Jeff Probst Survivor: Vanuatu Media Teleconference
Transcript of Highlights by SurvivorFever.net
Question: About the opening scene, last year's opening, when you had the military group behind you, was over the top, but standing at the lip of a volcano tops that. How close were you and could you feel the heat?
JP: We were close, we could throw rocks and not get it in the actual mouth but get it close. While we were shooting that, one big kaboom went off and rocks went past me over my head. Lava came flying down. Three weeks into the shoot it started really going off. That was one of the coolest things I've ever done.
Question: Does the volcano play a part later on with competitions?
JP: It will definitely play a part, we won't use it competitions. That's what this area is famous for, these active volcanoes.
Question: How do the contestants rate with some of the others you've had, anybody stand out?
JP: Every group definitely has a personality. I can only compare this group with the last group, The All Stars. That was the most personal animosity dark sort of a group that I think we've ever had. These guys in contrast were fresh in terms of the All Stars. With all due respect to the All Stars, it was new for them. There was a vitality that was fun. It was the most fun I've had in terms of interacting with them. Will that play in terms of our best season remains to be seen? I genuinely had a good time even when it was catty and the ugliness started coming there was still an attitude of "this is a great experience and we appreciate it". Last season there was a feeling of "do we really want to be here?" A lot of people would enjoy this adventure, if you're not one of them, go home.
Question: Dolly, describe her personality and compare her to Jenna and Heidi the other Pennsylvania players.
JP: Dolly is one of the most beautiful women that's ever been on the show. She's an honest to goodness sheep herder, it's not a label. It's what her family really does. That makes her quite different. Skinning a pig or killing a chicken is not an issue for Dolly. She understands the philosophy of how animals are used in countries of the world. She's much different from Jenna and Heidi, she's not a girly girl at all. She has a natural beauty, young and athletic.
Question: This is the 2nd time you've done guys against girls. It was interesting to see in the first episode that balance was again an issue. Is there anything comparable to the first guys against girls as far as the women dividing by age?
JP: There are similarities that seem to fall into line when we divide men vs women. A lot of the same things that happened in The Amazon started happening in the beginning where even though you're grouped according to sex, you still finds way to divide yourself. And in the case of the women certainly the idea of young vs old comes up again. It's an attitude, an approach to the game, it doesn't matter age, it's an attitude. Are you a more conservative, let's sit back and think about this or the young upstart, let's do it this way. You saw those lines coming down on the first walk as they are trying to find their camp. The other similarity is: guys hate to be without their women. We just don't function well without somebody to show off for.
Question: The setting, how does it compare to previous shows?
JP: They had it easier in many ways, the weather was milder, the bugs weren't as potent. On the flip side, they had colder nights. Early in the show they played for blankets, you can tell just by their reaction how valuable the blankets are. The big difference of this location from Panama, they take spirituality very seriously in Vanuatu. Lots of diff chiefs. They have one chief in charge of the other chiefs. That's one you guys saw. When they go to visit the volcano they say good things about the volcano. I found myself rubbing spirit stones all the time.
Question: If whoever wins this is the ultimate Survivor? The press release announced that they vie for the title of ultimate Survivor. People know how to play the game. Was there a difference in the way these people were picked. For instance did Scout Cloud Lee have any previous association as an adviser? They weren't hand picked?
JP: Oh no. There is no more emphasis on this season. In terms of, we always hand pick but we're hand picking on who is available to us and what 16 or 18 go together. There are times when, Sometimes we have two great dads, both sort of the same age and background, we can't use both. So we use one, sometimes we're able to hold the other person over and use them the next season, sometimes their schedule doesn't allow it. Our casting is based on: who submits to us, who really wants it, who passes the psych profile, the physical profile. Our interrogation in the room for 4-5 days. We never cast soletly on look or job occupation or age, or the fact that Chad doesn't have a leg. You have to have a 3 dimensional character that comes out on the show or we'll be dead.
Question: You're impression of Scout Cloud Lee?
JP: Scout, it's hard not to get behind her because the woman can barely walk, she survived cancer, she's got this spirit about her, visually if you had to draw her, she's like a tree standing there with her branches open saying "come to me". She very much fit into the Vanuatu scene in terms of spirituality. She bought into it and didn't think it was for joking. She brought a bit of fresh air, she wasn't a cynic, she was an optimist.
Question: Eliza Orlins, anything about her personality that stood out for you?
