Stephenie and Bobby Jon join Survivor Guatemala as players; the old guy goes home first

As it turned out, the big Survivor Guatemala surprise wasn’t that Survivor Palau cast members Bobby Jon Drinkard and Stephenie LaGrossa joined the cast. (They are full-fledged players, competing once again for $1 million.)

The real surprise was that the first challenge–an 11-mile, 24-hour race through the jungle–was so physically demanding that it left Bobby Jon on the ground, cramping severly as his eyes rolled back into his head. The other male members of his tribe were all vomiting and incapacitated, leaving the women–including, conveniently, Margaret, a nurse–to care for them. Despite having won the first challenge/race, Bobby Jon’s tribe lost the immunity challenge. But instead of booting him, the tribe kicked off the old guy, Jim, who injured his bicep during the immunity challenge.

The other big surprise was the fact that a large part of the conversation was about previous editions of Survivor. A few years ago, I recall that Mark Burnett told the cast members they could talk about past seasons all they wanted, but that those discussions would never be aired. But this season, even Jeff Probst made continual references to other seasons and to the history of the game. In its 11th season, we’re now apparently in meta-Survivor.

The Game is on in Guatemala [CBS]

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.

A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.