I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Fans vs. Favorites” competitors the day before they left for the Caramoan Islands. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each contestant every weekday until we get through all of them. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for tons of updates.
Name: Sherri Biethman
Hometown: Boise, ID
Occupation: Fast Food Franchisee
Note: The “Survivor: Caramoan” pre-game interviews are unlike the pre-game interviews we’ve done in the past. Usually, the interviews take place on location, this time they took place in Los Angeles before the players flew out. At this point, all the “Fans” know is that they’re flying out in the next few days. They have seen each other, but haven’t seen the returning players. They don’t know for sure where they’re going, and they don’t know any of the season’s twists.
Gordon Holmes: It says here that you’re a franchisee? What businesses do you own?
Sherri Biethman: I own six different franchises.
Holmes: Such as?
Biethman: I own a Wetzel’s Pretzels.
Holmes: (Laughs) I’ve never heard of that. I don’t know if we have Wetzel’s Pretzels in Philadelphia.
Biethman: They’re huge in California. We have two of those. You have Auntie Anne’s right?
Holmes: Yes, so good. Do you guys have the cinnamon pretzels?
Biethman: Oh yeah.
Holmes: What are your other franchises?
Biethman: We have a Cinnabon and a Haagen Dazs and two Jimmy Johns.
Holmes: You’re a big huge “Survivor” fan.
Biethman: Huge, since day one.
Holmes: And you named your son after Colby Donaldson?
Biethman: Yes. Season two I was eight months pregnant and it was coming to the end, and I fell in love with the way he played. He was just so sincere. I didn’t have a name for my boy at the time and Colby fit.
Holmes: It was that or Kentucky Joe?
Biethman: (Laughs) Or Chicken George.
Holmes: Your claim to fame is finding the right diagnosis for your autistic son. I’m unfamiliar with that process, isn’t that a doctor’s responsibility?
Biethman: He was diagnosed…autism is like a huge umbrella. We got a diagnosis that he’s PDD, pervasive development disorder. Which helps to isolate, he wasn’t like Rain Man where you could drop stuff on the floor, his was social. So, to find the right doctors, to find the right person to work with, that was the diagnosis…
Holmes: And that’s your responsibility to figure that out?
Biethman: Because they kept putting him under the big umbrella.
Holmes: OK, so you worked with him to find exactly what he needed.
Biethman: Right, he’s autistic, so they’d just put him in occupational therapy to work with his hands or how to grasp things.
Holmes: But he already knew that.
Biethman: Right, it was social. Answering questions, making conversation. He can talk, we can talk about anything, but you have to ask questions.
Holmes: What does he think of mom’s big adventure?
Biethman: I think he’s going to miss me. But he’s very excited to see me out there. On the finale when they showed the Philippines and they showed the sharks and the snakes at the very end, he was freaking out.
Holmes: Oh, so you think you’re going to the Philippines.
Biethman: I think so. It’s common sense. Do you know?
Holmes: I do know, but my lips are sealed.
Biethman: I think we’re going to the Philippines.
Holmes: Well, you’re welcome to think that.
Biethman: Oh, come on!
Holmes: One of your pet peeves is that you don’t like liars. Then, why did you sign up for “Survivor”?
Biethman: I’m talking about my real life. That’s my pet peeve in real life. Everybody’s going to lie. I’m going to lie.
Holmes: Some people have a line for how far they’re willing to go when it comes to deception. Do you?
Biethman: I won’t know until I’m out there. My gut tells me no. I’m going to lie.
Holmes: “Boston” Rob had a great point where he said you can’t put boundaries on yourself.
Biethman: You just don’t know until you’re out there. People ask me what my strategy will be and I don’t know. I won’t know until I hear people talking and making alliances.
Holmes: I learned to stop asking that question. Any gameplan you come up with today could be long gone once you meet up with Probst on the beach.
Holmes: I also hear you hate laziness…
Biethman: That’s going to be hard for me. Hopefully I’ll be surrounded by hard workers.
Holmes: So, you’re spending your day tending the fire, or cutting fire wood, or plucking berries or whatever there is to do out there and someone is kicking back and getting some sun. Can you be diplomatic?
Biethman: I’ll be able to hold it in, but I will talk crap about them.
Holmes: When I don’t eat I become much more miserable than I normally am. Is that something that will affect you?
Biethman: I don’t think eating, I think sleeping is going to be hard for me. I get really grumpy when I don’t sleep. Heat won’t bother me, I don’t want it to be pouring rain.
Holmes: Are you married?
