the former Ometepe tribe are subconsciously saying that prayer to Boston Rob. The show's almost becoming a soap opera, with Rob the Susan Lucci character who can do no wrong, always winning, if you will.

We basically (and thankfully) had two episodes combined into one this week, but neither of those episodes nor the tribal-council results were anything to write home about. No one even went home, as the two voted out will (apparently?) clash with Matt next week. It was quite a letdown for me after a long day at work, but I guess this season’s excitement levels had to even out before leading up to the finale a month from now.

The attempts at game play and what was edited to be drama did not work out on two fronts. First, you had people like Ralph approaching others the wrong way. "Am I on the chop block?"

Second, there were people like Ashley and Phillip who refused to talk game because their daddy Rob told them not to. You even had Natalie looking like the supporting actress in an after-school special, telling on Ashley because she didn’t talk game with Ralph but also didn’t tell Rob that Ralph said he’d vote for her to win over Rob. Really.

Rob even told his followers not to eat any of the fish caught in Ralph's net, and although Grant got a bite, they all snuggled with Rob as the others chowed down feet away. Tell me that's not some "All My Children" Erica Kane-like mess. Julie was right when she said the Ometepe survivors were like a cult under Rob’s direction. In fact, Julie was earning snaps from me throughout the hour. After Phillip said he was good with his new Ometepe family, Julie said, “Matt felt like y’all were a family too.” Oh, snap! Where did you come from, oh quick-witted Julie? You could have saved us from the crazy, dry-mouthed and meditatin' featherhead Phillip.

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'Survivor' postgame: Sarita says her last show was best episode ever

99556_D01049 A lot of people, namely the Zapatera tribe, were disappointed by Sarita White on “Survivor: Redemption Island.” But as some of you may know, the producers actually went after her upon seeing her throwing back a bunch of margaritas in Venice Beach. They loved her, but I asked Sarita what made her do the show, if it wasn’t even something she went after.

“It was just one of those things that fell from the air for me,” she said. “I love kind of anything that’s the best of what it does, and ‘Survivor’ is the best reality show there is. I work in the industry, and I can say it’s the truest as to what happens and what airs.”

Elaborating on that, Sarita said that there will always be editing to get a thorough story, while with other shows there’s a lot of manipulation. Still, she wanted to see more of the beginning of the game, when she felt she was doing more.

“I wish they’d shown more of the earlier time, with us getting Russell out,” she said. “I was more active, but they did get my quote in, ‘Getting Russell out would be like winning the million dollars for me.’ ”

Sarita seemed to make everyone like her on the show … and then she didn’t do so hot in the challenges. Even when it didn’t appear so to us viewers, Stephanie and others were shown briefly going off on Sarita being weak. Of course, later her pleas for help during immunity challenges were spotlighted, but by then she was at the bottom of Zapatera’s food chain. Sarita said, though, that she was good with her tribe until she became more honest with David.

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'Survivor' recap: The book of Matthew

99556_D01624 There really is nothing to say.

Who am I kidding, there’s plenty to say about last night’s “Survivor”! I mean … you would think … seriously? That’s how I feel about the whole episode, not just the last few minutes at tribal council.

First there was Sarita arriving at Redemption Island, telling Matt he’s been dreaming all this time when hearing Zapatera horror stories. Seemed kind of pointless to me (almost as humorous as hearing her say she’s a worthy competitor), but it further builds the case for Matt to switch teams if he returns to the game.

Turns out he didn’t have long before he was faced with that decision, because Matt won his sixth duel while Phillip talked on and on about some Bushido Blade nonsense. Matt reentered the game after defeating Sarita in a peg-standing contest, if you will, and then Jeff Probst announced the Zapatera and Ometepe tribes were merging … and that Redemption Island will be starting all over.

Anyone else surprised to hear that people still have a chance to return to the game after being voted out? At what point, exactly, will the last person standing at RI come back now? Your guess is as good as mine. As for now, Matt’s back and everyone’s enjoying a merge feast and thinking up names for their new tribe. They end up with… Murlonio, which Boston Rob says means “from the sea, united.” In reality, it’s the name of the ringleader of his wife’s stuffed animals. Sigh, getting kind of tired of this man right here.

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'Survivor' postgame: Stephanie talks a bit more trash

100311_SG034She may have been the one person I kind of wanted to defeat the unstoppable Matt on Redemption Island. But the "golden boy" won his fifth duel, and Long Beach waitress Stephanie Valencia was sent home on Wednesday night's "Survivor."

