Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: How Domenick Abbate got producers to crack on Ghost Island
With Survivor filming for seasons 41 and 42 delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EW is reaching back into the reality show's past. We sent a Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to a batch of former players to fill out with their thoughts about their time on the show as well as updates on what they've been up to since. Each weekday, EW will post the answers from a different player.
Silence is golden. That is the rule between Survivor production and contestants during filming. Except for when a producer might tap a player to let them know it is time for a sit-down confessional interview, the crew members on the beach (including producers as well as camera and sound operators) are not supposed to interact with the contestants, and vice-versa.
So imagine Domenick Abbate's delight when he got the crew to break on Survivor: Ghost Island. And even though Dom made it all the way to day 39, coming up just one vote short in the only final Tribal Council tie in Survivor history, he still considers cracking up the crew to be his greatest feat as a Survivor player.
Dom shares the story in his Quarantine Questionnaire while also revealing the (surprising) person he ended up closest to in the cast and making a pretty good case for why he and his wife should be back on the island for Blood vs. Water 3. (P.S. Our money is on Kristin!)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.
DOMENICK ABBATE: Absolutely positively not a God damn thing! Who is doing things these days? Nobody. It's kind of like being in jail but with an unlimited supply of Nutella sandwiches and Netflix. Not ideal.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
I could say winning an immunity challenge or making it to day 39 was my proudest moment. But, to be honest, my proudest moment was getting the production crew to break silence when I was telling the story of how my father-in-law accidentally killed my dog and buried him in a "very" shallow grave in my backyard. I had them all laughing so hard, one of them dropped the boom mic. It was my crowning achievement.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
The obvious answer is not taking Wendell on in fire-making. But, to be honest, there were other things that could have been done. For example, when Sebastian was crying on the jury that I was mean for voting him out at final 6, I sat there for 10 minutes (without success) trying to justify my reasoning for doing it. Instead, I should have just sat there and made fart noises with my hand and mouth while he was chewing me out. I think the jury would have respected this move and possibly earned me a few more votes for the win.
What's something that will blow fans' minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
Kellyn and I had many fun and friendly conversations. Nobody saw that on TV. They only saw the parts where she looked like she wanted to choke me to death with a large set of vice grips.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I thought it was the greatest edit anyone in the history of the show has ever gotten. I came off as intelligent, strategic, sociable, and skillful. A complete farce. I'm none of those things. I guess they just needed a good storyline.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
After what we have all been through in 2020, the Survivor transition is a piece of cake. But seriously, the transition is rough at first. But as long as you have other things going on in your life, you will be fine. For some, doing anything as big as Survivor makes doing other regular things in life a bit dull. So for anyone out there applying, make sure you have other things going on in your life. You don't want a game show to dictate your actions for years following.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
Hell no. There were some bumps along the way, but how could I complain about any of it? I asked to be on the show. I wasn't forced. So I appreciate every component of it, even the moments that didn't go my way. I understand there are some people out there that feel like Survivor left them hanging after the show ended. I respect that mindset, but my perspective is totally different. I am nothing but grateful for the opportunity.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
Kellyn and I speak a few times a week. She's my sister. It started about a year after the show. We just talked about our dynamic on the show and some of the things we wish we would have done differently. A few apologies rolled back and forth and now our relationship is amazing. It's crazy how much you can accomplish when both parties are reasonable and have an open mind. We're also "in the closet" gambling junkies. So don't be surprised if you see any photos of us dumping our bankrolls at the blackjack table sometime in the future.
And Wendell, of course. Not as much lately because my man is out there conquering the world. I am so proud of what this guy has been doing. He's one of the few contestants that really utilized his Survivor springboard to create new opportunities for himself. He is amazing and I cannot wait to see what comes down the pike next for him. But we will be partying again as soon as this pandemic nonsense comes to an end.
Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?
Well, Survivor is not on right now, but I play Survivor at my house on a daily basis. Yeah, I have to survive my wife's wrath when I do some knucklehead thing at home (which is often). Latest example was yesterday. She had a turkey in the oven then left to go to the store. She clearly left the thermometer on the counter. She even left instructions for me to take it out of the oven at 165 degrees. Did I check the turkey with the thermometer? Of course not. When it "appeared" done I took it out of the oven. Instead of using the thermometer I sliced right into that bad boy only to find that it was still raw inside. Then I put it back in the oven and overcooked the s--- out of it. Yeah, that didn't go over well with the Mrs.
Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
Hands down, Coach! Has there ever been a more interesting, complex, lovable character than Coach? Sometimes when I'm in the bathroom peeing I catch myself reciting the words, "Iron sharpens iron." I friggin love that guy.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
Common complaint that I agree with is why only 60-minute episodes one day a week? There is obviously so much more we can learn about the contestants and the tribe dynamic with more air time. You've heard all of this before.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
I would certainly like to. And not because I want to go out there and avenge my loss to Wendell. But really because I had such a good time going out there the first time. And one thing that unfortunately took me several weeks to realize is that the possibilities really are endless in this game.
Of course, we as players want to win. And sometimes your back is against the wall and there may be no way out. And this is where the really creative players find that way out. I say that from the perspective of a fan. So, as a player, having the opportunity to test your own abilities in a game that is stressful at times, but ultimately not detrimental to your health or wealth is one of the greatest honors I can think of. It would be a privilege to play this game again.
To keep track of our daily Survivor Quarantine Questionnaires and get all the latest updates, check out EW's Survivor hub, and follow Dalton on Twitter.Watch Survivor on Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, and more options