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: Francesca Hogi
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Previous Finish: Francesca came in 18th place in “Survivor: Redemption Island”
Memorable Moment: Francesca’s opening-scene comment that the returning players were “sizing us up like prey” may have led to her early elimination
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 are the first person to ever return to the game after being voted out first.
Francesca Hogi: Yes. “Survivor” history, baby.
Holmes: Indeed it is.
Hogi: This is my second bit of “Survivor” history. The first is I was the first person to go to Redemption Island.
Holmes: Oh…and the first person to get…eliminated from Redemption Island…
Hogi: I wasn’t going to throw that in there. (Laughs)
Holmes: So, that’s three firsts. And I’m just going to keep my mouth shut.
Holmes: But I’m not good at that, so let’s continue. Why do you think you were invited back?
Hogi: I have no idea. I find this all very surprising. I didn’t believe it was going to happen until yesterday when I got on the plane I thought, “I guess this is really happening.” I guess people in production felt like I got screwed. I guess some people liked watching me on the show. It’s very flattering.
Holmes: I remember thinking it was too soon. You and Kristina Kell.
Hogi: Thank you.
Holmes: It seemed like you were both very smart and had a lot to offer as far as gameplay. And, you were a very good narrator.
Hogi: Thank you. It’s great, I was extremely surprised by people’s reactions to me.
Holmes: You could be the first person to be voted out first, then come back and win the whole deal.
Hogi: That’s the plan.
Holmes: Right, I meant you’re going to be that person.
Hogi: That’s right. That’s what’s happening.
Holmes: Well great, then this whole thing is going to be anti-climatic.
Hogi: It’s like Dalton Ross said, “Worst to first.”
Holmes: You talked to Dalton Ross?
Hogi: I did.
Holmes: I hate that guy.
Holmes: What’ve you been up to since we saw you last?
Hogi: Plotting, scheming, working, playing, traveling.
Holmes: And it’s all going to pay off.
Hogi: Oh yeah.
Holmes: So there’s a basement somewhere with pictures of Jeff Probst and candles…
Hogi: It might be alarming for the outside person to see it, but it’s harmless. I’m not going to kill anyone, I’m just going to win “Survivor.”
Holmes: You have played with returnees before, I’m referring of course to “Survivor” Hall of Famer “Boston” Rob Mariano.
Hogi: “Boston” Rob.
Holmes: And now you are a returnee yourself. What did you learn from watching his approach to returning to the game that you can utilize?
Hogi: Well, if I’m on a tribe with new people, I’m going to employ my own version of the “Boston” Rob, “Who me?” Because “Boston” Rob said to us on the first day, “I know I have no shot of winning this game. I’m not here to win. I just love this game and I want to help you guys win.” And everyone was like, “Oh my God, he’s so nice.”
Holmes: You guys bought that?
Hogi: Yeah, he doesn’t mean that. He’s going to win this game if you let him. I thought, this tribe is going to give “Boston” Rob a million dollars because they want him to like them. Which is exactly what happened. It was like that from day one.
Holmes: Well, he is quite charming.
Hogi: Yeah, but I remember when he was saying it, I was thinking, “Nobody’s going to buy this.” And I looked around and everyone bought it. I think that I could more plausibly do that because I’m not “Boston” Rob. I’m far from it. I’m the least successful returning player ever.
Holmes: Right now.
Hogi: (Laughs) Right now. So, no one should perceive me as a threat. I’m bad at “Survivor.” Or, I used to be. I’m going to say I just want to get a little bit farther because anything is an improvement from where I’ve been.
Holmes: You march out on the beach on day one, what do you think the other players remember about you?
Hogi: I guess they’ll remember that I have a big mouth. I don’t think there’s anything else to remember. You could probably answer that question better than I could.
Holmes: As a “Survivor” fan I remember you being smart and going home early because you were a threat. Didn’t you say something early on like, “They’re eyeing us like sharks?”
Hogi: Something like that, or “They’re eyeing us like prey.”
Holmes: If there is a twist, what do you think it is?
