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Russell Got... Well, You Know
December 28

Also available as a podcast. Click to listen!

We start this week with the Survivor Finale. Let's see how we got there first. The five left were Mick, Brett, Jaison, Russell and Natalie. In the first immunity challenge, Brett wins his 3rd immunity in a row and Jaison gets voted out. In the final immunity challenge with the final four, Russell Hantz wins his first and only immunity by outlasting Brett in a pole balancing stunt. Brett was voted out and the final jury got to decide between Mick, Russell and Natalie.

Russell was cocky and confident and thought he was getting a million. But the jury didn't agree and voted 7-2-0 to give Natalie White, a 26-year-old pharmaceutical sales rep the title of Sole Survivor and the million dollar check that goes along with it. John and Shambo were the only people who voted for Russell to get the cash. He did receive $100,000 as the Sprint Player of the Season, which was voted on by the fans.


The reaction was instant and swift. Most people felt that Russell was the best player and Natalie rode his coattails to victory. Even Jeff Probst on his Entertainment Weekly blog thought so. He wrote: "I think Russell was the victim of a jury of bitter people. I am not taking anything away from Natalie, she clearly did a great job of reading the group dynamic of the jury and as a result she deserves the money. Oftentimes on Survivor, the vote does come down to a choice where a determining factor is “how nice someone is” but that’s usually when all other criteria being considered is equal. That doesn’t hold up this season. This season was so lopsided in terms of one person (Russell) completely dominating the game that to not give him the money and the title is a bit silly. If I were playing Survivor, no matter how much I despised someone, if they kicked my ass in the game I would give it to them. Period. Outwit. Outplay. Nobody outwitted or outplayed Russell. Not even close."

He continues: "Q. Did Natalie play a better game than Russell? A: For me, that’s a bit easier to answer. I do not think that Natalie played a better game, but rather was the right person in the right position who made one very good strategic move and that was to stay out of Russell’s way, and as a result she ended up with the money. But to be fair – a very good counter argument is that Natalie used her strengths, avoided her weaknesses and by taking this active approach to the game, she put herself in position to win the money and it paid off. It’s a counter argument, but not one that I’m that fond of supporting."

Although he was upset at the reunion special, Russell does have a sense of humor. He opened a website the night before the live finale called Any vote or t-shirt sale will have a part of the proceeds donated to St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

I agree with Jeff. I don’t care if this is supposed to be a social game. Russell stayed true to the Survivor credo. He outwitted, outlasted, and outplayed everyone in the Survivor: Samoa cast. They were exactly how Russell characterized them: easily manipulated babies who were bitter they got played. The vote wasn't for Natalie, it was against Russell.

Don't feel too bad for Russell. He is rumored to be getting a 2nd bite at the million-dollar apple. "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains" premieres February 11, 2010 and is the 20th edition of the show. It's also the 3rd All-Star Edition of the show, after Survivor: All-Stars and Survivor: Fans v. Favorites. Russell and 19 other past contestants get another chance be named Sole Survivor.

This season was a classic Survivor season. Russell was hated by some, loved by most and has a huge advantage if he is going to go back to Samoa to play one more time. "Heroes v. Villains" is going to be a Survivor Fan's dream season. I can't wait for it.

American Idol fans better start preparing for the end of Simon Cowell's run on the show. And the person who let this cat out of the bag was Simon's Brother Tony. According to multiple sources, Tony Cowell said this on his podcast called "Fame Game": "Meanwhile, Simon prepares for a new season of ‘Idol,’ or should I say his last season of ‘Idol’ – OK, I will, because it is. “As I sit here in the sunny Caribbean with my family, a press statement is being prepared which will confirm what everyone expected: Simon will leave ‘Idol’ at the end of 2010 to concentrate on bringing the American version of ‘The X Factor’ to U.S. TV in 2011.”

That is a HUGE bombshell if true. I know Cowell loves to control how information gets out, but if his brother leaked this months before it happened this could be a huge blow to the Fox Franchise. Or, looking at it cynically, the Cowell brothers let it leak on purpose as a negotiating ploy to get Cowell on board for even more cash. Either way, Simon Cowell is going to be on a lot of people's lips in 2010.

Block Party Quick Hits time:

--Congratulations to Nota, who won the Sing-Off.

--GSN has marathons of Family Feud, Deal or No Deal, and 1 v.100 to tide you through the holidays.

--On December 31st, The Price is Right will have a "Best of 2009" prize laden show.

--Wheel and Jeopardy get mobile updates in the 1st Quarter of 2010. Catch 21 for GSN is a free Iphone App and XBOX Live members get a free 1 v. 100 trial during Christmas week.

--Mark Burnett talks "Our Little Genius".

--CBS announced its midseason schedule. The 16th version of "Amazing Race" returns on February 14th. As stated earlier, "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains" comes back on February 11th. And there will be a best-of Survivor special called "Surviving Survivor" the week before.

--Condolences go out to the family of Alaina Reed Hall and Connie Dixon who passed away this week.

--Joey Fatone, formerly of the Singing Bee, is going to be a father for the 2nd time.

--Trista Rehn thinks that a lot more people are going on shows like The Bachelor and the Bachelorette to get more public screen time. "The show is a little tainted now," the 37-year-old mother of two told E! Online. "People know the right things to say and do, and how to act. When we were on it, it was more innocent, it came from a pure place...I'm sure many people go on now to be a part of the public eye."

--In a story with a huge ick factor, Shane Sparks, a judge on MTV's America's Best Dance Crew, has been arrested and charged with nine counts of child molestation.

--This one is not so icky. Jamie Edmonson, who finished 2nd in Season 14 of the Amazing Race is Miss January 2010 in Playboy.

--Fox has said no to the UK import "The Cube".

--February 1 brings us Season 2 of "The Cake Off" and "RuPaul's Drag Race".

-- Donald Trump will host "Donald J. Trump's Fabulous World of Golf," premiering April 26 on Golf Channel. Trump will host the show, where pro golfers, athletes and celebrities will compete head-to-head for their favorite charities on various Trump-owned golf courses around the country.

Jason Block is currently making up his Team Russell shirt. E-mail him at