When CBS trotted out 10 all-stars last season for Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites, not one of the returning contestants came from the show’s first 15 seasons, when the reality program was a national phenomenon. Host Jeff Probst said the reason for that was the desire to showcase some of the series’ newer stars rather than leaning on old favorites. Fast forward to Survivor: Blood vs. Water (which premieres Sept. 18), however, and it is an entirely different story. Half of the 10 returning players got their start on the first 13 seasons of the show, including Gervase Peterson (from the Survivor’s very first season) and Tina Wesson (who won season 2, The Australian Outback).
According to Probst, if it were up to him, we’d see more of the old-school crew returning and less of the recycled newer faces. “If I had my way and I was the only decision maker on Survivor — which I am clearly not — I would have a lot of people from earlier seasons,” he told me on location for the new season. “There are tons of people I want to see play again, but the prevailing wisdom at the network is, we need recent players with bigger names. That’s what ‘s drawing people in. Clearly CBS and Les Moonves know what they’re doing. They’re the number one network, so it’s hard to argue with that success. But I feel like there are a lot of stories out there we haven’t captured yet and brought back for a second chance.”
To find out more why Probst thinks old school players like Gervase and Tina can adapt and still play well in this game, click on the video player below to see more of my interview with the host.