Exclusive: Corinne Kaplan dishes about her time on 'Survivor: Gabon'
By John Bracchitta, 12/05/2008
For Corinne Kaplan, a 29-year-old pharmaceutical sales representative from Los Angeles, CA, it was clearly evident that desperate times called for desperate measures.
As one of only two remaining members of what was once the mighty Kota "onion alliance" -- and facing certain elimination after her only ally won immunity -- Kaplan's all-or-nothing plan to parlay a second fake immunity idol into two new allies nearly worked, but fell short as she became the twelfth castaway to be eliminated from Survivor: Gabon during last night's broadcast on CBS.
On Friday, Kaplan talked with Reality TV World about what she felt her chances of surviving the Tribal Council truly were, why she still has no love for her former Fang opponents, and what misconception by her alliance had opened the door for the first "fake idol" debacle only three days earlier.
Reality TV World: So, to start, in your exit statement you wished [Ken "Kenny" Hoang] luck and said that he and [Robert "Bob" Crowley] were the only two castaways you seemed to liked. Did you still feel that way after learning that Kenny had a hand in Crystal's vote for you?
Corinne: Yeah. I mean, when I said that, obviously I didn't know about [Kenny's involvement in Crystal's vote]. Kenny was one of the people really... that I liked. He was a nice guy, and they all treated me basically like a leper, and Bob too. They wouldn't talk to us, if we walked into the hut they'd all leave. They didn't wanna be alone with us ever, and Kenny was very sweet about -- even though I was, I guess, the enemy -- he would go canoeing with me. He was kind of a friend while I was out there, I liked him. So I certainly didn't wish ill upon him, he's a good kid.
Unfortunately, he got a little too big for his britches and he made, I think, a real poor choice of trying to flesh out an [Immunity Idol] and voting for me instead of [Matty Whitmore]. But I still think he's a good guy.
Reality TV World: On last night's show, there was a clip were you were shown saying how incompetent the remaining former Fang members were. Given they'd already managed to beat your entire alliance by that point, how was that comment not more of an indictment of your own performance than theirs?
Corinne: Well, one thing I'd like to clarify is my alliance includes Bob, so they haven't beaten my alliance yet. And, truthfully, there's only one person that beats me. There are 18 people in this game, and there are 17 losers. So, I'm on the jury, there are four people on the jury already [and] the first three are my best friends. I will decide who gets the million [dollars], so take that for what it's worth.
I don't think... I mean, in your opinion, do you think if all those twists didn't happen that we would not have dominated?
Reality TV World: I think you guys definitely had it [going] up front in the beginning...
Corinne: (interrupting) Yeah, so the game was luck and chance! I don't give them credit for that.
Reality TV World: Having watched the show at home now and maybe seeing different things, do you still think [the former Fang folks] were incompetent as you did before?
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Reality TV World: So you attribute it more to luck and things like that...
Corinne: Well I think... You know, listen... That's really cute. If I got seventh place and you got sixth place, mazel tov. But I mean, really did you win? I stayed 33 out of 39 days. Anyone who stayed the extra couple of days, I really don't think that makes you -- unless you win the $1 million -- I just really don't think that makes you some sort of rocket scientist compared to me.
Reality TV World: You really seemed to instantly on board with Bob's "[Marcus Lehman] secretly kept the idol" story last night. Was there some reason you were so willing to believe that he could've had that idol?
Corinne: No. I mean I wanted to believe it, [but] honestly in my mind... I knew Marcus very well. Marcus is extremely intelligent. He would never leave an idol when he's going to [Tribal Council], that just would never happen.
But, when Bob's telling it... You have to understand, I've never seen Bob lie! He's not really that guy, so at the beginning when he started that pitch I was like "Really?!" and he was like "No" and I was like "Yeah, I figured that." I mean, it was about a nanosecond that I was on board with it, but he was just trying to fix the story to see if it was believable.
Reality TV World: Going back to that episode when Marcus did throw away the idol, didn't everyone get a chance to look at the idol and see it before they threw it away? And if so, did Bob's really look like it?
