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Survivor: Nicaragua — Jimmy T. Tells All

October 07, 2010 04:00 PM by Ryan Haidet


Jimmy Tarantino was the first person ever voted into the game of Survivor by America.  But despite his desire to do well and become a leader, his huge personality was one of the reasons the Espada tribe chose to eliminate him from Survivor: Nicaragua on CBS.  In a conference call with reporters, Jimmy T. — a 48-year-old commercial fisherman — dished the dirt on Marty, having his torch snuffed and the casting process.

Question: Did you know before Tribal Council that you were going to get voted off?

Jimmy Tarantino: No.  I definitely thought Dan was going.  I thought Tyrone was going to vote the weakest, which was his original intention.  I thought Jill was still preaching to vote the weakest, but Marty told her she couldn’t do that.  So I thought it was going to be Danny.  They were still publicly preaching, “Let’s keep the tribe strong.”

Question: Everyone was very against you taking on the leadership role.  Why do you think the others wanted you to be a follower?

Jimmy Tarantino: There are two parts to that question.  The leaders knew I could succeed, and when I did that would diminish their role and possibly make them a target for the failures they had produced thus far.  The followers, because they were doing what they were told.  Several times you saw Jill say, “I think we should vote Danny off.”  And Marty says, “No we gotta vote this way.”  She would say, “OK, you’re the puppet master, whatever you say.”  Ultimately he told her not to say another word about it.  She did what she was told.  Yve did the same, and Danny did the same. …  Marty tried to point the finger at me for being paranoid, but everybody there is really over defensive.


Question: If you would have stayed in the game do you think you could have become a follower?

Jimmy Tarantino: It’s real tough for my personality to sit on the back of a bus while the driver is driving it toward a cliff.  I’m not that kind of person.  I never will be that kind of person.  That being said, when I play Survivor again, I will sit on the back of the bus, I will keep my mouth shut until I get my confessional interviews.  But I will allow the person to drive the bus and I will jump off at the last minute.

Question: What do you make of Marty’s game?

Jimmy Tarantino: When you see Marty in his confessionals on TV, you see the mad scientist in him and you see him for what he really is.  But Marty is an excellent Survivor player because he’s used to being in board rooms and manipulating people.  I’m not.  He’s good at keeping calm and lying, which I’m not.  He may go far in the game because of that.  That’s something I still yet to perfect.

Question: Did it ever come up to vote out Marty?

Jimmy Tarantino: No because he had such alliances going.  I knew he had Jill under his spell.  I knew Yve was angry with me.  We had a personal discussion, and Yve’s got a ton of issues, which you’ll probably see later on.  I tried to help her and she got angry at me.  So she was on his camp.  I had to try and gently sway people.  I couldn’t just come out and say, “Are you people all fools?  Marty is leading you off the cliff.”  I couldn’t do that because that would put me even more on the outs.


Question:  What about the incident with Marty and the sea urchin?

Jimmy Tarantino:  (talks about the importance of gathering food together)  …  I knew that they were edible, and I shared that with that tribe.  Every time I would go down and gather up a bunch of them and bring them back, I would share.  I never took one.  Anytime we caught crabs, nobody took one for themselves.  Nobody up until that experience had selfishly indulged on their own.  My failed efforts to see that Marty was leading them down a path of failure for his own self.  This was an opportunity to hopefully display that Marty isn’t so much about the tribe and more about Marty.  I’m like, “What are you doing Marty?  We’re gathering up for the tribe.”  I tried to point that out, and of course it flicked his switch.  It probably got me out of the game because it might have been Danny up until that point.  He called me paranoid, but as soon as I tried to out him a little bit, he snapped and started pushing the buttons.

Question: Having seen a few of the episodes now, do you think your leadership would have been more appreciated at La Flor?

Jimmy Tarantino: Yeah, I think I might have gotten a couple opportunities.  There was no question.  Nobody could actually see this, but we had conversations pre-challenge about what the strategy was going to be.  Those conversations largely took place between Marty, Jimmy (Johnson) and Tyrone.  I waited patiently and I said, “Can I just say one thing?”   Marty would go on and say another sentence totally ignoring that.  It was a definite effort to squelch me because I know that they know — and that includes Tyrone and Jimmy — that given the opportunity I may have won us a couple of those challenges.  Certainly not the last one; I think we did the best we could with that.  But the sandbag-tossing one, unquestionably, I would have won that challenge given the opportunity.  There were 40 that were airballs that Tyrone threw you never saw on TV, and he just would not come out of the game.


Question: Watching the show were you surprised by any of the editing or how you were portrayed?

Jimmy Tarantino: I definitely thought I would be portrayed more true to being honest.  But I feel like I was kind of portrayed as a loud mouth who wanted a lot of attention.  That was not the case.  Loud mouth?  Absolutely.  But wouldn’t you be loud if you knew somebody was driving the bus you were on off the cliff?

Question: Had you stayed in the game, who would you have tried to align with?

Jimmy Tarantino: The only person that I never felt was second-guessing and you could have an honest conversation with was Jane.  Jane keeps it real.  She’s true to who she is, much the same I was, but she’s a little wiser at keeping her tongue and preserving herself.  I hope she wins the whole thing.

Question: You have a very unique story about how you were put on the show.  Can you explain how you were selected?

Jimmy Tarantino: My sister told me about this casting call contest that Sears was doing online — submit a one-minute video, which I did.  I made a pretty good video to get in.  CBS selected 10 finalists.  Once those 10 finalists were selected then America got to vote for two weeks. …  The winner of the contest didn’t get to be a cast member; you got a trip to California to interview with the producers.  That was in my mind a sure thing.  If I could get out there and sit down with the interview, I could convince them I’m unique enough a character and the type-A personality that they’re looking for.  I certainly was.  I went out there and actually dominated the finals. …  I did very well in the process and got selected.  I can’t stress enough how genuinely I wanted to make people proud that they voted for me.  That probably hurt me in the long run because I tried probably too hard when I should have sat back and let things take their course.  Personally, I strived to make the tribe proud and make America proud for voting for me.


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