Twenty returning players were selected by Survivor producers and CBS to return for the Game Changers season (premiering March 8 on CBS). That means over 450 contestants were not chosen to come back. We asked host Jeff Probst about the casting calculus while on location for day one of filming, and he talked all about getting different types of players to fill the 20 slots.
“A little bit of this season is a tapestry in this sense,” says Probst. “We wanted diversity in the gameplay. Even having Malcolm and Ozzy was something we had to talk about because they are similar archetypes. And they play similar games. But we found enough separation — specifically that Ozzy is all-weather, all-terrain. He can climb, dive, catch, fish, and win. Where Malcolm is different is Malcolm actually doesn’t always win. He’s got some Achilles heels in challenges, but Malcolm’s got a little more strategy. We were able to make an argument that they are different types.”
We asked specifically about the omission of one recent contestant who made big moves in Worlds Apart yet was snubbed from the fan vote in Second Chance and then not invited back for Game Changers: Carolyn Rivera. “That’s really what it came down to with Carolyn,” says Probst about Carolyn not differentiating herself enough from the other people chosen. “Absolutely she was in the running. She was in the running until the very end.”
However, Probst believes the pain of not being selected will ultimately be Carolyn’s gain. “She’s going to hate hearing that we didn’t have 100 percent,” says the host. “And I’m not going to say who was on which side, but she was in the running. Which is good for Carolyn because it means we will get her back out there again, and typically people who get passed over and finally end up coming back always say the same thing: ‘I’m so glad it was this season. Because the season I wanted to be on actually wouldn’t have worked out for me.’ And I hope that’s what Carolyn says because I fully think Carolyn will be back.”
Watch the video above to see Probst’s thoughts for yourself, and for more Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.