Inside TV+Movies with Daniel Fienberg
This season's shutout winner discusses his path to victory
Say what you will about whether or not returning players have an unfair advantage within the game of "Survivor," I can say with certainty that returning players make the best "Survivor" exit interviews.
If you think back on past seasons, folks like Coach and Russell Swan and Jonathan Penner have been responsible for my favorite post-elimination conversations, while highlights this season have come from veterans like Corinne Kaplan, Malcolm Freberg (a great interview when he was a newbie as well) and the always excitable Phillip Sheppard.
The last of this season's exit interviews is, of course, with the season's well-deserving winner, John Cochran. Over 39 days, Cochran laid low when he had to, orchestrated big moves when he had to and, in a shocker, won challenges when he had to. And, perhaps of equal importance, Cochran worked his strategy without alienating anybody, which was his downfall in his first season and which was the downfall of fellow Top 3 finishers Dawn and Sherri.
And, not surprisingly, this one is a good interview as well, as Cochran discusses his feelings about the acrimonious Final Tribal Council, his now-famous Harvard Law essay on the "Survivor" Jury System, his "bipolar" approach to the game and, as a student of "Survivor" the ranking of his win within the "Survivor" pantheon.
Click through for the full interview. And I left in the first part because, darnit, it made me happy...
'Idol' begins to wind down a tough season with an hour of singing
"American Idol" is not a show known for restraint so let us, as we do every year, give thanks that FOX is not attempt to wring two hours out of the finale's performance night. Yes, tomorrow night's finale will be two-plus hours of excruciating largess, but on Wednesday (May 15), we should be treated to an hour of performances from two reasonably good singers. That should be pleasant, right?
Bring on Candice Glover and Kree Harrison!
The losing finalists discuss their lack of Jury respect
In my recap of the "Survivor: Caramoan" finale, I pretended that Dawn Meehan had finished second, beating Sherri Biethman.
That wasn't really true, of course. Dawn and Sherri received the same number of votes, which was "zero" as John Cochran rolled to a commanding victory.
The result was easy to predict after one of the most lopsided Final Tribal Councils in the show's history. Dawn was forced to defend being both strategically tough, but also emotional. Sherri was forced to defend her mere presence in the Top 3. And Cochran was asked what animal his game most resembled. It was rather strange.
I've said this all along: In my own opinion, Dawn deciding to split off from best-bud Corinne and expose that burgeoning sub-alliance was the biggest single move in the game. You may disagree. I also think that Sherri's ability to wrangle Shamar for exactly long enough to pick off Allie and Hope destabilized the Fans alliance with the greatest potential strength and reshaped everything that followed. You may disagree.
In Dawn & Sherri's joint exit interview, they discuss why it was so hard for them to convince the Jury of their value and how long it took them to become Zen about not winning. We also talked more about the impact of gender and age in the "Survivor" endgame and I think some of the perspectives, particularly Dawn's answers, are quite interesting.
Click through for the full conversation...
Dan and Alan talk upfronts, 'How I Met Your Mother' finale and more
Happy Tuesday, Boys & Girls.
This is looking like a two-podcast week and here's the first.
With upfronts for NBC, FOX and ABC on our dance card, we had plenty to talk about, but then we also had finales for "Community" and "How I Met Your Mother," as well as "Mad Men."
So... Yeah. Busy busy!
Expect the second podcast on Friday, probably, when we'll be able to talk about CBS and The CW, plus the series finale of "The Office" and... maybe some other stuff.
NBC, FOX and ABC Upfronts (00:03:10 - 00:51:30)
"Community" finale (00:51:45 - 01:00:40)
"How I Met Your Mother" finale (01:00:45 - 01:16:20)
"Mad Men" (01:16:55 - 01:44:20)
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.]
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
The season's 5th and 4th place finishers discuss their experience
"Survivor: Caramoan" ended its season on Sunday (May 12) night with a satisfying winner, a loopy Final Tribal Council and surprises that started within seconds of the start of the episode.
Viewers didn't make it through the first commercial break before Favorite Erik Reichenbach collapsed on the path leaving Tribal Council and had to be pulled from the game. It was a move that was simultaneously shocking, but not wholly surprising, given that Erik had suffered an existential crisis in the previous episode and practically wished for an injury to free him from his "Survivor" shackles and the mocking coconuts.
Erik's abrupt departure made EMT Eddie Fox the least likely member of the Final 4, since he had been targeted almost from the beginning, when he was part of the Pretty Person's Alliance. Instead, episode after episode passed with Eddie being targeted, but then spared in favor of alternative targets and bigger blindsides.
Eddie's relief was short-lived and he was the last person sent home before the Final 3.
My last batch of "Survivor" exit interviews were broken into three groups. In this first interview, Erik & Eddie discuss the strategy that read as under-the-radar or passive, they discuss the pressure "Survivor" puts on Alpha Males and they also explain why they went after Sherri so hard at Final Tribal. Tomorrow I'll have the season's joint second/third place finishers. And then on Wednesday (or maybe Thursday, depending on scheduling) I'll have a relatively long chat with the season's winner.
Click through for Erik & Eddie's exit interview...
The season finale begins with a shocker, but how would it end?