JP: Eliza, when we first saw her tape...Certain people leap out on their tape... Eliza was one of them. She's got a strong point of view and it's very well thought out for someone who hasn't been on the planet very long. Eliza's thing that is going to work against her, she likes to share that point of view all the time. She's adorable. Cute. Kinda like the puppy that just won't go away, you kinda want to tell her to be quiet yet she wouldn't listen if you did so you just let her go. We saw that on day one, interviewing her that she's going to have a big personality for as long as she lasts.
Question: Are the natives going to play a further role?
JP: Yeah they do play a role, the culture plays the bigger role in that we try to incorporate some things, make some rewards part of Vanuatu and make the Survivors see a part of this place. There's one reward in particular that definitely involves the locals.
Question: Do you have a concern that basically you are reducing these natives peoples to a couple catch phrases, a couple kitschy savage rituals they have and only barely explaining what the culture is about?
JP: It's a fair question. Survivor is not national geographic. Our mantra is not to expose you the intricacies of a tribe. On the flip side, CNN did a poll a year ago and they asked high school students if they knew where Iraq, Iran and The Marquesas were. More people where Marquesas was. There's alot of money brought into a culture like Vanuatu. We were really welcome by these guys. We treated them with the utmost respect, we obeyed all their laws and customs and brought in quiet a bit of money. We utilize what they have. We are buying their time and we leave each place better than we found it. We build things, we built a church in Vanuatu. I adopt a family almost everywhere I go. It's a bit of a tradeoff. I feel good about it. As long as we treat the place we're at ok and don't misrepresent them, we're giving you a peek into the other world.
Question: Are you expecting a big PETA protest to the pig slaughter in the first episode?
JP: We talked alot about the pig slaughter and went back and forth on it. In Vanuatu that is as common as us driving through the drive through and getting a cheese burger. It's the way other people live. We need to get our head out of the closet, don't spend so much time criticizing us for showing it. I'm not going to judge a country for how they live.
Question: Each year you give us a teaser to look out for. like the biggest lie ever told, biggest twist, what can you give us this time around?
JP: Nothing came to me... uhhh... hum. Well the big question is... is how strong, let think how to phrase this, one of the big things that I think you'll sense right away is girl power. The question is Can it sustain. The women come out saying "we're going to do what's never been done before, we're going to stick together to the end. That's easy to say and really interesting to watch them try to pull it off. There are no villains that came into the game determined to be a villain, like Jonny Fairplay or Richard Hatch. Those are clear villains in the casting room. This group played out more organically. What's interesting is, these people who emerged as villains, I'm not sure to this day realize they were villains. I don't think they are going to know til they see the show and realize what was said about them and how people viewed them. Everybody seemed to be working together, suddenly you saw patterns emerging. That's what made the last half of the show soooo interesting is, it really was anybody's game. There were all these hard core alliances that just splintered.
Question: There was a warning to the contestants, what was that all about?
JP: We are only allowed to show much. It was brutal. That pig was alive. They wheeled it in. He took a club and beat it to death. I wanted them to know that if you're not used to something like this, it could be disturbing. It was "what you are about to see may offend you". Spirituality is going to play a part in this show and it does for the first several episodes. Whether they buy into it or not is up to them. I'm tell you that if somehow you end up with a spirit stone, they take it seriously, it's not something we bought at the second hand store down the block.
Question: How do you keep it fresh, you've done this umpteen times.
JP: It still feels good to me. I've had a creating voice from the beginning.
Question: Did they ever want to make a creative change in the show that you were against, like up the prize or relocate to the arctic circle or just something to make it fresh and did you campaign to keep it in the familiar that people love in the comfort zone?
JP: Mark is really good about letting the nucleus of 8-10 people have a voice. I've never kissed Mark's ass, he's never applied that I should. I always say what i feel. There are lots of times when I don't agree. The biggest one was The Outcast. I hated the idea, I still hate the idea. I didn't want to do it. I think we crossed a line that once you're out, you're out. And yet, it was one of the most memorable twist, people are still talking about it. Was Mark right? Probably, it worked. I look at it as another season of Survivor. Every season, there are people who loved it or people who think we are done. I think this is going to be a good season but honestly, I don't know. CBS hates it when I saw that, they want you to always say "yes, yes, yes". The audience decides ultimately. I had a good time. The twists and turns in terms of the internal politics made the producers very happy. Every episode, when it was over, we went "very good episode". Is there going to be someone emerge like a Jonny Fairplay or Rupert? Who knows, not every season.
Question: What special allowances did you have to make for someone like Chad?
