Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Brian Corridan gave Danni a 'Winners Dossier' before season 40
With Survivor filming for seasons 41 and 42 indefinitely postponed 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.
The tribe swap. It can offer fresh hope for Survivor contestants stuck in a bad position on a tribe. It can be a second chance for a player who started off on the wrong foot. It can be a lifeline for a person struggling for something — anything! — to grab onto. Or it can totally kill your game.
For Brian Corridan in Survivor: Guatemala, it was the latter. Brian made a super-savvy move to save ally Lydia Morales early in the season by masterfully flipping the vote onto Morgan McDevitt instead. But a tribe swap put him and his Yazhá allies in the minority, and while Brian was able to save himself once by pinning a target Blake Towsley, it was only a temporary stay of execution as he was eliminated at the next vote, becoming the seventh person voted out of the game.
But even with his early exit, Brian remains a true Survivor superfan, and he reveals that he used that knowledge to create a “Winners Dossier” for Guatemala champ Danni Boatwright to read before returning for season 40. (Clearly, she either didn’t read it or forgot it all by the time she arrived in Fiji.)
For anyone who remembers Brian’s wildly entertaining (and occasionally cocky) confessional interviews, it will be no surprise that he delivered the goods with his Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.
BRIAN CORRIDAN: As you know, I became the first person from Survivor to compete on both Big Brother (winning Season 10) and Amazing Race (coming in third place on Season 12 with my partner, a life-size body pillow of a Doozer from Fraggle Rock). (Don’t Google any of this, just trust me.)
Okay, fine, you got me. We came in fourth place.
In actuality, I’ve been living in New York City ever since I was on the show, just after I graduated college. I run SAT prep classes, so most of my time is spent helping teenagers realize the test is both something they can conquer and something that shouldn’t define them. When I’m not teaching, I’m traveling around the world as much as I possibly can and being a total millennial about posting it all to Instagram. I’m eagerly awaiting a time when that’s safe to do again.
Survivor-wise, I’m still a massive superfan, and I’ve been really lucky to gain some lifelong friends from the show. There’s a whole group of former Survivors around my age in New York City — Eliza Orlins, Courtney Yates, Charlie Herschel, Stephen Fishbach, Francesca Hogi, Andrea Boehlke, Sophie Clarke, Josh Canfield, others that I am deeply going to regret forgetting to mention here — and though some have since moved away, we’d often watch new episodes together. At some point, someone online dubbed us the Wine & Cheese crew (I think we literally had a bottle of wine and a plate of cheese visible in a photo we posted), so that’s a thing. And I love them dearly!
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
Without a doubt, the Blake boot. Not even a question. And that’s not a dig at Blake — he’s an awesome guy, and I had a ton of fun with him in Costa Rica on our pre-jury trip. It’s deeper than that. As a superfan, you want to feel like you left your mark on the game — something you can point to and say, “I did that!” So when I got the opportunity to implement the “Bait Blake” strategy, it felt like I had played an active role in the season. Had I been a perfunctory tribe swap boot, I think I would’ve had a much harder time feeling satisfied with my Survivor experience. But once I had played my way out of being in the minority of a 4-3 tribe swap, I felt really effing good.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
There’s a deep, raw, unabating regret that I didn’t make it further. It’s been 15 years (15! Years!) and I still have dreams about the game. Part of that is because the show’s still on and I still watch and I’m still involved in the community, especially in New York City, so it’s a constant presence in my life. But another part of that is because I worked so hard to get on — it was such a dream come true. I was — still am — a huge Survivor fan. I think for a lot of contestants who were recruited to be on the show, there’s this sense of “It’s been so long! Get over it!” And, like, easy for you to say. You didn’t care about the game in the first place. And also, okay, give me some credit here — I’m not lying awake at night restless about what might have been. But when you have a goal that you worked so hard for, and when you’re friends with so many others who have played the game multiple times, there’s a sense of “Oh, damn, that ship has very long ago since sailed for me, and there’s really nothing I can do to bring it back.” So that’s a bummer.
I am, however, really, really grateful that my vote-out felt (at least at the time) so beyond my control, leaving me with virtually no “woulda coulda shouldas.” I was on the wrong end of a 4-3 tribe swap (a “reward” for having the “most tribe pride”), still managed to survive to get the numbers down to a 3-3 tie, and went down trying to orchestrate a 3-2-1 vote split (WHICH YOU, DALTON, ONCE CALLED SO COMPLICATED THAT YOU NEEDED A FLOW CHART, but, whatever, I’m not bitter). I was just a New School player trapped in an Old School season.
