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Sep 14, 2010 3:43 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Water Mill man is a 'Survivor'

Sep 14, 2010 3:43 PM

A face that’s been familiar to patrons and staff at the Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen on weekends will become known nationally Wednesday when the new season of “Survivor” premieres.

Dan Lembo, a real estate executive who’s lived on the East End part-time for 25 years, will be one of 20 contestants Americans will meet on “Survivor: Nicaragua.”

“This is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done—other than growing up in Brooklyn,” Mr. Lembo, 63, quipped in a recent interview.

He now lives in Water Mill part time and at Trump World Tower in Manhattan. But it was in Florida, where he owns a home in Bal Harbour, that a “Survivor” recruiter noticed Mr. Lembo last year and asked him to try out.

“They met me in a bar,” he recalled. “She thought I was pretty much of a character, and I was in great shape, and she said, ‘Have you ever thought about being a contestant in ‘Survivor’?”

Mr. Lembo said it never occurred to him before to try out for “Survivor,” but he hired a production company to make his audition tape, a “day in the life” video following him around New York City as he goes from steakhouse to steakhouse in his Hummer.

After sending in his audition tape, he was invited to Los Angeles to meet “Survivor” director Mark Burnett. “He liked me,” Mr. Lembo said. “He thought I was a character—because I am—and that’s what happened. Next thing I knew, I was on the show.”

At the Candy Kitchen, where Mr. Lembo is a frequent customer, the staff was surprised he went for it: “We didn’t think that he would do that—that he was a TV kind of guy,” said Lisa Alnwick, a Candy Kitchen waitress for 10 years.

But Ms. Alnwick assured that since he returned from Nicaragua—with no hint of whether it was early or late in the competition—he’s still the same guy. “He’s in here all the time since he came back,” she added.

“You can find me any Saturday and Sunday at the Candy Kitchen,” Mr. Lembo said, “and I also play softball every Sunday at the field on School Street next to the fire department. I’ve been playing there for 25 years, with the Bridgehampton Bombers.

“You’ve probably seen my Hummer around the Hamptons,” he added.

For its 21st season—“Survivor” has two seasons a year—the show took place in the poorest country in Central America. The contestants camped near the town of San Juan del Sur, on the Pacific Coast.

Mr. Lembo said “Survivor” is the real deal, even when the cameras are off. “You have to walk every day a half a mile to go get water, and you’ve got to go get your own wood,” he said, adding that it’s essential to keep a fire going. “If you’re not warm by the fire, it was brutal. It rained every night. It poured.”

“I didn’t have a tarp over for my head for a lot of days,” he went on to say. “Sometimes we slept in the rain, and we slept on bamboo poles.”

The contestants were rationed only a quarter cup of rice a day, and received a decent meal only if their team won a challenge, he said.

“When I walked into Bobby Van’s, I was 30 pounds lighter,” Mr. Lembo said of his return to Manhattan. “People thought I was sick … I was pretty muscled up when I left.”

This season, “Survivor” pit a tribe of contestants over 40 years old and a tribe of contestants under 30 against each other. Among Mr. Lembo’s teammates was retired NFL coach Jimmy Johnson, who applied to “Survivor” unsuccessfully twice before finally being cast this season. “He was a nice guy too,” Mr. Lembo said. “There’s gonna be a lot of funny things with him. He and I were talking to the howler monkeys.”

He was careful to say no more about what the season has in store, as CBS keeps “Survivor” results close to the vest.

“We’re excited to watch it,” Ms. Alnwick said. “I think everyone’s looking forward to the season.”

As tough as his time in Nicaragua was, Mr. Lembo said it was worth it.

“I don’t regret it at all,” he said. “I enjoyed it, and if they asked me, I’d do it again. It was a great, great experience.”

“Survivor: Nicaragua” premieres at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, September 15, on CBS.

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This man is hardly "from Water Mill".

Most locals don't own three, or four residences.

