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 Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa

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PostSubject: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptyTue Sep 22, 2009 8:18 pm

Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa Survivor-probst_l1

Welcome back, Survivor fans. Okay, enough small talk, let’s get to it.
Back in the good ‘ole days of the movie business, stars and starlets
were often discovered having a malt at the corner drug store.
Well, not many folks drink malts anymore and the corner drug stores
are long gone, but stars and starlets are still being discovered every
week…on reality shows.
If you’re an actor you hate me for even suggesting such an idea.
Reality shows responsible for discovering stars? Hogwash. “Reality
shows” and “stars” are mutually exclusive ideas, you protest.
Hang on, cause I’m gonna take it one irritating step further. The
truly great reality stars of today… often write their own material as
Go ahead, writers, pelt me with tomatoes. Throw stones at my head. I
get it. I understand the frustration, but it doesn’t deter my beliefs.
In fact, I am going to challenge you to be honest with yourself and with me if and when you respond to this blog.
A new star has most definitely been born. He stands about 5 feet
tall and when he slips that buff on top of his head, he transforms into
a pirate, missing tooth and all. He was discovered on Survivor,
the greatest reality show of all time, his name is Russell Hantz and in
addition to being absolutely captivating on television, he writes and
delivers some of the greatest material ever heard in 20 seasons of Survivor.
As long as Russell is on the show you are going to be talking about
him and I am going to be writing about him. Instead of protesting like
you did last season about my infatuation with Coach, why not try
“riding the horse in the direction it’s going.” ‘Cause trust me, that
is the direction this blog is going.
But for now, a brief detour.
I love Shambo! Shambo is the prototype for what we look for when casting Survivor. The voice, the walk, the hair! I think Survivor fans are going to adore Shambo and root for her to win. Who knows… maybe she will.
She is clearly a bit of an outcast on her tribe and that is part of
her appeal. She moves to her own beat but she respects her leader, I’ll
refer to him as the “Dreadlocked” Russell, (who is off to a great start
leading Galu) and that’s commendable. If I had to guess, I’d say Shambo
is already one of the most popular people of this season. While I’m at
it, you’re going to like Dreadlocked Russell as well.
Ben is a bully. I don’t really like bullies but I also don’t want
Ben showing up at my front door looking for revenge, so I’m going to
call Ben the “likable Bully” but the truth is I don’t know him well
enough to know if he is likable, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t.
Likable, that is. Could be very likable. Probably is.
Marisa doesn’t like bullies. She also doesn’t appreciate anybody
telling her what to do. I really liked what I saw of Marisa, but her
reluctance to take a step back and “count to 10″ did her in. I was
bummed to see her go so early. Attractive women are not in short supply
on Survivor, especially this season, but attractive women with a strong point of view are few and far between. Marisa left too soon.
Back to Russell Hantz, let’s just call him “Evil” Russell to make it easy.
I must admit, I am instantly intrigued by a villain who spouts as
his philosophy: “The most important thing is honesty.” Then proceeds to
make alliances with everyone on his tribe.
Russell: “I have an alliance with the dumb short-haired blonde. I
have another alliance with the even dumber long-haired blonde. It’s my
dumb-ass girl alliance.”
INSIGHT: Keep in mind that the interviews you see on the show are
done in private, away from all other Survivors. So last night when
Ashley and Natalie were watching Survivor at home and heard
Russell’s comments about them it was for the first time. Imagine
watching with your family or your boyfriend as Russell refers to you as
part of his “dumb-ass girl alliance.” Ah, this is going to be a fun
Without question, the most jaw-dropping sequence in last nights premiere episode of Survivor: Samoa was this one:
Russell: “I lived in New Orleans, right by the levee. The storm
(hurricane) was a category five. When it hit… it broke the levee…. I
was in my house. Me and my German Shepard, his name was, uh, Rocky.
I tried to get out of the house and realized I wasn’t gonna make it. So I grabbed my axe.
Because as a fireman, one thing you learn that if you go in
something you have to be able to get out… The water was rushing in… I
looked at Rocky, I couldn’t see him.. It was muddy water. He’s gone, I
couldn’t find him.”
Cut to: Russell: I never lived in New Orleans. I’m not a fireman. I
never even had a German Shepard. It’s crazy how you can break their
hearts by telling them a lie.
In a span of 10 minutes, he emptied everybody’s canteen (his own
tribemates) and burned Jaison’s socks in the fire. Not since Denzel
Washington in Training Day have you seen someone this evil.
Ah relax, I’m just pushing your buttons. But be honest, your jaw hit your knee when you heard the New Orleans story, right?
Talk about using and abusing a national tragedy for your own good. With that lie alone, Russell earns consideration into the Survivor Villain Hall Of Fame.
Okay, a few more thoughts.
SHOW INSIGHT: You may have noticed, this episode did not have our normal “Survivor
Open,” where we show you really sexy shots of all the Survivors. Not to
worry, it does exist, we just had so much good material that we decided
to use the time to put more content into the show. Look for it next
PERSONAL INSIGHT: Voting out Marisa over Mike
Borassi? I think it was a mistake. I like Borassi a lot. He’s a great
character, but Marisa was strong. Foa Foa made their first mistake and
I think it will cost them in challenges.
TOURIST DESTINATION: At the beginning of the show I
always say “39 days, 20 people, 1 Survivor.” The spot we chose this
time is called “The Blow Holes” located on the island of Savaii in
Samoa. I gotta tell you it ranks right up there as one of the coolest
places we’ve ever shot the tag line. Those blasts of water shoot nearly
100 feet high. If you watch it again it looks like I must have been
drenched by the water, but the truth is, I never got so much as a drop
on me.
Betsy is a wise woman. She’s on to Evil Russell. You gotta love and
trust the insight and wisdom of a cop. A female cop, no less. It’s a
two for one deal. You get a woman’s intuition and the experience of a
cop. Betsy is right. 100%. Don’t trust Russell.
The question is, will anybody listen?
Until next week…
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PostSubject: Re: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptyFri Sep 25, 2009 10:07 am

Betsy is gone. Major bummer. One of the most likable people on our show in a long, long time. More on that later.

First, regarding the ongoing conversation that this blog generates…let me say this: I love your comments. It’s one of the best things to emerge in recent years. I thank Dalton Ross of Entertainment Weekly for giving me the opportunity to chat with you guys. I should also note that people in television whose job it is to deal with unhappy viewers have a tested theory that people who “don’t like” something write in about 90% more than those who do. So a blog full of negative comments is not unusual and while your comments absolutely get my attention, I do take into consideration, there are people who feel differently.

Okay, let’s get to it… another feisty episode for sure, eh?

Jaison is so well spoken. We don’t often have contestants that can state their case with such efficiency. However, I’m not sure his attitude is flexible enough to win this game. He has very strong opinions, which he vocalizes often and he has a hard time letting others be who they want to be. I think Jaison is approaching this game like a courtroom trial. I state my case. You state yours. A judge decides. Only problem, it doesn’t work that way out here.

My wish for Jaison would be for him to laugh a bit more, get a little dirty (actually get dirty), and try to let some of the smaller stuff go, because he is a strong presence and could last a long time.

Russell finds the idol. Oh man you guys hated that, right? But come on. The dude found the idol with no clue. Let me repeat that…he found the idol with no clue. He told them he was looking for it. He dug in front of them. Nobody even questioned it. “Booh-yah.”

Jaison certainly did not like the fact that Russell was in possession of the idol, but Jaison HE found it. He got off his ass and found it. Like him or not, the dude hustles. Also, unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I can’t make Russell go home faster or stay longer. “It is what it is. It will be what it will be.”

PERSONAL INSIGHT: As Jaison walked away from Russell (who was holding the idol) he said in reference to the idol, “We’ll discuss it later.” This is what I’m talking about Jaison. There will be no discussing it later. Russell has it, you’re not getting it. This is not a conference room where you two will negotiate a fair and just settlement. He owns it and now he owns you. He does. You better change that and quickly.

SHOW INSIGHT: The Immunity challenge was called Schmergenbrawl. It came to be a Survivor challenge in a rather interesting way. Two seasons ago, our grip department (the guys who move all the heavy stuff) created a game they called Schmergenbrawl. They played it on their off days. It was very basic. There was a collection of different balls: football, rugby ball, soccer ball, basketball, etc. There were two trashcans about 15 feet apart. Each time you tossed a ball into the can you scored a point. It became a phenomenon on location culminating with a full-day (a day off) 15-team tournament that included bleachers, an announcer, lots of beer, and a total downpour. Yes, we do have some fun during our 39-day shoots on location.

It was so popular we started looking at it as a possible challenge. After a few modifications from our challenge department, it became one of the most physical challenges in the history of Survivor. In addition, Ben is thrown out of the challenge making more Survivor history and Mike Borassi is evacuated. Talk about epic. Whoa.

Back to the challenge…let me be really clear. The contestants were playing very aggressively and when I gave them the warning I was really clear. No more cheap shots. Tripping someone by putting your leg a foot in the air is a cheap shot.

SHOW INSIGHT: Ben was mad at me. He felt other people were doing things “just as bad as me.” He felt I was picking on him. I wasn’t. He just happened to do it right in front of me after I warned him. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t lose a moment’s sleep over the decision. It was a punk move. And yes, I am a bit worried that Ben might want to kick my ass, because he could. Of that there is no doubt. Tough dude. In fact, in case Ben is reading this, I should let you know that my house is on the market and the house that is supposed to be mine on the “Stars of Hollywood” map is actually owned by Ryan Seacrest.

I love Borassi. Man, I hated to see him go. The guy gave it his all. He really did. He was out there throwing down with all the other guys, some of them 30 years younger. He’s a good guy and it’s a bummer he had to be evacuated, but he was in trouble. Our medics don’t mess around. They don’t want to take anybody out of the game, but if a contestant’s vital signs are not good, they’re gone. We gave Mike about an hour to get stable and he wasn’t getting any better. Tough way to go, but he went out fighting.

Foa Foa is in trouble. This is probably the fastest that any tribe has been down 3 members in the history of the game. Galu is living the high life. Things are so good that the only thing they have to complain about is Shambo. When Shambo is your biggest pain in the ass, life ain’t too bad.

Shambo cracks me up. She is so sincere and so unaware. I love that she said, “Do you want the good news or the bad news?” Good news? Shambo, there wasn’t any good news. You came up empty handed with the fishing and you broke the gear. I love her. I know she bugs some viewers, and the entire tribe of Galu, but I still dig her.

Yasmin is her own story. Wow. Never before have I seen a monologue like the one she delivered to the Foa Foa tribe. Like a Mary Kay saleswoman. She had the best of intentions but nobody wanted what she was selling. And with those shoes, all she needed was a pink Cadillac. Anybody?

Yasmin: “And Ben, I’d like to talk to you in private…” I couldn’t wait for that moment. Yasmin and Ben in private. Bring it. Man, I love America. For the record, I am watching their conversation again as I write this blog. It’s sick, twisted, disgusting, disappointing, disturbing, uncomfortable, and completely compelling. Amazing Race should put them together as a pair for next season.

