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Stingray : The Lethal Tactics of the Sole Survivor Paperback – December 1, 2000
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Pre-order today
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Seventy-one million Americans watched Richard Hatch win $1 million on the Survivor television series during the summer of 2000. He was the brilliant strategist and ruthless manipulator that viewers loved to hate. Then Hatch's $500,000 book deal to spill the inside secrets of his Survivor strategies and his life story got throttled by CBS. Trampled in the scuffle was Hatch's cowriter, five-time Emmy-winning investigative journalist Peter Lance. Hatch had led him to believe that CBS permission was in the bag, and Lance had already spent months working on the book when the deal died. So Lance went ahead and wrote his own book, full of those delectably greasy little details that Survivor fans hunger for, and including his own first-person observations. He provides a day-by-day commentary on the series, exposes several sides of Richard Hatch that we didn't see, and offers disturbing evidence that CBS manipulated events and people.
Lance knew "Dickie" Hatch as a child and is compassionate when detailing his early life. Hatch was an overweight, lonely child, wearing Coke-bottle thick glasses, sexually victimized by bullies before age 10, smoking pot and cigarettes by sixth grade, and becoming a "serious drinker" as an adult. (Hatch no longer drinks or smokes.) The Stingray does not flatter the present-day Richard Hatch, however, calling him "villainous" and a liar (off the series as well as on). Lance quotes a management consultant describing Hatch as "a wild animal who went to school." "King Richard" was brilliant at winning the throne through "guile, deceit and the strength of his will," says Lance, but "he behaved like a hick on a Starline Hollywood Tour when it came to using his fame as a launching pad for the rest of his life."
Lance reveals CBS's stranglehold on the castaways' ability to earn money post-Survivor by gatekeeping every offer and rejecting all that competed with CBS programming or sponsors. He offers unsettling substantiation that CBS distorted events, shifted the sequence of scenes, and may have tainted the voting. The book's organization seems hasty and haphazard at times, with topics frequently raised in one chapter and revisited in another. But if you're a Survivor devotee, this is a must-read. The title refers to the way Hatch compared his skewering stingrays for food to his treatment of the other castaways: "Stab. Blood in the water. Bye bye baby." --Joan Price
...a blistering, unauthorized, inside story about the life of Richard Hatch, a play by play account of his tactics... -- Rudyreigns, Survivor Website
A tell-all, giving the inside story of [Richard] Hatch's Machivellian strategy ... a guide to potential pitfalls for aspiring reality-show contestants. -- P.J. Mark, Inside
Emmy-winning former ABC journalist and novelist Peter Lance takes a cold, hard look at reality television programming... -- Wm. J. Birnes, Bestselling author of THE DAY AFTER ROSWELL
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Richard Hatch maybe an interesting character to study, but he fails to be as interesting as the possible behind the scenes manipulation of SURVIVOR by the show's producer, Mark Burnett. I remember CBS's request for applications early last year and the early advertisement that preceded the show's first broadcast. Originally the show was hyped as a type of outdoor game show. The descriptions varied, but make no mistake, the show was originally advertised and described as a game show. I don't know exactly when it happened, but eventually the "game show" advertising slowly faded away. Terms such as "unscripted drama" and "dramatized reality" began to be used to describe both SURVIVOR and now SURVIVOR II.
Peter Lance was the first to uncover this (outside of or perhaps because of certain Internet sites) and put it in print. His charges of the show's possible manipulation are probably well founded (I doubt that Stacey Stillman, a well-trained and educated lawyer would sue CBS just on circumstantial evidence). In any case, Lance's observations and allegations bring a greater understanding to how surreal SURVIVOR is and his examination of Hatch gives some insight on how to not just play and win the game, but to keep on playing long after the game is over. A great read.
First of all, the copyediting in this book is positively atrocious. Practically every paragraph has a misplaced word or a phrase that simply doesn't make any sense. ("In a cruel irony that only Richard himself might appreciate..." Well, obviously you appreciate it too, Peter, or you wouldn't have pointed it out.) Punctuation and capitalization are deployed more or less at random. Forced, sensationalist metaphors and appallingly lame cliches abound. Lance clearly envisions himself an investigative journalist extraordinaire, but he writes like a high-school newspaper staffer, and Shadow Lawn obviously didn't consider it worthwhile to do anything about it. No matter how much she tries to focus on the substance, any reader who respects the English language enough to object to its abuse is liable to find herself distracted, several times per page, by the truly awful style.
Not that the substance itself is much better. I'm not a big fan of either Richard Hatch or major TV networks like CBS, but Lance -- who clearly is still extremely bitter over the death of his plans to co-write a book with Hatch -- bends so far over backward to vilify both that I almost started to feel sorry for them. A good investigative journalist doesn't need to use colorful language in every other sentence to remind us how odious his targets, er, subjects are. If he has done his job well, the unsavory details he uncovers will speak for themselves with only occasional editorial embellishment. But Lance clearly is not such a journalist, despite the fact that -- as he ever-so-subtly reminds us in his introduction -- he's won a bunch of Emmys. He doesn't actually have the dirt, but he can trash-talk with the best of them. (Fans of Survivor I's "queen bitch" Susan Hawk will probably find much to like about this approach.) By the time I finished reading about Lance's "search for 'Rosebud' in this investigation" and cleaning the vomit off my carpet, I had a new appreciation for the lengths to which some people will go to make a lot of money. And I'm *not* talking about Richard Hatch.
Lance, originally chosen to help write survivor Rich Hatch's book, brings to light some important facts that the two more sanitized books obviously would never touch. He explores, for instance, CBS' possible violations of FCC rules in influencing the outcome of what purported to be contestant votes. He seems to have a firm grasp on Hatch's personality (a better grasp than Hatch himself, in fact, if Hatch's book is any indication) and skillfully analyzes Hatch's strategy and choices both during and after the game.
More interestingly, Lance analyzes the larger game - that is, the race for fame and fortune off-screen. CBS is the clear winner here, but Lance also adroitly points out both victories and missteps by the contestants after the game ended. He is particularly good at analyzing where Hatch blundered and why a "losing" contestant like Colleen Haskell is likely to profit more in the long run than Hatch, the official million-dollar winner. His Ten Tactics for winning at Survivor are on-target, but his Ten Lessons for Translating Victory into Longterm Success are positively inspired. Example: "It isn't enough to win the game. The public must celebrate your victory."
Lance went wrong in a few important ways, though. First, this book could also use a good proofreading. And while Lance's research in the most interesting areas appears to be solid, he seems to have run out of steam when it came to tying up loose ends (such as whether CBS really did influence the votes). Where he has no good evidence to offer, he strays into conspiracy theory and in place of analysis simply asks one rhetorical question after another: "Why would Dirk have brought it up to Stacey if it didn't happen? Why would Stacey...?" More than one section plays out in this unsatisfying fashion.
The great drawings by Zeebarf (who did the cover illustration) add a lot to the book's appeal. While a good editor could have made this book into something more satisfying, it's still a quick and lively read. Anyone interested in the show would find this book hard to put down.
Most recent customer reviews
go behind the island, to find out never before known, stuff about richard, Kelly, Susan, Rudy, and the whole cast, plus...Read more
"The Stingray" should be called "The Bible of Survivor Hopefuls". A great read!Read more