'Survivor: Micronesia': Exclusive Cast Reveal!

For its 16th season, the reality staple brings back favorites from previous seasons to compete against newbies who idolize them

SURVIVOR: MICRONESIA  In season 16, it's Fans vs. Favorites.  Photo Credits:  Monty Brinton 

When producers initially began mapping out season 16 - yes, 16! - of Survivor, they considered making it their second All-Stars edition. But then they considered something else. ''None of us felt like a full-on All-Stars was the right choice, because we did it once and since then so many other shows have done it,'' says host Jeff Probst. ''It felt like we needed a twist.'' And when has this seminal reality show not embraced a twist? Enter the Fans vs. Favorites concept of Survivor: Micronesia (debuting Feb. 7 on CBS at 8 p.m.), featuring one tribe of former Survivor standouts, and another tribe of newbies who idolize the players they are about to compete against.

So who was lucky enough to make the cut? The Favorites tribe features contestants going all the way back to season 7, including two from the recently completed Survivor: China - gravedigger James Clement and the person who engineered his ouster, Amanda Kimmel. Survivor: Fiji sends its most popular player, 55-year-old Yau-Man Chan, while the Cook Islands season is responsible for three contestants: flirt-tastic Parvati Shallow, triple-crossing Jonathan Penner, and challenge dominator Ozzy Lusth. Rounding out the tribe is Survivor: Panama 's Cirie Fields, Vanuatu's Eliza Orlins and Ami Cusack, and Survivor's biggest villain ever: Pearl Islands ' Jon Dalton (a.k.a. Jonny Fairplay), who once famously faked his own grandmother's death to further himself in the game. ''You can't do the season and not invite your most notorious person,'' says Probst. ''And Fairplay delivered, I will say that.'' Does that mean he delivers a victory? Don't bet on it, laughs Probst. ''This guy is no threat to win this game - zero.''

No people from the highly regarded Palau or lowly regarded Guatemala seasons made the trip. That is in large part because two popular contestants - Stephenie LaGrossa and Bobby Jon Drinkard - already appeared in both those seasons, and Palau's winner, Tom Westman, declined to participate. (No other past winners were chosen.) Survivor: Micronesia was shot on many of the same beaches as the Palau season, and will also feature the return of Exile Island, which was absent from Survivor: China.

The Fans taking on the Survivor two-timers include a large-and-in-charge firefighter (Joel Anderson), a beauty pageant coach (Chet Welch), a golf course vendor (Kathleen Sleckman), and a man who scoops ice cream for a living in Hell…Michigan, that is (Erik Reichenbach). In contrast to recent seasons, where contestants were heavily recruited and largely unfamiliar with the program, the new players of Micronesia are all followers of the show. How they fare against their heroes remains to be seen.



'Survivor: Micronesia': Jeff Probst's Scouting Reports

Survivor: Micronesia will feature a new twist on the tribal competition: Fans vs. Favorites. In this 16th season (premiering Feb. 7), former Survivor standouts will take on a tribe of newbies who idolize the players they will now compete against. Click the link for the inside story of the Survivor Fans vs. Favorites concept. And read on to meet this season's competitors, and see what host Jeff Probst has to say about their chances.

AGE: 32
OCCUPATION: Firefighter
HOMETOWN: Avondale, Ariz.

JOEL SAYS: ''Bottom line, I'm here for my family. If I just wanted to go on vacation and hang out on the beach, I'd take my family with me.''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''Joel is the one guy who might be able to give James [Clement, the returning Favorite from Survivor: China] a run for his money, because he is every bit as big as James. He's a fireman, he's a father and a husband, and when I met with him the thing that really struck me is how he does everything for his wife and his family. And I like that about him. He's a big, big guy, and these challenges start off physical right from the get-go. Sometimes being a physical threat works against you early; I think in Joel's case it's going to be advantageous.''




AGE: 32
OCCUPATION: Personal trainer/bartender
HOMETOWN: West Hollywood, Calif. (originally from Houston)

NATALIE SAYS: ''I need to be fearless again. I want to unearth all those things when I was 8 and didn't give a s--- about what people thought, and I did it anyway.''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''I'm on the fence with Natalie because I can't figure out if she has any business being in this game or not. On paper she sounds great - she's a personal trainer and she's young and she's attractive - but when I watched the first few moments on the show, I'm not sure her attitude is going to be able to survive. You have to have a sense of humor or you're going to be a miserable person if you can't laugh about being hungry at some point. I'm not sure Natalie's had to go through anything as difficult as what she's about to go through.''



AGE: 34
OCCUPATION: Writer/actor
HOMETOWN: Los Angeles (originally from Boston)

MICHAEL SAYS: ''I'm good at reading people. You got to be everybody's best friend.''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''I like Mikey B. a lot. He's Boston, and Boston is so damn good to Survivor. He's got a colorful way of saying the most mundane thing, and that makes him somebody I will love to go to at Tribal Council.''



AGE: 43
OCCUPATION: Commercial builder
HOMETOWN: Fredericksburg, Va.