PERSONAL INSIGHT: I know my comments often frustrate you, so let me explain how I look at moments and people like this… I just observe. I’m a human being on this planet living just like you. People like Russell, Ben, Yasmin – they live here too. People fascinate me. We are all doing what we think is best for us at any given moment. It’s easy to judge. Others and ourselves. I do it all the time. When I first met Russell I said to everyone else in the room, “That guy is pure evil.” But he’s on this show, he’s doing what he’s supposed to do – which is play Survivor how he sees fit – and I respect him in that sense. Making up a story about Katrina is downright despicable but so is lying about your dead grandma. “It is what it is.” You can get mad at me or you can join me in taking a step back and just listening and observing and hoping that karma catches up and people get what they deserve. Then again, it is Survivor and sometimes karma takes a vacation.

Ben was looking for attention, at least that’s my take. He likes conflict, likes to challenge the norm. He certainly got it in this episode.

TRIBAL COUNCIL. I know, I know, the high-five between Ben and Russell made most of you scream. I get it.

CASE IN POINT: Regarding just “taking in” what people give you rather than getting all “up in arms” about it…. Ben’s comments to me at Tribal about “I didn’t know we were playing by your sissy rules.” In spite of the deep sigh you saw me give, they really didn’t get to me. What does get to me is not having enough time in tribal council to show everything that goes down. Ben and I went at it quite a bit that night. He may be able to beat me up, but in a game of Q and A, he’s all mine. But alas we only have a few minutes for Tribal so you only get the meat.

Say goodbye to Betsy. Too soon. Betsy was the only one who really understood Ben. She told the tribe everything they needed to know but nobody listened. Betsy’s gone. A nice woman, a true Survivor fan, and already a fan favorite. A lot of people told me they were already rooting for Betsy to win. Have faith, the game is long. Other rootables will emerge.

MOST UNCOMFORTABLE MOMENT: Ben shooting his imaginary gun at the “bad cop” Betsy. Now that was just wrong.

See you next week to discuss… The Russell seed.
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PostSubject: Re: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptySat Oct 03, 2009 1:14 pm

Jeff Probst blogs 'Survivor: Samoa': episode 3
by Jeff Probst

I will be honest up front that this is going to be a unique blog because as I sit on my couch writing, my mind and my heart are with all the local Samoan families who are in dire straits as a result of a devastating earthquake and tsunami that rocked the island of Upolu, just a few days ago. So much devastation, so many lives lost.

This is show business and the show must go on, so I will share my thoughts about this episode, but bear in mind my focus is somewhat challenged.

Here we go…

Last night’s episode was one of my favorites and tribal council one of the hardest to watch. Jaison showed some real backbone. I was happy to see it. It is fascinating to watch someone reach their breaking point and then what happens as a result. Jaison threw down the ultimatum and in doing so earned a lot of respect. Certainly from me.

PERSONAL INSIGHT: Jaison struggled a lot these first several days of Survivor. There were many times that it appeared to me his heart was just not in the game. I now wonder how much his struggle with Ben had to do with his spirit, as it clearly was taking a toll on him. More on Jaison later…

WHO IS PLAYING THIS GAME ANYWAY?: Russell made a big statement last night about being the only one playing the game. I think he’s wrong. Not everybody is playing as aggressively as Russell, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t playing.

For instance, when Russell approached Natalie and asked for her reaction to last week’s tribal council in which Betsy was voted out, she was very cagey with her response.
She stated only facts.

Natalie: “It was brutal. It was the majority. It was the plan.” She gave nothing away regarding how she felt about the outcome.

Her approach was a wise one. If you argue with Russell, or challenge a decision, or try to play him as aggressively as he is playing you, it will end badly. So instead, Natalie made a strategic move. She didn’t agree or disagree with the vote. She deflected. Well done.

Russell took it as a sign she was not involved in the game, I took it as a sign that Natalie understands this game more than it might appear.

I HEAR YOU!: Yes, I heard you yelling at your screen when Russell explained with devilish glee, “The Russell Seed.” I do admire the conviction. There is no doubt in Russell’s mind that “The Russell Seed” exists and that kind of belief in yourself can take you a long way. Not always the right way, but a long way.

OVER AT GALU: I continue to be amazed at their winning streak. As they said last night, they’re so comfortable, they are not even in “game mode.” Instead they spend their free time doing yoga and watching the “hot” threesome of Laura, Monica and Kelly prance around in their bikinis playing Charlie’s Angels. Don’t get me wrong fellas, I’m not complaining. Laura, Monica and Kelly happen to be a very attractive threesome and let’s hope there are more swim suit challenges coming up… but from a “game” point of view I am surprised they haven’t crumbled yet. Typically when you get comfortable you get complacent and on Survivor that usually leads to disaster. Time will tell.

BIGGEST SURPRISE OF THE EPISODE: Dreadlocked Russell made his first leadership mistake. He took as a reward, a few soft fluffy cushions over… a protective tarp.

As we were standing there and I gave him the choice between comfort and function, I was certain he would choose the tarp and everything else that went with it. I was blown away by his decision. I expected it to be the easiest decision he’d had so far.

He supported the choice as his way of “taking care of his women.” I don’t buy it. I think it was a mistake and I think he knows it. One of the most valuable things you can have at your camp is a big tarp to keep you dry. The odds of Russell regretting that decision are enormous. In fact, if you can find odds at Vegas go ahead and put the pink slip down. Rain. Cold. Misery. It’s coming.

I HEAR YOU, AGAIN: Yes, I heard you screaming at your screens again when Russell said, “This is what god made me for.” Notice I didn’t capitalize the word “god.” I’m not implying anything, it just feels better with a small “g”, that’s all.

SHAMBO VISIT: Shambo was put on the wrong tribe. She should have been a Foa Foa member. She felt so at home that she gave away a lot of information about the dynamics of her tribe. As you all know, I like Shambo, but girl, sometimes you need to be quiet. Try counting to ten before speaking… you’ll go further in the game.

BIGGEST HERO OF THE NIGHT: Jaison at Tribal Council. Jaison elevated himself in the eyes of this host and I’m guessing a majority (but not all) of our viewers. I loved last night’s Tribal. As I said earlier, it was hard to watch at times, but absolutely compelling and completely honest. Two people from very different walks of life, going jaw to jaw with their personal beliefs.

Jaison was determined to not let the game or his pursuit of the million dollars get in the way of his personal integrity. Ben, on the other hand seemed determined to make sure his personal beliefs got in the way of his pursuit of the million dollars.

The conversation between Jaison and Ben offered another fascinating peek inside the psyche of humans. I have no doubt that Ben believed everything he was saying to Jaison about Yasmin was “accurate.” Not an opinion, but a fact. Just like I believe Ben did not intend to be chauvinistic when lecturing the women of the tribe on why they should not attempt to make fire: “Not to be chauvinistic… not to put you down. I wouldn’t even attempt it.”

But, that is not what is fascinating. What’s fascinating is his inability to measure how such comments would resonate with another person. Now he knows.

Jaison proved himself a worthy prosecutor with his ability to eloquently attack Ben for making what he perceived to be racist comments. Then after letting Ben state his case, he was able to reassess and attack from a different but just as impressive and damaging angle: “Okay, then you’re ignorant.”

TO BE FAIR: I gotta say I was impressed with one thing about Ben, his fire starting capability. Very smooth. I learned a couple of tricks from him. Build a nice pile of magnesium and then be very gentle with the flint. Two good lessons. Not enough to keep him in the game, but something I will definitely keep in mind the next time I actually have to start a fire using flint and steel. Which is hardly ever. Okay, maybe never.

Ben delivered exactly what he promised he would in casting. For that we owe him a thank you. He didn’t back down or cower in a corner and wait for someone else to drive the story. He came strong. Very strong. He is who he is and he wasn’t embarrassed about it. Some people are attracted to that kind of bravado, others are not. Survivor is a game about social politics and with this group of Survivors, Ben was never long for the game.

Russell impressed me last night at tribal council with his realization that the tide had changed and he had to change his vote to Ben. I would have bet good money that Russell, The Human Steamroller, would have tried to push his idea through and intimidate people into still voting out Ashley, in spite of everything that went down at tribal. The fact that he was able to read the situation and change his action surprised me. Up until now he has succeeded based on sheer aggressive play. Last night’s move shows another layer to his game.

Okay, it is later in the day now and I have moved location to a local Baja Fresh to sit in the sun and finish this.

I’m going to leave you by revisiting the thoughts I shared at the top of the blog. I am sad today. The island of Upolu, where we spent the summer shooting Survivor, has been devastated by an earthquake and a tsunami. Lives have been lost. Homes destroyed.

I’m happy to tell you that all of the Survivor crew on location are okay and unharmed. But for many others the news is not as good.

It was a week of devastation in the South Pacific, with Indonesia and American Samoa also getting hit hard. I am focusing only on Western Samoa because they are now a part of our Survivor family.

Tribal council was built by local labor. The posts that support the roof of Tribal Council were all carved by local students. The mats that are on the floor of tribal were woven by the women of the villages.

All of our challenges employed local labor, every department had locals working with us, our meals were cooked by local labor. We went to work together every day. They became our friends, we stayed in their homes, we ate dinner with them, met their families, shared stories of our lives.

It is heart breaking to see the devastation caused by an 8.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

It is another reminder that life is unpredictable. We all have to do our best to make sure we’re living the life we want, not the life we think we’re supposed to be living. I am saying this to myself as much as I am sharing with you.

If you want to help you can donate by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS and designate it is to help Samoa. You can also visit REDCROSS.ORG or HELPSAMOA.COM.
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PostSubject: Re: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptyFri Oct 09, 2009 10:54 am

Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa Survivor-probst_l1Fall TV Central

