Survivor Host Jeff Probst Talks About Survivor: Palau
Media Teleconference Transcript
Copied and pasted from Survivor Fever ^&#
Survivor Host Jeff Probst Talks About Survivor: Palau
Media Teleconference Transcript
Colleen Sullivan: We've got Jeff Probst with us. Host of Survivor Palau. This time around there are 20 Survivors, they are all going to start on one beach. Jeff will talk more about that but as we like to say, "they are lost for real".
Question: We have a local person, Jeff Wilson. What is he like on the show? Does he have any advantages seeing as how he's a personal trainer.
JP: Jeff is a very physically fit guy you see that in the first few minutes of the show, he's in great shape. Seems to be a guy who not only is in good shape but has a good understanding of why he's in great shape and how the body works, nutrition. We gave him a hard time when we were casting the show because he shaves his entire body. We look for buttons to push. We kept saying "you'll never hack it, you'll never make it. You'll want to quit". We kept talking about him after he left the room. He's very engaging. Fun to be around. Physically, when you're physically fit there's always the question...will it work for you or will it work against you. If you last very long in Survivor this season...the Survivors will find out this is the most physical and original challenges we've had in quite a while. The first time we've aired the show out and go for it. They figured that out pretty early on. In those first few days, will they keep strong people or try to gut their own tribe? The message they find out is if you want to vote out your strong simply because they are strong you'll be back at Tribal Council more often than not and sooner or later it will be your turn. If the strong guys can last a little while I think it will work to their advantage this time. The tribes will realize "we need strength". They need to get rid of people who can beat you but you need to keep them long enough so that you don't beat yourself. That's always the question. If you get rid of strong people your status rises in the tribe dramatically but the status as a tribe diminishes. You continue to lose and lose. You might outlast that strong guy but you're not going to be there in the end.
Question: Why does Jeff shave his body?
JP: We asked and he said "I do it for athletics". "What sport?" He'd say "I started with my ankles for riding bikes"? He shaves his entire body. There are other reasons. I told him "the only reason I would shave my entire body is if my woman wanted me to". He admitted, "well yeah it has to do with women, they like it". We kept trying to get him to justify himself. He came clean, said he likes it, does it everyday in the shower. How do you do that and not risk fatal injury.
Question: You said this series is more physical this time, can you give us some examples of challenges?
Jeff Probst: We're in the most beautiful water in terms of visibility. Underwater is more difficult but visibility is good. We decided to pull out a lot of challenges we've been sitting on. When you put challenges underwater it adds a physical component. It's not easy. The first 3-4 episodes have some of the most physical challenges ever in terms of endurance, needing to be physically fit. We have a nice cat fight later on in one of the challenges. There's going to be some fun stuff.
Question: Talk about the set up where they are being dumped on the beach?
JP: The idea was, starting with All Stars we gave them basically nothing because they were getting cocky. Once we realized they can survive 72 hrs without water we never give fire again. Fire because it gives you water. We've done the physical part where we give them nothing. What we haven't done is giving them no information. Almost always we give them some, lay of the land, here's tribe A and tribe B, map of the water. I literally show up and say, "here's your beach, have a good time". What we want to do in each season is find one way to tweak the show that keeps them off balance. Not major restructuring, just tilt them a little bit. By not giving them any information... "Are we one tribe?" You could be, you could be 3 tribes, men vs women, tall vs short, old vs young. Nobody knows. They get on the beach the first day and they don't know. They wonder...do we start making alliances now? Or will that bite me in the ass. Do we build fire, do we build a shelter. Are we staying here. There's no name on the flag, it just says Survivor Palau. There's no clue that there's even one tribe established. It doesn't sound like a whole lot but it pays off in the first few days then it pays off on day 23 or day 33. Now what you put in there head is that it's a slightly different game. You can assume there's gonna be a merge, go for it, then you're a fool. That's what we try to accomplish with that.
Question: What about this report that there are people who don't make it to the first challenge and they are eliminated?
JP: That is true. There are two people will not make it to the 1st challenge. It's a brutal, brutal beginning to this season. The most brutal of social encounters. Same feeling as when you're not picked on a school yard or basketball game. Or when you're the first guy laid off... this is at it's core, Survivor is a social game. That is put to the test right away. Two people, in essence, never really get a chance to even play this game and yet go through all the work to get there.. At the end of the 1st episode a total of 3 people are gone. Now we have 20 people... it's the most we've ever had... it gives us more options... we can get rid of 3 people right off the bat. We still have 17. You can no longer assume that there's gonna be a Tribal Council every 3 days or one person will go home at every Tribal Council. The numbers are out of whack now, we're still out here 39 days so something is going to have to change.
Question: The local contestant from here, Caryn Groedel, what can you say about her?