JP: We told him that if he lost his leg he would not get another one. It can work for you or against you. For you in terms of sympathy. Against you "no way in hell I'm letting this guy go long he'll get the sympathy vote. In terms of Chad being a liability...You saw in the first challenge Chad clearly managed the balance beam when a guy with two good legs never did. People with contacts are always irritated with me at water challenges, they want goggles. I say no. Chad is just a likeable guy. He's not a guy that's just happy to be alive, he's a competitor. He could lull you into that "don't worry about me I'm just proving this to myself".
Q: We've been hearing here in Canada that you guys might want to come up here... any news on that?
JP: It's something we've talked about but as of right there's nothing on that.
A quick spiel on each of the 18 by Jeff Probst:
Rory: Strong point of view. Very likeable but cannot and will not hold back his opinions.
Leann: Smart player. I got the feeling that she may hold alot more close to the chest than other people. She's good at finding a way to settle into the middle. The question with that is sometimes when you settle in the middle you get lost and you're the person that nobody connects with so they vote you off.
Mia: Spark plug lightening bolt. Very cute great figure, athletic. Mia can't help herself, she's like an activist, if she senses something she's going to say something even if it does her in.
Ami: Beautiful woman, gay. We have two women that are gay this season, her and Scout. Ami comes from a background that has prepped her to be a leader. She wanted to put those skills to the test, she wanted to see if she could be a leader. Ami is the type that would lead by inclusion. Not by separating herself. She would want to say "let's all be on the same page". From day one when they found out it would be all women she would say "let's do this together, let's not fracture." AS with anyone that takes that leadership role, you are a target.
Julie Berry from Maine. Youth mentor, smart ass, a flirt, great for the show, funny. It' probably works against her that it's men vs women. She would probably rather have men to try to manipulate, I saw that with a smile on my face. She's got a good spirit about her. She told us that if she can use it to get ahead, she will.
John Kenny is a young kid whose strength is naiveté. Because he is definitely athletic, considers himself a threat, I'm not sure everybody else does. He's the kind of guy who could sneak up on some people if they don't watch him. He could lay low and then be a part of a strong group and because of his age could be dangerous
Brady, he's an FBI agent. His whole thing was, should I tell them or not? Should I reveal that I'm an FBI agent or will that put me in danger? People are comparing him to Colby. He's definitely a hero role. Good looking guy. But Brady is a target and he's going to have his work cut out for him. He's going to have to find a way to integrate in a way that's not threatening or they will chop his head off soon. I almost think guys like Brady anymore have to come on and go for it in the beginning because you might as well. Sooner or later the bad news bears are going to get you if you don't.
Chris Daugherty is a great blue collar guy. He gets off to a tough start as you guys saw in the first episode. He's got a big heart. I think he's engaged. He's a good guy. He's not a quitter. He knows how to play this game. Will do what he has to to win. Kind of like Mariano. In that sense he's super exciting to us. That's what we dream of... a guy who no matter what word he's given to somebody, he'll consider breaking it if he gets it further in the game.
Lea: A drill sergeant. He's a full on drill sergeant. He is a great character, very large in terms of charger, very funny. He's either going to win people over with his bravado and they're going to see that he's ok. Or he's going to drive people absolutely out of their skulls and he'll be early out of the game.
Brook Geraghty: Jogged all over the country. He's this good looking guy in great shape, has so much enthusiasm. He's a great Survivor fan, kind of like Rob Cesternino. He loves this game. I don't know if he's as skilled as Cesternino at playing the politics of it. But he's definitely physically a threat. He has a great spirit for the game. It's curious to see how long it takes to wipe that smile off his face.
Twila: Cannot not be Twila. As you see in the first episode, you get a taste of her. She's going to say what she feels. She's the least equipped socially. She works 3 jobs in her real life. She doesn't make much money. She's here for one reason, a million dollars. She doesn't care about making friends. She's instantly likeable as far as I was concerned because her goal was so clear and her need was so strong but she's going to have to learn a lot out there because these people could eat her alive.
Lisa: A mother of six. You would never know it looking at her. She's got that attitude that's in contrast to someone like Eliza or Mia or Dolly. I think she can slow it down a little bit and make decisions more thoughtfully. She's strong and has skills. That attitude is one of the things that you have watch the women.
John P: Born salesman. He has a big expressive face. Very engaging. He listens then asks questions. Can really endear you or make you go "shut up". Physically big. Brady and Brook and both Johns, you look at and think, "these guys are too strong to let go late in the game"... but maybe they team up and battle it out later but protect themselves.
Bubba: One of the most enjoyable guys we've had on the show in awhile. The name fits. Wears a Bob Barker T-shirt about one and half sizes too small. Much like Twila, if you press him, he will tell you the truth. Even at Tribal Council, he'll tell you, "I don't think you're pulling your weight".