Oct 9 2009 03:47 AM ET

Aren’t social dynamics fascinating? I’m guessing that a lot of you watching the show this season are enjoying Shambo. And why not? She’s got a great sense of humor and a great head of hair. So why does Galu dislike her so much?
Here’s my take. I think it comes down to the unpredictable nature of human interaction… social dynamics. You put a group of people together and natural relationships begin to form. Some people quickly connect, others not so much. But give it a few days and the tribe itself begins to form a personality.
As a tribe, Galu is a young, fit, hip group of people who are all feeling very good about themselves at this point in the game. They’re like the popular kids in high school. Really cool. In fact, at times, they’re too cool for school or in this case Survivor.
The odd person out is Shambo. For starters, her mullet hairstyle is older than most of her tribemates and the way she acts and speaks just throws everybody off. She’s former military, rides a motorcycle, is constantly excited by what the game throws at her… there is nothing about Shambo that fits in with Galu.
Trust me, if anybody from the Galu tribe is reading this right now they are screaming at me “You didn’t show how annoying she was! What a menace she was around camp!”
Oh, relax.
They can scream all they want, I remain committed to my thesis. I think if you put Shambo with a different group of people, say … Foa Foa… she would blossom. I think Foa Foa as a group is more forgiving and accepting than Galu. Chill. It’s not a criticism, it’s just my armchair psychology flaring up again.
I could also argue that if you took Kelly from Galu and put her on Foa Foa she too might behave differently because she’s around different people. Maybe she’d be less coy, less flirtatious, overall just less attractive. Oh go ahead. Take a moment and write me back about how sexist I am. I know it’s coming.
Let me ask you, would it sound better if I inserted the word JOHN instead of Kelly? Take a look…
“I could also argue that if you took JOHN from Galu and put HIM on Foa Foa HE too might behave differently because HE’S around different people. Maybe HE’D be less coy, less flirtatious, overall just less attractive.”
Do you like that better? Let me know. But don’t say you wish I didn’t say anything about anybody or the way they look or talk or act. That’s why it’s a blog. It’s my opinion. I have to write about something other than simply regurgitating what happened in the episode, right?
Back to the point at hand… social dynamics.
The members of Foa Foa are a completely different lot. They’re like the kids who were transferred mid-school year from that “other school.” There is always a story associated with “those” kids and try as they might, “those” kids never really ever end up fitting in with the other kids. They’re the ones you look at in the year book and say, “Ohhh, yeah… I remember that kid.”
Shambo is just on the wrong tribe. But then again, sometimes having someone you don’t respect can turn into a good thing. Just ask Eric and John. They were more than eager to befriend Shambo for a moment so they could take advantage of her good will.
Shambo is so unaware of how to play Survivor that she’ll gladly share anything with anyone. Even the clues to the hidden immunity idol. The one thing that can keep you safe in the game and ole Shambo is giving it away.
Ah, Shambo.
I did enjoy the look on Eric’s face as he was this close to getting all the information to the location of the hidden immunity idol… when John approached…with the same idea.
Eric: Shambo, you give ME the clue. If I find the idol…I’ll give it to you if you need it.
What? No way. Who on earth would make such a deal? Oh, that’s right. Shambo would. Ah, Shambo.
Shambo’s sharing of the information made me love her even more. The way she struggled to remember all the clues…and got so excited when she remembered the last line…verbatim!
But the line that summed it all up for me was the last thing she said after giving John and Eric every bit of information she had in her head.
Shambo: “And if I get to the final jury… you guys better give me your vote… and if you don’t, bad on you. Gotta go!”
If Galu are the popular kids, and Foa Foa are the kids from that “other school”, then Shambo (and I say this with absolute love) is the kid who just kinda wanders to her own beat. Wears different clothes than everyone else, has an unusual hair cut, probably odd shoes as well. The kid that may not have a lot of other friends either.
The kid that (if you are honest) you find yourself laughing at and then when you get home you feel badly that you laughed because you realize that kid isn’t doing anything to hurt anyone. They’re just living. They’re just being themselves. Expressing themselves. And they’re probably more pure and more honest than you have ever been in your entire life.
Ah, Shambo. They should make a Bobblehead of you, and if they did it would outsell mine 100-1. I would buy the first 50 for myself. That’s how much I like you. (Yes, they made a Bobblehead of me, yes, you can buy it through, and no, I do not make a single penny off of it.)
HOST-LESS CHALLENGE INSIGHT – We have talked about doing something like this for a long time. A challenge in which nobody is there. Nobody tells them anything. We just watch to see what they do. This was a major experiment. How would it work without having me there to moderate and oversee everything? And for the record, I wasn’t hiding in the bushes, “just in case.” When we commit, we commit. I was back in my tent reading an old copy of Rolling Stone. Poor Michael Jackson.
And as you saw, the host-less challenge worked so well CBS is probably figuring out how they can do a “Host –less Tribal Council” as well! Hope not. I have not yet paid off my mortgage.
What do you guys think of an occasional host-less challenge? Let me know.
Regardless, Dave Ball came through big time! I root for Dave Ball. I really do. I think he’s a guy with so much potential and I think Survivor was a big risk and a big adventure for a guy like him to undertake. I was happy to see him pull out the win for Galu.
ERIC GOES IDOL HUNTING – You gotta love it, right? That “black short wearing, long black sock sportin’ excitable, shoulda been Galu leader” now has the idol.
Once again, he who works hard is rewarded. I hope he doesn’t tell anybody. For once, would someone just hold onto the damn idol and not tell anybody you have it! I like Eric. I think he has a great attitude. A little aggressive at times, but it comes from being a true competitor. I think Eric would be a humble winner and a good sport if he loses. He’s also a loyal soldier for Russell.
SHAMBO CLUCKS – Okay, now wait a second. You guys hate Shambo, but you put her in charge of the most valuable asset you have? You put the crazy woman in charge of the chickens! You guys did it to yourself. You watched her “cluck” with the chickens and yet you still left her in charge. Of course she’s gonna lose a chicken. It’s in her nature. You should apologize to your tribe, Russell. You’re the man in charge, what gives? Shambo is the kid with the helmet. You can’t give her a responsibility like this and not expect to have some drama. For crying out loud.
Russell and Natalie – in the final? Possible for sure. Probable? No. Russell is actually starting to seem like a parody of himself. Every time he talks I see Mike Myers with his pinkie in the side of his mouth.
FOA FOA WINS! FOA FOA WINS! FOA FOA WINS! It’s about damn time. Now that was an exciting challenge. A great finish and yes, I had to remind myself, “If yellow does in fact win, their tribe name is Foa Foa.” How great was it to see Jaison screaming, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5!”
Finally we get a chance to go back to Galu’s camp and hang out a while.
INSIGHT: You’ve been screaming at me for weeks that our episodes have been focusing too much on Foa Foa and not enough on Galu. I totally get it. Let me explain why that has been happening. After a tribal council we always follow the story of the losing tribe because they are the ones going to tribal council and ultimately the climax of the show centers around the question, “Who will be voted out?” So since Galu had not yet lost we didn’t have the chance to get to know them. Now we do.
PERSONAL INSIGHT: Kids, if you’re reading this…DO NOT LISTEN to Yasmin. Sorry, Yasmin, but your justification for not doing anything around camp was embarrassing.
Yasmin’s approach to the game seemed to be to avoid doing anything. Her reason being that if you don’t do anything then nobody can blame you for doing anything…wrong. That doesn’t work. Not in life, not on Survivor.
You have to be willing to step up. It’s why you have to respect Russell and Mick for taking on the leadership role. Of course they’re targets. But they were elected and to date they have stood up and made decisions. And whadaya know, they’re both still in the game.
Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. But not being willing to contribute in all aspects of Survivor life is reason enough to get my vote.
Sorry Yasmin, I do love the shoes and the effort to look good at tribal council but it’s time for you to go. There is some good news… at least your body will get the rest you requested.
See you guys next week. Remember, it’s all in good fun.
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PostSubject: Re: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptySun Oct 18, 2009 2:05 pm

Oct 16 2009 05:32 AM ET

  • by Jeff Probst

    Man oh man. If you have any kind of a heart, you have to be feeling for Foa Foa. It’s been a long time since a tribe has performed this poorly. You’d have to go all the way back to Survivor: Palau when Stephanie’s tribe was decimated week by week until she was the only person left in her tribe.
    I have to stand up for all of the Survivors from this season. It was a very difficult shoot. The rain was constant and it took a real toll on everybody, crew included. It’s so easy to sit at home and say ”oh just get over it,” but it truly is an extremely difficult experience to undergo.
    99.99% of the people who say they want to play Survivor, couldn’t handle Survivor. It is an ass-kicking, humility inducing, physically exhausting, and mentally taxing test of the human spirit. In spite of all the challenging comments I make about the Survivors, at the end of the day, I take my hat off to them for embarking on this adventure.
    I really do believe that at times the contestants are happy to come to tribal simply to get warm. It’s so hard to send them back to camp especially when it’s pouring down rain and you know their fire has been extinguished by the rain and they’re probably going to have another very wet and cold night.
    Ah, I’m so glad I didn’t have to sample any of the Survivor Smoothie’s. They were chunky, smelly, nasty concoctions. The guts of a sea slug? Come on. What kind of a sick mind thinks of this stuff? Oh that’s right, we do. My bad.
    INSIGHT: The foods that we use for these types of challenges are not just randomly selected. We always have a local person advising us on the types of foods that locals eat on a regular basis. Once we have a list, we then cull it down to the most unusual and ”gross” foods to serve to the Survivors. As disgusting as the food may seem, we always take precautions to make sure the food is ‘’safe” and is served as it would be to locals. Then again when it’s sea slug guts, there’s really not much you can do other than serve it up.
    PERSONAL INSIGHT: The only times I have tried foods in the past are the grubs from Survivor: Borneo, (the crunchy head was the toughest part to get down) the cows blood from Survivor: Kenya (it came straight from the cow into our glasses and tasted like tomato juice), and finally the baked tarantula (I can’t remember which season it was from) which was disgusting. Other than that I always find a way to be ”busy” when there is testing to be done.
    Dave Ball and Eric did a good job of getting to Ashlee by making gagging sounds and taunting her about what she was drinking. Challenges like this one are a great example of mind over matter. There isn’t anything in those smoothies that you physically can’t get down your throat; it’s simply a choice where you put your energy and what thoughts you allow in your mind. If you spend all your energy focusing on how bad something is, you are only making it that much more difficult. Ashlee wasn’t able to block it out and she paid the price. The ultimate price.
    Russell sent a huge signal to Shambo by sending her back over to Foa Foa, thus eliminating her from the reward feast. Three Galu members sat out of the Survivor Smoothie challenge and yet they all got to eat steak as reward. Shambo was one of the five who had to gut it out and she gets sent away again…? Being a leader is tough, but that move left a mark for sure and it also sent a big message to Foa Foa – Shambo is a free agent. If Shambo makes it to the merge, payback could be painful for Galu.
    Russell is really starting to ”feel” the leadership role. The conversation with Russell and Dave Ball regarding making fire was about as annoying as it gets for me. Just step up and make the damn fire. Dave, quit being so passive aggressive. And Russell, when Dave offers to shake hands and make up, stick your damn hand out. Ah, but that is so easy to say when you’re not in the middle of the game of Survivor. Suffering through every minute of every hour of every day…for 39 days…if you’re lucky.
    Did you see the rain during the immunity challenge? DUMPING. I love it.
    PERSONAL INSIGHT: Nothing makes me happier than rain during a challenge. I am always hustling the crew when I see clouds coming. ”Let’s go, let’s step it up so we’re ready to shoot!” They usually remind me, ”Uh, we are ready to shoot Jeff. Been ready for an hour. You’re the one still fussing with your hair.” Okay that’s a lie, I don’t fuss with my hair, that’s part of the reason I wear a hat. I really do have the greatest job in the world. I throw on a shirt, shorts, a cap and some flip-flops and yell things like ”pick up your coconuts.” Who knew life could be this good? But I will say again here and now – the short sleeve shirts are gone after this season. It was an experiment that didn’t work. I look ridonkulous.
    Liz is in trouble. Uh-oh. She challenged Russell. Wow, did you see him turn? He turned in a matter of three seconds. He is frightening. ”You’re walking on thin ice. Right now. Let me tell you. Thin ice. Period.” Whoa. That dude is scary. No wonder nobody votes him out. I wouldn’t. I don’t want him mad at me. Liz survived tonight because of the tremendous effort she gave at the Immunity Challenge. That is the only thing that will save her in the future. Big time effort. Russell has his sights set on taking her out and from what I’ve seen ‘ole Russell is not quick to forgive.
    For those of you who respond to this blog, I’d love to hear from you regarding your two favorites to make it to the end and the two you’d least like to see win and why. I’m always curious whom the audience is pulling for. Is it the people who are standing out the most? The most likable? Are there any dark horses in the running? Does anybody want Evil Russell to make it to the end?
    The most interesting thing about Tribal Council was the two very different reactions that Russell and Natalie had after voting out Ashlee. Russell was his typical joyful self but Natalie appeared truly sad to have voted out her friend.
    It’s interesting because as the game continues, those little nuances begin to play a much larger role in the game. Russell had just said he trusted Ashlee and more importantly he sat there as Ashlee said she trusted him. Then he voted for her, they all did. As the votes were read, Russell was almost laughing he was so happy. That sends a signal to the others that ”trust” is a loose word with Russell. I think it’s one of his most glaring giveaways. He can’t control his reactions and sooner or later I think it is going to catch up to him.

