9:10am PT by Josh Wigler
'Survivor: Ghost Island' Player Profile: Meet Domenick Abbate
Welcome to the Survivor: Ghost Island preseason! THR's Josh Wigler reports from his visit to the show's shooting location on Fiji, where he interviewed host Jeff Probst, as well as the 20 new castaways battling it out for the million-dollar prize.
Click here to make sure you're all caught up on our stories from the island, including our weekly podcast series "First One Out: Ghost Zero," an in-depth look at all of the new players, culminating in an interview with the first person voted out of the season, and Wigler's exclusive overnight stay on Ghost Island.
Visualize the champion of Survivor: Cagayan, the 28th and one of the very best seasons in Survivor lore: Tony Vlachos, the one-of-a-kind police officer who stormed his way through the 39-day adventure with a bag of tricks and lies aplenty. Instead of telling his fellow tribe mates he was a cop, Tony claimed he was a construction worker. This season, we have a player who very much wants to borrow Tony's bag of tricks: 38-year-old Long Island native Domenick Abbate — except in his case, this hopeful schemer is actually a construction worker.
"Domenick walked in, and I wanted him for the show immediately," executive producer and host Jeff Probst tells THR. "He's that quintessential East Coast dad, with a colorful past, and he's still a family man, but he'll talk shit about people. I like Domenick. The one question I have for him this year is this: Is the age of people going to work against him or will he be able to latch on and they will gravitate toward him? Because I like him. I think he's going to be a great storyteller and a great interview at Tribal, and I know he'll play the game."
Hear more from Domenick and the other players in our preseason podcast series First One Out: Ghost Zero, and read on for highlights from our interview.
Domenick's ethical philosophy on Survivor:
"It is just a game. Because I know it's just a game, I will flirt with as much disaster as I can. If I see someone bringing honor and integrity into the game, I'm going to exploit that to its fullest. I have no problem if someone brings their faith into the game; I will exploit it to its fullest. I have respect for people who have faith in the outside world. I have respect for people who have faith and integrity in the outside world. But we are not in reality. This is a game. People need to understand that."
How Domenick plans to honor the legend of Tony Vlachos:
"I have a good idea for a spy phone. You have the bamboo chutes. They're about 25 feet long. Pop one under the bushes, go on the other side and listen in. I would credit everything to Tony. I would not take credit for it. I promise you that. And if a bag of tricks shows up in the game? It wouldn't be my bag. It would be his bag that he left behind last year. I hope to bring a piece of that back into the game. I really think some of these chutes are about 25 feet long, and you could just sit right over there and listen in. You could get great audio through those chutes! Why has nobody done this yet?"
That's Domenick in his own words. But what do the other castaways think about him? Over the course of our interviews out on Fiji, the Ghost Island castmembers were presented with pictures of their competitors, and asked to establish their preseason thoughts. With that said, here's what they think about Domenick.
Chelsea Townsend (Cheerleader and EMT, Naviti Tribe): "He's always watching people. It kind of makes me nervous. I don't know if I can trust him. He's someone I might have to watch out for. Sometimes people put out a friendly vibe. He puts out a vibe like he's always watching and analyzing. It's a vibe that I should be worried about him, essentially."
Desiree Afuye (Student, Naviti Tribe): "I don't trust him. I don't trust anyone, to be honest. But it's hard for him to smile. I know if he tries to befriend me, it's all fake. It's totally fake."
Jenna Bowman (Advertising Account Executive, Malolo Tribe): "I think he's evil. He has menacing eyes. He'll always give weird little evil smirks. He always sits by himself in the back of the cafeteria."
Bradley Kleihege (Law Student, Naviti Tribe): "He was just laughing his head off because the potato chips we have are chicken flavored. Apparently that was the funniest thing he had ever seen in his entire life. So, he seems cool. I would totally work with him."
Stephanie Gonzalez (Graphic Sales, Malolo Tribe): "He's maybe the only person other than me who's out here packing on the pounds, because we're about to lose it all. Stock up!"
Donathan Hurley (Caretaker, Malolo Tribe): "He's very quiet. He won't really look at me or nothing."
