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Exclusive: Steve "Chicken" Morris talks about 'Survivor: China'


By Christopher Rocchio, 09/21/2007 

Steve "Chicken" Morris had the dubious distinction of being the first castaway eliminated from Survivor: China during last night's premiere broadcast of the long-running CBS reality competition series.

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On Friday, the 47-year-old chicken farmer from Marion, VA talked to Reality TV World about how he received his nickname; why he ultimately decided to keep his suggestions to himself; his thoughts on some of his fellow Zhan Hu tribe members; and whom he thought he had formed an alliance with before he was booted.


Reality TV World: Hi Chicken.  Is it okay if I call you Chicken?

Chicken:  Yup boy!

Reality TV World: How long have folks called you Chicken?  How'd you get that nickname?

Chicken:  I grew-up on a commercial poultry farm, and I got into [the National Federation of Young Farmers and the Future Farmers of America] in the seventh grade.  Basically that's when it started, the seventh grade, and it just stuck.

Reality TV World:  You like the nickname?

Chicken:  Yes sir.

Reality TV World: You seemed surprised to be the first castaway eliminated from Survivor: China, and even let out that big "Damn!" scream when it happened.  Were you surprised?

Chicken: Yeah I was surprised.  This is a game, being realistic, you want the strongest players for the longest times.  They took their strongest player out first.  We're going back to the theory of the best way to play the game, and these people didn't have that theory.

Reality TV World: What do you think happened?

Chicken:  When we lost the Immunity Challenge and we got back, they were standing there in their little four or five people group, you know, two or three people... and I think just my name came up and they said, "What about Chicken?"  These people just jumped to conclusion, they jumped to, "If it ain't me I don't care who it is."  These three or four people are standing there and they didn't think about tomorrow or the next day or the thirty-ninth day or winning the $1 million.  They took me out, which without a doubt if you saw last night, I am the strongest player on that tribe.

Reality TV World:  You commented how you felt you had a lot of experience over the younger tribe members, so why did you decide to stop giving suggestions even if they weren't being listened to?

Chicken:  On Monday [on Day 1] I made a ton of suggestions, whether they be right or wrong, just like when they were dragging that old frame out of the brush.  They were trying to make something out of nothing, that wasn't gonna happen.  I wasn't going to stand there and work all day with that and try to accomplish something because that wasn't going happen.  They kind of said, "What are we going to do?  What do we need to build a shelter?" It's just that simple.  It ain't gonna fall from the sky and Home Depot is not gonna deliver you one, you're going to have to build one!  I make suggestions, and it kind of went over their heads and landed somewhere else.

Then Tuesday [on Day 2], they ask me for questions, and all of a sudden it's an issue.  They wanted to know what I was thinking on Tuesday, they didn't listen on Monday!  So I'm thinking why did you not listen to me yesterday?  You just shut me down on Monday.  On Tuesday I said, "Whatever ya'll guys want to do, I can do it."  I can do my part without a problem.  It's just like on Monday you call somebody a name, and nobody ever thought anything about it.  You call somebody the same name on Tuesday, and all of a sudden it's an issue.  It's just one of those things that happened...

Reality TV World:  Do you think that's what ultimately led to your elimination?

Chicken:  I think so.  I think so.

Reality TV World:  Were you happy with the way the tribes were divided?  Fei Long seemed to think they made out a lot better strength-wise.

Chicken:  Just knowing what I know, there's no difference in the strength.  We was just as strong as they was.  We just did not come together like they did last night.  They congratulated each other, their morale was up, they built the shelter with no problem... I mean they came together the best way they could, and they came out on top and we didn't.  It happened for whatever reason, we did not come together.  In the next six weeks I don't think they will come together!

Reality TV World:  You gave something to Jeff Probst when you were leaving the temple and he was handing you your tribe's map and book -- what was it?

Chicken:  I had my watch on... I took my watch off to give it to him.

Reality TV World:  Did you vote for Ashley Massaro just because of her lack of work while sick or did you also see her as a threat later in the game?

Chicken:  No, she's definitely the weak link.  She hadn't done anything in three days.  That's what I based my vote on, it's what I told [fellow Zhan Hu tribe member Dave Cruser].  I based my vote on who done the least.  Actually Dave suggested [Sherea Lloyd].  I said, "You know, Sherea is at least up and about and Ashley laid their in the bed all day on Tuesday."  Whether it be bad luck or she don't want to do anything, or whether she's sick or sprained her ankle or had a headache... She should have went first.

