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Steve Wright

This season’s Survivor: Redemption Island has brought us a lot of twist and turns, but one of the more memorable moments came when Steve Wright and Former Federal Agent? Phillip Sheppard got into a verbal showdown.

Steve called Phillip crazy, because you know, he kind of is, and Phillip decided the word “crazy” was racist and equivalent to the n-word. Here’s to hoping Kelly Bensimon isn’t reading this and getting any ideas.

In a new interview with PEOPLE following his elimination on the show, the 51-year-old (he’s only 51?) former NFL Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle discusses his time on the show, how his faith helped him, and touches on the whole Phillip issue. Excerpts from Steve’s interview below -

Did you ever play up your “weakness” for strategy?
No. I wear my feeling on my sleeve and if I was saying that I was feeling it, I was feeling it. But I’d also get out of it pretty quick; it just depends on when it was. It’s an emotional, physical, and mental roller coaster the whole time you’re out there. One minute you’re starving and the next you are saying, ‘Okay, I’m just not going to eat today.’ And you just deal with it and get over it. It’s pretty amazing just keeping the faith and setting short term goals and getting through it.

Does faith play a large role this season?
God’s been a big part of my life and I attribute everything to God. Julie had walked away from God and was going through a really terrible time with her divorce and the foreclosure. Mike and I just spent time talking to her and she re-dedicated her life so it was a pretty big topic out there. Plus lying around all day and night, you really get in to what your soul is all about when you’re around each other 24/7. We were going through some pretty crazy and difficult times together and having faith just really helps a lot so we talked about it.

Phillip alluded to being in on the joke that he is “crazy”. Do you believe that?
Any great actor couldn’t act it 24/7 for a month. The real you is going to come out sooner or later and its just really exposing him for who he really is. I highly doubt that he was a special agent or anything like that. I called him “crazy” and all of a sudden he thought that that meant the N-word. I just think he’s mentally and emotionally unstable and I think Jeff did a good job exposing it. I’ve gotten great response from my family, friends, and teammates. The guy is who he is. I think he’s just a few bricks short of a whole load. He’s a bit loony.

Meanwhile on tonight’s all new episode of Survivor, Andrea takes part in her first Redemption Island duel. Back at camp, one castaway plots making a big move that could prove to be costly. The episode airs at 8/7c on CBS.

TELL US – THOUGHTS ON STEVE’S INTERVIEW? DO YOU THINK PHILLIP IS REALLY CRAZY OR JUST PRETENDING TO BE?


This week’s Survivor: Redemption Island was a slight roller coaster of emotions (don’t judge me), what with the Ometepe turning on one of their own, the castaways’ family members making an appearance, and Phillip revealing that he’s a genius. Ralph and Steve arrive on Redemption Island, and it’s becoming clear that the jury could be full of Zapatera. Ometepe Mayor Boston Rob reveals that he’s pretty confident that his followers friends are too slow and stupid kind to reach the conclusion that the smart thing to do would be to vote him off if given the opportunity.

Tree-mail arrives and the group revels in the chance to watch videos of their family members, and who can blame them after 30 days? In the first four person duel, Matt, Mike, Steve, and Ralph must battle it out using metal balls to break tiles. The loser will be sent to the jury–duh–but the winner? He’ll get to spend time with a family member in person. After four rounds of this primitive game of ski-ball, Mike wins, and Steve is sent packing. My eyes may have gotten a tad misty when Mike’s mom comes out of the jungle (fine, judge away). THEN, in a SO VERY WRONG scenario, Jeff Probst gives Mike three choices. Mike can a) spend some time with his mom; b) forgo his family time and allow his fellow Redemption Island roommates to hang out with their loved ones; or c) stiff it to his bunk mates, send his mom back into the jungle, and give the family time to the group who voted him off in the first place. In a shocking (sweet? strategic?) move, Mike chooses the third option, making the Ometepe happy (and hopefully grateful without short-term memories), Ralph angry, and his mother proud. Honestly, I don’t think his move was strategic…I just think he’s just genuinely that good of a guy.

