BY TREVOR GARDNER
The tribe has spoken.
Two weeks ago, “Survivor” viewers watched Nick Brown ’02 approach the wooden-spoon contraption of host Jeff Probst and, as simulated tribal chants played in the background, get promptly axed from the hit television program. The poorly crafted appropriation of native ceremonials seemed only an afterthought as Brown’s chance at the $1 million prize – and HLS’s chance at being perceived as number one in the eyes of greater society – were extinguished along with the flame of Brown’s torch of life.
Despite the setback, though, Brown may still leverage his 15 minutes of fame into star power, and perhaps in the end garner rewards more lucrative than the “Survivor” prize.
Brown said that his recent media appearances have kept him busy after his departure episode aired last Thursday. “Survivor” contestants are forbidden from doing media work until the episode of their exit is aired on CBS.
“I just did the media tour [that] contestants do after they get kicked off the show, and I’ll be out in L.A. for the final,” said Brown. “I’m doing some TV stuff, radio stuff. Guest appearances. ‘Hollywood Squares.'” Brown’s celebrity schedule also includes a number of local charity events including a bowl-a-thon with Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. Most of his media obligations come from the show’s network – CBS. “CBS has me under lock and key,” said Brown.
Fortunately, Brown’s professors have been supportive of his endeavors. Some even take time out of their hectic schedules to watch the hour-long program. “For the first time I had a professor comment in a class – in Admin Law yesterday. He just said, ‘Congratulations.’ I’ve had professors that don’t have me for a class tell me they’re watching and good luck,” Brown said.
To participate in the contest, Brown left school for the fall semester. He is set to graduate in December of 2002. Brown said that although many students want to talk to him about the show, a few have anxiously approached him hoping to discover how they can take a semester off.
Brown says that he is still well received among his HLS colleagues. “Nobody who knew me before the show treats me any differently. People who didn’t know me only know Nick from TV,” he said.
Others feel the need to be apologetic. “Some people I talk to say, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t watch.’ Other people just don’t give a damn, and that’s fine,” said Brown.
Despite attending school and media functions, Brown still finds time to stay in touch with his former cast members through email. “I speak to Colby, Jeff and Elizabeth pretty regularly. I went to Vegas with Colby and Mitchell. It’s like a family whether you like it or not.”
According to Brown, one of his more infamous family members, Jerri, is slightly less abrasive then the “Survivor” episodes suggest. “[Jerri’s character flaws] were definitely enhanced by the editing. But she was bad. I didn’t like her at all during the games. Outside of the games, she’s cool. We hung out a few times in New York. She just didn’t deal well with the situation,” Brown said.
Brown believes that his approach to the contest allowed him to remain on the island long enough to achieve a significant role on the show. “I didn’t have a strategy other than to let someone else take charge and sit back and observe personalities. It looks like I’m quiet and set apart from everyone else. But that’s more about the way the show was put together. [My approach was to] let other people do themselves in by having personality conflicts with each other,” said Brown. “Everyone in my tribe with strong personalities was kicked off before I was.”
The character the producers viewed on-screen was much different than the personality they had encountered in Brown’s interview for the show.
“I think on paper I was a really good candidate. They look for people who can endure it. A-type personalities. People who can win the game.” Brown speculated that the producers may have felt blind-sided by his more mellow on-screen personality.
One episode centered on allegations of Brown’s laziness. Brown said that the producers found a story and ran with it.
“It’s a little upsetting. You know the show is trying to create an image. But in the end, I don’t care too much. You don’t apply for the show not knowing [about the risks involved]. If people want to think that a Harvard law student army-officer is lazy, then fine,” he said.
“One of the surprising things is how much publicity the legal press has given to it. It definitely gives me more recognition in the legal field. Some firms will say, ‘Oh, it’ll be cool to have this guy.’ Some firms will be say, ‘We don’t want this guy, he’s lazy.'”