What’s something that will blow fans’ minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
Man, if they could see the hotels we get put up in every night when filming ends. We all sleep in one giant California king and stuff our faces with waffles until the make-up crew comes to cake some dirt onto our cheeks and we get trucked back to camp to film sleepy-eyed wake-up scenes. I got really good at fake yawning.
Besides that? I could go on way too long about my vivid memories from Guatemala. It was just magic, and I’m so grateful for it. There was the rafting portion of our 11-mile hike through the jungle. The many, many, many rounds of the mud tug-o-war that never aired. The way Amy realized she could see through her bandana in the blindfold challenge and just pulled me around the course pretending to fumble through. (We still lost.) The time Blake, disgusted to hear we’d all been using leaves to, um, wipe ourselves, nonchalantly explained he’d been using a stick. The time Jamie described a platypus as a mix of a beaver and a duck (I mean, he’s not wrong) and then when nerd Brian over here explained that a platypus is an egg-laying mammal known as a monotreme, Jamie asked “But if a platypus is a mammal, then what’s a duck?” I miss Jamie.
But probably the biggest misconception of Guatemala (from my time on the show, anyway) is the Morgan boot, which was thrown together so haphazardly and so last-minute that producers scolded us the next day for not keeping them sufficiently informed. Until literally minutes before we left for Tribal Council, Lydia was going to be booted and Jamie, Lydia, and I were reluctantly going to throw futile votes to Brianna, who had been pretty ill after ingesting some calcium hydroxide we were supposed to dissolve in water to soften the corn.
Then, while grabbing my things, I overheard Morgan and Jamie talking in the shelter, with Morgan mentioning something to Jamie about watching who he trusts. I booked it to Gary (the de facto tribe leader, on account of his height and gray hair) and told him Morgan was telling Jamie not to trust him. She wasn’t, of course, but telling someone you’re lying to them really takes away from the impact, I find. I also knew that Morgan was tight with Rafe (she told him she knew they’d get along when she noticed him recognizing Kristin Chenoweth on a TV in the gym during finals in Los Angeles, which, in 2005, was a polite way of letting someone know you knew they were gay), and I wanted to take out one of his allies since I knew he wouldn’t want to align with me — we were too similar in archetype. (Joke’s on me, though, because Rafe won that battle handily.)
Anyway, I knew Gary valued work ethic, and had maybe made some passing reference to Morgan not working hard at camp, so I pushed that narrative hard, even though it wasn’t really a thing. Cut to Gary running off to talk with others, and then he suddenly came back, finger-gun-snapped at me, and said “It’s Morgan!” As we filmed our walk-out from camp to Tribal (before we got into the boat to be driven across the lake), I was standing at the back of the line with Rafe and Gary, and Stephenie was right in front of us. She was so paranoid we were tricking her that she turned around while we were walking (silently, mind you, since we were under the gag order at that point), pointed angrily at us, and seethed "You guys better not be f---ing with me!" It was awesome. I felt like I was really on Survivor then.
OH, and get this! Remember how all the guys on Nakúm basically died after the opening hike? Allegedly Judd had left out a pot of unboiled water and they all drank from it and that’s why they were so sick. God, I miss Judd, too! Our cast is great.
Dalton, you have to stop me. I could literally turn this into one of your 10,000-word Survivor oral histories. Anyway, go binge-watch Survivor: Guatemala, EW readers. We’re a hidden gem!
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
It was completely accurate! I was a 22-year-old Survivor superfan living out a dream, doped up on adrenaline and self-aggrandizement. The producers were certainly generous to me. As a pre-juror, I got a fair amount of story, including credit for the Morgan and Blake boots, even though there was so much more going on without my involvement. I had leaned in hard to the “Ivy Leaguer” stereotype in my audition process, so anything I said or did that was even mildly cocky or overly enthusiastic made it to TV. (See “You may be the Golden Boy, but I’m platinum,” which I can’t even pretend to regret even though everything in me — and everyone around me — says I should.)