While preparing for my morning-after interview with her, I mainly wondered what didn't Stephanie Valencia say while on the show. As I expected, it wasn't much, which is why she braces herself when watching the episodes air.

"It’s kind of torturous the day of, you don’t know what they’re going to show," she said. "There's so many things I see myself say that I don’t remember saying ... but my family and friends, they know me."

She did remember her parting, caustic words to Ralph, which she said were edited out. She told him to stop kowtowing to Sarita.  "She would kind of tell him what to do around camp," Stephanie said, "and he'd always go do it."

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'Survivor' recap: Sense and sensibility

99483_DD13483 Those “Survivor” producers still know how to get you. I could go on about (as I sometimes do) about how obviously reality shows can be and are edited, but when they get it right, things seem presented as they happened. And last night’s episode of “Survivor” benefited from players taking no-holds-barred stands (over rice even) and a not-exactly-unexpected-yet-surprising turn of events.

It started with Zapatera right after the tribe returned from voting out Stephanie, and David decided he’s not going to play nice with Sarita and act like he didn’t just vote for her to leave. In the morning over on Redemption Island, we see Stephanie talking Matt’s ears off over peanut butter-covered snickerdoodle cookies and more. Maybe her strategy for knocking off the four-time RI duel victor is to annoy and tire him out?

Before the duel, Phillip tells his fellow Ometepe tribe members that he wants to see the duel, and Rob goes to act as chaperon. In addition, Ralph and David are Zapatera’s spectators for what turns out to be a memory game for the duel. Somehow, both Matt and Stephanie flip matching tiles over in the first round, and it’s an exciting duel before Matt wins yet again.

Before having to burn her buff, Stephanie tells Ralph she knows he doesn’t trust David, but he still would be much better off getting rid of Sarita before him. She also advised Rob to watch out for everyone left in the Zapatera tribe. Then Phillip went on some Bushido samurai tangent trying to compliment Matt, who could only laugh. Of course, the comedy didn't end there.

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'Survivor' postgame: Krista on her faith and playing with Russell

100311_SG036 Oh, Krista, we barely knew ye. And you seem like such an awesome, cool beans Christian.

The Southern “Survivor” castaway that Russell bragged on after he was eliminated from the current “Redemption Island” season was eliminated herself two duels after him. Both fell to another Christian castaway, Matt, in one-on-one, puzzle-type duels.

We saw very little of Krista until last week, after Russell was sent home, and she had to defend herself. Then in Wednesday night’s episode, we learned about her faith and saw her connect with Matt in their ramshackle shelter on Redemption Island. I asked Ms. Krista Klumpp if she talked to everyone about faith while in the game.

“Well, there’s lots of time to talk,” Krista said, laughing. “I have a tattoo on my foot that reads, ‘faith by His grace,’ so that started a few conversations. But only with Stephanie did the conversation go further and deeper. She wasn’t intimidated by it ... wanted to know more.”

When I asked Krista why Russell thought she could win it all when we’d hardly seen any of her on the show, she laughed.

“I don’t know ... in my alliance with Stephanie and Russell, they’re very big personalities,” she said. “That’s actually how I saw I fit in with them. I’m less on the dramatic side but strategic, wasn’t so brash with others.”

More on Krista’s first thoughts and moves in the game, Russell and who she thinks can win, after the jump.

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'Survivor' recap: Family portrait

100311_SG029 Like Pink’s song “Family Portrait,” “Survivor” this week featured a lot of people pushing for idealistic living situations and strategies instead of just … surviving. Let’s compare “important matters” that started the latest episode. At Ometepe’s camp, Crazy Phillip finally let Ashley and Natalie have it for not doing anything.

That’s a big deal; everyone has to do their share, pull their weight, etc. At least that’s something to fight about. Over at Zapatera, Steve is upset and offended that two people even thought to vote for him at tribal council. Yeah, Steve’s come down with that awful “how can you not agree with everything I say?” reality show disease. He was in the NFL for 12 years, doggone it, you will respect his authority.

OK, let me get to everything. The show began with last week’s newly visible and audible Krista, just voted out, arriving at Redemption Island. She lays down with Matt in his better-looking-every-week shelter, and soon we learn they’re both Christians. That’s the second girl Matt’s been able to open up and connect with over religion.

Meanwhile, it’s like “Top Model” back at Ometepe, where Ash and Nat are having yet another beach/spa day. We even get to see them pulling armpit hairs all in the name of beauty –- yay!
On to the duel at RI, where the combatants must use a grappling hook to get three bags and use one ball to finish a topsy-turvy maze (yeah, I don’t know why they had to get all three bags either). It was similar to the very first duel, with Matt falling behind early only to catch up and still win in the end.

