'Survivor' Winner Helps People Get Cast — Casting Director Says It's a "Waste of Your Money"

What is the casting drama with ‘Survivor’ winner Adam Klein? His casting coaching service came under fire from CBS’s casting department.

Jamie Lerner - Author

Sep. 19 2023, Published 11:09 a.m. ET

The Gist:

  • Adam Klein won Survivor in the past and has started a casting coach business.
  • Three of Adam's clients were cast on Survivor 45.
  • Survivor casting director Jesse Tannenbaum said that hiring someone to help with an audition video is a waste of money.
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As we gear up for Survivor 45, past Survivor winner Adam Klein’s casting service is making the social media rounds once again. But this time, it seems like CBS Casting Director Jesse Tannenbaum has fired shots at the ex-winner. After Adam revealed that three of his clients were cast on Season 45 of Survivor, Jesse said on Instagram, “You don’t need to hire a company or anyone to help you with your audition video.”

Regardless, some people are desperate to get onto Survivor (or The Amazing Race and Big Brother) and will do whatever it takes to make that happen. In some cases, that means they’ll pay hundreds of dollars to casting coaches, which Jesse seemed to take a dig at. So is there any drama between Jesse and Adam, or is it just speculative?

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'Survivor 45' cast
Source: CBS

CBS Casting Director Jesse Tannenbaum said applicants don’t need to pay anyone to get on ‘Survivor.’

On Sept. 7, 2023, Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X winner Adam Klein shared that three of his clients, Brandon, Kaleb, and Brando, were cast on Survivor 45. On Sept. 12, Jesse posted on his Instagram story, "Attention to all reality show applicants: You don’t need to hire a company or anyone to help you with your audition video or to give you casting advice."

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“It’s like the Barbizon School of Modeling … A waste of your money! Free tips from me, a casting director, on each of my show's websites. Survivor, Big Brother, Amazing Race.” Many in-the-know fans interpreted this as a dig at Adam’s casting coach business to the point that an entire Reddit thread is dedicated to figuring out the tea.

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“Was this a shot at Adam?” is the thread’s title, and the top comment responded, “Don’t see how it couldn’t be.” Even still, while some people have voiced their discomfort with Adam’s coaching business, most who dislike it don’t fully understand what he offers and how he helps potential applicants.

Adam Klein is a casting coach, but he has no direct line to CBS’s casting department.

When the news broke that three of Adam’s clients made it onto Survivor, some people furiously said that there’s now “no point” for them to apply without Adam’s help if they’re competing with the advice of a former Survivor winner. But Adam makes it very clear that he doesn't talk to the casting department or to Jeff Probst.

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His job is as a casting coach — he simply helps people find what makes them unique and what their story is. In some ways, he’s like a college essay coach. Students often need guidance on what story to tell to get into their dream college, and their parents will often pay for a coaching service. Similarly, Adam helps people figure out how to best tell their story in three minutes and make their video stand out to the casting gods.

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But what Jesse said is true to a degree. No one needs to pay for Adam’s casting service, which costs about $300, to get on CBS’s shows. And for those of us who are natural storytellers who can take Jesse’s blanket advice — be yourself in good lighting, etc. — we don’t need Adam’s help. But some great potential applicants can really benefit from a little coaching, and there’s no harm in asking for it.

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Adam basically helps each of his clients make a video and then coaches them through the casting process. But he can’t magically get anyone on Survivor — they still need to have the personality that casting is looking for. Adam can’t change anyone’s personality, nor does he want to. But for instance, his client, Brandon, applied for years before he was finally cast in Season 45.

Clearly, Adam’s coaching service helped Brandon. And with a success rate of three contestants out of 17, Adam knows what he’s doing. At the same time, Jesse probably doesn’t want people to be discouraged or to overpay for services they don’t need. He doesn’t want to raise the barrier of entry, especially financially. The question still remains, if Jesse's statement was a personal dig at Adam. And unfortunately, we’ll never know the answer.

Survivor 45 premieres on Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.

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