Welcome to the Survivor: Ghost Island preseason! THR’s Josh Wigler reports from his visit to the show’s shooting location in Fiji, where he interviewed host Jeff Probst, as well as the 20 new castaways battling it out for the million dollar prize.
Click here to make sure you’re all caught up on our stories from the island, including our weekly podcast series “First One Out: Ghost Zero,” an in-depth look at all of the new players, culminating in an interview with the first person voted out of the season, and Wigler’s exclusive overnight stay on Ghost Island.
Another day, another Survivor super fan on the board: Jacob Derwin, a singer-songwriter and music teacher born and raised on Long Island, currently based in Brooklyn. Jacob is the latest in an increasingly long line of Survivor commentators to hit the beach, having served as a Survivor columnist before joining the Ghost Island cast. “The blogging part wasn’t a big appeal to me,” says executive producer and host Jeff Probst, who admits, “It gave me a moment of pause!” Instead, Probst points to Jacob’s personality as the reason he was cast on the show.
“He’s a very likable guy,” says Probst. “He’s very fun to be around. He had a great audition tape. When we met in person, I found him really engaging. I hope he does okay. He had a big reaction when we [revealed the Ghost Island theme at the marooning]. His eyes got wide. That’s the kind of excitement that makes me excited, when people are in it on it, and they’re willing to say, ‘I’m down with that! Let’s go do it!’ I think Jacob is probably going to make friends fast. I would love to see him go deep in the game.”
Hear more from Jacob and the other players in our preseason podcast series First One Out: Ghost Zero, and read on for highlights from our interview.
Jacob’s ethical philosophy on Survivor:
“We learned recently what the lines in the game are. I have a few very close friends who know I’m doing this. I sent them all a message before I left: ‘Just so you know, Survivor is a game about lying and manipulation. If I do anything on television that offends or disgusts you, I apologize.’ I’m not a super volatile person. But I might say something I regret. I might hurt somebody. I might make someone cry if I vote them out when we’re allies. One of my friends, named Andrea, one of the most badass people I’ve met in my entire life, messaged me back: ‘I was talking to my fiancé and this is what he said: “I want him to win that shit.” You have our blessing to be as manipulative and petty as you need to be.’ So I’m not going into this intending to be a pathological liar. I want people to like me. But if I’m in a corner and I see this as my best route toward getting where I need to be? Then I’ll do it. It’s a game.”
How Jacob will react if he gets blindsided:
“If it happens after the merge, I’ll take it with such dignity. I don’t want to go out of this game easily: ‘He was in the minority and he wasn’t as strong as us, so let’s get him out of here.’ My nightmare is being at the first Tribal and getting booted because I’m not athletic. If I get booted in the most mundane way, where we’re on a tribe that needs strength and I’m not strong enough, even though I have a million other qualities people should look for in their allies? If that happens, it’s going to hurt a lot. That’s going to be me on the premerge trip, scowling the entire time. If it happens afterward and I get to be a part of the jury for the rest of the game? And especially if it’s a really great move that took some thought and effort of gathering people behind my back? I’ll be doing the same thing, so if you outplay me, you deserve to be there and I don’t. Simple as that.”
That’s Jacob in his own words. But what do the other castaways think about him? Over the course of our interviews out in Fiji, the Ghost Island cast members were presented with pictures of their competitors, and asked to establish their preseason thoughts. With that said, here’s what they think about Jacob, member of the Malolo tribe.
Donathan Hurley (Caretaker, Malolo Tribe): “He’s a character. He looks like he’s so fun. He’s always laughing and smiling when he’s talking to others. He looks like he’s going to be so bubbly to me.”
Wendell Holland (Furniture Company Owner, Naviti Tribe): “That’s my fro bro! Fros R Us! It’s going to be me and him! I’ve liked him for a while. Happy guy. Nice guy. Fros R Us!”
Libby Vincek (Social Media Strategist, Malolo Tribe): “I nicknamed him Super Fan Fro Man. From the moment we got to LA and I saw him, he was just so stoked about everything, even the moment they said ‘Ponderosa.’ In my case, growing up and not being a super fan, it would be really smart to align with him. He probably has some clever ideas that I would never even have thought of. I would like to be on his side.”
Brendan Shapiro (Physical Education Teacher, Malolo Tribe): “He’s funny. He’s probably a super fan. I mean this in an endearing way, but I think of him like Fozzie Bear. He’s kind of a little goofy. Today, he’s tripping over things. He looks like a fish out of water, but I suspect he knows a lot about the game, and will probably think a couple of steps ahead.”
Morgan Ricke (Marine Animal Trainer, Naviti Tribe): “Richard Simmons! We found Richard Simmons! He seems so goofy and he doesn’t care, and I love it. I love it! I’m a fan. I’m a big fan of him.”
Chelsea Townsend (Cheerleader and EMT, Naviti Tribe): “He’s funny. He’s super friendly. He’s always laughing to himself and always seems like a positive and happy person. I like people like that, so I think he’s cool.”
