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Exclusive: Colby Donaldson discusses 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'


By Christopher Rocchio, 05/19/2010 

If Colby Donaldson seemed detached as a Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains' castaway, that's because he was.

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However the former Survivor: The Australian Outback castaway was still the last Hero standing when he became the
sixteenth contestant eliminated from the long-running CBS reality series' 20th season during Sunday night's finale broadcast.

On Monday, Colby talked to Reality TV World about who he cast his final jury vote for and why; his thoughts on trying to align with
Russell Hantz; what prompted him to call and complain to host Jeff Probst in the middle of the season; and why he became detached towards the end of the competition.

Reality TV World: Before you were eliminated, you commented at Tribal Council that "everybody" wants to sit next to Sandra Diaz-Twine in the Final 3 because she would be easy to beat. Seeing as how she ended up winning, why did you think that Sandra would be such an easy castaway to defeat in the final jury vote?

Colby Donaldson: Oh I was just stirring the pot at that point. I was trying to see what I could get going between [Parvati Shallow] and Sandra. I really didn't believe that. I had nothing to lose at that point. I was just trying to see what kind of reaction I could get from them and also shed some light to the jury. I knew all the jury was sitting over there watching, so I just wanted to see if there was anything that I could stand to gain from shaking things up a little bit.

Reality TV World: Who did you cast your jury vote for and why?

Colby Donaldson: Sandra. I just really had a lot of respect for how she made it to the end and what she had to do to get there. Even though her strategy and her game play is so different than Parvati and Russell, that doesn't mean it's less worthy -- especially for a guy like me, who in this series, I had to go under the radar. That's how I made it as far as I did. Now I have a whole newfound respect for Sandra. She has done that so well for two seasons.

It's not easy because you've also got to keep your ego in check. It's not fun when you're the weakest and the loser and everybody's like, "Oh, he's no good. She's no good. We don't have to worry about them." There were some challenges I kind of sandbagged on knowing that was going to be my strategy. You've really got to swallow your pride when you do that.

Reality TV World: Given Russell still opted to take Parvati to the Final 3 when he did have the chance to vote her off, do you think he would have followed through with the plan to oust her instead of [Rupert Boneham] at the Final 6 Tribal Council or her instead of you at the Final 5 Tribal Council if she hadn't won immunity both times?

Colby Donaldson: Yeah, I think so. Not based on the fact that he told me he would -- not that I believed anything Russell said -- but based on the fact that I think it would have been his best move. He truly felt that Parvati was a threat.

He told me on the way to that final challenge. He said, "Look man, you need to win this thing. If you don't win, you're going home." He stood to lose or gain nothing by telling me the truth at that point. It was fine. I knew going into it that I needed to pull it out and unfortunately I just couldn't get it done.

Reality TV World: Jeff has been pretty vocal that you would have won if you made the Final 3 as the last Hero.  Do you agree?

Colby Donaldson: Yeah. I guess we'll never know, but I think yeah. I think I would have had a pretty good shot, which is -- again -- one of the reasons it's just frustrating I couldn't pull that one challenge out.

Reality TV World: After your self-described "surrender speech" you made one last attempt to convince Russell to eliminate Sandra instead of you. Was Sandra the only other option or did you ever consider approaching the women and seeing if they'd want to blindside Russell?

Colby Donaldson: No, and here's how all that played out. Good question and good point of view.

The surrender speech, that had worked for me earlier in the game when I did that with the Heroes. We ultimately got rid of [James Clement], so I thought, "You know what? Maybe I'll try it again. Maybe a different version can work for me this time." But the point was it was really just to buy me some time because I knew my play at that point was going to be [Jerri Manthey] and Russell. Here's why: They didn't show that afternoon, but I spent as much if not more time trying to swing Jerri as I did Russell.

