It was all going so well for "Boston" Rob Mariano. Since proposing to Amber Brkich, 31, during the live finale of 2004's Survivor All Stars, he married, relocated to Florida, participated in two Amazing Race editions, had a baby girl, and watched his beloved Red Sox win two World Series. Then Mariano, 34, ran his game one more time in Survivor Heroes vs. Villains (CBS, Thursdays, 8 PM) — and got prematurely axed in the April 1 episode. But hope springs eternal: Opening Day is just hours away and he gets to talks to UsMagazine.com:
Us: You dominated the challenges. Your strategy seemed fool-proof. What went wrong?
It's Survivor! It never works out for me in terms of winning. In other areas, it's worked out for me ten fold. I always give 100 percent, but I can only do so much.
Us: And your alliance was as strong as a house of cards.
Tyson got scared last week and voted for Parvati. That was the spark that started the fire. For all of Coach's talk about loyalty and honor, he took the easy way out. He has to live with that.
Us: What's your take on evil Russell? You have to respect the guy for masterminding your ouster. Right?
I don't respect him as a player, but I do give him credit. To me there's a fine line between cockiness and arrogance. To say "I'm the best who's ever played," I don't agree with that — given the company he's keeping. As a player, he's good but not great. There's a luck element to his game. But the more things go his way, it bolsters his persona to the point where he thinks he's better than he really is. He's only a legend in his own mind.
Us: A lukewarm spoiler for the rest of the season, please.
Let me put it this way. The whole heroes and villains thing will be annihilated after the merge. There are too many people with friends on the other side and who have played together before. I knew going into this game that even we kicked the Heroes' a*ses the whole way through, after the merge, the numbers wouldn't hold.
Us: Have you and Amber already blown through the $1 million winnings from Survivor: All Stars?
Well, we paid our taxes, bought a house, put money away for our daughter and lost money in the stock market like everybody else. So yes!
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Us: Your five-year wedding anniversary is April 16. What have you got planned?
We have a tradition of spending it at the beach. We met on a beach and got married on a beach. I just don't know which beach we're going to yet. But for the first time, there will be three of us.
Us: How is parenthood going?
I love it. Amber loves it. Lucia turns nine months on Sunday and she's getting big! She's crawling and getting ready to take her first steps. She'll go from the coffee table to the ottman but doesn't have the courage to let go yet.
Us: Wow, she's already walking at nine months?
Come on. She's my child.
— By Mara Reinstein for UsMagazine.com