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Survivor: Island of the Idols -- aka Survivor Season 39, if you can believe it -- premieres this Wednesday, September 25 before the Big Brother 21 finale. For the fall 2019 season of Survivor, two winners are returning as mentors. Sandra Diaz-Twine -- the only player to win Survivor twice -- won Pearl Islands and Heroes vs. Villains. Boston Rob Mariano won Survivor: Redemption Island, which happens to be one of my least favorite seasons, but that's neither here nor there.
Survivor: Island of the Idols took its title very seriously by hiring the Game of Thrones team to create giant idol statues on the island in honor of Survivor gods Boston Rob and Sandra. If you think Rob's ego didn't need that much boosting, Rob agrees:
Yeah, that was pretty wild. I definitely didn’t need any ego boost while I was out there, that’s for sure. We knew that they were building them. We went out to L.A. and sat for a CGI thing and the Game of Thrones people actually made them. They did our head where they measured us and everything, so they looked exactly like us. They’re like literal prints of us. Walking up and down the beach every day seeing a huge statue of yourself was pretty surreal.
Sandra Diaz-Twine added to EW that it was a gigantic production to even get the statues to Fiji, where the season was filmed:
Then they told me the story that it took five barges to get it there, bringing the head on one barge, the shoulders on another barge, then the machine, and then Rob’s head and Rob’s shoulders. So it was five barges to bring in these five pieces and that it was made by the people that had done stuff for Game of Thrones, which was like, what? That was just icing on the cake, but I loved it. I hung around it all the time. I would sit down by my totem in a shady spot and talk to my totem. I wasn’t going crazy, just talking out loud.
Classic Sandra. If only Survivor had Game of Thrones' dragons, it might've been easier to get the statues there. The Game of Thrones production team certainly knows from impressive sets, but I have to shake my head at going to that much effort to create gigantic statues for Rob and Sandra.
The idea came from wondering how to get a player like Boston Rob, who has said he’d never compete again because he doesn’t feel he’d ever really have a shot to win, to return to the show. So, the idea of making Rob and Sandra mentors was born. They aren’t playing, they can’t cast a vote, they can’t be voted out, and they can’t win the million dollars. The basic idea is they run a Survivor boot camp. They teach aspects of the game and then give players a chance to test what they’ve learned.
Jeff Probst did something similar, in a smaller way, with another one of his favorite contestants, John Cochran. Survivor: Caramoan winner Cochran came back to briefly mentor Debbie in Survivor: Game Changers.
Jeff Probst also recently talked more about Season 39, and how they are making a big change to the storytelling this season.
What do you think they'll do with the Game of Thrones-made Survivor statues after Season 39? Leave them there or break out another five barges to bring them somewhere? Maybe there should be a whole Survivor museum with various artifacts.
Survivor: Island of the Idols premieres Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 8-9:30 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.