Interview: Tyler Fredrickson talks 'Survivor: Worlds Apart'

Ex-talent agent's assistant and professional placekicker discusses his blindside
<p>Tyler of &quot;Survivor: Worlds Apart&quot;</p>

Tyler of "Survivor: Worlds Apart"

Credit: CBS

As so often happens on "Survivor," Tyler Fredrickson seemed well on his way to winning the million bucks, at least until he suddenly wasn't and Jeff Probst was snuffing his torch.

Tyler had weathered a bumpy transition out of the not-wholly-functional White Collar tribe and he found himself in the center of a seemly strong numbers alliance, one that he helped solidify through his tight bond with original tribemate Carolyn. The former Cal Bears kicker and preseason Redskin and Raider was just strong enough that he seemed capable of winning an Individual Immunity or two, but not so dangerous that everybody viewed him as a threat. And in a season of larger-than-life personalities prone to extended shouting matches, he seemed level-headed and quiet. 

Naturally, that was a combination of factors that caused people to start talking about him as the eventual winner and that's the kind of talk that can get you blindsided and on Wednesday's episode, Carolyn led a flip on her old partner and Tyler was sent home.

The way Tyler explains it now, he was actually prepared to flip on Carolyn this week as well, except that she won Individual Immunity and couldn't be touched. He sounds disappointed, though, that he was so surprised to be leaving that he didn't get to stir up some drama as he left.

In his exit interview, Tyler talks about Rodney's birthday, the votes he was expecting were his and his decision to portray himself as an "ex-talent agent's assistant" rather than going into depth on his background.

I wanted to ask Tyler about his role in the Will-Shirin blow-up, but Tyler gave long enough and thoughtful enough answers that I ran out of time. Apologies!

Click through for the full Q&A...

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Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'In It To Win It'

Dancing, brick-building and paddling make for an arduous Led
<p>Jelani and Jenny of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Jelani and Jenny of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Hey! Look at that! 

"The Amazing Race" is, indeed, capable of making at least minor corrections.

Last season's penultimate episode was, if you'll recall, a bit of a logical mess. 

Brooke & Robbie, who I've mostly forgotten, finished first, but got nothing for their trouble, because it was a "Keep On Racing..." Leg. Amy & Maya finished last and not only were they not eliminated and not only did they not face a Speed-Bump in the next Leg because it was a "Keep On Racing..." Leg rather than a Non-Elimination Leg, but they went on to win, becoming one of the two or three least dominant "Amazing Race" winners ever.

It was stupid. Because the last Leg always begins with travel back to the United States and is usually an Equalizer, Brooke & Robbie didn't win a prize as the winners of the Leg, didn't get a time advantage and basically did a Leg of activities for nothing, while finishing last didn't penalize Amy & Maya in any way and they were even essentially rewarded because the subsequent Equalizer erased whichever deep hole the Food Scientists often found themselves in. 

At least Friday (May 8) night's "Amazing Race" episode, featuring the penultimate Leg of this season, corrected a piece of that...

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Recap: 'Survivor: Worlds Apart' - 'Holding on For Dear Life'

How far would one man go to have his birthday properly celebrated?
<p>Rodney of &quot;Survivor: Worlds Apart&quot;</p>

Rodney of "Survivor: Worlds Apart"

Credit: CBS

Pre-credit sequence. Shirin is gone, but thanks to Mike, last week's Tribal had some amusement and it's time to see what the ripples are. Everybody's trying to figure out who voted for who, with Mike cackling all the way. The Six go off into the jungle to scramble, which Mike loves, even if he wasn't invited. He knows he's safe with his Idol, so The Six will have to cannibalize. Dan is ranting and raving about knowing it was a bluff, while Tyler is trying to lecture Dan on basic strategy. "It's fine," Dan says, putting his hand on Tyler's chest in a threatening manner. Clueless Will is trying to explain to Dan why he voted for him and Dan also reassures him, in a Low-Rent Godfather kinda way. "I don't have too many lifelines remaining," Tyler says, vowing to vote for Dan again if he needs to.

