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Thread: Long Island Press Hires Rob Cesternino

  1. #1
    LI Press

    Long Island Press Hires Rob Cesternino

    The Long Island Press Hires
    Survivor’s Rob Cesternino
    As Weekly Columnist

    GARDEN CITY, NY… Rob Cesternino, 24, who recently wowed 20 million television viewers each week on Survivor is joining the award-winning news weekly, Long Island Press, as a columnist. His column, "The Player," will feature Rob's winning wit in a mix of general interest topics, humor and advice. Rob, who is from Wantagh, Long Island, has a background in journalism and a degree in broadcasting.

    "When we saw Rob on Survivor, he was articulate, witty and self-confident and that often translates into someone being a good writer,” says Robbie Woliver, Press Editor-in-Chief. “But he also has a journalism and broadcasting background, so it was a no-brainer. He was such a typical Long Island wise-ass, how could we not offer him this opportunity." Rob, a member of the season-six Amazon cast, is one of the series' most popular cast members, and has been called show's best-ever player.

    "I'm very excited to embark on this new adventure,” says Cesternino. “I may have been the biggest liar on television to the other Survivor players, but look at who’s in journalism. With this Jayson Blair cloud hanging over the newspaper world, I just might be the guy to make journalism safe again. I look forward to bringing that edge with me to the Long Island Press."

    In the first of a two-part story published this week (June 5), Rob's column launches with a cover story, in which he gives the lowdown on his time in the Amazon. In an accompanying story, "Island Girl Meets Jungle Boy," Press’ columnist Amy Fisher interviews Rob.

  2. #2
    LI Press

  3. #3

    I was very interested to hear this... so naturally I looked up the site and found this!

    Now we know why Rob has been so tight lipped (relatively) about his experiences in the Amazon... he was saving up for this MONSTER write-up!

    Very, very cool of the Long Island Press to step up and hire this brilliant & humorous man! Bravo!

    Funny also how they list his email address, which they have to I guess, but I'll bet it's going to be bombarded by fanmail as word of this gets out.






    Survivor: My Adventure

    Part One of a Two Part Series
    By Rob Cesternino


    My name is Rob and I'm 24 years old. I grew up in Wantagh and went to college upstate at SUNY Oswego. I used to work in Garden City doing computer work for an insurance general agency. My life was pretty ordinary until last fall. That's when I went on the adventure of a lifetime in the Amazon rainforest and came within one inch of walking away with one million dollars.

    Every season of CBS' Survivor finds 16 new Americans placed in exotic locales without any shelter and only the barest of essentials. The contestants battle each other for a period of 39 days, and every third day one person gets voted off the show by the tribe. These 16 people are selected from a pool of over 65,000 applicants. Survivor hopefuls send in an application and a three-minute videotape.

    My audition tape was a video of me writing a letter to the producers of Survivor. I did it the way people write letters on television or in movies—you can hear what they are thinking, but they aren't talking. I filmed it in my bedroom sitting at my desk. I had always watched too much television, and especially too much Survivor. When I told my friends and family I wanted to be on the show, I was often greeted with responses like "What do you know about surviving?" or "Have you lost your mind?" I wasn't exactly encouraged to go after my dream to be on my favorite television show. Nonetheless, I sent in my application, went through the casting process, and was subsequently selected for one of the 16 coveted spots.

    I don't know exactly why I was selected. I don't know what they saw in this Long Island kid. I think they thought that I would be funny on the show, but maybe they just thought it would be funny to watch this guy with zero survival skills try to get by in the jungle.

    When I told my parents that I was leaving Long Island to be on Survivor there were a lot of mixed emotions. They were very happy for me, but at the same time very afraid for my life. They knew that I wasn't really an outdoors kid. Most of my childhood was spent in front of a television. When most normal children are punished they are kept indoors; my mother would often threaten to punish me by sending me outdoors.

    My mom reminded me, "You know, they're going to keep you outside. There are going to be bugs..." It was a dream come true to go play Survivor and I wasn't going to let a few minor details stand in the way.


    I had all of my luggage and my one luxury item I was allowed to bring into the game: my Magic 8 Ball. My parents dropped me off at the airport at 5:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning. I think it was very difficult for them. I didn't know exactly what was in store for me, but I was excited about the adventure. My parents, on the other hand, would have to sit home and wait for me to come back to know if I was all right. That morning was kind of like being dropped off at college for the first time all over again. My dad helped me with my luggage and my mom gave me a hug, and before I knew it they were gone. I knew that for the next several weeks I was going to have to do this all alone.

    As I sat in the airport getting ready to board my plane, I looked into my carry-on bag. I found a greeting card. It was immediately aparrent that my mom had planted it in my bag before I had left the house. She wrote that they were so proud I was on the way to following my dream. She also said she had always been proud of me. My mom closed the letter by telling me she knew that I could do it. It was clear at that moment I wouldn't be able to let my mom down.