Angela Perkins (Army Veteran, Naviti Tribe): “I think he’s the once when you’re having a rough day, you’re going to look at him and smile. He’s going to pat you on the shoulder and say, ‘We came here for a reason, and it’s going to be okay. We’re out here for a reason.’ He seems genuine.”
Bradley Kleihege (Law Student, Naviti Tribe): “This kid’s funny. He seems very nice. If I had to peg one person as being a high schooler, it would be him. He seems like a benevolent giant, hasn’t quite grown into his motor skills. He’s like a Great Dane puppy. But he seems like someone I can work with.”
Michael Yerger (Real Estate Agent, Malolo Tribe): “He’s a little oddball. A little weird and eccentric. He seems likable! I’m an oddball, too. Everybody has that deep down.”
James Lim (Business Analyst, Malolo Tribe): “He’s definitely unique. He’s quirky in a good way. He laughs a lot and claps a lot when people from production speak. He’s probably down to earth. I think he’s a good dude. Nothing bad about him.”
Sebastian Noel (Fishing Guide, Naviti Tribe): “He’s another one who isn’t all there! He takes a shower last, every day. Sometimes, he doesn’t eat. He plays board games by himself. He’s another one that’s just a left side of the brain, completely.”
Stephanie Gonzalez (Graphic Sales, Malolo Tribe): “I like him. He’s cool. He’s the air drummer. There was a butterfly flying across from us, and he pointed at it, and I thought that was cool. He was listening to music, air drumming and dancing, which I do. You don’t really care what people think of you, as long as they accept you for who you are. He does look for acceptance in people, because he’s kind of quirky, and that probably makes him feel good. Lots of compliments his way.”
Desiree Afuye (Student, Naviti Tribe): “Oh, this guy. He’s going to make friends. He’s going to make a lot of friends on the island. He’s going to be very funny. I think he’s going to be humorous. He definitely strikes me as a super fan, so I don’t know if I can get one over on him. He already knows a lot of the moves that are being pulled.”
Laurel Johnson (Financial Consultant, Malolo Tribe): “I love that guy. He’s my favorite! He’s adorable. Maybe he got sunburned the first day he was here. He was wearing shorts and a T-shirt the first day he was here, and ever since, he’s been wearing long pants, long sleeves — fully covered from head to toe. I think maybe he got sunburned. That’s just adorable to me. His eyes light up every time something happens. I really hope I can work with him.”
Jenna Bowman (Advertising Account Executive, Malolo Tribe): “I want to get to know him. I’m so intrigued by him. The way he moves… and he’s always writing in his journal. It looks like he’s speaking his own little language. He’s probably someone to watch out for. He seems like a nice guy, but he’s probably a huge super fan, and he probably knows his stuff.”
Kellyn Bechtold (Career Counselor, Naviti Tribe): “Bless his heart. I bet he’s watched Survivor since the day he was born. I’ll guess he’s the hardest core Survivor fan, just the way his eyes light up. He seems like the most excited to be here. I would watch out for him. I bet he’s here to play the game, first. At Ponderosa, he plays these little games. I don’t even know what they are. I bet he sees us all as chess pieces. He’ll be making decisions with his head and not his heart. You have to watch out for that.”
Domenick Abbate (Construction Supervisor, Naviti Tribe): “That guy was born on Survivor Island. He has this smile he cannot get rid of. When we pulled up to Ponderosa, I thought he saw Jesus. He just can’t stop with the grin. I’m confident that he’s the hardest Survivor fan that ever lived. That’s my impression. I like it. He’s very friendly. He seems very likable. I don’t know if it’s nervous energy or actual fear, but he definitely seems a little out of his element being out here. He seems like the type that may come out of the gate nervous or fearful. But if he gets his footing, he’s taking this game.”
Stephanie Johnson (Yoga Instructor, Malolo Tribe): “He’s a super fan. He’s probably the only person out here who is as big of a super fan as I am. He looks just like my brother, which is good. My brother is a geek to the core, and he’s my best friend. I know that world. My brother talks to me about playing Dungeons and Dragons all the time. I feel like I know that window. I would love to work with him, because I think he would be fun to strategize with.”
Chris Noble (Male Model, Naviti Tribe): “That guy, there’s something I love about him. If he was on my tribe, I would trust him instantly. My only worry is he’s one of those guys who can be persuaded in any way. He could be a bouncer. He reminds me of Erik, the ice cream scooper. He was such a loving and funny guy. This was such a new world and new experience, and he was enjoying it so much, and everybody was able to just yank him around. That’s him, just in a Zach Galifianakis body. He’s a lovable guy. I haven’t even spoken a word to him and I like him. There’s just something about him!”
Keep up with all of our preseason interviews:
What’s your read on Jacob? Sound off with your predictions in the comments section below, and keep checking THR.com/Survivor for more interviews with the Survivor: Ghost Island cast.