    INSIGHT: Way back in 2000 at the end of our first episode of the first season, we were getting ready to record the very first ”Next time on…Survivor
    .” We were in the voice-over booth and we had a bit of a showdown as I was insistent that we leave enough time in the show for a dramatic pause between ”next time on… ” and ”Survivor.” It was one second. One silly second. But when you put a network show together, every single second counts. I’m not exaggerating. You find yourself trimming one second here, two seconds there. So to ”waste” a second for a pause was not something that was normally done, especially for a seemingly meaningless line like ”next time on.” But from the beginning Mark and I always we wanted the show to look and sound different and this was one of the many, albeit small, ways we endeavored to stay true to that philosophy. To this day the pause still lives…
    Next week’s episode features one of the scariest moments I’ve had in my entire run on Survivor. Check that – the scariest. I’m not trying to over hype. I’m just giving you a tease. I don’t want you to get your expectations so high that you’re let down, but I am going to be honest that for a few seconds during next week’s episode I was really worried we were in danger of losing a contestant… forever.
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PostSubject: Re: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptyFri Oct 23, 2009 1:37 pm

Jeff Probst blogs 'Survivor: Samoa': episode #6
by Jeff Probst

Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa Survivor-probst_l1

Rain is a double-edged sword on Survivor. It gives and it takes. We love the layer of drama it adds when you see the contestants shivering, their fingers wrinkled like prunes, as they struggle to make fire. But rain can also bring with it severe, life-threatening problems as it did this week when Russell collapsed due to dehydration.

I’m going to focus this blog on sharing with you everything you didn’t see that happened when Russell went down.

During the early stage of the challenge when they were pushing the sphere, I was completely unaware that Russell was struggling. I noticed he was tired but that is not unusual during a challenge and so I thought nothing much of it.

Even when they reached the maze, I noticed it taking him a long time to get himself over to the maze, but he was blindfolded and I am watching 13 other people, so once again I wasn’t overly concerned because exhaustion is normal and in fact, the effort someone puts into a challenge is often a determining factor in whether they stay or are voted out.

Russell had always given 100% so it didn’t surprise me to see him exhausted.

It was when his head went down and stayed that it started to become clear that something wasn’t right. But because he was blindfolded and I couldn’t see his eyes, it was again very hard to determine if he was just tired or in some kind of real trouble.

When I watch the episode edited with the luxury of close ups, it seems much more obvious that Russell was not doing well and I wish I had gotten there sooner. I can only tell you that from my vantage point, in the midst of everything going on – 10 people running a challenge, 4 others on the sit out bench and a challenge to oversee, he was only one of the things I was keeping an eye on.

As a result, I had no idea that he actually had already passed out for the first time while he was standing at the maze, but that is exactly what our doctors think happened. They think he had already passed out once before I even got to him.

When a Survivor appears to be in trouble, our first rule is to give them the chance to save themselves or see if one of their tribemates can help them before we make any decision about sending in medical, safety, or our water rescue team. We do this because it is their game, their adventure and whenever possible we want them to make the decisions about their fate.

Let me be clear, we are watching them the entire time, they are never out of our sight, and our medical, safety and rescue teams are always on alert – but we would rather give the contestants every chance to handle it themselves before we move in to take over.

But in this case, it happened so fast that I didn’t even consider waiting. I just instinctively called for medical to come in and get to work. Because our medical team is so well run they were prepared for someone to pass out or get injured even before the challenge began. That’s what they do, they prep before the challenge about what could possibly go wrong so they are ready for it. They knew dehydration could be a factor and so when Russell went down they had a plan in place and were helping Russell within seconds of me calling them in.

As you saw, Russell said he was okay… and then immediately passed out again.

Once medical informed me that Russell was going to require some major time-consuming attention I called off the challenge because it seemed the only decision that made sense. There was no way we were going to continue — it was clear Russell was going to require too much time and because both tribes were going to tribal council either way, it didn’t seem to matter enough to consider an alternative. So we sent the tribes back to their camp and told them to await word.

In a moment like that you make a decision. Sometimes it’s the right one, sometimes it’s the wrong one, but you have to make a call. It’s one of the things that I most enjoy about doing a show like Survivor. It is for all intents and purposes, a live show. It would be great to go back and script out all my reactions and comments like a movie, but you can’t do that. All you can do is react and hope your decision makes sense. I’m sure many people will feel canceling the challenge was “lame” or “silly” but for me it was the only call to make as Russell was the priority and that’s that.

At this point our challenge crew led by our director and senior producer Dave Dryden became reality shooters and producers. Dryden quickly re-positioned them so they could cover the unfolding drama. Their ability to quickly reconnoiter is why we have such great coverage of everything that went down.

For the next 45 minutes we monitored Russell’s vital signs. We gave him water from his canteen. We gave him oxygen. We propped him up and gave him time to try to relax and get calm.

During that time Russell and I talked about a lot of things. He was very worried that he would be pulled from the game. He was worried how he would be portrayed and what his family would think. He did not want to be seen as a quitter.

That’s why I tried to recap everything that had happened up to Russell up to this point – how dominant he had been in the game, his leadership, his physical capability. I was trying to make the point that no matter what happens, he would never been seen as someone who gave less than 100%.

I explained to him that he had already passed out two times, but his recollection at that point was so foggy he didn’t understand. He thought he was fine and was demanding to be put back into the challenge. In fact, I don’t think he even realized that everybody else had already been sent back to camp and the challenge called off.

Even with all of this going on, our doctors assured him that if his vitals came back strong they would allow him to stay in the game.

Nobody wanted Russell to go home.

When Russell passed out for the third time, I got very worried. Then his heart rate dropped 30 beats in less than a second. I was watching the heart rate monitor and when I saw it move from 97 to 68, I was honestly concerned that we were losing him. Forever.

Even writing this brings back the same emotion.

Our doctors were not exaggerating or play acting when they started pounding on Russell’s chest and repeating his name, asking him “Russell, are you with us?” It seemed to go on forever, his eyes not moving, not responding to anything.

I have never been more proud of our medical team than I was in that moment. Heroic. Incredibly calm. Well practiced. They knew exactly what they needed to do and they didn’t waste a moment.

Telling Russell he was being pulled from the game was difficult. I understood that he didn’t want to quit. He was in a great position in the game and there was such a fire in his belly. Many people have been pulled from the game that didn’t want to go, for some reason this one really got to me.

What you didn’t see was that after Russell pulled off his oxygen mask in frustration, he experienced a lot of different emotions, all of them completely understandable. He was extremely frustrated at me, at medical, and at production in general for pulling him from the game. He yelled. Then, he got quiet. Then, he cried. Finally, he prayed. It was extremely emotional and simultaneously beautiful. He was in a very vulnerable state and to be a witness as he processed the situation and made peace with it was an honor.

I’m guessing that Russell had no idea how bad it was until he saw the episode last night. I think he will be surprised at how serious it was and will realize that he is not a quitter and there was no other decision to be made other than to pull him from the game.

After Russell was removed we then had to make a decision whether to continue with our double tribal council or cancel it.

SIDE LINE: For the record, I have always hated the “win or lose, you must vote someone out” twist, but it’s existence comes from necessity. Let me explain: We would prefer to start the show with only 16 contestants. It’s much easier for the audience to get to know 16 people. But it gives us no wiggle room if someone quits or has to leave the game due to medical emergency.

If we start with 18, that gives us a bit of breathing room in terms of numbers but also gives us an uneven number of men and women on each tribe.

If we start with 20, as we did this year, it gives us plenty of wiggle room for quits or medical evacuation, but because we have 4 extra people we have to get rid of them at some point. Thus the “win or lose, you’re voting somebody out” scenario. I am happy to say that we have since figured out a better way to do double eliminations. So should we ever need to vote out two people in one episode it will not be a “win or lose both tribes going to tribal council” scenario.

BACK TO INSIGHT: So… what to do? We gathered the creative team and the decision was made that due to the unprecedented canceling of the challenge, the medical drama, and incredibly difficult conditions the contestants had endured the past several days, the best move was to make a gesture of good will and spare them from voting anybody out.

Was it was the right move? Depends on your point of view. It was certainly not a “clear-cut this is the only decision to be made” situation. We considered everything and we made what we believed to be the right call. You may disagree. In fact, I’m pretty sure many of you reading this right now are saying, “Hell yes I disagree. You should have voted people out. That’s what Survivor does!” Well, not this time. Sorry.

One thing was very clear, the canceling of the vote did seem to lift their spirits. You could see them begin to re-energize once they heard the news. You saw the rivalry between the two tribes reignite. Why is this important? Because at the end of the day if the Survivors lose their motivation to continue and it turns into a “group” funk, then the show is in serious trouble.

It’s probably hard to appreciate how difficult this season has been, so all I can do is repeat what I’ve said many times – this is a very tough season added to an already very tough game. Remember, we are not giving them food, we are not giving them water. We don’t offer them dry clothes or help them start their fire. We were worried about their welfare and did not want anybody else to be evacuated and certainly didn’t want anyone to decide to quit.

Okay – that’s it from my end. I hope you’re still enjoying the season. One thing that has always been true about Survivor fans, you are loyal. We appreciate it.

Until next week.
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PostSubject: Re: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptyFri Oct 30, 2009 9:27 am

Jeff Probst blogs 'Survivor: Samoa': episode #7
by Jeff Probst

Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa Jeffprobst2_l_21_2

Fair Warning:
I haven’t been feeling too well for the past few days, so tonight as I sat down to write this I took a Zyrtec. It certainly cleared up my sinus issue but in doing so has made me really drowsy. Major drowsy. So this is my first blog written under the influence of an “over the counter, readily available at any pharmacy” drug. Here goes…


Here’s my take on Foa Foa. If they lose again, I believe they will vote out Jaison due to his attitude and lack of motivation, and the three remaining tribe members (Mick, Natalie, and Russell) will pray for a merge. If there is a merge, Russell should be the first to go, and after that it doesn’t matter, they won’t have a chance. They need a miracle right now to have any shot of staying in this game.

The miracle would be making it to the merge and then making something happen. Big and immediate. Count on Russell to give it his best shot… If there is a crack in Galu’s armor he will find it and he will do his best to exploit it in the most beneficial way. Thus, Russell is Foa Foa’s only hope at this point. He’s just crazy enough to risk it all on a wild plan. Natalie is very sharp and if he holds onto her, together they could make something happen.

INSIGHT: Yes, we were well aware at this point that we could have a Palau situation on our hands. If you remember in Palau, one tribe lost challenge after challenge until only Stephanie was left in her tribe. It was an amazing thing to watch as Stephanie overcame tremendous odds and made it deep into the show and is now considered an “all-star” as a result of her efforts. As to whether or not this season will have a merge, can’t tell you that. Not even under the influence of Zyrtec. Ambien maybe, Zyrtec no.

The election of Shambo as leader really impressed me. Great move by the men of Galu.

INSIGHT: I was not aware of the motivation for making Shambo the leader. I had no idea it was the guys’ idea nor did I realize the strategy behind it. Brilliant. They pulled a major fast move on the women and in doing so shifted the game. They also created a crack in the armor which could come back to haunt them if Russell and Co. make it to a merge.

