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February 20, 2004

Survivor All-Stars Notes - Ep#4

Posted after Ep #4, Feb 19, 2004. This post, and its comments, may contain spoilers....

During the Big Storm, Big Tom said "mayday, mayday, mayday". It made me wonder if they give the players a code word, and tell them, "we will ignore all cries for help, unless they include this code". (I'm guessing my friend Sherm knows all about this sort of safe-word.)

The powers-that-be described this as the worst storm in the history of Survivor. I'm sure it was bad, but I don't think we saw all that much "damage". I don't think we saw Moga at all during the storm. Chapera was more-or-less high and dry. And Saboga's goofy dugout hut was gonna be a disaster even if it only sprinkled.

"Mother nature can be one forceful bitch."

Susan: "You have no bone to give me Richard!"
Hatch: "That is ab-so-looootly true!"

When they revealed the mouthwash: Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

Didn't one of the treemail invites for the Reward Challenge refer to eating bugs?

Psychic Go Fish... Clairvoyent Concentration. Jeff seemed pretty weirded out by how well they all did at guessing the other people's stuff.

Chapera wins reward again. Feeling pretty good about themselves...

...but then they go to Tribal Council for the first time.

Immunity Challenge: Mogo comes from behind. Richard steps up to be the "caller" in the blindfold challenge. Risky. But thinking back, who ran into Big Tom? Is it possible Richard was aiming his people at others to cause unrest?

Saboga wins much needed immunity. Rupert has a little more time to repair his rep after the dugout hut.

Amber: "I'm 25. Young. I'm having fun."
Big Tom: "I'm 48. Old. Watchin'. Havin' fun."

At Tribal Council, was Jeff trying to get Amber annoyed at Boston Rob?

RobC voted out. Probably unanimous since they didn't reveal all the ballots. Another Top Seeded tribe member voted out. Survivor: Amazon is eliminated.

Remaining from the Meta-Tribes
Pula Tiga 3 of 4
Australia 4 of 5
Africa 3 of 3
Marqesas 2 of 2
Thailand 1 of 1
Amazon 0 of 2
Pearl Isl. 1 of 1

Posted by jghiii at February 20, 2004 08:20 PM
Posted by: Sherman on February 20, 2004 08:31 PM

My safe word is DEFINITE MOM ALERT "No fucking way, dude -- it's too big."

Posted by: sherman on February 20, 2004 08:33 PM

And they did reveal the ballots at the end -- all voted against Rob except himself. And how did you love his reaction during the tally -- he was clearly in need of a bus to Clue Street.

Posted by: Jo Ann on February 20, 2004 10:09 PM

Aww shucks, poor Rob C.! I liked him. I think his surprise at getting voted out was really just him wearing his emotions on his sleeve. He's a sensitive chap, afterall.

He really never clicked with his tribe this time. He couldn't seem to make his "class clown" persona work. Not a lot of folks on that tribe that really appreciate humor! Tom's funny, but it's like a "drunk funny", not an "intellectual funny" like Rob C. Otherwise, there are a lot of serious Alpha Males in that tribe, well, Boston Rob, of course. And... Susan and Alicia! :-)

By the way, Jack... you were inquiring about the Reward's Challenge with bugs... naw, that was just Rob C. joking around! And Susan was running with it saying how she'll eat anything and Rob had to stop her saying "I'm kidding, I'm kidding!"

Ah well, I'll miss Rob C.!

Posted by: RickF on February 20, 2004 10:25 PM

My turn to post the column from the magazine which shall remain nameless...


Rob C. was backstabbed by (Boston) Rob M. Is the "smartest player never to win" now the smartest never to win TWICE? He didn't get far enough for us to tell, says Dalton Ross.

Well, it seems the ''smartest player to never win 'Survivor''' (according to Jeff Probst) STILL hasn't won it. Not only that, but Mr. Smarty Pants was the very first one booted out of his tribe. In truth, Rob Cesternino was toast the minute he ended up on a tribe with no previous winners. Before the game started, almost every single contestant listed Rob C. as one of the biggest threats in there.

