Exclusive: Jim Rice talks about 'Survivor: South Pacific'
By Reality TV World staff, 11/17/2011
Jim Rice's strategic Survivor: South Pacific plans came crashing down on him when a member of his own Savaii alliance, John Cochran, decided to flip on his tribe and join with the former Upolu members and vote him out at Tribal Council following Keith Tollefson and Ozzy Lusth's exits in a Pagonging effect.
After failing to turn some Upolu members against their leader "Coach" Benjamin Wade during the game and regretting to not keep Cochran closer and better protected, Jim hoped to redeem himself on Redemption Island when he battled Keith and Ozzy in a three-person duel for only one spot in which he could remain on the island and continue competing for the one million dollars. However, Ozzy won the duel and Jim and Keith were permanently eliminated from the game -- becoming the first two members of the jury during Wednesday night's broadcast of Survivor: South Pacific's tenth episode.
On Thursday, the 35-year-old medical marijuana dispenser from Denver, CO, talked to Reality TV World about his Survivor: South Pacific experience.
Reality TV World: You were obviously very upset at Cochran when he flipped. But now that you've had a chance to cool off and maybe look back and try and see things from Cochran's perspective a little bit more, has that changed?
Jim Rice: The way I look back at it is I still see it as it wasn't a move. It was just a fear-based decision on his part. So, I don't have any personal hard feelings. When I look back at it, I think there were things that I should have done differently and I think that it wasn't a move on his part as much as it was a move on Coach's part to begin the flip. That was pretty impressive.
[Cochran] did something, really just based on fear, that guaranteed -- at that point, I think it guaranteed anybody who flipped a loss, and I assumed everybody was playing for the million. He wasn't. He was playing for another day in the game. He had no desire to really win the game, because that's putting yourself -- there's really only one thing you can do to guarantee you will lose and it's to do what he did.
Reality TV World: You just mentioned there were things you would have done differently. Any specifics?
Jim Rice: Oh, yeah! I think we should have protected him. I think we should have really just went in as a strong tribe and said, "Hey, we're drawing rocks. You're not going to get any of us to flip. We're not going to trust one of our mentally weakest players to go and do a job that he wasn't capable of," which in reality, he had a chance to really make a big move.
He could have come back and told us and said, "Hey, you know what? They think that I'm in with them. I told them [Whitney Duncan], then all of a sudden, we give the [hidden Immunity Idol] to either Keith or me. We're down to two people."
So, he could have brought back some pretty valuable information and he chose, rather than taking an 86% percent chance at a Final 3 -- which all of us had Final 3 scenarios -- he took a 100% percent chance at one more day.
Reality TV World: How had you seen the rest of the season playing out if Cochran had remained loyal to your alliance? Had you seen your alliance staying together until the other tribe was entirely wiped out and you were the Final 6, and if so how had you seen the endgame playing out between Ozzy, Keith, Whitney, Dawn, Cochran and yourself?
Jim Rice: I think we would have knocked out those guys one by one when there were seven or eight players left. I probably would have recruited a couple Upolu to get rid of Ozzy and then we get rid of Ozzy and then all of a sudden, we have six of us and then we'd take out the final two Upolu.
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And then, somebody comes back from Redemption Island at some point during this whole thing, and we'd probably get rid of them immediately. That's kind of how I thought of it playing out on a day to day basis. Tentatively, that's how I was seeing it.
Reality TV World: So who did you see as your Final 3?
Jim Rice: Well, I kind of went back and forth. Sometimes, I saw taking Cochran and one other person. Sometimes, I thought of taking Keith and Whitney because I figured that while I wouldn't get all the votes, I figured that Keith and Whitney would split some of the votes and I would end up on top in that scenario.
I really liked the idea of taking Cochran, because he did absolutely nothing throughout the entire game on any level. There's a few levels to this. There's providing in challenges, there's providing in camp life, there's the social aspect of it, and I thought that I could beat them on all of those levels.
The only thing we were consistent with -- that I think all of us knew -- was that we were getting rid of [Dawn Meehan] at some point. That's what I was thinking anyway, because there's no way that a Mormon mother of six children that were all adopted is not going to get the million dollars [from the jury]. That's what I kept thinking.
