Survivor cast: Blair from the Facts of Life, Lisa Whelchel; MLB’s Jeff Kent; two pageant stars

The cast of Survivor Philippines was officially announced today, though CBS is inexplicably dragging out the reveal of the three cast members who’ve been known the longest: medically evacuated returnees Jonathan Penner, Michael Skupin, and Russell Swan.

The most famous–and oldest–cast member is Lisa Whelchel, who played Blair Warner on The Facts of Life, and who said in an interview that she wasn’t recruited, but instead is a fan. She’s also a Christian, and said, “I would love to be able to show a different image of a Christian.”

The cast also includes Jeff Kent, who was the MVP when he played for the San Francisco Giants, and remains the record-holder for the most home runs for a second baseman. Jeff previously appeared on ABC’s 2009 revival of The Superstars.

As to the other 13 new cast members, they include the former Miss Utah Teen and Miss Delaware USA, who are two different people, plus a lesbian “country girl” from Arkansas and a cancer survivor who applied 15 to 17 times. There’s also an engineer, an investment banker, and a seminary student who’s in the Army reserves.

They’re introduced in this video, as are Lisa and Jeff:

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.