Probst talks 'Survivor Guatemala'
By JOHN POWELL -- JAM! Showbiz
The cast of ‘Survivor Guatemala’. (Photo: Courtesy of CBS.)
Two familiar faces are returning to ‘Survivor’ but host Jeff Probst isn’t saying who the former players might be.
“I supported the idea because I think socially it is a really great question. People see it very differently and I think people are going to react very differently. So people will say…’No. No. No. You had your chance. Go away.’ In my thinking that is shortsightedness. That is putting some silly ego or pride ahead of the goal and the goal is…How do I get further in the game?,” Probst told Jam! Showbiz of the latest ‘Survivor’ twist.
Probst revealed that the producers did mull the twist over and created a list of potential candidates before they decided who would get a second chance to play the game. Probst nixed the idea of allowing America to pick the returning Survivors.
“My feeling was you cannot trust America to vote in two people that have the qualities we need. People can get on the Internet and people can have their friends call in and suddenly we are left with someone who was voted out first from four seasons ago who nobody remembers. You can’t do that,” said Probst stating that the two most important criteria to the producers were who the audience would like to see again and that there must be clear justification for bringing those people back. The gossip mill claims Bobby Jon Drinkard and Stephenie Lagrossa from the doomed Ulong Tribe from ‘Survivor Palau’ will be coming back to captain the two rival tribes on ‘Guatemala’ and possibly redeem themselves.
In the back of his mind, Probst realized that the twist could fail miserably if both returning players were targeted immediately and voted off but producer and series creator Mark Burnett supported the decision.
“(Mark) Burnett allows us to take risks, knowing we might fail but believing even if we did people would come back and give us another chance,” said Probst, who is still very much in love with ‘Survivor Vanuatu’ contestant Julie Berry. In fact, Berry lived on the set of ‘Guatemala’ while Probst worked on the series.
‘Survivor Guatemala’ will also feature another familiar face: former NFL quarterback Gary Hogeboom. During his career, Hogeboom played for the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts and Phoenix Cardinals. According to Probst, Hogeboom persistently lied about his football background so he would not be targeted by the other players. During the series, Hogeboom claimed to be Gary Hawkins, a lowly real estate developer, which is Hogeboom’s current vocation. During one of the first challenges, Danny Boatwright, a sports radio talk show host, recognized Hogeboom but he refused to acknowledge his true identity.
“He didn’t hesitate to lie,” Probst said of Hogeboom. “He’s got to run this little game of…I’m good enough to keep around. I am not so good that I can beat you and no, my name is not Hogeboom. It is Hawkins.”
Set in the Mayan ruins of northern Guatemala, the series begins with a punishing eleven mile overnight hike through the jungle as the tribes race against each other to win fire and their choice of a camp site. The trek was designed by planners from Mark Burnett’s ‘Eco-Challenge’ series.
“It is the toughest beginning ever,” said Probst revealing that many of the players passed out or became sick from the ordeal. Probst termed contestant Margaret Bobonich, the family nurse practitioner, as the star of the first episode since she looked after many of the ill players.
As the series rolls into its eleventh season and running out of islands to visit, Probst claims that ‘Survivor’ is still above other reality shows because it has more soul and integrity.
“There is so much reality on television but ‘Survivor’ is in a category of its own now,” he said.
‘Survivor Guatemala’ debuts this Thursday at 8:00 p.m. ET on CBS.
Probst’s assessment of the ‘Survivor Guatemala’ contestants
BRANDON BELLINGER: Has a smart mouth and pretended to be the dumb farmer. He is very likeable.
DANNI BOATWRIGHT: Is an athlete and comes from a family of strong competitors. Does not like to lose.
MARGARET BOBONICH: Star of the first episode and was seriously concerned about one of the players during and after the hike.
BRIAN CORRIDAN: Thinks he is ‘Richard Hatch Lite’.
CINDY HALL: More comfortable around animals than people. As a zoo keeper, she knows a lot about the outdoors and the animals which populate Guatemala.
GARY HOGEBOOM: Used an alternate persona to hide the fact that he is a former NFL football player. Might not have given his all at the start to hide his athletic background.
RAFE JUDKINS: An understated personality who studied Mayan culture before he even knew he was selected to be on the series. Probst believes viewers will rally behind him.
JIM LYNCH: A know-it-all who likes things done his way.
MORGAN McDEVITT: Probst didn’t have faith in her at the start. She changed his mind and is seen as sort of an underdog.
LYDIA MORALES: Knowledge of fish won’t come into play as there is not much opportunity to fish where the camps are situated. The water there is muddy and dense. Very charming. A survivor in her own life.
JAMIE NEWTON: Has a chip on his shoulder. Always intends to do the right thing and has a good heart.
AMY O'HARA: Has a little bit of Twila in her. She has a big mouth but is very, very tough.
JUDD SERGEANT: A hot head but is a strong player because he has studied and understands the game. He knows what he has to do to endear himself to the other players.
BROOKE STRUCK: Sharp and calm. A leader.
BLAKE TOWSLEY: Most of the men involved in the casting liked him. The women didn’t.
BRIANNA VARELA: She had another reason for being on the series. Probst: Something else was going on. He is not sure what she was looking for from the experience. http://jam.canoe.ca/Television/TV_Shows/S/Survivor11/2005/09/13/1215452.html