Here's why: they were the two I was trying to appeal to. In terms of Russell, he's the only one out of the remaining Villains that was arrogant enough to think that he could beat me in the finals. Parvati and Sandra and Jerri had all said that none of them wanted to sit next to me. It just wasn't a good move on their part. So Russell -- whether he was telling the truth or not to me -- he truly was that arrogant. I thought, "He's my best shot because he really thinks he can beat me."

The other was Jerri, just because of emotion. Jerri and I were bonding, we were becoming friends and I knew Jerri was starting to let her guard down. So even though she kept telling me, "Colby, it's just not a smart move for me to align with you," I kept hoping that there was going to be some way to swing her over.

At the final Tribal when I was addressing Parvati and Sandra and Russell separately, Sandra asked me that. She said, "Why didn't you come to me to see if we could vote out Russell?" The reason I didn't is because at that point in the game everyone was paying attention to everything. I thought if Russell and Jerri knew that I was going over there to Sandra and Parvati, then I would lose all chance of staying. Then I would get caught.

Russell wasn't allowing anything to happen on that beach without knowing about it. So I knew he'd be aware of it and I'd lose any chance of getting help from him to make it to the finals.

So I basically put all my eggs in one basket, and that was with Russell and Jerri. Look, I knew it was an outside chance at best. But that was my play.

Reality TV World: Why didn't you help [Amanda Kimmel] when she and [Danielle DiLorenzo] were fighting over the Hidden Immunity Idol clue during that Reward?

Colby Donaldson: That was another thing. In fact, that was the only time in the three seasons I've played this game where I picked up the phone and I made a phone call because what was shown on TV was not what happened. I've never blamed production or editing for creating a false segment. But that really wasn't the accurate version of what happened.

So I picked up the phone and called Probst because Probst had written a recap blog about it and he was berating me in his blog and his blog was based on the final cut. The final cut was not the truth of what happened. So Probst, sure enough, he had all the raw footage pulled and he watched it. He apologized to me. He said the production was wrong, that they shouldn't have done that.

When he asked them, they told him they didn't have -- I don't know how you say it -- they didn't have enough footage to show how it actually went down. So they didn't think the edit they ultimately ended up airing would have any effect on the game. Well it didn't have any effect on the game, it just had an effect on me because I'm the bozo who looks like he's siding with Danielle instead of Amanda.

The reality of that seen was Danielle had that in her possession. She had the clue. It was not on the floor. It was underneath her when Amanda reached underneath her to grab it. They edited it and showed a cut of Amanda's hand going down on the floor to grab it -- that was actually Danielle's hand and it was not where the clue was to begin with. Anyway, it made it look like Amanda picked it up off the floor and it was free game because it was on the floor and I sided with Danielle.

That's not the truth. I told Amanda that I thought it was Danielle's, but it was based on the fact that she had it in her possession. Anyway, it's ultimately not a big deal. It was just one of those things where I was remaining neutral, and I was doing so because I figured at this point I could gain favor with the Villains too once Danielle went back to camp.

Reality TV World: You used the word "disappointed" several times last night to describe how you felt about you performance throughout the competition, but even ignoring your challenge performance, several of the other castaways have said they felt you had checked out of the game socially and strategically, and Amanda even cited your apparent disinterest as one of the main reasons she was unable to successfully plot against the Villains. Do you agree with that, and what's your explanation for how mentally disinterested and detached you seemed to be?

Colby Donaldson: Detached is a good word. I became detached from it when the Heroes immediately voted out [Stephenie LaGrossa] and, soon thereafter, [Tom Westman]. To me, it just didn't make any strategic sense. It was all based on an alliance and was a silly strategic move.

That was a turning point for me. There was nobody else on the Heroes' beach that I had any interest in playing with. Then it became a matter of survival, just making it to the merge and seeing what I could do after that.

So yeah, it just wasn't a good experience for me all the way around.

Reality TV World: Did any of the other castaways you were aligned with approach you about stepping up your game?

Colby Donaldson: No.