    I knew the game of Survivor inside and out. I had studied it for years. I had seen every episode of all previous five seasons (and many of the episodes more than once). I was aware of the names of every person ever on the show and the order they were kicked off and the reason why they were expelled. My knowledge of the show was beyond extensive; I had even written a 100-page honors senior thesis about the show. I knew how to play the game but I just wasn't sure how long I could last in the jungle.

    The time period between when I found out I was going to be on the show and when we actually left was about four weeks.

    I had time to prepare but I wasn't exactly sure how. At first, I thought to slow down my metabolism I would try to wean myself off a steady diet. After a few hours, I thought better of it and decided to get as fat as possible to have a food source to live off of when I would be starving. (I ended up losing 30 pounds in the Amazon.) I ate everything. When I wasn't eating triple cheeseburgers, I was making weight-gainer milkshakes with scoops of ice cream thrown in for good measure. By the end of the month I had gained 15 pounds and had gotten my body fat up to a whopping 15 percent.

    I did do some training with weights to get my strength up. I told myself I was getting bigger and more muscular, but it was probably just the milkshakes. I read a number of books before I left as well. I read books about Machiavelli, corporate leadership strategies and surviving in the wilderness. I felt ready to take on the world.

    After a couple of days in Brazil, the time had come for the game to begin. The other 15 contestants and I found ourselves on a riverboat sailing up the Amazon's Rio Negro. The show's host, Jeff Probst, explained the dangers of the area. In the water we were sailing lived schools of piranha, two-meter long Cayman crocodiles and the world's longest snake: the anaconda. In the jungle lurked the elusive jaguar, and insects that, if you ever saw them on Long Island, would make you board up your windows and secure them with duct tape.


    The game began with a twist; for the first time, it was going to be a battle of the sexes. I didn't know what to think at first. Personally, I was very happy to be on a team consisting of all men. I didn't know what I was doing in the jungle. I didn't know how to build a shelter, start a fire or catch fish. These are not skills a typical suburban kid would routinely pick up on Long Island. I was excited because I knew these guys would take care of me.

    I figured that out of the eight of us men, one of these guys is bound to know how to do these things. Survival-wise I felt very safe and secure, but game-wise I suddenly felt very vulnerable. On a team with seven other men, I was easily the weakest physically. I didn't know how I could contribute to this group. My strategy had changed from potentially being a leader of a mixed group to someone that would need to be a follower.

    We weren't given much; we each got a machete, some pots to cook with, fishing hooks and a barrel of flour made from a native root called manioc. With these barest of supplies we set out to set up a camp. We were fortunate that some of us had some know-how. Even though we were stranded in the middle of the Amazon, we were all excited to be there with each other. It was the ultimate male-bonding trip.

    The tribe of all men was an intriguing sociological experiment. We were the men of the jungle and we were proud. The macho men chopped down trees to build our manly shelter; nothing could escape our machete-wielding fury. We puffed out our chests and talked about how the women couldn't possibly beat us in the challenges unless the contest was a bake-off! We were the "He-man Woman Haters Club." I don't think that any of the men in the tribe act this way toward women in real life, but there wasn't one of us who wasn't guilty of the woman-bashing. I don't understand what had come over us, maybe it was the testosterone or maybe it was the heat. Either way, the men were overcome with a complete and utter superiority complex. It didn't last long.

    On the third day of our adventure we had our first challenge for immunity. On Survivor, the immunity challenge is held every third day and determines which tribe will have to vote off a member. Losing the challenge means that your tribe will be ensured a date with Jeff Probst later that evening at the Tribal Council. The first immunity challenge was an Amazon obstacle course which consisted of a number of obstacles and puzzles, such as a cargo net, rope bridge and a basic balance beam.

    When challenge began, the men got out to a big lead. As the men had split into two teams of four we quickly put together the puzzle. It looked as though my tribe would breeze to our first victory. The next obstacle was the balance beam, which nobody thought would be a problem. However, balance and grace are not traits that our all-male team possessed. I felt a lot of pressure while walking on the beam. I couldn't get out of my head the idea that all of the country was watching me. It really screwed me up in that competition. I later learned just to block everything out at the challenges.

    Our 10-minute lead in the challenge quickly evaporated when the last two members of our tribe couldn't get over the beam. Before we knew it, the women had blown past us and were on their way to the immunity challenge win.

    Words cannot describe the sense of shock and horror that overwhelmed the men's tribe. How did we lose to bunch of girls? What happened? Nobody had the answers. All I knew was that we were on our way to our first Tribal Council. I knew I wasn't getting voted off, so I was actually kind of excited to make the trip. After all, every Survivor-nerd secretly has always wanted to go to Tribal Council.

