'Survivor': Jeff Probst talks about who didn’t make the cut for 'Heroes vs. Villains' -- and why

There’s been a lot of debate as to why certain people made the cast of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. Of course, the other side of that is why certain people did not make the final cut. Why isn’t Panama‘s Shane Powers on the Villains tribe? Or Thailand champ Brian Heidik? How can you have Heroes without Ozzy, Yul, Terry Deitz, and Mike Skupin? And did they even consider bringing back bad boy-turned-quitter Jonny Fairplay? We went straight to the source for the answers: Jeff Probst. I spoke to Probst in Samoa right as season 20 began filming and he went over who couldn’t make it, who wasn’t invited, and why he hates I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! more than life itself. All that and more will be revealed in the 3-part video below. Check back every day this week for exclusive behind-the-scenes video of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains (and see interviews with all the players at our Survivor video hub). And to have all the Survivor scoop sent directly to you, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.

[ewbrightcove “64856083001”, “64514366001”, “525”, “365”]

Comments (253 total) Add your comment
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  • Tim Lade

    Jeff Probst could honestly host a reading of the telephone book and I would love it. Probst, when are you gonna let a sweet Canadian like me on board huh?

    • leo

      Oh I, as a fellow Canadian, would love it too. I’m a sweetie or so I’m told but better than that I’m smart and I think I could legitimately play a really good game. I hate that Canadians don’t get this experience – how can they get on the bachelor/bachelorette, and other reality shows but not Survivor?

      • leo

        BTW I love that Jeff totally called out “Im a Celebrity (get me out of here)” – worst most fake show ever.
        Check out survivorman to see a true adventurer. Survivor comes more closely to that than most other reality shows.

      • mark

        I’m sure he and Rob Burnett are p=ssed off about how that stupid show copied so much from Survivor and in such a cheap lame way.

      • North

        Actually, I think Mark Burnett was a producer (or something) for the first Survivorman shows, or at least for Les Stroud’s first shows.

    • Tina

      WHY not ask Elizab-tch Hasselback to come back? She could bore all the survivors with how she thinks Obama is so awful.

      • Anna

        I don’t think she’d do it as she probably now considers herself above the fray that is Survivor. The other thing is, going by the criteria of her season and leaving out who she’s morphed into post Survivor, she would have had to be cast as a hero. Does anyone really want to see the mouth that roared cast into the role of heroine?
        But hey, all of that notwithstanding, I’m sure there are many, many people all across America who would love to see Elizabeth Hasselback stranded on a remote island somewhere out in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean.

      • mark

        Everybody with any common sense would root for her if she did. Obama is awful, and she is a smart cookie.

      • Myrna

        Ha Ha Ha Ha Elizabeth H a smart cookie. Good one!

      • Ember

        Wow Tina, was the “b” word really necessary? Way to resort to name calling, just because you don’t agree with Elisabeth.

      • Lisa

        Ember, I agree. Name calling not necessary. Aside from that, Elisabeth has medical issues that would likely prevent her from playing the game. And three little kids. She makes a ton of money. What could be her motivation for going on the show?

      • Joel

        I liked her in Australia and I still like her now. I would like to see her come back, but I don’t think she will. Plus, I don’t think Survivor needs her to come back.

      • Camkel

        Elizabeth rocks but she has moved on as the sensible voice of the View.

  • JC28

    Okay – we’ve seen enough of Ozzie yet they put Pavarti on again? Does not make sense.

    • Pete

      Yes because she actually won the game and they need strong women in the cast. Ozzy proved to be one of the dumbest players and the guys they chose as Heroes are much more likable than Ozzy!! He can keep his overweening ego at home where it belongs!

      • Survivor Blog

        There are just way more likable guys than girls, so its harder to choose between the guys. I didn’t really want to see anybody get a third chance. Check out my Survivor: H vs V preview and picks on my Survivor site: turnonmytv.blogspot.com

      • Squirl

        Hmm Pete, that is just your opinion. I guess it doesn’t hurt to see Parvati in a bikini either right? I watched the same series as you did and have to say OZZY ROCKS!! Because of his abilities and game play he was a huge threat, therefore was voted out too soon.

        In case you hadn’t noticed, the majority of the third time around contestants are females too.

        Doesn’t mean us women wouldn’t mind seeing Ozzy running around in shorts a third time either.

    • Paul T

      Ugh WHY Parvati??? She is annoying and I can think of better female villains

      • Jen

        My husband and I recently were putting together our fantasy all-stars list, and we literally came up with about 15 guys and like 3 or 4 girls. I’m a woman, and I can admit that they’re aren’t many memorable female characters. Men just play better games and are more memorable. When you get someone like Parvati who actually has a personality (albiet an annoying personality), of course she’s going to come back for an all-stars.

      • Jen

        they’re = there

      • Anna

        And further to Jen’s comment, that is exactly what happens when women are consistently cast for how they look in a bikini as oppossed to what’s going on in their head. The pool of availability becomes extremely shallow and you end up with another round of Parvati and Amanda. Even with Jerri Manthey’s unfortunate foray into plastic surgery notwithstanding, name me one female contestant that at first sight in swimwear made you want to gouge your eyes out. Now think about the men. Without having to go back to review the list I can think of three right off the top of my head that darn near blinded me and made me want to pickle my eyes in formaldahyde (sp?). For every man cheering the silicone bobbing in the surf there is a woman like me praying, “Please, dear God, don’t EVER let him take his pants off again”.

      • Jen


    • leo

      I wish they’d asked Gretchen – remember her from early on? Gretchen and Betsy, they’d align immediately and be a serious threat!
      I’m guessing they decided not to ask anyone from this past season so that Russell could truly be a surprise but I would have loved to see Betsy back and Marisa as well.

    • Micah

      I thought that was a reference to a video in which Ozzy apparently played a starring role.

      • Mark

        Perhaps. And, in spite of having watched the Playboy video over and over again, I sitll have not seen enough of Ozzy. Never could.

  • Boo

    You can never see enough of Ozzy… Jeff, there are women that watch the show for reasons other than game play. Just about every woman is bikini worthy, yet the men… we get James, JT, and Colby?!?! Come on. That’s it? I’m very disappointed Jeff.

    • persia

      what are you talking about? colby is the hottest survivor guy of all time no contest!!! and he still looks damn good. yummy cant wait. ozzy is not hot imo. and he basically cried like a baby when parv blindsided him. and he was so arrogant and entitled. thank the survivor gods hes not back.

      • Gayle

        Colby is hot no doubt. My all time favourite hottie was BobbyJon!

    • Glory

      I think Boo was saying is that those three guys are the only ones out of the whole lot that can be considered eye candy. While almost ALL of the girls are.

      • persia

        ah got it. but JT? Eye candy? ….dont think so. plus I wouldnt touch that if sugar’s been there first…

    • Tina

      I’ve seen enough of Ozzy.

    • julie

      I think Ozzy is one of those people that don’t fit in either the Heros or Villains category. He was a great athletic player, but not strategic and not particularly likeable, as seen on Fans vs Favorites.

  • alex

    Would love to see a ‘Survivor – What ifs…” show. I remember Hunter. And all the boys from Vanuatu who were voted out first.

    • Erik

      @alex – I think a whole season of people that were voted off first would be awesome.

      • Tina

        Well, not just the firsts but from the first 3 voted outs. Some of the firsts were total duds.

      • Lisa

        Can you imagine–Jeff thought a couple of the challenges from last season when on for a long time (4 plus hours). Challenges on this show would take even longer.

    • Big Dave

      Yeah. Brady from Vanuatu was serious eye candy.

    • Michael KM

      I have been thinking about this “What If” scenario for years! (Though in my imagination, they called it “Second Chances”) And Mike Skupin and Hunter were at the top of my list, along with Gretchen and Silas. Mark, Jeff, please please do this! And as for Sally not being a hero, what makes Danielle a villain? I guess the fact that Corinne couldn’t make it. What about Amy (even though that would be another 3-timer)? Or make Candace or Cirie a villain, and bring back Danni. Still, great cast all-around. Now do What If!

    • H&M

      That is the most brilliant idea!

  • Jennifer in San Diego

    Loved this behind the scenes insider scoop. Can’t wait for the next season! I would also definitely tune in to a “what if” Survivor season!

  • Rebecca Parker

    First of all, the biggest unforgivable omission to me is Jonathan Penner. I would have LOVED to have seen him come back.

    Also, I disagree – I would have much rather seen more of Ozzy than, for example, James. James, besides a hot body, has NOTHING going for him.

    • Pete

      What? Your logic is flawed! Ozzy doesn’t even have a hot body going for him, he looks more like a wet weasel, so he’s actually offering less than James. And If you factor in Ozzy’s sense of entitlement and overweening ego he’s just a dumb loser that doesn’t deserve it!

      • erennick

        Ozzy, while entitled, IS by far one of the best challenge competitors ever. I would pay money to watch him compete in person. And, he fishes and climbs trees and finds the idol… James is great, but the spot should have gone to Ozzy. I’m sure there is more to the story… FYI- he does not look like a wet weasel.

      • luvmichaeljohns

        I agree with erennick, Ozzy like Colby is an immunity winner powerhouse.

      • RBlues

        IMHO Ozzy’s absence is the only thing missing from this season. Would have been awesome! He’s beautiful to watch in challenges . . .

      • Squirl

        From a woman’s point of view i beg to differ Pete. What would you know about a man’s hot body? While we are at it, why are you so obsessed with dissing Ozzy? Sounds to me like maybe the little green monster is rearing it’s ugly head? I agree 100% that Ozzy is a power house and a pleasure to watch.

    • Melinda

      OMG! Can you imagine the chaos Penner & Russell could cause? These two are very high on my list of all time favs!

  • Lisa

    I can see why he thinks we’ve seen too much Ozzy, but how can he not think we’ve seen too much Amanda, Stephenie and Parvati – uggh!

    • orville

      Because he’s a guy and they’re hot chicks in bikinis.

      • Squirl


  • Anth

    I’m ecstatic to hear that Brian Heidik was even considered–I understand Jeff’s reasoning but I still would love, love, love to see Heidik return in the future. Whether that be for a winner’s season or just some other All-Star variation, he’s got to come back at some point. He’s everything Russell Hantz wishes he was–that’s right, Jeff, I went there!

    And I’m all for a “What If” season; bringing back Skupin and Ellis would be fantastic. How about Silas Gaither, the original screwed-over contestant; Kelly Goldsmith; Gina Crews; Robb Zbacnik; Brook Gerhauty; James Miller; Cao Boi; Betsy Bolan…a lot of awesome people I’d love to see get another shot.

    • persia

      agree about silas and kelly! and gina! yes it would be a good season. I think Brian Heidik had some crazy incident where he crossbowed a puppy or something…that might be a big factor in him not being asked back, he kindof really is evil. Though I liked him as a winner for some reason…sleazy in an entertaining way maybe?

    • Ian

      Was Jeff on drugs when he did this interview.
      Colleen not considered a hero? What a freaking moron!

      What is Dalton’s love affair with Exile Island? They already have Cirie and Danielle you wanna add three more people from that season! That would be 1/4 the cast from one season!

      And i love when talking about Mike Skupin Jeff totally insults the fans! No wonder viewership has gotten so low. Keep pissing off the true fans Survivor! Its really working for ya!

      • julie

        What makes Skupin a Hero?? That he got burned? That’s the ONLY thing I remember about that guy.

  • Ethan

    Is it a given that Russell won’t even be in the final 3 in Heroes vs Villians, considering how bitter he was losing in Samoa and how he tried to pay Natalie to give up the title? I mean, if he is in the final in H vs. V, then he probably wouldn’t be as angry as he was losing in Samoa.

  • Ian

    But I would love a “What if” or “Second Chance” if they got people like Mike, Gina, Kelly G, Lindsay, Hunter, Kimmi, Jessie, Tanya and alot of early season people. But in the end it would just be all the Mactors from Seasons 13+ who were voted out early. So I dont even get my hopes up.

    • Noel

      I’d love a “What If” or “Second Chance” Survior as well. Probst-y….puhlease reward us hard-core old-timer fans with a season like that! And everyone talks about poor Skupin and how he had to leave the game; if he wouldn’t have fallen in the fire, Jeff Varner wouldn’t have been voted out, and could have gone further in the game and at least made the jury. He was truly one of the most entertaining players I’ve seen to date!

  • Tracy

    Jeff Probst is one of the best things about reality TV…you may notice my level of worship when you read this post I wrote about Jeff:


  • Avery

    I know one girl who was clearly a hero who would have been incredible! Peih-Gee!!!!!!
    But that’s ok because the idea of a what-ifs season is awesome. Wanda(Palau) Ashley (China) Misty (Panama) Just to name a few.

    • Bistro

      I agree with you and hope Misty Giles is in it. She’s by far the hottest contestant to play the game.

    • mark

      Amanda and Stephanie are NOT hot

    • Jim

      Wanda is unbearable to watch, Ashley from china would also be boring, Misty the same. I disagree strongly.

  • Dave from East Texas

    I’m annoyed Amanda, Stephanie, Rupert, and James were cast! All four have had second chances to be on Survivor, yet here we go again! I can handle Amanda, but the others moaned and groaned in their seasons and on All-Stars/Fans Vs. Favs! Most likely, I’ll turn my head during their confessinals and god forbid they make it past week 4 of the lastest season. Looks as if I may get what I wish for with Steph and Rupert’s early injuries.

    • pabby6060

      Dave, they are not the only third-timers this season! Cirie, Colby, Jerri, Parvati and Rob have also had two previous chances at Survivor — that’s 9 out of the 20 contestants this season!

      • Dave from East Texas

        True that! GAWD, Cirie? I know I definitely CANNOT fathom watching Cirie annoyingly smile her way through another season! Colby, Jerri, Parvati, and Rob — I welcome them back!!! Equally, the thought of watching Steph, Cirie, James, and Rupert be allowed another chance to be the “sole survivor” disgusts me beyond anything I can explain. I’m not sure who is worse to watch!

  • Tim

    The biggest ommission I see is Shambo, my favorite from Samoa! I REALLY wish she would have been given another chance.

    • labrat

      My theory is that, since the last season hadn’t aired when they filmed this one and nobody knew Russell, they wanted to keep it that way. If they don’t cast anyone else from that season to tell his secrets and the way he really is, then he can pretend to take a back seat and float by. Otherwise if someone else is there and talking about how he found idols without clues or how he got all the way to the end by using good strategy, he might be picked off right away. And they need him around for entertainment.

      • Anna

        You may have a point but for two things – first, Russell is utterly devoid of humility, he is incapable of restraint and he would never be able to simply sit back and shut the heck up. Pharmaceutical has yet to come up with an antidote for the terminal running of Russell’s mouth. Second, Shambo hero worships Russell, his secrets would have been safer with her than with Russell himself.

      • labrat

        You’re right about the humility factor. But I did see Dalton’s interview with him where he said he plans on latching himself to Boston Rob. His plan is to make Rob think that he’s making all the decisions when, in fact, Russell will be “suggesting” things to him. Like you said though, we’ll see if he’s able to contain himself. And Shambo? I don’t know….I think she would be loyal to the first person that gives her a hug or is nice to her. She seems to crave affection.

      • Anna

        I take your point on Shambo, labrat, you are so right. I had forgotten about the Dalton interview, Boston Rob also comes with a great deal of ego, I so cannot wait until Thursday to see how this all starts playing out. And for what it’s worth, if there is a drug out there that can silence Russell, and if in spite of his millions Russell cannot afford it (four kids to put through college and all), I am willing to spearhead a collection on his behalf.

      • labrat

        Haha. I’ll help you with that!

      • Anna of St. Joseph

        your both tools

    • Dave from East Texas

      I agree 100% and thank you for bringing her back to mind. She was one of the most enjoyable contestants in Survivor history!

  • Robert

    Oh, Yul definitely should be invited back, as one of the most clever strategists and also a great athlete. Terry too. I really think they can take places of Colby and James. James doesn’t seem to even have a slight chance winning.

    • Paul

      I’m with you, Robert. Yul definitely should’ve been invited back although I don’t think he would’ve accept it because he’s now married with a new job in D.C. But the fact that Survivor didn’t even bother to invite him explains why this show has been going downhill for the past couple years–especially the past 2 seasons that saw Coach and Evil Russell. Survivor seems more concerned to cast colorful characters than strategic players. As soon as Probst explained why Yul wasn’t invited, I shuddered to think how good this season actually will be.

      • Jim

        Mate, you’re completely wrong here. Yul is boring for TV, i like the guy but there’s too many males and not enough spots. Yul out is a no brainer. Survivor hasn’t been going downhill, on the contrary it’s at it’s strongest of all time. Fiji was a weak season. China was good. Micronesia was great, Tocantins also quality, Gabon ok and Samoa one of the best yet! So your comment about it going downhill is absolutely ludicrous.

      • A person

        Yul is not boring for the majority of straight women and gay men. It’s awesome that he’s smart and sweet, yeah, but just seeing him with his shirt off is captivation enough!

        Way hotter than Colby, IMHO.

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