The one funny part about my edit was when a commercial for episode 5 aired, and it had a clip of me saying “I don’t want to thank Jesus Christ for this meal,” which fired up some really fun opinions about me online. Mercifully, the actual episode contained the full context of the quote, which was (rather importantly) prefaced with “It would be stupid for me to say…” and people readily admitted they had formed rash opinions based on partial evidence and definitely didn’t dig their heels in further or anything.
And for any fellow superfans reading this, there’s this thing online in the Survivor message board community called “Edgic” — a crafty little portmanteau of “edit” and “logic” — that fans use to guess contestants’ likelihood of winning based on, get this, edit and logic. By the end of my run, I was deemed a “Complex Personality with a Positive edit.” I get that this is completely meaningless to 99.9 percent of readers, but there’s definitely that one kid reading this who’s all “CPP! That’s the holy grail of Edgic ratings!” So, uh, yeah, I guess you could say I had a pretty good edit.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
As a grossly undateable pre-juror, I spent the final 18 days of the game in Costa Rica, so I had quite a bit of time outside the game before I got home. Nothing prepares you better for real life than watching Jim and Morgan compete in a shots contest. (Jim won.) The hardest part was having to face my sister, who would’ve been my family visitor but lost out on an all-expenses paid trip to Guatemala. She was… displeased. But overall, I was young. I had just graduated college and hadn’t even started a full-time job yet. In fact, my first day at work was the Monday after I landed. So I just got right into living my 20s in New York City, which is an adventure all on its own.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
I’m fortunate — being on Survivor has brought only good things into my life: amazing friends, fantastic adventures, a sense of having fulfilled a true dream. I was also on the show before any major social media outlets really blew up (remember, 2005 is before the first iPhone; when we wanted to text, we needed to hit “1” three times just to get a “C,” like chumps), so I didn’t have to face the self-righteous wrath of angry trolls beyond the occasional message board, which I happily read despite all warnings from the show’s psychologists. It was delicious.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
I became really close with Brooke and Amy during our pre-jury trip, and I will forever be excited to see their names pop up on my phone, even if it’s only sporadically these days. And Danni and I have reconnected ever since she was getting ready to film Winners at War. (If you ask nicely, I’ll show you the Winners Dossier I put together for her so she could study up on her competition on the plane to Fiji.)
But for the most part, our cast kind of went our own separate ways after the show—especially since none of us returned to the show until Stephenie in Heroes vs. Villains (and even then, Guatemala was swept under the rug in favor of her more illustrious Palau persona) and then Danni this past season. We also pre-date Twitter and non-college-students-on-Facebook, so there wasn’t a lot of social media activity to keep us bonded, either. In writing this, I did pull up a massive email chain from 2005, though, and that was almost too much nostalgia to really get into—a bunch of photos from our pre-jury trip, Rafe telling us all about the song “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane. I will always be thrilled to hear from any of my Guat castmates.
Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?
I have never missed an episode of Survivor. OK, wait, that’s not completely true — I bailed on the finale of Island of Idols when I realized that Janet, the human embodiment of virtue, was about to see her dreams dashed by a gratuitous Idol Nullifier. Some things are just too hard to watch. And that’s coming from someone who made it through all of both One World and Redemption Island. Redemption Island, Dalton.
I’m a sucker for the Old School seasons — Borneo, Marquesas, Amazon — partly because they represent a time in my life when Survivor was still a dream to look forward to. But later seasons— Philippines, Cagayan, and, especially, David vs. Goliath — are fantastic seasons of TV.
That said, the correct answer to this question is Heroes vs. Villains, obviously. (Partial credit given to the second half of Micronesia.)
Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
I’d love to play with any of my NYC Wine & Cheese crew, if only to have someone to explicitly trust out there. Plus, they’re hilarious, and really, who needs fancy shelters and food and boiled water when you can just laugh and laugh and laugh until the medical team pulls you for malnutrition? But we’d have to constitute at most just over half of the tribe. Gotta have fodder to vote out so we aren’t forced to turn on each other. Not until endgame, anyway.
That said, if anyone out there knows anything about how Lydia is doing these days, please tell her I think about her all the time! We had such a great time together. She’s so cool.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
All idols, all the time! Just get rid of all the players and leave 20 immunity idols on the beach. Last one not stolen by a predatory bird wins.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
Nah, I really don’t think about the game much anymore these days. (The Internet’s good at detecting irony, right?)