'Even If Someone Farts': How Jonathan La Paglia Keep Tabs On The All Stars
Jonathan LaPaglia has his work cut out for him on 'Australian Survivor: All Stars' -- faced with the task of interrogating a group of players skilled in the art of lying.
Speaking to 10 daily over the phone ahead of the season premiere, JLP explained that when Vakama or Mokuta join him at Tribal Council, it requires a little more preparation than usual.
"I find it the trickiest part of the job," he said. "You’ve got a bunch of All Stars, because they’ve played before, and they're going out of their way to find the cracks in the game.
"It means that we need to be more vigilant and I need to be en pointe to make sure they don’t do that," he laughed.
JLP's style of questioning is razor-sharp but not aggressive, he manages to elicit confessions from contestants, not through coercion but via a verbal war of attrition using the extensive notes he receives from producers.
"I don’t see any footage, there’s just no time," he said, explaining that he's not watching the tribes Big Brother-style on a monitor 24/7.
"It doesn’t look like we’re doing much but it’s really a huge machine that’s involved in making this show, we’re really working non-stop from eight in the morning to 10-11 at night."
Instead, JLP is fed snippets of information that vary from news about secret alliances to tidbits about life around the camp -- intel that he has to mentally sort through to separate the bombshells from the banal.
"I get constant updates about what’s going on, I have producers on the beach who are filming the contestants and they’re constantly writing notes all day long," he said.
"Even if someone farted, that gets documented," he laughed. "It's actually kind of overwhelming, we cut it down to an hour show but that’s two full days, 48 hours of content."
Jonathan told 10 daily that, naturally, "a lot of it doesn't make the cut".
"But in real-time, we’re constantly being bombarded with information and you’re trying to figure out what’s important and what’s not important -- that can be overwhelming."
Being on the receiving end of the mountain of Survivor notes is daunting for JLP because those factoids are all bouncing around inside his head as he poses thoughtful, yet piercing questions at Tribal.
Like an elegant duck gliding across a pond, we never see him break a sweat, but behind JLP's cool demeanour, there's a flurry of mental activity.
"That’s what I find so tricky at Tribal, I’ve got 24 contestants and I have to keep all their stories straight in my head," he said.
They’re often lying to me at Tribal but I can’t say that they’re lying and I have to file that away and try and circle back and use that against them at some other point.
"It really is a tricky dance that I’m doing all the time, trying to keep everyone’s stories straight in my head," Jonathan told 10 daily.
While the All Stars may be more adept at spinning lies, their familiarity with the game means JLP can get straight to business and not have to train a fresh batch of rookies on the rules of his court.
"There’s a vernacular there that you need to get through the Tribals and with a whole new cast of people who haven’t played before, even though they’ve watched it at home, when you get there, it’s a whole different ball of wax," he explained.
"There’s a learning period where people are trying to get up to speed, especially at Tribal and with returning players, especially with a bunch of aggressive returning All Stars, we could circumvent that and get to it, so that was nice."
Being thrown into the game of Survivor is a learning experience for players, but also for Jonathan, who told 10 daily that he's been "learning on the job" for the last five seasons.
But while he modestly said that he'd "like to think I improve from season to season" returning contestant Nick Iadanza confirmed that All Stars is JLP at his best.
"I was there on day one of his first job," Nick told 10 daily. "I’m a teacher and I had that very first lesson of my career was, you walk in front of the class, you’re standing there and you hope your fly’s not undone.
"I was there for the moment when JLP stood there in front of three tribes back in 2016 and had to say, ‘Welcome to Australian Survivor’ and he needed to just figure it out," Nick added.
The super-fan and now two-time player of the game said, "he was great back then but boy is he way better now".
"You cannot evade his questions at Tribal Council, you cannot try and squirm your way around because he can sniff it out."