Corinne: Yes, that's a great question. The idol, when it was shoved in[to the bottle], it had little metal pieces. Bob and I knew to mimic the idol -- or at least what everyone saw, especially what was sticking out of the bottle when we threw it into the ocean. We needed little metal pieces, which we got off of the Tribal Council torches. So it did look a lot like the idol that was thrown in the water.
Reality TV World: So that's why people would have been so willing to believe it?
Corinne: We just ripped it off, so it was like a string and it was kinda raggedy, and there were these metal pieces that mimicked the metal pieces you saw on the first one. It was a great replica.
Reality TV World: On last night's show, Kenny seemed pretty certain he would be able to convince you to play the fake idol even though the only reason you guys had allied together was because you thought both he and Crystal would be joining Bob and yourself in voting for Matty....
Corinne: (Interrupting) Yeah, I don't get his strategy at all. If he thought I was going to play the idol why not still vote Matty out? Matty is an immunity threat and.. again I don't understand this... Can you explain to me how if you are in an alliance of five, you cannot all go to the finals! You have to jump ship, you have to make a move in order to change the outcome of the game. So why would you want me gone when I'm in a desperate scenario and I will take you at least to [the] Final 4. Now you're going up against Matty, who's great at Immunity Challenges, and you're in a group of five instead of four. It makes no sense.
Reality TV World: Yeah, and going off of that, what was [Kenny's] explanation about why [if he and Crystal were going to be voting for Matty] he felt you needed to play the fake idol?
Corinne: Well he just said "You have to play it. You should play it. I don't know if [Crystal Cox] is definitely gonna switch and I'm scared that if I vote for you than I'm gonna put myself at risk. Please just play the idol." And you have to understand, an idol's only good through Day 36, so even if I kept it I only would've had it for one more round even it if was real.
I said to [Kenny] "Don't worry, I'm playing it no matter what, so just try and get Crystal," because I couldn't seem paranoid that I needed Crystal to vote with me, that doesn't make any sense. What I said to [Kenny] was "for solidarity purposes..." and I said this to her, "... if you vote with me, I know you're with me. If you vote against me, and I stay, I'm gonna take out one of yours, I'll take you next."
Reality TV World: So you told them you were going to play the Idol?
Corinne: I said "No matter what I'm playing this idol." (pauses) Apparently it wasn't believable.
Reality TV World: As [Last night's] episode went on, you seemed increasingly confident that the fake idol plan might actually [work]. Did you think Matty was going to be going home when you left for Tribal Council?
Corinne: No. I mean, honestly, I knew like 99% that I was going home. But I thought that it was possible... I mean imagine the position I was in. What I came up with, and how I got at least three votes against Matty... I only lost by one vote and that's pretty amazing.
It shoulda been a slam dunk that I was going home and it was actually a question. I think even people watching actually thought there was a chance that I may not go home.
Reality TV World: Do you have any idea why Kenny felt the need to give Matty a third vote in order for his plan to work? Wouldn't Matty have still gone home [for being] the second highest vote-getter even if only Bob and yourself had voted for him?
Corinne: Right. Well I think Kenny wanted to show his support so that if Matty went home I would believe he was with me, and I wouldn't think the same of Crystal. So if there was a Final 3 it would've been me, Bob and Kenny [instead of] me, Bob and Crystal.
I would assume that's why he did it, but I have no idea, I don't speak to him.
Reality TV World: When you told [Kenny] about the idol... it seemed that Crystal was a little skeptical at first when hearing about the fake idol...
Corinne: Well I purposefully didn't talk to Crystal about the idol, I had Bob do it because Bob is very convincing. I told Bob "Look her in the eye, make it seem real." and he did. You heard her saying "He looked me in the eye, he kissed me on the cheek, it's definitely real."
I handled Kenny because I thought I was better with Kenny and he was better with Crystal. But I thought we had them going.