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On this week’s Survivor, “A Mystery Package,” the Murlonio tribe reigns supreme as the final two Zapatera members, former NFL player Steve Wright and farmer (and my favorite) Ralph Kiser, are sent packing for Redemption Island. Puppetmaster Boston Rob Mariano continues to pull the strings which will likely ensure him a spot in the finale, seeing as his minions can’t think for themselves.

Last week, Julie’s flame was extinguished, but not before she admitted to burying Federal Agent (?) Phillip’s shorts where they will never be found. Fortunately, the “mystery package” was not the viewers having to watch Phillip tool around in his pink tighty-whiteys (tighty-pinkys?) for the entire episode–this undercover specialist has a dream in which his grandfather comes to him and leads him to his missing shorts. Lo and behold, he actually finds the spot, digs and digs, and retrieves his shorts. Thankfully. He can’t wait to face Julie wearing said shorts, and compares it to a scene from A Few Good Men. “You know what I want to say to Julie? What did Jack Nicholson say to Tom Cruise? ‘You can’t STAND the truth.’” Eh, close enough, Phillip.

Matt, Mike and Julie make the trek over from Redemption Island to see who will be second loser the next member of the jury. Matt admits that he feels at peace, and if God thinks it’s his time to go home, he’s ready to leave. He glances quickly (and not too kindly) at that chick who threw him under the bus Andrea, who later remarked that it seemed like he gave her a dirty look, but she could be reading into it. Yeah, that’s it. The three compete in a battle to the death, or “shuffleboard” as the geriatrics call it. Sadly, Julie just can’t slide the disk across the board, so puck it, she’s the newest addition to the jury.

Andrea feels some guilt for breaking Matt’s spirit “on a human level, not on a game level” (thanks for the clarification), which causes her Ometepe buddies to question her loyalty in the event Matt comes back from Redemption Island. With that in mind, the cast heads to a log roll competition for the immunity challenge and reward–chocolate cake and ice-cold milk. After two nail-biting rounds of the castaways tap dancing on a log, Grant Mattos and Ralph are left to vie for immunity. Grant wins, inviting Boston Rob to sit next to him in the cafeteria and braid his hair join him for cake. He also shares his loot with Andrea in hopes of making her feel secure before her tribe turns against her and throws her under the bus.

Jeff Probst gives the remaining group a “mystery package” which is a twist that will be revealed at Tribal Council. I can’t help but wonder if Jeff didn’t just wrap up a brick to mess with these folks. Steve tries to get the Ometepe girls to join him and Ralph in their attempt to vote off Boston Rob. Ralph, through the magic of subtitles, believes he will be voted off. (I LOVE him. Being from the South, I sometimes wish I had someone translating for me a good bit of the time.) Smart cookie, that Ralph.

At Tribal Council, Ralph is voted off to no one’s surprise. However, the “mystery package” is opened and (HOLY TWIST!!) there will be an immediate immunity challenge followed by another vote, giving the crew no time to discuss alliances. This must have been the retirement home episode, because after the riveting game of shuffle board, this immunity challenge is basically a dumbed down “Simon Says” with camping images printed on tiles. Boston Rob wins immunity, and the lone Zapatera Steve goes to join Ralph on Redemption Island.

I highly doubt veteran Boston Rob will be going anywhere anytime soon. I mean, if so, who will be around to pull the strings of his tribe members? Not everyone can form a clique as easily as a 10th grade mean girl, so I have to give Rob major props. And in the event he is voted off soon? Fear not, folks…he’s covered.

After four seasons of Survivor and two seasons of Amazing Race (with wife and fellow Survivor winner Amber), Rob is teaming up with monster truck guru Dennis Anderson. People.com reports that the two “will challenge each other to circumnavigate the globe using 80 different methods of transportation with the caveat that each cannot repeat any way twice” in the History Channel’s new series, Around the World in 80 Ways. Rob cites his time on Amazing Race as fueling his love of travel. The appeal of this show, however, takes a unique approach. Rob reveals, “Around the World in 80 Ways is completely different from anything I’ve done before in that this show will be a celebration of transportation throughout history.” While Rob admits he will miss his wife and young daughters (and hopes that none of the modes of travel will cause claustrophobia), he is very excited to begin this new adventure. I wonder what kind of strings he’ll be pulling then…

TELL US – THOUGHTS ON LAST NIGHT’S SURVIVOR & THE RECAP? ARE ROB’S MINIONS THE WORST PLAYERS TO PLAY THE GAME?