Yes, I feel for Shambo. She is such an underdog. She is so sincere, so eager to lead her tribe. It’s hard to listen to the comments from her tribemates about why they elected her as leader. They have absolutely no intention of ever letting her make an important decision. I hope she proves to be an amazing leader.

The memory challenge is one of those challenges that is not that exciting to watch, but usually creates great drama in terms of heroes and goats. That is why we do it. Truth be told, the best person to ever play this game is my favorite honorary niece, Skyleur. She’s younger than most of the pants I wear on the show but her memory is uncanny. She plays this game while watching the show and never ever misses. Just sharing.

I really thought Foa Foa had a shot at this challenge. A simple reward would have gone so far with them. But once again they fall short and as a result fall further behind in the game.

There is no doubt in my mind that Shambo sent Laura over to Foa Foa because Shambo just does not like having her around. Sometimes it’s nice to be Queen.

Sometimes I make the right call, sometimes I don’t.

INSIGHT: When explaining this challenge to the Survivors I always give them a chance to ask questions before we run the challenge. Someone asked if they could push their boat instead of using the paddles. Usually this is a terrible idea as the water gets too deep to do any pushing and the paddles are much more effective.

So, without even consulting John Kirhoffer our Challenge Producer, I said, “Sure. Knock yourself out.” Turns out I was wrong. That one little decision completely changed the challenge. It took out all of the drama of having to figure out how to paddle while fishing for the puzzle pieces. I knew it moments after the challenge started, but there wasn’t anything I could do – the decision had been made. It was still a fair challenge, so it didn’t affect the game, but my decision changed the design of the challenge and as a result it didn’t run as well as it should. That’s all on me. I blew it.

To his credit, John Kirhoffer, our Challenge Producer, never said a word. Then again, he didn’t have to — I was painfully aware.

That’s a tough one. I think Liz had a great attitude, but the trust factor was too much. I imagine this was one of those votes when you had to really trust your gut.

Question of the week: Will Foa Foa win another challenge or will they continue to crumble?

Thanks for understanding that I’m not 100% today, I’ll try to make it up to you next week but I’m done for tonight. Zyrtec wins.

Going to sleep.
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PostSubject: Re: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptyFri Nov 06, 2009 4:32 pm

Jeff Probst blogs 'Survivor: Samoa': episode #8
by Jeff Probst

Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa Jeffprobst_l

So I’ve recovered from my Zyrtec cloud and yes I now realize that we promoted the merge. It was funny to be reminded of it by you guys. What can I say, I really was “loopy” when I wrote that blog. But yes I do see episodes and I do know what we promote, sometimes I just forget…

In honor of my slip up last week, I’m going to dedicate today’s blog to… what else… The Merge.
Let’s start with the feast. Did you see how quickly their moods changed when they got some food in their belly? Think about it… I bet a majority of you had some sort of snack even while you were watching Survivor. Probably snacking on something right now while reading this blog. We like to eat. It feels good. When we don’t eat we get crabby. Laura didn’t give a hoot about her canteen once the feast started. Why would she? She was happy again. I love seeing them happy… momentarily. I more love seeing them in conflict. But you need a balance. Too much conflict, too many days without food, too many nights drenched from the rain and you just have angry people. Producing a good season of Survivor requires an ebb and flow of highs and lows. The merge is almost always a high, even if only for a moment.

Another fun thing about the merge is it’s like starting over once again. You have new people in your world and you get a second chance to make a first impression in the game.

Some people choose to stay in game mode, working their strategy. Not John. The ever cocky, always aware John was waiting for someone, anyone to ask him anything about himself. It resulted in one of my favorite exchanges of the season:

Jaison: So engineering school, huh?
John: Uh yeah, Mechanical Engineering degree.
Jaison: Congratulations.
John: Not a law degree. I contemplated becoming a patent lawyer.

It was the swagger in his walk and the tone of his voice when he said, “Uh yeah..” that really made it work for me. Nice.

PERSONAL INSIGHT: If I had a Mechanical Engineering degree I’d look for ways to bring it up, too. But since I don’t it’s fun to be a catty little stick-eating biatch and make fun of John.

It never fails. We merge and suddenly everybody pretends to like everybody else. I had the exact same reaction Erik did when I heard Brett’s suggestion for a new tribe name:

Brett: “AIGA, it means extended family.”

Extended family? Gimme a break. (Truth be told, Brett probably really means it and Brett is the kind of guy that outside of the game you’d be friends with, your families would dig each other, and you’d end up having a lifelong friendship. But this is in the game and that’s a different story.)

Plus, think about it, Brett had to research that name before he even left America, which is downright irritating. Not sure why it’s irritating, but it is. Maybe it’s because Brett is so likable.

Like I did last week, I’ll use one of my honorary nieces as an example of what I mean. Mackenzie, my niece, is really likable too. She’s so likable that I’m sure lots of boys would love to ask her to a school dance or an afterschool party because she’s so… nice… (just like Brett)… and also because she’s cute (okay, fine, just like Brett).

But what makes Macky really fun to be around is an extra layer of… sass. Yes, she’s nice but she’s lippy too and she’s not afraid to call someone out for something and that adds a whole new level of respect to a person.

So come on, Brett, gawk at Kelly like Ben would have or give Dave Ball a hard time for still wearing that out-of -tyle ponytail, or tell Laura to back off Shambo just a bit. Gimme something I can respect.

Please don’t write and tell me to lay off, Brett. Brett is doing just fine. Brett can handle these comments. He’s a big boy.

But Erik was right, this is not one big extended family. It’s not even two separate families. It’s 12 in-dah-vidge-you-uhls… all trying their best to figure out how to get rid of everybody else so they can grab the check from CBS for a million dollars. Before taxes. It’s a million dollars before taxes people.

A merge also offers up a chance for new alliances to form and just like on day one, those new alliances need to form quickly. Enter Russell. He doesn’t care about the food, or the tribe name or what anybody does for a living. He wants to win the game. Period.

Sending his troops (Jaison, Mick, Natalie) out to make relationships with different people is further proof that this little pirate is a pretty darn good Survivor player.

And I know some of you think there is too much Russell in the game, but he’s the guy making the most moves so that is naturally who I am going to write about. With that in mind…

I love that Russell is telling everybody everything. It’s such a risky move. You gotta respect it. To go to everybody on the other tribe that you have the idol and offer them the same exact deal could so easily backfire if just one person opens their mouth. But Russell is counting on greed to be his ally. He knows that the people he is approaching are better served if they don’t tell anybody else. If he’s right it’s a major move. If he’s wrong he’ll soon be in trouble.

The most exciting element of the merge is that it offers a chance to completely turn the game around. Typically that requires somebody flipping sides, and usually the “flipper” is somebody who feels on the outs and is looking to improve their spot on the totem pole.

So many times in this game the people on top forget about the people on the bottom. They forget how dangerous the outcasts are because they have nothing to lose by switching sides and everything to gain.

Shambo is clearly one of those on the bottom and she knows it. Shambo is a major threat to change the game. Nobody on Galu is paying any attention to that fact. Crazy, right? Hindsight is always 20-20. It’s why I host and don’t play.

The merge is such a simple twist. Combine the two tribes into one. We do it almost every season, and yet it amazes me how many times it creates havoc. As Dave Ball states, from the outside looking in, Galu should just vote off Foa Foa four times in a row so they can all make it to the final eight.

But it’s not a team game. It never has been. It’s a game of individuals and that complicates everything because every single person has a different agenda. Even if they agree on whom to vote out it is always for different reasons. Always. Because at the end of the game only one person wins so every single time they vote they are voting to help ensure they are the last person standing… and that often means…


Erik was such a fun guy to have in the game, he has a huge heart and that was fun to watch. It may also have been his downfall. He bled Galu purple to such a degree that I think he forgot that it is… an individual game. You have to make moves in this game based on the idea that everybody else is making their best move. Erik was a major threat in the game with a major attitude. He lost sight of how others saw him and never considered that the best move might be to get rid of him. Because not everybody on Galu bleeds Galu. He was so confident that he forgot to consider the other people in the game were also playing to win and they might not care about keeping Galu together.

And boy did it cost him.

Talk about a blindside. Wow. One of the biggest and most memorable in a long, long time. Erik could not have been cockier. He was absolutely certain the outcome was set. He never-saw-it-coming.

Russell’s HUGE move to play the idol is yet one more pencil in his jar of “this is how ya do it.”

RUSSELL: “Figure it I have it I might as well play it.”

NOTE: To all future Survivor players… You Don’t Hold Onto The Idol If You Have The Slightest Concern You Are In Trouble.

If you have it and you think you need it – play the damn thing.

Russell is playing to win. He doesn’t care about second place. He may not make it, but with each passing week you have to respect the game he is playing.

So where does the game stand now?

It’s an interesting thing that often happens in this game. You lose enough people from your tribe, your numbers get so low that you have absolutely no other choice but to rely on each other and stick together. Foa Foa is at that point. In order to have any shot at actually winning the game, they cannot risk betraying anybody on their tribe. This gives them four votes in the new tribe. That is significant because as we saw last night – within Galu there are lots of possible sub alliances and cracks to be exploited.

Give me your predictions. Will Galu regroup and get rid of Foa Foa? If so, what order do you predict Foa Foa will be voted out?
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Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa Empty
PostSubject: Re: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptyFri Nov 06, 2009 4:54 pm

ooops, I posted this on the Survivor Samoa thread.
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PostSubject: Re: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptyFri Nov 13, 2009 9:20 am

Jeff Probst blogs 'Survivor: Samoa': episode 9
by Jeff Probst

Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa Jeffprobst2_l_21_2

First off, I want to thank all of the Survivor fans who voted for the People’s Choice nominations. Thanks to your support we were nominated for Best Competition Show. Survivor previously won the Peoples Choice Award in 2001, 02, 03, 04 and thanks to our loyal fans we are once again nominated. If you have time and want to vote for us to win, simply to go:

Okay to this weeks episode…

Little ole Natalie is really coming of age out in Samoa.

Natalie killing the rat is one of my favorites moments of all time. It’s wrong on so many levels but never ever fails to make me stop what I am doing and watch.

If you pitched this as the opening scene to a new Wes Craven horror movie, you’d sell the idea in the room:

Extremely attractive twenty-something blonde wearing a skimpy golden-roped string bikini is wandering through the woods alone. Tired. Scared. Reallllly hungry. She encounters a rat scrounging for food. So as not to alert the rat or mess up her pedicure, she tip toes through the jungle inching closer and closer to her prey. Silently picking up a large stick she hammers the rat to death with one strong blow.

Natalie: “It was really hard for me because he was looking at me.. he was cute… but I’ve never been this hungry in my entire life.”

Therein lies one of the most beautiful things about Survivor. If forces people to confront truths about themselves they might otherwise never have to face. Think about what you witnessed. A pretty little pharmaceutical sales rep walking barefoot thru the jungle, in a bikini, whacking a rat until it’s dead. That’s not normal behavior.

I believe it was difficult for Natalie to kill the rat and I also believe she never second- guessed it. She had never been so h-u-n-g-r-y in her entire life. Who knows how far she would have gone for a burger.

YES, that will most definitely be a part of the live Survivor: Samoa Reunion show on CBS Sunday, December 20th in Los Angeles.