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Recap: 'American Idol' Season 14 - Performances, Hometown Visits and Elimination

A jam-packed episode lets the judges, Scott Borchetta and the Idols choose
<p>The &quot;American Idol&quot; Season 14 Top 4</p>

The "American Idol" Season 14 Top 4

Credit: FOX

After last week's screwy episode, all bets are off on how Wednesday's (May 6) episode of "American Idol" will handle its performances and its elimination.

In theory, we've got three performances coming up from each contestant tonight, but will we get three performances from the Top 3 following a mid-show elimination? If that's the case, does that mean that one contestant will have gotten the visit home, but will still be booted without singing thrice? Or will we have 12 performances and four Hometown Visit clip packages, even though one singer was effectively a Dead Idol Walking on that visit, having already been eliminated by the voting, even if they didn't know it?

I have no clue. 

Click through and follow along as I inevitably become increasingly frustrated and eventually angry...

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Interview: Shirin Oskooi talks 'Survivor: Worlds Apart'

Why is Shirin sure she had the votes to win if she hadn't been voted out?
<p>Shirin of &quot;Survivor: Worlds Apart&quot;</p>

Shirin of "Survivor: Worlds Apart"

Credit: CBS

On last week's "Survivor: Worlds Apart," several castaways talked about talking much-maligned underdog Shirin Oskooi to the end because of the assumption that nobody would vote for her.

This was crazy-talk and I figured Shirin would have been a lock for at least four votes.

"Five, bro! I had five Jury votes bro, five," Shirin was quick to tell me when we spoke after Wednesday's "Survivor."

Of course, the fact that we were speaking on Thursday meant that Shirin would actually be receiving zero Jury votes, because she was sent to join the Jury herself in a vote that at least had drama thanks to an Idol bluff from Mike. Sensing an inevitable vote against Shirin, Mike feigned like he was going to give the former White Collar member his Hidden Immunity Idol and suggested the ruling alliance would be wise to cannibalize itself. Mike's move caused a couple surprise votes to go against Dan, but he opted not to actually give Shirin his Idol and she went home.

Shirin still insists she didn't expect Mike's Idol and says that the minor upheaval was, itself, a small victory for Team Shirin.

In general, despite a number of unpleasant "Survivor" interactions, with the aforementioned Dan and more dramatically with Will, Shirin sounds positive about her overall experience.

She's very candid about the mistakes she made in over-aligning with fellow superfan Max to start the season and how she'll be a better player if she gets a chance at Cochran-esque redemption.

Oh and who was the fifth vote she was counting on?

You'll have to read Shirin's whole exit interview below...

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Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'Fruits of our Labor'

The teams head to Peru and experience a lot of potatoes
<p>&quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

"The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

I've been reflecting on Friday (May 1) night's "The Amazing Race" for nearly 20 minutes now and I have to admit this: I have basically nothing to say.

So... Kudos, "The Amazing Race," for cutting together an episode so full of redundant, deja vu moments that I have very little desire to rant or rave or analyze. 

Another episode built around awkwardly wedged in product placement? Sure, why not? Yeah, we've been steadily plugging FitBit all season long, but why not throw in literally the least visually stimulating challenge built around the little fitness bracelets? Yes, tonight's math equation challenge was dull, but it was still less cringeworthy than what "Amazing Race" did with Ford and Travelocity this season. Whatever grace the show once had with product plugs has vanished and now I just cringe whenever a brand name is mentioned. But that's not new. It's been happening all season long.

Another episode built around the amusingly unpleasant interactions between Hayley and Blair? Sure, why not. I don't know how much of it is editing, but you can pretty much take to the bank that every episode is going to have at least one situation in which Blair marches ahead determinedly wrong or stubborn as Hayley runs 10 feet behind him protesting that they went past the correct turn/direction/location previously, with Blair totally ignoring Hayley's yapping and Hayley eventually being vindicated. And Friday's episode started with a vintage passive-aggressive bit of shunning from Blair and the same annoying-but-totally-justified mewling from Hayley. But that's not new. It's been happening all season. [At least Friday's episode also showcased Blair's strengths.]

