The first time Tyson Apostol competed on “Survivor,” back in 2009, I was not a fan. And I wrote some ... ahem ... mean things about him.
He hasn’t forgotten. When we chatted a few days ago, he reminded me that I “wrote all those articles about how much you dislike me and how arrogant I was.” Yeah ... well ... I did mention arrogance. And that he seemed “downright mean.” And I quoted one of his competitors, who called him “a jerk.”
I also wrote in 2010 that the clock was running out on Apostol’s 15 minutes of fame. And, clearly, I was 100% wrong about that.
And he’s been giving me crap about it ever since. It was during our first face-to-face meeting nearly a decade ago, in the midst of him quoting my columns back to me, that I got Tyson Apostol. That I realized he really is a funny guy. Now, every time he digs at me, I laugh.
He’s not mean-spirited. And he’s as tough on himself as he is on anyone else.
“I harbor no ill will, anger or any hard feelings toward you about that, Scott,” he said last week. “That was a popular opinion back then. It’s still a popular opinion. You’re one of the few that’s seen the light.”
Remember, he was on the “villains” side in Season 20, “Heroes vs. Villains.”
I’ve interviewed thousands of people who’ve been on TV over the past three decades. Some of those interviews have gone better than others.
But I always look forward talking to Apostol. Partly because there’s always some give and take. I don’t interview too many people who lay traps for me like this:
“Gathering the family around the TV for warmth and entertainment is one of the best bonding experiences you can do with your family,” he said. When I agreed, Apostol doubled back on me.
“I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think watching TV is the best thing you can do to bond with your family, Scott,” he said. “That was a test. You failed.”
But, I argued, it’s different when your kids are adults, not preschoolers. When my son, two daughters and son-in-law come to my house to watch, say, “Game of Thrones,” that actually is a family bonding experience.
“OK, fine. Scott, you’re right. I’m wrong,” Apostol said. “I’m not too proud to admit that.”
And I was in complete agreement with him that there are “a lot more productive things you can do with a 3-year-old than turn on the TV.”
Attempting to ask Apostol another question, I mentioned that I’ve interviewed a lot of “Survivor” contestants over the years ... and he interrupted. “Who’s the best one?” Apostol asked.
“Oh, you are,” I replied instantly. “I would definitely say that at this point in our relationship, you are by far my favorite.”
And we both laughed. But the thing is, it’s true. Apostol has his own kind of charm and he makes me laugh. I’d like nothing more than to see him win another $2 million on “Survivor: Winners at War,” which premieres Wednesday at 7 p.m. on CBS/Ch. 2.
That’s sort of selfish on my part, because that would mean he’d be on every episode this season. So, yeah, I’m rooting for him. Or maybe for Yul Kwon …