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: Corinne Kaplan
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Pharmaceutical Sales
Previous Finish: Corinne came in 7th place in “Survivor: Gabon”
Memorable Moment: Corinne’s final Tribal Council speech to Jessica “Sugar” Kiper is a close second to Sue Hawk on the list of all-time most shocking finals moments.
Fun Fact: Corinne Kaplan was my original pick for the dream returnee “Survivor” Question of the Week. But, I changed it because I didn’t want to ruin the surprise.
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.
Gordon Holmes: You and I land on the beach on day one. The first thing that I’d probably remember about you is the Sugar speech from Gabon’s final Tribal Council. Are you worried that might put an immediate bad taste in people’s mouths?
Corinne Kaplan: I guess I would be if the other nine people I’ve seen in the hallway didn’t also have problems themselves.
Holmes: What? They’re all saints.
Kaplan: Right? I think it’s an even playing field. The problem is if we’re playing with any normal people, “Civilians” let’s call them, they don’t understand that the show is heavily edited. For example, when I gave that speech you have to understand that backstage, Paloma, Charlie, Kelly, I got a standing ovation. And by the way, the speech was far worse. They cut it down significantly. They were clapping backstage, nobody likes her. But, the edit makes her seem very likable and sweet, and “God, why did Corinne go after her?” So, as a player I don’t judge any of these people based on what they did on their season. I judge them based on how they are when I meet them. And I think that’s the difference between a returning player and a new player. So yeah, it’ll be a little dangerous, but I was loyal to my alliance and that is probably the most important thing. You don’t want to be the person that flipped three times.
Holmes: In your bio you mentioned “reality show losers” as a pet peeve. Some people might think that’s hypocritical, but we don’t see much of you in the post-show circles.
Kaplan: And you never will. (Laughs)
Holmes: But now you’re headed right back into…I almost said “the belly of the beast” but that sounds weird. Is that a thing?
Kaplan: Yeah, that’s a thing.
Holmes: Boom. Nailed it.
Kaplan: There’s no shame in going back on the show and doing press for the show. I don’t know why if you did the show seven years ago you feel the need to go to every charity event, show up in Orlando, Texas, wherever these stupid events are. It’s insane to me. In fact, reliving past glory you have for that season you’re on is just a loser move. I wouldn’t do it.
Holmes: Are you hoping for an opportunity to teach more tap dances this season?
Kaplan: Awww! I love that you asked that! (Laughs)
Holmes: I was a fan of your alliance, Menage a Kota, because Charlie Herschel is my boy.
Kaplan: I love Charlie.
Holmes: Are we going to see a new Menage?
Kaplan: Yes. I want to recreate some of the things I loved about my time out there. The truth of the matter is the people I aligned with are people I still talk to to this day because I like them. I got along with them and what you saw is very real. I don’t want to have to force feed myself someone I can’t stand.
Holmes: Was Randy technically a member of Menage?
Kaplan: He was for me, I don’t know if he was for Charlie or Marcus. I love Randy. Randy and I are super close.
Holmes: As a returning player, Coach did a good job of using people’s negative preconceived notions of him to his advantage. Like you said, what you see on TV isn’t always an accurate portrayal of how someone really is. You have a reputation for being a villainess. Can you utilize a strategy similar to the one Coach used?
Kaplan: Yes. First of all, in real life I’m in sales. I deal with people all the time. I’m good at establishing relationships and making a connection. I think I’m quite witty and snarky and funny. And, once you talk to me for a few minutes you’ll get that when I say, “I want to stab Susie in the face,” it was meant that I probably wanted someone else to stab her in the face, but I wouldn’t do it myself. You know what I mean?
Holmes: I do. It’s good to know that you would not literally stab someone in the face.
Kaplan: (Laughs) Exactly.
Holmes: But some people don’t get snark.
Kaplan: Right, they need to not be in my alliance. We need to get rid of them. It’s hard to last out there without humor. You need someone to lighten the mood.
Holmes: It seems like religion has become a big part of “Survivor” recently. Are you concerned about how you might react if someone wants you to pray before an immunity challenge?
Kaplan: It’s a delicate dance when you talk about religion. I don’t believe it plays into this game. It’s a game where you’re after each other. It’d be really sad to me if because I’m Jewish I couldn’t get on board or make alliances.
Holmes: God does not care who wins “Survivor.”
Kaplan: I don’t think he does!
Holmes: There are a lot bigger issues.
Kaplan: Yeah. So, I’m hoping that doesn’t play a role this season.
Holmes: Why do you think you were brought back?
Kaplan: The other players that were brought back, they were really outrageous. Phillip Sheppard is clearly insane. These people are great characters. I don’t think that’s where I fit in. I think I’m someone that when you take me to a confessional, you don’t have to draw something out of me. I tell you exactly what I’m thinking all the time. You can either edit me to be this awesome character or not, but you’re going to get every single piece you need. I don’t have an ego at all and I don’t think I was that memorable. I don’t know why they keep asking me back.
Holmes: Keep asking you back?
