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The Doctor Is Still In: An Interview with Sean Kenniff of the Original SurvivorPage 2
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Andrea: How do you think the cast of Survivor 1 would fare among the later casts?
Sean: Actually, I’d think we’d do very well. Keep in mind; during our time on the island, we were convinced no one would watch this show. We were all very naïve and raw. We had no clue that what we were doing would change the nature of TV programming forever. But that’s exactly what happened.
Now, all the casts are very self-aware, and sometimes they degenerate into vicious free-for-alls. I don’t think you could ever recreate that genuine sense of awe we had that first season. So, if you put all of us back out there now, we’d be just as competitive and vicious as the later casts.
Andrea: Sean, I must ask… what was the deal with the Alphabet Voting Strategy? [Author’s note: During the show, Sean had announced to everyone on the island that at all tribal councils, he would vote off people in alphabetical order. To the viewing audience, this made no sense, thus turning Sean’s Alphabet Plan into an object of great derision.]
Sean: What people don’t understand was, I was trying to win! I needed the million dollars to pay off my student loans!
Andrea: How in the world would an alphabet strategy help you do that?
Sean: All right, let me try to explain. First, I realized that the only way I could win was to set up a Rich/Sean finale. I couldn’t win against Gervase, the guy with three kids. I couldn’t win against Jenna, the mom with two kids. I couldn’t win against truck driver Sue or veteran Rudy. I’m a doctor, so that means I supposedly didn’t need the money as much as these other guys did. I could only win against Rich.
Andrea: I’m with you so far.
Sean: Okay. So, if I let everyone know I was voting alphabetically, I could accomplish three things:
In other words, I could be part of the alliance without being officially in the alliance, thus avoiding ticking off the jury at the final tribal council.
Andrea: This sounds far more sophisticated than we were led to believe. The show was edited so the idea seemed wimpy and dorky, and not part of a grand strategy.
Sean: That was also my doing. I knew that during the one-on-one interviews, the producers asked the cast questions derived from previous interviews. For example, if Sue said something negative about Gervase, they’d go and ask Gervase, “Do you really believe Sue’s a nice person?” I didn’t want to give the producers any clue as to what my thinking was, so they couldn’t give it away to the others.
Andrea: Ah ha! Clever!
Sean: Well, I thought so. Unfortunately, this meant the producers couldn’t give it away to the viewers, either. (Laughing)
Andrea: One last question, Sean. Whatever happened to The Superpole 2000?
Sean: Arrggh! The Superpole! Kelly and Rich burned it that last day, along with the rest of the camp!
Andrea: You’re kidding!
Sean: Seriously. And you know what? Planet Hollywood contacted me about that pole! Or I could’ve auctioned it off for charity! I still can’t believe that jerk Rich burned it!
Andrea: But I thought he was your pal. Haven’t you forgiven him?
Sean: Oh, of course. Rich is a great guy, and it’s all over and done with. But still… when I think about the Superpole… [groaning in mock pain]
Andrea: Any last thoughts you’d like to leave our readers with?
Sean: When I went on Survivor, I had an idea it would be good for me, and it’s paid off in spades. I have a wonderful job, great friends, an awesome girlfriend, Esther; and my life is going very well. But if it all collapsed tomorrow, I’d at least be able to go back to neurology.
So reality TV has been great for me. I’d say that if you have a built-in angle, like being a doctor or another skill like that, reality TV could open a lot of doors for you. However, if you’re just one more “wannabe” without another talent to fall back on, merely being a reality TV contestant isn’t going to do much for you in the end.
Andrea: Wise words. RealityNewsOnline thanks you for your time, Sean. It was wonderful talking to you.
Sean: My pleasure, Andrea. Thanks for your interest!
Andrea Shuman and RealityNewsOnline sincerely thank Dr. Sean Kenniff for his time. We also thank WFOR’s Assistant News Director Steve Yavner for his assistance in putting us in touch with Dr. Sean. You can reach Andrea with any questions or comments at ABostonGal@yahoo.com.
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