Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Two Cents & Five Questions With...

... Jeff Probst, TV Host

Here at TheTwoCents we don't cover a lot of reality shows. However, sometimes a show is so good, you have to make an exception - Survivor is just such a show! This season we will be covering Survivor: China all season long.

Survivor is the first American program that has been allowed to film in entirety inside China. This is historic television in the making.

Recently I was able to get Jeff Probst, the long time host of Survivor, on the phone for an interview and to ask him a few key questions about the show and he was kind enough to share us his Two Cents on Survivor this season!


TwoCents: How you doing Jeff?
Jeff Probst: Good, how you doing?
TwoCents: Great Thanks!

TC: What was the thought process about bringing people that already had a kind of notoriety onto the show? Such as Leslie being a radio talk show host or especially Ashley from the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment).
JP: It was actually a bit of coincidence. We didn’t go out and say “let’s get some people who are known” but because in the last few seasons, really since Cooke Islands, we started looking for people, as much as we do take applications.
That, I think, has lent itself to “hey, you know, I saw her”, this wasn’t the case with Ashley, but I think at times you might see people and think “hmm, they might actually be a good contestant on our show”. So we go seek them out. For instance, Jean-Robert probably would not have applied but once we approached him he was, I mean, his ego was like “Are you kidding? It’s what I do for a living. I play poker for a living.”
Ashley I think, you know, certainly it’s a platform for her, but for us it was a really good character when we met her. She is crazy. She’s crazy. And, you know, she’s altered her body in this way that it’s hard not to notice her. And she’s got a wrestler’s mentality. When it comes to challenges, she’s very physical and she said “I make my living throwing people around, I love this idea.”
So, in both cases I think those guys were naturals for the show that we only found because we went out looking for them. It just so happens that they had a professional career.
And as far as Leslie, I mean, a Christian-radio talk show host? That’s a slam dunk. That plays out in the first four minutes of episode one when she’s forced to go inside a Buddhist temple and she’s a Christian talk show radio host.

TC: So you already had some packed explosion with you?
JP: Yeah! Anytime you have any of those hot buttons, if you have a gay person and a homophobe, or you have somebody who is very religious. We had a woman, I think in the Amazon, that wouldn’t touch the immunity idol because she said “It says I will not bow down to any other idols” or whatever. She wouldn’t even touch that! She couldn’t get her mind into the fact that this was just a silly piece of wood that really represented nothing other than a token on a game show, because, for her, you called it an idol. That’s just money in the bank, because that’s what makes our show. People’s different backgrounds or different points of view, what they believe is important and what isn’t important.

TC: There are a lot of people that kind of boycott any kind of reality shows, but those same people tend to be Survivor fans. Why do you think Survivor speaks to those people?
JP: I think that Survivor, you know slap me if I’m being presumptuous, I kind of feel that Survivor has earned a little respect. We’re not the new kid on the block. We’re never on the cover of InTouch [magazine] anymore. But we’re still here and last I checked we’re still winning our time slot and I’m pretty sure it’s because we’re telling good stories.
We have the same group of people busting their ass to give good, real drama in a contrived situation. And I think when a person says “I don’t watch reality, but I watch Survivor” I think what they’re saying is Survivor is its own form of storytelling. It’s good storytelling.
Reality, I think, has become, I don’t even know the word, I was going to say crap, because I think it’s wasted an opportunity. So many people want to cash in with these simple little shows. “Why don’t we take two guys and put them in a house that used to be run by a nun” – why don’t you just write that and shoot a sitcom? It would probably be funnier.
So, I don’t know the answer but, like I said earlier, I gotta admit, I feel more proud of Survivor today, in light of what’s on under the banner of reality, than I did even in the beginning.

TC: Great answer, I’m not going to slap you for that one.
JP: [laughs] Alright thanks.

TC: Thanks a lot Jeff.
JP: Thank you!

Survivor:China, hosted by Jeff Probst, premieres THIS Thursday at 8:00PM EST on CBS. Check back here throughout the season as TwoCents Staff Writer, Josh, keeps you up to date with recaps and reviews!

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