Survivor All-Star: Monty Brinton/CBS

Richard's still nude, Jerri's still shirking work, and ''All-Stars'' is off to a heavenly beginning, says Dalton Ross (who saw it, IN PERSON; seriously)

January 31, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

”All-Stars” is off to a great start

I want to talk about how dumb Kathy was for strategizing against the Mogo men while Richard was RIGHT BEHIND HER! I want to say how much I loved seeing Alicia and Boston Rob go at it on DAY ONE! I want to go off on how that intro with Jeff Probst in the helicopter with an armed militia of some sort was the funniest 5 minutes of television I’VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE! But first, I have to get something off my chest. Something I’ve been dying to tell you all for three months…

I was there. Okay, I’m not saying that only to brag. Mostly to brag, yes, but not only to brag. But being able to observe the goings-on firsthand allows me to provide you with insights you might not necessarily see on the show. Now, granted, I was only there for a few days, and it’s not like I was there building a shelter with Colby and Richard (”Bamboo! We need more bamboo!”), but I did get to talk to all of them before they started, and then was able to see them interact up close in the game for a few days. (Hell, I even got to swim the challenge with Mark Burnett — HOW COOL IS THAT?!? Okay, sorry. No more bragging.) So let me hit you with a few quick insights on each tribe.

Mogo Mogo
It’s not like they just picked the one time Hatch was naked to show you on TV. Homeboy is ALWAYS naked. And he also has the smallest Johnson I’ve ever seen. Not that I go around measuring Johnsons, but you know… Anyway, Lex (as you saw) definitely has a complex about Richard, and is dying to take him down. Tattoo boy obviously does not like being upstaged. Another interesting tidbit: The Mogo camp is just a few hundred yards down the beach from where Drake called home in the ”Pearl Islands” season. All things considered, pretty nice digs.

Boston Rob is going into the game very aggressive. He was talking smack about EVERYBODY before it started, especially Ethan. It seems he resents Mr. Curly Locks for calling himself a ”Boston guy” even though he now lives in New York. I don’t know what the hell that means, but he seems pretty upset about it. If the two make it to the merge, we could see the fireworks fly. Contrary to the Alicia-Boston Rob dustup you saw on TV, they seemed to be getting along okay when I saw them. One thing not getting along fine is Amber’s back. It looks like a freakin’ pepperoni pizza thanks to the massive bug bites. Chapera is by far the most buggy of the three bases. Amber is gonna have to start covering up that beautiful bod unless she wants to get sucked dry.

Jerri is still Jerri. Even after telling me before the game started how she was a changed woman, she spends most of the time almost going out of her way to NOT work. Ethan and Rudy try to create fire — Jerri rests in the shelter. Rupert and Tina collect wood — Jerri rests in the shelter. In fact, the only time I saw her get up to do anything, it was simply to retrieve a bamboo leaf to drape over her shoulders. Saboga built their shelter at the top of the beach (as opposed to up in the woods). Whether that proves to be a problem later when the tide comes in remains to be seen.

What else can I tell you? It looks like the previous winners are in trouble — everyone seems to be gunning for them. But, then again, Burnett knew that going in, so you have to figure he’s gonna find a way to shake things up at some point. If not, Ethan could be heading back to the soccer field sooner than expected. He probably got a reprieve over Tina this time due to two reasons: 1) Jerri hates Tina, thereby making it easy for the so-called loser alliance to pick miny over moe, and 2) Ethan’s had… well, let’s just call them ”relations” with Jenna Lewis. In fact, if you believe all the ”Survivor” gossip, Mr. Zohn has had ”relations” with everybody named Jenna in this game, and people with other names too.

As for the casting — all in all, I think they did a pretty good job. Yes, I would have preferred Brian or Helen from ”Thailand” over Shii Ann, and ”Pearl Islands”’ Sandra instead of Amber or Jenna Lewis, but it’s hard to be shocked that they chose to go with young, attractive women. I mean, that’s what television people do.

You can read more initial thoughts and observations in EW’s ”Survivor” cover story coming out later this week. (How’s that for a plug!) I actually would like to draw attention to this to preempt any ”Dalton is an idiot… again!” chatter once you see the odds I’ve given each contestant for victory. Everyone knows I am the worst ”Survivor” oddsmaker ON THE PLANET!!! My mag editors Henry and Kristen, VERY much aware of my pathetic past on this matter, made me do it (their idea of amusement, I suppose). But then again, I can’t dis them too bad because they’re the ones who let me go on location to begin with. In any event, send them hate mail, not me.

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