CBS publicity has sent invites to members of the press for visits to the set of Survivor Nicaragua, the show’s 21st season. The location in Nicaragua has been known for some time, but won’t be officially revealed until the May 16 finale.
I did not and apparently will not receive an invitation, which is unsurprising since I was previously denied the opportunity to interview the season 20 contestants post-eviction as punishment, apparently for things like reporting on information that someone decided should be a secret after the fact (you can’t just decide something’s off the record months later because some control freak gets upset, especially not after it’s been discussed in on-the-record interviews, but I digress). Anyway, I’ve picked up the pieces and moved on. Although I won’t be interviewing the cast pre-season any more, I’ll look forward to set visit reports from those who do go, because I won’t let some CBS executive’s decision affect how I feel about Survivor.
Two years ago, I went on location for the first time in Gabon, and that amazing experience gave me new appreciation for the show and what its crew and contestants go through, whether that’s traveling to and living in a remote location or being beaten up during a challenge. And while I certainly never stopped offering criticism, those experiences did give me an even greater appreciation for what it takes to produce 44 minutes of entertainment every week.
What I’ll miss most is meeting people, learning about their jobs, and then sharing their behind-the-scenes work through my reporting, like how challenge producer Dan Munday conceptualizes and builds the show’s puzzles, or how much detail goes into creating everything from the flags to Tribal Council by people who labor endlessly in the hot sun, or how much effort it takes to simply film a challenge. And sometimes their work never even makes it on TV.
The people who work on the show were always exceptionally gracious and kind, from Dream Team members to the reality producers on the tribe beaches who tolerated press members hanging around and observing. They were nice even when they didn’t have to be, from cast members I criticized to Jeff Probst after I told him his “blog” was insufferable and he was being too heavy-handed at Tribal Council. And that excludes the hundreds–yes, hundreds–of people whose names flash by in a nanosecond at the end of the episode but do crucial work, from the Dream Team to the locals who do the crew’s laundry to the field producers who spend most of their time at the tribe beaches.
I’m not yet done telling their stories, and about what happens behind-the-scenes on location, I promise.