TRACY SAYS: ''I'm a thrill seeker. I want to push myself to that point where I know I can do it.''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''Tracy should be very valuable because of her background, because she's a woman who works in construction. I don't know how much she wants to share about what she does, because there's a part of her that thinks if she comes on too strong [she] could be seen as a threat. But on paper, this is something you rarely get: somebody who knows how to build. Boston Rob knew how to build things and that made him hugely valuable. I think Tracy could be the same way.''



AGE: 24
OCCUPATION: Motivational speaker
HOMETOWN: Beverly Hills (originally from Austin, Tex.)

ALEXIS SAYS: ''People will see the Southern belle in me. But I'm fiercely competitive - despite my dimples.''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''When she came in she was so excited. And I launched into this speech about how you need to drop the excitement and get your head in the game because these other people out here, they're already playing, they're already playing you, and they're already seeing you're this little simple girl from Texas that they're going to run right over. And she looks at me and says, 'I've read every person here.' And she had a pretty good read on everybody. I thought, This is all I need to know. This girl knows how to play. As a fan, I picked this girl to win.'


AGE: 22
OCCUPATION: Ice cream scooper
HOMETOWN: Ypsilanti, Mich. (works in Hell, Mich.)

ERIK SAYS: ''I want to do this for myself, to grow up more. I haven't experienced a lot of life. I haven't experienced a lot of stress.'' (Trust us, Erik - you will.)

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''Erik loves the show more than anyone I have ever met. He remembers things that I did that I don't remember. He's a young kid, and that young exciting energy is what's going to keep him in this game and could easily be what gets him knocked out, because he doesn't have the maturity of life to know when he's being played. That's what he's going to have to watch out for. Because you could see people looking at him on Day One and going, 'Who is the kid in the green shoes, for crying out loud?'''


AGE: 29
OCCUPATION: Real estate entrepreneur
HOMETOWN: Emeryville, Calif.

MARY SAYS: ''This is closer to $1 million than I've ever been. I'm definitely in it for the money. I'm largely money-driven.''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''I think Mary coming into the game is going to be on the bubble. She's either going to learn where to fit in this group quickly or she's going to be on the outs for the whole time. Mary's best play is to hide in the middle, not become a nuisance, just hang out and see if you can hang out long enough that your vote becomes valuable.''


AGE: 22
OCCUPATION: Student teacher
HOMETOWN: Fox River Grove, Ill.

JASON SAYS: ''I'm not evil or devious. But I can be. If it comes down to lying, I have no problem.''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''Jason loves to compare himself to Ozzy [the returning Favorite from Cook Islands]. He thinks Ozzy is the greatest player to ever participate in Survivor - I think he's kind of got a man-crush on him. He's coming on strong in the beginning saying, 'I'm going to go toe-to-toe with Ozzy. I can climb coconut trees just like he can, I can swim just like he can, and I'm just as athletic as he is.' My response to that is, it's one thing to say it and another thing to do it. So he can talk the talk, but the big question is, can he walk the walk?''



AGE: 45
OCCUPATION: Golf course vendor
HOMETOWN: Glen Ellyn, Ill.

KATHLEEN SAYS: Sleckman's ideal alliance? ''I'm tending to look for misfits, people who are psychologically or emotionally damaged, like myself.''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''We almost put Kathy on Vanuatu and we didn't. It's one thing to have a positive attitude, it's another to survive 39 days eating some rice, clams, and an occasional fish. I think Kathy's going to be tested enormously, and the longer she lasts, the tougher it's going to be unless she can embrace it. It's not an easy season out there. It rained almost every night we were there, and if you get sent to Exile, it can be brutal.''


AGE: 48
OCCUPATION: Beauty pageant coach
HOMETOWN: Ford City, Pa.

CHET SAYS: ''I play outside the box. I know how to stand out, and I know what I need to do.''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''Chet works in the pageant world. He produces winners and he will do whatever it takes to get his pageant girl to win. If he plays this game the way he plays in the pageant world, then he is definitely a force to be reckoned with. If he doesn't, he could be going home soon. He has sort of been playing a version of Survivor for the past 20 years in the pageant world, and he gets this game.''



AGE: 55
SEASON: Survivor: Fiji

YAU-MAN SAYS: ''Last time, I was able to play the weak old man under the radar before the merge. I definitely cannot do that [this time].''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''You can't do a favorites season without Yau-Man. He's sort of the Rudy of this season. He'll be the oldest guy and the most frail and probably be one of the most popular. Yau-Man's problem is going to be those things. He's so popular, everyone there knows that he's popular and well liked, and everybody knows what happened to him in Fiji. But I think Yau-Man's going to have to come out and play aggressive. I don't think he can play that same game of just chopping coconuts and being everyone's friend.''



