Survivor

Rob Has a Casting-Cast: Ken Raskoff on the Challenges of Casting Survivor

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Ken Raskoff has worked for a total of 5 years in 2 periods at Survivor Casting, before recently returning to work with Mark Burnett’s as Senior Vice President of scripted features and TV.  Ken talks with Rob about the challenges the casting department faces each season and how casting the show is a lot more complex than it might seem.

Ken’s spent a good part of his career working in the movie department at NBC.  Ken worked under legendary programmer Brandon Tartikoff producing the long running “Movie of the Week”. Spending his career working in scripted, Ken was against the notion of “reality television” but got turned on to the series during Survivor Borneo and quickly became hooked.

Years later, after an introduction through a friend to Survivor casting head honcho, Lynne Spillman, he began working on casting Survivor. His first working on Survivor was in Season 11: Guatamala. Ultimately, Ken then left to work with Mark Burnett before Survivor: Panama, the next season.  After spending time working with Mark and taking some time off, Ken returned to casting for Survivor Nicaragua and stayed until Survivor Cagayan.

Among the many topics Rob and Ken discuss:

  • What is Survivor looking for from it’s potential contestants?
  • Why doesn’t Survivor cast more fans on the show?
  • How hard is casting a Blood vs Water season of the show?
  • What are the 3 most important attributes for potential contestants to have in order to be on Survivor?
  • What are some of the biggest mistakes that applicants make in their video submissions?
  • How can people improve their application?
  • Does applying multiple times increase your chances of getting on to the show?
  • Who are some of the casting standouts from the current season according to Ken?
  • What are the steps that the contestants go through during the casting process?
  • Does Ken believe that the “winners edit” actually exists?
  • How does Ken view the casting of other reality shows in recent memory?
  • What does Ken think of incorporating the casting of Lisa Whelchel, John Rocker, etc. in to a season of Survivor?
  • How is casting for All Star seasons different for the casting department?
  • What is Ken’s forecast for the future of Survivor?

Special Thanks to Owen Whiteley for the recap of today’s episode

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