Category: Survivor

'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.

RELATED:

"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

Twitter.com / 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

Ellen Degeneres' campaign against 'Celebrity Apprentice' and other supersized reality shows

It’s the silent epidemic. But Ellen DeGeneres is finally lending her star power to put an end to it.

Reality shows, watch out. You know who you are. You’re the ones who think so much of yourself that you clock in at 120 minutes.

“I’m talking to you, ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ ” she says in her mock public service announcement. “You’ve assembled the craziest cast ever, but what’s crazier than that is making me spend two hours of my Sunday watching your show ….”

The Biggest Loser” and “Survivor” are also called out in her crusade against two-hour reality shows.

But why stop there? We'd like for Ms. Degeneres to consider adding those three-part Bravo reunion specials to her campaign against the unnecessarily overinflated programming.

Show Trackers, do you join Ellen in this campaign? Or do you like the supersized versions of your favorite reality shows?

— Yvonne Villarreal

twitter.com/villarrealy

Video credit: "The Ellen DeGeneres Show"

'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."

RELATED:

"Survivor" recap: Artificial intelligence

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

"Survivor" recap: Amateur hour

Complete "Survivor" coverage on Show Tracker

— Anthony Williams
Twitter.com / 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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CBS wants more 'Survivor' and Jeff Probst

Probst The Tribal Council at CBS has spoken: Two more editions of "Survivor" are in our near future.

The network has ordered a 23rd and 24th edition of the long-running reality competition series to be broadcast during the 2011-2012 season.

And Mr. Survivor himself, Jeff Probst, has signed a new agreement to return as host and executive producer.

This season, the series moved from its Thursday home to Wednesdays. The current edition, "Survivor: Redemption Island," up against Fox's juggernaut "American Idol," averages 11.70 million viewers, according to the network.

But who can even think about the future with Wednesday night's episode -- Russell versus Matt!!-- looming? 

Show Trackers, have you had your fill of "Survivor"?  Are you glad Probst is sticking with it?  Could you imagine the show without him?

 -- Yvonne Villarreal
twitter.com/villarrealy

Photo: Jeff Probst. Credit: Getty Images

'Survivor' postgame: Francesca excited about being a spectator

99483_DD10192[1] I don't know about you, but as good as the new "Survivor" is, I think it could have been more so if Francesca Hogi had been able to stick around a bit longer.

But, playing coulda-shoulda-woulda won't get us anywhere. I talked to Francesca briefly Thursday morning after she was sent home for real-real following a duel with tribe mate Matt on Wednesday night's episode of "Survivor: Redemption Island." I followed up on a New York Daily News interview in which she said she'd be far away from a TV when the show premiered a few weeks ago. She said she'd do karaoke, and doggone it, she did.

"All of my really close friends and family were all watching the show," she said. “I did karaoke with some of my co-workers. And during Episode 2, I went for drinks with some friends."

Of course, she said, she got a constant stream of text messages and e-mails as the show aired ("It was funny to read their reactions to things in real time.") On Wednesday night, she said, she finally sat down and watched an episode, and found it enjoyable. Don't think she's completely out of the loop, though.

"I read recaps. ... I know it happened," she said, laughing. "I can't wait to see how it all played out. I'm excited to watch as a spectator."

After the jump, more from Francesca on that crazy tribal council, Redemption Island and some of her bits of favorite pop culture.

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'Survivor' recap: When a concubine can't keep her mouth shut

99483_DD10753 Sorry, everybody. The cafeteria’s all out of crow today after some “Survivor” castaways had to eat more than their share last night. But, oh, how nice it was just getting to watch them eat.

Let’s not lose sight on the all that happened in the third episode of this “Redemption Island” season. Someone finally went home, there was a tie vote at tribal council, and someone's inability to stop talking might have destroyed their game. There was also a lot of talk of harems and concubines, which is good for any high school freshmen reading "The Good Earth" out there.

I wondered how everything would fit inside the hour, if anything would be obviously missing (there were a few things, like how I assume Jeff Probst still asked for hidden immunity idols to be presented at tribal council even though it wasn’t shown). But everything fit very nicely into a filling and delicious episode.

It all started with Matt arriving at Redemption Island, where Francesca was just as surprised to see him as he was to be there. At Ometepe’s camp, Boston Rob was practically giddy with the way everything went down at tribal council, with Kristina using her immunity idol and Matt getting blindsided. He and Grant told Phillip he was the fifth member in their alliance, knowing he also had to calm the angry and betrayed Andrea.

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