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: Malcolm Freberg
Hometown: Hermosa Beach, CA
Previous Finish: Malcolm came in 4th place in “Survivor: Philippines”
Memorable Moment: Malcolm allowed Lisa Whelchel’s brother to visit the tribe’s camp. Lisa’s brother promptly told her to vote Malcolm out.
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 “Favorties” know is that they’re flying out in the next few days. They have seen each other, but haven’t seen the new players. They don’t know for sure where they’re going, and they don’t know any of the season’s twists.
Another Note: Since “Survivor: Philippines” hadn’t aired yet, I knew nothing about how Malcolm had performed.
Gordon Holmes: Whenever we go to “Survivor,” me, the press, Probst, we all sit down and we talk about who we like. I liked me some Malcolm.
Malcolm Freberg: My man. Appreciate that.
Holmes: So, you can’t tell me a thing about what happened in the Philippines, which is fine… and don’t do it. I need to stay pure and unspoiled for the Power Rankings.
Freberg: I won’t.
Holmes: When I left the Philippines you were in bad shape. Zane was voted out. You were on a tribe that seemed like it was destined for destruction.
Holmes: So…when I saw your name in the bios, I was super psyched. But, then that elation was followed by immediate depression.
Holmes: Because seeing your quick return made me think you didn’t win. Also, I’m thinking the reason you were brought back is because you did something super evil or super stupid.
Freberg: (Laughs) You’ll just have to wait and see.
Holmes: You are basically the new Russell Hantz in the sense that you’re going back into the game and nobody knows a thing about you. Is that a benefit or a detriment?
Freberg: I’m the new Russell…plus a foot. I just walked by Brandon Hantz in the hall and he barely scrapes my nipple.
Holmes: (Laughs) We just started and you’re already taking us way off track.
Freberg: (Laughs) It’s a double-edged sword. Because of Russell it’s a detriment because of how notorious he was. Everyone felt more duped because they didn’t have a chance to see him play first. That’s not necessarily the way I’m going to play it, but there’s a stigma that I have an advantage because nobody has seen me play. But, at the same time I’m a complete wild card. There are people out there who have negative stigmas already attached to them for what they did on their seasons. So, when it comes to going with someone you know is going to be a liability versus someone you don’t know anything about. Maybe you go with the wild card in that instance.
Holmes: But sometimes people will take the devil they know over the devil they don’t know. If I’m playing, here’s this kid I’ve never seen play before, and he had to do something to be brought back so quickly.
Freberg: The story I’m going with is I’m coming back because of the wonderful bounce in my hair.
Holmes: No sane person could debate that fact.
Freberg: Now that I have a look at who’s back, I’m not as worried about being shunned. Just because of aspects of the game that are important early in the game. Looking at some of the guys here, not to name names, but they’re not big physical competitors.
Holmes: You can name names, I can’t.
Freberg: OK, maybe you can give Brandon and Erik a little credit, but there are no other big guys. If someone’s going to try to take a hold of this game, they’re going to need to keep me at least a little while. It gives me time to show that I’m not this crazy, egomaniacal, kill-all, destruction strategist like Russell.
Holmes: You’re a huge “Survivor” fan.
Freberg: I am.
Holmes: What do you think the twist is, if there is one other than bringing back guys with amazing bounce in their hair?
Freberg: So, there’s ten favorites back, five guys, five girls. I’d imagine that we haven’t seen another ten. They’re probably not returnees. So, a repeat of season sixteen, Fans vs. Favorites. If that’s the case, more power to me. There were returning players in my season and I know what it’s like for the new people to see people they’ve seen on TV and have to play with them. The aura that’s around them, people get timid around that. People aren’t going to be as aggressive or as confident around people that they’ve seen on TV. You’re just the rookie on the baseball team. It’s your first at bat and you’re having to go against Mariano Rivera. You might be the best stud batter out of college, but you’re going to be nervous going against the veteran.
Holmes: Based on who you’ve seen, is there anyone you want to align with, anyone who scares you?
Freberg: Scares me? Nobody scares me, Gordon.
Holmes: I’m an idiot. Terrible choice of words.
Freberg: Phillip Sheppard and his underwear keep me up at night.
Holmes: See, you’re not a machine, you’re a human being.
Freberg: If he wears those things again…he’s already walking around with a feather. (Laughs) I was hoping maybe he’s a sane guy and we could have a rational conversation, but then I saw that.
Holmes: If that dude doesn’t finish the season with a full headdress I’m going to be so disappointed.
Freberg: I’m going to give him a new feather every day.
Holmes: Off track again!
