Courtney Yates is the Howard Cosell of Survivor. Courtney can turn a mundame moment into a highlight on The Soup just by providing the play-by-play. Heroes vs. Villains has been an exceptional season, but it was even better when Courtney was given time to do her thing. I'm already looking forward to her jury questions.
I asked Courtney about her bickering with Jeff Probst, the tribal romances, Rupert's drooling, the Outback Steakhouse reward and the Life in Ponderosa series. Her answers were predictablly dry and witty.
Courtney, we barely saw you until last week's episode. Were you being quiet and demure the whole time?
I think I was not a part of the main arc of the Russell story that they're telling. Thems is the breaks. There are a lot of people who that happened to. Sandra, Tyson, a lot of random people. Cirie. That's just the way the story gets told.
Last week you reprimanded Jeff Probst. Were you just messing with him, or did you really feel like he was playing favorites at Tribal Council?
That's just Jeff Probst's revisionist history, where he wants to tell you how things happened when you know it's not true - implying I voted out Rob, which is ridiculous. Rob was my alliance and I didn't vote for him, but that's cool. But he's very torn because he loves Rob oh so much, but he loves Russell oh so much too. You can't afford to offend Russell by implying that Russell voted out Rob and that that's the reason we're failing, so he had to blame me.
But everyone else was there!
We were all there, but what actually happened and what actually makes it to Jeff's retelling of the show are too separate things. But I've got a lot of love for Jeff. He's a funny little guy.
Grade school gossip time! Coach likes Jerri, but does Jerri like Coach back?
I think Jerri likes anyone who likes Jerri. So yes, she likes Coach; but then we she saw that we all thought he was so [inaudible] she didn't like him as much. I thought they were a cute couple. They're cut out for one another. They're both sort of ridiculous and iconic in their own way. I was very much in favor of the romance between The Dragon Slayer and The Black Widow.
So it's not unrequited love? Because it's hard to tell.
Well, he'd ask her to take walks down the beach with him, and she'd act really put out. But we all knew she felt like the prettiest girl at the dance. I was hoping for a full blown romance. I think maybe if they get enough attention they'll go for it outside the game. They might get noticed more together than they would apart. They can be like Survivor Speidi. I would totally buy those magazines. I love it.
Joach or Coaerri? I'll have to work on that. Speaking of romances, what's up with Russell and Parvati? Isn't Russell married?
Who knows what Russell's doing? As far as I know he's setting fire to hospitals and orphanages, and spraying machine guns at puppies. I'm sure he's doing something awful.
Who is the shrewdest, smartest, most challenging player you've competed against in your two seasons?
Todd, my little man from my first season. He owned that game from beginning to end. He loved it. And I got a front row seat to it. I really think he's the best.
So you would put Todd in front of Boston Rob or Russell?
[She searches for a delicate way to say this] Yes! He plays a great social game, doesn't ruffle anyone's feathers. Todd is one of the best players ever. A lot of players respect him. He doesn't have the strength that the other guys you mentioned do, but he's just fine without it. Survivor isn't American Gladiators. He's my size. He's a tiny little guy, but it doesn't matter. Nobody thinks about that.
Fair enough! So was the endurance challenge as painful as it looked, or did your size help with the pressure on your feet?
I don't weigh very much and I run around and wait on tables [for a living.] I wear uncomfortable shoes and run around for ten hours at a time, so standing on some pegs was not really that difficult.
Rupert seemed to be having a pretty hard time. Maybe he wouldn't last as a waitress.
If he sweated into everyone's plate like he did the camera, then no. He'd last about a minute. I heard they had to get rid of that camera. No one would get out there and clean it in Samoa.
Yes, he was slobbering on it like a rabid dog.
It was a biohazard. People were like, "Oh my God!"
The Outback Steakhouse reward: You guys starved for 24 days and then you ate a salad?
They forced us to eat it in courses as part of the product placement to promote the restaurant. If I were you I wouldn't criticize it because it does not go over well. Not that I'd have any experience with that! But I hear you get a stern talking to if you criticize the reward. You've got to be like, "It was great! I loved my salad!"
I'm sure they loved Sandra. Sandra should do commercials.
I know! Well, it's funny, because around camp we had all been talking about Outback. I used to live above one. Rob liked to go to them everywhere. We would always talk about it endlessly. Then we won it and one of our production guys was like, "I can't believe you won! We just talked about it the other day. I'm so proud of you guys!" We were craving Outback before we even knew it was one of our rewards.
I was craving it! So would you play again, and again and again, if they asked?
I don't think so. I think America has seen the best of what Courtney has to offer. I don't particularly think we need to be back again and again and - Whatever. I don't think anyone would care.
Aww! I enjoyed watching you!
Thanks! Well, if you enjoyed watching me you should watch me and Coach at Life at Ponderosa!
I'll have to check that out.
[Correcting me] No, it's funny! We did a lot of creative things together. It's gonna be really different from all of the other Life at Ponderosas you'll see, I'm tell'n ya. Basically we're hoping that our show eclipses Heroes and Villains, and nobody cares about the show anymore, all they want is more Coach Wade.
They'll have to put Life at Ponderosa on network and Heroes vs. Villains on CBS.com.
Last time we talked you told me that none of your customers at the Coffee Shop in Union Square, where you work, ever recognize you. Is that still the case?
Yeah, but that's the market. I'm sure if I worked somewhere like Ohio people would recognize me. But hip New Yorkers are not necessarily paying attention. Sorry, CBS! Sorry! There goes my invitation for the third time anyway!
(Image courtesy of CBS)
-Interview by Henry Jenkins