The real Jeff Probst blog

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The real Jeff Probst blog
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Thu, 03-10-2011 - 9:43am

I found the REAL Jeff Probst blog like we were used to seeing.


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AN ERA ENDS

It’s still settling in. Russell is gone. The evil, tattooed, sock stealing, water dumping, idol finding Survivor gnome is gone. His reign is over.

For any of you who are already frustrated that I’m going to dedicate most of this blog to Russell, you might as well stop reading.

This time, let’s skip the beginning and save that for the end…

PHLLIP
Am I still the only one who enjoys Phillip? I read your tweets and your comments on the site and I am surprised that Phillip annoys so many of you. Don’t you see any fun in watching him? It’s not like you’re stuck on an island with him. He’s on your tv. For my money he is gold every time he opens his mouth.

Even something as simple as grabbing the tree mail becomes an adventure as he peers through the rolled up scroll like a telescope.

My favorite Phillip moment of this episode was after the Duel when Phillip was walking with Rob and Grant – holding court, stretching out the story of what he learned at Redemption Island, much to the frustration of Rob.
Rob: Hey dumbass, aren’t you in MY alliance? Don’t you work for me?

Even simply writing that sentence makes me laugh.

THE GAME CONTINUES
Despite losing one of the biggest players of the season, the game continues and Boston Rob is on fire. On fire. This is why Rob gets invited back so often. He’s really good and he’s really fun to watch. After four times playing, Rob has his PhD in Survivor.

For those of you who complain about it being unfair because Rob has played before – let me remind you of the basic rule of Survivor – the tribe votes out whoever they want. Just like Zapatera did with Russell, Ometepe could have chosen to get rid of Rob early on, but they didn’t. They gave Rob a chance and now Rob is starting to prove his worth as a leader, while simultaneously playing a very good game and positioning himself as a threat to go deep. As many days as he lasts in this game, he earns them all. I feel that way about every contestant. Whether they sand bag it like Sandra or come out swinging like Russell. You earn it.

THE RACE FOR THE IDOL
Rob searching for the idol while the rest of the tribe was playing “Sunday at the beach” was one of the most riveting scenes we’ve ever had. We had to cut it significantly for time. He was really hustling to make sure he got back before Grant and the girls realized he had been gone.

As I watched the first cut of this at home on my MacBook Pro, I was literally squirming in my seat. Remember, I’ve never seen this footage. I was screaming “Hurry up! Find it! They’re gonna be out of the water soon and wonder where you are!”

I’m really not as biased as I sound, it’s just that I love good drama. If it had been Ralph or Natalie or Russell or even Sarita I would have felt the same way – “Hurry! Hurry!”

THE REWARD/IMMUNITY CHALLENGE
Let me educate you about the future of television. Product integration. It’s a phrase you hear in every conference room of every advertising agency in New York and every television network in Hollywood.

On Survivor, product integration is when you take something like the Sears Craftsman tool kit or the Sprint Evo phone and you build it into a challenge or a reward. Lots of you guys complain about these product integrations. But here’s the thing – you are the same people who are DVRing your show to watch it later at a more convenient time. The problem is when you watch it later, you skip through the commercials. The advertisers know this, so their only option is to get their products inside the show so you can’t avoid them.

This is not going away. This is the present and the future of television. Product integration. Don’t waste energy fighting it. Embrace it.

While we’re talking about it, let me brag on Survivor for a moment. Nobody integrates product as well as we do. Last night you watched an incredibly dramatic challenge that was built all around tools from Sears. The tools were used to complete the challenge. The tools were necessary. It worked really well.

Many shows just shove product integration into their show. We work hard to make it work as well as we can even though the products don’t always lend themselves to the middle of a jungle.

But the bottom line is this…without Sprint, Sears and our other sponsors, we aren’t on the air. It’s that simple.

WHAT IS RALPH CROWING ABOUT?
Fortunately, Zapatera won the challenge, because if they hadn’t I would have been on their ass for throwing the challenge in the last episode. But I will say this, if I was on the Ometepe tribe I would have a hard time not knocking Ralph right off that perch as he crowed like a Rooster. That is one annoying move.

Ralph’s ego is going to be his biggest obstacle. He’s not alone. It happens to a lot of people. They do something amazing, like finding the idol, but then they so badly want to share their brilliance with everybody else that they weaken their position by telling everybody.

I do it in my life all the time. I’m constantly giving away information that would be better off kept to myself. It’s so hard to just shut up. Ralph – shut up. You’ll go further.

On the other hand, the fact that his crowing annoys me, means it probably annoyed Ometepe, which means it’s working!

