Survivor host and showrunner Jeff Probst does Cameo videos for charity, and in December, sent one to a fan that said that while he’d hoped to have filmed a season in 2020 (“oh did we try”), it ended up being “impossible. We have 400 crew members, 20 different countries, the border restrictions alone were an issue, the medical care in Fiji, you know—we just couldn’t risk it.”
“But we’ve been working on a plan to back get out there in 2021,” he added in the video. “I feel optimistic that not only will we shoot, but it’s going to be really good.”
Having a plan for 2021 is a welcome change from last summer, when Probst said, “We don’t have a plan yet.”
And now a new report confirms that Survivor seasons 41 and 42 will indeed go into production this year, after missing an entire year.
The CBS reality competition will film starting this April and again in June, according to Inside Survivor‘s report, which adds the usual caveats that everything can change because that’s the world we live in right now.
That would be the show’s usual production schedule, which could also mean a return to the normal broadcast schedule: season 41 airing in fall 2021, and season 42 in spring 2022.
Remaining in Fiji is somewhat expected—the production has a great financial deal with Fiji—but still surprising because Fiji remains closed to international travelers, and its international airport doesn’t even have any flights scheduled.
So how is this possible? Inside Survivor reports that “other countries, specifically in the Caribbean, were looked into, the belief is that the production team struck a deal with the Fijian government to allow cast and crew special access into the country,” noting that Fiji has already outlined protocols for production—and the possibility of exceptions to its travel rules.
Fiji’s prime minister said last summer that it “will also be considering special requests that promise immense economic value,” and that, for productions, it will “be taking similar steps to New Zealand, who has moved to safely resume production of the sequel to Avatar”:
“Again, this will be done in a completely safe and controlled manner. Cast and crew won’t even be allowed to board their plane without proof of a negative Covɪd-19 test, and will be screened for symptoms both before boarding and upon landing. They’ll then be entered into government-designated quarantᎥne –– whether that’s a preapproved hotel or a remote isolated island –– for the mandatory 14-day period.”
In that same statement, Fiji’s prime minister pointed out how important Survivor and other productions are:
In recent years, we’ve established Fiji as something of a ‘Hollywood of the Pacific’, with a film and television industry bringing hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity, and invaluable exposure to the world. Seeing Fiji’s pristine beaches on shows like Survivor or Love Island can be more powerful than any advertisement.
Season 41 had been cast and was well into pre-production when the pandemᎥc forced a shutdown in March 2020. In addition, since last March, CBS created a new mandate that its reality show casts be far more diverse than they have been. As a result, casting restarted in the fall, with a new round of finals casting.
Season 41 will also be the first season with CBS’s new rules that prohibit “physical contact, sexual harassment and impermissible biases,” in addition to creating new procedures for reporting problems.
It’s unclear if CBS or Survivor has diversified its mostly white and mostly male crew, which I think also needs to happen in order for the show to not repeat its failures of the past.
Jeff Probst teased in the first Cameo video that “Survivor 2.0” is coming:
“We have some amazing people ready to play. We’ve spent all of our time thinking about where we could take the show, and casting the show, and there’s just some incredibly cool people out there, a lot of great young people out there. I think it’s going to take that show kind of to Survivor 2.0—that next iteration.”