May 16, 2013 03:37 PM by Ryan Haidet
I have been lucky enough to sit in the studio audience for the last 14 Survivor finales. There really is nothing cooler than being a Survivor fan and getting to watch it all unfold in person. The Survivor: Caramoan — Fans Vs. Favorites finale proved strange in a variety of ways, which many of you have pointed out. Inside this article, I offer a behind-the-scenes look at the epic end to season 26, which aired on Sunday, May 12. Enjoy!
- For the first time ever, the live reunion show did not feature all of the season’s castaways. Brandon Hantz was nowhere to be seen. Jeff Probst told EW.com that he and Brandon both agreed that he didn’t need to be there due to the palpable drama earlier in the season. Brenda Lowe was also not physically in the studio, but she did appear via satellite. She was actually in Miami preparing to give birth.
- Although I didn’t notice any, some people were chatting about seeing images of Russell Hantz at the CBS security booths because he was reportedly banned from the lot. Again, I didn’t see any of these, but it was a hot topic of the afterparty as many claimed to have seen them.
- The only castaways seated on stage for the reunion show were those who made it to the jury. This was also a first, which created a very awkwardly strange scene as the pre-jury boots were all forced to sit in the audience. None of them were asked a single question and were only shown a few pathetic times on screen. Probst told EW.com there was simply no space on the finale stage since they were in a different studio with a large set.
- This was the first May finale to be broadcast from Los Angeles since Survivor: Africa (season three). The reason? Probst was leaving for season 27 the following morning.
- This was also the first time an LA-based finale in recent years that wasn’t filmed at the CBS lot on Beverly Blvd. at Fairfax Avenue. Instead, the finale was held at the CBS Radford lot more than six miles away in Studio City. I’m assuming it’s because the stage Survivor typically tapes inside at the Beverly Blvd. location wasn’t available. It’s shared space with shows like “American Idol.”
- In addition to Rudy Boesch and Boston Rob Mariano, several other former castaways were seated in the studio audience. Marcus Lehman and Randy Bailey of Surivor: Gabon (season 17) were both guests of Corinne Kaplan. Anthony Robinson of Survivor: Fiji (season 14) and Matt Elrod of Survivor: Redemption Island (season 22) were also present. Jerri Manthey of Survivor: Australia (season two), Survivor: All-Stars (season eight) and Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains (season 20) was seated in the press section as she was there to conduct red carpet interviews.
- As the pre-recorded segments were aired before the live portion of the show, the in-studio audience excessively cheered for everything John Cochran did. On the flip side, Dawn Meehan was intensely booed. When Cochran won, the explosion of cheers was one of the loudest I’ve ever experienced at a finale since Judson “Fabio” Birza won Survivor: Nicaragua (season 21).
- Each audience member is given a silicone wristband, which acts as their ticket and seating location inside the studio. I had two — a blue one for the audience and a red one for my spot on the red carpet. Pink wristbands are given to staff.
- During several commercial breaks, Bill Sindelar, who has been the warm-up guy for nearly every finale since Survivor: Thailand (season five), hyped up the crowd by tossing out a series of buffs and T-shirts.
- Castaway Michael Snow was not too thrilled with Rudy Boesch’s use of the word “queer” during the live reunion show when he talked about the first winner Richard Hatch. Snow tweeted out: “‘Queer’ may have been cute 13 years ago, not tonight @CBS.”
- A man who identified himself as Andrea Boehlke’s father was sitting in the audience wearing a strange jacket with multiple boots attached. As you might expect, the strange fashion selection gained the warm-up guy’s attention who went over and asked all about it. After everybody had some laughs at his expense, Andrea’s pop revealed each boot on the jacket resembles a relative he’s lost. Strange stuff. Kind of uncomfortably awkward for everybody, too.
- When Probst first teased the next season with a short video clip featuring the drip of blood into water, the studio audience proved their stupidity. One woman shouted out that the show must have something to do with the Nile River. Huh? A teeny bopper suggested the concept might have something to do with the “Twilight” saga. Even dumber. Somebody jokingly (and hilariously) said the blood was representative of the menstrual cycle, which was obvious season 27 would only feature female castaways. Ultimately, there were a few who guessed the accurate concept of blood is thicker than water (returning players vs. their family members) but it took a while.
- Yvette Nicole Brown, star of NBC’s “Community” and recent co-host on the soon-to-disappear “Jeff Probst Show,” was seated near Probst’s family in the studio audience (in the same section as veteran castaways Rudy Boesch and Boston Rob Mariano).
- Another special celebrity guest was Joey King of “Ramona and Bezus” fame. This young actress has attended multiple recent finales as she’s a personal friend of Probst’s nieces.
- The studio audience is placed in a “lock-down” mode and not able to leave their seats until the show is completely over starting with two commercials before the live portion of the finale.
Does any of this behind-the-scenes info surprise you? What was your favorite part of the finale/reunion show? Were you happy with it or disappointed? What are your expectations for season 27 — Survivor: Blood Vs. Water? Sound off and leave a comment below!
Want more? Follow our tweets on Twitter and like us on Facebook! Click here for more information about Survivor. For other great reality TV news, please feel free to check out SirLinksALot: Survivor Caramoan.
Photos by Ryan Haidet.