John Cochran went from, as he tells it, an "annoying freak" on his first season of Survivor (South Pacific) to the Sole Survivor in his second outing, Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites, with not a single vote cast against him throughout the entire run of the latter. How'd he do it?
Survivor kicks off its 26th season Wednesday night, pitting fans against former competitors for the second time with Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites. And, according to host Jeff Probst, though the show's formula may be routine by now, this season — which gets underway with a 90-minute premiere at 8/7c on CBS —promises no shortage of drama.
"Survivor is about the players first and the twists second," Probst tells TVGuide.com. "This season delivers in a huge way. Our returning players have never let us down, and that record stands intact after this season."
"There are definitely surprises and at least one thing we have never had happen before and it's a doozy," he adds.
Bill Clinton and Mindy Kaling, The Today Show
Our top moments of the week:
10. Best Silent Killer: When it came time for the jury to have at the final three Survivor: South Pacific contestants, the most vicious commentary of all comes from an unexpected source —Whitney — the sweet Southern belle. "Albert, you're sleazy," she says. "Coach, you used Christianity to manipulate your whole tribe. And Sophie? You're the most condescending person I've ever met." Are you sure about that, Whitney? Because that condescending person managed to snare enough votes to win.
9. Most Biting Remark: Top Chef delivers a Christmas miracle, or perhaps just a case of...
Sophie Clarke, Jeff Probst
If anyone understands the importance of an immunity challenge it would have to be Sophie Clarke. As one of the final contestants left on Survivor: South Pacific, the 22-year-old medical student from Willsboro, New York, was no frontrunner. But after winning the last immunity challenge of the season and ousting fan favorite and Survivor veteran Oscar "Ozzy" Lusth at the 11th hour, the game was suddenly Clarke's to win. We caught up with Clarke right after she beat out Benjamin "Coach" Wade and baseball coach Albert Destrade for the grand prize of $1 million to find out what she was thought her chances of winning were after the final tribal council, how the show changed her life and why she would return to Survivor in a heartbeat.
[SPOILER ALERT: The following story reveals the winners of Survivor: South Pacific.]
As Survivor's 23rd season came down to its final four, it was Coach and Ozzy, two Survivor veterans — and two of the games fiercest competitors — as well as Albert and Sophie.
Let's cut to the must-see chase, which means jumping ahead to Sunday's big finales, starting with Showtime's Homeland, the series that topped my year-end Top 10 list (currently on display in TV Guide Magazine, soon to be posted, so stay tuned).
Jeff Probst, Survivor
The finale of Survivor: South Pacific airs this Sunday, and in reflecting on the season, we're feeling like the franchise is getting a bit stale. So we began to imagine what a "Celebrity" Survivor would be like.
Would it be the train wreck that I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here so quickly became? Or perhaps it would have a more successful run, like Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice, now approaching its sixth season. Either way, we'd want to see Jeff Probst in the competition, rather than hosting it — and then, we'd place our bets on him.
As the host of Survivor for the past 11 years, Probst has traveled to 16 different countries, presented checks to 22 winners, and witnessed over 500 competitions. At this point, we figure he has a foolproof strategy to win the game. So we decided to ask him about it.
Check out Probst's six-point plan for taking Survivor's million-dollar prize:
1. Read people. I think I'm a pretty good read of people. That really subtle read of the competitors from moment to moment is crucial.
2. Stay involved. I would play...
Ozzy Lusth, Edna Ma
Some thoughts about what's on tonight, starting with the reality contests. Was CBS' Survivor just teasing us with that trailer that showed Edna the Meek possibly upsetting Ozzy the Cocky in the next Redemption Island challenge? We'll believe it when we see it, but it would be nice for something unexpected to happen. The final Upolu 5 have stayed boringly, rigidly loyal to their game plan the last few weeks, but now that it's down to the next-to-last episode (8/7c) — the finale airs as the usual multi-hour extravaganza on Sunday — all bets presumably are off. Could anything keep Coach from making the finals? And if Ozzy somehow is bounced as well, that would make the climactic tribal council more interesting — which isn't the same as memorable.
John Cochran perhaps was the most awkward contestant out of the more than 300 ever to compete on Survivor.
Lisa Ann Russell, Jeff Probst
Survivor host Jeff Probst and actress Lisa Ann Russell got married in a small ceremony in Los Angeles, People reports.