Reality TV World:  So you talked to Dave before Tribal Council.  Would you say you had an alliance with Dave?

Chicken:  No.  Me and Dave didn't have any alliances.  We're two of the older... Dave doesn't have the common sense that I have.  Dave could consult you one-on-one very well.  You saw how he talked to Ashley and said, "Ashley don't worry about that you're sick.  Don't worry, your name's not on the chopping block tonight."  He tells you exactly what you want to hear.  But when you're standing there and Dave's talking to everyone, he has no idea how to deal with those people as a group.  But one-on-one, Dave could talk you out of your underwear (laughing).  It's as simple as that...

Reality TV World:  You said Dave suggested to vote out Sherea and we know your feelings on Ashley.  Were there any other Zhan Hu members you considered weak and thought about voting out?

Chicken:  No.

Reality TV World:  What did you think of Peih-Gee Law?  She seemed to offer even more "opinions" than you but she only got one Tribal Council vote -- how did that happen?

Chicken:  That's exactly what Peih-Gee offered... opinion.  She never been over and picked anything up, Peih-Gee... When we were starting to build the shelter, Peih-Gee says, "Well you know, I'll go hunt for vines and for kiwis," and that type of thing.  She'd be gone for half-an-hour, 45 minutes, and she'd come back with absolutely nothing (laughing). 

So you can add it up anyway you want... Anyone could have went last night, anybody was vulnerable for whatever reason.  But in a game like this -- it's like any kind of other game -- you want your best player in the game, and they took their best player out first.

Reality TV World:  What did Jaime do around camp?  All we seemed to see last night was her asking if anyone wanted to go "find stuff" with her.

Chicken:  Jaime is young. Jaime's attractive.  Jaime likes to talk about music and parties and college-life.  Jaime hasn't had a lot of adventures in her life, and she's still gonna talk about what she likes to talk about.  It took them a day to get all this out... they discussed all their clothes and their schools and their songs and their music -- talking about Paris Hilton and all that -- it took all day!  Then on Day 2 when they got nothing to talk about, then they said, "Well you know, maybe we should start doing something?" (laughing)

Reality TV World:  Despite being there for only three days, were you able to form any alliances?

Chicken:  Actually on Day 1, I came from getting water.  We're about 100 yards from the camp, and it was Sherea and Peih-Gee and Jaime.  Actually I didn't know they were there until I walked up on them and they said, "Oh Chicken come here, we want to talk to you."  They pulled me aside and said, "Hey, it's early in the game, we want to form an alliance.  Let's just kind of say we'll take each other's words for things and just kind of see where it goes."  I jumped in with both feet.

Now 15 minutes before we left for Tribal Council, I questioned Jaime about this -- [the producers] didn't show this [on the premiere episode] either -- but I said, "Jaime," we're all standing there and I said, "Jaime, what about our alliance?"  She said, "Well Chicken it's really early to be forming alliances."  But on Monday for two hours she's standing in a swamp with water up to her knees and said, "Come here, we want to form this alliance with you." 

They're young people.  I don't hold anything against them.  They don't know anything about anything.  That's what makes it a great element for the show:  It's a super-great cast.  It's one of the better casts, and I've watched tons and tons of Survivor.  This is one of the best casts that I've ever, ever seen.  It's not because I was there, but they hit a home run with this cast.

Reality TV World:  Last night's premiere didn't show anyone making any attempt to gather food or fish -- did you guys just eat rice the whole time you were there?

Chicken:  First three days we didn't eat.  We didn't eat nothing.  We ate kiwis and I had a drink of water all three days. Most of 'em did without water until it rained on Tuesday.

Reality TV World:  Did you guys try and start a fire?  You had eyeglasses -- did you try that? 

Chicken:  Yup.  I tried that.  I could have started a fire very, very easily.  I wasn't going to do anything until I was sure I was going to be accepted into the circle.  Because on Monday, when I come out of the tent and saw those other seven people, I knew I was in trouble. 

So I wasn't going to do anything unless I was guaranteed another move.  One of the things I wasn't going to do was drop to my knees and kiss somebody's butt to stay another three days.  You need to scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.  There ain't gonna be no butt kissing.

Reality TV World:  Did it rain every day you were there?