Biethman: Yeah, eighteen years. I’m going to be missing my anniversary because I’ll be on the island.
Holmes: One of the words you used to describe yourself was “sexy.” And, you are lovely.
Biethman: Thank you.
Holmes: You’re welcome. Are you prepared to flirt at all?
Biethman: Yes. That’s part of my arsenal.
Holmes: Is your husband cool with this?
Biethman: He asked me about spooning, who was going to be in the front and who was going to be in the back. (Laughs)
Holmes: (Laughs) I’m told that’s how you know who’s in an alliance.
Biethman: Spooning or sleeping by that person. The flip side is, now that everybody knows that it could get you in trouble. But, we have talked about it. I’m a huge flirt, but there’s a never been a question of infidelity. I think he’s OK as long as it’s respectful.
Holmes: Have you seen all of “South Pacific” and all of “One World”?
Biethman: I have, and they were all on the same island, right.
Holmes: Yes, those were both in Samoa.
Biethman: Oh…so you can say that. (Laughs)
Holmes: I’m just stating a previously documented fact.
Holmes: I feel like you’re trouble.
Biethman: (Laughs) I know. I am.
Holmes: Anywho, it seems like a lot of people get on the bottom of an alliance, and then don’t do anything as long as their name isn’t up next. And by the time they make a move, it’s too late. Why do you think people keep making that mistake?
Biethman: I think they’re scared that if they make too big of a move it’ll put a target on their back. I was talking with my husband and he made the comment that he’d rather me go out number five or six making a really bold move than to float to number three.
Holmes: That’s what I liked about Jim Rice from “South Pacific.” It seemed like he was fine going out when he did as long as he was doing everything he could to win. It wasn’t enough to get to stay around another three days.
Biethman: Yeah, I liked him too.
Holmes: Is there anything in your personal life that you will keep a secret?
Biethman: I’m actually forty. So, I was thinking of saying I’m thirty seven, because for some reason that sounds much younger because you’re still in your thirties. I see all of these young people and I don’t want to be viewed as motherly. I’m not the motherly type…or old. But then I have to back up everything because I have a seventeen-year-old son, and I’m not great at math.
Holmes: A thirty-seven-year-old can have a seventeen year old son. You just had him when you were twenty.
Biethman: Yeah, that’s true. I’ve been married eighteen years. I think I can do that.
Holmes: Any plans for the million?
Biethman: Invest in more businesses.
Holmes: More Wetzel’s Pretzels?
Biethman: More Jimmy Johns.
Holmes: Bring Auntie Anne’s to the west coast.
Biethman: There are some, but I don’t want one in my mall. They’re competition.
Holmes: Are you well off financially?
Holmes: Is that something you’re going to keep secret?
Biethman: Oh yeah. I’m going to totally downplay that. We do fine, but I’m going to say we only own one business and that my husband is an accountant. It sounds boring. We were going to say a banker, but people would think we had money.
Holmes: Do you have any experience roughing it?
Holmes: Does that concern you?
Biethman: I don’t like camping, I know that. I’ve been camping and I don’t like it. I like to RV.
Holmes: That doesn’t count.
Biethman: Why not?
Holmes: You have walls and electricity.
Biethman: But you can walk outside and sit.
Holmes: You can do that in your house.
Biethman: You’re right.
Holmes: How are you feeling about the cast?
Biethman: They all seem pretty. A lot of pretty people. But, you’re thinking of some not-so-pretty people, aren’t you?
Holmes: I’m not thinking of anyone in particular.
Biethman: They all seem very polite. No one seems to want to step on anyone’s toes.
Holmes: What do you think their first impression of you is?
Biethman: Going by what I’m told? A strong personality.
Holmes: What you’re told?
Biethman: People always tell me I have a strong personality.
Holmes: If there is a twist, what is your best guess as to what that twist will be?
Biethman: Fans and favorites.
Holmes: If it’s fans and favorites, who would you want to see?
Biethman: I want to see Russell Hantz. (Laughs) Am I insane to want to see him? I don’t care if they bring back Colton (Cumbie). I thought they might do that for drama.
Biethman: I feel like I’m on “Lost.” I’m in this weird world where everything is fake. And you guys are like the Dharma group because you know everything about us and we know nothing about you guys.
Biethman: You’re taking us to a (expletive deleted) island and you’re dropping us off.
Biethman: We’re going on all of these flights. I said if I have to get on a submarine, I’m (expletive deleted) gone. I’m done.
Don’t miss the two-hour premiere of “Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites,” Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.