The Sliding Rocks are one of those amazing natural wonders that you often find in the most unlikely of places. They were as fun as they looked, both for adults and for kids and I think it’s one of those moments the Survivors will probably only appreciate years from now when they look back and remember the time they spent in that beautiful little pocket of the world.

But let’s be clear, as fun as the rocks are they’re not nearly as much fun as sliding down a hillside built on a million one-dollar bills… that is always the ultimate goal in this game.

While the Galu gang was sliding down the rocks, frolicking in the water and eating chocolate brownies, Russell was putting himself one step closer to the million dollars doing what he does better than anybody in the history of this game… finding another HIDDEN immunity idol without the help of a clue.

You need not waste any time responding to this blog about how I give Russell too much credit. I won’t respond. Nobody has ever done what he is doing. So smart and so obvious when you think about it. Of course the idol has to be somewhere that is somewhat easy to find, because we want it to found. If we hid it in the middle of nowhere people wouldn’t find it even with 20 clues. We just have never had anybody take the initiative to start looking without the clue. It’s really quite brilliant. Like it or not, the pirate with the missing tooth continues to reinvent the game.

Come on, just admit it – Russell is growing on you a little bit, right?

I’m still shaking my head because in many ways it reminds me of Richard Hatch in season one. It’s as though the rest of the players are playing a different game. It certainly doesn’t mean he’ll win or even make it to the end but there is no denying he is playing a different game than anybody else.

INSIGHT: While we’re on the subject of hidden immunity idols. A lot of people have been asking me why I have not been asking “If anybody has the idol and you want to play it now is the time to do so…” before I read the votes. Here’s why – this season the clues have all been secretive. So there is no way for me to be certain that everybody knows there is an idol in play. Therefore, I can never ask for them to play it at tribal council because I might be giving something away.

That is why every Survivor is told before the game begins that regardless whether I ask for it or not, if they want to play the idol I will always pause before reading the votes giving them ample time to stand up and declare their intention to play it.

Regardless whether you like the way Laura is playing or not, you have to give her credit. She is a smart and scrappy player who is holding her own in challenges. Individual challenges are one of the great elements of the game. You have the chance to save yourself and if you’re good enough, nobody can stop you.

Laura came through in a big way and clearly had no idea how desperately she needed immunity. Had she not won, she would have been voted out and Kelly would still be in the game.

I also enjoy Laura’s cocky swagger. She doesn’t pretend anything. When she’s feeling it she says it. I dig it.

I think Dave should publish a book filled with witty comments and observations on life. I’d read anything he wanted to write. My favorite from this week:

Dave Ball: “And as soon as we burn all the Foa Foa’s we kill a chicken. (flashes a peace sign) I’m not sharing with anybody who isn’t purple.”

It was a bummer to see Kelly go, as she was a bit of an innocent bystander. But when you’re playing the “quiet” game that can happen.

Coming into tribal council Galu was clearly cocky, but they damn sure did not leave with the same confidence.

When Russell stood up to play the idol once again, the reactions of Kelly, Dave, Monica and Laura were solid gold.

As I continued to read Russell votes, you could feel the Galu tribe growing anxious… wondering… whose name (from Galu) was going to come up on the parchment.

When Kelly saw her name, she knew it was over.

Goodbye dreads. Loved having you and you will be missed, although I’m sure Erik is excited you’re sticking around to be on the jury.

So… it’s now 6-4. Or is it 5-5? There’s another idol in play. What are the odds that Russell can do it again? If not, are his days numbered?

Look forward to your thoughts. I’m gonna go replay the rat scene one more time before bed.

Remember if you want to vote for People’s Choice Award go to:

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PostSubject: Re: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptyFri Nov 20, 2009 2:01 am

Jeff Probst blogs 'Survivor: Samoa': episode #10
by Jeff Probst

Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa Jeffprobstblog_l

Erik: “And there goes the lead.”

It’s appropriate that Erik’s comment starts this blog since the downfall of Galu all started with Galu voting out Erik, one of their own.

Survivor hindsight is no different than any other hindsight, it’s always 20-20. But man… if they only knew what they were starting, ‘ole Erik would probably still be wearing those black knee highs and most of the Foa Foa would be gone.

Instead… it’s wow, wow, wow.

Who would have ever predicted this kind of a turnaround? Galu, the tribe who dominated for so long is now in a giant hole, not unlike a grave, that they dug themselves.

They should heed the advice of Dave Matthews and start talking to the grave digger right now: “Grave digger, when you dig my grave, will you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain.”

Eric, gone. Kelly, gone. Laura, gone. What?

How in “Gods green earth” to quote Shambo, are Jaison, Mick, Natalie and Russell still in this game? Why have they been able to pull off a comeback and get themselves back in contention?

Two big reasons: The first is this… Survivor is an individual game: I keep saying it because it’s important. You can never take your eyes off the prize and the prize is ONE check for a million dollars. Not four checks, each for $250,000. Not 8 checks each for $125,000. ONE check for ONE million dollars. As long as Survivor remains an individual game it will continue to have unexpected flips and flops because everybody has their own agenda and that will always cause chaos.

The second reason for the Foa Foa comeback is “Game Play.”

Here’s my take on how Game Play factored into the comeback:
33% Russell’s individual game play, 33% Foa Foa sticking together and 33% Galu just flat out blowing one of the most dominant leads in Survivor history. It’s like they lost their brains somewhere in the South Pacific. And as of last night’s episode, they still haven’t found it.

I laughed out loud when John assessed Galu’s various voting strategies, each followed with: “You’re an idiot.”

I gotta say, from where I sit – and again my vantage point is all based on hindsight – he’s right. Targeting Russell? What? Here’s a guy who has shown you his willingness to play the idol and his ability to continue to find it. Trying to take out Russell makes no sense at all. Not in this episode anyway.

Mick has the individual immunity necklace so they really only had two choices: Natalie or Jaison. John is right, you have to try to get intel and/or take a guess as to who is the least likely to be given the idol and vote for them. It’s the only vote.

Maybe if they had done that things would have turned out differently. But I think a big part of John’s dilemma probably stemmed from the question of whether or not he believed the remaining Galu members were smart enough to help him make it to the end.

Laura and Dave’s jungle strategy meeting certainly didn’t give him any peace of mind, although it did provide me a favorite moment courtesy of Dave Ball:

John: “The vote is Natalie. Times five. Find a problem with that. I know you’d rather not—-“
Dave: “No, no, no. I’ll burn her right now, I do not care… bro.”

I really do pull for Dave Ball. Can’t explain it, doesn’t even matter why, I just pull for the dude. I have since he first walked into casting a couple years ago and continued even though we didn’t put him on the show at that time. When we brought him back again for Survivor: Samoa I was still rooting for him and as I write this tonight, I still am.

Back to John. When he found out they were going to use him as the bait, things really started to shift. Once that happens, a mutiny is almost sure to follow as people start to jump off the sinking ship. People like John.

Like a good Tarantino movie, let’s play with structure a little bit and jump back to the start of the episode.

When everybody returned to camp after the last tribal council, Dave Ball came over to the Foa Foa four and said:

“You guys tell Galu I said this, ‘good move!’” Did I miss something? Does anybody know what Dave is talking about? Dave, you ARE Galu, and the move Foa Foa made was as much on YOU as anybody else.

Laura said it best: Wow.

She then followed with “I can’t believe that little snake.” Why is Russell a snake? Because he’s playing the game?

It’s always fun to hear one group talk about the other. When Laura wins two immunity challenges, it’s “Awesome.” When Russell finds the idol, he’s a snake? Nah. He’s awesome too, just in a different way.

Going back even further, (still with me?) let’s return to the end of the last episode when I said:

JEFF: (at last tribal council) “One more thing, the hidden immunity idol goes back into the game.”

As I said those words, I was thinking the same thing everybody else was thinking…
Can he do it again? Can Russell find the idol for a third time?

Russell: “They’re like magnets to me, I’m just drawn to them.” Now that is a damn funny and very cocky comment, but hard to argue.

It was one of the funniest scenes of the season, the entire group scurrying about looking for the idol. And even with everybody following Russell…he STILL found it.

You wonder why nobody else finds the idol? Just take a look at how the rest of the group was looking for it?

Jaison could barely be bothered to pick up a rock. Dave was merely following Russell and in doing so nearly stumbled upon the idol but because he is so concerned with Russell he walks away from it and chases back after Russell. Hilarious.

Laura is following Dave so she’s no help. And what does Russell do? He easily loses everybody and doubles right back to where Dave was half-assed looking and finds… the… third… idol.

THREE IDOLS! Come on. You have to give him some credit. Check that, a lot of credit. We’ve had hidden immunity idols for a long time now and up until this season nobody has ever thought to just start looking for them, with or without a clue. Russell was so on top of his game that he gave us Producers a run for our money. We were as shocked as you are that he continued to find them before anybody else.

Once again I ask, “He’s starting to grow on you a little, right?”

Let’s give credit where credit is due – the difference in the Reward challenge was Natalie. Period. She won that challenge for her group. She extended her body waaaaaay out over the platform gripping it with only her feet and used her flexibility to reach much further than John was able to and that was the difference.

Now that Galu is starting to scramble it throws everything into chaos.

Galu actually had a very solid idea. It took some doing, but Galu actually game up with a good plan. Convince Foa Foa they are taking out another one of their own – John. In fact, Monica did a very good job of working Foa Foa trying to convince them the vote was for John. Trusting anybody is tough on Survivor, but in terms of pure performance, she did a great job of justifying why she would not vote for Laura but would vote for John.

But John’s no dummy. Getting even one vote at tribal council is never a good thing. Getting four votes is way too risky. It suddenly becomes too easy for someone to “change their mind” and just vote you out.

Also working against the plan is the fact that Russell is as usual, one step ahead. He’s not buying it and he’s not backing off his plan to vote off Laura.

John: If I’m gonna give you a Galu before you give me a Foa Foa, the next one needs to be a Foa Foa. Deal?
Russell: Deal.

But even as he said it, John knew he would be making a deal with a guy who has proven week after week he cannot be trusted. That’s why Survivor is still on, 19 seasons later. You can never be sure what exactly is the best move.

It all came down to John. Does he risk his neck to save Laura and hopefully get rid of a Foa Foa member putting Galu back in charge… or… does he play a more self-serving game and flop to save his own hide knowing his quest for the million dollars may have gotten just a little bit tougher.

John played it brilliantly. He stayed true to Galu through the first vote, forcing a tie. This gave him the chance to see what was really going to happen. Then he had a choice:

A. Let it go to a tie and draw rocks, putting him in jeopardy of being sent home or…
B. Flip to Foa Foa thus ensuring he would stay in he game at least one more day.

He flipped and Laura became the third member of the jury. That was a big move.

IN CONCLUSION (Don’t you love it when you hear those two words.. finally, it’s over)
I know that Laura had people rooting for her and against her. Say what you want, but one thing you have to give Laura credit for is playing the game. From a producer point of view, she gave us everything we could have hoped for and then some. Sorry you had to go Laura, see ya at the live show.

If you had to vote today for your “favorite” player from this season? Who would it be? I’m not talking about who you want to win the game, although it might be the same person, I’m talking about your “favorite” overall player or person in the game?

Look forward to your responses.