THE REWARD
I offer proof once again that Survivor is the toughest reality show of all time. Note this conversation from Mike and Ralph regarding the food reward:

MIKE: I’ve never been this hungry in my life. I haven’t thought about sex in two weeks. All I’m thinking about is food.

RALPH: It tasted great. I sucked stuff out of my fingernails that haven’t been cleaned since I got here. And I asked any of the others ones if they wanted their fingers cleaned and licked, I’d work on them too.”

RALPH: Steve, can I lick that mustard off your nose? Your tongue ain’t long enough.

TRIBAL COUNCIL
Once again Ometepe is back at tribal council and by a 4-3 vote, Kristina is sent to Redemption Island where she will have to face Matt in a duel.

Okay now to the guts of what made this episode historic. The Fall of Russell. It started with a late night arrival at Redemption Island.

REDEMPTION ISLAND
Russell was not expecting to find Matt sleeping in the shelter. He was expecting Francesca. I think that tiny little “lie” that Zapatera told him had a big impact on Russell’s psyche. I think expecting to find Francesca and instead finding a young, very fit Matt threw him for a loop and began his downfall.

MATT v RUSSELL: GOOD vs EVIL
This duel was the closest thing we’ve ever had to Good v. Evil. Matt, the young man who puts all his faith in God, battling against Russell, the older man who many believe is a force of evil. It was historic before it began.

THE DUEL –
As many of you already know – challenges and duels are created and built weeks in advance. We had no idea who would be playing this duel but I couldn’t have been happier that it involved so many different skills: balance, patience and thinking ahead.

Everybody on the crew was invested in this duel. We all loved Matt, he was a favorite, he had been on Redemption for days and he was very likable. On the other side, you have Russell – a guy that has been such a polarizing force on our show that you couldn’t help but want him to win simply because it is such a huge story if he does. It’s also a huge story if he loses. So in that sense, it was a win-win.

The drama was fantastic. First Matt thought he had it… but he was short. Then Russell thought he had it, but he too was short. I was pacing back and forth, as excited as I’ve been at a challenge in a long time. Finally Matt, who never panics, got it together and won the duel. In doing so Matt single-handedly put an end to the Russell era. It’s over.

THE TEARS OF A WARRIOR
The tears that Russell shed were real. It was a very emotional moment for a guy who has spent most of the last two years of his life playing this silly little adventure game called Survivor.

It was emotional for all of us to watch him break down. It was a gift from Russell to let us see the emotion. We all knew the day would finally come –when Russell was finally sent home- and we all wondered how he would respond. I loved that he shared it with us. That’s how Russell did everything – full tilt boogie.

I’m guessing that a lot of the Russell haters were moved as well.

Like him, love him, hate him, despise him – there is simply no denying that Russell has given Survivor as much if not more than Survivor has given him.
If you are a fan of Survivor, then you too owe Russell a nod of the head. The dude brought it. Every single day he played – he brought it.

In some ways he reignited our franchise as he brought in a new kind of villain. An unscrupulous terror.

To give context… Johnny Fairplay is a clown… Russell is a villain. I’m not sure Russell is a nice person. I wouldn’t want Russell to know where I live. There isn’t much I would want to do with Russell outside of Survivor.

But within the world of Survivor, Russell is family.

When you make a deal with the devil, you must be prepared to get burnt. So complaining about Russell would be hypocritical. We put him on the show in Samoa, we invited him back in Heroes v Villains and he completed the trifecta with Redemption Island.

Russell will go down in history as one of the most notorious contestants of all time. Maybe THE most notorious.

For all he has given us, I have to take my hat off to him and say “thank you.”

RUSSELL LIVES ON
Before the tears could even dry, the Russell of old was back, once again stirring up trouble. As with Rob, this is another example of why some players get invited back and most don’t. Russell played Ralph like a finely tuned fiddle. He baited the hook, dropped it in the water, let Ralph nibble on it and then hooked him. As charming as Ralph is, he was so outmatched it was hard to watch.

Russell suckered Ralph into bragging about the idol in front of the Ometepe tribe. They now know he has it and if a merge comes, and Ralph still has the idol, it may cause him more problems than it will help solve.

In that moment, Russell flipped the game once again and he did it after he’d already been knocked out of the game. That’s why he’s played three times and… despite his claims that he’s finished… that’s why he’ll probably end up playing yet again.

Thanks for the memories, RH.

I hope you will all leave your thoughts about Russell departure on the comment section. Love him or hate him, if you’re a fan you have to have an opinion.

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