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Exclusive: Michael Bortone talks about 'Survivor: Micronesia' ouster


By Christopher Rocchio, 02/29/2008 

Michael Bortone was accused of being one of Survivor 101's best pupils and thus labeled a threat.

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As a result, 34-year-old writer and actor from Los Angeles, CA who is originally from Boston, MA became the fourth castaway eliminated from Survivor: Micronesia -- Fans vs. Favorites during last night's broadcast of the long-running CBS reality show's sixteenth season.

On Friday, "Mikey B." talked to Reality TV World about how certain Fans alienated themselves from Day 1 and what affect it had on his strategy; why his alliance with Mary Sartain was blown out of proportion; how there were some signs his neck was on the chopping block; and why he thinks his rival Joel Anderson will go down in flames.

Reality TV World:  Would you say that Joel blind-sided you twice -- first with Mary's elimination and then with your own?

Mikey B:  That's a good question.  I don't know if it was such a blind-side because I was expecting it to a certain degree.  Going into Tribal Council, I was asking around trying to get a feel for what everyone was doing, and I wasn't getting positive reactions.  So I knew something was up.

I went to [Alexis Jones] and asked her to do one simple favor for me and ask who [Natalie Bolton] was voting for.  Two seconds before Tribal Council she told me [Jason Siska], so...

Reality TV World:  Yeah, not exactly the truth.

Mikey B:  If I thought it was me, I would have been a lot louder at Tribal Council.

Reality TV World:  After your elimination last night you warned against trusting Joel.  If that was the case, why did you trust him after he had already "backstabbed" you once?

Mikey B:  I mean it wasn't about trusting him.  My options were either try to go behind his back and try to get him out -- and then his alliance stays strong and then I'm officially out -- or try to hang on until the mix, which turned out to be the next day.  So I was trying to hang on and blend in because I didn't want to go to war with [Chet Welch, Tracy Hughes-Wolf and Kathleen Sleckman] anyway.

Reality TV World:  So you had thought about approaching Chet, Kathy and Tracy to try and eliminate Joel but decided against it?

Mikey B:  Yeah, of course I thought about it.  But my option was better the other way, to give [Joel] my thoughts on what he did and give him my reasons of why I won't go after him.  I specifically told him that, "I will not go after you until the merge, because I want you at the merge."  I'm like, "Dude you can't swim!  I ain't sweatin' you!"

Reality TV World:  You used the "give a little to get a little" approach with Joel.  Was that some strategy to stroke his ego? 

Mikey B:  I was trying to say it goes both way here.  "I want to give you some and get some back.  I'm coming to you in good faith, and I'm telling you that I'm gonna go with you on this because I don't want to play with Chet, Tracy and Kathy."  I told him, 'They're not even going to make it!'  Physically and mentally, they're not going to make it.  No chance.

Reality TV World:  Joel seemed to initially favor eliminating Kathy over Chet.  Why didn't you just concede when he suggested booting Kathy instead of Chet?

Mikey B:  To be honest with you -- and this is speculation -- that was just his approach with Tracy and Chet, to make them think that it was not a firm decision because Kathy's name was not even mentioned. So I think he was just pretending that he wasn't decided and I'm still in limbo with what I'm going to do, and so it's either Chet or Kathy.

Reality TV World:  Last night the show revealed that, just like in just about every other Survivor season, a tribal swap is coming next.  Did you think of that possibility before you approached Joel? 
Mikey B:  Yeah, I knew there was a good chance that the tribes would swap at some point -- in some shape or form.  That's what I was just trying to hang on for.

Reality TV World:  Based on your merge comments, you seemed really focused on the long-term picture and didn't really seem to be taking the game one step at a time.  Would you say that's accurate?

Mikey B:  Yeah, I was focused on trying to put myself in a position to win -- not to make it four days!

Reality TV World:  Strong men are rarely among the first to be eliminated by their tribe and after your elimination you acknowledged you probably "came out too strong."  Were you conscience of how aggressive you'd been when it was happening, or was it something you only realized later?  Had that been your original plan all along?

Mikey B:  No, and I don't think I was aggressive at all.  I think my tribe lacked game knowledge.  My theory of how to protect us seven was too difficult for them to gather.  So it made it look like I was [aggressive].  In retrospect, yeah, I shouldn't have done that.  But at the same time, it's a pretty simple plan.

