by Angel Cohn
Membership in Survivor: Palau's winning tribe has its benefits. Not only did Koror land themselves a swanky hut, courtesy of Home Depot, but their undefeated streak also allowed them to avoid tribal council. That false sense of security ended with last week's twist, in which host Jeff Probst made both tribes send one player home. Unsurprisingly, the Koror crew snuffed the torch of their weakest link, 57-year-old Willard Smith. Though he didn't put up much of a fight on the island, the second TVGuide.com steps in the door, this smooth-talking lawyer is off and running. Apparently, he's peeved about TV Guide calling him "affluent," among other grievances....
Willard Smith: I said that I didn't need the $1 million, and they assumed that meant I was wealthy. If you don't have a high-consumption lifestyle, you don't need that much money. It doesn't mean you are wealthy.
TVGuide.com: OK. So were you surprised to be voted off?
Willard: I knew I was getting voted off, there was no shock.
TVG: You are a lawyer. Why didn't you fight more?
Willard: Let's take that in three parts. One, being a lawyer doesn't mean you fight. Two, contrary to what people would like to think — or what the producers ram down your throat — some things can't be changed. Three, if some things can't be changed, I'm not going out of my way to give somebody an emotional display.
TVG: OK, so maybe you couldn't have fought for yourself, but you could have defended your position at least.
Willard: I can't get healthy [doing] that.
TVG: Were you ready to go home?
Willard: I was ready to stay for the whole time. Pain doesn't bother me, but being unable to perform physically is very frustrating. If I could have gotten to the merge, which I might have if they hadn't had that particular way of eliminating people, I'd still be there.
TVG: Your tribe thought you'd be a threat when it came to puzzle challenges. Were they right to worry?
Willard: Oh, yeah. They were right to be worried about that. I am smarter than any three of those suckers put together. I just broke down physically.
TVG: Why do you think your Koror tribe was more dominant?
Willard: One of the things that happened in the selection process was that young, pretty people picked young, pretty people. We got some of the better athletes — Tom, Ian, Gregg, Caryn and, in certain ways, Coby, who should not be underestimated.
TVG: It seemed like Katie might've been the first Koror to go.
Willard: Her strategy is to suck up to power. I don't know how successful it is going to be. It could go all the way, it could die right out. I am not a schmoozer. It is a social game, I know, but I didn't really expect to be there playing it.
TVG: Did your background in the Army and the Marines prepare you at all?
Willard: That had nothing to do with this. You have to understand, when you are in the military, you have a team or unit that is designed to take care of each other and work together to accomplish a common mission. You are not backstabbing each other. This is more like junior high school — and I was s----y in junior high school.
TVG: Why did you want to go on Survivor anyway?
Willard: I didn't. I had a bet with my secretary and my wife that I could figure out the casting process and get on the show, and I did. I created a character. I cut my body fat by two thirds and cut my cholesterol in half, had my ears pierced, grew a beard and adopted a persona throughout the interview process as a borderline psychotic who was probably going to explode in Episode 1. That's how I got selected. I didn't decide I was actually going until a week before. My wife said, "You won the bet. You might as well actually go."
Willard: It was easy. I deal with psychos for a living. I do custody disputes. They give you personality tests and I use those things every damned day.
FYI, Survivor: Palau airs tonight at 8 pm/ET on CBS due to NCAA basketball airing in its usual Thursday-night time slot. To read about last week's other Survivor castoff, click here.http://www.tvguide.com/news/insider/050323c.asp