His only hope, really, was to end up on a team with someone like Richard Hatch, Ethan, or (shoulda been a winner) Colby who players were targeting even more. Once he was left with a bunch of also-rans, his fate was pretty much sealed. People simply feared his wheeling and dealing too much. Boston Rob was also dissing him pretty hard before the game, calling him a copycat, so he obviously had issues with the attention Rob C. got from ''The Amazon'' and wanted to put him in his place.

But Cesternino wasn't the only one having a tough time this episode. In fact, it was a veritable festival of misery. First up: the storm. ''Digging into the sand is the dumbest idea I've ever had in my life,'' said Rupert of his crapola shelter, ''and we paid dearly tonight for it.'' No one paid more dearly than Jerri. The girl was a mess -- shaking, crying, staring off into space. It was almost hard to remember that this was the same cocky broad who went rummaging for beef jerky in other people's packs a few scant seasons ago.

Mogo Mogo didn't seem to get hit quite as hard, but Shii Ann did provide the classic quote of the evening, commenting that ''Last night was one of those moments when you realize Mother Nature can be one forceful bitch.'' True dat!!! (Sorry, I don't really know what ''true dat!'' means, but I've heard it around and figured I would try it out. Now that I have, and seen what a miserable failure its inclusion was, I promise to never do datů I mean THAT again.)

Then we had to sit through a boring mix-and-match reward challenge only made interesting by Boston Rob addressing Ethan as ''pretty boy.'' Anyone who bothered to read our cover story or these past columns knows that B.R. has MAJOR beef with Ethan. (Granted, Rob has beef with everybody, but especially Ethan.) Anyway, this was the first time it really manifested itself in the game, and hopefully, it's not the last.

So, Chapera won (again!) and we were treated to the curious sight of Big Tom with his head in a toilet. But as boring as that reward challenge was, it was more than compensated for by a great, knock-down (literally!) drag-em-out immunity contest. (Note: This was the one they were actually going to compete in last week before Jenna bailed.) Now, everyone is gonna talk about how obliterated Big Tom was getting, being whacked by contestants and oversized puzzle pieces seemingly every few seconds, and rightfully so. After all, it was hilarious.

But far more funny to me was watching tattooed bad boy Lex stumble around like a blind Frankenstein monster. Watching his seemingly drunken baby steps accompanied by hands stretched out in front of his body was one of the more amusing scenes in recent ''Survivor'' memory.

Competitively, this was a fantastic challenge as well, as Chapera went from first to worst (they found all their puzzle pieces before anyone else but couldn't figure out how to assemble them), and Mogo Mogo continued to act as masters of the silver (they've taken home second place in almost every challenge to date). And best of all, we finally got to hear Rupert scream. And it was one damn good scream, people. No doubt, Cesternino was soon doing a little screaming of his own after the Tribal Council vote. Now he knows what being backstabbed by a player named Rob feels like. Bad for him, good for us.

Posted by: Jack Hodgson on February 20, 2004 10:48 PM

I'm confused, I thought that Boston Rob was the "smartest player to never win 'Survivor'''?

And what's this story about Boston Rob having a "MAJOR beef with Ethan"? Is this something that happened out in the real world? Can someone post something about this. Maybe pirate, err I mean, post the "Cover Story" he referred to.

Posted by: RickF on February 20, 2004 11:12 PM

Here's the "cover story" article from the magazine that shall remain nameless...