Kaplan: Yeah, they asked me back for “Heroes vs. Villains.” I wasn’t able to do it because of work. They asked me back again and then they decided that they weren’t going to do an All-Stars. And then now this time. I’ve been in contact with them basically since I left Gabon. I knew at some point I’d get to play again. But, I can’t tell you why.
Holmes: What’ve you been up to since Gabon?
Holmes: Not a damn thing?
Kaplan: (Laughs) I’m a real person with a real job. So, I’ve been working and living my life. I’m probably exactly the same. I’m definitely not more mature.
Holmes: If there is a twist, what do you think it will be?
Kaplan: Oh…hmm… I hadn’t thought about that.
Holmes: That’s why I’m here. To prep you for the adventure ahead.
Kaplan: To get me to think. OK, here’s what I hope it’s not. There are ten of us, which means there are possible ten more of us which makes it a season of twenty…which sucks. So, there’s two more people than there were in the last season I played which gives me less of a chance of winning the million. What twist I wouldn’t want is we get out there and immediately both tribes have to go to Tribal. Because, they’ve got to speed up the process when there’s extra people. Maybe there’s a twist with that?
Holmes: What are your impressions of the cast members you’ve seen so far?
Kaplan: I’m kind of excited. I had pre-existing hatred for several people on “Heroes vs Villains.” Which is one of the reasons I wasn’t that thrilled to do it. It’s like walking into a lion’s den. I knew multiple people didn’t like me.
Holmes: The belly of the beast.
Kaplan: There you go.
Holmes: Full circle.
Kaplan: So, this time I feel like I’m a free agent and nobody really knows me, I don’t really know them. For what it’s worth, there’s nobody I can’t stand. A random fact; I was watching “One World” because I didn’t know if anyone from there would be asked back. And I genuinely couldn’t stand Kat, almost as much as I didn’t like Sugar. And normally I wouldn’t say that because you don’t know until you meet someone. But I really didn’t like her. I was like, “Man, if she’s out there there’s no way I’d work with her.” But I don’t feel that way about anyone I see in the hallway. So, that’s good sign.
Holmes: So there’s nobody you want to stab in the face?
Kaplan: Not yet.
Holmes: But you’d stab poor Kat in the face?
Kaplan: I would high five her face. I don’t know if I’d stab her.
Holmes: Anyone in particular that you want to work with?
Kaplan: I kinda feel like I want to work with Cochran. I’m really interested in working with someone who needs me. My strategy has always been; you work with someone you need and somebody who needs you. So, the needs you component is pretty important because if we go to a final two I’d rather go with someone who needs me. The idea being, you’re not going to give the million to someone who tagged along the entire time. So, I think Cochran is really smart, he’s adorable, I liked his season, how he played. But, he’s someone who needs somebody. He’s smart, but he has no athletic ability and he’s hyper paranoid. All of those things contribute to him being someone who needs a guide, and I would like to be that guide.
Holmes: I’ve been doing this a while, and that’s the first time I’ve ever heard that specific strategy.
Kaplan: You want to know a secret?
Kaplan: My ex-boyfriend is Ethan Zohn, I dated him about ten years ago.
Kaplan: Yes, it’s not a very well-known fact. We dated for a long time and I’m still close friends with him to this day. And before I went to play he said, “Get somebody you need, and somebody who needs you.”
Holmes: I like that, it insulates you on both sides.
Kaplan: And Ethan won.
Holmes: What do you think you can do better the second time around?
Kaplan: (Laughs) Probably control my (expletive deleted) talking. I don’t do a great job of…
Holmes: So, use more concrete adjectives in your (expletive deleted) talking?
Kaplan: (Laughs) Really focused (expletive deleted) talking. I’m one of those people where it’s really fun to have a unified enemy. So, in the beginning it was easy to hate on the other tribe. You want to keep winning and you hate everyone on there. That’s why in the merge, whoever has the numbers stays together. So, unfortunately for me I was making fun of Crystal and whoever and they shuffled us up so many (expletive deleted) times on my season that inevitably I ended up playing with people I made fun of and the people who were on my tribe to save their own asses would tell. I had nickames for everybody. I’ll probably tame that.
Holmes: I’m assuming if you’d come back for “Heroes vs. Villains” you’d have been handed a red buff.
Kaplan: Correct. (Laughs)
Holmes: What kind of reaction do you get from fans?
Kaplan: You know, I don’t read blogs. I learned that lesson a long time ago. However, my father did. And it’s very scary for parents, they don’t understand. So, he was very upset. There was someone who set up a website that if you could find me and punch me in the face they’d give you ten grand. So, my parents were really freaking out.
Holmes: Hmm…I could use ten thousand dollars…
Kaplan: (Laughs) That’s the people that hide behind computers. You know what happens in real life? They’re like, “Oh my God, I hate you on the show but it’s so great to meet you! Will you sign this?” So, in general people are psyched to meet you. But, I have a key demographic. The gays are my key demographic. When the show first aired I went through West Hollywood and I was a celebrity.
Don’t miss the two-hour premiere of “Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites,” Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.