When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down television production basically worldwide, Survivor went into a holding pattern for its next seasons, both of which were slated to film in the normal window of April to July. At the time of the “Winners at War” finale, CBS was still hoping to get season 41 filmed in May and June, but travel restrictions to Fiji (which is where every season of Survivor has filmed since season 33) made that impossible.
The 41st season of the show would have most likely premiered today — Wednesday, September 30 — so with that in mind, here is the good news and the bad news about filming.
The Good News Is That CBS Is Exploring Options Outside of Fiji
Fiji has been the favorite filming locale for several reasons. Host Jeff Probst told Entertainment Weekly in 2017 that he hoped they filmed in Fiji for the rest of the show’s run because it offers them everything they want — “Incredibly beautiful water that you can see down 30 feet, beaches that are amazing, a government that is working with us, local labor that loves to say ‘Bula!’ every day because they’re just happy you’re here. And our crew has never been as happy. We actually have decent accommodations to do this show out in the jungle. It’s a win-win-win.”
But with travel restrictions being what they are, the Survivor crew is going to have to get creative if they want to film a season before next May. According to Deadline, the production process is fluid and right now, CBS is looking at a variety of solutions to get the show back into production sooner and also safely.
In terms of Survivor and The Amazing Race, we’ll get those into production as soon as we can safely get back into production. That’s going to be a little more complicated because we literally have to navigate some international waters,” CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl told Deadline.
The Bad News Is The Next Season Is Still a Ways Off From Airing
Inside Survivor recently reported that production would not be up and running until April 2021, which would most likely push season 41 to the fall of 2021. Even if CBS can find a suitable location and start filming sooner, there’s no way it would air in the fall. Luckily, CBS has a season of The Amazing Race in the can to air in Survivor’s place.
But even if they manage to find a place to film in, say, November to January, they still might not air the show until the fall.
There is always the option of trying to film a season domestically, like Love Island is currently doing, but Probst has made it sound like he’s not really open to that.
In July, Probst told The Hollywood Reporter, “Shooting in a foreign country is exponentially more complicated, and we are still exploring them. I’m on the phone every couple of days, either with the government of Fiji or with our executive teams that are in charge of logistics and planning. We’re continuing to lay out ideas. We don’t have a plan yet. It’s what we’re spending all our time doing because it’s not like we’re going to Atlanta to shoot a show.”
Now, that was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek sentence about shooting in Atlanta, but there are several islands that are part of the United States, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Still, it doesn’t seem likely that that is where Survivor is headed.
A Suggestion For Spring 2021
The Amazing Race is taking Survivor’s slot this fall, but what about when those episodes have aired? Well, CBS is successfully putting on a season of Big Brother right now, so why not air a new season of that in the spring? The nature of its production makes it the perfect show for a quarantine — the contestants are quarantined anyway and the production staff can work in small groups.
Just a thought for something to tide us over until Survivor can return. Seasons 41 and 42 have already been cast, so it’s really just a matter of finding a suitable location.
Survivor will most likely return in the fall of 2021. Big Brother is currently airing on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and the 32rd season of The Amazing Race premieres Wednesday, October 14 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.