‘Survivor’ Contestants Reveal Instances of Production Interference

Survivor Cambodia final 5

YouTube The final 5 castaways of "Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance" at an immunity challenge (2015).

Two-time “Survivor” contestant Reiman (formerly Spencer) Bledsoe recently became the subject of controversy in the “Survivor” community last month when he released an 8,000+ word blog post railing against the COVID vaccine and questioning the legitimacy of transgender people’s gender identity, among other controversial statements. He subsequently participated in a Reddit AMA in which he spouted false information about the vaccine.

However, the controversy surrounding Bledsoe was not the only noteworthy information that came out of last month’s AMA. During the question-and-answer session, Bledsoe, and subsequently one of his tribemates, also revealed some significant production interference that took place during his second season, “Cambodia.” Here’s what you need to know:

Bledsoe Revealed That a Producer Convinced Him to Keep Jeremy

Spencer Bledsoe

CBSReiman (formerly Spencer) Bledsoe in “Survivor: Cambodia.”

Bledsoe competed twice on “Survivor” – first in 2014, at the age of 21, when he placed fourth on “Cagayan.” He was an instant fan favorite, getting voted back into the game by fans a year later for season 31, “Cambodia – Second Chance.” There, after being in the minority and dodging a number of Tribals for a stretch of time in the beginning, he managed to make it to the final 3, where he lost to Jeremy Collins in a unanimous jury vote.

During his AMA last month, Bledsoe was asked a variety of questions about both his time on “Survivor” and his controversial statements. When asked if there was anything he could have done differently in “Cambodia” that would have resulted in a win, Bledsoe replied in one of his most-liked comments of the thread that he “could have had a shot” if he voted out eventual winner Jeremy Collins at the final 5. He explained that he came out of that immunity challenge wanting to do so, but was convinced not to by a member of production, presumably in order to help Jeremy win. Bledsoe explained:

The producer who was on duty for the finale effectively talked me out of it, arguing that I wouldn’t make it to F3 if I voted Jeremy out. We went down the line of jurors and he made the case for many of them (e.g. [Andrew] Savage) that we’d been super tight, and they might vote for me over Jeremy. I wasn’t aware of the depth of Jeremy’s bonds from old Bayon, so I foolishly entertained these ideas.

He went on to reveal that he “should have definitely known” that the producer was lying when he tried to convince Bledsoe that Kelly Wigglesworth would be a vote in his favor. Bledsoe, along with his ally Tasha Fox, of course proceeded to keep Collins in the game over Keith Nale, where both he and Fox would lose to him in the finals. “What I did is ultimately my responsibility,” he said, “but yea, there it is.”

Some fans were shocked by the revelation; others suspected such behind-the-scenes manipulation, but were still disappointed by it (this is not the first time similar producer interference or editing manipulation has been revealed by former contestants).

One fan replied to Bledsoe’s comment, “Wait, a producer was talking with you during the game and influenced your decision??” Another made a post about the incident, in which the top comment read, “I don’t like to think about it but I have to wonder how often this kind of stuff happens out there. Danni was probably right to be paranoid.” Season 11, “Guatemala” winner Danni Boatwright has been vocal about her “strategy” of not revealing much of her strategy to production or in confessionals, for fear they might use it against her. Clearly, her fears are not entirely unfounded.

Bledsoe’s Castmate Responded With a Revelation of Her Own

Tasha Kass and Spencer in Survivor Cagayan

CBSTasha Fox, Kass McQuillen, and Reiman (formerly Spencer) Bledsoe as part of the Luzon “Brains” tribe in “Survivor: Cagayan” (2014).

In the same Reddit post discussing Bledsoe’s revelation, his two-time castmate, Kass McQuillen, with whom he had a famous feud during their first season, also made some revelations of her own. In a comment on the post, she revealed that early on in “Cagayan,” host Jeff Probst convinced her and Tasha to keep Spencer over J’Tia Taylor, when their Luzon (aka “Brains”) tribe had been whittled down to four on day 11.

“He spent a good hour at tribal making the case against J’Tia,” Kass explained. “He wasn’t asking questions that aired, he was asking leading questions to keep his favorite.” She went on to say that interference like that on the part of Probst and production “happens all the time,” and even that Probst is “downright rude to many contestants while filming.”

Kass also revealed that production “didn’t let me speak [much]” with Woo Hwang after the latter won the final immunity challenge in their original season, suggesting production heavily favored eventual winner Tony Vlachos. “Tony and production had him the entire time,” Kass explained.

Woo ended up taking Tony to the end with him, where Tony would win in a landslide. Many credited this move to Tony’s strategic acumen; had he not had the time to speak with Woo that production gave him, perhaps the outcome would have been different. 

“Survivor” airs Wednesdays 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS. Be sure to catch season 42 when it premieres March 9, 2022.

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