Despite being a strong competitor, Stephanie Valencia found herself eliminated on Survivor: Redemption Island after making the fatal error of teaming up with Russell Hantz.

In a new interview with PEOPLE, the 25-year-old waitress discusses why she chose to align with known villain Russell and stay loyal to him, plus the reason she let it all out when leaving Redemption Island. Excerpts are below -

Did you know aligning with Russell would put you on the wrong side of the numbers?
I had no idea the sheer panic that his presence brought to the other tribe mates. I didn’t understand it. I mean, I know he had this reputation, but if we had kept winning we wouldn’t have had to worry about it. Then we get to the merge and you can get rid of him if you really can’t stand him.

You could have jumped ship when you knew Russell was going down.
I didn’t want to come off fake. I didn’t want to be like, “Everything’s fine.” My feelings were hurt. He was part of my alliance and now I have to try and be two-faced with these people and say, “I’m glad we got rid of Russell! Things are better around camp.” I just couldn’t do that. I thought maybe they would respect my loyalty.

You definitely made all your feelings known when leaving Redemption Island.
I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to cry. But I couldn’t hold it back, and I was like, “Well, I’m already crying, let me say everything that’s on my mind.” I felt so much better after letting Rob know that [Zapatera] can’t be trusted. I don’t want them to succeed. When I take losses in real life, I feel like I’m a lot more graceful. But this isn’t real life – it’s a game.

A new episode of Survivor airs tonight on CBS at 8/7c during which the tribes will be merged, and someone from Redemption Island will get to return to the game! It seems like the decision by the Zapateras to chose strength over loyalty (David over Sarita) right before the merge might come back to hunt them.

TELL US – DID THE ZAPATERA TRIBE MAKE AN ERROR BY CHOOSING DAVID OVER SARITA? ROOTING FOR MATT TO COME BACK INTO THE GAME?


It was a classic case of playing too hard too soon as Survivor outcast Kristina Kell found herself ousted after being on the wrong side of the numbers early on in the game.

In a new interview with PEOPLE, Kristina, 46, slams former Federal Agent? Phillip, calling him “insane and paranoid” and explains why she thought the duel match with Matt was unfair. Excerpts are below -

How did you end up on the wrong side of the numbers so early?
Well with Andrea, Ashley and Natalie, I have 20-plus years on those girls, so that was a barrier to start with. And then Rob came in as our “hero.” Those girls were star struck by him. And I include Grant in that group of girls. They would walk down the beach together singing and holding hands. The three girls would bound after Rob like three Bo Dereks in 10. It was a ridiculous situation. So I was stuck with the older folks in the tribe.

Speaking of the older folks, you really did not get along with Phillip.
He just had this frantic, insane, mental diarrhea that would just flow from his mouth and infect everyone there. He was paranoid. One day, his underwear flew off a clothesline while it was drying and he accused everyone of trying to steal his underwear. He’s just insane and paranoid and delusional … and an idiotic blowhard.

You looked ready to collapse when you dueled with Matt.
It was tough. I was at a disadvantage. I hadn’t eaten in a day and a half; I hadn’t had water. I hadn’t slept. And then I had to go move heavy blocks around. I almost fainted a few times but my ego just wouldn’t let me faint on TV. You think they could have given me the keys and the stick, but no, they give me the heavy blocks. And they put me up against this 22-year-old Adonis who had gotten a good night’s sleep and been on the island for a few days. Matt played hard and I unfortunately lost.

And airing tonight on CBS is a new episode of Survivor during which Matt and Krista duel on Redemption Island and bond over a luxury item. While back at camp, Phillip seeks to weaken Rob’s powerful alliance. The episode airs at 8/7c.

TELL US – THOUGHTS ON KRISTINA’S INTERVIEW? DO YOU THINK ROB’S ALLIANCE IS SMART FOR NOT VOTING HIM OFF?