Chicken:  It rained every single day and the storms and the rain were brutal.  It's not like rain here.  When it rains there, it gets even hotter.  It's like standing in a shower.  It doesn't cool you off, and you don't get any relief.  In my opinion, I was there for a short time, this is the toughest game ever just because everything stays wet.  You couldn't have built fire with a blowtorch!  It's not going to happen.

Reality TV World:  What was that scrap wood thing you guys found?

Chicken:  There was an old frame in the woods... It looked like maybe it was made out of pine but it had been there a long time.  When we moved it it started falling apart.  Maybe it was an old building or something, I have no idea.  But you can't make something out of nothing.  It's impossible!

Reality TV World: What was the area around your camp like?  Was there any wildlife nearby?

Chicken:  I was amazed with the snakes.  There were snakes everywhere.  Every two or three steps, you could see one three-inches long or you could see one three-foot long!  The snakes were everywhere.

Reality TV World:  Was there anything you expected to see during last night's broadcast that CBS didn't show other than your alliance conversation with the girls?

Chicken:  I expected them to show when I had a drink of water on Day 1.  But they didn't.  I drank water for three days and basically [the rest of Zhan Hu] didn't get anything until Day 2 because it didn't rain until then.

Reality TV World:  How did you become a Survivor: China castaway, did you apply for the show or did they seek you out?

Chicken:  I sat down in the middle of 3,000 chickens and sat on a four-wheeler and told a three-minute story.  Just hobbies, where you from, what do you like to do, why do you want to be on Survivor... It was just that simple.

Reality TV World:  And you said you're a fan of the show, you had watched it before?

Chicken:  Big time.  One of my points in my interview was this 39 days thing isn't that big of a deal because when I divorced my second time I stayed in my truck for 35 days.  Thirty-nine days is not that much different.

Reality TV World:  Was this the first time you applied for the show?

Chicken: Yup.

Reality TV World:  How did you prepare yourself both physically and mentally prior to leaving for the competition?

Chicken:  I did not do one thing... The way I was and the way my job is, I didn't have time.  I couldn't have prepared if I wanted to unless somebody would have handed me a paycheck just because they like me.

Reality TV World:  What was your strategy going into the game?

Chicken:  Be myself.  One day at a time.  That was the only strategy that I had.  You can play this game a ton sitting in a chair at home, and you can portray to do this and do that and do this.  The only thing that I come up with as a conclusion was be yourself and take it one day at a time.  That's what I did, and that's what I'd do tomorrow.

I'd go back tomorrow in a heartbeat.  Same cast, same place... I wouldn't change a bit.

Reality TV World:  So you stuck to your strategy. You didn't change it one bit?

Chicken:  In Tribal Council I told them when Jeff said, "Chicken, what's going on at camp?"  I answered, "You know we're not coming together." I said, "No I don't fit in!"  I told the truth.  I'm not gonna BS nobody!  I don't care what the circumstances are.  I don't think my answer would have changed the voting either.

Reality TV World:  Is there anyone you would really like to see win?

Chicken:  No not really.  I really don't.

Reality TV World:  Anybody you don't want to see win?

Chicken:  On yeah without a doubt.  Peih-Gee (laughing)... She's the only one.

Reality TV World:  Do you think you made any lasting friends?

[A CBS publicist participating in the interview would not allow Chicken to answer this question.]

Reality TV World:  In your Final Words, you mentioned being "honored" to have been part of "one big adventure."  What was your favorite part of your Survivor experience?  What was your least favorite?

Chicken:  My favorite part was getting to travel.  When I made the trip to [California for his preliminary finalist interviews] it was just... When you've never been anywhere in your life, just to get on a plane and got to California and spend several days at the preliminary, that's when it started for me.  Then you get to go to Asia, and it just grows and grows... The adventure and the feeling, I'm just so proud.  Ain't nobody been as proud to play this game as much as me. 

I'll tell you something else, this game hasn't never changed anybody as much as its changed me either... for many different reasons.  For one, you don't know what you have at home until you're gone.  This is the first time in my life I've been away from home, and you really don't think about it until you get away from it.

Reality TV World:  So it made you miss your home?

Chicken:  Exactly right.

Reality TV World:  Did you get to see any other parts of China once you were out of the game?

Chicken:  No I can't answer that... can't answer that.

Reality TV World:  So what's next?  What are you doing now?

Chicken:  I'm still right here on the farm.  I've got no plans.  I've had really an area of farming and had a couple different job offers and most of 'em have been in Virginia, but I'm staying right here.  I'm not going anywhere.  I'm not going anywhere.

(Photo credit CBS)


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