For the all-stars of the latest ''Survivor'' edition, the game actually started before they even hit the beach. It's three days prior -- Nov. 1, the day of the dead -- and the Casa Charlito villa on Contadora Island off the coast of Panama is housing a straight-up killer. Richard Hatch and his five Mogo tribemates are awaiting the start of their second adventure of a lifetime. Only they don't know they're tribemates, or when said adventure will begin. With so much uncertainty swirling around this highly anticipated ''Survivor: All-Stars'' edition, you'd think Hatch -- the man who told ''Survivor'' producers the check was already written before he was even cast in the first season -- would be slightly humbled. Think again. ''I'm gonna win it,'' he says while sprawled out on his bed in a tank top and yellow mesh shorts. ''I just think I play the game well. I know all of the people that I'll be playing with, and I'm not concerned.'' As if on cue, he stretches his arms behind his head and cracks a wide grin. ''It's like taking candy from a baby.''

Residing in the room next door, one ''baby'' is not so sure. ''Survivor: Africa'''s Lex van den Berghe has already had enough of Hatch, and they've shared only a single breakfast together. ''Do I think there's any chance Richard Hatch can win this game?'' says the testy tattooed one, who's sporting a brand-new ''can of whup-ass'' tat for the occasion. ''No way. I just don't see that happening.''

After three and a half years of rice-diet starvation, beach-bound deception, and torch-snuffing suspense, reality evil genius Mark Burnett has brought forth ''Survivor: All-Stars'': a veritable clash of the titans, an epic of egos, or, at the very least, a battle of fame-hungry, money-grubbing lunatics. ''We don't want to be accused of jumping the shark, and we don't think we are,'' says host Jeff Probst, adding that the concept was discussed for air as early as 2002. ''It's okay to take a time-out and bring some fun people back. And then 'Survivor 9' will be 'Survivor' again.''

By waiting seven seasons, Burnett had a pool of 112 contestants to choose from: Sue versus Jerri. Colby versus Ethan. Richard versus...well, everybody. Judging from chat-room buzz, preshow punditry, and yes, some producer grandstanding (''A blockbuster movie always has a great script, great shooting, and big, marketable stars,'' Burnett says, ''and I think the 'All-Stars' will be 'Survivor''s blockbuster''), this installment could be the most popular yet, despite facing the final episodes of ''Friends.'' Already, the first outing, airing after the Super Bowl, drew 33.5 million viewers, the most for any ''Survivor'' episode since the finale of 2001's ''Australian Outback.''

As always, ''All-Stars''' success comes down to one thing: casting. Every single player, from Sonja Christopher to Sandra Diaz-Twine, received a call inquiring about their willingness to serve and starve. The two most notable nos: Colleen Haskell, who wasn't interested in reprising her role as America's Sweetheart, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck (formerly Filarski) who was busy reprising her role as America's Sweetheart on ''The View.'' So Burnett started doing what he does best -- eliminating people. ''We could have had 30 or 60, easily,'' he says, adding that Colby Donaldson and Jerri Manthey were shoo-ins, while ''Australia'''s fire starter Jeff Varner and fire victim Michael Skupin just missed the final cut. ''We went to 18 because I couldn't get down below that number without compromising.''

Of course, in some cases it seems T&A won out over T&A&l-e-n-t. Former winners Vecepia Towery (''Marquesas'') and Brian Heidik (''Thailand''), for example, were passed over in favor of Stuff cover girl Amber Brkich (''Australia'') and season 1 cast member Jenna Lewis, who admits, ''I think Mark Burnett might have messed up on the envelopes. I feel like the 12th sub on a varsity basketball team.''

Once the lineup was set, most participants apparently ignored the no-talking rule. (''Well, you know, we're only human,'' says ''Amazon'' winner Jenna Morasca, who just happened to predict correctly every single contestant before the game started. ''We're going to get a little blabby.'') But the big question is: How did they talk themselves into agreeing to be physically, emotionally, and intellectually pummeled all over again? Some, like Rupert Boneham (who ''head to toe was still oozing from 'Survivor 7''' when he signed on), cite the adventure. Others, like ''Africa'' champ Ethan Zohn, covet the title of Ultimate Survivor. And then there's ''Survivor'''s notorious bad girl Jerri, who's just itching to get even: ''I want to seek revenge on those who did me wrong the first time.''