Check ya next week.
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PostSubject: Re: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptySun Nov 29, 2009 11:38 pm

Jeff Probst blogs his Thanksgiving thoughts
by Jeff Probst

No blog this week. I’m having Thanksgiving with the family. Hope you are all having a good holiday and enjoyed the “recap” show.

If you didn’t enjoy it, don’t blame me! I don’t really like them either but sometimes they’re a necessary evil, because…
INSIGHT: In the television world, Thanksgiving evening is a tough night to get people to watch television. So often networks will air re-runs or “specials” and save their original episodes for the following week.

Same thing often happens with Survivor during March Madness when college basketball takes over the airwaves.

We just don’t want any of our loyal fans to miss out on an episode of Survivor. Especially this season with so much great stuff happening.

I hope you’re ready for a great finish. So many questions…

Can Foa Foa continue their run? Or is Galu going to figure out a way to stop them?

How much longer can Russell avoid the vote?

And the big one….

Will Shambo cut her hair for the live show?
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Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa Empty
PostSubject: Re: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptySun Nov 29, 2009 11:56 pm

Quote :
I know that Laura had people rooting for her and against her. Say what you want, but one thing you have to give Laura credit for is playing the game. From a producer point of view, she gave us everything we could have hoped for and then some. Sorry you had to go Laura, see ya at the live show.

This. <3
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PostSubject: Re: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptyFri Dec 04, 2009 1:34 pm

Jeff Probst blogs 'Survivor: Samoa': episode #12
by Jeff Probst

Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa Jeffprobst2_l_21_2

Once again history repeats itself. It always does. Especially on Survivor. Anybody remember back on Survivor: All-Stars when Boston Rob pleaded with Lex to save his soon-to-be wife, Amber, promising his loyalty in return? We all remember how that turned out… Lex was the next person voted out. Sound familiar?

John made a huge move last week when he aligned with Russell and Foa Foa and switched his vote forcing Laura out of the game. It was a big move that I fully appreciated. He risked alienating Laura and other Galu members to put himself in a better position in the game. Unfortunately for John, the big move was poorly executed.As always hindsight is 20-20, so ”with all due respect” to John (which my buddy Lopez says means you don’t actually respect the person at all), I offer this analysis of why John is no longer in the game.

John made three big mistakes that led to his ouster. The first mistake John made was in making a deal with the one guy you simply cannot trust – Russell. Russell is nothing if not consistent and he is consistently untrustworthy.

Russell is also a great player. Yes, I said GREAT. Russell used John like a mercenary. By convincing John to switch sides, he got what he needed which was another Galu member voted out. That was John’s second mistake. He should have insisted that in order to get his vote, they must first vote out a Foa Foa. He didn’t. That was a fatal mistake. Because once Laura was voted out, John was no longer of any use.

From Russell’s vantage point, it was an easy and extremely wise vote to get rid of John as soon as possible. In doing so, Russell and the rest of the Foa Foa tribe officially changed the game. Foa Foa (plus Shambo) is now in control of the numbers. Brilliant.

One of the best ideas we’ve had in recent years was in Guatemala when we introduced the ”advantage” to the auction. Danni bid on the advantage, it helped her win the challenge and she ended up winning the game. Jaison made a great move in buying the advantage. It’s money well spent and we (producers) always make sure that the advantage is significant enough that if you play it right, you have a very good chance of winning the challenge. It’s the biggest move Jaison has made in the game and it paid off big time.

To be fair, it’s easy to sit at home and say Jaison made the right move in buying the advantage, but when he saw Mick buy an entire meal moments later for the same amount of money, believe me he had 2nd, 3rd, 4th thoughts about how he had spent his money.

But by the time the challenge came around Mick’s meal had already made it’s way in, through, and out his body and it clearly didn’t help him in the challenge. Good move, Jaison.

Side note: Dave Ball, thank you for not bidding on the shower.

The biggest moment of the auction was not the $200 peanut butter and jelly sandwich that Natalie bought, nor was it Jaison buying the advantage in the challenge. The biggest moment of the auction was John deciding to not share the apple pie with the rest of the tribe. His third and final mistake.

John: I’m confident that nobody is going to vote me off because I didn’t give them a piece of apple pie.”

NOTE TO ALL FUTURE SURVIVORS: Whenever you are given a selfish vs. selfless choice, you ALWAYS choose the selfless option. Always, always, always. Survivor is a social game. John could have used that pie to buy a lot of good will from a lot of people, and I absolutely believe had he done so he would still be in the game. Instead he lost even more favor because he was seen as selfish. The truth is it was a golden opportunity that he wasted. Then again, I say that as I am finishing up a pizza while I write this blog. It’s a tough position to be in for sure, but that’s why we do it – to force the Survivors to make tough decisions.

We’ll never know for certain how much of a part it played in him being voted out, but it definitely did not help him, and had he given up the pie he might have saved himself. You never want to give anybody a reason to vote you out. Never.

While we’re at it, if you ever find yourself playing Survivor and muttering something that begins with: ”I’m confident…and ends with ”won’t get voted off” start packing your bag, cause the blindside is already in motion.

Admittedly, Shambo is a bit of a kook, but you have to find a soft spot in your heart for a woman who shares a clearly heartfelt goodbye to an about-to-be slaughtered chicken and promises to see them in heaven when they’re back together… only moments before she cooks them over an open fire.

First off, Natalie was impressive. A major effort. I tested this challenge myself and those wooden planks were very heavy. Natalie dug deep and outlasted everybody except Dave and Jaison and Jaison had an advantage.

I was so happy to see the advantage pay off for Jaison. Not because I’m rooting for him but because I respect big moves. Spending all of his money for one advantage was a big move.

The look of shock on John’s face was one of the best of the season. It was almost, not quite, but almost, hard for me to watch. He never ever saw it coming.

Also, I’m not sure why Laura is so concerned with whether Shambo knew what was going on or not, but it says to me that there is clearly still some bitterness between the two and if Shambo makes it to the final you can bet she will not have Laura’s vote.

So where do we stand now? Well, this much we know for sure: It is a new game. Foa Foa is now in charge and you can bet that Monica, Dave and Brett are very worried about their future.

The good news is that once again the numbers are uneven and that means that somebody on Foa Foa is now a potential swing vote. The remaining Galu members have to find the crack. They have to find out who is on the bottom of the Foa Foa totem pole and convince them that joining forces is in everybody’s best interest.

The only shot they have of pulling that off is if they start thinking like Russell and ask themselves, ”What Would Russell Do?”
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PostSubject: Re: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptyFri Dec 11, 2009 9:42 am

Jeff Probst blogs 'Survivor: Samoa': episode #13
by Jeff Probst

Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa Jeffprobstblog_l

Man, I gotta say… another awesome episode. Yeah I know I’m biased, but come on, that was a great show!

And now there is absolutely no debate. Foa Foa has done it. They have come back from an eight to four deficit and now are in charge of the game. Think of the odds Vegas would have given you on that not happening. Well, Vegas wouldn’t actually give you any odds, since they know the show has already been taped and they know that I would have emptied my bank account to take that bet and would now be retired living in Palau.

Nobody ever said all challenges would be created equal. If there is one consistent element of Survivor challenges it’s that they’re typically not things you can practice at home. When’s the last time anybody went bowling… using a coconut for the ball. But it was a little bit exciting, right? I loved Jaison pacing around the deck “visualizing” his final immunity winning toss. But hey, it paid off and kept Jaison in the game one more day.

It was a small moment but I hope you caught it as it speaks to the essence of Survivor. Natalie, in the midst of living on an island with a group of strangers, battling physically, emotionally, and socially for a million dollar prize still takes the time to wash and then hang her underwear on a branch in an attempt to keep them clean. You don’t get that moment on any other show.

I hated to see ole Danger Dave go home. It’s no secret I root for the guy. He should be proud he hung in there a long time in a very tough game, but now it’s jury time, brotha.

Monica is a risky player. All she had to do was say, “If you say Dave, I say Dave” and let it go. But Monica was playing to WIN, not take second. I appreciate that kind of play very much. The fact that it didn’t work is irrelevant. You have to be willing to make those kinds of moves to have any shot of winning.

When Russell began to get worried about Mick turning on him he made a statement that speaks to the kind of game he is playing:

Russell: “That worries me that he’s gonna send me home, cause that’s what I would do.”

That sentence, especially those last six words, “cause that’s what I would do” is the absolute essence of how you should always play Survivor. John Nash, the dude that was the inspiration for the movie, “A Beautiful Mind” spelled it out clearly in his thoughts on game theory. He said you must always make your best move based on the assumption that the other person is making their best move. That means you have to get inside their head, think what their best move is, assume they will make that move and based on that make your best move.

When Russell says, “cause that’s what I would do” that is precisely what he is doing. That is how you have to play Survivor. It’s one of the main reasons Russell has been so successful in this game. He is playing an extremely intelligent game. Don’t judge that book by its cover or the lack of a tooth here or there, the guy is putting that little pirate head to good use.

Hmm… might as well just use the same line I used when describing the first immunity challenge:

“Nobody ever said all challenges would be created equal. If there is one consistent element of Survivor challenges it’s that they’re typically not things you can practice at home. When’s the last time anybody…. had to jump on a board to launch a bag into a basket 12 feet in the air.”

Thirty-three days of no food reduced Monica’s body weight to such a low level that the poor thing didn’t weigh enough to even get the bag close to the basket above her head. Worse news, Brett won immunity. It forced her into a desperate position – convince two people from Foa Foa to turn on one of their own.

Monica did a good job of stirring up the dust. She did such a good job that it almost worked. And she brought up a topic that doesn’t get much attention but is often a major factor in who ends up winning the game…

Okay, you want insight, here’s some insight. When Monica uttered those words to Russell: “I can make or break you on the jury” it was a million dollar threat. Mark my words… A million dollar THREAT.

When someone is voted out and joins the jury, there is absolutely nothing to stop them from talking to other jury members and trying to influence the vote at the final tribal council. A disgruntled jury member, (wait is that redundant?) could easily influence another jury member simply by making up a story that never happened and attribute it to someone who has made it to the final. In fact, it’s possible that one jury member could influence an entire jury. Even if we could keep the jury separated right up until tribal council, they could still talk and whisper to each other. So, what this means is you have to play an even better social game than it might appear. You have to develop such strong personal relationships that you are “lie proof” and that is not easy to do… but it is achieveable.

This season is still waaaaay up in the air. So many different ways it could turn depending on who makes it to the final.

We have two weeks left. Next Thursday and then the finale the following Sunday, Dec 20th.
Stay with us… it’s gonna be good.
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PostSubject: Re: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptyFri Dec 18, 2009 9:59 am

Jeff Probst blogs 'Survivor: Samoa': episode #14
by Jeff Probst

Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa Jeffprobst2_l_21_2

Hey everybody, let’s get right into it…


Long before the Survivors participate in a challenge it has already gone through an extensive testing process. It begins with a “test block” where our dreamteamers do a light run-through of the challenge so we can see how it’s coming along.

When we did the first test block for last night’s “Coconut Drop” reward challenge it was rough. We all agreed that it was a brilliant and inventive challenge but it wasn’t quite right. So we gave some notes and our art department made some changes and we tested it again. Technically it was working much better but it was still taking a long time to complete.

