Survivor renewed, but will no longer hold open casting calls or accept applications

The application for Survivor has been removed from CBS.com, confirming that the reality competition will no longer accept applications from the public online or via open casting calls, instead relying on the pool of the few hundred men and women who’ve already competed on the show to fill its casts from now on.

The show, which was just renewed for next season, has been increasingly using returning cast members to populate its casts.

This change will save CBS the resources used for processing applications, flying prospective contestants out for finals, and buying folders in which to file the psychological test results that clearly indicate people are not fit for 39 days in a high-stress environment. (CBS interns report that during orientation, they’re taught how to use the very expensive folders, which plug in to the wall and grind up multiple papers into small pieces to fit them into plastic bags that are then filed in cabinets located outside the office and smell like trash.)

Host, executive producer, and showrunner Jeff Probst–who next season will also operate the crane camera and supervise on-location catering, in addition to playing himself in Dream Team reenactments of challenges and piloting the boat the transports the show’s cargo containers around the world–was behind the change.

Probst convinced CBS executives that ordinary people have nothing to offer, since they have the potential to be diverse, energetic, and wildly unpredictable, none of which makes for good television.

The change was welcomed by the show’s casting department. In recent years, casting producers have been overwhelmed by former cast members desperate to return to the show and have their chances at $1 million increased exponentially because of their familiarity with production and promised access to the hidden immunity idol vending machine.

Changing e.mail addresses, changing phone numbers, or even quitting their jobs has not spared casting producers, who no longer have time to try to find real applications amid those submitted by people who are convinced they’ll make great contestants because they discovered how to upload a video to YouTube and/or have never been told “no” by anyone.

A casting producer welcomed the changes, adding, “For some reason, former cast members also give out our phone numbers to crazy people they meet at org–I mean, charity events, who call to tell us what great players they’d make because they know how to wear a buff and are good at the strategic game because they can predict what’s going to happen after reading spoilers. They also try to prove how smart they are by sending us e.mail forwards about how Barack Obama conspired with Stanley Kubrick to fake the moon landing before apologizing for that in The Shining.”

Jeff Probst, who has also added editor of Entertainment Weekly to his responsibilities, wrote a column explaining the changes, saying, “There are a lot of strong, smart men who played but haven’t yet received $1 million, and true Survivor fans don’t want that, because they know it makes me upset.”

This fictional, satirical story is part of the April 1, 2013, edition of reality blurred. Happy April Fool’s Day.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.