    As the days went by, the team of men continued to struggle. Our morale continued to worsen. The men had gone on to lose four out of the first five challenges for both immunity and for rewards. Eventually, the men got it together and by day 12 of the game there were six men remaining in our tribe and six women remaining in the other tribe.

    At the men's camp, the number-one topic of conversation was the women. There were three very attractive women on the girls' team: a blonde, a brunette and a curly haired redhead—Heidi, Jenna and Shawna, respectively. We would spend hours at nighttime talking about who had the best chance to get with these girls if we should ever have the chance. The other guys and myself took turns asking my Magic 8 Ball romantic questions about each of the girls.

    On Day 7, we finally had our chance. We had a reward challenge in which we could interact with the girls. It was Survivor meets The Dating Game. The girls ended up winning the challenge and their reward was a bunch of toiletries and beauty products. I joked that it was a win-win situation for the men, since we were rewarded by the girls looking nice and smelling clean. My compatriots and I imagined what could possibly have been going on at the girls' camp.

    We had no idea what had actually gone on until we returned home and saw the show, but in all of our sorority house/slumber party/girls' locker room wildest fantasies we would have never imagined what had actually taken place: The girls were bathing each other topless.


    On the 13th day, there was another twist in store for us. There was a shake-up and the tribes were shuffled and three men would go to the other tribe and three women would be coming to live at my camp. I found out that two of my fellow tribe mates, Alex and Matthew and I were selected to go live at the other camp. I didn't know what to expect at the women's camp, but I was eager to find out.

    When we arrived we met up with our new tribe mates—Deena, the 35-year-old deputy district attorney, Jenna, the beautiful 21-year-old swimsuit model and Shawna, the cute 23-year-old soccer player.

    As much as I enjoyed the company of the women there was nothing that could have prepared me for the conditions at the women's camp. The women had succeeded in the challenges, but they were losing the battles at home. The shelter was tiny and loosely thrown together, its roof leaked badly and the manioc supply had gone bad and was infested with mold and maggots.

    The women were happy to have us, and we were happy to be back in the company of the fairer sex. These first few days with the new tribe were my favorite in the game. One highlight was a communal bath we took. The TV camera caught my reaction: "I just took a bath with two hot chicks, one of whom is a swimsuit model. I'd like to repeat... I just took a bath with a swimsuit model!" While Alex and Matthew were somewhat distracted by the physical traits of Jenna and Shawna (and, to a large degree, so was I), it was the mind of the tough D.A., Deena, that caught my attention. She and I created a secret pact that nobody would suspect since she was a no-nonsense prosecutor and I was the class clown. Together though, nobody was more focused on the game.

    Alex, the 32-year-old triathlete, had begun a blossoming love affair with Shawna. Deena and I weren't crazy about such an alliance. After losing immunity on Day 18, we were forced to decide between voting off Shawna or Matthew, who was quickly losing his grasp on sanity. At Tribal Council, Deena and I got Jenna and Matthew to all vote for Shawna, much to the dismay of Alex. I think that Alex's head understood even though his heart didn't at the time.

    The following day saw the tribes merge into one. In every season of Survivor the tribes merge at some point. At this time the game changes from a team game to an individual one. Now the immunity challenges are individual as well, and only the winner is protected from the vote. Both tribes were down to five people each. Now we were one tribe of 10 living together.

    Our new home was an island in the river. We built our new shelter on the high ground. We knew that the Amazonian rainy season was quickly approaching. As the rainy season progressed, the rivers of the Amazon begin to rise and bring aquatic dangers even closer.

    At this time I got to meet Christy Smith. Christy is a 24-year-old children's adventure guide from Colorado. Christy is also deaf. She had a difficult time in the game when she was living with the women. She felt the younger girls never gave her a chance or took the time to understand her disability.

    But Christy never understood the other girls, either. I don't know if she came into the game looking for help from the other players, or if she simply wanted to make the other people understand what she has gone through. The truth is that many people weren't interested in either scenario. She was a competitor to each of us in the game, and there isn't always a time or a place in the game for that sort of humanitarianism. Survivor is a difficult game on your head and on your heart. Christy is an amazing person and I'm very happy to have gotten a chance to know her.


    The winner of Survivor is chosen from between the final two contestants by a jury of the seven previous contestants to be voted off. The game now becomes a question of how to vote people out while doing it in a way that potentially gets them to vote in your favor in the end.

    Deena and I maintained control of the game for a while. However, by day 25, Deena had become paranoid and corrupt with power. She targeted Alex for the next vote and tried to rally the votes necessary by going to Jenna, Jenna's best friend Heidi, and myself. She didn't realize that the girls had become more attached to Alex. Alex had won a reward challenge and selected Jenna to join him for coffee and cake. While Alex and Jenna were away, Deena went to me and Heidi to tell us the plan. However she underestimated Jenna and Heidi's closeness and upon their return Heidi told Jenna about the plan, and in turn Jenna told Alex. I knew that all of this spelled trouble for my alliance partner.