Reality TV World:  After the Fans' first Immunity Challenge loss, Erik Reichenbach seemed to single out Chet as being a weak link who cost your tribe a chance to win.  Do you have any idea why Erik subsequently voted for both Mary and yourself at the next two Tribal Councils?

Mikey B:  (laughing)  After the Mary vote, I went up to Erik and all I did was basically express my disappointment in him for claiming that he's an athlete and that he's here to compete -- that's all he and Joel were saying, is that they're there to compete.  To compete.  They love the challenges.  Then you vote-off strength and keep around people who are useless to you, useless in the challenges.

So I said to Erik -- without yelling, because I didn't want to be a strong personality at that point -- I mean I accepted the Mary vote and all I said to him was, "I'm just disappointed.  You're allowing Joel to dictate what you do and you're calling yourself an athlete.  But athletes don't go into war with weak and inferior people."

Reality TV World:  Speaking of "weak and inferior" players, everybody seems to think Kathy fit that description.  Why were you so overly concerned she'd be able to find Exile Island's Hidden Immunity Idol during her first trip there?

Mikey B:  Well, it was more of a divided seven-to-three than [the show] even led [viewers to] believe.  So they would have done anything to destroy us as a seven.  It's not out of the realm of possibility that she would get the idol.  So if I'm just protecting my seven teammates in case that happens, why not?  Even if it's just a 5% chance, why not?  Why not do it?

Reality TV World:  You concocted that somewhat elaborate scheme for the upcoming Tribal Council, which we already discussed you knew your fellow castaways didn't understand too well.  If you could do it differently, would you have kept it more simple?

Mikey B:  In retrospect, I know how it affected me so I wouldn't have said anything.

Reality TV World:  Do you think Joel blew your relationship with Mary out of proportion?  Was your alliance with her really as strong and strategic as he was concerned about it being?

Mikey B:  Not even close!  Either he is delusional 100% or he's smart enough to at least get Natalie and Alexis to believe it, which I'll take the first one.  I don't think he's smart enough to realize what he's doing.  I mean it worked as far as getting them to believe it, but it was blown way out of proportion.

Reality TV World:  Did Joel ever explain to you why he instead targeted Mary at the Fans' first Tribal Council instead of just voting for you?

Mikey B:  No.  The only thing I heard was through the TV -- which everybody heard -- was that they needed me for physical challenges.

Reality TV World:  During the game, were you ever aware Joel didn't actually vote for Mary?

Mikey B:  I knew it... More and more information comes back to camp.

Reality TV World:  Did Joel ever tell you why he instead voted for Tracy at that Tribal Council?

Mikey B:  The vote to put Tracy's name on paper was a smart move, because that allowed them to protect Alexis.  There were supposed to be three Tracy names in order for Alexis to stay strong.  Because that did happen, it allowed me to believe it was just Joel.

Reality TV World:  What was your initial reaction when Mary was eliminated?  I'd imagine it made you rethink your strategy in the game pretty quickly.

Mikey B:  I was like, "What the f**k are you idiots doing?!"  But at the same time, I was genuine when I said to [Joel] afterwards, "If you just had discussed it with me, we could have figured out something together." 

Joel's problem is and was that he didn't want to share the leadership role.  Not only that, he took zero initiative to lead -- except for the backstabbing.  At challenges he did not step up and give advice.  We never as a tribe huddled up and came up with a game plan.  Everybody was just against each other.  Anybody that spoke-up was looked down upon.  It was ridiculous!

Reality TV World:  Given she already met and got engaged to another guy after filming ended, is it safe to say you and Mary didn't continue your flirting once you were both at the Loser Lodge?

Mikey B:  I mean everybody flirts with everybody.  You're in fantasy land for a month.

Reality TV World:  Camp life for the Fans seems to be pretty rough.  How bad was at on the Airai beach?

Mikey B:  As far as living conditions?

Reality TV World:  Yeah.

Mikey B:  It was pretty bad.  Any time it rained it was horrible because we couldn't get a proper shelter.  A couple of the nights we didn't have time to dry our clothes from the challenges, and those were some of the worst nights of our life.

Reality TV World:  Can you talk about what lead up to Kathy, Chet, and Tracy building their own shelter?  That's a pretty dramatic sign of tribal fracture.

Mikey B:  I think I was out looking for clams, came back, and they had already started [building their own shelter].  They together alienated themselves.