Reality TV World: When we talked to [Candice Woodcock], she said part of the reason she flipped was because she felt like the other Heroes had never really embraced her and even accused Amanda and yourself of lying to her about there being no Hidden Immunity Idol clue during the Reward trip.  What was the point of lying to her given you guys weren't even the ones that got the clue, and did you guys not think the Villains might tell her and try and use that to drive a wedge between you guys?

Colby: That brings up a good point. So what happened was, when we left there Amanda and I are still trying to appeal to Danielle to show us the clue. Danielle said, "Look, I may show it to you two, but I'm not going to show it to the Heroes. I can guarantee you that if you tell them I have it, there's no way you're going to see it." So at that point, it was a deal we made with Danielle specifically.

To me, what difference did it make if Candice knew?  It wasn't a factor in the terms of the rest of our game. I was simply doing that because I told Danielle I would in the hopes that maybe she'd share the clue with us. Maybe not even Amanda, but me.

I didn't have a problem with Danielle. Danielle and I were getting along fine. So I at that point was playing selfishly thinking, "You know what? Maybe she'll show me the clue and I can go out there and find this thing."

The Candice thing, we didn't ever get along. I didn't get along with Candice the whole game. So it wasn't about her not feeling like she was part of it. She didn't feel like she was part of our tribe because she never would own anything.

She never would make a decision and stick with it in terms of who she wanted to play with and who she wanted to be aligned with. She was so wishy-washy the whole time that nobody could trust her -- no one -- including the Villains, and that's why they voted her out.

Reality TV World: Candice's decision to side with Russell and vote out Amanda seemed to signal the end for the Heroes. Sandra tried to warn Rupert and yourself about it but you guys basically brushed her off and suggested she was being paranoid.  Did you really have no idea that Candice was considering flipping?

Colby Donaldson: Well, yeah. By the time we got there, we knew. We had already kind of figured it out that we were in trouble and Candice had flipped.

I was still giving her the benefit of the doubt. Also, I was looking at it from Candice's strategic perspective. The fact is, if we got Sandra with us and Candice stayed with us, we had the numbers. We actually did. So to me, even if Candice jumped and went over the Villains, she's still going to be the last one in that group.

It was unfortunate that she bought into what Russell had told her about making it to the Final 3. She was never gong to be in the Final 3 over there. So she was kind of in a bad spot, Candice was, because she was sort of the last one remaining in either scenario. If she stuck with us she wasn't going to go very deep, and if she stuck with them she wasn't going to go very deep.

Reality TV World: Even though there were only five of you at the beginning, four of the season's Final 6 castaways were "old-school" contestants from before Survivor: All-Stars and one of you eventually won the competition. What are your thoughts about that -- do you think there's anything significant to that or do you think it's just a coincidence?

Colby Donaldson: I hadn't even thought about it, but I think it's probably more of a coincidence -- especially with me and Jerri. It's certainly not the fact that we're old, cagey veterans means we're better. A lot of it has to do with luck. 

Reality TV World: While it was [James "J.T." Thomas'] idea to give the Hidden Immunity Idol to Russell, you still played a large role in that decision and even helped facilitate the transfer at that challenge. I know in hindsight it's easy to say it was a bad move, but at the time why were you so confident that Russell wasn't aligned with the girls?

Colby Donaldson: It wasn't so much about being that confident. I certainly wasn't convinced. But you've got to understand at that point the girls -- both Candice and Amanda -- wanted to get rid of J.T.. Nobody trusted him. He had already blidnsided and double-crossed me, so I certainly didn't care for him.

So our point was, yeah it's a bold move and if it works, we're the benefactors because we get Russell on our team. If it doesn't work, we get rid of that idol that we know J.T. has to protect himself. So for us, it was as much about flushing the idol out. J.T. came to us with the idea, we all said, "Sure, J.T.. Do that."

I helped facilitate it, but it was all the time knowing this may or may not work, and if it doesn't work, J.T.'s going to be the first one to go home.



(Photo credit CBS)


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