The tribe has yet to speak.
A viewer vote will cast the next season of the “Survivor” franchise, choosing 20 cast members from a pool of 32 former players for the 31st season of the show, CBS announced at the end of Wednesday night’s episode.
The upcoming season will film this summer and air this fall.
The 32 candidates span the reality show’s history, from the Season 1 runner-up Kelly Wiglesworth (dubbed “the rat” in a famous speech viewed by 50 million) to five contestants from the currently airing Season 30.
All of the potential contestants have never won the hit show.
“Since their respective seasons ended, these players have been begging for another shot,” longtime host and executive producer Jeff Probst said. “This is a fun way to allow our loyal fans to be involved in the creative process.”
In an era where longtime viewers loathe the “recruitment” of the competitively ambivalent actor/model/bartender/personal trainer trope to the show to cosmetically gloss the cast, this field is a bunch of “Survivor” diehards.
They are all players that played hard until their demise, have for the most part maintained an active engagement with the show, and have earned favorable nods on and off screen from Probst.
It makes most candidacies unsurprising, except for early boot Brad Culpepper, a retired NFL player-turned-lawyer. Culpepper is perhaps best remembered for being the target of an enthusiastic and memorable “F— You Brad Culpepper” shout. After being eliminated early in “Survivor: Blood vs. Water,” he ducked out of the show’s mandatory sequester trip and flew himself back to the U.S.
As for the reveal, the surprise announcement came at the end of Wednesday night’s “Survivor,” confirming a buzz of chatter online and more loudly in the L.A. community of Survivor alums in recent weeks that a “vote-on” campaign was coming.
A strong recency bias prevails over the slate of candidates.
Nearly half of the field (15 of 32) hail from the last two TV seasons (fall 2013-present). This encompasses four actual “Survivor” seasons. A full list of potential cast and the year they last appeared on the series follows at the bottom.
Polls are open at CBS.com/SurvivorSecondChance (online and mobile) from now through 9.00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 20, the night of this season’s “Survivor:Worlds Apart” live three-hour finale episode.
“Survivor” has regularly won the Wednesday night timeslot this season, beating “Idol” by an average of 2.42 million viewers, and with an average of 2.3 to Idol’s 1.5 in the key A18-49 demographic over the last four weeks.
While “Survivor’s” trademark has always been the “vote out,” it was “American Idol” that pioneered the interactive viewer vote for contestants to stay in.
Not The First Fan Vote
This is not the first time that “Survivor” fans have been able to step in to the shoes of Mark Burnett, Probst, and the “Survivor” brain trust.
Back in May 2004, CBS squeezed the juice from its popular first “All-Stars” edition, a season that began huge as the lead out to the infamous Janet Jackson Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction and concluded with an on-air proposal.
They tacked on a primetime sweeps special a few days after the season concluded called “America’s Tribal Council,” where fans voted to give returning player Rupert Boneham $1 million dollars in a mass popularity contest.
Since then, there have been sponsor-related votes for several seasons to pick a “Player of the Week” or a “Player of the Season,” winning up to $100,000 in sponsor cash. However, this is the first time that casting director Lynne Spillman, having put forth the field of 32, can sit back and let the fans play “fantasy casting.”
“Survivor” Campaigns Ahead: Few Restrictions
The floodgates on self-promotion will be open and for now, it does not appear that CBS will be pumping the breaks on the hyperactive social media savvy returnees.
Rob Cesternino, a two-time player who is not in the running, may be the busiest non-candidate over the next two weeks.
A full-time reality TV podcaster, his “Rob Has a Podcast” has become the proverbial “Meet the Press” for “Exit Interviews” with eliminated cast members and the top platform for a community of high profile reality alums (from Spencer Pratt of “The Hills” and original “Survivor” Richard Hatch to Probst himself) to publicly comment on current seasons.
Cesternino beat “Serial” for the “People’s Choice Podcast of the Year” at the Podcast Awards last month, one of five awards on the “#RHAP” shelf.
His co-host on one show, Stephen Fishbach, is a candidate to return and will have the full use of the platform and the audience of thousands over the next few weeks.
“I do think that my show is going to play a big part in informing the voters about the candidacies of these players,” Cesternino told TheWrap. “I plan to offer my platform to any of the potential return candidates, come on with me, talk about their candidacy, why they should be on the show, and the good and the bad of their first ‘Survivor’ stint.”
Each candidate has a campaign video up at CBS.com and voting is underway here: CBS.com/SurvivorSecondChance
See the complete list of cast and the year they last appeared on screen below.
Series Premiere, Summer 2000 (Survivor: Borneo): Kelly Wiglesworth
Season 2, Spring 2001 (Survivor: The Australian Outback): Jeff Varner and Kimmi Kappenberg
Season 3, Fall 2001 (Survivor: Africa): Teresa “T-Bird” Cooper
Season 7, Fall 2003 (Survivor: Pearl Islands): Andrew Savage
Season 12, Spring 2006 (Survivor: Panama): Shane Powers and Terry Deitz
Season 15, Fall 2007 (Survivor: China): Peih-Gee Law
Season 18, Spring 2009 (Survivor: Tocantins): Stephen Fishbach
Season 19, Fall 2009 (Survivor: Samoa): Monica Padilla
Season 22, Spring 2011 (Survivor: Redemption Island): Natalie Tenerelli and Stephanie Valencia
Season 23, Fall 2011 (Survivor: South Pacific): Jim Rice and Mikayla Wingle
Season 24, Spring 2012 (Survivor: One World): Troyzan Robertson and Sabrina Thompson
Season 25, Fall 2012 (Survivor: Philippines): Abi-Maria Gomes
Season 27, Fall 2013 (Survivor: Blood vs. Water): Ciera Eastin, Brad Culpepper, Vytas Baskauskas
Season 28, Spring 2014 (Survivor: Cagayan): Spencer Bledsoe, Kass McQuillen, Woo Hwang, Tasha Fox
Season 29, Fall 2014 (Survivor: San Juan Del Sur): Kelley Wentworth, Keith Nale, and Jeremy Collins
Current Season 30, Spring 2015 (Survivor: Worlds Apart): Joe Anglim, Shirin Oskooi, Mak Dawson, and two contestants still i