JP: One of 3 attorneys. Kinda funny, they are so very different. Caryn is a civil rights attorney. Very well spoken, has a sharp mouth. She's not lippy, she is more than well spoken, very eloquent in making her point, will not hold back, not passive... tries to get along but will tell if you're rubbing her the wrong way. There interesting thing about Caryn is not that she's an attorney, that she's a Mom. She's a mom, 3 kids. The people who are parents in general are better equipped to deal with social situations. They've been through kids who have differences of opinions or are fighting. Little squabbles about who gets the water.. "oh I'll go get it". Older people are less likely to flip out. In evaluating Caryn, I would look at not that she's an attorney but that she's a mom.
Question: Touching on social interaction... are you and Julie Berry still together. We've seen Rob and Amber. What happens out there with sexual tension?
JP: Different for everybody. No similarities to Rob and Amber and me and Julie. Me and Julie happened after the show. Rob and Amber...if you look at the setting, it's romantic in spite of being gross, smelly. With Rob it was going for broke...I'm running this game and I'm gonna do with the hottest woman under my arm. All about Rob taking Amber to the end. Letting her be the good cop and him being the bad cop. It was a courtship. I've gotten to know Mariano and Amber pretty, good. He fell in love with her out there. Most people who play Survivor aren't looking for love, they want the million dollars. You can give the taxman his cut and you still have a lot of money. That's why I would never trust someone that was hitting on me and flirting with me in a game for a million dollars.
Question: And about you and Julie?
JP: Going great, set a new standard in terms of what I want from a relationship. I hope this is the last time I ever consider it. I'm very happy, we have a great time together. She's a sharp woman. She went through a lot early on and it gave her a lot of wisdom.
Question: Hint of something more serious? A wedding perhaps?
JP: No not really. I'm just being honest. You never know where things are going to lead but I definitely am in love. I'm not just dating Julie, it's the person I'm with and I hope it lasts forever.
Question: Ian... a giant among Survivor players. That height, does it help or hurt?
JP: Ian is 6'8". It's the tallest Survivor cast we've ever had. Ian in terms of putting him on the show, he was on when he walked in the door in my mind. A super likeable guy. Exudes genuine-ness that he's happy to be alive, wants to play and have fun. Really a likeable guy, very humble, a kid...makes him appealing because If he lasts long enough he'll probably make mistakes because of judgment. Just like I was talking about with Caryn. When I look at young people I'm thinking: Are they confident enough to make it. They don't have the life experience. You see it with Eliza, Jenna, go down the list of young people. Ian was instantly likeable. He's very good in the water, he works with dolphins a lot. We knew this would be a water season. The height came up on day one somebody made a comment "wow you're gonna have an advantage in this game". If Ian reaches for something high he has an advantage. Crawling low... doesn't have advantage. Any physical attribute works for or against you. Depends on the challenge. It's not a big factor. Rest assured...if there's a challenge involving height somebody will be complaining that Ian is still in the game.
Question: In American Idol the most fun is watching ones who can't sing...at the beginning. Any chance we'll see anything like that with Survivor?
JP: I doubt it no I don't know why we'd ever do it or how. It's an interesting thing to go through and meet someone who is absolutely fascinating but know will never be on the show. Oftentimes physically they can't make it or they don't understand the show enough to have a chance. We can't waste spots on people... we don't put people on the show knowing they are gonna fail. We put people on the show that we know, they are argumentative, they are going to be hated. They get it, can figure it out
Question: What's the big thing we'll all be talking about this season?
JP: I can't give you specifics but there are more "firsts" this season than we've every had. More things happen for the first time this season than have ever happened before. That's what struck me as the season went on and on. I'd think "wow that's never happened before". Some of them are twists, some are things that happened organically in reality, some are the results of challenges. There are more things that you've never seen before this season.
Question: The fact that you are dating someone that was on the show. Will that have an effect of how women will treat you during the show? Women contestants?
JP: It would be a waste of time if it did. I'm a professional when I'm working. I take my job seriously. I approach every challenge and every tribal with a specific goal about what I want to get. If my wife was over there playing this game I'd hammer her any opportunity she gave me. Julie was smarter than a lot of people in that she didn't say a lot. That's always the best strategy. My job is to get you to say something. It's rare that anyone wastes their time spending much time on me.
Question: Did she get to go to Palau?
JP: Julie did not get to go to Palau but could go to other locations. Mark says if you ever want to bring someone out to the location it will be ok. In terms of conflict.. I don't see any.
Question: Angie's tattoos...are you inspired to get one.
JP: Angie's tattoos are really thoughtful in terms of their placement. It's not like she just tattooed her body. she has a specific design. She's an interesting women in terms of the tattoos. People look for any reason to separate you from the group, especially on Survivor. People are looking for a reason to exclude you or include you. Angie knows coming into this game she's a bit of an oddball in terms of fitting in. Her real tough challenge... "give me a chance don't just look at my body". you'd think that now people would look past that stuff, just like race and sexuality... it does matter, it's a factor... may have a small part but it plays.
Question: You've got 3 trial lawyers...an all time high. What about that profession fits this game?
