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Dalton Ross' notes from the ''Survivor'' live finale

Dalton Ross’ insider notes on the ”Survivor” live finale. Plus: The EW senior editor polls our TV staffers on their ”Idol” picks, names the best killer-robot movies, and answers reader mail

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Dalton Ross’ notes from the ”Survivor” live finale

My wife loves the Survivor finales — because they mean our Thursday nights will no longer be held captive by me having to write up Survivor TV Watches that end up being read by approximately 18 people (as opposed to the 12 who actually read The Glutton). I love the finales for another reason, because they almost always provide a few final insights as to the contestants. So while I sort of punked out on you Survivor fans by not writing a recap of Sunday’s finale, I am able to offer you some tidbits from the actual event in New York City, including the red carpet, after-party, and day after.

· The audience at the finale was (not surprisingly) filled mostly with Terry and Cirie boosters. After they were both eliminated, you could feel a bit of air let out of the room. As well as all across America, I imagine.

· Danielle thought she was going to win. She would only admit to thinking she had won back in December, when the game ended, but it was clear that right up to the point the votes were read, she believed she was going home a millionaire. She appeared shell-shocked during the entire reunion show and even all the way through Monday’s Survivor Live taping. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so bummed to have just won $100,000.

· Aras was wearing pink underwear. Please don’t ask me why I know this.

· It’s easy to be jaded (especially for me), but there was one pretty great moment. At about 12:20 a.m., just as Cirie was finishing up her last interview on the empty red carpet, I walked with her toward the front of the Ed Sullivan Theater. There was a huge crowd outside waiting. As we approached the front doors I said to her, ”In about five seconds people are gonna start screaming your name like crazy. Enjoy every second of it.” Right as she hit the entrance, one huge ”CIRIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” went up from the crowd. Couldn’t happen to a better lady.

· Bob Dawg gave me a copy of his music video, which has to be the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. His stage name is ”The Wino,” and it involves him, his brother, and some other dude yelling at a camera, chugging booze, and occasionally donning samurai outfits in a forest. Unbelievable.

· The nicest person I met all night? Shane’s mom. Seriously! She was the exact opposite of what you might expect — exceedingly polite and humble. She was even going around collecting autographs in a notepad. How cute is that?

· Sally taunted me by letting me know she had brought the knee socks with her, but she refused to put them on. Minx!

· Jeff Probst’s mom said she felt sorry for me after reading about my stay on Exile Island. I told her she’s not the first woman to feel sorry for me. Won’t be the last, either.

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OBSESSION OF THE WEEK

With the American Idol finale a mere week away, I thought it would be fun to poll the obsessed fans in EW’s TV department to see who they are rooting for. Here’s what they had to say (or type, as it were).

”Elliott: He’s the only one of these final three that I can even stomach watching anymore, and I love the fact that I never would have expected him to go past week 3.” —Nicholas Fonseca

”It’s tough for me without Chris, but I’m going with Taylor Hicks — mostly just because he’s fun and has no business being an American Idol. Will I buy a Taylor Hicks record? No. But hey, he’s the gray-haired guy.” —Jennifer Armstrong

”Katharine — because she’s everything an Idol should be:
(a) charismatic and pretty
(b) able to sing a Whitney Houston song competently
(c) worldly enough to pronounce a synonym for squid
(d) not Taylor Hicks.”
Henry Goldblatt

”Taylor, because he’s
(a) not a robo-chanteuse who’s been stagemothered within an inch of her life
(b) not sporting hideous chin pubes
(c) having more fun than any contestant in the history of the show.”
Kristen Baldwin

”I started off rooting for Taylor when he played the harmonica during auditions, then I went to Katharine because of that killer ‘Black Horse and Cherry Tree’ song, but I think I’m loving Elliott now. He’s kind of adorably disheveled, his suits always look a little too big, he sweats, he walks off stage at the wrong time. Everything about him looks wrong, but when he opens his mouth, you can’t help but think he deserves a shot because he’ll never get it again.” —Jessica Shaw

”Taylor — because I love it when senior citizens kick kids’ butts. And because Henry Goldblatt would have a conniption if he did.” —Alynda Wheat

”I’m rooting enthusiastically for Elliott. Not only is he arguably this season’s most talented vocalist, but better still, I don’t think Elliott himself ever considered this fact until his terrific April 25 performance of ‘A Song for You.’ Pitted against the emotionally chilly (and wildly inconsistent) Katharine and hammy (but solid) Taylor Hicks, Elliott is a humble underdog worth rooting for, and one who has a legitimate chance of taking home the Idol crown.” —Michael Slezak

”McPhee! If I may be blunt: I want my American Idol to look like a star and not need an Extreme Makeover to look hip. They all can sing, so it really comes down to the little things. Am I shallow? Yes. Yes, I am.” —Paul Katz

”Taylor Hicks: Because I am planning on marrying him, and it would be a lot more fun if he was rich. Also, I think Simon’s head might actually explode, leaving nothing but a V-necked torso for Paula to bat around, and that seems like it would be worth watching. In conclusion, Katharine is too prissy and Elliott has the charisma of a clam, so I’m not left with much choice. Soul Patrol!” —Whitney Pastorek

”I’m a Yaminee because the dude’s got range, spunk, and screams ‘hug me.”’ —Lynette Rice

If you’re keeping score, that’s four votes for Elliott, four votes for Taylor, and two for Katharine. That means I get to play tiebreaker! It makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable watching Elliott on stage (almost as uncomfortable as reading the words chin pubes). As for Katharine, she’s superhot, so that makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable in a completely different manner. I like her, but I like Taylor more. Any time you have a chance to root for a prematurely graying goofball, you do it. Congrats, Taylor, for winning our first ever Entertainment Weekly staff poll!

