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EXCLUSIVE: Jeff Probst On Survivor’s History & Future

January 27, 2010 01:15 PM by Ryan Haidet


He has snuffed 276 torches, and crowned 19 winners of the hit reality show Survivor.  Host Jeff Probst has been a reality television staple throughout the last decade leading the strategic adventures as total strangers battle for $1 million.  During the Survivor 10-year anniversary party at CBS in Hollywood earlier this month, RealityTVMagazine‘s Ryan Haidet had the opportunity to talk with the two-time Emmy-award winning host.  Probst dished the dirt on what to expect on Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains, and discussed the future of the series.  He also revealed his thoughts on Natalie beating Russell in Samoa before talking about one player he says will never be asked to play again.

Keep reading for an exclusive video slideshow where you can listen to the interview.

Listen to Ryan Haidet’s full interview with Jeff Probst in this video slideshow:


RealityTVMagazine — Ryan Haidet:  20 seasons in.  Did you ever anticipate that?

Jeff Probst:  No, honestly I was so naive when the show started, I didn’t know anything about television.  But I thought the show would probably be on for three seasons and then we’d be done.  And I was delighted with that — the thought of doing three of these.


RTVMag:  I think a lot has to do with the casting, because 19 seasons in you find somebody like Russell.  Talk about that casting process.

Probst:  Lynne Spillman is our casting director, and she’s arguably the very best there is.  It’s one of the categories in the Emmys that I would love for them to recognize, because reality is what it is because of the people who cast these shows.  The casting process is anywhere, anytime you might find somebody that you think is right for the show.  If so, you hand them a card and say, “Call me if you’re interested.”  In addition to that, we have people who apply every year.  Lots of times they’re the same people that are trying to figure us out and what we want.  Sometimes out of the blue somebody new will say, “You know what, I just decided it’s my time.”  And they’re fantastic.  Russell Hantz he said, “I was watching in Gabon, and I just decided, you know what, I’m going to be on this show.”  When you see a guy like Russell, he walks in the door and you go, “All right, he’s 4’5″, he looks like a gnome, he’s missing a tooth.”  And then he starts talking and it’s like you’re wetting your pants wanting to shoot.

RTVMag:  Like Coach.

Probst:  Coach walks in the door, you know he’s on the show.


RTVMag:  So discuss this whole Natalie situation.  How does Natalie win Survivor against somebody like Russell?

Probst:  I have to say, I feel for Natalie ’cause she’s taking some heat when she doesn’t deserve the heat.  Who deserves the heat is the jury.  But the way Natalie wins is by people voting against her opponent — Russell.  Mick didn’t have a chance.  So it was Russell or Natalie, and everybody’s got an opinion and you can certainly make the argument that Survivor‘s a social game.  And if you don’t figure out how to play the social aspect then you don’t deserve to win.  I would say to a point, that’s true.  Then there’s a point in which I so thoroughly dominated the game, that to not give me the money is insulting to the game.  And I reckon that that jury in years to come will watch this with their kids and their kids will say, “Daddy, how come the woman with blonde hair won and not the crazy guy?”  And they’ll say, “‘Cause I screwed up son, thank you.”


RTVMag:  Have you relished any one particular torch snuffing more than any another?

Probst:  No.  It’s funny you say that.  I really don’t relish them because typically speaking everybody is out there trying their best, and I feel for them when they get voted out.  It sucks.  It’s being told we don’t want you around.  The one person that I didn’t have any emotion about was Fairplay in Fans Vs. Favorites.  All I thought was, “Get out and get away.”  We screwed up.  We shouldn’t have taken him, but we made the call.  How can you not have him on?  And he showed us why we should never use him again.  He’s a quitter.  And if we ever do Survivor: Quitter — well I won’t be here if we do that show — but he’ll be the first one on, because he is now the poster boy for quit.


RTVMag:  But you gave him a hug…

Probst:  You know, with Fairplay you go with the flow.  I could’ve Danny Bonaduce’d him — that’s not me.

RTVMag:  What can we expect from Heroes Vs. Villains?

Probst:  Pretty intense rivalry, because the minute we told the villains, “You’re the villains,” they got a chip on their shoulder.  And there was a feeling of, “Oh, so the heroes are the popular ones, huh?  And we’re not?  OK.  Fine, then let’s get this on.”  Russell, Boston Rob, Coach and all those guys thought, “Fine, you’re the pretty boys, and we’re not.  We’re going to kick your ass.”


RTVMag:  How much longer do you think Survivor is going to go?

Probst:  That’s a good question.  I don’t know.  I have to say, our ratings went up a little in Samoa.  It still seems to be going strong, and as long as we keep casting it well, you know.

(NOTE: This interview was done prior to the announcement that CBS has renewed Survivor for at least two more seasons through 2011 — marking the show’s 21st and 22nd editions).


Game photos courtesy of CBS.  All other images by Ryan Haidet.

Stick with RealityTVMagazine.com in February for complete coverage of Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains.

WATCH Probst’s thoughts on the cast for Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains:


For other great Survivor news, please feel free to check out SirLinksALot: Survivor Samoa. Discuss on our reality TV message boards.


For other great Survivor news, please feel free to check out SirLinksALot: Survivor Samoa. Discuss on our reality TV message boards.

Topics: CBS Reality TV Shows, Survivor, Survivor Videos |

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