Rob Has a Blogger: Catching Up with Penner on his 50th Birthday

A Survivor Profile from Richie Glanzer

There’s something about Penner. Jonathan Penner turned the Big 5-0 yesterday so I figured there’s no better time to get in touch with him, and see what he’s doing. Penner was portrayed as a love em’ or hate em’ type in his two seasons of Survivor. He’s probably most remembered for jumping ship from Yul, and Ozzy’s tribe in Survivor Cook Island, but unfortunately for him, least remembered for his reasoning.

Richie Glanzer: You were in two seasons, Survivor Cook Islands, which pitted races vs. races, and Survivor Palau, which pitted Fans vs. Favorites. What was your favorite?

Jonathan Penner:  I guess Cook Islands, it was longer, less injurious and more dramatic. You’ll never forget your first time. I like Palau as I played a better game, but it was much shorter.

Richie Glanzer:  In Cook Islands, you got switched and eventually had the option of switching tribes. After Candice jumped, you did too. What made you do that? And looking back, do you regret it?

Jonathan Penner: I do regret it, but I had allied with Candice and so when she made the insane move of jumping, I said well there goes my ally, I have to be loyal.  I also saw the numbers switch rapidly from six to six before she jumped, to seven to five with me being on the minority tribe. I figured I was toast if I wasn’t on the bigger side with her. And keep in mind, this happened all within a split second, truly!

I stupidly thought Adam had the idol, not Yul and I believed, which proved to be correct in order to win you had to have or be aligned with the idol . So it was 321 and I jumped. Which of course ended my game. After that it was just how long could I scramble to stay alive, (scurry if Adam is to be believed) and could I impact the game.

Glanzer: Do you still speak to Candice?

Penner: Sure.

Glanzer: Who do you still speak to from Survivor? Who do you never wish to speak to again and why? (This answer gets you the free plug!)

Penner: I still speak to Yul quite a bit, was at his wedding a few years ago. Actually saw Erica Shay and Parvati the other day at their beautiful space in Santa Monica – it’s a spa gym, pilates, massage space and they’re kicking ass with it. Great to see them both.

As for never, I guess only (Jonny) Fairplay who I consider beneath contempt.

Glanzer: Why didn’t you win Cook Islands? What could you have done differently?

Penner: See above. (Switching tribes with Candice) Plus not being a jerk!

Glanzer: The tribe you jumped to actually made a deal with Yul, where if they vote you out they will vote for him. Did that hurt?

Penner: It only hurt to be voted off so soon. I thought they’d take me to final five, but stupidly I didn’t get that in writing. As for Yul’s selling me for their jury vote? How could I be mad, it was a great move and won him the million.

Glanzer: How difficult was it to leave the game because of injury on Fans vs. Favorites?

Penner: Awful. So frustrating and painful inside and out. But I was really F’ed up as it turns out, and basically had the choice of walking out and getting help in time, or being carried out after the infection hit my blood stream and possibly losing life or limb. Sounds dramatic, I know, but that’s the fact. It was gnarly. So though I felt bad about it I felt pretty good about the saving of my knee and my life!

Glanzer: Jeff Probst seems to really take a liking to you. What are some stuff that we don’t see that Probst does?

Penner: You see exactly what we see. We only see JP (good initials) at challenges and tribal. So I have no idea what he does that you don’t see, cause I haven’t seen it either.

Glanzer: I heard he cusses a ton and gets into fights with the players. Not big fights but he is pretty free with his opinions at times. That’s what some other former Survivors have said.

Penner: As for Probst, maybe he’s loosened up (or tightened up ) since my time, but he’s just a guy. He told me to cut some shit out once, but believe me, I told him to cut some shit out a lot more than that!

Glanzer: How has your life changed after Survivor?

Penner: I go barefoot more, eat more coconut and get to answer questions like these. Otherwise, not much at all. I appreciate it more, I guess, so that’s a great thing. Other than knowing that things like food, shelter, beds and family aren’t givens, not much.

Glanzer: What are you up to now? Plug away.

Penner: I’m writing lots, trying to get various projects off the ground; movies, TV shows, a live show, books, etc, etc. I’m the film editor at the LA Review of Books so I have a few pieces up on line, interviews and essays about movies and books, and I edit some other folks stuff. You know, just pluggin’ away, keeping the creative juices flowing.

Glanzer: Since its your 50th, I’ll give you a bonus question. Would you ever do it again? Have you ever been asked again?

Penner: I would certainly consider doing it again, but unfortunately I haven’t been asked. But I can’t complain — I have done it twice, and that’s two more times than most people ever get!

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