When Survivor producers put together the cast of Fans Vs. Favorites, Palau winner Tom Westman was one person they couldn’t convince to come back (China’s Courtney Yates was another). Word was that the former fireman didn’t want to tarnish his legacy as a champion. So what the hell is he doing returning for Heroes Vs. Villains? “I kinda realized, the legacy isn’t much,” he told me in Samoa right before the game began. “Being the winner of a reality television show isn’t exactly quarterbacking a team to the Super Bowl, so I’m okay with that. I was the last one out on my first season. If I’m the first one out of this season, no worries.”
So will Tom be the first one out this season (which kicks off Feb. 11 on CBS)? Doubtful. While Tom is a former winner and was a challenge dominator who also played a great social game, perhaps because of his age (45) or because he played so long ago (at least in terms of this cast), not too many people in their pre-game comments appeared to be targeting him early. [Tom’s biggest worry heading into the game, plus exclusive on location video after the jump]
At the same time, Tom was feeling a bit like an outsider at contestant quarters before the game began. “Looking at the group that I’m dealing with here, I’m worried about some of the younger people from these current seasons,” he told me. “They all hang out, they all know one another in the same social circuit in L.A., and it doesn’t play well for somebody who’s been on a little earlier and is not in their demographic.” I think the question ultimately becomes: Will the alpha males on the Heroes tribe (Colby, James, J.T., Tom, and Rupert) bond over their work ethic and love of brute strength, or will they end up jockeying for position. Tom and Colby appeared to really be bonding when I visited their camp on day two of the game, so that could be something for the firefighter to build on, but Colby is not exactly in that younger L.A. social circuit either, so we’ll see, but I do think Tom’s position in the Heroes tribe is one of the more intriguing subplots. In Palau, people immediately saw him as a dominant personality and anointed him as their leader. That’s not necessarily going to happen here.
To see my interview with Tom as well as exclusive footage of him at the Heroes camp, click on the video below. (You can watch interviews with the entire cast at our super special Survivor video hub.) This is the sixth in a series of daily profiles. If you missed our first five, there are links to Cirie, Boston Rob, Sugar, Randy, and Amanda below the video. Up next tomorrow: Panama’s Danielle DiLorenzo. And for all the Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss. Okay, take it away, Tom…
Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS