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
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.
THE ROOKIES: JOEL ANDERSON
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.''
HE ROOKIES: NATALIE BOLTON
OCCUPATION: Personal trainer/bartender
HOMETOWN: West Hollywood, Calif. (originally
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
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.''
THE ROOKIES: MICHAEL BORTONE
HOMETOWN: Los Angeles (originally from
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
THE ROOKIES: TRACY HUGHES-WOLF
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.''
THE ROOKIES: ALEXIS JONES
OCCUPATION: Motivational speaker
HOMETOWN: Beverly Hills (originally from
ALEXIS SAYS: ''People will see the
Southern belle in me. But I'm fiercely competitive - despite
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.'
THE ROOKIES: ERIK REICHENBACH
OCCUPATION: Ice cream scooper
HOMETOWN: Ypsilanti, Mich. (works in Hell,
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
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?'''
THE ROOKIES: MARY SARTAIN
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
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
THE ROOKIES: JASON SISKA
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?''
THE ROOKIES: KATHLEEN SLECKMAN
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.''
THE ROOKIES: CHET WELCH
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
THE RETURNING FAVORITES: YAU-MAN CHAN
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
THE RETURNING FAVORITES: JAMES CLEMENT
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.''
THE RETURNING FAVORITES: AMI CUSACK
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
THE RETURNING FAVORITES: JON DALTON (A.K.A. JONNY
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.''
THE RETURNING FAVORITES: CIRIE FIELDS
SEASON: Survivor: Panama
CIRIE SAYS: ''If I go before Jonny
Fairplay, something is really wrong. Nothing against Jonny,
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
THE RETURNING FAVORITES: AMANDA KIMMEL
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
THE RETURNING FAVORITES: OZZY LUSTH
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.''
THE RETURNING FAVORITES: ELIZA ORLINS
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
THE RETURNING FAVORITES: JONATHAN PENNER
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
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.''
THE RETURNING FAVORITES: PARVATI SHALLOW
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...