Hogi: What I’m expecting, so it’s probably the opposite of what will happen, is that we’ll be returning players and new players all mixed together. I think people are thinking this will be like a Fans vs. Favorites 2 situation. I don’t think that’s what it’ll be. I think there will be mixing. But, I’d rather it be all returning players on one side.
Holmes: I feel like “Survivor” is very much influenced by the last season a cast sees before they play the game. In this case, with “South Pacific” and “One World,” people on the bottom of alliance have been content with their places and have been bounced one by one.
Hogi: It’s driving me crazy. I think not everybody plays “Survivor” to win. I think some people play to get as far as they can. It’s all the cliché stuff. You are out of your element. You are hungry, you aren’t sleeping well. Whatever it takes to get to the next day. It takes a lot to make a big move and not everybody has that drive. People get complacent.
Holmes: Everybody here has been asking themselves “What if” since they were voted out. Is there anything in there you can use? Mistakes they’ve made and if they’re likely to make them again?
Hogi: I’m going to assume that everyone is going to be smarter. You really learn so much from being out there. I assume everyone will be smarter. Whether or not they are, remains to be seen. But I’m not going to rely too much on my preconceived notions of people.
Holmes: You’ve been with the cast for a little bit today. What are your first impressions of the group?
Hogi: So far it’s been pretty good. Well, I’m not thrilled to see Phillip. But, I’m not surprised to see Phillip.
Holmes: Is that still a thing?
Hogi: You know, it’s not a thing for me. I have no relationship with him. I don’t think I’ve had one conversation since that Tribal Council. I’ve seen him and we’ve said, “Hello” and that’s it. I don’t like him. I don’t find him to be a likable person. I’m not looking forward to living with him. I’m trying to really go in very open-minded. Well, not open-minded like I’m going to align with Phillip. I’m not insane. (Laughs) But, I’m not like, “OK, Phillip’s got to be the first one to go.” I’m not thinking that way. I know he could be gunning for me. I wouldn’t be surprised at all.
Holmes: Anyone else stick out to you?
Hogi: Other than Phillip I think it’s a pretty good group for me. I don’t know Corinne at all. I’ve never even met her. I met Brenda once. I definitely see Brenda as a big threat in the game, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to align with her, because I will try to. Corinne has a bad reputation for being really bitchy, but she was really loyal to her alliance. I have no problem with that. Smart, bitchy, loyal? Sign me up. (Laughs) Let’s do it. Brandon makes me a little wary because I think he’s a little bit of a loose cannon. It’ll be interesting to see the people who learned from their mistakes the first time versus people who can’t help themselves and will play the same way. Is Phillip going to do what Coach did and go from being a complete raving lunatic his first season to being an eccentric his second season to a normal person his third season?
Holmes: I think Coach did it right. For Coach to have that crazy reputation, then be able to play against that and say, “What you saw on TV isn’t the real me. This is the real me.” That probably makes people feel closer because they’re seeing a side of him that most people haven’t seen.
Hogi: Yeah, is Phillip going to be Phillip 2.0? A toned-down…well…actually, I saw him today holding a feather, so it’s not looking good. (Laughs)
Holmes: I’ve heard about that. I’m not going to lie, I’m very excited to see it.
Hogi: (Laughs) I don’t see Phillip as being the kind of person who realizes how lucky he was the first season in that everybody was driven crazy by him on day one, but “Boston” Rob saw in him that potential to keep him around as someone he wanted to go to the end with. It took a lot of discipline to keep Phillip around because he’s not an easy person to live with. The rest of the tribe had a big problem with that. I don’t think Phillip appreciates that. I think he might give himself a lot more credit than he deserves for how far he went in the game. So, I don’t know if he’ll play differently.
Holmes: If he pronounces your name correctly, is that a step in the right direction? Will that help mend fences?
Hogi: The last time I saw him he came up to me and put his hand on my shoulder and said, “How are you doing, Francesca?”
Holmes: Oh! See, there’s hope.
Hogi: He was practicing. We’re going to be best friends. I love him. No…I don’t love him.
Don’t miss the two-hour premiere of “Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites,” Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.