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THE LIST

The Robot is more than a catchy break-dancing move from the early ’80s. Robots have played a proud part in many of cinema’s finest offerings. Which is why I present you with the Top 5 Killer-Robot Movies of All Time:

1) The Terminator (1984)
You could easily make the case for T2, but the scene where Arnold massacres an entire police precinct is pure hilarity. Also, there’s a little something I like to call ”The Biehn Factor.”

2) Westworld (1973)
Yul Brynner plays the Gunslinger, a robot cowboy in a vacation resort from the future who turns evil and starts hunting humans. Yul Brynner! Killer robot cowboy! Just writing those words puts me in pure hyper-spazz mode.

3) Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla (1974)
Okay, even by Godzilla-sequel standards, this film is kind of weak. But how can you deny the awesomeness of a robot Godzilla built by aliens and able to shoot missiles from seemingly anywhere on his body? Answer: You can’t.

4) Blade Runner (1982)
Has there ever been a bigger badass than Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty? And I’m the only guy who actually feels sorry for Leon?

5) Tie: RoboCop (1987) and The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
True, Murphy is only half robot (not to mention a good guy), but then again, the ED-209 is all machine, and did I mention he’s an absolute killer in the boardroom? As for The Day the Earth Stood Still, I just have a soft spot for robots that can melt tanks with their eyes — a woefully underappreciated skill if ever there was one.

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READER MAIL

A lot of comments this week about my list of Top 5 Most Ridiculous Things to Be Turned Into a Saturday-Morning Cartoon. Plus, we have a Glutton first — celebrity hate mail!

When a friend pointed out your pan of our record, Pac Man Fever in your column I decided to check it out. Sure enough you didnt like it and called it inane, I found this to be an interesting comment coming from the same guy who took the time to compile a list of the Top 5 Most Ridiculous Things to Be Turned Into a Saturday Morning Cartoon. I suspect the Pulitzer people will be calling shortly. Also you misspelled my last name but I realized I should be grateful to be mentioned in the same column with Lassie. And speaking of Lassie I understand she had an alternative reason for asking you to lunch. Shes bathroom training a litter of pups and needed some newspaper to spread on the floor. Actually you and I have something in common. I have written articles that have been published in newspapers and magazines. I would be curious to hear the next gold record you produce. —Jerry Buckner

Okay, first off…Best. Letter. Ever. Yes, I did forget to hit the letter ”n” in Jerry’s last name, but as his e-mail also shows, typos are a universal problem. In any event, I may have dissed Pac Man Fever a bit last week, but the truth of the matter is that not only do I still own a copy of this album, but I also once put ”Froggy’s Lament” on a mixtape I made for a fourth-grade crush. She basically never talked to me again, but then again, she basically never talked to me before, so there you have it. Sorry if I bummed you out, Jerry, but I kid because I love. I just have a funny way of showing it sometimes.

Dalton, what about all those Saturday morning cartoons that turned beloved characters of yore into babies or little kids, like Muppet Babies, or the ”new” Scooby Doo or Flintstones? I mean, were they trying to lure even younger viewers? Or did they just run out of ideas around 1984? In any case, they totally annoyed me. — Simeon Humphreys

You’re not the only one, Simeon. The Muppet Babies can kiss my ass…if they can even reach that high.

One cartoon that really sucks is Tutenstein — it’s on Saturday mornings on NBC. The premise is that King Tut comes back to life in the present time, and he hangs out with this girl and her cat. He is super obnoxious and his voice sounds like a child version of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. I guess it is supposed to be somewhat educational, but the only thing I learned was that King Tut must have been kind of an a–hole. — Meg Loyd

Meg, you just made me laugh harder than I have all week. Thank you.

Dalton, I am so disappointed to discover you are a cat guy, and not a dog man. Of course, your shirtless photos in past issues should have given me a clue. I love your insights on all things entertainment, but I must say I am deeply disappointed. — Laura Patterson

I don’t get it. You mean because I am a scrawny weakling, it should have been obvious that I prefer cats? Is that what you’re saying, Laura? Watch out! I may not have muscles, but I do have claws, you know.

In regards to your gripe in the latest EW about Star Wars being released again on DVD: Yes, I realize we’ve had countless releases of the films before. Yes, I realize there is some money gouging going on when we are asked to pay $30 per DVD. But DUDE! This is THE ORIGINAL STAR WARS TRILOGY ON DVD FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!!! It’s a day to rejoice. — Marty Mitchell

Make no mistake, Marty, I’ll be out there on day one buying the original versions on DVD — but I’ll also be cursing both myself and George Lucas for doing it. And if I can find a way to blame Jerry Buckner while I’m at it, well, the more the merrier.

Questions, comments, and quibbles are always welcome. Just e-mail them to theglutton@ew.com, or fill out the form below.