Freberg: Allies… Strategically, the girls are more terrifying than the guys.
Holmes: Like who?
Freberg: Brenda, Andrea’s pretty smart, Corinne’s terrifying…but she didn’t really do anything strategically, but at the same time, they’re very Type-A girls. Wait, is that a thing?
Holmes: Yeah, you’re thinking of alpha males, but there are Type-A girls.
Freberg: They’re super Type-A girls where it seems like the guys didn’t come out of the gates as dominant on their first season.
Holmes: Knowing that, are you more likely to follow or work with a Type-A girl or lead around some of these guys?
Freberg: I don’t do critical thinking well around pretty girls. I learned that about myself the first time around. So, probably can’t do the girls just because my brain gets befuddled when pheromones start running. So, I’m naturally drawn to go with the guys, but Cochran will turn on you in a second, Brandon…I can’t even discuss Brandon, and Phillip’s crazy. And, Erik…I guess maybe I should align with Erik.
Holmes: What does all of this say about you?
Freberg: I know. (Laughs) What did I do that was so bad?
Holmes: This interview sucks.
Holmes: Seriously, this is really hard to do without knowing what happened in the Philippines.
Freberg: I’m thinking about my answers too, which is much less fun.
Holmes: OK, without getting spoilery, why do you think you were brought back?
Freberg: It can’t just be your looks. It can’t just be because I’m funny.
Holmes: Yes, but that combination can’t be denied.
Freberg: (Laughs) But there needs to be more!
Holmes: As the first Survivor to kill a man during the game, they had no choice but to bring you back.
Freberg: Being the first Survivor to take off his ice skate and stab somebody.
Holmes: Did you learn anything your first time around? Will you do things differently?
Freberg: You have to learn. When you play a football game, you go back and watch the tape. Having done it once, I know I can do certain things well in the game of “Survivor.” There are things I’m not great at. Now there’s no learning curve, especially having just done it. I’m going to hit the beach on day one and know exactly what I’m supposed to start doing.
Holmes: Playing back-to-back seasons took a big toll on Russell. Are you worried that you might not be physically up to it?
Freberg: I’m definitely not where I was the first time I went in, just muscle-mass wise. I only had a few weeks in the States in between seasons. I haven’t been eating healthy at all. It’s basically ice cream and beer. (Laughs)
Holmes: That’s pretty much my diet. I’ve been putting on sympathy weight for you.
Freberg: Appreciate it. But I’ve got cake batter on one love handle and chocolate chip cookie dough on the other and then beer in the middle. So, physically I am not in the same space that I was. But, I’m still in the upper tier as far as physical strength goes. But, part of the game is turning your strengths into weaknesses. At some point being strong is a weakness. If I can get really broken down for a few weeks, maybe that’s a move I pull out of my belt. Maybe it’s a feint I use a couple of weeks into the game
Holmes: I’m going to say something that’s probably going to break your heart.
Freberg: Oh no…
Holmes: Which is a shame.
Freberg: Because I have a fragile heart where you’re concerned.
Holmes: I’m aware. You’re human. When we spoke in the Philippines I said to myself, “If Malcolm does well out there, I’d love to have him do the Power Rankings for Season 26.” And then you went and got yourself cast on Season 26.
Holmes: How does it feel to miss out on the chance of a lifetime?
Freberg: I love the Power Rankings. Dawn just won.
Holmes: Dawn cleaned house.
Freberg: I guess I’m going to have to walk out of this interview. A chance at a million dollars is nice, but the chance of winning the Power Rankings… Wait, what do you win if you win the Power Rankings?
Holmes: One year it was a Jeff Probst bobblehead that was painted gold.
Freberg: Tell you what, you promise me a three-foot-tall, gold Jeff Probst statue with a snuffer, I’ll walk out right now. Oh, now she (the CBS Representative) looks nervous.
Holmes: You don’t have back-ups ready if he bolts?
CBS Representative: (Laughs) We’ve got nothing.
Holmes: The lure of the Power Rankings is too strong.
Freberg: It’s like I’m engaged to one girl now, but you’re so much prettier.
CBS Representative: Can’t he do it after this one?
Holmes: I guess.
Freberg: Maybe the magic will be gone.
Holmes: He’s going to be all changed after he’s been featured on national television.
Freberg: It’ll be like your high school girlfriend. She’ll always be your first love, but you’re not the same people anymore.
CBS Representative: But he hasn’t changed.
Holmes and Freberg: Not yet.
Holmes: Come talk to this guy in December when he’s a (expletive deleted).
Don’t miss the two-hour premiere of “Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites,” Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.