We debated reducing the number of coconuts so that it would play faster. But John Kirhoffer and Dan Munday, the geniuses who created the challenge, reminded us that if we reduced the coconuts the challenge would lose a lot of impact. The only way to change the challenge would be to completely redesign it. Well, this was a challenge that had already taken a couple of weeks to design and construct, so the idea of starting over was out of the question. We went ahead with the challenge as planned and it played beautifully. There was great drama and some character revealing moments surrounding Natalie and religion and Shambo and her hair. So, on that front it was a hit. But it took nearly four hours to complete. Four hours… and that’s simply too long.

To give context, not counting endurance challenges which are in their own category, the average challenge takes 15 minutes to run. The reason four hours is too long is that it affects everything else on the schedule. Because we’re behind, the reward itself is now delayed and could result in us having less time on the reward than we desire. The losing team of Survivors who are returning to camp have less daylight for us to shoot reality and conduct interviews. It’s a domino effect. If we have a tribal council that night, we might have to go later than normal and that means our crews are working longer days than we anticipated and then you have to get up the next day to do it all again and you’re already behind. You get the point.

The good news is that this rarely happens. I’m talking maybe once every other season. That’s how good our challenge guys are at designing these contests. They really know their stuff.


There is a specific reason that we will often run a “team” challenge during the individual portion of the game and that is because we want to continue to mix things up and cause conflict. When you send only three people on a reward and the other three are left behind you have a very good chance of a new alliance forming or somebody sharing information that will turn the game around.

The reason it works is because people are often either desperate and/or suspicious, as they should be, and they use this opportunity to do a little detective work or to stir things up. Survivor is so much easier to play from the confines of your living room, much more difficult to actually be “in” the game where every decision is a potential million dollar choice or mistake.

You saw it happen at the reward challenge where Russell, Jaison, and Shambo started investigating Natalie’s decision to choose Brett as her teammate. That simple little discussion could change the game 180 degrees. That’s all it takes for a month-long alliance to come crumbling down. Or if you’re Russell it’s merely another opportunity to capitalize on everybody else’s paranoia and move one step closer to the end.


There was no hiding that the Foa Foa four wanted to get rid of Brett. They talked about it at every challenge and at tribal council. It was quite refreshing to not have them pretend that “maybe Brett has a shot to stay.” Anything can happen but if Brett loses an immunity challenge he will be in serious trouble. If Brett makes it to the final, short of a total meltdown, I think he wins the million dollars.


This challenge was the prototype for a Survivor challenge. It looks simple, you can play it at home, but after a 36 days of playing Survivor, merely counting pigs can drive you insane.

There were lots of different strategies going on. I stayed back in the counting area so I could monitor everything. Russell would memorize a couple of numbers and head out. Brett had a different strategy. He stayed for a long time, storing many numbers in his head, never panicking. I love watching challenges play out in front of me, knowing the decisions the Survivors are making are often do or die. Clearly for Brett, it paid off.


Well, there is no hiding my sadness that Shambo is gone. She was loved by some and despised by others, but from my little perch she was a great Survivor contestant. She had a point of view and she shared it openly. She had a sense of humor about herself, she was a pretty good player and without question Shambo was memorable.

I can tell you right now that some of the other Survivors from this season who are reading this as you are will be screaming at me for being nice to Shambo. Not my problem. I wasn’t in the game, I only know what I see and what I saw I enjoyed. I’m not saying Shambo wouldn’t get on my nerves over time, I’m only saying I liked what I saw.


When we finished shooting Survivor: Samoa I had mixed feeling about how the season would play for the audience. I knew we had a star in Russell but I wasn’t sure if we had anything else.

I have had hundreds of people stop me to tell me this is one of their favorite seasons. I realize that may not ring true to everybody reading this, but for a lot of people this has been a great season. Russell is truly a star and like him or not the fact that he is still in the game as we go into the final episode is a very good thing. The Foa Foa comeback has also been a major storyline this season.

Equally interesting is that Brett is still alive. Suddenly the quiet T-shirt designer is only a few days and one or two challenges away from a legitimate shot at a million dollars.

Even though I do know the outcome of who makes it to the final, I am still going to give you the same predictions I felt at this point when we were shooting the show:

Brett – If he makes it to the final, I think Brett has a really good shot at getting enough votes to win the money. Some of the jury may not feel he deserves it, but with a jury made up of Galu, the odds are in his favor.

Russell – Hands down the strongest player of this season. NO doubt about it. The big question is “Can he get the vote?” That really will depend on whether the jury takes an intellectual approach (if so he has a chance) or an emotional approach (his chances diminish significantly.) If he makes it to the final he will have his work cut out for him.

Natalie – With only five people left, I’d say Natalie has fairly good odds of winning this game. Her biggest challenge is going to be getting to the final. If Brett continues to win, Natalie could be in trouble because she is a threat to win the game. Her best strategy would be to continue to stand next to Russell and vote the way he says.

Jaison – He has a reasonable shot depending on who he is up against. If Jaison is up against Mick and Natalie I think he could make a pretty compelling argument and might sway the jury his way. He was a slow burn but I think people have come to appreciate his integrity.

Mick – I think Mick is the longshot. The one thing that could turn it for Mick is if he makes it to the final and then reveals that he has been playing “quiet” for a reason. If Mick turns out to be a great orator he could surprise everybody and change the minds of the jury at the final tribal council.

I hope you’re excited for our finale on Sunday. I think it’s going to be fun to watch and the Reunion show should be a kick as well.


On a separate note, I just found out that the pilot for a new show I created with Mark Burnett, called “LIVE FOR THE MOMENT” will air at 8 pm on Thursday, Jan. 28th, 2010. If you’re looking for something new that offers great adventure as well as an uplifting message about how to get the most out of life, I hope you’ll check it out and encourage your friends to watch. I’m really proud of it and I hope it connects with an audience. The only way a show like this gets a chance for a second episode is if people watch the first one! Thanks for the support.


I may not be able to write a blog following the finale. I will do my best but I want to be up front and share that it just might not happen.

So with that in mind I will take a small leap ahead and say… “Survivor 20…..” Wait till you see what we have in store for you! I think you’re gonna dig it!

Thanks to Entertainment Weekly for letting me do these blogs again and thanks to Dalton Ross for the weekly reminders to get my blogs finished on time.

Finally, thanks to you guys, the fans, our loyal audience, the people who read this blog and respond with your comments. I read your comments every week and I learn a lot from them. Sometimes your comments even get copied and sent to our producers or our challenge department because you make some very good points in your analysis of the show.

I’ve enjoyed our back and forth, thanks for the honesty.

And now…. Let’s get to Sunday night already!
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PostSubject: Re: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptyTue Dec 22, 2009 2:08 am

Jeff Probst blogs about 'Survivor' finale: 'Nobody outplayed Russell'
by Jeff Probst

Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa Jeffprobst_l1

Okay, now that the show is officially over I’m going to take off my hosting and producing hat and just give you my personal reaction to what went down last night.

I think Russell was the victim of a jury of bitter people. I am not taking anything away from Natalie, she clearly did a great job of reading the group dynamic of the jury and as a result she deserves the money.

Oftentimes on Survivor, the vote does come down to a choice where a determining factor is “how nice someone is” but that’s usually when all other criteria being considered is equal. That doesn’t hold up this season. This season was so lopsided in terms of one person (Russell) completely dominating the game that to not give him the money and the title is a bit silly.

If I were playing Survivor, no matter how much I despised someone, if they kicked my ass in the game I would give it to them. Period. Outwit. Outplay. Nobody outwitted or outplayed Russell. Not even close.
I was a bit surprised at Erik’s nod to Natalie during the final tribal council. I think he certainly helped Natalie and definitely hurt Russell. I also think that when Erik watches this season again in a few years he will regret not giving his vote to Russell. Erik is the kind of guy who I thought would respect a player like Russell. I think Erik was still smarting from the whole Galu disaster.

I do not believe the jury voted for Natalie, I believe the jury voted against Russell.

Russell was clearly upset last night and I think a lot of people understand why that would be. He played a very risky and creative game and he wanted to be acknowledged. As for the audience, they spoke quite loudly when they awarded him the $100,000 from Sprint by an overwhelming 46% Russell to 10% Shambo… and 7% Natalie. Not even close. I put myself in that same group. Again, I’m speaking as a fan, not as a host or a producer.

But hey this is how it goes, it’s why Survivor is so fun to watch, you can never predict the outcome. So…

Q. Can you be considered the greatest player ever if you don’t win? Hmmm. It’s a tough question for me. On one hand, it’s a no-brainer, absolutely not. Survivor is a social game and to win you have to vote people out in a way that compels them to return and vote for you to win the game. It’s extremely complicated and Russell did not achieve it, therefore he cannot be considered the greatest player to ever play. On the other hand, I can’t think of anybody who has ever played a game like Russell played. It was so dominating that I am still shaking my head that he didn’t win. The only guy I could even see having the talent and guts to do something equally dominating would be Boston Rob. So I am on the fence on this one. But this much I am certain of – Russell is without any question ONE of the greats. No doubt about it.

Q. Did Natalie play a better game than Russell? For me, that’s a bit easier to answer. I do not think that Natalie played a better game, but rather was the right person in the right position who made one very good strategic move and that was to stay out of Russell’s way, and as a result she ended up with the money. But to be fair – a very good counter argument is that Natalie used her strengths, avoided her weaknesses and by taking this active approach to the game, she put herself in position to win the money and it paid off. It’s a counter argument, but not one that I’m that fond of supporting.

Q. Was this a great season or a lame season? For me, this is another easy question. Survivor: Samoa will rank as one of my favorite seasons and for one reason: Russell Hantz. He single handedly kept this show interesting week after week after week. But I know some will argue that because it was “The Russell Season” it lacked having more big characters and therefore does not rank as high. This is one that will be debated by Survivor fans for years to come.

I hope you’re all jazzed about Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains. I think you are going to really enjoy it! We have an all-star cast returning. A lot of people you will expect and want to see and a couple of surprise choices that may leave you scratching your head, which we love, by the way.

One last reminder – if you are looking for a show that offers adventure as well as a positive message about how to live your life to the fullest. Check out Live for the Moment Thursday, Jan. 28 at 8pm on CBS.

Thank you Jeff for saying what we all know to be true Jury = bitter and Russell = the one that should have won! I was curious as to the % of which Russell won the 100k player of the season and I figured it would be over 50 and without a doubt a landslide.

Also, I am loving all the Boston Rob and Russell comparisons, I could not agree more with them ...2 of my favorite players ever, probably of any reality show who play hard to win and don't just stumble to the end by riding coattails! Love it and can't wait to see them both on the next season of Survivor! I only hope they team up and dominate season 20!!!!!
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Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa Empty
PostSubject: Re: Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa   Jeff Probst blogs Survivor Samoa EmptyTue Dec 22, 2009 12:49 pm

I think I could have written that blog, except for the part about Boston Slob *hurl* I love Jeff for keeping it real and I enjoy and look forward to reading his blogs. I couldnt agree more regarding the bitter jury and I too thought that Erik would respect Russells gameplay and therefore give him his vote.
The only thing I want to know FOR SURE, is who was the other person besides Shambo who voted for Russell. Who is the only other person on the jury who has a brain and can handle having their asses handed to them. I am putting my money on John, the rocket scientist of course who uses his head and didnt go to jury butt hurt like the rest of the Galu LOSERS!! I'll say it again...WORST JURY EVER!!!!

Can't wait for next season. Russell! Coach!! Gravedigger James!!
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