TV Industry Vet Mike White Runner-Up on ‘Survivor’

Mike White, whose movies include the adored independent film Chuck & Buck, along with School of Rock and The Good Girl, ended up runner-up on Survivor, which wrapped up season 37 Wednesday. White was in the final three, along with Nick Wilson and Angelina Keeley, who then pleaded their worthiness to a jury of their castaway peers.

Spoiler coming real soon…

Survivor had a David vs. Goliath theme, with castaways initially divided into two teams--a team of players “who come from a place of privilege,” according to CBS, “and those who have scratched and clawed their way through life to prove themselves.”

White was a Goliath.

He wrote and produced on Dawson’s Creek and Freaks and Geeks, and created the short-lived HBO series Enlightened, about a female executive, played by Laura Dern, on the verge of a nervous breakdown. White also wrote the films School of Rock and The Good Girl, and appeared in the movies too--playing Dewey’s pal Ned Schneebly in School of Rock and Corny in The Good Girl, alongside Jennifer Aniston and Jake Gyllenhaal.

The latest Survivor took place in Fiji. White, 47, was mostly well-liked by his fellow contestants, an upbeat presence on the island with a knack for talking others into bold moves, and keeping his head mostly off the chopping block. He described his role as the person “behind the driver,” suggesting the next turn.

He wasn’t much of a physical player, typically bowing out early on the reward and immunity challenges, and called out by one jury member for not doing a whole lot when they were building a shelter. But he knew the game well and won over his peers with a cheerful demeanor. His “social game,” White said, was “kind of inspired.”

White said he always wanted to see how he’d fare on Survivor. “I felt alive out here,” he said. “At this age in my life, that’s what you want.”

Prior to the winner being announced, White said he had no regrets regarding how he played the game. “I left it out on the island,” he said, “and I’ll take that lesson and live the rest of my life like that.”

White said he came to win, not to just experience Survivor. But in the end, as happened in the Bible, David beat Goliath, as the jury picked Nick, a public defender from Kentucky. 

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.