Tracy is a builder -- she builds houses.  She not once during the first three days came up and lent a helping a hand to us -- or even lend a brain or anything.  She didn't help us worth a damn to build a shelter.  Then on Day 3 she starts barking orders on how this should be done that way because she's a builder.  I just looked at her and I said, 'You build houses and you hadn't said one friggin' word since we've been here!?"

So I mean she alienated herself.  Kathy was just a little out of her element.  She was just overwhelmed and wasn't enjoying her time.  Chet was just physically unable to perform.  He was just physically spent.

Reality TV World:  Were Kathy, Chet and Tracy really not welcome to stay in the cave?

Mikey B:  To be honest with you, we never really had a good shelter.  We kept on going from one spot to another and never were able to get a solid shelter.  It makes it even worse on their part because they started to build their own before we even had one!  It's not like we kicked them out of ours!  We didn't have one -- they just decided to build on for their own.  Like, "Screw you!"

EDITOR'S NOTE: Despite Mikey's comments, Survivor: Micronesia's second episode showed Jason telling Kathy, Chet and Tracy that "[the cave] is my habitat tonight" before they began building their own shelter.  Afterward, he also boasted that "I told them straight up [that] I don't want you sleeping in the cave."

Reality TV World:  Up until when you were eliminated, had you still been sleeping separately from Kathy, Chet and Tracy?

Mikey B:  Yeah.  Every night was separate.

Reality TV World:  Do you think that the upcoming swap will bail Joel out a bit, seeing as how the Fans won't be so weak anymore with your absence?

Mikey B:  I don't think so.  To me, he's proven that he is a back stabber and that he will do anything that he can to keep himself around.  So I don't think it's going to bail him out.  If anything, I think it's going to save the older folks because they're like a token vote for anybody that wants to keep them around.  They're not dangerous at that point.

Reality TV World:  How were you cast for Survivor: Micronesia?  Had you previously applied to the show before?

Mikey B:  I applied during the second season in Australia.  Somebody referred me for this [season] -- I didn't send in a tape or come to an open casting call.  I just got a phone call from a buddy of mine who asked me if I would be interested because he referred me as somebody who would be a good TV personality for it.  I said, "Hell yeah!"

Reality TV World:  Given you're on the "Fans" tribe, how much Survivor had you watched before the show? Had you seen every season?

Mikey B:  I've watched every episode.

Reality TV World:  Was it helpful going into the game?

Mikey B:  Obviously not.

Reality TV World:  Did you do anything physically or mentally to prepare yourself before leaving for the competition?

Mikey B:  Yes.  I got in game shape.  I might not have been in beauty shape -- but I was in game shape. 

Reality TV World:  What about mental preparation?

Mikey B:  I came up with a strategy and mentally prepared myself.  The hunger issues I was going to have, the mental issues... I was ready.  I was focused.

Reality TV World:  What was your strategy heading into the game and do you think it worked?

Mikey B:  That's a good question because it kind of switched as the days went on.

My goal in the beginning was just to be friendly to everybody.  I do like meeting new people and I love traveling.  I thought that my greatest quality would be my ability to get along with everybody.

But, at the same time, Tracy annoyed me from the beginning so much that I could not get along with her.  Then it was a point where Chet started disintegrated and he started complaining, so I didn't want my seven-person alliance to think that I was even remotely... even had a remote chance to move and switch with them.  I alienated them.  I chatted with Kathy a lot more than I chatted with Tracy or Chet.  I didn't really have anything personally going on with them.

Reality TV World:  At this point, would you say a Fan or a Favorite has a better shot at winning the competition and why?

Mikey B:  (laughing)  A favorite has a much better chance of winning the competition because the Fans have no idea how to play this game.

Reality TV World:  Personally, which castaway -- Fan or Favorite -- would you like to see win? 

Mikey B:  I hope Jason wins.  Jason's the only tribe mate who stayed true to his alliance with me.  So 100% I want Jason to win.

Reality TV World:  Is there anybody you don't want to see win?  I'm assuming it's Joel.

Mikey B:  You got that right.

Reality TV World:  So what's next for you?  Back to writing and acting?

Mikey B:  I'm trying to get back into the whole acting and producing bug.  I've been out of it for a little while, but I have a website I am developing.  I'm excited about that.  I'm just going to continue to plug on and try to make something happen.  I'm having fun.  The website is tingie.com.

(Photo credit CBS)


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