He tells EW.com about his strategies for success on and off the island
Gervase Peterson
Credit: Gervase: Monty Brinton

”Survivor”’s 30 year old basketball coach Gervase Peterson tells EW.com that he’s signed to take on the first of what he hopes will be many post Pulau Tiga TV roles. The man whose name became a household word after an erroneous Internet report claimed that he was the million dollar winner, will make his acting debut in an upcoming episode of ”The Hughleys.” Unlike some of his former competitors (Greg Buis refused even to do interviews after being bounced from the show), Peterson relishes the spotlight. That’s why he’s hoping to parlay ”Survivor”’s astronomical ratings into — what else? — a successful career as a celebrity.

The New Jersey resident acquired an agent soon after the first episode aired, and he says he’s in talks with both CBS and ”Entertainment Tonight” about future jobs as an announcer or correspondent. If he gets his way, we can ”definitely” expect to see a lot more of his characteristic smirk in months to come. ”I’m saying ‘definitely’ because that’s what I want, and the response has been so good,” he says. ”[”The Hughleys” is] my first step.”

Here’s more of EW.com’s interview with Peterson:

So, you’re enjoying the spotlight?
It’s like one of those dream come true type deals. I mean, I always wanted to be on TV. Growing up I always wanted to be a football player or an actor. I feel like it’s just come full circle. Being on TV, being a celebrity.

It seems like everybody in the audience thought you were lazy. How did you feel about that?
I was very pleased. Because that was my plan. I went to that island saying to myself, ”OK you’re going to go to a tropical island, and maybe not even for that long.” So why would I want to build a kitchen, a living room, a dining room, a basement, like Tagi [tribe] was doing? It comes across on TV looking REAL BAD. But anybody who knows me will tell you that I’m one of the hardest workers in the world. I was confident I wouldn’t get voted off for it.

In the beginning it was important for everybody to do their fair share of work. Why didn’t you get voted off back then?
Because everybody likes me. It was really that simple. It’s been like that all my life. If you look at it, Joel, Gretchen, all these other people got voted off before me. But I’m still hanging. It’s like, I must be doing something right. [The audience] HATED watching that. They wanted me to work hard, pull my weight out there. But I was doing something right!

People also hated one of the comments you made about women.
I said, ”Women are the stupidest things on the planet next to a cow.” It was taken out of context. It was me, Joel, Jenna, and Colleen sitting around the fire one night. We were just talking about relationships, and how when a girl’s in love with a guy, and a guy’s in love with a girl, you’ll do things for them. It was a stupid comment that just came out of my mouth. So I definitely apologize to them: my mother, my daughters, my sisters, all women on the planet.

What did you think when the news broke recently that you had supposedly won the million bucks?
I was happy. When we lost the treasure chest [during the competition for team immunity], everybody blamed me. For five weeks in a row, all the polls [on CBS’ website and others’] were like, ”Who do you want to vote off next? Gervase.” I was like 60 percent, and everybody else was down in the teens. After that story broke, it changed everything. And then they started noticing that I was winning competitions. Then when I got voted off, people were crushed. That was the biggest upset since David and Goliath.

You painted a target on yourself before the last Tribal Council. How did you know you were going to get the boot?
Because I was winning competitions left and right. I was the best athlete on the show. I was a threat.

I think the nation wept when Richard won the last immunity challenge — it was like Nixon getting pardoned.
They weren’t the only ones. I was weeping, too, because I said, ”Uh-oh, I’m next.”

It’s rumored that some of the women on the show have had offers from Playboy. Would you consider Playgirl?
If the money’s right, the pants may come down.