But for most, it's all about the $$$. While Burnett insists the top prize remains $1 million, many of the contestants suspect that in a typical twist, that amount will double. (''All-Stars''' first bootee, ''Australia'' champ Tina Wesson, received $25,000 for her three-day stay -- 10 times more than what the first castoff usually pockets.) ''I need the money,'' says Sue Hawk, who had to hire extra help at her Las Vegas smoothie bar to take time off for the tropical adventure. ''That's the only reason. If I had won the first one, I would not be here. Oh, hell, no! Anybody here that's won before are one of two things: They're either an egomaniac, or were stupid and pissed all their money away.''

The Mogo Mogo camp sits just 200 yards from the strip of sand the Drake tribe called home in ''Pearl Islands.'' ''It made perfect sense to not waste a hard-to-find location that we may need for season 9 or 10,'' explains Burnett of recycling the locale. ''The people are the focus here, not the location.'' Back on the beach during day 2, the members of Mogo are getting plenty of exposure. While wading in the ocean, Richard has just ripped off his khaki skirt and stands before the camera crew in his full glory, which, as it turns out, is not very glorious at all. Then, in perhaps his first truly brilliant move of the game, Colby swims off a few feet, putting some distance between himself and Little Richard. Mogo's unofficial mascot is not the only thing bothering ''Australia'''s golden boy. ''I'm a mess physically,'' admits Colby. ''I broke my clavicle and two ribs and separated my shoulder last year, and just broke my nose three weeks ago. Of course, I don't want all them to know that.''

Later, Richard and Shii Ann's aforementioned strategy session is interrupted by the appearance of a machete-wielding Kathy Vavrick-O'Brien (you know, the one who peed on a contestant's hand on ''Marquesas''). ''I just want to do one thing with this,'' she informs the pair while methodically sharpening the blade. ''I bet you do,'' replies Shii Ann. Then, in perhaps his first truly brilliant move, Richard opts to keep his yap shut.

From the sounds emanating over on the other side of the island at the insect-infested Chapera camp, things are getting a tad hot under the collar. ''Harder! Full pressure! C'mon, don't stop!'' implores Boston Rob Mariano (''Marquesas''). It turns out he and ''Africa'''s Big Tom Buchanan are trying to make fire by frantically rubbing two pieces of wood together. Smoke starts billowing, but alas, smoke only. ''You son of a bitch!'' Tom yells before giving up and resting on the shelter floor. At this point in the game, none of the tribes have made fire, and no fire means no boiled drinking water. ''This is insane!'' complains ''Australia'''s finger wagger, Alicia Calaway. ''We honestly cannot go on without more liquids.''

They'll have to try: Less than two hours later, all three tribes converge for what will be the season's first immunity contest, ''Quest for Fire,'' an updated version of the first-ever challenge from season 1. (In keeping with the ''best of'' motif, ''All-Stars'' has adapted all of its challenges from previous seasons.) It is the first time any of the contestants have seen the other teams, but to Burnett's delight everyone keeps their game faces on. ''The danger of doing the 'All-Stars' is, would it be silly?'' he concedes as the players size each other up. ''I was worried that they would come in high-fiving like 'Battle of the Network Stars,' but they didn't.''

Well, not right away. After Chapera handily wins the event, there is little taunting, and even less trauma. Instead the contestants all mingle like it's happy hour, exchanging hugs and back-slaps. It's a scene very reminiscent of...well, ''Battle of the Network Stars'' -- minus the dunk tank. The only one not making the rounds is Rupert, who, as the new guy on the beach, doesn't have any old friends to catch up with. He sits alone on his raft, looking up only to greet the occasional well-wisher who approaches with hand outstretched and a ''nice to meet you.'' Probst, who has been off conferring with producers, sees the burgeoning reunion and runs in like a one-man riot squad to disperse the crowd. ''Stay with your tribe! Stay with your tribe!'' he yells. ''I'm gonna get fired!''

