Survivor‘s reunion ignored every contestant who didn’t make the jury, and that will probably be the case for future reunions, too, giving the show more time for host Jeff Probst to talk to random audience members and fawn over his bros. But they weren’t excluded for creative reasons; instead, it was because there wasn’t enough room on the set. In addition, Probst said that Brandon Hantz agreed that it wouldn’t be a good idea for him to be there.
Those dubious claims are in Probst’s interview with EW’s Dalton Ross, who meets with a surprisingly and/or jokingly hostile Probst by questioning the decision to give someone a huge advantage for the final immunity challenge (“that’s the decision we made and I can tell you that we will probably do it again. How ya like them apples?”). Here’s what Probst said about Brandon and the non-jury cast:
“Regarding Brandon, we had a conversation and everyone, including Brandon, felt this was the best decision. Regarding the jury, the main reason was staging. We were on a new stage this year and our design couldn’t accommodate the usual enormous amount of people we have at the reunion. But having done it once, we may do this same configuration again in the future. The truth is, it’s very difficult to manage 20 people in an interview situation, and the staging last night was much more manageable. The hardest part of all of this is that it is so disappointing to the non-jury. I completely empathize with them feeling left out. Like it or not, the priority is for us to produce the best reunion show we can. Quite often when someone is voted out early they just don’t have enough story to warrant a spot on the reunion show. It doesn’t mean they aren’t deserving people, they just didn’t get to play long enough.”
First, Probst’s claim that Brandon also didn’t want to show up was pretty much contradicted by Russell Hantz, who of course is an entirely trustworthy and objective source.
Second, the reunion show did move to a new Los Angeles location: instead of using the same soundstage that American Idol uses, which it has done for December reunions (well before Idol‘s live shows start), the reunion moved to CBS’ Radford lot. The set had two very large hut-like structures on it, and I won’t for a second believe the show’s talented production design team just couldn’t find room for eight more people.
While some people gave the eight pre-jury cast members shit for complaining about it, they are still pissed. Allie posted a hilarious picture of the sad pre-jury cast on Facebook. Erik, who was on stage, called it “a farce” and “insane.”
Others are privately making the point that they brought guests to L.A. at their own expense, had to meet exacting wardrobe requirements (which for one person, included frantically buying new clothes), and then were completely ignored. That is a fair argument, thought in the past contestants have also been paid $10,000 just to attend the reunion, in addition to the prize money they receive depending upon when they were voted out.