And another episode in which the team working from the back of the pack never really had a chance to get back into the competition and departed with a drama-free whimper? Yeah, that's happened nearly every week this season. In a season without big, high stakes Detours and Roadblocks, it's been impossible for any pair to either succeed astoundingly at something or fail horrifyingly at something. I assume the producers were going for parity and they achieved it at the top, where three of the four remaining teams have won two Legs apiece and the other team has one Leg, but in negating the chances for excellence, you also negate the chances for failure and you're left without chances for big moves. That's not new. It's been happening all season.

And boy oh boy this all made Friday's Leg a bore.

More after the break...

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Recap: 'Survivor: Worlds Apart' - 'Survivor Russian Roulette'

Dan says stupid things, Will says nothing and Mike produces some drama
<p>&quot;Survivor: Worlds Apart&quot;</p>

"Survivor: Worlds Apart"

Credit: ABC

Pre-credit sequence. I already miss Jenn. Sigh. No matter what Mike tried to say at Tribal, Dan doesn't believe he's at the bottom of his alliance, insisting once again that beneath his seemingly passive game lurk schemes. Still waters, as we say, run Dan. Taking a break from brow-beating her about her stupidity, Dan is feigning sympathy toward Shirin, who feels like she was verbally assaulted by Will in the previous episode. She says she isn't a crier, but she has a Pavlov's Dog response to men attacking her, a thought that makes Shirin cry again. "All this drama makes Will an excellent person to take to the end," Shirin also laments to us. Putting on the hangdog of hangdoggiest expressions, Dan tells Shirin that he's sorry about what went down at Tribal. Do we believe a word out of Dan's mouth? Well, let's see what he tells the camera. "Shirin is a drama queen. She is a two-faced liar. She loves to play the victim," he says, basically telling us that while he's sorry for her in some tiny way, it was karma. That is to say, "She deserved it." Bleep you, Dan. Bleep you!

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Recap: 'American Idol' Season 14 - Judges' Hometowns & Soul Performances

After two performances apiece, who was sent home?
<p>&quot;American Idol&quot; Season 14 Top 5</p>

"American Idol" Season 14 Top 5

Credit: FOX

Welcome to another "American Idol" night with a confusing theme.

Per FOX, "the finalists will perform two songs – one connected to the judges’ hometowns, and the other a song that defines their 'soul.'"

So the first theme means anything from or related to anything related to New York, New Orleans or Whangarei, New Zealand? Or are we pretending still that Keith Urban's hometown is Nashville? 

And the second theme means... Absolutely anything, right?

Fair enough, I guess... Let's get to blogging!

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 280 - 'Penny Dreadful,' 'Good Wife'

Dan and Alan also talk 'Mad Men,' reality TV and the designated hitter
Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 280 - 'Penny Dreadful,' 'Good Wife'
Credit: AMC


Happy Tuesday, Boys & Girls! It's time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast!

We podcasted late last week, Friday in fact, so it probably seems like we just had one of these. And we did!

But we've got a great "Mad Men" episode to talk about! And the return of Showtime's "Penny Dreadful."

And since new things are a bit light, we did our first Dan's Reality Roundup in a while and we answered mail including talk about this week's "The Good Wife" and... The Designated Hitter.

Here's today's breakdown:
"Penny Dreadful" (00:01:00 - 00:14:05)
Dan's Reality Roundup (00:14:05 - 00:41:15)
Listener Mail: Kalinda & Alicia on "The Good Wife" (00:41:35 - 53:30)
Listener Mail: The Designated Hitter (00:53:35 - 01:04:30)
"Mad Men" - "Time & Life" (01:04:35 - 01:34:00)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed or subscribe on IHeartRadio.] 


And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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Why reality TV needs Bruce Jenner

Bruce Jenner's transition will make for compelling TV
<p>Bruce Jenner</p>

Bruce Jenner

Credit: AP

Bruce Jenner's two-hour ABC special on Friday night was remarkable for many different reasons. The obvious is that it was the most high-profile illustration of gender identity and a life-long struggle, exploring something that's difficult for many to understand. Bruce Jenner's pain was clear, but so was his desire to tell his story and embrace the future.

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