Where are their priorities? The military coup that’s overthrown the democratic government of the South Pacific nation of Fiji has not only caused the US government to suspend aid to the country– what’s worse, it’s screwing with our reality shows! While the thus-far bloodless takeover might not be a big deal to Fijians– it’s the fourth coup in nineteen years– this one is taking place while they’re filming Survivor in the country.
This coup, like the others, was rooted in a stuggle by descendants of the ancient Melanesian warrior tribes, the type of indigenous people who put on those colorful native shows for the winners of the Survivor reward challenges. The prime minister is under house arrest, the coup leader is telling foreigners to butt out, and protests are gearing up. But just as endangered Western tourists and a battered supermodel were the focus of America’s attention to the tsunami disaster– what about the Survivor crew and contestants?
Survivor host Jeff Probst emailed Entertainment Weekly this afternoon: “To be shooting Survivor while the host country is in the midst of a coup is a bit surreal for all of us here in Fiji. We have set up our satellite TV in the catering area [for producers and crew members only] and during dinner the entire crew watches the local news to get updates on what is happening.
“Fortunately, we are on another island that is a 30-minute flight away from the capital city of Suva where the coup is centered. Everyone here is safe and the disruptions thus far have been minimal. We had a few production staff stationed in Suva that we brought back to base camp, and during the past week any crew members that were scheduled to fly to location were unable to due to flight cancellations. Otherwise, we have continued filming without interruption.”
Fiji’s a familiar place for the Survivor team. Producer Mark Burnett shot his Eco Challenge there, and a lot of the crew of the current Survivor: Cook Islands headed there on their days off. Filming began the day before Halloween, and should wrap before the Survivor: Cook Islands finale on December 17.