February 14, 2011 12:00 PM by Ryan Haidet
It’s been several weeks since Survivor has slammed prime time television. The wait is finally over as the 22nd season of the reality giant strikes this Wednesday with the premiere of Survivor: Redemption Island. Filled with a huge new twist and a pair of returning players, executive producer Mark Burnett is thrilled with the show’s evolution throughout the last 11 years. Although busy in post production on Survivor: Redemption Island, Burnett spoke with reporters in a recent conference call to discuss what fans can expect this season. He also dives into what the future holds for the show while dishing his thoughts on having a cast of celebrities compete.
Burnett began by comparing Survivor’s fresh ideas to a letter saying the envelope remains the same, but the stuff inside changes each time. The twist and theme of Redemption Island is just a new letter inside of the envelope we’ve all come to love.
“This (Redemption Island) actually is something that Jeff came up with — the core of — about four years ago. We just couldn’t figure out exactly how we’d do it,” Burnett explains. “Redemption Island takes it a stage further. Yes, your tribe is killing you. Yes, your flame is snuffed and you walk into a blue light (symbolizing death). But this time you don’t go home. You go to Redemption Island. The very first person goes to Redemption Island. There on Redemption Island, they live alone. It’s the same conditions. The same amount of food. Almost nothing to live with, except it’s even worse. They’re completely lonely, and they’re waiting for what’s going to happen next, which is episode two. The next person is voted off by their tribe, and are joining the first person at Redemption Island. Now, in episode three, person one and person two compete in the first challenge of the episode in act two.”
Burnett says the tension is thick as those players square off in a one-on-one duel as members of their tribes who had voted them out sit on the sidelines as spectators.
“The winner of Redemption Island, stays on Redemption Island,” he continues. “The loser now actually goes home. … Next week (week four) there’s another duel, because another person’s been voted out. … So technically, you could be the very first person voted out, you could stay on Redemption Island (and) win these head-to-head, one-on-one challenges week after week after week. … That person could come back and win.”
Burnett says this also provides a new element to the social aspect of the game.
“Smart players start to realize the consequences of blindsides; the consequences of how you treat others. In the past, the only time that mattered was with the jury. But right now from the very very beginning, now you’re starting to think, ‘Uh oh. What if I do this in an awful way? What if this person wins Redemption Island duel after duel and comes back?’ It really adds a layer to the social game.”
As far as the return of “Boston Rob” Mariano and Russell Hantz, Burnett says he believes each of them have an advantage over the 16 new castaways they are competing against. That’s because each of them is going into the game with lots of previous experience.
What about the future of Survivor? Nothing has been officially announced yet, but Burnett speculates more seasons will be on the way.
“Honestly, we haven’t dealt with it. We’re massively in post right now. It’s based upon ratings. The fact that it went up in season 21 (Nicaragua) despite the move to Wednesdays. It actually went up, and certainly improved the time slot for CBS. So the assumption is that we’ll continue making Survivor. Hit shows stay on and shows that don’t, don’t stay on. So logically it seems like Survivor will stay on. I think the biggest reason to feel that way is the move from Thursday to Wednesday. That showed something that there’s a core fan base of viewers who follow the show from night to night, which is kind of a difficult thing to achieve, I think.”
There has been chatter for years about the possibility of Survivor doing a celebrity edition just like the Apprentice. Although Burnett says it’s an idea that has been discussed in meetings before, he has no immediate plans for a celebrity cast on Survivor. But it didn’t seem like something completely out of consideration either.
“Would I be thinking about an all-celebrity version? For charity. I think that if CBS wanted to, and it was a really good reason, and it was like a shortened version for charity at some point. Yeah, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing.”
Below image of RealityTVMagazine’s Ryan Haidet with Mark Burnett taken in New York City at the Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains finale.
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Images by Ryan Haidet.