Reality TV World: Yeah, well I was gonna say, it seemed like you had Kenny [immediately] hook, line and sinker. Was it really that easy to get him to switch alliances?
Corinne: I think I was a good actress! (laughs) I think that, had I played that any other way, he... I mean he luckily comes to me and says "I'm sorry, you're going home" and I say "Oh, don't worry about me," and he's like "What do you mean?" and I'm like "Nah don't worry about it, I'm gonna be fine, don't worry about me."
And then he's prying and he's like "I won't tell anyone, I promise." And I know for sure he's gonna tell Crystal, so I thought that went down flawlessly.
Reality TV World: Had you and Bob thought about going to Kenny and Crystal before the whole "fake idol" thing about trying to get them to switch?
Corinne: I knew [Jessica "Sugar" Kiper] and [Susie Smith] were a wash, I knew they weren't gonna come over. I had tried with [Randy Bailey]. Randy was real close with Matty, and the fact that we couldn't get Matty to flip, even though he hated Crystal, he wouldn't flip because he's just a big pussy. (laughs)
[Matty] wouldn't flip so I knew he was no shot. I knew Kenny liked me and I knew I had something with Kenny and I thought Crystal was my only shot. So of the remaining people other than Kenny, Crystal was the only other person you could reason with. She's moderately intelligent.
Reality TV World: Last night, it looked the only reason Crystal and Kenny had any hesitation [to go through with the original plan to both cast their votes for Matty] was because of the fake idol and [their hope to get you to play it]. Do you think if you had just avoided [the fake idol story] entirely and just gone to them and said you wanted to get rid of Matty that they would have gone with you?
Corinne: Hindsight is 20/20. Honestly I think I was going home no matter what. Sure, I would have loved to have had the knowledge. And you have to know, I didn't even really know that Crystal was in an alliance with Kenny. Crystal and Sugar were attached at the hip, so I didn't really know what my odds where and I knew she had been with Matty since the beginning.
Honestly, I really didn't know. I wish I would've known that, but I don't even know if that would've worked. They were really tentative to leave the alliance, which again is retarded because you're five people, you can't all go to the finals. But they were really nerved out about leaving their alliance.
Reality TV World: Had you and Bob thought about other plans to get [other castaways] to come over before the fake idol plan?
Corinne: Please... I tried, every single one of them I tried at some point. It was just clear that none of them were budging.
Reality TV World: On the show there seemed to be a lot of times where you were pretty open about yourself being naturally mean, and Jeff Probst even termed you a "self-proclaimed uber-bitch" before the show began airing this fall. That can be a handicap in a game like Survivor, did you ever worry that being so outspoken might come back and haunt you?
Corinne: To be honest with you, that's not why I was voted out. Look at someone like [Charlie Herschel] who was nice to everybody, or Marcus. That doesn't matter.
And I was not outspoken. I was funny and I was really nice around camp, but I did stuff like that in confessionals because that's how I was feeling and I thought it would be really neat if I was honest and the viewer could see what I was really going through rather than cover my ass because it's on national TV. I thought it was way more fun to just be yourself.
Reality TV World: Moving on to Sugar, Randy and yourself hadn't thought that she found the [Immunity Idol hidden at Exile] when Bob was doing the whole "fake idol" thing the first time. Why were you and Randy so confident that [despite spending so much time out there] Sugar hadn't found the Idol?
Corinne: That's a misconception. I knew she had the idol, I thought she played it and that's why Kelly went home, because it didn't make sense to me why they would have voted Kelly out. She had already flipped, she was in an alliance with the Fang members at that time, and she's athletically much better than Sugar.
So I thought -- and we were told [by Sugar and Matty] -- that Sugar played the idol to stay in the game when Kelly was voted out, which made total sense to me. That's why I thought it was back out there.
I knew she found it, I mean c'mon! The girl spent 15 days out there. A monkey could find it.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on the show?
Corinne: I was recruited off MySpace, purely recruited. I mean I love the show now and I watched hours and hours of it and now I'm a fan, [but] I wasn't prior to this. I didn't seek it, they found me.