    Alex came to me and told me we had to vote off Deena. I didn't want to do it. I do know however that Survivor is a numbers game and Deena didn't have the numbers. I was caught between my loyalty to Deena and how I knew the vote was going to go. I never told Deena that I knew she was going to get voted out. I let her blindly go to her execution and even voted for her to go. I was hoping that if I made it to the end of the game that maybe she wouldn't know I had helped to vote her out. Deep inside, I knew she was too smart and would know that the knife in her back had my fingerprints on it. Up until this point in the game I had done some bad things. I had lied and I was manipulative, but I had never broken a promise to anyone. When I voted out Deena, the gloves came off and I told myself that there was nothing I wouldn't do to win this game.


    When Deena was voted out there were only seven players left. I had so many deals on the table I had lost count. I was in a solid alliance to go to the final four players with Alex, Jenna and Heidi. I had a faux alliance with the delusional Matthew (who had been losing his mind steadily for several weeks) and his counterpart, the 50-year-old principal, Butch. I had even made a solid friendship with Christy.

    Alex, Jenna, Heidi and I felt powerful in our position. There were four of us and there were only three other players. We even began to take off from doing our fair share of work around the camp. I actually encouraged this behavior from the group. We were going to vote off Matthew next, and he had no idea.

    There was something about Matt. You watch him on television and he's a likeable person, but there's something that I can't put my finger on in real life. And still for months I've been trying to figure out what it is. There's something that's not likeable about him. He's a very distant person when you meet him and he's creepy. He talks in a way that us earthlings don't talk to each other. You feel like you're talking to a shell or robot when you interact with Matthew. He just has no interpersonal skills whatsoever.

    I was happy to be going to the final four. I was beginning to worry about how things would go when it got down to four. I didn't want to see a tie of two versus two. Then, one morning, for no particular reason Alex decided to confide in me that he was going to vote me off when we got to four people. He said that he knew the girls would never vote against each other and he didn't want to split them up, he just wanted to be honest with me. Sometimes, honesty isn't the best policy.

    The wheels were turning so fast in my head I couldn't keep track. I immediately turned to the other players in the game. I realized that my actual alliance wasn't going to work but I had my fake alliance to fall back on. I approached Matthew and told him about how I had been dishonest with him. I told him everything he hadn't known about the game for the previous 30 days. It was amazing how little he knew about what was going on. It was a gamble, but now he trusted me more than ever. I put him in charge of going to Butch and I was going to work on Christy. I will never forget the smile on Christy's face when I came to her with the plan to get rid of Alex. The plan was now in place and Alex, Jenna and Heidi didn't have a clue that I was about to betray them.

    When we went to Tribal Council that night I knew that the game was going to change. This was the biggest power swing in the history of Survivor. Before going to the Amazon I was a 24-year old living at home with my parents in Wantagh. I wasn't allowed to touch the thermostat in the house and now I had single-handedly hijacked a game for a million dollars.

    Part Two of Rob's story will run in next issue, as the debut of his column, "The Player." If you have any comments, questions or column topic suggestions, you can reach Rob at robc@longislandpress.com

  4. #4
    Yoffy lifts a finger... fluff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Excellent, I have to make my way through that later.

    Rob was excellent on Survivor, too good not to be snapped up by someone.
    "That's Numberwang!"

  5. #5
    Can They Do It?? mrdobolina's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    The Miami of Canada

    Re: Long Island Press Hires Rob Cesternino

    Originally posted by LI Press
    In the first of a two-part story published this week (June 5), Rob's column launches with a cover story, in which he gives the lowdown on his time in the Amazon. In an accompanying story, "Island Girl Meets Jungle Boy," Press’ columnist Amy Fisher interviews Rob.
    Columnist AMY FISHER??? As in Joey Buttafuco(sp?) and "Long Island Lolita" Amy Fisher?

    "You don't own a TV?!? What's all your furniture pointed at?" Joey Tribianni

    It's not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.

  6. #6
    The race is back! John's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    On the mat
    Wow, awesome, Rob!

  7. #7
    Can They Do It?? mrdobolina's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    The Miami of Canada
    IT IS "Long Island Lolita" AMY FISHER!!

    Too funny!
    "You don't own a TV?!? What's all your furniture pointed at?" Joey Tribianni

    It's not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.

  8. #8
    LI Press

    LI Press

    If any of you live on Long Island, you should definately pick up a copy - he will have a column every week. If you live outside of LI, you can check out his article each week at www.longislandpress.com

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