Russell Hantz was finally voted off Surivor for the first time ever as his Zapatera tribe was able to accomplish a feat that no other tribe in the history of the show has been able to do.

In a new interview with E! News, Russell discusses being voted off, calls Boston Rob “fake” but praises his game, reveals he actually tried to form an alliance with the guys, and once again denies leaking out any Survivor spoilers. Excerpts are below -

Is Russell Hantz really a softie inside—is the villain all an act for Survivor?
When I get out there I get so in the game. I get to a point where I am focused on one thing: that’s the game. I’m able to step out of who I am and play this game. That’s why I’m so good at the game—I’m able to step out and be a different person. The difference between me and Rob is with him, that is what you see. Rob, we ain’t best of buddies and we’ll never be. I know good people, from the South mostly…I’m the guy who will give you the shirt off my back in real life. I’m the guy who will come get you at three o’clock in the morning and bail your butt out of jail. To me, what I see in Rob as a person is he’s fake, 100 percent. He is what he is on the show. Him and [Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains winner] Sandra, that’s them. That’s their personality, in real life.

What’s your opinion of how Rob is playing the game this season?
I think he’s playing excellent. I think Rob is doing a great job. He has it under control. I don’t know what happens at the end of the day, but if anybody wants to make a bet with me right now, I’ll make the bet. I know how it feels when you have control of the tribe. My tribe’s about to fall to pieces because I’m not there. Mark my words.

Why didn’t you try a different strategy this season—why you didn’t switch it up and try to ally with the men?

I did. You didn’t see that part. First I went up to Stephanie and said OK, I wanna align with you. This is what I’ma do, I’m gonna go to the guys, I’ma align with them, and I’m tell them I talked to you. I’ma tell them we have your vote so it’s gonna be four, we need another person, because Krista didn’t like me at this point. She thought she’d be conceived of that Natalie girl I’d be resentful of. So I talked to Mike and Dave, they were like high-fiving me, [saying] “Yeah man, let’s do this!” I said, “I’m telling you one thing: I talked to Stephanie. I don’t want to keep nothing from y’all, but if there’s any way possible I wanna drag her along with us, because that’s just another vote. Whenever you’re ready to get rid of her, we’ll get rid of her.” That was a lie. I wanted to keep her because she was like Parvati—she had a strategic mind like Parvati. So did Krista, but they don’t show Krista in that light. That was the best alliance I ever had. Ever. That’s how hard the game is—I still didn’t make it.

Can you comment on reports that you leaked Survivor spoilers? What is your opinion of people who leak reality show spoilers?
It sucks. The thing is, it’s easy to say it was me, because I’m the villain. Everyone’s asking me this stupid question. I don’t want to give it any credit because that’s exactly what these people want—they want credit.

You mentioned Celebrity Apprentice—are we going to see you again on TV?
I’ll be back. It might not be Survivor, but I already have something in the works—and it’s gonna be good.

TELL US – THOUGHTS ON RUSSELL’S INTERVIEW? IS HE ONE OF THE BEST SURVIVOR PLAYERS? DO YOU THINK ROB HAS A GOOD CHANCE AT WINNING THE GAME?

The latest episode of Survivor did not disappoint as Russell Hantz was voted off the show for the first time ever.

It seems Russell’s Zapatera tribe members had watched the show one too many times as they were on to Russell from day one. In fact, the six-member majority alliance proceeded to throw the immunity/reward challenge last night, snapping their 2-game winning streak, just to get rid of Russell, whom they referred to as the extra fat that needed to be trimmed off.

Russell‘s ultimate demise was probably the fact that he could not get his hands on the hidden immunity idols — something that has helped him tremendously on his two previous seasons of the show.

By the time Russell realized the other 6-member alliance wanted him off the team, it was already too late to save himself though that did not stop him from trying a last minute ditch effort to sway Julie‘s vote. Julie convinced him she was on his side, but ended up staying loyal to her alliance.

The result of the tribal council was a rare three-way tie, orchestrated by ex-NFL player Steve, who is arguably the leader the six-member majority alliance of the Zapatera tribe. And despite Stephanie‘s redonkulous ramblings, the end result was a re-vote that sent Russell home.

