‘Survivor: South Pacific’: a chat with Keith Tollefson, Jim Rice

Keith and Jim are gone.

We finally have our first two jury members on “Survivor,” and Keith Tollefson and Jim Rice both seem to be happy about their time on the show — and also seem to have their wounds healed a bit after Cochran flipped after the merge and doomed his whole tribe.

Before we get this interview started, we might as well put an addendum on here when it comes to those looking for relationship news — Keith’s opting not to talk about the Whitney Duncan romance rumors until the finale.

With that, we have our interview along with a few assorted notes.

Carter: Jim, you played the game pretty much all-out — but looking back on things now, is there any move you wish you had made?

Jim: Going into the merge, I thought I was in the best position on our tribe. I loved where I was sitting. I had Cochran and Dawn on one side, and I think I had Keith and Whitney on the other — I also had that common eventual enemy of Ozzy. Our big target.

I’ve had six months to daydream about what I could have done and should have done, but there are a couple of times where I feel like as a team we should’ve made more of an assertive effort to go after individuals. I tried to go after Rick and he wouldn’t flip … but I feel like we should have made a bigger push there. I also think we should have went in strong, kind of like Coach did … we tried to get a little bit too fancy with it, and it ended us biting us in the butt.

I tried hard to get Coach [out] after Keith was voted out, and nobody wanted to go against Coach since he had the idol. I just want to know if any of these people have ever even watched ‘Survivor’ — you can vote somebody out if you have the idol! It happened to Ozzy. Even last season, it’s the same thing. They didn’t go after Rob because he had the idol. BFD! That’s when you go after him — it’s called the ‘blindside of the guy with the idol’ so that the idol comes back into play. I couldn’t get anybody to do it. It was pretty frustrating — I kind of felt for David and his tribe last season after we went through what we went through because it was eternally frustrating that not many people would listen to reason.

Keith, you really seemed to be the only person hesitant about Ozzy going to Redemption Island the first time. What do you think about that move now, and would you have ever made that decision?

There were scenarios where I knew that either me or Ozzy should go to Redemption, and I was more than willing to offer myself as well. [The only difference] was that I was not willing to offer myself up for someone who didn’t deserve it. I didn’t think Cochran deserved to have someone fighting his battles for him … he’d been saved before, and it was so tiresome basically dragging him along all the way to that point, and then having him be 100% a liability. [Cochran messing with the ropes] was a pivotal point of why we lost the ‘Jack and Jill’ challenge. He panicked. I was tired of defending him and I had stood up for him.

Based on what I’ve seen on TV, Ozzy was already making plans before the challenge even happened. That was Ozzy’s plan to further himself in the game — he knew he would win, and he would kind of come back and potentially be the leader of the tribe again. He lost that status when we voted off Elyse — he thought it was his tribe and then that I was calling the shots, and that really wasn’t true. He was going to go to Redemption to build back up his star power. I didn’t agree with it because I thought Cochran should go, and if I truly believed he was going to lose, I thought we would get Christine. That was a move I wanted to make.

So one final thing — if Jeff Probst came to your door and asked you to play again, would you?

Jim (laughs): Who would answer no? (Note: Shambo actually did say after “Samoa” she would never play again, even for five million dollars.)

Keith: I don’t think you’d have to beg. Everyone would love to come back. You get to leave all your worries and your troubles behind, go to more than likely a beautiful place, and play the game for a million dollars.

As for some other notes, Keith actually said that Cochran would have ended up in the final three in just about any scenario if he stuck with Savaii and did not draw a purple rock — and Jim said the reason for the Elyse blindside was to keep Ozzy from having a Natalie (in Elyse) and a Phillip (in Cochran) like Rob did last year.

Who are you rooting for now?

Photo: CBS

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