Angela Perkins (Army Veteran, Naviti Tribe): "I have not had a lot of interaction with him, but he definitely seems fit and like he could be a competitor."
James Lim (Business Analyst, Malolo Tribe): "The hustler! Definitely seems like the type who takes no bullshit. He probably is a hustler, though. His job probably requires being tough and being straight up. I think it could go both ways. He could be someone who spearheads an alliance and decides who to take out, or if he's on the other side of an alliance, I think he could be a big headache for people. No one is Russell Hantz except for Russell Hantz, but I'm getting a toned-down Russell Hantz vibe."
Morgan Ricke (Marine Animal Trainer, Naviti Tribe): "He reminds me of a Boston Rob. Maybe it's where he's from. I don't necessarily know. Or maybe Tony. I love watching those guys play — and if I'm on their side? That's great. But if I'm one of the people they're trying to get out? Hell no."
Stephanie Johnson (Yoga Instructor, Malolo Tribe): "That guy is a combination of Russell and Tony. I feel like he's out there to create chaos, and that's not OK with me — because I want to be the one out there creating chaos, and have it be organized chaos. He would be one of the first people I would want to vote out."
Libby Vincek (Social Media Strategist, Malolo Tribe): "He's like a combo of Boston Rob and Russell. He's a dude from the Bronx or Brooklyn. He's kind of cool, but also very poker-faced. A strategic guy. I don't know if I want to work with him."
Brendan Shapiro (Physical Education Teacher, Malolo Tribe): "He has that Tony looks — kind of Tony 2.0. Maybe totally different. I'm going to guess that he's a Jersey guy, a big talker, funny and entertaining. I think he'll be a big personality."
Kellyn Bechtold (Career Counselor, Naviti Tribe): "I bet he sat here and told you his favorite player is Boston Rob. To no fault of his own, he sort of looks like him in a way — the dark hair and complexion and the New Jersey thing going on."
Josh Wigler (Reporter, THR): "Not for nothing, but his name is Boston Rob."
Kellyn Bechtold (Career Counselor, Naviti Tribe): "That's right! (Laughs.) Rewind! Rewind!"
Chris Noble (Male Model, Naviti Tribe): "That guy is definitely probably from New York. Either New York or New Jersey. He's from the Northeast. He might even be a corporate America type of guy, too. My guess is he's here to play the game and he's going to try to screw people over the minute he can. I don't know how long he'll be in it. I don't know if he'll make enough connections in the beginning. Depending on what tribe he's on, he could be one of the first two voted out."
Sebastian Noel (Fishing Guide, Naviti Tribe): "He is Staten Island strong, I think! He's going to be that big mouth. He's already dropped the F-bomb 10 times, and we're not supposed to talk! He seems to like me. He talks a lot, but that's just New Yorkers. He looks like he's from up there."
Laurel Johnson (Financial Consultant, Malolo Tribe): "I'm hoping he's a New Jersey type of guy. He's got the New Jersey look to him, and I'm from New Jersey, so I think we could vibe well. He's always laughing at stuff."
Wendell Holland (Furniture Company Owner, Naviti Tribe): "I want to work with him. He has the stature and tough guy face of someone like Russell, but in our passings, he has seemed friendly. It's funny. If you look at me, I look like Childish Gambino. If you look at him, he looks like the mafioso. We might be the odd couple, but I think that could work!"
Michael Yerger (Real Estate Agent, Malolo Tribe): "Nice guy. I didn't know what to think of him, because he kept everything inside and didn't have much of an expression on his face. As time has gone by, I've seen a good personality. He seems like a funny guy. "
Jacob Derwin (Music Teacher, Malolo Tribe): "During casting, they asked me who I'm scared of and who I think could win, and I said him. He just has this ability to go from kind of deep in thought and focus to super lively and super funny out of nowhere. At casting, I believe he was the first person the executives spoke with in the room, and when he came out, he wiped his brow all dramatically and everybody laughed. I feel like he's the kind of guy who can really own a room. He might be very dangerous."
Keep up with all of our preseason interviews:
What's your read on Domenick? Sound off with your predictions in the comments section below, and keep checking THR.com/Survivor for more interviews with the Survivor: Ghost Island cast.