Starry-eyed Sons: Stephens City Boys Rooting for Their Father on 'Survivor'
By Teresa Dunham
The Winchester Star - 9.1.06
Boys like to brag about their dads — and sometimes the stories get a little exaggerated.
For example, Jesse Kline and Nick Bui of Stephens City say their dad is a television star and he engaged in a battle of brawn and wits while staying on the Cook Islands in the South Pacific not too long ago.
On first glance, it might appear that the boys are telling a whopper about their father, 42-year-old nail salon manager Anh-Tuan "Cao Boi" (pronounced cowboy) Bui, who lives in Christiansburg.
Yet Jesse, 12, and Nick, 9, know a secret the rest of the world won’t discover until Sept. 14: their dad is a contestant on the CBS reality television show “Survivor.”
As the program enters its 13th season, "Survivor" contestants will vie to outlast 19 other opponents in survival challenges on the Cook Islands and neighboring Tahiti and American Samoa.
When the new season premieres, it will feature a new and controversial twist — whites, blacks, Latinos, and Asians are divided into teams by race.
Vietnamese-born Bui, who auditioned for the show on Jan. 31 at a casting call in Blacksburg, will be right in the middle of the brawl.
"My dad will probably win," Nick said. "We’d be rich!"
If Bui wins the $1 million prize, Nick plans to ask for his own house — but Jesse would settle for a Nintendo DS Lite video game system.
Despite their optimistic predictions, the boys never had their father pegged as a "Survivor" type.
"He never really did anything strong or cool before," Nick said. "He might embarrass us. He talks a lot and sleeps a lot. He snores."
But on second thought, maybe their dad isn’t such a wimp after all.
"He is pretty strong, and he can survive without food for a week," said Nick.
Bui regularly goes on fruit juice fasts and eats organic foods, said the boys’ mother, Jennifer Gillespie.
As a former used-car salesman and the world-record holder in marathon softball, Bui has survival skills that include a unique combination of slickness and endurance, according to Entertainment Weekly’s online edition.
"I’m going to expect him to be acting crazy like usual. He will probably be swimming a lot, and he would be the first one to start a fire," said Nick. "He will probably act like the boss."
That's just what Nick imagines, though. Neither he nor Jesse know if their father will win — and they won't find out until they attend the taping of the live season finale in California months from now.
By contract, Bui was sworn to secrecy concerning his time on the Cook Islands. When reporters call him at his nail salon, he refers them to CBS officials.
CBS representatives say Bui is not allowed to talk about his experiences.
While their dad was on location a few months ago, the boys had to keep the huge secret inside.
That challenge was surprisingly simple for one of the siblings.
"It was easy to keep a secret because I’m shy," said Jesse, tilting his head downward and smiling modestly.
He may hold his excitement inside, but he still surfs the Internet often to see his dad's picture.
"It’s going to be exciting and really cool," Jesse said in an uncharacteristically expressive moment.
Even though they’re in awe of their dad’s newfound fame, the boys missed him a lot when he was on the Cook Islands from June through late August.
"It was kind of lonely. It was sad to not be able to see him," said Nick.
Now that their dad is back, though, they see him even more often than they did before, since he’s on "Survivor" promotional commercials now.
"It’s really cool," said Nick. "It was hard to believe the first time we saw him on television."
And he can’t wait to go back to school and tell his friends the news:
"I want to make everybody jealous."http://www.survivorfever.net/s13_winchester_star_9_1_06.html