Then it got interesting, because Krista received a Bible for her luxury gift at RI, and she gave it to Matt before putting her buff in the urn. The two have a moment in front of Jeff Probst, Andrea, Natalie, Julie and Mike, and who would’ve thought such a situation would rub someone the wrong way? Andrea basically says it made her remember she’s not special for connecting with Matt, and that while she’s been cheering for him from afar, his winning could ultimately be dangerous for her. Smart girl, guess I shouldn’t have picked her to be the first one voted out this season. But do you really think she'll let a pink Bible split up her first alliance with Matt, if he keeps going?

After that, the former special agent and beauty pageant girls really go at it back at Ometepe, while Stephanie feels she has to apologize to Steve just to have a chance at making it another week if Zapatera loses immunity again. For shame. But the firecracker does get some strategy in by going in on Sarita, who she once again dubs their weakest player.

Guess Sarita got the message, because at the next immunity and reward challenge, she jumps at the chance to sit out the lacrosse-like game where the first tribe to catch five balls wins. It was hardly a competition, as Ometepe won 5-0 and got to enjoy a big lunch somewhere resembling civilization. And whaddya know, Boston Rob spots another hidden immunity idol clue underneath a bowl of lobster tail.

This time, though, he and Grant are caught by Crazy Phillip while reading it later, and the man with lion and gorilla tattoos says he's getting more bothered by his “alliance.” (Before I forget, how about that incredible display of awkwardness between Crazy Phillip and Mike before the challenge?)

Zapatera, meanwhile, is figuring out who to send to RI next, and David’s doing his best to get Sarita out before Stephanie. Never mind Sarita’s new little tooth injury, it’s pretty much a decision between Sarita’s loyalty and Stephanie’s strength. Steph held no punches at tribal council in assailing Sarita’s weaknesses, but let’s not forget this is the tribe that lost on purpose to vote out Russell. Despite David’s loud objections, they vote out Stephanie.

That’s it this week. Nothing too spectacular, save for Matt winning yet another duel. Do you think Stephanie will be his best match so far, or will she use up all her energy stirring up trouble when talking to Probst and the duel’s spectators? Is Phillip growing on you at all after his blowup with Ash and Nat? I love that they know they’re not doing anything and don’t care. I mean, it’s not like there’s $1 million on the line.


"Survivor" postgame: Don't cry for Kristina

"Survivor" recap: Artificial intelligence

"Survivor" postgame: Russell won't go back, unless ...

Complete "Survivor" coverage on Show Tracker

— Anthony Williams / anthonyw_ent

Photos: Grant Mattos of the Ometepe tribe and Mike Chiesl of the Zapatera tribe, during the Beach Balls immunity challenge on "Survivor: Redemption Island." Credit: CBS

'Survivor' postgame: Don't cry for Kristina

100311_SG008 Poor, poor Kristina. That's what I was thinking last night when Kristina Kell was ousted from "Survivor: Redemption Island" after losing a duel to now three-time winner Matt.

But don't fret, because she sure isn't. Although she's the first of the eight Southern California residents on the current season to leave the show, Kristina has got a lot going on. And she still loves the show, even after I told her I felt she was forgotten briefly amid host Jeff Probst's questioning of Matt, Rob and Stephanie right before she was sent home.

"You have to understand, they're cutting a lot of stuff," Kristina said. "If Matt wants to chat away with Rob, that's fabulous because I can work on the puzzle [while he does so]."

I asked Kristina that age-old "Survivor" question: if she has any regrets, after coming out so strong from the get-go. She said she had no choice.

"The girls [Natalie and Ashley] were starstruck by Rob," she said, "and I couldn't lay on the beach all day and pick at my face. I had to try and hold on for as long as I could. There's also a big age difference between the girls and myself, 20 years."

Kristina also alluded to a bit of pride in her game-play, which likely stemmed from her greater maturity.

"I'm not going to bound down the beach like Bo Derek in '10,' she said. "I didn't want to get to the end and be, like, 'I'm here for my million but didn't do [anything]."

Of course, in my mind, the girls weren't the biggest part of Kristina's undoing. That honor goes to the supposed former federal agent, Phillip, who Kristina said she had to play with from the beginning because she didn't have numbers. She said she doesn't even regret that first tribal council, where Phillip put her whole game on blast.

"A couple of hours before tribal, I felt I'd lose him, and he was running around with his hands in the air telling me and Francesca that he'd tell our whole plan to everyone," she said. "He's a very difficult man ... showing the [hidden immunity idol] wasn't something I wanted to do."

