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Interview with Jeff Varner of Survivor: The Australian Outback


By Brian – 02/09/04

We get a moment to catch up with one of Survivor’s past contestants, to chat a little about their time in the Outback, but more importantly, what they feel about the new season of Survivor. You guessed it, Jeff will be joining us today. After recently re-vamping his site, Jeff has been updating, with his own editorials on Survivor: All-Stars. Let’s hear a bit more of what Jeff has to say.

[b]What was your experience like in Survivor? – Your favourite moments, and your not-so favourite moments?[/b]

Amazing. I hope to do something like it again before I die. As for particular moments, there are too many to list here.

[b]How do you feel about what occured in the Outback? Are you happy with Tina being the winner?[/b]

I would rather someone else had won, of course. But after I left, all I cared about was them suffering. And they did! :-)

[b]A bit about yourself – what have you been up to recently?[/b]

Living in Hollywood making money!

[b]Do you enjoy being under the “reality tv spotlight”? Or do you hate being recognized as the guy from Survivor?[/b]

I’m not in the reality tv spotlight anymore. People recognize me more lately for TVG and E! than Survivor and I like that. I don’t mind talking about the show and sharing my experience. But Survivor was something I did and not someone I am. I don’t have the branding tattooed across my face like a lot of them. There are those people that refuse to see past Survivor and that pisses me off. But that’s basically ignorance and you have to walk away from that laughing. Or, at least, I do!

[b]You got rave reviews for your stage acting – will you be doing more of this?[/b]

I appreciate the comment. Yes, I was surprised people were able to get past Survivor and consider me a quality actor. There’s so much bad work out there. I’ll definitely do more acting in the future. But I’m realistic about it. It’s a tough business to break into and the fact I came from a reality tv show makes it worse. I continue training, doing the periodic play and focusing on being really scary good. When the right role comes along, I’ll be ready for it.

[b]What’s been the biggest change in your life since doing Survivor?[/b]

Everything is different. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with that question. Absolutely everything is different. But it is so because I chose it to be. I focused on the things that would change it. I wasn’t happy where I was before. I couldn’t be more thrilled with all the change. Everything is better.

[b]What kind of show are you going to be doing for the TV Guide channel? When can we tune in to see you?[/b]

TV Guide Channel is my day job. I took it because it was an anchor position in entertainment news and pays very well, while freeing my day to persue the stuff I want. My work day is from 5am until 9am, usually. Then I’m done. I’ll keep it forever, hopefully. You can catch my news updates every night at 7, 8, and 9pm et on TV Guide Channel. I do news for the show “What’s On” and am a field correspondent for “Close Up” doing set visits, press junkets, red carpets and celebrity interviews. They’re also piloting “16 Minutes of Fame.” I do all the segments for it and will host specials in the future.

[b]Did you enjoy participating in the “Cannonball Run 2001″?[/b]

I did for a little while. It got old very quickly as I didn’t consider it a “fair” race. Sue and I basically gave up because it wasn’t “in the script” for us to win. That’s another story, but for the most part, I enjoyed it. Sue Hawk was an awesome teammate. She rocks. Kaya, though a nice guy, irritated the hell out of me. I always said I was “travelling across the country in a hurse with a boy named Sue and a girl named Kaya!” :-)

[b]And finally, All-Stars!

Do you know why you were not enlisted for All Star Survivor? If you were playing, how would your strategy be different this time around?[/b]

I was contacted to be part of the all-star. And though I can’t discuss the details due to my contract, I’ll will say I am thrilled to not be part of it! Absolutely thrilled. Now that the show is airing, everything is confirmed for me. Not being out there was the best decision anyone could have ever made. My strategy would have been different because I’m a completely different person. I believe I could have been fun and potentially have done very well!

[b]Why do you think some well-liked former Survivors were passed over for All Stars?[/b]

I can’t comment on that since I know them and have heard their rejection stories. But there are a few former Survivors that should have been out there in place of some of those people. This game is not the “best against the best.” They shouldn’t advertise it as such. Several of “the best” were left at home to watch it! Given how some of their “favorites” have performed, I’d say hindsight has some of production regretting some decisions.

[b]What’s the buzz on how the All Stars’ feel about each other now that filming is complete?[/b]

They hate each other and most of them are done with the show and the experience of being a Survivor. I can’t wait until they can officially talk. I’m hearing the reasons and stories are amazing.

[b]Do you know what’s in store as far as challenges go? Will there be a mix of challenges from previous seasons, or are we in for something new? What about the twists?[/b]

I have no idea. But most of the challenges will be souped of versions of old ones, I hear.

[b]If you were writing twists or challenges for Survivor, what do you think you’d throw into the game to really stir things up?[/b]

I’d remove the tribe’s ability to vote for each other. I’d let all the contestants who had been voted out come back and be the jury. I would make those voted out more of an obstacle for those that voted them out.

[b]Can you give us any more hints as to what happens with Hatch? Everyone, including Probst, is looking forward to the moment his torch is snuffed![/b]

They should be looking forward to it. You see him on the show, right? Who wouldn’t look forward to his fall?!

[b]What do you think about the future of Survivor? Has it jumped the shark, or do you see it outwitting, outplaying, and outlasting the rest?[/b]

It’ll be around for a while. But I do feel the all-star has started the “jumping” process. I find it funny that a shark is part of one of the episodes. The metaphor is funny, to me. The ratings for ASS have not been what they should have been. I think that’s a big clue. This show in particular should have been the franchise’s biggest, don’t you think? So far, it’s not!

[b]Not reflecting on predictions, but instead feelings – Who will you most enjoy seeing their torch snuffed, and who are you cheering for? (If appliciable – which player are you cheering for, not from your own season?)[/b]

I’m partial to the S2 players. I’d love to see Amber get snuffed as she absolutely never did a thing to warrant her getting a spot on the show. It wasn’t 15 minutes into the first episode when she dived into the shadow of the villian again. Probst said she had grown and he wanted to see how differently she’d play. So far, not differently at all. Her only advantage is this time, her villian is much stronger than Jerri. So she’ll do well because of that. I’m pulling for Lex and Alicia. I hope Sue, Tom, Jerri and Kathy do well. But my wish is that Alicia or Lex win.

[b]In your opinion, who will cause the greatest uproar this season? Like “Johnny Foreskin” (I love that!) did for Pearl Islands?[/b]

Without a doubt, Rich! Stay tuned ;-)

[b]Just one more! Do you have any closing comments, or “final words”, that you’d like to give about Survivor All-Stars?[/b]

Eighteen people are too many to be able to tell an effective story. So at the top of the season, it’s all too confusing for me. Too much stuff coming at me. I don’t find it particularly gripping or compelling as it’s come out of the gate. I look forward to seeing my friends on TV again, but in terms of the game, so far I’m bored. I’m sure it’ll get stronger. But at the beginning of it, I’m a bit disappointed. I expected much more!

[b]Well, thanks to Jeff for taking the time to cover this interview with us. We look forward to seeing more of you in the future.

Hopefully, All-Stars will pick up, and become the season it was meant to be!

A big thanks to Carrie, who has probably been thinking of this interview ever since she saw Jeff on TV. She came up with a lot of the great questions.[/b]


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