Inside D.C. entertainment

D.C. contestant on 'Survivor' is the first to be voted off

February 17, 2011 - 10:02 AM
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francesca hogi
Francesca, you didn't play the game. The game played you.

When I tuned into Survivor: Redemption Island last night, the show was already half over. But had I watched it from the beginning, I'm still not sure I would've understood what was happening. I've never watched Survivor, despite that it's a profound metaphor for death, so as Francesca Hogi and another contestant stood on the beach, discussing the proper use of "the idol," I was utterly lost. Shortly thereafter, all 19 contestants were sitting together at tribal council, their faces lit by flames, and bickering — namely, Hogi bickered with the other black contestant, Phillip Sheppard, a 52-year-old Californian. She called him "crazy" and rolled her eyes not a few times as he argued back. He pronounced her name "Fran-sess-coo-wa," and she corrected him: "Fran-chess-ka." Moments later he mispronounced it again, and she corrected him, and then it happened again. Sheppard was not messing with Hogi, far as I could tell. He seemed genuinely unable to pronounce her name. His excuse? "My mouth is dry and I've been getting treatment for it." This is the same guy whose Survivor bio lists his occupation as "Former Federal Agent?" — yes, with a question mark.

In any case, this argument did not jibe with what Hogi (pronounced like the sandwich) had told me three hours earlier, when she called me. "I went into the show absolutely expecting and wanting to play a certain way," she had said. "I wanted to be very smart about reading people and playing it a little low-key under the radar at first, and just rely on building friendships. If people like you, they'll keep you around."

Well, I guess that means the other contestants didn't like Hogi: She was voted off the show. ("Boston" Rob, when inscribing her name on fake parchment, said, "It feels so good to play with you amateurs. You don't even know when to keep your mouths shut. Thanks for the memories.") For the first time in Survivor history, though, this doesn't mean she's going home. Instead, she'll be sent to Redemption Island, where she'll hang out with future rejects and try to win back the tribe's approval. (I'd explain this more, but either you don't care or you already know far more about it than I do.)

The episode's result explains why Hogi — a lawyer who, prior to the show's filming, lived in Columbia Heights and worked for the USDA, but now lives in NYC — told me she wasn't going to watch it last night: "Tonight, I'm not ready. Tonight, I'm going to sing some karaoke, have some cocktails, and I'll probably check it out over the weekend." Watching the show with her friends and family would be "too nerve-wracking," she said. "I want to hear about it first. I'll read recaps online about it tomorrow."

In which case: Hi, Francesca!

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