Have some respect, and amend the headline...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 9, 10 11:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
"You've probably seen my Hummer around the Hamptons" . Uh, no.
By Sparkibew (28), southampton on Sep 10, 10 6:52 AM
4 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By littleplains (305), olde england on Sep 11, 10 12:12 AM
The only real "survivors" around here are the locals who still remain, despite men (and women) who live as lavishly as this one does.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 11, 10 12:28 AM
2 members liked this comment
Congratulations to an AmeriCAN who appears to know no limits, takes nothing for granted and goes for it all!
By montauknellie (27), Montauk on Sep 11, 10 9:15 AM
It would seem his avarice is the only real thing that knows no limits...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 11, 10 4:30 PM
Also, I would be curious to know how he gives back to the society, from which he has taken so much for himself.

Probably an EXTREMELY heavily weighted scale in his own favor...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 13, 10 12:43 AM
Water Mill ??? Is he here on week-ends ? That would hardly qualify him as one of our own .
By AndersEn (174), Southampton on Sep 12, 10 2:22 PM
I betcha the poser has at least one surfboard (unwaxed because he don't know you gotta wax em down) bungee'd to the top of his hummer while he jaunts from steakhouse to steak house and then to the candy kitchen.

This guy belongs on the Biggest Loser show, not Survivor.

yawn. who watches that garbage anyway ? who really cares ?

Think about it.


By Bilge Water (131), East Hampton on Sep 12, 10 5:17 PM
2 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Q333 (161), Southampton on Sep 12, 10 5:39 PM
i feel sorry for ya being that ya know the dude

when they said he was from watermill my initial thought was that he's the gas jockey at the Hess station since he looks just like him

just sayin

By Bilge Water (131), East Hampton on Sep 12, 10 6:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
Gotta love it when the local press, insults the locals...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 13, 10 12:44 AM
Well, the local weekly is more likely to do a story than The New York Times, so the show's publicist likely pushed for the Water Mill connection.

That said, if he's out here every weekend, as he says, that seems pretty local. At least he's not a fearful townie living in the house he inherited from grandma.

A more local, little-known fact -- the guy who creates the obstacle games in "Survivor" is a Southampton College graduate.
By Mr Suffolk (113), Twin Forks on Sep 13, 10 10:00 AM
I may begrudge him his "posed" local status, but I dont begrudge him his financial success.
That said, this quote puts him well in to d-bag status: “You’ve probably seen my Hummer around the Hamptons,”
Frankly, I've seen too many of those things hogging the roads and I dont know how I'm supposed to distinguish his from all those driven by all the other d-bags.
And, NO, I wont be tuning in to watch that brain dead show.
By smacw (240), New York on Sep 13, 10 11:01 AM
2 members liked this comment
My guess is he drives the Hummer 1 (not H2 or H3). There are very few H1's around the hamptons so it is a rather uniuque vehicle, especially if mhe is driving it in the winter and not just summer weekends
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Sep 13, 10 4:16 PM
You know your Hummers. I'm assuming Hummer 1 is the original gigantic one, so therefore the highest degree of d-baggery applies in this guys case.
By smacw (240), New York on Sep 13, 10 9:27 PM
Yes, BUT the H1 is diesel which offers SLIGHTLY better fuel efficiency then the no-diesel H2, if that's any consolation... haha. Plus, the company that made them originally was owned by Sagaponack's very own Ira Rennert. So, really, when you think about it, the guy is just trying to help out the local economy!
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Sep 13, 10 9:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
"Sagaponack's own Ira Rennert", yay!! Does he have choice seat the Candy Kitchen too?
By smacw (240), New York on Sep 15, 10 10:34 AM
I heard he has a replica of the Candy Kitchen in his house! haha
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Sep 15, 10 10:57 PM
I personally love watching Survivor--and I am not ashamed to admit it. I look forward to seeing Mr. Lembo regardless of what his legal address is or his financial status.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Sep 14, 10 9:28 AM
I guess his "social status" has not (bleeped) you over in any way...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 15, 10 9:03 PM
What exactly do they ''survive''? It couldn't be any worse than the traffic Mr. Wayne Newton Jr. sits in to get to the Candy Kitchen.
By IcanCnovember (15), Southampton on Sep 15, 10 1:15 PM
Hummer: 6 miles per gallon, 2 soldiers per day....
This guy is a jerk.
By MaryMac (43), Riverhead on Sep 23, 10 12:20 PM