Reality TV World: In addition to Ozzy and Keith, your "3 + 2" alliance also included [Elyse Umemoto] and Whitney, and while we saw you express concerns about Ozzy and Elyse's relationship and do something about it, we never saw you express any concern about Keith and Whitney -- which ironically, ended up being the two that apparently did form a lasting connection. Were you ever concerned about Keith and Whitney's relationship, as far as your alliance went, and if so did you ever consider trying to do something about it like you did with Elyse and Ozzy and it just wasn't broadcast?
Jim Rice: No, because I felt like I had Keith and Whitney on my side. I felt that, especially Whitney, Whitney and I would talk strategy a little bit more than I would with Keith, and I felt that our interests were pretty much aligned. It was -- I liked the idea of those two, because I felt like if I did take those two to the Final 3, then I could split the votes.
The jury members would possibly split the votes between those two. So, I didn't mind that, because I felt like it was a voting block of two that I had pretty good control of, because it was hard for them to go anywhere else.
I told them that I wanted to keep those two -- in my mind, I wanted to keep those two together. And when I was on the island, I just kept saying, "I want to keep them thinking about their twosome, as opposed to making any big moves."
Reality TV World: Why do you lie about your profession and tell everyone you were a teacher? How did you think your real background would have hurt you?
Jim Rice: I think through the first 14 Tribal Councils, it wouldn't have hurt me at all, but I think that if a marijuana dispensery owner is sitting there next to a Mormon mother of six adopted children, I don't see anybody voting for me.
And that's really the only reason that I didn't tell anybody, because I was playing for the million dollars from the moment that I stepped foot on that island and actually, well before, because I did a lot of research about what a forensic science teacher is. My buddy Chris, he's a forensic science teacher in high school, so I drilled him with all these questions and I knew that's what I was going to go with going in.
Reality TV World: Everyone seemed to to agree that the first Tribe Council vote during last night's episode would have been the perfect time for a couple of people in Coach's alliance to team with Cochran, Whitney and Dawn and make a big move but no one did -- did that surprise you?
Jim Rice: What surprises me is how all of these people are on Survivor, but they didn't watch last season [which similarly had returning castaway and eventual winner "Boston" Rob Mariano]. So just because Coach has an Idol means you can't vote for him? I don't know. Do these people not realize how an Idol works?
He has to play it for it to actually work. (Laughs)
So, it would have been a great time to blindside somebody like Coach, and I tried to get people against Coach after Keith was out and nobody would do it because he had an Idol. I'm like, "Guys, wake up! Big deal that he has an Idol! We have to blindside him while he's not going to play it!"
And nobody would go for it because Coach had them all convinced and had them all drinking the "Kool-Aid" and said, "Hey, if you go against this alliance, you'll have to deal with the repercussions for the rest of your life." It's Survivor, come on -- couldn't get any of them to do it.
Reality TV World: You were a member of the jury that decided the season's winner. What criteria did you feel was important when determining who to vote for?
Jim Rice: It's funny. It changes as the game goes on. I want to see somebody who really did some things to get themselves into that Final 3 and I want them to tell me, "Here's what I did to get to that Final 3." If you were quiet and didn't say a word, then convince me that was the best move. So, that's what I'm really looking for -- somebody to own their game.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on Survivor: South Pacific? How did you end up on the show?
Jim Rice: I sent in a videotape at the end of December of last year -- an excruciating application process went by -- so pretty much, Survivor has been my life for this entire year now, because I've been a fan since Season 1.
I'm sitting around having drinks with some of my buddies and we were talking about my bizarre background and my bizarre current work, and they said, "You know what? Now is your year to get onSurvivor. Now is the year for you to get on Survivor." And I was like, "You know what? It is." And so, I made a videotape and sent it in.
Reality TV World: So that was the first time you ever applied?
Jim Rice: It was the first time I ever applied and it made me feel a little bit guilty because I hear stories from Dawn and [Rick Nelson] about 14 times in 10 years and all this other stuff. It does make me feel a little bit guilty, but I was very honest on my tape and it showed and they liked what they saw. I was thrilled. It really has consumed so many of my thoughts for the past year straight now.