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The Doctor Is Still In: An Interview with Sean Kenniff of the Original Survivorby Andrea Shuman -- 10/06/2003
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Ever wonder what the inventor of the alphabet voting strategy and the Superpole 2000 is up to these days? Turns out that Dr. Sean is the chief medical reporter for the CBS affiliate WFOR in Miami. And if you’re looking for the typical angst and bitterness of a reality TV show participant after his fifteen minutes of fame are up, skip this article. Here is a guy truly happy with who he is and where his life is heading.
Andrea: Sean, thanks for talking to us at RealityNewsOnline today.
Sean: You’re welcome. I’m more than happy to do it.
Andrea: Please bring us up to date with you. What are you doing and how did you get there?
Sean: Well, it’s an interesting story. After Survivor was over, I was practicing medicine just like before, when I was approached by Extra, the TV magazine show. Seems they were expanding the show’s format and going from merely entertainment reporting to including health news as well. They wanted me to be their medical reporter. While the show eventually reverted back to all info-taiment, I was with them long enough to get some good experience at TV journalism. I got an agent, worked hard, and eventually ended up here in Miami at WFOR.
Andrea: So, being connected with CBS because of Survivor really helped you then, didn’t it?
Sean: You’d think so, but that’s not the reality of the situation. Being connected with CBS works against a former Survivor cast member if they want to get into the industry.
Andrea: Why is that?
Sean: CBS is in the business of putting on hit shows, not building careers. So, while the current season of Survivor is running, sure… CBS will help promote you and do things to make you more visible. But, if you are STILL visible when the next season of Survivor rolls around, then you are a liability. You are taking away press time from the current crop of cast members and the network will do what it can to make people think of you as “yesterday’s news.” Because, to them, you are yesterday’s news.
I’m not dumping on the network, because they’re only doing their jobs. But this is the reality of the situation. If you aren’t on a current show, then a former reality show contestant is a pain in the neck to a network.
Andrea: But you’re at a CBS affiliate now!
Sean: Yes, but that had less to do with the network and more to do with the affiliate itself. Because I was associated with the number one show in the country, I’m sure it tipped the scales in my favor when WFOR decided to hire me. It wasn’t the network’s doing in any way.
However, things have really worked out for the best. I do stories that are picked up by CBS network news and I’m writing for the Miami Herald and local magazines. I love my job and my co-workers are great, too. What more could I ask for?
But you have to keep in mind that this started because of Extra, not because of any contacts I made at CBS while being on Survivor. Back then, I was just “Sean.” It was Extra that made me “Dr.” Sean. No one called me “Dr.” Sean while I was on Survivor.
Also, being a medical reporter has helped distance me from the lunacy of reality TV. I’m very proud of the work I’m doing now. I have an ability to affect people’s lives. It’s taken a lot to beat back the reality TV identification.
Andrea: Well, I hope we don’t ruin all the good work you’ve done in creating a new TV identity for yourself, but since this is RealityNewsOnline, I really do have to ask you about reality television.
Sean: (laughing) I understand! Go right ahead!
Andrea: What do you watch on TV these days?
Sean: In all honesty, I’m a big, big fan of… reality TV. I think scripted shows just seem so fake in comparison. I really enjoy The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, and I liked the first season of American Idol.
Andrea: And what about Survivor? Have you been keeping up with it in all its incarnations?
Sean: I was a big fan of Survivor 1 (of course) and Survivor 2. I did managed to catch a bit of Survivor 3. But now, I’m back into this current season of Survivor: Pearl Islands in a big way. I’m loving it!
Andrea: Who’s your favorite cast member this season?
Sean: Rupert, without a doubt. He’s great; I’d describe him as a benevolent Richard Hatch.
Andrea: Speaking of Richard, do you keep in touch with him?
Sean: Of all my former castmates, Richard and I are the closest. We speak to each other at least once a month. He’s a really good guy, very honest and caring. He also can be annoying as hell, but at least he admits it.
Andrea: What’s he up to these days?
Sean: Richard is just looking for love, like the rest of us. Most of our conversations are about this very subject. But he also can be fairly secretive about what’s going on in his life. I know that he did mention “Super Survivor” the last time we talked.
Andrea: Is that confirmed? Will there be an All-Star Survivor and will Rich be on it?
Sean: He didn’t give me much info. I get the feeling he’s still in negotiations, but he’s quite interested in it. Like I said, he’s closed-mouthed when he wants to be.1 2 Next-->
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