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Host Cameron Daddo dishes on 'Pirate Master's adventure and cast


By Christopher Rocchio, 05/24/2007 

Thinking of CBS' new Mark Burnett-created Pirate Master reality competition series as just "Survivor on a boat" is incorrect according to Cameron Daddo, the new show's host.

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"I mean Survivor to me is a show about surviving... They're dumped on an island and they have to survive and they're split into two teams, whereas on this show, it is different," explained Daddo during a Tuesday conference call with reporters. 

"There are 16 pirates and they live together, they work together and they sleep together.  It's not divided.  The only time they're divided is to go on an expedition and the expedition is for gold.  Each week there is a treasure hunt for gold.  And the pirate crew is divided into two separate crews -- a black crew and a red crew -- and they go head-to-head in an expedition for a serious amount of gold.  So in that, there's an intrinsic difference right there because in Survivor there's money at the end.  Whereas each week of Pirate Master there's money up for grabs.  At the end... there's $500,000 of treasure up for grabs.  But week to week there's money to be had, there's deals to be done, there's skulduggery... There's piracy."

Pirate Master will follow 16 contestants as they spend 33 days traveling around the Caribbean island nation of Dominica in search of hidden treasure that will total $1 million.   When they're not busy embarking on quests to decipher various hidden treasure clues, they'll live on the 179-foot, square-rigged barque that will also serve as their main form of plundering transportation. 

Because the barque is a "working ship," Daddo said there are regular duties that need to be done, such as the four-hour watch, raising the anchor, and swabbing the deck, among various other maintenance-type tasks. 

"These pirates work hard... They have to run this ship," he said. 

One pirate will become the captain of the ship and will assign roles and chores to the remaining crew members -- establishing a hierarchy that could lead to mutiny, as each episode will conclude with Pirate's Court, a Survivor Tribal Council-like event that will see one individual eliminated and "cut adrift."  Daddo said the captain and his two officers "had anything from steak and eggs to chicken and fresh fruit" to eat, while the rest of the crew chowed on gruel, stew, "and basically whatever they could conjure up for themselves." 

As if that weren't demoralizing enough, he added while the crew slept end-to-end in wooden bunks built into the side of ship, the captain and his two officers slept in their own quarters with a double bed for the captain and mattresses and blankets for his officers.

"It was absolute velveteen luxury for those three... Everyone else just had the bear minimum," explained Daddo.

The 42-year-old Australian actor said he was excited about the prospect of hosting Pirate Master as soon as he learned about its format.

"When I had about Pirate Master -- and Mark Burnett and his gang were making a show about pirates -- I put my hand up for it," he said.  "This one with its pirate content... It was pretty much I'm going to do this show.  Like a lot of people, I've had a huge fascination with the seas, with pirates.  My dear old grandfather -- he's a 101 -- told me all about how the Cornells, which is his side of the family, and certainly the Daddo side of the family were both descended of the Spanish pirates who came down through Cornwall in the late 1600s, 1700s.  So he was like, 'You know you're a pirate's son.'... This has just been a theme that's permeated my life."

The pirate's life also became a familiarity with the 16 buccaneer wannabes who competed on Pirate Master.

Daddo described Alexis Shubin, a 26-year-old fashion publicist from Laguna Beach, CA, as "brash and bold" but added he could personally "rely on her when honesty was called for."  The same could not be said for Laurel Schmidt, a 21-year-old glass blower from Los Angeles, CA, whom Daddo described as a "hippie chick who will not conform and who's tough to read and impossible to manipulate."

Then there are a few cast members who Daddo said might use their good looks throughout the search for gold -- like Ben Fagan, a 23-year-old student/musician from Boston, MA who is originally from Charleston, SC. 

"Beneath the Southern charm is a cunning, junior pirate," said Daddo of Fagan. 

There's also Sean Twomey, a 27-year-old bartender from Venice, CA, whom Daddo described as a "chameleon, physically intimidating ladies' man who can put himself in and out of trouble."  On the ladies side, Daddo said Jocelyn "Joy" McElveen, a 21-year-old receptionist from West Columbia, SC, is a "beauty queen" who "makes friends first and cuts throats later."  And as for "vixen pirate" Nessa Nemir, a 29-year-old make-up artist from Berkeley, CA, Daddo said she "packs a huge physical punch" despite her small stature.

However physical appearance is only just that, so Daddo warned viewers not too judge some of the pirates based on their looks.  Specifically, he said "don't let the Rasta look fool you" when sizing up Azmyth Kaminski, a 26-year-old music producer from Los Angeles, CA, because he's "physically tough with a personality to stay in everyone's good graces until he takes control." 

It's also hard not to look past Christian Okoye's physical attributes, as the 45-year-old former NFL player and Nigerian native from Rancho Cucamonga, CA who earned the nickname of "Nigerian Nightmare" during his playing days.  "He's a big, friendly lug... Everybody loves him, but perhaps they should fear him," said Daddo.

Survivor enthusiasts should almost immediately recognize Louie Frase, a 43-year-old marina owner from Fishing Creek, MD, as a Doppelganger for Pearl Island and All-Stars' castaway Rupert Boneham.

"A big, loud, jolly, bearded pirate," said Daddo in describing Frase.  "He's everyone's friend with a sense of justice while still being out for all that he can get."

Pirates are also known for their cunning nature, and Daddo said that aspect of the buccaneer lifestyle was also evident in a few of the cast members.  He described Jay Hatkow, a 37-year-old automotive-parts salesman from Detroit, MI, as the "blue collar, working class pirate" before adding he "feels his crew will be easy prey in his plan to control from the inside."  Daddo made similar cryptic comments about Elicia "Jupiter" Mendoza, a 30-year-old bartender from Los Angeles, CA, whom he described as "exotic, original, bold and opinionated" as well as "smart enough to choose her friends and keep her eyes on her enemies."  Claiming he wasn't intending to make a pirate pun, Daddo described John Lakness, a 25-year-old scientist/Chippendale Dancer from Carlisle, MA, as quite the "loose canon."

"He's a physical asset to any crew with intelligence to match, maybe perhaps too much [intelligence]," said Daddo.

Every reality competition seems to have a personality like the one Daddo said belongs to Kendra Guffey, a 38-year-old dive master from Los Angeles, CA, who he described as "quiet and seemingly harmless" but "unthreatening enough to go the distance."  Christa DeAngelo, a 29-year former member of the military from Tamaqua, PA, is Pirate Master's single mom, and while Daddo said she's "there for adventure," he was quick to add she's "determined to win to provide for her daughter."

Rounding out the cast is Cheryl Kosewicz, a 35-year-old district attorney from Sparks, NV, whom Daddo described as "very articulate, strong, and dominant" while priding herself "on understanding the criminal mind while keeping her profession a secret."  As if his profession as a smoke jumper weren't telling enough that he's "an adventurer," that's how Daddo described Joe Don "J.D." Norton, a 36-year-old from Ft. Wainwright, AK, adding he "always lets his opinion be known no matter what the consequences are."

Pirate Master will premiere on Thursday, May 31 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS.

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