AGE: 30
SEASON: Survivor: China

JAMES SAYS: How has he altered his strategy from last time? ''I'm going to have to hustle a little bit more, and smile a whole lot earlier.''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''I feel like the reason James is likable is there is a sense of authenticity there that you don't see that often - he's just going to tell you what he thinks. I don't think James is that great of a Survivor player, as we saw in China. He made, without question, the single biggest blunder in the history of the show. I don't think he gets how to play, but he's so strong and he works so hard and he is so likable that it's really hard to vote him out. I think James could do really well this season.''



AGE: 34
SEASON: Survivor: Vanuatu

AMI SAYS: ''I'm going to slowly peel away each alliance that I see building. I'm going to start chipping away to keep the numbers in my favor.''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''Ami will betray you; she'll do whatever it takes to get deeper in the game. But she's sexy, and she's got this 'Everything's beautiful in the world until I stab you in the back' thing. And that's what we want on this show. And if Ami has her way, I guarantee you there will be a women's alliance, because that is what Ami wanted in Vanuatu and that's what's she's going to try to make happen here.''


AGE: 33
SEASON: Survivor: Pearl Islands

JONNY SAYS: ''I'm either the first one out or the last one here.''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''You can't do the season and not invite your most notorious person. And Fairplay delivered, I will say that. He delivered, and I think we got what we expected we would get, which is that character he created called Jonny Fairplay. What gets me is just how effective it can still be. He can call you stupid and somebody will get mad. And I'm looking at this going, 'Why are you getting mad at this guy? He's created a character, he's trying to get under your skin - and it's working!' This guy is no threat to win this game - zero.''


AGE: 37
SEASON: Survivor: Panama

CIRIE SAYS: ''If I go before Jonny Fairplay, something is really wrong. Nothing against Jonny, but damn!''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''Cirie represents the kind of people I love to see on the show. You look at Cirie and you think, 'How are you going to survive? You don't have the tools, you don't come from this background, you're not physically fit enough.' But there's more to this game than that. My hunch is Cirie played a very good game the first time, and I expect her to play an even better game the second time.''


AGE: 23
SEASON: Survivor: China

AMANDA SAYS: ''I know things about [fellow Favorite and China castmate] James he doesn't want people to know. And he knows stuff about me. We could be worst enemies, or we can become allies.''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''Amanda knows how to play Survivor. She knows how to build an alliance, how long to keep it, when to get rid of it. She's very good at looking at odds, she's very good at assessing if [she's] better off against this person, or with this person. And you need that. Survivor only thrives when you have people who will continue to turn and switch and make moves. Amanda's in great shape, she does well in the challenges, she's beautiful, and she knows how to play


AGE: 26
SEASON: Survivor: Cook Islands

OZZY SAYS: ''My mistakes last time were basically being too much of a loner. I'm never going to go anywhere by myself except to use the bathroom.''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''Ozzy's big problem's going to be the fact that he's Ozzy. Ozzy played a brilliant physical game - the only thing Ozzy lacked was the social skill of how to play Survivor. And that's probably going to be the deciding difference. If he can figure out a way to survive socially due to the kind of targets he's going to have on his back due to his physical strength, then he can do really well. Otherwise it wouldn't surprise me if Ozzy went out really early because you just don't want him around.''


AGE: 25
SEASON: Survivor: Vanuatu

ELIZA SAYS: ''I need to watch myself a little bit in terms of talking so much. I think I should do a little bit more listening.''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''Eliza is one of the most enjoyable people to have on the show because she gets it. Everybody knows Eliza will betray you at the drop of a hat, and Eliza knows you know that. Eliza is a Favorite because she can be so charmingly annoying. It's fun to watch Eliza get mad, and it's fun to watch people get mad at her, and she doesn't take it personally. That's the most beautiful part about her; she knows it's only a game: 'I have a life, I have a boyfriend, I'm going to be an attorney, I have a dog, that's my life - this is only a game. Of course, I'm going to try to cut your throat. I've got knives coming out of every part of my body.'''


AGE: 45
SEASON: Survivor: Cook Islands

JONATHAN SAYS: ''These are serious players now,'' says Penner of the increased competition. ''There are no players with names like Chicken who are just there to get blown up.''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''Penner only plays to win. He's not interested in third. He's not interested in second. And you saw that at Cook Islands. And Penner is gold. At Tribal Council I can just look at him and know that he's ready to light somebody up. And Penner is the biggest complainer that we've had on the show. He complains about every challenge, and I get a kick out of it. I'm so happy he's on the show. And Penner could win - absolutely. He's a smart dude, and I think he probably learned a couple things in watching his season's playback.''


AGE: 25
SEASON: Survivor: Cook Islands

PARVATI SAYS: ''I have tricks up my sleeve like you would never know. Not just the flirting game this time, at all.''

JEFF PROBST SAYS: ''To me Parvati is this season's Amber. Last time, Parvati used her flirting, and it got her a long way. But we didn't really see her do a whole lot more than that, and the question was, what if underneath that she's got a strategy? What if she's figured out how to play this game - could she last long enough to become a threat? Parvati's a question mark. She could be the same thing, come out and giggle a couple times, eat some chocolate cake, and go home. On the flip side, if Parvati's figured out how to play this game, and maybe she teams up with somebody...




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