Pre-credit sequence. It's Night 36 and Erik's head is killing him. Dawn thinks that Erik is just stunned by Brenda's elimination, but no. Erik's head is spinning. Jeff Probst and Dr. Joe show up to examine Erik, which leads Dawn to suspect something may be genuinely wrong. She's a clever one, Dawn is. Dr. Jen takes Erik's blood pressure and Dr. Joe suggests that Erik may be in a starvation state and he worries that not enough blood is getting to Erik's head. They're going to give Erik an IV and, remarkably, Eddie is the one who can explain what's happening. Eddie, you see, is an EMT. This is the smartest Eddie has looked all season. Yay, Eddie. I guess. Dr. Joe doesn't want Erik to crash any further and he officially pulls Erik from the game. Holy Cow. "This game just got rocked again," Probst says. "I don't know what tomorrow's gonna bring," says a dazed Cochran. Everybody comes and says good-bye. "I wouldn't want to share this with anyone else," Cochran tells Erik, adding that he didn't come to make friends, but he made a friend in Erik. Sniffle. They have three days left and Probst warns them that no relief is coming. "This opens the door hugely for me," says Eddie, whose place in the Top 4 is wildly unexpected and weird. This is going to cause endless "What ifs," most particularly, "What if Erika had bailed seconds *before* Tribal Council? Would that have saved Brenda? Etc...
Details on her mysterious injury and under-the-radar strategy
Cocky, manipulative and always good for a funny confessional quote, Brenda Lowe may not have had a long run on "Survivor: Nicaragua," but she earned her "Favorite" status on personality alone.
With those memories, Brenda was an early disappointment on "Survivor: Caramoan." For the first half of the season, she barely spoke and rarely appeared on camera and when she did, she seemed to be nursing some sort of injury that was never explained.
But then, in the past few weeks, Brenda began to assert herself. She had an emotional high point when she helped Dawn recover her teeth and resolve a crisis of confidence. She started growing tougher and tougher in challenges, including a memorable endurance showdown against Andrea. She became more vocal regarding strategy and targeting threats.
All of that was just setting Brenda up for this week's heartbreaking episode in which she won the Family Visit Reward, but sacrificed her personal gain for a prize for the majority. Then, at Immunity, she let Dawn take the Idol, certain that Eddie would be going home. Instead, Cochran decided that Brenda was both too strong and too saintly and when he went to Dawn, Brenda's best friend didn't hesitate to accept the new plan. Blindsided at Tribal, Brenda mostly held off her tears before giving one of the most emotional final interviews in "Survivor" history.
In this week's exit interview, Brenda reflects on Dawn's betrayal and whether or not she thinks it was the right move to send her packing. I also got to the bottom of both Brenda's injury and her early silence.
Click through for the revealing Q&A...
This season's winners joke a lot about intellectual deficiencies
Don't expect any enlightenment from my exit interview with "Amazing Race" winners Bates & Anthony Battaglia.
The hockey-playing brothers, who won five Legs during this season's Race, were easily the most physically dominant team on the course and they were able to overcome a few mental blunders, including Anthony's ongoing struggles identifying chartreuse jelly at a Detour in Belfast. They also won fans with their goofy, self-deprecating humor.
If you like that kind of thing, there's a lot of that goofiness in this interview, which led me to suggest that the guys possibly may have had a late night celebrating their victory before doing early interviews.
Click through for banter, and only a tiny bit of substance, in the final exit interview of this "Amazing Race" season...
Angie, Kree and Candice will wait a long time to learn their fates
I don't have a clue who's going home on Thursday (May 9) night's "American Idol." Not a clue.
I do, however, know that Alicia Keys is performing. So she gets to be my picture for what promises to be the most drama-filled "American Idol" results show since I missed last week's "American Idol" results show.
I just hope she doesn't perform "Girl on Fire."
Click through and find out who received the fewest votes between Kree Harrison, Candice Glover and Angie Miller...
Ubiquitous actor returns for the 'Person of Interest' finale tonight
There are plenty of candidates for Busiest Person in TV, but Carrie Preston would have to be in that discussion.
This summer, Preston will begin her sixth season as Arlene on HBO's vampire soap "True Blood," but being a regular on that premium cable hit hasn't prevented her from pivotal recurring roles on a pair of CBS favorites.
On "Good Wife," Preston has made nine appearances as quirky-yet-effective attorney Elsbeth Tascioni. While Elsbeth is just a part of the deep "Good Wife" bench, her every appearance prompts cries of "Spinoff!" on Twitter and message boards.
Although Preston has made fewer appearances on "Person of Interest," there remains a sense that her Grace is a pivotal character, both in life of Michael Emerson's Harold Finch and possibly in the overall shape of the show.
Oh and as if that's not enough on Preston's plate, she also has a developing behind-the-camera resume. Her feature directing debut, "That's What She Said," had a Sundance Film Festival premiere, with other producing projects ready to go for both the big screen and the web.
I chatted with Preston in advance of Thursday (May 9) night's "Person of Interest" finale, in which Grace appears, even if the actress playing her doesn't know the context. Preston discusses working with real-life husband Emerson, her Emmy hopes and how "True Blood" feels different without Alan Ball.
It's a good chat. Check out the full Q&A...