JP: I don't think it gives them an advantage. I can't figure out what an advantage in this game could be. It makes them a more interesting candidate. They are skilled orators. Good with the word, know how to make an argument and to make a counter argument. always good in the room, engaging. You say black, they argue white. Cops are sometimes interesting... people in the medical world, people who engage with society daily are more skilled than those who don't. We have attorneys on the show... you're asking for it. For them to say... uh uh uh I think that's a rule violation. I don't take shit from anybody, zip it I don't want to hear it.
Question: You're always walking the line of trying to make Survivor the same but fresh...the core stays the same. What's been the philosophy this time.
JP: I have sitting on my desk right now S11. Scraps of paper ...things that happen been used yet. Variations on tie-breakers. 5-6-7 of us have our own ideas. We go through 60-70 ideas to find one that will work. It's usually a small little twist. You're looking for consequence. This season, going in early there was an idea I kept suggesting about choice. How can we make this season have a theme of choice. It's not a big deal, you may not pick up on it. It filtered in, we made it an element of challenge, every time we could, let them make a choice. It has an impact. It's going to be a WWII theme, force them to make choices, tell them nothing at the beg.
Question: If this game is more physical, isn't that a disadvantage for older contestants?
JP: Could be. Getting rid of physical people first could hurt you. Getting rid of weakest who may be the best thinker, sharpest shelter builder or the best firemaker, peacemaker. It's this management, approach it like a team, not a sporting event but a team. Your leader, you have to look and say, we need to be balanced, fun people, people who can carry us physically. If you go in and get rid of all the weak it will get bit you in the ass in the end.
Question: What can you tell us about Jolanda Jones?
Jolanda: The whole package, physical, guessing she's 6 foot world class athlete, recent. phenomenal shape. Works for indigent clients, helps those who need help, compassionate side, physically imposing. Huge point of view and can't stop telling you how it is and how it should be. Her background...dramatic tragic background in her family, suicide, death. She smiles, million dollar smile disarms you. It's true...how aware you are of how others perceive you. Jolanda has to be not too strong. She has an arsenal of tools, weapons. Good player? We'll see but on paper... compare this group to Vanuatu...Vanuatu was the most normal people. No standout characters but incredible final Tribal. Palau is completely different, not a group 20 individuals. Marquesas was fun people, Thailand was mean-spirited. Palau...all unique players.. You're gonna know 7-8 people by name by end of first episode. Jolanda in terms of being a good player? beats the hell out of me but she has good skills and should be a good player.
Question: You ranked first 9 Survivor seasons for Entertainment Weekly. How does this fit? best yet?
JP: I've never said that don't throw that at me. Throw that at Mark or the promos. I'm always honest. I didn't factor it in. I did that interview a few weeks ago. I didn't factor 10 in. It's hard to tell until you see the season play out, I have to sep. myself a little. Allstars out there, I'd said it sucks, hated it. But it was fun to watch. I couldn't tell you on 10, what I can tell you is that it's... a lot of things happen for the first time. Compared to Vanuatu, it's not that it's more interesting, a lot more happens, stuff happens whether at camp, challenges, or tribal. Constantly interesting nuances happening.
Question: How big an impact is the WWII theme?
JP: It's a big theme. You can't, go to Palau and not see remnants of WWII, they are everywhere. 400 ft ships 30 ft down. Zero planes crashed into beaches where we have challenge. One I snorkeled often was right off our challenge beaches. You see the cockpit, the wing, you see the mountain and it's clear the pilot hit the mountain. I did a few wreck dives but stopped, didn't like the feeling it gave me. It didn't play into the mood of the game. If you served in WWII it might make you think about that but it's not like we're presenting. Wasn't a sobering impact on the Survivors. This backdrop gave you perspective that it's a game but you want to win. We were aware that we are in a war in America.
Question: You didn't turn the game into combat missions?
JP: No we didn't make challenges like war. Tribal Council is loaded with WWII references.
Question: How involved are you in the casting process?
JP: The way it works...people send in tapes. We get 30-40 thousand, we have a huge casting team. Lynn interviews 1000 of them, 50-75 then go to L.A. that's when the producers get involved. That's the first time we, the producers meet them in person. Lynn knows what we need and want. She's very good. We sit in a room sequestered. They sit in their room until we call for them. They go through medical testing, interrogation. It's fun, a devilishly good time. They want something and you're standing in their way. It's a fun interviewing process. I'm just waiting for payback. it's due. My day will come when I'm in the hot seat.
Question: rob and amber tar...
JP: I'd like to do The Amazing Race. I'm excited to watch the show. I haven't watch a lot of The Amazing Race because of my schedule. Rob is a blast to be around. Entertaining. Rob is not worried about how it will look or how it seems. Is it weird to ask Amber to marry him... weird to do two Survivors and now The Amazing Race? He doesn't care.
Question: How do they do?
JP: They def. have a chance at winning. Rob won't tell me anything. They work well together. Ying/yang thing. They are very different. Amber's attitude is to do it the way you're supposed to. Rob's attitude: there's a better way, a short cut. That could work out w4ell if they know when to go amber and when to go rob. I'll watch.