Kristina said that even with Phillip running around like a chicken with its head cut off (as I imagine it with the new info), she was surprised at his outbursts at that first tribal council, because she had no idea he'd blown the whole plan.

She did have many nice adjectives for Francesca, though ("she's fabulous ... love her"), and named some other players she would have liked to align with in the game.

"Andrea was on the fence," she said. "She wanted Rob out, but didn't want to make a bold move. I talked to Matt too."

Kristina said she's very grateful to a lot of people who supported her, to the show for the experience and to the medias. She said she catches up with Francesca every now and then and talks to Matt too.

But right now she's in the middle of her last semester at the University of La Verne College of Law. In addition, she and her husband are keeping busy running a store in Los Feliz called Glory Sales and Service, with all products made in America. She said she also volunteers with families of autistic children, pushing for early intervention and helping the parents of the newly diagnosed.

"It's scary, and it's something I know about," she said, talking about her own autistic child.

As with Russell last week, I asked Kristina who she would put money on to win this season, and who she personally wants to win. She said Matt on both counts.

"If Matt makes it back into the game for the merge, he's a force to be reckoned with," she said. "He's got charm, talent and wants revenge."

I also asked the admitted "Survivor" super-fan what it was like to be a spectator at last week's duel and witness the end (?) of the Russell era.

"It was fascinating, happy I was there for that," she said. "He's definitely a character and a brilliant 'Survivor' player. I watched him a long time in awe ... to see him cry -- it's an emotional game, so it wasn't a surprise. If you hate him or love him, you can't deny he loves this game."


"Survivor" recap: Artificial intelligence

"Survivor" postgame: Russell won't go back, unless ...

"Survivor" recap: Amateur hour

Complete "Survivor" coverage on Show Tracker

— Anthony Williams / anthonyw_ent

Photos: Matt Elrod and Kristina Kell compete in a duel on "Survivor: Redemption Island." Credit: CBS

'Survivor' recap: Artificial intelligence

100311_SG019 Apologies for a delayed post this morning, amigos. I'm in the middle of moving, and I think you all know how that can be. Still, we had another all-new "Survivor" this week, and wasn't the pre-show catch-up introduction pretty spot on?

Veterans Boston Rob and Russell were running in different directions, with Rob quickly gaining blind allegiance over the Ometepe tribe. Russell, meanwhile, only had the trust and favor of two girls in Zapatera. The others disliked him so much they threw a competition to send him to Redemption Island, where he lost and was reduced to tears by Matt. And after losing yet again, Ometepe tribe members still had Kristina’s name on their lips and sent her on her way to RI.

It’s important to remember that, even though we’re now at Episode 5 of this season, only two people have really gone home. It’ll be interesting to see if the newness and momentum of it all remain as things either continue to twist and turn or settle into a groove of been there, done that.

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'Survivor' postgame: Russell won't go back, unless ...

So that happened, as ESPN's Tony Reali would say. After making it to the end in back-to-back seasons, Russell Hantz was sent home from "Survivor." The first from his tribe and the second of the current "Redemption Island" season.

I talked to Russell Thursday morning on the phone and asked him if he really, honestly now felt that he'd never do the show again.

"It'd probably happen if you write me a check for a million dollars before it even happens," he said. "People go on there for money or fame, and I have that. I have no reason to play."

That wasn't the end of that, but even though I knew he'd likely been asked about the show spoiler accusations in other post-show interviews, I had to see what he'd say to me.

"I am sick of hearing about it. Anyone who knows me knows that's ... ," Russell colorfully said.

More on how he really felt about Ralph and his other Zapatera tribe mates (guess who he tried to align with first?), second chances and, yes, doing the show again.

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'Survivor' recap: Amateur hour

99483_DD12163 Son of a biscuit-eating bulldog, that was some hour of television there, huh “Survivor” fans? Even if you haven’t been watching the show forever, just the mix of history and pure sport was awesome.

But, as always, the beginning. Matt is surprised to have Russell wake him up in his shelter at Redemption Island, although he knew he was coming sooner or later. As they lay there, Matt tells Russell he was one of his favorites to watch on the show.

“Blindsided by Rob, bunking with Russell,” Matt says out loud. To which Russell says, “That’s kind of cool.”

Don’t get it twisted, Russell’s scheming and hating all the while. In his confessional footage, he talks about beating everyone in his way and telling his tribe mates who arrive after he beats Matt to “sleep in the mud, fool.” One step at a time, sir.

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