Name: John Cochran
Current Residence: Washington, DC
Occupation: Harvard Law Student
Gordon Holmes: I understand you won the Dean’s Scholar’s prize based on a paper you wrote about “Survivor.” What can you tell me about that?
John Cochran: I was in this class in Harvard Law School called American Jury and for the final paper we got to write about whatever we wanted. And being a huge “Survivor” fanatic, I decided to write about “Survivor.” In the paper I compared the current American jury system with the jury system in “Survivor,” especially the final Tribal Council. There are certain lessons we can learn from “Survivor” juries in that the jurors get to ask questions to the defendants…who’d be the final two and final three. And they’re also kind of the witnesses to the “crime.” And my professor, who’s a pretty famous professor, loved it. It turns out he’s a huge “Survivor” fan and he gave me the Dean’s Scholar prize for the best paper in the class out of about 100 students.
Holmes: How big of a “Survivor” fan are you?
Cochran: I’ve been a “Survivor” fan since day one. Actually since day one, 2000 in Borneo, well, I wasn’t in Borneo. I’ve never missed an episode. I used to wear a buff around my arm every Thursday in high school. I used to pass around a “Survivor” newsletter. My senior yearbook photo is me wearing three buffs; one around my head, two on my arms, and a “Survivor” t-shirt. And my quote just said, “The tribe has spoken.” So, I’m a lunatic about “Survivor.” This is absolutely a dream come true.
Holmes: I’m told you’re also a lunatic for the Beatles. Where does that come from?
Cochran: I guess it started when my day played “I Am the Walrus” for me on the car stereo. I guess I was about ten years old. And over time I’ve progressed into being more of a Paul McCartney fan. “I Am the Walrus” is a John (Lennon) song. I’m almost as obsessed over the Beatles as I am “Survivor.” Not quite though. The hierarchy of things in my life goes; “Survivor,” Beatles, then I guess food.
Holmes: How do you think Sir Paul would fare in “Survivor”?
Cochran: There are several different elements; if people were aware he was Paul McCartney and that he’s worth a billion dollars that’d probably work against him. But he has a natural charisma, a natural charm. He’s a great PR man. Whenever the Beatles got into trouble for comments that John made or the drug charges against George (Harrison), Paul would always smooth things over. I think he’d be an excellent strategist on “Survivor.”
Holmes: Are you worried he might align with the wrong female.
Cochran: That is another legitimate concern. We have seen that he doesn’t always have the best taste in women. He had a great first wife. Linda (McCartney) was fantastic. But he had a rough patch a few years after Linda’s death. Someone like Parvati (Shallow), if she were on the island, there’s no telling what feminine wiles she could use to destroy his game.
Holmes: Your bio says you want to make the show better. How are you going to make “Survivor,” which I’m already fond of, better?
Cochran: I’m confident I can make my season the best season ever, because in recent years I’ve noticed, with some exceptions, there’s been this dichotomy between strategic gameplay and social gameplay. And the players act like those two things can never intersect. So you’ll have someone like Fabio (Judson Birza) who I guess has this great social game, but has no strategy to speak of. Then there’s Russell (Hantz), who I’m not a big fan of, but was a very strategic player. I’m confident I can blend those two things in an entertaining way.
Holmes: So if “Survivor: South Pacific” sucks, that’s on you?
Cochran: Here’s the thing, I’m possessive of “Survivor.” I’d like to have a great season even if I’m not involved. I know what works in the way of entertaining strategy and entertaining actions. I’m not saying I’m going to be hamming it up, but I want it to be a great season.
Holmes: Any reservations as far as lying or backstabbing?
Cochran: I’m prepared to be as deceptive as I need to be. I’m not going to be deceptive for the sole sake of being deceptive. Like Russell telling people he was a fire fighter in Hurricane Katrina. That didn’t earn him any sympathy, he just seemed to relish lying. I wouldn’t do something like that because I don’t see the purpose. I’d only lie if it forwarded my game.
Holmes: Any first impressions on this year’s cast?
Cochran: Generally the people have been really nice and behaved themselves, and I’d hoped there’d be some overtly horrible people that we could get rid of right off the bat. There are a couple of people I’m suspicious of. This one guy has “Loco” tattooed on his neck. That’s a red flag. Anyone who’s advertising the fact that he’s mentally unhinged isn’t somebody I want to be in an with. It’s not somebody I want having a machete.
Holmes: Any thoughts on the lovely ladies running around this beach?
Cochran: I’m always suspicious of pretty girls in that, I know that if they come to talk to me in the game that it’s solely for strategic purposes. The great thing about not being that attractive is that you can see through the actions of attractive people with relative ease.
“Survivor: South Pacific” premieres Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.
More “Survivor” Fun: XFINITY TV sent Gordon Holmes into the heart of the South Pacific to get a first-hand look at the filming of the latest edition of “Survivor.” Be sure to check back for exclusive interviews with the returning All-Stars and host Jeff Probst, behind-the-scenes photos, and Gordon’s personal (and injury-filled) account of what it’s like to compete in an actual immunity challenge.
Any Questions about “Survivor: South Pacific”? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes