It’s been a tumultuous year for Survivor as the coronavirus pandemic forced production to shut down back in March. Despite hopes of filming season 41 in the fall, Inside Survivor sources tell us that production is now postponed until spring 2021, meaning fans are in for an extra-long off-season.
Production is said to be returning to its regular time-frame, albeit a year behind schedule, with the aim to film seasons 41 and 42 from April-July 2021 in Fiji’s Mamanuca Islands. It’s unclear at this moment when CBS would air these seasons, but if it followed the usual pattern, we could theoretically be waiting until this time next year until we see new Survivor. And that’s based on production being able to start in April, which depends entirely on the state of the pandemic.
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This news comes just two months after CBS removed Survivor from its fall 2020-2021 line-up. The network originally hoped the show would be able to film in time for a late September 2020 premiere; however, with international travel restrictions and strict COVID-19 protocols, Survivor was unable to get up and running within that time-frame.
Hope remained that Survivor could film in the fall and air in early 2021. The Fijian government even put into place new COVID-19 safety measures for film productions, a promising sign that plans were in motion. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough, as Fiji’s borders remain closed to non-citizens.
The bottom line is, it’s extremely difficult for anyone to film internationally right now, especially a production the size of Survivor. In recent months, we’ve seen other international productions change course. Love Island USA, which also films in Fiji, is shooting its new season domestically, in Las Vegas, Nevada. While in the UK, ITV confirmed that its next season of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, which usually shoots in Australia, will be filmed in an “old castle” in the Welsh countryside.
It’s unknown if Survivor ever considered filming domestically; one has to imagine it was at least discussed as an option. However, based on recent interviews, Jeff Probst seems against the idea of filming in the US. A big reason for that is that Survivor already has the infrastructure in Fiji. Not only do they have a great relationship with the government, but they receive a substantial tax rebate for filming there—though rebates are currently frozen. Also, pre-production on season 41 started back in January through to early April, so many of the props and equipment are already in place.
The other major issue is in transporting crew to Fiji. Survivor has a 400+ production team made up of people from all over the world. For example, there are a lot of Australians that work on the show, many of them in high priority roles. Right now, Australia still has a strict international travel ban in place. Last month, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison dashed hopes that the ban will be lifted before Christmas, confirming the restrictions will remain in place “indefinitely.”
This would make it near impossible for the Australian crew members to travel to Fiji unless they could somehow prove their work is essential. This is a similar situation for many citizens from other countries who also work on the show. So the logistical problems this causes the Survivor production are enormous.
What does this mean in terms of casting? Well, last month, the casting department went back to work, accepting and reviewing applications for season 43. However, as far as Inside Survivor knows, there is now a freeze on casting for season 43. Any ongoing casting will be to fill potential spots for seasons 41 and 42. Given the amount of time that has passed, it’s highly likely that the casts for 41/42 will change drastically from their original makeup.
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