That's not likely (Probst is under contract through season 12), but the episode does illustrate what makes this ''Survivor'' edition so different from all the others. These people are not strangers. They have not only all played the game before but attended finales together, worked the same never-ending publicity circuit, and in many cases become good friends. Sometimes even more than friends. (''Ethan is a little f---ing whore,'' claims the always-tactful Boston Rob. ''He's doing Survivors left and right.'' For his part, Ethan declines to comment on who he has -- or has not -- done, and in what direction.)

So how will all that familiarity change the game and, more importantly, the show? ''The one thing about 'Survivor' that makes it 'Survivor' is the interaction of people who don't know each other,'' says Alicia. ''That is taken away the moment friends get together. It's a whole other game. It's really not 'Survivor' anymore.''

Whatever it turns out to be, ''All-Stars'' is likely to be far more personal than the average season, complicated by relationships on and off the island. ''It's much easier to write a stranger's name on a piece of paper,'' explains Lex. ''I haven't met their spouse, their kids, their parents. These people -- I've hung out with them, I've gotten drunk with them. That's why it's gonna be brutal and ruthless, and anybody who's not prepared for that hasn't prepared for the game.''

Day 3. If fire represents life, then the Saboga tribe is dying. Not only will one of their torches get snuffed this evening at Tribal Council, but their own quest for fire continues to come up short. The tribe's beach, on a separate island from the other teams, features rough waters and an even rougher sun, with little to no natural shade. Rupert and Tina are working side by side to create wood shards that they will then attempt -- and fail -- to ignite in a coconut shell. Little does Tina know that just a few days ago Rupert was already plotting ways to get rid of her. ''I understand the psyche of anger,'' he explains. ''With Tina, you might be able to say, 'Tina's already won once. She voted you out already. Do you really want to keep her in this game?'''

Another thing Tina doesn't know: In about six hours, Rupert will be writing her name down at Tribal Council, making her the game's first casualty. Who would have believed the lovable Hagrid clone could be capable of such deceit? It seems the big fella has already adapted to his environment. And he is certainly not alone. ''It's going to be the most evil, manipulating, conniving 'Survivor' ever,'' says Jerri. ''And I think a lot of that is going to happen with a big smile.''

Posted by: Jo Ann on February 20, 2004 11:13 PM

Jack: At the final Amazon Survivor episode Jeff Probst coined Rob C. as "the smartest player to never win Survivor", not Boston Rob. Remember how clever Rob C. played? He messed with everyone in a very charming way! Boston Rob didn't get nearly as far along in his first game.

I sort of like Boston Rob, but he got on my nerves in the last game. He compared himself to the Godfather in one of his chats to the camera... very cocky! But then he's kind of cool, too. Some of them you love, some of them you hate, and then some of them you love to hate!

I don't know the history of Rob's beef with Ethan either. I'm sure someone will post. I think I could look up the article, if needed... I'm sure you'll wait with bated breath. What is bated breath anyway? :-)

Posted by: Jo Ann on February 20, 2004 11:24 PM

And there you have it, Jack! No more bated breath! Good thing, I was gonna pass you a mint.

By the way, I saw Jeff Probst on Ellen DeGeneres and he mentioned how they had to intervene and provide the tribes with a way to get fire since it wasn't working on their own. They had doctors watching and saying two more days without water would have been too dangerous for them.

Too bad for us, it would have been fun to watch them hallucinate. I kid, I kid! :-)

Posted by: sherman on February 21, 2004 02:10 AM

Yo! FUCLA boy. Don't mess with me. Your turn? Who says you get a turn? Posting copywrited material is my schtick.

I'm voting you out in the next Tahoe Tribal Council.

Posted by: beth on February 21, 2004 02:53 PM

I felt so bad for Rob C...I think that was the first time we ever saw someone so visibly upset at hearing his name read at Tribal Council. Also I figured right around the time they got the flints, that the producers would figure out a way to give them fire...I mean how entertaining would it be if they are all dying of thirst, except for Sue and Richard of course...

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