Even better was the fact that Russell’s alliance members lied to him about Matt (“the blonde guy”) losing the Redemption Island duel to Francesca (“the black chick”). Russell was surprised to see Matt upon arriving to the Redemption Island.

This however doesn’t necessarily mark the end for Russell as he still has a chance – albeit a very very long shot – to get back into the game. Francesca on the other hand is off the show for good after losing the duel to Matt.

Meanwhile, Rob continues to rule his Ometepe tribe as well as his groupie alliance. Safe to assume Rob will not be suffering Russell’s fate anytime soon.

TELL US – WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ON LAST NIGHT’S SURVIVOR & ON RUSSELL BEING VOTED OFF?

If you have yet to watch the premiere episode of Survivor: Redemption Island, please feel free to stop reading this while also heading right over to the CBS website to catch this episode. Yes, it was that good!

And for those who viewed the debut last night, you might be willing to attest that the tribal council was without a doubt the wackiest ever, and also one of the best ever.

The episode began with show host Jeff Probst introducing the returning all stars Rob Mariano and Russell Hantz to the two different tribes. Rob’s tribe seems happy and eager to have him on their team, while Russell’s tribe is willing to make do with the hand they have been dealt. Francesca makes a critical error at this point in the game when she opens up her mouth and states, “They’re troublemakers. I don’t think they’re here just to help us out.” Bad move Francesca, bad move. With those words, Francesca immediately put a target on herself.

Despite giving his Zapatera tribe a sweet speech about being a changed man, we immediately see Russell is back to his old tricks as he singles out the young Stephanie to be his new Parvati. The men in Russell’s tribe however are not so impressed and are already on to him, planning to vote him out the first chance they get.

Things take a more entertaining turn on Rob’s Ometepe tribe as his groupies… oops, most of his female tribe members seem to swoon over him, make googly eyes at him, and are eager to join his alliance. Let’s all hope Amber has nothing to worry about. One person not too willing is Kristina who immediately goes looking for an idol clue. Rob is on to Kristina, who is aware Rob is on to her and now realizes she poses a threat to Rob.

Meanwhile, “federal agent” Phillip, who for some reason has decided his saggy red briefs is the way to the $1 million prize, decides to pull the women together and let them in on a little secret. He used to be a “federal agent” yall!, as the ladies pretend to be impressed. Phillip also makes certain to put a target on his back by criticising the others and pointing out all that they are doing wrong. Francesca and Kristina both seem the most irritated with Phillip and his know-it-all condescending attitude, but the two ladies made a fatal Survivor error when they decide to form an alliance with an unstable game player. This brings their alliance to three versus Rob’s six member alliance.

This makes way for an epic tribal council as Phillip just flies off the handle for some unknown and unprovoked reason, proceeding to out his alliance while also revealing Kristina’s immunity idol. Phillip however makes certain to let us know he is not unstable, and what better way to prove that than by mispronouncing Francesca’s name a number of times. Who knew Francesca was so hard to pronounce?

Kristina takes a great risk by not using her idol and Francesca is the tribe’s first causality as she is voted off to the Redemption Island. Great episode overall. Would like to see Francesca return to the game as she appears to be a strong player. Those chances are however very slim. Pretty gutsy move by Kristina to not play her idol but her days on the tribe are numbered. She is that player who played way too hard, way too quickly. It will be interesting to see if Russell’s tribe does get rid of him quickly or allow him to make it far in the game.

Meanwhile, in other Survivor news, Russell Hantz is now denying the allegations that he leaked out Survivor spoilers for the two previous seasons he was on. “The problem is with me, I am that villain and people take shots at me. Even though it’s not really who I really am in real life. So, you know, all I can say is it’s 100 percent false. It’s hard for me to sit there and take it, but I don’t give it any credit whatsoever,” said Russell on CBS The Early Show this week.

TELL US – WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON EPISODE ONE OF SURVIVOR: REDEMPTION ISLAND? THOUGHTS ON THE CAST AND THE TRIBAL COUNCIL? SHOULD THE TRIBES VOTE OFF RUSSELL & ROB?

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